28 July 2011

Que reigne Andre Pratte

"38% plus un"


Au cours d'une entrevue diffusée dimanche à l'émission Les coulisses du pouvoir (Radio-Canada), le chef du Bloc québécois a fait deux affirmations éminemment contestables. Plongés dans leur habituelle léthargie, les adversaires politiques de Gilles Duceppe ont laissé passer ces déclarations qui auraient dû les faire bondir.

Interrogé sur la popularité de l'option souverainiste, M. Duceppe a déclaré: «Sur 200 élus québécois à Québec et à Ottawa, il y en a 101 qui sont souverainistes, les 49 du Bloc, les 51 du Parti québécois et M. Khadir de Québec solidaire. Ça fait 50% plus un.»

Quel calcul tordu que voilà! Dans les faits, le Parti québécois, le Bloc et Québec solidaire ont obtenu 38,5% de tous les votes exprimés au Québec lors des élections fédérales et provinciales de l'automne. Les indépendantistes sont donc loin de leur mythique 50% plus un. Ils en sont plutôt à 38% plus un... et ce, même si le PQ et le Bloc ont tous deux répété, durant leur campagne respective, que l'indépendance n'était pas un enjeu des élections ...

27 July 2011

"Bad English an embarrassment"

It happened again on a recent Saturday night on Crescent St. A tourist asked where I'm from, adding that I couldn't possibly be from here - my English is too good ...

No wonder, though - it's not like there are many signs of us. All last weekend, prominent signage, the length and breadth of probably the largest sidewalk sale event in the city, proclaimed "The Sainte-Catherine Street celebrates" (translating La Sainte-Catherine célèbre) and "More than 2 km of sale" (for Plus de 2 km de soldes) ...
In addition to being an embarrassing and insulting slap in the face to its largest - albeit dwindling - minority, these all-too-common occurrences demonstrate not only a lack of respect but also a lack professionalism. How is it that, with all the English speakers native to this fair city, not one could be found to proofread a poster that was to be splashed from one end to the other of the busiest downtown shopping hub for one of the retail sector's biggest events of the year? ...

18 July 2011

Lord Atholstan

A man of great vitality and immense energy, he retained active direction of his newspapers until he was well beyond his eightieth year, when he disposed of them.
His education being deficient, he made no pretence of being a writer or editor, and the outstanding factors in his remarkable success as a newspaper publisher were his almost uncanny ability to appreciate and even foresee what the public would regard as important news and his energetic skill, which he reinforced by a willingness to spend money freely for his purposes, in catering for its appetite as he gauged it from time to time.
Since Graham was a strong protectionist and keen imperialist, the political influence of his papers was usually, but not always, exercised on behalf of the Canadian conservative party. Indeed in political circles he was regarded as erratic and undependable and his habit of sending communications to political leaders in a curious cipher of his own invention exposed him to the charge of being an intriguer. But he never wavered in his ardour for the closer consolidation of the British Commonwealth, and it led him to take a leading part in the organization of the Empire Press Union, of the Canadian section of which he was president for many years.
In his later life Graham used his great wealth generously for philanthropic purposes. Among these, he was best known for the maintenance of a free soup-kitchen every winter for the poor of Montreal and the support of hospitals and medical research. He was knighted in 1908 and was raised to the peerage as Baron Atholstan, of Huntingdon, Quebec, and Edinburgh, in 1917; he was the first Canadian journalist to receive this latter honour. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Law from Glasgow University in 1909. He married in 1892 Annie Beekman, second daughter of Edward Hamilton, of Montreal, and had one daughter. He died at Montreal 28 January 1938.
A portrait of Atholstan by Alphonse Jongers is in the possession of his daughter, the Hon. Mrs. B. M. Hallward, of Montreal.

11 July 2011

Flanagan: Clarifying the Clarity Act


Recent labour strife has turned public attention away from the stand of Jack Layton and the NDP toward the Clarity Act, specifically whether 50 per cent plus one in a referendum would constitute a “clear majority” for the separation of Quebec from Canada. But we shouldn’t leave that discussion without clarifying some essential questions.
There is, indeed, good reason for emphasizing the normal criterion of 50 per cent plus one as the decision threshold. Anything higher could encourage strategic voting as a bargaining threat. Those who would vote to divide Canada must be made to recognize the seriousness of what they are doing. But there are other considerations, too.
The Clarity Act was passed by Parliament in 2000 after the Supreme Court of Canada had laid down some legal principles governing provincial secession. The most important feature of the act is its insistence that the secession of a province can take place only through a constitutional amendment.

10 July 2011

SSJB modern anti-Semitic skeletons

Re: "Gazette won't apologize for 1849 riot, fires" (Gazette, April 25).
Mario Beaulieu of the Societé St. Jean Baptiste is in no position to complain about The Gazette's role in the 1849 riots, as the SSJB has never apologized for its fascist, anti-Semitic past.
Two weeks after 91 German Jews were murdered in the Nazi Kristallnacht of 1938, and thousands more were sent to concentration camps, the SSJB sent a message to Ottawa demanding that no Jewish refugees be admitted to Canada.
In 1944, when the world knew that mass murder was going in Europe and thousands of Quebec Jews were serving in Canada's armed forces, the SSJB sent a second petition to Ottawa demanding again that Jewish refugees be kept out.
Many of the passages about Montreal's Jews in the society's 1975 official history would today be classed as hate literature, and the book's fawning praise of Vichy France included a claim that attacks on its ruler, Marshal Pétain, were comparable to attacks on Joan of Arc.
Let Mario Beaulieu clean the skeletons out of the SSJB's 20th-century closet before worrying about 1849. And if Beaulieu has never read his group's fascist, Pétainist, and anti-Semitic official history, I would be happy to lend him my personal copy.
Joseph Aspler

04 July 2011

Liars? You figure?

The landings at Normandy on that same date in 1944 had enormous worldwide consequences. However, the Quebec's Secondary IV history textbook omits the event completely, but does refer to the conscription crisis and the rise of the Bloc Populaire during that war. That's putting important issues into context isn't it?