01 October 2010

Macpherson: Charge of Quebec-bashing handy tool for the intellectually lazy

Charge of Quebec-bashing handy tool for the intellectually lazy

Maybe it's because Jean Charest knows that a lot of Quebecers blame him rather than Maclean's for the magazine's cover story calling Quebec "the most corrupt province in Canada."
But his letter to the magazine demanding an apology is a halfhearted gesture.
His office didn't even mention the letter until yesterday, three days after it was sent, and then only when journalists asked whether one had been sent.

08 July 2010

Macpherson: What is (and is not) Quebec Bashing

Quebec-Born Filmmaker of Color Says Quebec Cinema Ignores Minorities, Faces Backlash | Epress News

When Marco Fortier wrote last month in his blog on the popular news site ruefrontenac. com that Quebecers are rude, it was followed by a mostly civil discussion in the blog’s comments section, writes Don Macpherson in Canada’s The Montreal Gazette.
Nobody dashed off a post angrily suggesting that Fortier move away if he didn’t like it here.
That’s because Fortier had kept it in the family. He had satisfied three unofficial conditions for exercising his freedom to express public criticism of Quebecers.
He had done so in French, and to a French-speaking audience. And most important, as a French-speaking Quebecer, he is a member of the family himself.

17 April 2010

Lost in translation, perhaps.


“The French theatre is the theatre of the French people,” says Mouawad. “Polish can be French too, if we want.”

26 March 2010

Historical anti-semitism in Quebec schools

While it's true that anti-jewish prejudice was common in English Canada decades ago, I have no evidence that the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was on the curriculum there.

It was in Quebec, tho.


Or the choice of absence


The UNESCO Convention/Recommendation against Discrimination in Education, of which Canada (federal government and provincial governments) are bound, states that in the absence of choice, the establishment or maintenance, for linguistic reasons, of separate educational systems or institutions is discriminatory by definition.

20 March 2010

The 'mother country' gives Quebeckers a wake-up call


It was a pathetic performance of subservience and parochialism, French governments having long grown tired of the subject. France had been opposed to Quebec secession since the presidency of François Mitterrand, and relations had been generally excellent between Paris and Ottawa ...

France and Quebec, he continued, share universal values, such as "the refusal of sectarianism, the refusal of division, the refusal to be self-absorbed, the refusal to define one's identity by fierce opposition to another." Quebec is a member of France's "family"; Canada is France's "friend." One kind of relationship does not preclude the other ...

The French are rationalists and realists in foreign policy. The creation of a little state in North America makes no sense to them. The French language is well protected in Quebec, cultural exchanges are strong and, in a divided Europe, France doesn't need any examples of secession that could spread by way of example ...

18 March 2010

"Pearson school board fighting for its future"


The Lester B. Pearson School Board is participating in a new campaign promoting the benefits of the English-language school system ...

[Marcus Tabachnick said in an interview] “Without our education system, we don’t have a community here. This is the last institution we can control on our own.”

While all school boards in Quebec have been affected by declining demographics, the English school boards have been particularly hard hit. And now the attempts to close the loophole in Bill 104 - which would put a stop to students attending a year of school in a private English school so they could then qualify for the English public system - could mean a loss of even more students in English schools ...

The Kyle Wozniak file


If Canadian federal-jurisdiction workplaces are strictly federal, then it should be hands off from provincial interference. Unless of course, the interference is for a principle you support, like the prima facie-tiousness of French in Quebec.

But federalism, like democracy, is a series of checks and balances. Schools are a provincial jurisdiction under the Constitution of Canada. Educational rights in the official languages are enumerated there. The so-called Canada clause, where access to English schools in Quebec is granted, was whittled down by federal-provincial wrangling all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Thomas Mulcair of the federal NDP is a former Quebec provincial cabinet minister, and a putative federal one. His comments and insight on Quebec are germane and welcome at any time.

But Kyle Wozniak's father's presence or absence is not germane in this case. His educational history and Kyle's mother's rights are.

Now you care about Kyle's education. Kyle's mother presumably went to French school in Quebec, but since she didn't move anywhere, she has a presumptive right to schooling her child in English.

The majority and the minority both will have to suffer along with the political types' endless appeal to insecurity. Recall Proposition 08 against gay marriage in California (please). Minority rights balanced against those of the majority are another price we all owe each other.

Maybe Woody Allen would be as hard-pressed to satirize Quebec as Mordecai Richler was: just present the facts and no one will believe it's not a put-on.

09 March 2010

Niqab-wearer blocked again from class


The Quebec government has intervened again in the case of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her niqab veil during a French-language class. 

Last week, Naïma Atef Amed filed a complaint with the province’s human rights commission after she was kicked out of a government-funded language class for new immigrants at the CÉGEP de Saint-Laurent in Montreal. The school had demanded that Amed take off her niqab veil, which covers her head and face and leaves only her eyes exposed, for part of the class. 
Premier Jean Charest defended the school's decision, saying that people who expect to receive public services must show their face

Whither 101?


