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The political trajectory of Ségolène Royal suffered a little turbulence yesterday, as she managed to insult one of France's allies and inject herself into a long-standing point of contention in Canada. Campaigning for the French presidency, Royal demanded "sovereignty and liberty" for the French-speaking province of Quebec -- a demand met with a diplomatic MYOB from Prime Minister Steohen Harper:
Ségolène Royal was criticised yesterday for the latest in a string of diplomatic gaffes after she appeared to call for independence for Canada's mainly French-speaking Quebec province, provoking an unusually strong rebuke from the Canadian prime minister.
Ms Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate, has been accused of a series of blunders by supporters of her centre-right opponent Nicolas Sarkozy. Recently in Beijing, she praised the speed of the Chinese justice system, while avoiding the question of human rights. But yesterday she told reporters she supported "sovereignty and liberty" for Quebec. Her comments followed a meeting with the head of the minority Parti Québécois, which wants Quebec to secede from Canada.
Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper warned: "Experience teaches that it is highly inappropriate for a foreign leader to interfere in the democratic affairs of another country."
Only a French Socialist could love the Chinese justice system for its speed, so it's easy to dismiss Royal as a nut. However, she has a strong chance to replace Jacques Chirac in the next elections, which would give her a world stage from which to toss flowers at Beijing for their haste in using their courts to jail dissidents.
And, apparently, she can use it to insult France's allies. The Quebec question has been a thorn in Canadian politics for many years, but majorities in Quebec have rejected secession when asked to vote on the proposition. Perhaps Royal believed that Canada allowed less freedom than China and didn't believe the results of the referenda; if so, it shows her unsuitability for high office despite her inexplicable popularity. Her excuse certainly indicated that -- she tried to back out of her demand by saying she just wanted "sovereignty and liberty" for Quebec's citizens as individuals, as if they didn't already have the same rights as all Canadians.
The people of France should be warned. Royal isn't just another flavor of wishy-washy Socialist, she's the kind of true believer who will threaten what liberty they have left. If she takes the time to praise China's government while scolding Canada for its lack of "freedom", she has a seriously deranged set of values.Sphere It View blog reactions
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