The Blue Shirts


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While Adolf Hitler was seizing power in Germany, Adrien Arcand was laying the foundations in Quebec for his Parti national social chrétien. The Blue Shirts, as its members were called, wore a military uniform and prominently displayed the swastika. Arcand saw Jewish conspiracy wherever he turned and his views resonated with his followers who, like him, sought a scapegoat for all the ills eroding society.

Even after his imprisonment during the Second World War, the fanatical Adrien Arcand continued his correspondence with those on the frontlines of anti-semitism. Until his death in 1967, he pursued his campaign of propaganda against communists and Jews.

Hugues Théorêt describes a dark period in Quebec’s ideological history using an objective approach and careful, rigorous research in this book, which won the 2015 Canada Prize (Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences).



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Date de parution 16 mai 2017
Nombre de visites sur la page 3
EAN13 9780776624693
Langue English

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The University of Ottawa Press gratefully acknowledges the support extended to its publishing list by Canadian Heritage through the Canada Book Fund, by the Canada Council for the Arts, by the Ontario Arts Council, by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, and by the University of Ottawa.
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the National Translation Program for Book Publishing, an initiative of theRoadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities, for our translation activities.
Originally published asLes Chemises bleues© Les éditions du Septentrion 2012
Copy editing: Proofreading: Typesetting: Cover design: Cover image:
Robbie McCaw Robert Ferguson and Shyla Fairfax Édiscript enr. Édiscript enr. Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives / Archives juives canadiennes Alex Dworkin
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Théorêt, Hugues, 1969-[Chemises bleues. English]
The blue shirts: Adrien Arcand and fascist anti-semitism in Canada / Hugues Théorêt; translation by Ferdinanda Van Gennip and Howard Scott.
Translation of: Les Chemises bleues : Adrien Arcand, journaliste antisémite canadien-français. Includes bibliographical references and index. Issued in print and electronic formats. ISBN 978-0-7766-2467-9 (softcover). ISBN 978-0-7766-2468-6 (PDF). ISBN 978-0-7766-2469-3 (EPUB). ISBN 978-0-7766-2470-9 (Kindle)
1. Arcand, Adrien, 1900–1967. 2. National Unity Party of Canada. 3. Fascism—Québec (Province)—History. 4. Fascism—Canada—History. 5. Antisemitism—Québec (Province)— History—20th century. 6. Right and left (Political science)—Canada—History—20th century. 7. Politicians—Québec (Province)—Biography. I. Gennip, Ferdinanda van, 1948-, translator II. Scott, Howard, 1952-, translator III. Title. IV. Title: Chemises bleues. English.
FC2924.1.A72T4313 2017
© University of Ottawa Press, 2017
C2017-902393-4 C2017-902394-2
Printed in Canada
CHAPTER I Le GogluBuilds its Nest Arcand’s Parents Studies The Journalist Leisure Pursuits
Table of Contents
CHAPTER II Le GogluTakes Flight Quebec in 1929 Le Miroir Le Goglu L’Ordre Patriotiue des Goglus The “David Bill” on Jewish Schools Jewish Immigration to Quebec TheAchat chez nousCampaign Arcand and R. B. Bennett’s Conservatives Dr. Lalanne The “Bercovitch Bill” on Hate Propaganda
CHAPTER III The Blue Shirts Le Patriote The National Social Christian Party Le Fasciste canadien The Chouette Affair Arcand Advocates for Canadian Unity Arcand Supports Maurice Duplessis Arcand Outside Quebec Watchful Eye of the RCMP Incidents of Violent Anti-Semitism in Canada Fascist Little Italy A Split in the PNSC Anticosti Island Controversy
CHAPTER IV The Key to the Mystery The Influence of Édouard Drumont Protocols of the Elders of Zion TheProtocolsin Quebec
The Key to the Mystery
CHAPTER V The Canadian Union of Fascists The National Unity Party of Canada Arcand Abandons the Swastika Arcand Preaches Canadian Corporatism The Party’s Principles Le Combat national Against War Canadian Fascists Under Scrutiny by the Authorities Power Hungry The Opposition Goes on the Offensive
CHAPTER VI Arrests and Internments Canada Goes to War Against Germany Raid at Arcand’s Party Headuarters Arrests Arcand’s Internment Life Behind Barbed Wire Efforts to Obtain Arcand’s Release “Mr. Montreal”
CHAPTER VII Liberation Arcand’s Political Failures
