A pal and I smoked a whole pack of cigarettes in the rain on René-Lévesque Boulevard in Montreal, and my friend said: “Man, all I know about Le-veck is that he combed one sideburn all the way over and got sold out by Trudeau. Was there anything else?” It was coming down hard as we walked that low road through downtown Montreal, and I didn’t answer.
Now I wish I’d told my pal about my father waking me up in 1980 to watch Lévesque concede the first referendum. From my parents’ bed that night, Lévesque looked like a man—maybe the first man in CBC history—who had lost two countries at the same time.
René Lévesque and the Parti Québecois in Power by Graham Fraser (McGill-Queen’s University Press), a giant new blue book, reminded me: it contains a photograph of Lévesque taken on that night, rubbing his head or maybe just resting it in his hands (it’s hard to tell that he’s smoking).