Just two weeks ago the Sith’ari of the Conservative Party of Canada, the University of Calgary’s Tom Flanagan, explained to La Presse’s Patrick Lagacé that his boy Stephen Harper had pretty much filled up on all the Québec votes he was going to get.
« Stephen Harper has made some big efforts. But he’s not a native son. He faces Gilles Duceppe, who is a native son. Is there an example in Canadian history of a party leader able to win Québec when his main opponent is Québécois? I don’t think so. It might be an impossible burden. » (My backlation of Lagacé’s French translation)
If you can crunch that quote into 140 characters, you might want to tag a #FAIL to it. According to the latest polls, Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party is ahead of the Bloc in Québec with 36% of the votes to Gilles Duceppe’s 31%. Even with the all important Francophone demographic Jack Layton is in the margin of error at 34% compared to Gilles Duceppe’s 38%.
Not only does the NDP not have a Québec or Francophone leader, it doesn’t even have a decent token Franco. The NDP’s only Québec MP, Outremont’s Thomas Mulcair, is also a Maudit Anglais. It apparently hasn’t stopped them from a formidable surge in Québec.
Of course the NDP will not win much more than a handful of seats on May 2nd. The very poll that puts them in the lead might spook voters back to the old parties, the NDP doesn’t have the political muscle to get the folks from the retirement home to the voting booth and many voters might change their minds when they see unfamiliar names instead of « Clayton » on their ballot.
But this latest poll once again challenges the tenacious Canadian myth that Québec voter base their democratic decisions on obscure tribal loyalties.
This idea that the Québécois vote ethnically is more a cop-out than a myth, really. Instead of actually trying to come up with policies and a vision of Canada that the Québécois could buy into, English-Canada’s politicians have wasted three decades in grooming Frenchie Saviors willing to sell their agenda to « his people ».
It’s that kind of thinking that led the Liberal Party to choose Stéphane Dion, against the loud opposition of its own Québec caucus, as leader. Native son or not, Dion was trounced in the 2008 election.
So now I have a question for Tom Flanagan. When was the last time the voter of Alberta voted for a Québécois when there was a Albertan on the ballot?
I had to spend 27 minutes on the phone with a CBC producer last week to realize I had no real opinion about the upcoming federal election.
This of course is one of the great universal truths of our lives in this valley of tears: we know nothing, indeed are nothing, until we’ve got someone else to bounce off.
I had no idea what a America could possibly be until I went on my first trip to Europe. I can’t even count how many of my unpoliticized friends became sovereingtists in Spain, Belgium and BC. As a matter of fact the AngryFrenchGuy was born in the USA and the first post written in a Volvo 630 with Ontario plates parked at a Flying J somewhere near Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania.
Think about it, what could Canada possibly be if it couldn’t not be the United States?
And then, just as I was reflecting on this the Universe hooked me up with the Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project, drifters from the Lac Saint-Jean now based Kumming in the Yunnan province of southern China who sing in French, English and some southern chinese patois about the universal truth that we are so much cooler when we’re drunk.
AngryFakeLeaks presents: The Senate’s Standing Commitee on Official Language’s lost report on Nunavut’s Anglos
The myths of the white man of Canada’s North as a wealthy adventurer backed by wealthy European powers and natural resources companies still plague the English-speaking minority of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, according to a report by the Senate’s Standing Commitee on Official Languages.
Research for the report titled “From Baffin to the 21st Century: The endangered vitality of the English-speaking minority of Nunavut”, was conducted by the same senators that published another stereotype-shattering study tittled “The vitality of Québec’s English-speaking communities: from myth to reality.” In both reports the senators describe an official-language community that often lacks access to many federal services most Canadian take for granted.
« People assume that because the white Anglos who come to Nunavut are all under government contract or working for mining companies that they are a privileged minority », explained committee chairwoman Andrée Dawson-Duplessis. « The reality is that sometimes in Nunavut you come in contact with people who don’t speak English. That can be very disorienting for some people. Especially the elderly. »
The Senate committee’s report recognizes that the situation of Nunavut’s English-speaking community is unique. All of Nunavut children go to English schools, English is the working language of federal government institutions and of the rapidly growing natural resources industry. 100% of immigrants and 36% of natives of the territory adopt English as their home language.
