Open Letter to Madame Annamie Paul

July 8, 2021

On October 2020, 27th, I sent this open letter to the then fresh leader of the Green Party of Canada, Annamie Paul;

Chère Madame Paul,

I have to make a confession. Whatever the cause I embrace, I am usually a good soldier, but now I am questioning my involvement with the Green Party. You need to reassure me.

Following the Université d’Ottawa public humiliation of Prof. Lieutenant-Duval you made a public declaration I could not comprehend. You said:
« Je ne considère pas qu’il est acceptable d’utiliser ce mot de manière générale, même dans le contexte d’une institution académique. Il est très important de protéger le droit d’expression et d’échange d’idées, mais ce n’est pas nécessaire d’utiliser ce mot dans un contexte d’éducation. » (Translation: I do not consider it acceptable to use this word generally, even in the context of an academic institution. It is very important to protect the right of expression and exchange of ideas, but it is not necessary to use this word in an educational context.)

I am not sure you understand the consequences of this type of censorship on education and especially on higher education. Also, I am not sure you realize how this type of censorship is actually detrimental to the cause of Black people themselves. And I am not sure you correctly estimate the level of anger such a banishment can produce among the Black people who strongly disagree with you: you want to rob them of their own, assumed, identity. Perhaps the best expression of this anger has been provided by a Canado-Haitian you certainly know, Dany Laferrière, writer and member of the Académie Française. I translated his speech for the benefit of your friends who may not read French as easily as you (see attached document).

Furthermore, letting people understand that a word should not be used by white persons but only, if at all, by black persons is walking on thin ice: giving privilege to a group based on the color of his skin has been tried before and there is a name for it, and you know it. Humanists are, by definition, centered on universal values and there is no way Humanists will approve a new racism to replace an old racism, even when disguised as a «necessary corrective measure». There are other ways, humanist ways, to improve and redress actual wrongs without aggravating good people.

I sincerely hope you are going to reconsider your position on this sensitive matter for the sake of the unity of the Green Party of Canada.

Avec mes respectueuses salutations,

Michel Virard,
Association humaniste du Québec