MONTREAL (Jun. 13)
Quebec political spokesmen have criticized an editorial in an Amman newspaper last Sunday which proposed that “the Arab community of nations” should support the Quebec government of Premier Rene Levesque “in its demands for political sovereignty because Quebec has a strong anti-Zionist following.” Levesque seeks to achieve independence from Canada for the French-speaking province.
Excerpts from the editorial in the Jordanian newspaper were published in Quebec newspapers and broadcast on Quebec radio stations. The critical comments were made to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by Harry Blank, a member of the National Assembly, the provincial parliament in Quebec, and by Claude Morin, vice premier of the Quebec provincial government.
QUEBEC FACES DILEMMA
Blank told the JTA that he interpreted the comments in Al Destour as implying that the Arab countries should resist plans by Canada’s new Prime Minister, Joe Clark, to implement a campaign pledge to move the Canadian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Under sharp criticism from Arab diplomats, Clark’s government has publicly watered down the pledge, though it has not withdrawn it. Blank added that “the Quebecers are not anti-Jewish but they do face a dilemma. On the one hand, they look upon Israel as a small country which won its independence and is doing well, and on the other hand, the Quebec government has to deal with small but noisy trade union groups led mostly by leftists who consider Zionism a form a racism and that they are therefore free to assail it.”
He recalled that Levesque commented on the issue when Ici Quebec, a French-language publication, condemned Israel and Zionism. The Premier remarked on that occasion that while his government “did not support the line of thought” expressed in |?| Quebec, “Zionism is a political philosophy and people feel free to criticize it.” Blank also said that the Arabs have the impression of “popular support in Quebec but that support is minimal.” He added that the Quebec government could not come out too strongly against leftists supporting the anti-Zionist view because the trade unions were an important part of the Levesque electoral base.
Morin said he considered the Al Destour editorial a warning to the Clark government, but “not addressed” to the Quebec government. He dismissed the Amman newspaper stand as an editorialist viewpoint “and nothing more.” He added that the residents of Quebec are neither anti Jewish nor anti-Israel.