Yet the senate committee has found that these statistics hide the reality of a community whose vitality is in jeopardy. For example, it has found that in numerous small communities stretching from James Bay to the arctic circle, English-speaking Canadians have little to no access to health care, schools or vocational training in English. « If you take an airplane from Iqualuit to Igloolik, and then you take a snowmobile and head north for 3 hours, you will find small communities where there is no English-language vocational training», explained Dawson-Duplessis, adding that the Official Languages Act requires the Federal government to actively promote the development of minority Official-language communities everywhere in Canada.
« That situation make it very difficult for some people », she added. « Especially the elderly. »
In all the committee tabled 27 recommendations for the federal government, including the creation of programs to promote English-language literature, movies and television and introduce Inuktitut-speaking inhabitants of Nunavut to the richness of Anglo culture. It also recommend’s the direct financing of Anglo institutions. “It can be very confusing for some people to deal with a territorial government run by non-English speaking people”, said Dawson-Duplessis. “Especially for the elderly.”
“Canada’s image is a diverse and multicultural country”, said the committee chairwoman, “and the high birth rate of Nunavut’s natives, the highest in Canada, challenges that diversity.” For that reason the Senate recommended that the federal government encourage and facilitate English-speaking immigration to help the Anglo community maintain it’s demographic weight.
Nunavut’s English-speakers repeatedly told the senators they were very supportive of Inuits culture and that they wished that the English-speaking culture could be seen as an integral part of Northern life. In the word of Bernard Ross, chairman of the Nunavut Community Network: « To survive and thrive Nunavut’s English-speaking community must grow. That doesn’t have to happen at the expense of other communities. They can join us and grow with us. It’s win-win. »
A couple of years ago I was hired by Vanier College, an anglo CEGEP, to take some students on a field trip for what was either an architecture or religion class. It wasn’t exactly clear. Anyway me and the kids spent the day driving around Montreal, stopping at various synagogues, churches and temples.
The teacher seemed like a very nice, and from what I could hear from behind the diesel engine, knowledgable man. He was your stereotypical CBC/As things happen fellow with glasses and toast crumbs in his beard who made it a matter of principle to address me in French even though on that day he was the paying customer.
Just before noon we stopped at St.Joseph’s Oratory in Côte-des-Neiges. The teacher gave the students a brief introduction to the story of the not-yet-saint Brother André, the lowly doorman who was commanded by God to build a big-ass church on Mount-Royal and to dedicate it to Jesus’s dad.
Then, before letting the students out of the bus, he informed them that catholic tradition demands that visitors to a church uncover their heads.
« Of course », he added, « if your religion requires you to cover your head, you may keep your hats. »
All of the sudden, all was made clear. That day, on the mountain, the lord came to me in the shape of that small man in a plaid shirt who looked like someone my dad would hang out with, and gave me the kabbalistic key to the split-level logical architecture used by the English Canadian media when discussing issues religion and law. Here was the wisdom of Younge Street used to solve conflicts between different incompatible religious requirements in all its simple clarity:
The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.
Everything made sense now. This was how MacLean’s Martin Patriquin could write an article about tensions between Outremont’s Hassidics—a hat and whig-wearing sect that openly enforces ethnic purity—and their secular neighbours, and portray the latter as the intolerant ones.
This was how Montreal Gazette could simultaneously argue that the religious paraphernalia of Sikhs (a hat people) is so holy that our democratically elected legislators are not qualified to even have an opinion about it AND that Christian (a hat-less faith) prayers and crosses do not belong in the civic space and that MNA’s are not only allowed, but required to legislate.
The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.
Dear Mr. Singh,
It’s with great interest that I read your letter in Thursday’s Gazette in which you attempt to school the « culturally ignorant » members of our National Assembly about the Sikh kirpan.
First of all, I want to congratulate you for your willingness to go beyond murky statistics and to boldly dare to make up numbers on the fly when you write that there is an « extremely high » probability that none of our lawmakers « would be able to provide a coherent answer » if asked explain the significance of the kirpan.
Most people are not willing to admit that the statistics they pull out of their asses are solely based on prejudice and ignorance. Your self-awareness is commendable.
