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© 2001 Irwin Wolfe
ISBN 1-93120-744-5

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   His friends call him "Izzy." He is a Montreal journalist. An assignment one day gets him involved with covering a subway construction story. This assignment leads to more than a subway story. Izzy embarks on a
20-year odyssey with police, terrorism, politics and intrigue.
    Izzy, an iconoclast, stands back a pace or two as the society he has known in Quebec, especially Montreal, is torn asunder by French-Canadian nationalists hellbent on secession for Quebec. Izzy knows the lowly and the highly placed in Quebec society. He flavors his journalistic writings with forecasts of doom and gloom for the Province of Quebec and especially the City of Montreal, not to mention Canada, if the nationalistic madness which is rampant in Quebec is allowed to continue.
    Izzy sees a potential for more than just Quebec's secession in the gathering terroristic and political events. He sees a significant potential for fascism and anti-Semitism. Quebec, says Izzy, set a precedent during the 30s and 40s under Guy Larivière, known as Le Genéral, and he sees every reason to believe Quebec cannot help but grow fascist under the leadership of Pierre Laval.
    Izzy feels put upon, set upon and waxes increasingly paranoid and neurotic over what he thinks lies ahead for Quebec and Montreal. He moves to New York. Izzy considers himself as one of the first self-imposed exiles -- a refugee from the madness which is engulfing Quebec society.

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  Pierre Laval is a journalistic jangle of nerves, fond of sports jackets, slacks and Hush Puppy slip-ons. He is a French-Canadian political pundit par excellence -- the best that French-Canadian journalism has to offer. He is fluently bilingual, a talent shared by few in the press. Izzy admires the abilities of Laval as a journalist, although Izzy rarely agrees with Laval. Laval exhibits respect for Izzy's abilities as a journalist, even when Izzy attacks Laval's motives.
    Laval appears to have been born with an intense hatred for the English in Canada, particularly the English in Quebec. As a young writer, Laval ran away to the United States to serve as a war correspondent for the United States forces in Europe during World War 11, rather than serve in the Canadian Army and serve the cause of the bloody British. There is less than full appreciation for Laval's hatred of English-speaking Canadians by the time he enters provincial-government service for the first time in 1960. His increasingly strident nationalistic statements and actions while he holds political office finally bring down the Liberal Government. During the years the Liberals hold power, Laval's ringing statements encourage the lunatic fringe among French-Canadian nationalists.
    Laval is not directly involved with the terrorists, but they seize upon his rhetoric as license to bomb, murder and kidnap. All the while, Laval plays a cat-and-mouse game with the press and English-speaking Montreal about whether he is a separatist. Some of Laval's greatest political fights occur against Jean Jacques Michaud, a law professor at Mount Royal University who goes on to become the Prime Minister of Canada. Laval and Michaud preside over the disintegration of the Canadian nation.
    While Laval, indirectly but almost by design, is responsible for the Liberals' loss of power in the mid-60s, he sets out on a 10-year struggle to regain power. He labors in the political wilderness. He engages in fierce debates with Michaud in the kitchen of the editor of a major Montreal French daily newspaper. Laval makes new allies, forms his own political party and is eventually elected Premier of Quebec. Some of the people he gathers about him in government have links to the terrorists, unknown to Laval. He is duped, it sometimes seems, by these people, but Laval's goals are the same as the terrorists' goals. They differ only on tactics.

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  Jean Jacques Michaud, Pierre Laval's principal antagonist, is an intellectual heir, a Brahmin from Versailles, French Canada's millionaires' row. Michaud is a centrist, not uncomfortable with the role played by English-speaking Canadians. Michaud is an acknowledged constitutional-law expert, with a reputation for liberal thinking. He becomes a professor of law at Mount Royal University, largely as a result of student unrest. He personifies the type of professor the students want. They rebel against the staid, stodgy, conservative faculty, forcing the school's directors to appoint Michaud to the faculty.
    Michaud's views and lectures spread throughout Canada. Retiring Prime Minister Hanson invites Michaud to succeed him. As Prime Minister, Michaud is a deep disappointment to English-speaking Canadians, especially English-speaking Montrealers, who are left to the less-than-tender mercies of the nationalistic politicians in Quebec City who run roughshod over the rights of English-speaking Quebecers. Through his silence and policy of non-interference in the affairs of Quebec, Michaud is equally culpable with Laval for the disintegration of Quebec and Canadian society.

