Charles must apologize: Quebec sovereigntists

A Quebec sovereignty group is sending Prince Charles a letter, asking him to apologize for the cultural genocide of francophones in North America.

Quebec sovereigntists might welcome Prince Charles during his Canadian tour — on one condition.

He would have to apologize for the Crown's role in the alleged cultural genocide of francophones in North America over the last 400 years.

The Société St-Jean Baptiste's Montreal chapter says if Charles doesn't apologize, he and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will not be welcome in Quebec, and any appearance will be taken as an insult to Quebecers.

In a letter, the group refers to Charles as "prince of the Gauls" and asks him to acknowledge a litany of alleged injustices. These range from the 1755 deportation of the Acadians to the 1982 patriation of the Canadian Constitution, which the group points out was done without Quebec's consent.

"If the British Crown acknowledges its wrongdoings and apologizes, we will welcome you with open arms," Société president Mario Beaulieu wrote in the letter, which was made public on Friday.

Otherwise, the group will use the visit to protest the alleged British cultural genocide of the French in North America.

"Your visit will be interpreted as scorn toward the Quebec nation," Beaulieu wrote.

He accuses the British of instituting a system that resulted in an English-speaking majority in North America and minority status for French, which it says still struggles in the face of federal official bilingualism policies.

The group also says there is no appetite in Quebec for ties to Britain.

"The institution you represent costs us $40 million per year and a recent poll indicated that 86 per cent of Quebecers wish to break the ties with the British monarchy."

The royal visit Nov. 10 will be the first trip to Quebec by the heir to the throne in 33 years.

Sovereigntists — including a former member of the terrorist Front de libération du Quebec — have urged the royal couple to stay away and have promised to protest.

While groups have not released their plans for protests, Pierre Schneider, a former member of the FLQ, said there will be no violence.

"We don't need to commit violent acts as we did in the past to get the message across the world that Quebec doesn't want the monarchy," he said.

Security officials told reporters in a briefing Friday that the protests aren't responsible for the short duration of the Montreal visit but they'll be watching them carefully.

Four events in Montreal

Four events are planned for Charles and Camilla in Montreal, part of a Canadian tour that starts on Monday. The Montreal stop, which takes place over an afternoon, is shorter than the couple's visits to other areas.

An RCMP official said the federal force, which is responsible for the protection of dignitaries, will work closely with local police in ensuring security.

"Threat assessment is done on an ongoing basis," he said. "It's our duty to respect the right of protesters to express their views pursuant to the Charter. The only time we would intervene would be if there was anything illegal occurring."

Besides a private meeting with Premier Jean Charest, the couple will visit the Cirque du soleil's headquarters and Montreal's Biodome. They will also meet with an environment group and present new colours to the Black Watch regiment.

The visit will be the first for Prince Charles since 1976, when he briefly popped in to catch some of the Summer Olympics, His sister, Princess Anne, competed in the equestrian events in Bromont, Que., southeast of Montreal.

The Queen and Prince Phillip have not visited Quebec to the extent that they have the other provinces in the last 50 years.

The closest the Queen has come to the province in recent years was a reception at the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Que.,  in 1992 to mark the 125th anniversary of Confederation.

Her first official visit to Quebec since 1964 — when sovereigntist protesters turned their backs as her motorcade passed — was in 1987.