CHAPTER VIII The Cold War Years Anti-Communism in Quebec Le GogluPicks Up its Refrain La Républiue Universelle “Social reconstruction is inevitable” L’Unité nationaleReborn Is the unrest troubling our world today intentional?
CHAPTER IX Post-War Anti-Semitic Correspondence
CHAPTER X Arcand’s Legacy Serviamand the Fleur-de-Lys À bas la haine! Arcand Denies the Holocaust Arcand and the State of Israel Arcand and the Second Vatican Council La Révolte du Matérialisme Ottawa Examines Hate Propaganda Ernst Zündel Tributes to Arcand
Death of Arcand Arcand’s Heirs Arcand Before the Judgment of History From Communism to Internationalism ServiamReborn
The Historiographical Debates
T his book has been published with the help of a gran t from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, using funds provided by the Social Science s and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I would like to personally thank historian Pierre A nctil, who penned the preface to this book; my friends Gilles Toupin and Michel Béda rd, for their precious counsel; and my spouse, Emmanuelle Dubois, who encouraged me thr oughout this project, long and perilous though it was. And, finally, I wish to emp hasize the invaluable collaboration of Janice Rosen and Hélène Vallée, of the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives / Archives juives canadiennes Alex Dworkin, as well a s the archivists of Library and Archives Canada and the Bibliothèque et Archives na tionales du Québec.
T oday, with the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see that francophone academics were slow to take an interest in the Jewish presence in Quebec. There are several factors to explain this reticence, so firmly entrenched that e ven the great societal reorientations of the Quiet Revolution during the 19G0s failed to dis lodge it. For much of the twentieth century, Jews were perceived in French Canada as fo reigners, their longstanding historical roots in Canada and Quebec overlooked. J ews were also seen as directly obstructing the economic ambitions of francophones— be it small merchants or those in the consumer-products industry—particularly on the island of Montreal. TheAchat chez nousnterwar period attests to this.(Buy from our own) campaign conducted during the i Above all, certain Roman Catholic Church teachings, although dismissed and rejected outright after the 19G0s, had clearly imprinted on many francophone minds the notion that the Jews could never be assimilated, were not to be trusted, and, in Quebec, were turning their backs on the French language; further more, in the eyes of the Church, they were guilty of deicide and perfidy. Later, the y simply became people not to associate with, people whose political aspirations challenged those of the majority of francophones. In short, a lingering unfavourable bi as and generally negative attitude, even recently, prompted Quebec intellectuals to avo id the subject and steer well clear of the shore of Montreal Judaism. To write in Frenc h on this theme in the early 1980s was still a perilous undertaking, especially if it dealt with intercommunity relations, and more so if it touched on Yiddish literature, Jewish cultural history, or political Zionism. This bias has changed since the turn of the twenty- first century, when it became more apparent to researchers that the Jewish presen ce in Quebec raised some fundamental historical issues with respect to cultu ral diversity, the multiplicity of religions, and pluralism. In certain sectors of Mon treal society, Jews had played an outstanding role in such critical areas as the labo ur-union movement, the rise of progressive ideas, and cultural creativity, to the point where they had paved the way for the emergence of modernity and stood for progressiv e forms of change. Since that time, new movements of Judaism have also appeared i n the province, largely with immigration, movements such as Hasidism that advoca te more traditional social behaviour, which are constantly being challenged in Montreal neighbourhoods like Outremont, Mile End, and Snowdon. Without a doubt, the influence of the Jewish population in Montreal far exceeded what could be m easured by the number of their members or the political space they occupied. This recognition lifted doubt around the topic and contributed to opening a theme on which very little scholarly work had been done. Wit hin a very short time, studies and translations appeared that would never have seen th e light of day as recently as twenty-five years ago. Yet the issue of the blatant , even mainstream anti-Semitism of the 1930s remained neglected, particularly as it pe rtained to nascent Quebec nationalism. Certainly, progress was made in the wa y francophones understood contemporary Judaism, but what about the Judeophobi c discourse that had been common currency during the interwar period? Recalli ng this anti-Semitism was chilling and, for a long time, constituted a powerful disinc entive to undertaking any study of the Jewish minority in Quebec—as I myself can testify f rom personal experience early in my career. At the Institut québécois de recherche s ur la culture, to which I was
