06 December 2009

Meanwhile, in Montreal, no one sang O Canada


At the Coalition rally in Peterborough a few hours ago, before the Liberal and NDP speakers the convenor called for a minute of silence in honour of the 14 victims of the Montreal massacre and of the three latest Canadian casualties in Afghanistan (one of who was from Peterborough).

And then we all cheered all the speakers.

And when one of them attacked Harper for fanning the flames of disunity, a woman starting singing O Canada and the crowd instantly joined in with great gusto. Well, it kept us warm, at least.

And a few minutes later in a similar moment she called out "en francais this time" and we all sang O Canada in French.

And I handed out lots of "It's time to fix our voting system" leaflets.

A good rally.

19 November 2009

"Two-tier health, two-tier education"

"PQ is pressuring Liberals to close Bill 101 loophole"


.. Should it be a tuition fee that can exceed $15,000 for every child for every year of her education? Or should it be the low, low bargain price of the same fee but for only one child for only one year, after which not only he but also his brothers and sisters and his children could attend English public schools for free? The answer was the lower price, until the one-year loophole was closed in 2002 by the adoption of Bill 104 by the Parti Québécois government of the day, with the support of the Liberal opposition

...And it can't simply re-introduce Bill 104 with a so-called "notwithstanding" clause, since the latter can't be invoked for a violation of minority language rights ...

The PQ thinks it has the answer. Last week it proposed to extend Bill 101's restrictions on admission to fully private English schools. It cited experts in constitutional law saying such a measure could be challenged only as a violation of freedom rather than minority language rights, and could therefore be shielded by a notwithstanding clause ...

18 November 2009

"The Pied Piper of Quebec"


... [Jacques Parizeau] lures Quebeckers with a Pied Piper's melody. But his spin on reality shows when he quotes selectively the report of five eminent experts in international law consulted in 1991 by the Quebec government. “The unanimous conclusion of their legal opinion is quite clear: The frontiers of a sovereign Quebec would be those of current Quebec.”

But Mr. Parizeau seems to forget that he published a letter in which he accused the Supreme Court of favouring the partition of a seceding Quebec. And he omits more pertinent quotations from the five experts: “The right to secession does not exist in international law.” And this: “The Quebec people exercises effectively its right to self-determination within the framework of the Canadian whole and is not legally authorized to invoke it to justify its future accession to independence.”

On May 19, 1994, Mr. Parizeau told the National Assembly: “There is the law. We are a law-abiding state. Canada and Quebec are not banana republics. There is the Constitution. There is international law. And we have been elected to defend the law.” After that beginning, he argued that Canada was divisible but Quebec was not. The law be damned.

Mr. Parizeau's flights of mythology would be amusing but for the ascendancy he holds as Quebec's most influential separatist. The crowds at his book launch Monday proved that. As such, he is more dangerous than ridiculous.

Keep in mind ...


... By federal law, Canadian Banks and Insurance Companies must be headquartered within Canada. There go the banks [out of Quebec]. By law, airlines cannot pick-up and deliver passengers from one national location to another national location unless that airline is headquartered in that nation. Goodbye Air Canada ...
Then there’s the Canada Export and Development Corporation that underwrites just about all of Bombardier’s sales abroad. Goodbye Bombardier along with other federally financed corporations in Quebec ...
Goodbye all the federal government jobs that disproportionately employ French Quebecers. Especially those who can speak some English ...

15 November 2009

Monarchism Vs. Nationalism


(Interestingly, the only known modern time the advice has been conflicted was when British Prime Minister Tony Blair advised the Queen to make Conrad Black a lord, and Jean Chrétien advised her not to. Mr. Black had to renounce his Canadian citizenship to escape Mr. Chrétien's constitutional reach.)

The Crown was essential to Canadian identity after 1867, with the declaration by Georges-Étienne Cartier, who did much to broker Quebec's entry into Confederation, that while Canadians would never be an ethnic nationality, they could be a political nationality whose unifying symbol was the Crown ...