Your brief historical primer on the kirpan was very informative. I’m sure the democratically elected members of Québec’s National Assembly will be relieved to learn that the self-appointed clerics of Amritsar, Punjab settled this matter in their name all the way back in 1922.
Indeed, why indeed should Québec, Ontario, American Homeland Security or the United Nations for that matter, have any laws regarding the kirpan at all since the wise men of Amritsar have proclaimed that the dagger is not a knife. Someone should also tell Manjit Mangat.
But as McGill’s chaplain and the president of the Interfaith council of Montreal I trust you are familiar with the many other laws of our province that violate the religious commandments of our fellow citizens. Think of the religious rights of all these poor Catholic children forced to learn about evolution, the ultraconservative Muslim clerics forced to send their daughters to school and the Mormon men prevented from marrying multiple underaged girls.
Men like you need to speak out and explain to the lawmakers and people of Québec that in today’s multicultural world, the rules of unelected religious leaders override the laws of our democratically elected legislators. Because. Just because.
I was profoundly moved by the story of the kirpan as the symbol of the Sikh’s determination to not let others impose their religious tenets upon them, and impressed with the way you use that story to argue that Québec must let Sikh’s wear their kirpan’s anywhere they want to. I was also impressed by your splendid demonstration that not giving special treatment to Sikhs who visit the National Assembly was a double standard. Remarkable.
But what truly blew me away me was your boldness and courage in choosing to lecture Québec’s political class about their need to « educate themselves about new cultures that are coming to the province » in English, a language the vast majority of your fellow citizens do not speak, read or understand!
Speaking of cultural ignorance…
God bless you, Manjit Singh.
It’s going to be a scorching hot summer in Québec City. In about a week the Philadelphia Flyers will put an end to the providential media blackout provided by the Habs’ unexpected early playoffs successes and Jean Charest’s Liberals, already busy with Mulroney-scale allegations of corruption, will also have to deal with their very first full-scale language crisis.
And if the word on the WiFi is true, Charest might just be about to take Québec’s already schizophrenic linguistic situation straight through the looking-glass.
Y’all of course remember that last year the Supreme Court of Canada invalidated Bill 104, a law that closed a loophole used by wealthy families to purchase the right to send their kids to English-language public schools, a privilege that in the spirit and letter of Québec’s laws, is supposed to be reserved for Québec’s historic English-speaking minority.
The Supremes essentially agreed that closing that loophole was a legitimate objective, but decided that the technicalities of Bill 104, the idea that all the time a student spent in a unsubsidized private school didn’t count as education in Canada, was too much. It gave the Québec bureaucrats one year to find a better way to close the loophole.
Evidently this is harder than it sounds and Charest government already missed its deadline.
In the Red corner, tenors of the English-speaking community have taken the debate way beyond the loophole and are arguing that short of a new source of students, Québec’s English-language public school system, and, by extension, all of Québec’s English-speaking community, is on the verge of demographic collapse. (The inconvenient fact that the size of the English system relative to the French system is stable, that interprovincial migration from English-speaking provinces to Québec is on the rise and that English as a home, work and higher education language in Québec is in the midst of a historic boom is conveniently ignored.)
Emboldened by a recent poll that suggests that for the first time in decades Québec Francos would support giving themsleves the right to send their kids to English schools, some are asking the Liberals to take this opportunity to give… everyone except Québec’s Franco’s access to English schools.
One of the solutions to the English schools demographic « decline » peddled by School Board—and appalingly getting support in some sovereigntist circles—is the right to public education should be extended not only to families who have received an English education somewhere in Canada, but also to those who have received this education in « English-speaking countries » such as the US or the United Kingdom.
Notice the two countries that inevitably come up when that solution is proposed: the US and the UK. What about Jamaica, South Africa, Belize, Nigeria and Cameroun?
An arbitrary choice of countries could never be justified on any objective moral grounds and would inevitably be struck down in courts as discriminatory. Eventually, the right to a subsidised English education would have to be extended to the children of parents who have been educated in English not only in Canada, but « to any children with at least one parent educated in English anywhere on Earth », as the Montreal Gazette suggested.