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  Jules Leger is the son of Roger Leger, a highly successful lawyer and neighbor of Michaud in Versailles. Jules, a student of Michaud at Mount Royal University, is also a terrorist. This side of Jules' life is unknown to Michaud, Roger, his father, or Pierre Laval, who invites Jules to join his cabinet as Minister for Inter-Provincial Affairs, a job requiring someone with plenty of rough edges -- opinionated, headstrong, abrasive, a fighter. "Someone like you," Laval says to Jules when he invites him to join his Cabinet. Laval wants Jules Leger at his side when they go toe-to-toe with Prime Minister Michaud.
    Jules Leger is determined to erode Quebec society's rough edges. He would make it an egalitarian society, which meant denying English-speaking Quebecers their rights and declaring Quebec independent from Canada. He is determined to make Quebec conform to the pattern hatched in his young, febrile mind.

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  Roland Gelinas is Jules Leger's companion, even unto sharing the pleasures of Yvonne Lajoie, Jules' girlfriend. In fact, the two terrorists, Jules Leger and Roland Gelinas, embolden themselves into terrorist acts by sharing in sexual pleasures with Yvonne Lajoie. It imbues them with the "high" and the sense of solidarity they need to commit the murderous acts they do. Gelinas is also a student at Mount Royal University, in liberal arts. He is especially fond of his Logic course. He feels it allows him to see the logic in everything he does, from sharing Yvonne with Jules to acts of terrorism.

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   Captain Charles LeGrand, in the early 60s, is the Montreal Police Department's sole explosives expert. He is called to action that day Izzy covers the subway construction story and a bomb explodes in a nearby mailbox. LeGrand is injured severely, maimed for life. His leg is amputated and he is pensioned off for life, relegated to a hero's dustbin.
    But LeGrand refuses to retreat to total oblivion. He maintains a close relationship with Izzy Pfeffer and Captain Jacques Morin, who succeeds LeGrand as chief of the bomb squad. LeGrand, like an old firehorse every time the bell rings, delights in counselling Morin in his attempts to cope with terrorist acts. There is a strong bond of mutual admiration between LeGrand and Morin. Both are good friends of Izzy Pfeffer.

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   Captain Jacques Morin succeeds LeGrand as chief of the bomb squad, selected by the mayor of Montreal, who looks to the ranks of his political allies. Morin has been chief of the vice squad, grows tired of messing with prostitutes and pimps and eagerly accepts his new appointment. He expands the bomb squad and is confronted with many terrorist acts over the years.
    His squad's activities are betrayed by two rogue cops on his squad who are connected to the terrorists. Morin discovers who they are and uses the two cops, Lemieux and Bertrand, as an information pipeline into terrorist activities, only things don't work out as neatly as he thought they would.

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  Denis Daoust, in the early years, teaches Jules Leger and Roland Gelinas how to make plastique bombs. He becomes a major figure in Leger's terrorist ring. Daoust is the firm guiding hand in the hijacking of the Royal Yacht Brittania. Later, when Jules Leger has become a Cabinet Minister in Pierre Laval's Cabinet, Daoust comes back to haunt Leger, threatening him with exposure unless Leger gives him a job in the government. Leger does so and Daoust goes on to become the chief enforcer for the gestapo tactics of Pierre Laval's government. He is rough, crude and a dedicated automaton. He padlocks schools, churches, synagogues and stores with equal zeal. He is a loyal soldier in the war to eradicate the English-speaking way of life in Quebec.