... If Quebec were ever to extend the language-of-work provisions of Bill 101 to companies with 50 or fewer employees, there would be a lot of unhappiness in Montreal's busy western suburban industrial parks. It's much easier for small companies to pick up and leave than it is for larger ones. So far, the prevailing view within successive Parti Québécois and Liberal governments has been that extending the law to small companies would be too risky for the Quebec economy. Better to let these entrepreneurial start-ups grow up and establish roots in Quebec, the thinking goes, before folding them into the language regulation ...

04 March 2010

Boom de bebes


To be sure, Quebec isn't the only jurisdiction confronted with the challenges of an aging society. But Quebec had the largest baby boom in the western world, followed by one of the biggest baby busts, and it is already carrying one of the developed world's largest per-capita debts.

How to contribute: numbers crunched ...

Conservatives 2008 Q4 = raised $ 6.34 million
total eligible voters = 23.68 million

23 February 2010

Love thy (schoolyard) neighbor


Anglos outside Montreal told the pollster they feel they are discouraged by their schools from interacting with francophones, to avoid "conflict." Surely French- and English-language school boards should end this old-fashioned approach.

18 February 2010

Who are they, and where do they live? Names ...


When Ignatieff spoke of the strategic importance of the Alberta oil sands on a daylong visit to Montreal last month, I could not think of the last time a federal leader had spoken of Canada in Quebec, or at least done so outside the narrow confines of what more the federation could do for Quebecers.

Quebec sovereignists lost the last referendum; their cause has been in decline ever since and yet, almost fifteen years later, the Bloc has a virtual monopoly on speaking of Canada in Quebec and for Quebec on the federal stage.

Ignatieff will not have much of a shot at bringing the boom-and-bust Quebec federalist cycle to an end unless he brings more of the Canadian conversation to Quebec, and a more engaged generation of francophone federalists to that conversation. Those federalists actually exist. But more of that in another column.


"Insultés et agressés parce qu'ils parlent anglais"


Au Saguenay, des jeunes anglophones installés dans la région ont été la cible d'insultes et d'actes de vandalisme.

Le groupe d'adolescents séjourne dans la région depuis octobre dernier dans le cadre du programme Katimavik.

Des oeufs sont lancés régulièrement contre leur résidence. Un projectile a même fracassé la fenêtre de leur maison d'accueil il y a trois semaines ...

Assaults against federalists, physical and emotional, are common in Quebec; I was subject to one. Federalists believe in the rule of law, and freedom of assembly, so the opposite is seldom the case.

What else is common is police inaction against the perpetrators; I was subject to that as well.

Some "thoughtful" replies:


I don't want anyone to get beat up (duh!) but I do kind of wonder that the "federalists" in question were doing. I've certainly encountered thuggish federalists of the Galganovite variety. Of course they are for the "rule of law" when that means majority-nation domination.

And it is simply not true that assaults on federalists (or anglophones, unless they are also people of colour, gay etc, just like francophone or allophone people of colour or [LGBT] people) are common in Québec. What is common is people like you always referring to Québec as "this province", and not by its name, as if we were dirty or something.

You really shouldn't stereotype the political views of anglophones - many are progressive and, while not necessarily sovereignist, believe in the right to national self-determination. You'd be surprised how many happily work in the labour movement, the women's movement and other progressive social movements here. And wouldn't live anywhere else in North America.
And another:

I notice that "toddschneider" has taken for granted the shock title given by TVA to that piece of news, viz. that these youths were assaulted because they spoke English.
We don't know that, actually. The dynamics of respect or lack thereof between two groups - across political lines in most cases - are complex enough that I seriously doubt the summary explanation offered by this title.

I live in an area of Montreal (Plateau Mont-Royal) where people coming out of bars or restarants late at night can be quite a nuisance. Anglophones are a minority here, but when a group of late night partiers is especially loud and boisterous, it so happens that three times out of four, it is in English that those affluent white boys wake me and the neighbourhood up.

If I were to let loose with a bucket of water, would it be because they speak English? I am sure "toddschneider" would think so.
No, I wouldn't actually. But thanks for asking.

Coincidentally, a francophone resident of the Plateau wrote a dismissive piece recently republished in Maissonneuve magazine, about trendy anglophones from outside Quebec moving in to that painfully hip area, and not learning French for years, if at all. As residents of Canada it's their right, but it's also their loss. Boorishness comes in all languages.

While all incidents can have multiple interpretations, my first reflex is to side with the victims. And of course, I would do the same if the perpetrators were anglophones. Bigotry comes in all cultures.

Putting aside the facile acceptance of a national self-determination argument, at no point did I say that anglo = federalist = regressive, nor would I. Reactionism comes in all tendencies.