11 November 2009

ADQ leader blames Tories for his undoing


One day after announcing his resignation, Action Démocratique du Québec Leader Gilles Taillon says he was the victim of a putsch organized by the former "owners" of the party.

Taillon settled his accounts in an open letter distributed to the media Wednesday, accusing former leader Mario Dumont, other influential members of the ADQ, and the federal Conservative Party.

In the letter, entitled "the masks have fallen," Taillon said that shortly after announcing his candidacy for the party leadership in April, he felt a certain "malaise among the former establishment of the party."

09 November 2009

On Nov. 11, remember how different Quebec is


... “We need to remember our soldiers have fought for freedoms — freedom of the press, freedom to enjoy the Olympics or the freedom to protest them, and the freedom to observe two minutes of silence.”

Overall, 85 per cent of Canadians said they will observe the tradition. Quebec had the lowest response, with two thirds of Quebecers saying they will stop for two minutes to honour soldiers who have fought for Canada ...

Fifty per cent of Quebecers believe that two minutes of silence should be made mandatory for individuals, schools and workplaces, compared to 71 per cent Canadians overall who think so, the poll results suggested ...

08 November 2009

"On accommodation, let the quiet revolution begin"


... All of this reasonable accommodation nonsense makes me heartily glad I don't live in Quebec. Especially since any society with the faintest pretension to being free and democratic never presumes to dictate to its citizens what they can and can't wear.

As I type this, I am wearing a chain with a little pendant on which is inscribed in Hebrew the Shema, the prayer that is central to Judaism. I'll wear what I please in this free country, regardless of whether I work in the private or public sector. It is none of the government's business that I'm wearing this chain, just as it is none of the government's business if someone, including a civil servant, wears a crucifix, a head scarf, a turban or any other symbol that expresses their identity and beliefs in some way.

The burka, however, does not fall into that category because it's about hiding, not about expression. However, as Bouchard said, "(A woman) has her right to choose to wear a burka in the street." Here again, no democratic government should be singling out an article of clothing for banning. Legislators telling women what they can't wear is just as chauvinistic and paternalistic as the men these women know in their own culture who are telling them what they must wear ...

Does it never occur to these commentators (mostly women) that some women in these social groups also uphold conservative dress values?

05 November 2009

"Extending 101 [to CEGEPS] is nonsensical"


.. In 2000, the Larose Commission on the State and Future of the French language ...reviewed the idea of extending Bill 101 limits on English eligibility to the CEGEP level. The arguments and statistics then were much the same as they are today. Unanimously, we did not carry the idea forward ...

While the proposal – if ever adopted – may satisfy a few into a false sense of security over the French language, it fails to address a far greater menace to the use of French at home and in the workplace. And that menace is not the English-speaking community or the English language, but rather the quality of French that is taught in Quebec schools regardless of whether those schools teach in French or English ...

... the percentage of allophones had reached an overall majority of enrolment in the French system’s primary and secondary levels on the island of Montreal. The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste likened it to the “Louisianisation” of Quebec ...

Many factors weigh in on a young adult’s choice of which CEGEP to attend, some substantive, some trivial. The ultimate choice may not just be a question of language, but also proximity, curricula and other considerations particular to each student regardless of linguistic background ...

And let’s not forget that this proposal would also apply to francophone students who likely will be less than amused at having their rights stripped from them in a misguided attempt to restrict the rights of allophones ...

03 November 2009

The Latin SentiMentality


... Theories abound to explain the public-opinion gap between Quebec and the rest of Canada on euthanasia. Quebeckers, who rejected religion en masse starting in the 1960s, tend to be more liberal on a range of issues.

Mr. Bureau, who has promoted euthanasia for 25 years, said Canadians outside Quebec tend to defer to doctors and nurses who provide palliative care in the determination of how terminally ill people end their days. In Quebec, more people believe patients should have the last word, he said.

“Maybe it's because we're Latin and we tend to be less rational, more emotional,” said the college's president, Dr. Lamontagne.


