A Montreal Memorial for Mordecai

An online petition introduced earlier this week by Montreal city councillors Marvin Rotrand and Michael Applebaum is drawing fire from Quebec sovereignty groups. The petition calls for a street, building or other public space to be renamed in honour of Mordecai Richler in time for the 10th anniversary of his death on July 3, 2011.

Despite Richler’s undisputed status as an icon of Canadian literature, groups like the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste object to the honour on the grounds that Richler “denigrated French Quebecers.”

Rotrand summed up the motivation behind the petition in a recent interview with the CBC: “He [Richler] epitomizes for many Montrealers the experience of successive groups of immigrants, particularly in the Jewish community, but others as well, who came to the city. For many people, they sense Montreal history in the writing.”

Barney’s Version, the film adaptation of Richler’s Giller prize-winning final novel, opens in select cities on Dec. 24 and nationwide on Jan. 14. Check out the winter issue of Zoomer, on newsstands Nov. 29, for a behind-the-scenes story on the making of the film.