A NOTE TO THIS BLOG’S READERS
Bambi would like to: (1) apologize for the technical crash of her blog; (2) thank her IT hero, Louis Béliveau, for working days AND nights (from far away) to resuscitate her host server; and (3) express her gratitude to those who touched base to inquire about the blog and to share the shocking news, along with their respect for Dr. Bastien. They know how often Bambi translated his thoughtful columns on her blog or cited his work. Some know how humbled and honoured she has been by his humanity, compassion, and incredible support during her censorship ordeal. Indeed, her life has been enriched by his presence and support. Today, she considers that she lost a friend as well as a brother in arms (i.e., pencils, she means) with regard to the fight for the shared values of freedom of expression-academic freedom, critical judgment, and reason in our world, regardless of our passions or preferences.
Of course, Dr. Bastien and Bambi also share a deep love for Québec, namely the respect for its own societal choices, including Bill 21 on secularism. There is a reason that Bambi earned the title of “Ambassador of Québec” by a faithful reader and friend (hello Fred Klein). What an honour for her, along with her passion for Canada. If anyone deserves such a noble title or the title of Honorary Prime Minister of Québec, it is Dr. Frédéric Bastien! Indeed, Bambi has the utmost respect for Dr. Bastien’s love, deep convictions, and dream/vision for his/our Belle Province (embracing this vision or not is secondary, today more than ever).
INTRODUCTION TO THE TRIBUTE
Bearing the above in mind, it is now time to start Dr. Bastien’s official tribute. Bambi’s challenge is to find meaningful words to express her sorrow along with her high respect, appreciation, and even admiration. She wants to describe him to you, dear readers, who do not know him. For her, he is not just an inspiring public figure-aspiring politician, historian, and columnist for the Journal de Montréal. She has been proud to consider him as a friend (“un ami”), now sadly a late one, during and following her censorship saga. The last time she exchanged emails with him was February 27, 2023. Thus, this tribute is perhaps the toughest one she has written thus far, given the striking impact of his sudden death on her and on all of us. Yes, like lightening!
Indeed, Bambi began writing her tribute in the middle of the night when she had trouble falling asleep after reading the shocking news first in La Presse. Then confirmed in the Journal de Montréal, and all the media of Québec, the rest Canada, and even abroad (https://bit.ly/3Inh5jw; https://bit.ly/3MdNHNR). She continued completing this tribute the following day. One thing is clear in her mind: Dr. Bastien’s death is a HUGE loss for Québec, Canada, and the entire world. He was a voice of reason and rigour; both essential to fight obscurantism.
DR. BASTIEN’S BIO (DAWSON COLLEGE, MONTREAL, QUÉBEC)
Dr. Bastien earned a PhD in History and International Politics from the Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales in Geneva, Switzerland.
His own bio reads as follows: “He is the author of two books on Paris-Québec-Ottawa relations since the Quiet Revolution. Recently his scholarship focuses on the repatriation of the Constitution of 1982. Most recently, Dr. Bastien has published “La Bataille de Londres” (“The Battle of London: Trudeau, Thatcher, and the Fight for Canada’s Constitution“), a monograph focusing on the role of the Supreme Court of Canada in the repatriation of the constitution” (https://bit.ly/3Wef7HP).
A TRIBUTE TO DR. BASTIEN
Three days ago, journalist and sister Roula Azar-Douglas wrote from out of Beirut the following deep thought, which Bambi will translate from French as follows: “Only change is permanent. In one fraction of a second, our world can turn upside down”.
Bambi knows the above fact of life so well… yet she is totally SPEECHLESS.
She has no words, only tears tonight.
A candle is burning now in Bambi’s kitchen for you “cher Monsieur Frédéric Bastien” [Dear Dr. Frédéric Bastien].
Both her heart and soul go to your wife, Ms. Marie-Eve Lépine, and your “three children aged 11, 13, and 15”. It seems that it is your wife who found you dead (likely “struck down by a heart attack”), following a stationary bike workout (https://bit.ly/3MdNHNR). Bambi cannot even dare to imagine this CRUEL scene. She is praying that God will know how to comfort your wife’s heart. It is surreal that, not even 48 hours prior to this tragedy, Ms. Lépine and her family were celebrating Mothers’ Day and then she discovers the love of her life and father of her children lifeless. Life is truly too short sometimes and highly fragile.