Chantal Hebert: "Language law to face foe from within"


...While the Bill 104 debate has focused on immigrant parents, the reality is that some francophone parents had also been using the private school loophole to get their children into the English school system.

Their numbers may be small but they are part of a larger trend that increasingly sees French-speaking parents aspire to more effective English-language training for their children.

In the future, the competing aspirations of Quebec francophones are more likely to erode the consensus that underlies Bill 101 than the House of Commons or even the Supreme Court.

01 November 2009

The quality of French is strained. By the French.


... Anglophone students, after years of French in primary and secondary school, study more French in CEGEP, and the great majority of them emerge effectively bilingual. Many francophones naturally want the same advantage ...

The best thing Quebec's self-declared defenders of French could do for its continued survival is to ensure that it is taught well in primary and secondary schools - including English ones ...

The real language scandal is how poorly too many of the province's French-language school graduates speak and write French, one of the world's most elegant languages ...

30 October 2009

"Prince Charles should apologize to francophones: SSJB"


MONTREAL - Prince Charles should use the occasion of his visit to Quebec next month to apologize on behalf of the British Crown for past harm caused to French culture in North America, says the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, will touch down in Montreal during the couple's visit to Canada from Nov. 2 to Nov. 12.

The SSJB says it has sent the prince a letter Friday to say he will be welcome in Quebec if he apologizes for "ethnocide" of francophones after New France passed into the hands of Britain in 1763 ...

Vaillancourt hones skills with NHLers

Give 'em enough ice time ... they'll hang the education system in Quebec.


The academic rigors that accompany a Harvard education were even more of a challenge for Vaillancourt. She attended the Pomfret School in Connecticut for two years before enrolling, simply to enhance her English language skills.

"It was pretty much a struggle my first year here,” she said. “I’ve always been right around 85 percent [as a student]. It’s gotten better every year. I went to a public high school in Quebec, and we would have English once a week for an hour, so I knew my verbs and tenses.

Some of my teammates are so impressive in the classroom, some as pre-med students.”

27 October 2009

"Young minds soak up intensive English"


... Quebec's Education Department estimates about 10 per cent of elementary students at French-language schools in Quebec take part in an intensive English program every year ...

Most students have incredible confidence in their knowledge when they finish English intensive programs, said Joanna White, an associate professor at Concordia University's TESL (teaching English as a second language) Centre. "They're ready to go with more challenging things like reading almost age-appropriate novels, watching television, using the computer and so on." ...

The majority of Lafleur's students go on to enriched English courses in high school. When former students come back to see her, they say " 'Wow, we're lucky to have had this' because they see the difference," Lafleur said. They tell Lafleur they understand everything in English but their peers don't ...

26 October 2009

Hooray for our side


Despite restrictive language laws, a remarkably stable one in five of all immigrants to Quebec, over the past 20 years, arrives here with a knowledge of English and no knowledge of French, says Jedwab. The Quebec government uses a point system to assess immigration applications and Jedwab says anglophone applicants need to score very highly on job skills and education in order to offset the loss of potential points for speaking French.

"If they can't speak French but they're still being accepted by Quebec, then they clearly have something Quebec likes," he says. Quebec has had the right to choose its own immigrants since 1978, although family-reunification and refugee cases are still under federal jurisdiction.

Floch and Pocock conceded in their study that Quebecers of English mother tongue who have remained in Quebec are still better-educated overall than the Canadian average. The researchers also noted that anglos who come to Quebec from other provinces are three times more likely to hold Ph.D.s than the Canadian population as a whole.

22 October 2009

Speaking out: Quebec's debate over language laws - Canada - CBC News

Speaking out: Quebec's debate over language laws - Canada - CBC News

Debate over language legislation is certainly nothing new in Quebec.
An unidentified war veteran demonstrates outside the Montreal offices of the Quebec government's language commission in 1987. Bill 101 and subsequent legislation have stirred passions and protests in Quebec - both for and against the laws. An unidentified war veteran demonstrates outside the Montreal offices of the Quebec government's language commission in 1987. Bill 101 and subsequent legislation have stirred passions and protests in Quebec - both for and against the laws. (Bill Grimshaw/Canadian Press) The first laws governing the use of French in the province were passed early in the 20th century. The first was the Lavergne Law, passed in 1910, which required that tickets for buses, trains and trams be printed in both French and English.