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  Chaim Goldstein, a close friend of Izzy Pfeffer, owns a wholesale textile store on St. Lawrence Blvd., known as The Main. Goldstein is a survivor of the Holocaust, as are many of his fellow merchants on The Main. Goldstein is an intense man and a fighter, proud of his Jewish heritage and he suffers some of the tactics of the government's enforcers, principally Denis Daoust. Izzy is a frequent visitor to Goldstein's store, which becomes a rallying point for the Jewish community's eventual opposition to Pierre Laval. In their own crude and halting ways, the merchants of St. Lawrence, rallied by Goldstein, become a thorn in the side of Denis Daoust.

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  Shmerl the bal Hagallah is perhaps the most colorful character who frequents Goldstein's store. Shmerl is not a merchant. He owns a horse and coach, known in Montreal as a calèche. He makes his living by driving tourists, mainly Americans, throughout the Mount Royal Mountains, a 600-ft. high, 600-acre park in the center of Montreal. When business is slow atop the mountains, Shmerl likes to visit Goldstein in his store for a round of debating and kibbitzing, not to mention imbibing.
    Shmerl is 70 years of age if he is a day. No one knows for sure, not even Shmerl. He immigrated from Russia at the approximate age of 12. Shmerl's greatest moment of revenge against a crazy society is when he comes down from the mountain and coaxes a load of shit from his old mare. The Main had been clear of horse shit for years, except when Shmerl came down from the mountain with a message for society.

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  Cardinal Roy St. Laurent represents the link between the Quebec Catholic Church and the Unité Party. It is a strong link, forged by the Cardinal and Quebec Premier Guy Larivière, known as Le Genéral, through some 20 years. Panic sets in when the Cardinal learns about the death of Le Genéral. He is tormented by thoughts of the church losing its grip over government. He is also Chancellor of Mount Royal University and painfully presides over the appointment of Michaud to the law faculty. Although he opposes the appointment, he is powerless to resist. A new order is taking hold. There is no place for the church in this new order. But the Cardinal also has a human side, as Izzy Pfeffer learns one day during an interview with the Cardinal over kosher smoked meat sandwiches on The Main. The Cardinal informs Izzy that he is giving up his palace in Montreal for a shack in Africa to tend to the lepers.

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  Rabbi Shlomo Borodensky, 65, is a pillar of strength in the Jewish community. Izzy Pfeffer feels very close to the rabbi, based on memories from his childhood in the frame-structure synagogue that stands on Clark Street. The rabbi suffers the insults of the fascist tactics of Denis Daoust, who twice interrupts services, once during Rosh Hashanah and again during Passover. Shmerl is arrested during the Passover disturbance and is jailed. But the rabbi's strong character forces him to adjourn services to Shmerl's jail cell, where they celebrate the Passover Seder.
    The rabbi rallies the Jewish community as well as the leaders of Jewish and English schools and the heads of English churches. Their buildings, including synagogues, have been padlocked, but the rabbi strengthens their resolve. They fight back. The rabbi holds religious services in his home. Attendance grows rapidly and soon the rabbi must install a public-address system to carry his prayers to the crowds who gather in the street outside his home. Priests and ministers take their cue from the rabbi and do likewise, in defiance of the fascists in Quebec City.
   Rabbis, priests and ministers descend on Rabbi Borodensky for strategy sessions. Borodensky also organizes a mobile prayer van to reach the Jewish youngsters of Montreal, despite the obstacles put in his way by the likes of Denis Daoust and his fellow fascists.

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  President Daniel Izaiah Monroe Witt is the 40th president of the United States. An ex-cotton-grower from the South, he is beset with problems. Iran, Afghanistan -- the problems close in on him as he faces an election. He cannot comprehend the problem in Quebec and for awhile he exhibits a studied indifference toward Quebec, as he does toward Canada, in the style of most presidents, who are accustomed to stability north of the border.
   President Witt observes the disintegration of Quebec and Canada from afar. But corporate America emboldens him into action. The captains of industry become outraged by Pierre Laval's freeze on all exports of Quebec-based profits of U.S. -owned businesses.
  The president executes an ingenious plan for taking Quebec out with a whimper.

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