Regardless of the fragility of life, Bambi also prays for your kids wishing them all the courage of the world.
She sends her love to your parents (if still alive). Hard to find words for them. She also wishes them lots of courage.
Same solidarity with the rest of your extended family, friends, students/mentees, colleagues (both journalists, fellow historians, all faculty members at Dawson College), readers (of books, columns at the Journal de Montréal, and your own social media posts), fans (deer and humans), followers, political allies (and opponents), fellow Québec and Canadian citizens, and citizens of all the beautiful places you visited or lived in, including but not limited to New Brunswick, the rest of Canada, Switzerland, and the Middle East.
Dr. Bastien, you will be missed greatly by Bambi, more than you think. She will refrain from saying, as she always does, “May your memory be eternal” now. Instead, she will promise you publicly (in front of all this post’s readers) and not just in her prayer, the following: she will keep your memory alive. She will do so on her blog and in her own drive to keep denouncing the dangers of identity politics (and its resulting divisiveness). Sadly, our politicians and elites are playing with its fire, which could eventually harm us all, including them.
Bambi will always remember how you used to kindly inquire about her situation during her seven months of suspension from work without pay. At one point, you even generously offered her your own platform to tell her story, communicate with your online audience, and thank the men and women of Québec who are so dear to her heart. They represent an integral facet of her rich identity or individuality (“identité multiple” in French). Indeed, Bambi’s Canadian adventure began thirty-three years ago in Québec where she lived for 15 wonderful years.
To come back to her past saga of censorship, you expressed joy when you learned about her Go Fund Me Campaign, which allowed her to cover the fees of her outstanding lawyer. You also kindly expressed that her first public interview, which was with the famous Dr. Jordan Peterson, was an important strategic move as it brought visibility to her surreal case (serving both her fundraising campaign and her fight for her right to academic freedom- freedom of expression). Pragmatically, you added that if it does not help, it cannot harm. Bambi remains full of gratitude for the kind hand that Dr. Peterson extended to her.
Last but not least, Bambi is also grateful for your invitations and encouragements, earlier and even more recently, to publish columns in French.
Clearly, it is in difficult times in life that we appreciate every gesture of kindness and solidarity. From the bottom of her heart, Bambi thanks you for your humanity, Dr. Bastien, along with everyone who supported her through you.
This being said, we live in odd times, which Bambi often calls “our collectively insane times”. Yes, strange times where Canada’s diplomacy, whether we agree with it or not, is considered as war criminality, patriotism as fanatism, respect for and love of a country’s (or province’s) flag as hate, expression of either a slightly different or an alternative opinion as encouragement of the following: colonization, systemic racism, rape culture, domestic, and sexual violence. Big words like these sound like empty slogans to Bambi’s ears when used to intimidate those we do not agree with.
Thankfully, there are courageous people like Dr. Bastien who remain rigorous despite their clear political convictions (ie., a dream of a country called Québec), open to others despite his criticism of the excesses of wokeism and Islamism (or any other word ending with “ism”). Yes, like multiculturalism, which seems to be unable or unwilling to question its limitations (like any approach in life) or possible slippery slopes. Bambi is saying so thinking of how Mr. Trudeau’s rather excessive conception of multiculturalism seems to lend itself more to identity-based movements like wokeism, than other cultural approaches to secularism, for instance. Of course, this is not to say that alternative cultural approaches, including those chosen by Québec for itself, cannot also become excessive in different ways.
Anyhow, regardless, Bambi does not know if you are like her. She has the utmost respect for principled politicians/scholars with integrity. It does not really matter where they stand on a any political spectrum so long as they have genuine convictions and rigour in their work. Indeed, the latter is how she will always remember you, Dr. Bastien. “Merci du fond du coeur”. Yes, thank you from the bottom of her heart!
To conclude this tribute in music, Bambi will end with a famous love song for Québec and a prayer meant for you today, “cher Monsieur Frédéric Bastien”. May you rest in peace… and good-bye now. May you always watch over your family in invisible yet concrete ways. May your inspiring legacy and rigour, along with the memory of your humanity, be eternal.