27 September 2009

The Falardeau File


MONTREAL — Pierre Falardeau, the enfant terrible of Quebec cinema who suggested federalist anglophones should leave the province and once slammed Canada as a "colonizing power," has died of cancer in Montreal. He was 62.

After all, les gens need their own lebensraum.

Just ask the Cree.In 2008, he dismissed David Suzuki as "a bearded little Jap, just another nuisance from the West Coast" after the environmentalist said hewas disappointed in Quebecers who voted Conservative in the 2008 federal election.

I wonder how that reads in the original fascist?

In an open letter explaining why he refused to have his film entered in the competition, he wrote: "To be recognized for 'my genius' in Flin Flon or Saskatoon or Corner Brook leaves me as cold as their Rockies, mounted police and their Governor General.

But he didn't scruple to acceptTelefilm CANADA money, even if he had to fight for it.

26 September 2009

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ... with French predominance


1989: " ...the Liberal government's use of the notwithstanding clause to override a Supreme Court decision that banning English on outdoor signs violated freedom of expression. The clause allowed the Liberal government to hastily pass Bill 178 to maintain the ban, a move that was regarded as a severe slap in the face from anglophones' traditional political ally."

1993: "The Liberal government changed the law four years later when the notwithstanding clause came up for renewal, finally allowing English on outdoor signs, with French predominance."

24 September 2009

Corrupter and corrupter

Quebec union denies Hells Angels link; FTQ tries and fails to block investigative report by CBC's French-language service

The head of Quebec's most powerful construction union is denying allegations the Hells Angels were involved in his election.

An investigative report by the [Radio-Canada] to be aired Thursday has revealed the role played by organized crime in the union vote.

Richard Goyette was elected director general of the construction wing of the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ-Construction) by a two-vote margin in November 2008, succeeding Joceyln Dupuis ...

08 September 2009

"What if Montcalm had won?"


What if, 250 years ago, the Marquis de Montcalm had defeated James Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham? Would French-speakers today be more numerous on this continent, more socially and culturally developed, more prosperous and secure? Would the Québécois be happier?

That assumption has been cherished by generations of nationalist weepers. Their lamentations will fill the air this weekend on the anniversary.

But is it justified? On the contrary, if you study the fate of each of France's American colonies in the years after 1759, it emerges unquestionably that only Quebec has prospered, and in French ...

31 August 2009

"Ontario's performance shames Quebec"


Flexibility is a key part of the success. Individual school boards choose the best programs for their area and their students.
In Quebec, such flexibility is anathema. Faced with problems that a greater degree of autonomy might solve, Quebec's instinct is always to tighten its grip, write up more rules and demand more reports.

We can see the results: 100,000 more high-school dropouts since 2003. It's time Quebec tried looking outside its borders for solutions.

30 August 2009

"A shameful waste of valuable manpower"


Quebec has the smallest proportion of foreign-trained doctors among its health-care practitioners, the Canadian Institute for Health Information has reported. With barely one in 10 of its doctors trained abroad, Quebec trails all other provinces ...

The provincial government has been assuring Quebecers for years that it is doing everything it can to make sure there are enough medical practitioners to look after them. And they believed the province.

Should they have? Saskatchewan managed to increase the number of doctors practising there. Half of them are foreign-trained. In Newfoundland and Labrador more than a third of doctors were trained outside Canada, along with one in four of Ontario's doctors ...

26 August 2009

Old soldiers never die ... they just get played away

... I was quite involved with St Anne's after it was discovered that the new French management was hiring only French personnel as the English left and also applying French tests to the surviving English medical and nursing staff to see if they could stay ...

Despite its location in Quebec, 70 per cent of the patients were English, statistically reflecting the percentage of Quebec soldiers who went to World War II (and WWI for that matter).