recruited in 1980 to study the increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in French-language schools after Bill 101, which officially m ade French the working language of the province, Montreal’s Jewish history caused a gn ashing of teeth and a fear that the subject would surely bring disgrace upon Quebec nat ionalism. In such a context, any effort to advance true understanding of the histori cal relationship between Jews and francophones in the province was unthinkable. The climate grew even more oppressive when, in the early 1990s, Esther Delisle published her doctoral thesis and subsequent book o n Lionel roulx and the newspaperLe Devoir, and launched into a stinging denunciation in the media of the anti-Semitism of the leading historical figures of Quebec nationalism. After a long silence, the subject was abruptly in the public are na, yes, with the goal of harming the sovereigntist movement just as it was gaining momen tum as a political strategy of nationalism. In circumstances like these, the detac hment needed for a serious and thoughtful analysis of the issue did not stand a ch ance, losing out to the strident approach of emotionalism in search of media hype. F ollowing a long silence, a constant stream of superficial attitudes and opinio ns on anti-Semitism was unleashed. These were often ill-informed and presented in defe nce of ideologically based positions. There was no shortage of commentators sa ying Quebec nationalism had earlier made a pact with the devil, while others cl aimed precisely the opposite, much of the time with no supporting evidence or based on wi lly-nilly historical documentation. The topic of relations between French Canadians and Jews, which had earlier been the cause of such deep anxiety among academics, was now a free-for-all, with no holds barred. Yet, in this media storm, one of the central figure s in Quebec’s historical anti-Semitism, one of its main proponents, was not menti oned; even Delisle’s work on the 1930s was silent on the figure of Adrien Arcand. It is true that the man arouses extreme revulsion with his heinous rhetoric and outrageous positions regarding Jews. Arcand was adamantly opposed to the very presence of Jews in Quebec, stopping at nothing to demonstrate what he claimed was their harmful influ ence on society. Today, we find his pathological personality and this base side of his nature revolting. To study him is to read a litany of slanderous utterings and offensive language, and to be subjected to his constant companions of hyperbole, falsehood, and ps ychological manipulation. A flamboyant figure before the Second World War, and re-appearing after 1945 in the context of new anti-Semitic campaigns, staged again st the backdrop of the Cold War, Arcand bewilders with his repetition ad nauseam of the same racist commentary and the same condemnations; his undying hatred of the J ews went with him to the grave; he had never shown the slightest regret or doubt ab out his prejudice. Until quite recently, the question that lingered was how could such a despicable individual be approached from a scientific perspective, and furth er, how could his worse-than-questionable contribution to the Quebec political l andscape be interpreted? A militant anti-communist, a practising Catholic, a Canadian n ationalist, and even a supporter of the monarchy of Canada, Arcand seemed politically u nclassifiable, and he cast an ominous shadow over a Quebec society that was openi ng to international immigration and interculturalism. This is the task that Hugues Théorêt set for himsel f more than ten years ago. The following work is the culmination of systematic res earch that is well informed and segues into major social issues existing elsewhere on the planet. Indeed, it would not do to simply describe Arcand and his mad ideas, his obsessions, and his neurotic tendencies, nor to go back over his biography, foll owing the trajectory of his life; rather,