Mr. Yvon Beaulne, former ambassador from Canada to the Holy See in Rome and a former permanent representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York, died in his home in Hull, Que. early in June, after a long and painful illness.

I served under Mr. Beaulne when he was director-general of the Department of External Affairs’ bureau for Africa and the Middle East. I had much to do with him again during the period of my two successive secondments to the United Nations (1967-73), as he was then Canada’s permanent representative in New York.

Mr. Beaulne was truly a beacon-light for me during those years, as he was for many other French-Canadians in the service of the government of Canada. It is revealing no great secret to say that French-Canadian society has been passing through a phase of profound transformation since World War II. There were first those who wanted to make a complete break with our Catholic past as proposed by the 1948 “Refus Global” statement of Paul-Emile Borduas, the painter and leader of that group.

Premier Duplessis’s reaction was to resort to the “matraque” (truncheon) when this “philosophy” spread among certain intellectuals, the labour unions and the leftists in general.

People soon realized, however, that as useful as the “matraque” may be in certain circumstances, it is completely not up to the task of upholding Christian values in any society, especially in Quebec. Jean Lesage’s election in 1960 inaugurated in Quebec that period known as “La Revolution tranquille.”

It was in the atmosphere created by the “nouveau regime” that the “political species” known as “les trois colombes” (the three doves – Trudeau, Pelletier and Marchand) migrated to Ottawa to hatch and lay down the legislative brood known as the omnibus bill of 1969, which legalized divorce, decriminalized abortion and depenalized homosexuality.

This marked the beginning of the end for the French-Canadians, as we all realize now in retrospect, since we will move way beyond the possibility of reproducing ourselves as a society, if the situation is left to continue.

But the difference with Mr. Beaulne is that he knew ahead of time, so to speak, that this national tragedy would happen if nothing was done to prevent it, and he had the virility to make no bones about it to whoever would be in a position to influence events, including “la classe politique.”

I will never be able to convey adequately how much I admired Mr. Beaulne for the clarity of his intelligence, the honesty of his positions, as well as the courage and straightforwardness of his interventions. It was a real comfort for me. I want to say here how grateful I am to God to have put me on the path of this very good and honest man. “Honest,” in the sense given to this word in XVIIth century France – a man of the world, a courteous conversationalist, yes, but also a man of principles with a keen sense of duty and responsibility.

I miss you very much, Mr. Beaulne. And I would like Mrs. Beaulne to know here how very sincerely I associate myself to her grief, for I am well aware how close you were to one another, how entirely and unreservedly devoted. God have mercy on us all.