So what happened was that a high number of patients were dying in French, which of course was viewed as no bad thing to those who are horror-struck by the prospect of a French guy dying in English.

The complaint came from a Dr Harry Polansky (latter a leader of the Canada Party which had an interesting history of its own), a dentist, while I was at the Suburban. I got him to write a detailed letter to the editor (letters to the editor have a slight measure of qualified privilege in libel law) outlining his charges.

After I published this, I went after the head hospital honcho, who despite his English name, was French, and did a few more stories, gathering more sources. Eventually, under considerable pressure, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages did what they called an "Enhanced Investigation" and found what we were saying was true.

Of course, nothing was done about it, other than supposedly ending the advertising for bilingual staff in French journals only.

Curiously, I wanted a copy of the report and press release from the Commission of the Official Languages office about six years ago to help a friend of mine (Kim McConnell of the Language Fairness movement in Ottawa which has Harold Galganov behind it), but they would not release it, even though they had made it public at the time. I think you would have to go to the Freedom of Information people to get it now ...

25 August 2009

That's why they call it color television.


The network is V, formerly known as TQS, and before that as Quatre-Saisons. Occasionally innovative - it was the first French-language network to recruit non-white on-air personalities - the network has been mainly known throughout its 22-year history for programming that is cheap in more than one sense of the word.

19 August 2009

No, just the regular kind.


"Anglophobes"?? Is that anything like "reverse racism"?

Nothing like a good "family" feud


The simplistic narrative of the Conquest of Quebec is not universally accepted even among the conquered.

If the national question is, as some francophones like to point out, really a family feud, let's hear all the voices.

OTTAWA — The mayor of Quebec City apparently isn't interested in the French royal coat of arms that a French-language advocacy group in Gatineau, Que., wants the Canadian War Museum to return to the city.

Jean-Paul Perreault, president of Imperatif francais, last week demanded that the carved pine coat of arms that sat atop one of Quebec City's gates until 1760 be returned because it was "looted by violence" after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

19 June 2009

TSS: A Bloodshot Stew for St-Jean (ewww)

Some victory. Sure, the anglo bands can play L'autre St-Jean in English, but they must be presented in French, as per provincial regulation. Even that has not stopped the whining from the usual suspects.

And don't doubt that some ethnocentric types (JPQ, RRQ) will show up to shout them down anyway (despite the militants' "respectable" beards, like the SSJB), for the temerity to sing in Canada's (and Quebec's) other official language. Or will the sponsors provide adequate security for a welcome change?

Never mind that there is no obvious reason for anglos to play on St-Jean. (Patriots' Day, perhaps). They are likely neither Catholics, French-Canadians, nor sovereignists, the official stakeholders for the commemoration. After all, the holiday is not called Civic Holiday, in English or French, but the National Holiday. Which nation would that be, anyway?

Are they all drunk and lacking in discrimination this far ahead of the party?

17 June 2009

The Suburban: 'A hootenanny in any language'

most are nationalist, but most are not sovereignist (only 33% or less)

they can be manipulated, but sometimes they stand up for minorities (e.g., L'Affaire Bloodshot Stew)


“Bring in an African group, Vietnamese rappers or Finnish trombonists and we think it's cute. It's La Fête nationale! Everyone is a Quebecer,” wrote Yves Boisvert in Monday's La Presse. “But an anglophone in a second-tier St. Jean show? What a repugnant idea...”

16 June 2009

NP: 'Quebec separatists want to silence anglo acts'


"Anglophones have been among us for 250 years," [Minister of Culture Christine St-Pierre (PLQ)] told the Presse Canadienne. "They are Quebecers." It was that sentiment that inspired the organizers of L'Autre St-Jean to invite Lake of Stew and Bloodshot Bill, and it would be wrong if an intolerant few spoiled the party. "The organizers reflect the reality, they reflect the climate here in Quebec, and that's a climate of tolerance," [Lake of Stew band member Richard Rigby] said. "We might speak different languages, but culturally we're the same."
Except, we anglophones don't use violence as a form of political pressure.

