The Fractured Nation Interviews
What Is a Country
[In presenting a colourful, English-challenged Vice-president of an independent Québec I did not mean to make fun of the man, quite the opposite. I wanted to show that commonsense, which Jean Souviens personifies, was what allowed Québec to survive The Fracture intact and united, while a smug English-Canada fell apart.]
Johnny: Yes of course we should be talking about The Fracture and the first question I would like to ask you relating to The Fracture is what did Mr. Bouchard mean by his comment that Canada wasn’t a country?
Souviens: Just that, that Canada was not a country. What else would you like to know?
Johnny: I know that’s what he said but what did he mean by it? What was a country for Mr. Bouchard? What is a country for you Mr. Souviens?
Souviens: What is a country? You want me to tell YOU [pointing] what is a country?
Johnny: If you wouldn’t mind?
Souviens: Your family was Canadian-English right?
Johnny: English-Canadian, yes.
Souviens: And you want me to tell YOU what is a country?
Souviens: It’s no wonder that your portion of Canada went boom [making an explosive gesture with his arm], you English could not even define what you were trying to keep together.
Johnny: I have my own ideas about what a country is [getting frustrated], what is a country, but I am sure our viewers would prefer hearing your opinion of what it is.
Souviens: Very well [stroking his chin]. What is a country? A country is a people having a shared history, shared values, occupying a geographical area which they consider their own, which is centrally administered and to which its inhabitants feel an attachment so strong that most would be willing to die to maintain its geographical and cultural integrity.
Johnny: That is quite well put. I must admit I was expecting something a bit more … a bit more juvenile.
Souviens: Juvenile. I’m 52 years old.
Johnny: That is not what I meant.
Souviens: So, what did you mean?
Johnny: Nothing, nothing at all. Would Prime Minister Bouchard have agreed with your definition?
Souviens: Of course, certainement.