Chris Simpson

Semper letteris mandate

V8 Juice and Canadian unity

During the 1994 National Unity debate, Lucien Bouchard made headlines when he predicted Quebec’s separation would lead to the swift fall of English Canada to American invasion. And then suddenly these French-only V8 posters mysteriously began to appear in down-town Toronto.

In a misguided effort to prove his sanity, Lucien Bouchard treats the media to his John Madden impersonation.


Anglophone Canadians trembled recently when Lucien Bouchard revealed a secret American plan to annex Western Canada in the wake of Quebec separation. And while the Bloc Quebecois Leader later denied making such statements, by arguing “I would be crazy. Am I crazy? Am I crazy? Do I look crazy?” his skilled rhetoric came too late to quell Anglo anxieties.

I only bring this up because in the past week I’ve  seen not one, but three French-only V8 advertisements in the Wellesley/Yonge/Church streets area: an obvious bid to placate French-speaking vegetable juice drinkers.

The posters, which hang outside two convenience stores, show people drinking a V8. Underneath is the phrase “V8 est a notre gout,” which I believe means “V8 prevents gout” — although I am unable to confirm this as my translator isn’t talking to me until she determines whether or not Bouchard is, in fact, crazy.

Nevertheless, such a translation makes sense as a ploy to hold onto Quebec. Rich French cooking has been known to cause gout; V8 prevents gout. Subtextually, what the ads are saying is that no matter what Quebec wishes to dish up, we’ll eat it.

At the top of the ad is the word “Sante!” which is probably French for “Sanity.” What clearer message could we send to Quebec as a plea for Canadian unity? Protesters will storm Ottawa chanting: “My Canada includes Sanity!” and “V8 prevents gout!” It’s this kind of unambiguous sloganism that has worked so well in the past to bring about thoughtful and nuanced political decisions.

This is all that stands between a free Canada as a free nation and Canada as a 51st state.

Nor should we, as do some, take lightly the threat of separation. While many commentators have pointed out various problems that could arise should Quebec choose independence, M. Bouchard has, in fact, openly stated what the rest of us have hardly dared think: that with Quebec gone there would be nothing to prevent an American invasion. Surely even the most politically naive have known the only reason Canada has not already been annexed by the States is because they have no wish to be saddled with the problem of Quebec nationalists.

And so it is that we salute V8’s selfless effort to do its part in keeping Canada together. I’d like to end with one of those rousing French slogans, but I just called my translator and she still hasn’t determined Bouchard’s mental stability.

Some mysteries may never be solved.

Originally published in The Outrider, 1994


Notable Interviews

To the right are a few of the noteworthy interviews I've conducted.


Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy

Astronaut James Lovell

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