15 June 2009

L'Affaire Bloodshot Stew

L'exclusion de deux formations musicales anglo-montréalaises d'un spectacle de la Fête nationale a été dénoncée sans réserve lundi par les libéraux et les péquistes.
La ministre de la Culture, Christine St-Pierre, a pointé du doigt la frange «intolérante» du mouvement souverainiste tandis que le porte-parole de l'opposition officielle en matière de langue, Pierre Curzi, a appelé les responsables à faire marche arrière.
M. Curzi et Mme St-Pierre s'opposent à la décision de l'Association culturelle Louis-Hébert d'exiger le retrait des groupes Bloodshot Bill et Lake of Stew du spectacle alternatif «L'Autre St-Jean», qui aura lieu le 23 juin à Montréal ...
The concert is called "L'Autre St-Jean (not L'Autre Fete nationale), but then the holiday has both names even officially.

Reality check: French is not the only official language in Quebec, but the only official one of the provincial government. Meanwhile, I pay my Quebec taxes, licences, etc., in English.

So will the anglos acts finally "accepted", sing in French only? Or both French and English? English only would be true liberty. But also irrelevant to a fake "national" holiday, if the nation has only one official language.

Also, there is a regulation that official St-Jean festivities
must be conducted in French.

The Louis-Hébert association – which has ties to the sovereignist Société St. Jean Baptiste AND the JPQ, had insisted all acts be in French.

However, the organization distanced itself from statements by an association vice-president who first set off the controversy.

Instead, the association said yesterday that its concern about the participation of the anglophone artists is because of a rumoured protest at the event and worry the city would cancel it. (They didn't.)

Still, to assuage irate nationalists, spokesperson
Julien Larocque-Dupont (also of the JPQ) reiterated the English artists' small part, saying "there's no question here of a bilingual show." (News flash: if the show is presented in both French and English, it is bilingual.)The other artists on the bill, even the franco and sovereignist ones, support the anglos being there.

The festivities are supported by tax dollars (provincial, and ultimately federal transfers).

«Ils sont québécois et on les accepte comme québécois, a-t-il indiqué. On n'a absolument rien contre le fait qu'ils chantent en anglais. Mais la Fête nationale, ça se passe en français.»
Une réunion tenue vendredi n'a pas permis de trouver un compromis. Pour [Mathieu Bouthillier], c'est donc officiel : les Anglos ne seront pas de la fête. «Pour nous, le dossier est clos», a-t-il affirmé.
Premature categorical statement:

"Il y a des débats qui sont difficiles au Québec, voire même "divisifs". Cela ne veut pas dire que nous devons faire l'économie de ces débats, mais cela signifie que nous devons les faire comme il se doit. Pour l'heure, nous voulons que cette 175e édition souligne ce qui nous unit et nous demandons à tous de respecter cette volonté. Pour nous, l'incident est clos", ajoutent les représentants du Mouvement national des Québécoises et Québécois, du Comité de la Fête nationale à Montréal, de l'Association culturelle Louis-Hébert et de C4 Productions.
L'autre candidate à la mairie, Louise Harel, a pris ses distances face aux groupes qui réclamaient le départ de Lake of Stew et Bloodshot Bill. Elle estime que la Fête nationale devrait être celle de «tous les Québécois».
«La nation québécoise, c'est des personnes de toutes origines et de différentes langues maternelles, a-t-elle affirmé. Le français, c'est la langue commune. C'est cette langue commune que je souhaite le plus utilisée. Mais dans la nation, on n'exclut pas la communauté anglophone montréalaise.»
[Then let the anglos perform and present, in English only, if they choose.]
Le maire de l'arrondissement de Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, André Lavallée, affirme qu'il n'est pas question d'intervenir dans le programme de L'Autre St-Jean: «Il faut qu'ils trouvent une solution qui est acceptée par les gens concernés. Le Comité national finance cette fête. Il est en droit d'avoir son mot à dire sur la programmation.' [Actually, her borough is one of the sponsors]
The province will not intercede, even though they put up half the money.