The Landry Banquet

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The Landry Banquet
French Acadian
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The Landry Banquet. MR. EDITOR, in reference to the above there appeared in your paper, on last Wednesday, a letter signed “Canadian,” seemingly finding fault with those who took part in the banquet at the Hotel Brunswick in honor of Pierre A. Landry, and also propounding several questions to be considered by those who “dishonored themselves by honoring him,” (P. A. Landry). And again last night I read in the TRANSCRIPT, another letter signed “Acadian” upon the same subject. Well, Mr. Editor, I may be mistaken, but, judging from the arguments put forth in “Canadian’s” letter, and, comparing them with assertions put forth in “Acadian’s” letter, it appears to me that “Canadian” and “Acadian” are one and the same person. In the first place I do not think those letters do credit to the writer or the brain of any fair thinking man. They are entirely uncalled for upon such an occasion. If the banquet given were a political dodge to raise Mr. Landry in the estimation of the French, I would then say “go for him” with vengeance, but, as announced in the TRANSCRIPT’S very full report of the proceedings of that assembly, and also announced in several other papers, this meeting had no political significance whatever, nor was it held for that purpose in Moncton. “Acadian,” no doubt, might be telling the truth in regard to the first object of the meeting, being political, which was to have been held in Mr. Landry’s own constituency – Kent Co., -- but as far as the Moncton affair is concerned it was purely and simply a national gathering, doing honor to one of the smartest Acadians among us, not only as a lawyer and a vindicator of Acadian customs and rights, but as a statesman – let him be Grit or Tory – he has nobly carried the Acadian banner safely through and still holds it untarnished; and in doing honor to him the Acadians of New Brunswick did a greater honor to themselves, their nationality and their faith. It is true that, as well as “Acadian,” I differ from Mr. Landry in politics; but because my opinions or those of another differ from his, politically, it does not follow that I should not do honor to him from a national point of view. In this respect “Acadian” and I differ. He thinks that, Mr. Landry, once a Liberal but now a Conservative, should not be honored by his compatriots. Why should he not be? Is it because he has done nothing to elevate Acadian sentiment and morality? Or, is it because he has taken no interest in the advancement, national and educational, of the Acadian race in New Brunswick? No, those do not appear to be his reasons. But because Mr. Landry supports a Government whose actions and some of whose organs – the Mail for instance – do things contrary to the direct interest of the Acadians – both spiritually and morally. In other words, because he is a Tory. Well, I would say to “Acadian” or “Canadian,” which ever suits best, that Mr. Landry was elected in Kent County to support such a Government, and I can assure him, that when the day of reckoning comes, if Mr. Landry cannot render a satisfactory account of administration of the Government which he was sent to Ottawa to support, he will not be returned to Parliament again. Let “Acadian” rest easy on that “score.” Your correspondent must not think that all Acadians should be of his opinion in regard to that meeting which causes him so much trouble. There were present at that banquet about an equal number of Liberals and Conservatives. They did not look to whether Mr. Landry deserved to be feted by them because he was a Tory and leader of the Conservative French population in the Province. No, they did not; but as you know, Mr. Editor, it is but lately that French people in this Province have begun to apply for and occupy positions of trust and responsibility in public departments, and Mr. Landry to-day holds the highest position among us -- although differing in political opinions with a great many, and as we are a people noted for our clannishness and appreciation of talent, we certainly deemed it prudent and becoming to do honor to a compatriot attaining so high a position in public life -- not as a Liberal or Conservative, but as a French Acadian. A few years ago Hon. P. S. Poirier was elevated to the Senate. He was the first Acadian among us to attain that dignified position. Upon two different occasions was he feted in Moncton. Nothing was heard of it beyond the reports of the affair in the papers. Now, Hon. P. A. Landry is the first representative among us in the Commons. We do him honor as one of our number, who, besides working hard for us in private life, and deserving of every praise for his labors, has ascended one more round of the ladder and finds himself classed among the leading men of the Dominion of Canada. Be our men of one party or the other, so long as they attain positions of honor and responsibility, we are determined to do them honor notwithstanding the rantings of “Canadian.” If “Acadian” were so anxious to criticize Mr. Landry’s political acts, why could he not seize upon some other occasion, but not do so at the time of a banquet like that held last Thursday, and not introduce such affairs, Toronto Mail’s ravings, mixed in with a little “boodleism” – which makes a fine compound -- into purely private affairs. He will receive no thanks from any true Acadian for it, and the quicker he consigns his pen to the rack for a rest, the better. If he wants to speak of Mr. Landry, let him do so outside of the banquet, at least without so much reference to it. Why, to hear him speak one would imagine that all Acadians were ignorant and knew not what they were doing, but were being blindly led by the nose by P. A. Landry. We may be ignorant, but one thing is certain, ignorant as “Acadian” may suppose us to be we still have enough sense left to know when we have said enough, or when to close our mouths! Horror of horrors! “Acadian” only finds out that Sir Adams Archibald, the Tory ex-Governor, mispresented certain historical facts concerning the Acadians in 1755 and that Archbishop O’Brien refuted the statements. He asks why didn’t Mr. Landry take upon himself that task and not leave it to one of another nationality, if he was the Acadian leader with the courage of his convictions? I would ask, why didn’t “Acadian,” who seems to be possessed with all the ability necessary to refute such statements, come forward like a man and knock Sir Adams out in the “first round?” Why did he not call the public attention to this fact before now? Or, why is it that he strikes so hard at Mr. Landry for not refuting those statements, when there are lots of others just as capable, and whose duty it was just as much as it was Mr. Landry’s to do so? The facts of the case are these: Sometime about the first of November last Sir Adams Archibald read a paper before the Historical Society at Halifax, in which he justified the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755; a synopsis of the contents of that paper appeared next day in the Halifax papers, and it having come to the notice of Archbishop O’Brien, of Halifax, who knew that according to historical facts these statements could not be correct, he hastened to refute them. The refutation was made through the columns of the Chronicle before Mr. Landry knew that such words had been uttered. “Acadian” asks: “Why didn’t he at the proper time and place, as he claims to be the leader of the Acadians, refute the charges against his countrymen?” It is not much over two months since the above occurred, and last Thursday night was the first opportunity Mr. Landry had of publicly refuting these charges, and he did so in an able and conclusive manner, and he is now open to “Acadian” or Sir Adams, if they desire to contradict what he said. Further, he says Mr. Landry did not “move a vote of thanks or even make honorable mention of the Archbishop who was their gallant defender.” Wrong, again, sir. He did make honorable mention of the gallant defender, and a vote of thanks was passed at that very meeting and ordered to be sent to the Archbishop for the noble defence made in our behalf. Mr. Landry, of course, did not propose the vote, but with the rest there he was in hearty accord with the motion. Surely “Acadian” didn’t expect the guest of the evening to propose the vote of thanks. Hoping, Mr. Editor, that you will excuse this somewhat lengthy letter, and that “Acadian” may find something to write about which suits his style of language better, I remain yours truly, FRENCH ACADIAN. Moncton, Jan. 4th, 1887. [We think it is now time this discussion should cease. The French Acadians had a perfect right, if they saw fit, to honor Mr. Landry as an Acadian – that is their business; and as the demonstration, we are assured and believe, was entirely non-political, we do not think it is quite fair to base an acrimonious political discussion upon it. – ED. T.]