But I would argue that groups like the Jeunes Patriotes and their type, are given a very large leash, and few dogcatchers to worry about. They even routinely send out advance notice of their presence, to which the cops routinely yawn. Whereas that hasn't happened on the federalist side, from my intimate knowledge of my province, *since* the so-called angryphone era.

For the record, I am an "angryphobe" (sic) as well. Lose your temper, lose the argument.

10 February 2010

Psycho-history of la nation

... PQ Cabinet Minister Dr. Camille Laurin ... used to muse about how he went into politics to administer "psychoanalysis" on the Quebecois people. [He believed they] suffered from a collective [Oedipal] complex [towards] the English, that could only be cured through [voting] YES in a referendum on [sovereignty].

03 February 2010

"How to kill Quebec separatism"


... So how can Quebec separatism be killed once and for all as a credible threat? By taking three steps:

Ottawa must challenge in court the pretensions of Bill 99, which summarizes all the myths and illusions propagated by secessionists for the past 40 years. Ottawa can do this directly, or by funding private interests, such as lawyer Guy Bertrand, to launch a legal attack.

Ottawa must declare that it will enforce the decision of the Supreme Court on secession, and uphold the Constitution. That means not only that it will refuse to negotiate secession unless the conditions spelled out in the Clarity Act are fulfilled; but, most important, that it will resist any attempt to secede unilaterally and unconstitutionally, in accordance with its solemn duty.

The federal government must declare firmly, unequivocally, that it is the trustee, not the owner, of native lands in Quebec, that these lands will never be handed over to Quebec as part of a secessionist agreement unless the First Nations themselves choose to secede from Canada. They never will ...

29 January 2010

Parliamentary Coalition 2008 rally report: Montreal

A good-sized crowd, but judging by the signs, it was mostly unionists, with a few scattered social interest groups (students, political prisoners).

There was no contingent for me to stand behind, literally, since even the NPD Quebec banner section was moribund (no handouts, for example).

I picked up a "Coalition Yes! Make Parliament work" placard suitable for window display.

Boring, raspy, all-French speeches; but live rock-pop music in a mix of English and French. Go figure.

A few annoying anti-ROC slogans (of the Redneck-Western-Harper-Dictateur-RIP ilk). I nickname these bigots "bluenecks."

Still, not a bad day out. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Whose Jews?

from the Media in Montreal Yahoo! group:

Well, McGill (and Sir George) both discriminated against Jews. No question about that. In fact, when I did a broadcast on it, the then VP of McGill honored me with an [invitation] to lunch at the [faculty], at which he told me it wasn't really discrimination. They were just trying to preserve the christian [atmosphere] at McGill. Sure.

Anyway, I never heard of [segregation] of Jews at McGill. They certainly were held to different standards, and their numbers in certain areas (like law) were limited - as was the case of blacks, too.. But segregation? I would certainly like to see some examples of that. It sounds like one of those myths Francophones were fond of - while ignoring the fact that they refused to let Jews into their public and private schools at all.


QS rally, circa November 2008

from the Quebec solidaire website:

Montreal, on November 23 - Solidary Quebec held a large partisan gathering today in Montreal, in the company of songwriter and performer Dan Bigras, the militant ecologist Daniel Breton and the founder of Équiterre, Laure Waridel.

Following the short speeches, the partisans were invited to take part in a door-to-door blitz in the districts of Gouin and Draper, before going to a musical performance in the evening.

In front of a tightly packed room, the spokesperson of Solidary Quebec, Francoise David (Gouin) delivered a speech in which she stressed the importance of electing Solidaire deputies on December 8.

“If we are not in the National Assembly, who else will speak about these teachers with the overloaded classes and the insufficient teaching resources? Who else will say that we must put an end to tax avoidance by the large companies and large fortunes? Who else will say that the era of gas and oil is finished? Who else will speak about living together without complacency and without intolerance?


“If these stakes will not be raised in the National Assembly without Quebec Solidaire, you do not wait either to find them raised with the debate Tuesday evening. Without Solidaire Quebec, this debate of the chiefs will be as artificial as dull, so much the programs of the ADQ, the PQ and of the PLQ are similar. ” Francoise David concluded her speech by saying that it hoped to be invited to the debate of the chiefs to his manner, in spite of the refusal of the consortium and the political parties.

The Solidaire spokesperson of Quebec Amir Khadir (Draper) for its part pointed out that sovereignty is in the middle of the Solidaire project. “As Richard Desjardins said it very recently, Solidaire Quebec is the only party with still speaking about sovereignty. And we will continue to speak it about it does not matter the economic situation, it does not matter where the wind turns. “As many Quebec we believe that sovereignty must be associated with a project removing for Quebec. The Québécois Party proposes to us since too a long time an emptied sovereignty of its substance. Does Solidaire Quebec propose with the Inhabitants of Quebec to give again a direction with sovereignty because after all, which sovereignty wants to say if we are unable to control our economy? What wants to say sovereignty if we are unable to protect our environment and our employment? ”