Tory minister 'leaning' for French in 1759 Plains battle

The Conservative veterans affairs minister says he would have preferred it if the French had won on the Plains of Abraham.

The Conservative veterans affairs minister says he would have preferred it if the French had won on the Plains of Abraham.

That battle, in 1759, was a significant victory for the British and a milestone on the march to the English conquest of New France.

At an event Tuesday honouring those who fought and died in Canada's name, Blaney told a group of school children he was "a little bit" on the side of French General the Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm.

"I was not there, yet," Blaney told the kids with a chuckle, "but I was a little bit leaning for the French, at that time. And still, today."

The British victory in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham was decisive, with the final infantry action lasting barely 15 minutes, in part because of the British commander's edict to his troops: "Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes."

The battle marked the British capture of Quebec City and, eventually, the French defeat in North America during the Seven Years War.

The engagement was fought between the French general Montcalm, and the British general James P. Wolfe. Both died as a result of wounds suffered in the fight.

Although — or perhaps, because — the battle changed the course of history in New France, some modern day Quebeckers are still sensitive about the defeat.

Defended battle re-enactment plan

In 2009, during 250th anniversary celebrations, a group of amateur historians had to cancel plans to re-enact the British victory on the Plains.

Some leaders of the sovereignist movement warned if the battle went ahead, there could be violence.

At the time, Steven Blaney spoke out against the tone of the sovereignist objections to the re-enactment, criticizing his political opponents in the Bloc Québécois.

"Mr. Speaker, the Bloc used its parliamentary budget, taxpayers' money, to fund a newspaper that prints extremist rhetoric and preaches intolerance," Blaney told the House of Commons, in March 2009.

"The Réseau de résistance du Québécois showed its contempt for democracy during the debate around the commemoration of the battle of the Plains of Abraham, using fear, intimidation and calls for violence.

"How does the Bloc plan to compensate the Quebec City area for the losses caused by the cancellation of the historical re-enactment, losses the city's tourism office estimates at more than $3 million?," Blaney asked.

"More importantly, why is the Bloc aiding and abetting splinter groups that are trying to deny a defining event in our history? As Quebec's motto states, 'Je me souviens,' I remember, and as a Quebecker, I condemn the narrow-mindedness and self-centredness of the Bloc Québécois, which is mortgaging Quebec's future by denying its past."