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on March 8, 2007
This is a disappointing work by one of Canada's sharpest political pundits. It is not well organized. It rambles. It has little new information or research. And its title is somewhat misleading - it's for the most part just another tome on Quebec's place in Canada. Still...

Hébert has a considerable and loyal following who are hooked on her regular analysis in the Toronto Star, where she is the parliamentary affairs columnist. There, she is a very bright light in an increasingly dull and Pravda-like broadsheet.

Yet with this book, she has missed a great opportunity to fulfill the expectations of her loyal readers. This is not 250 pages of thoughtful and substantiated analysis. Instead, we get a book that comes across as a series of her columns just grouped together, with a sexed-up title that bears only passing relation to the content of the book.

Still, Chantal Hébert on a bad day is far more entertaining than other political authors like Hugh Segal or Graham Fraser on a great day. Even her ramblings are worth reading. Consequently I am recommending this book, with the caveat that she can do much better. In particular, Hebert's take on Québec federal politics is both nuanced and memorable.

She sets out to fill in the now standard narrative of how Stephen Harper, after being elected Leader of the new Canadian Conservative Party in 2004, took the road less traveled and deliberately began working to woo Francophone Quebec into the federal Conservative fold in a plan that would take more than two years to come to fruition.

Her approach is bemused but respectful. Respectful in that Harper is given real credit for seizing an opportunity by reaching out to Francophone Quebec in 2004. Bemused, because Hébert thinks it's like a blind date, and one that will end when the lights come on. She argues that once Quebec Francophones really get to know the Federal Conservative Party, they will reject it as entirely alien to their more social democratic and collectivist point of view.

Well, perhaps that's expected from a Toronto Star writer. Less expected are Hébert's counter-intuitive ideas about how the Bloc Québécois has actually made a positive contribution to Canada through its engagement of the Federal government in the House of Commons. She argues that it is through the Bloc's constant engagement of the government that the Canadian Federation is forced to debate Quebec's independence movement, and make counter-moves.

Through this democratic engagement, Hébert argues, the federal government developed a better plan to deal with the aspirations of Quebecers for greater autonomy. Whether it was through confrontation like the Clarity Act, or through regular infusions of cash to fund the Quebec welfare state, she argues that much of the energy of the sovereigntist movement has been largely dissipated and Francophone Quebecers now feel a growing confidence in their linguistic and economic status in Canada. A clear sign of this progress is that we are now seeing a compelling three-way race in the Quebec provincial election, where the arrival of the conservative Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) has added a reforming dimension to formerly static contests between the entrenched Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois.

This is not a first rate Canadian political book at the same level as the recent Right Side Up by Paul Wells. Nor does it dish out great inside information as have recent tomes by Eddie Goldenberg and Allan Gotlieb. Regardless, this may be the best popular analysis of 2006 federal politics in Quebec in print, despite its shortcomings, and for that alone it is worth reading.
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on March 2, 2007
Chantal Hebert Page 208: "Quebec is not the geographical equivalent of the other side of a cereal box, a French-language translation of the rest of Canada. Understanding what makes it tick requires more than learning the rudiments of its primary language."

I'm a unilingual person, have lived my entire life on the prairies. I've always been very interested in Canadian politics and history, and when I saw that Chantal Hebert had a book (her first) coming out, I pre ordered it months ago. I do want to understand what makes Quebec tick.

This book is much more than Stephen's Harper's recent (and unexpected) breakthrough in Quebec. Ever wonder why the NDP has only won one seat ever in QC? What got the Liberals in trouble in QC in the first place? Those answers, other answers, plus more new and timely questions and answers are in this book.

Chantal Hebert is a must read columnists in this home, her appearances and commentary on CBC's "At Issue" panel always perk my ears, and teaches me something everytime.

There are 267 highly interesting pages covering a decade plus of politicians, political parties, and events, and anyone who cares to understand Canada and Quebec better, should certainly pick up a copy of this book.
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on March 16, 2007
This is a well written work for a great Canadian columist. Great book for anyone trying to figure out the close connection between Harper and Quebec. It goes back 5 years, setting the stage for the many events that occured between Ottawa & Quebec's relations that eventually led to the conservative breakthrough. Great overall work for recent Canadian political history, and looking at it from its present day situation.
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on October 4, 2009
If you ever watch the "At Issue" panel on CBC, you'll almost hear Chantal's voice as you read French Kiss. She writes in the same engaging way that she speaks. It's a wonderful book. Stimulating, insightful, on the mark and full of Chantal's perfect metaphors - a must read for anyone even remotely interested in Canadian politics.
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Very well written and fabulous insights from Chantal Hebert. This author has researched her subject through interviews with those that know the subject. This book gives the reader much food for thought, and well worth the time and money!
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on August 19, 2016
A fan of Hebert's analysis in the newspaper and on television, I bought this book in the hope of gaining more insight into recent Canadian political events. The book is okay, with major focus on separatism in Quebec and lots of focus on problems in the Liberal party in the early 2000s. But the book does not have a natural flow that maintains reader interest, and I found it hard to follow from one chapter to the next. Because of this disjointed organization, I found the book got a little boring and struggled to feel motivated to finish it.
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on February 4, 2008
Even though I am not a fan of Ms. Hebert's columns, I do appreciate her opinions on political affairs in Canada. I picked up her book "French Kiss" with the hope of getting some insight into Stephen Harper's government.
However I am very disappointed in her book. The contents of the book have very little to do with Stephen Harper's approach to Quebec. The title I think was a shrill attempt to get people's attention. Most of the book ponders why the NDP hasn't done better in Quebec, and basically is just synopsis the Quebec separatist movement over the past 30 years and what the government has done in response.

I would suggest if you have read her columns, and are up on current events, pass this book over, as there are better books out there about Stephen Harper's government.
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