In other words, instead of closing a loophole that enabled wealthy Québec Francos and immigrants to purchase the privilege of a subsidized English education in Québec, these people are suggesting that we take the racket global!
Because make no mistake about it, « elsewhere on Earth » an English education is a privilege of the wealthy. In places like Pakistan, India, much of Africa and Asia, sending their children to exclusive private English-language schools is the local elites way of making sure they have first dibs on all the good government, justice and army brass jobs.
Ain’t globalization grand?
It is possible to argue that Québec’s English-speaking community has historical rights to its own institutions. But we would now be extending these rights to ALL English-speaking people, anywhere on Earth. Québec, of all places, would be the first Nation in the world to treat ALL THE WORLD’S ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES as a minority in need of special protection!
And all the Francos in the English language school board’s poll that want greater access to English schools? Too bad. They’d still be locked out.
The great novelist Mordecai Richler forever associated the cause of Québec’s independence to proto-fascist ideology in English-reading minds when he wrote in a series of articles in the New Yorker, later published as Oh Canada! Oh Québec! Requiem for a Divided Country, that:
« From the beginning, French-Canadian nationalism has been badly tainted by racism. The patron saint of the independantists, the Abbé Lionel Groulx was not only a virulent anti-Semite but also a nascent fascist, an unabashed admirer in the thirties of Mussolini, Dollfuss and Salazar. »
Although absolutely true, Richler’s diatribe obscured the fact that Mussolini had many admirers in the 1930′s, from industrialist Henry Ford to presidents and Prime ministers.
One of the most vocal and successful proponents of North American fascism was indeed a French-Canadian, but he was not a nationalist. From his early days as a reporter at the daily La Presse, through his internment during the war and well after the Allied victory, Adrien Arcand remained an admirer of the British Empire and a fierce opponent of an independent Québec that would have been, in his words, « at the mercy of the Jews. »
The AngryFrenchGuy spoke with Jean-François Nadeau, the author of Le Führer Canadien, the first biography of Adrien Arcand.
On the AngryFrenchGuy website the fascist past of Québec society, and the supposed roots of the nationalist movement in that past, are regularly brought up by some people. Just how big was the fascist movement in Québec in the 1930′s?
This idea of a movement essentially concentrated in Québec is bullshit. A thesis upheld by ignorants. In that period, it’s everywhere. There are movements like this in Brazil, Mexico and many in the United States. As a matter of fact, Arcand will experience a triumph of sorts in New York where there are gatherings at the Madison Square Garden—today known for hockey—and the New York hippodrome of tens of thousands members of organized groups who welcome him with the fascist salute. This is before 1939.
We tried to forget this, but in the 1920′s and 30′s, even people like Gandhi and president Roosevelt were very open to some aspects of Italian fascism.
In the case of Québec, some have tried in recent years to correlate that past with the national affirmation and indépendantiste movements. It doesn’t hold water. Those people hate the very idea of Québec’s national affirmation. They are the most fierce opponents of that idea. They dream about an imperial system—French or English style—but in the name of a very very strong, authoritarian and structured Canada.
Because Arcand is quite the anglophile, isn’t he?
His troops are commanded in English. He speaks English fluently. There are other groups like his in French-Canadian society, but he is the one who succeeded in federating other groups in English-Canada, in the West and the East. He speaks in meetings in the Atlantic provinces and in Toronto. He travels a lot in Canada, with the objective of founding a far right party, which he will achieve in 1938: the National Unity Party of Canada.
You’ve written that Canadian Prime Ministers encouraged his movement, at least in a underhanded way.
Prime Minister Bennett financed Adrien Arcand’s first antisemitic and virulently racist newspapers in the hope that Arcand, who is a brilliant marketer, would support him and help him elect enough Conservative candidates in Québec for him to form the government in Ottawa. It worked.
Even after the war, after 1945, there are many federal conservative MP’s who are very close to Arcand, who go to him for counsel and try, in one way or the other, to support some aspects of his doctrine.
Québec Conservatives or Canadian Conservatives?
Mostly French-Canadian, but also English-Canadian. He always said that the Anglo-Saxon world paid more attention to him than his own Latin world. In fact his own models are not so much Hitler or Mussolini as they are British Lords who are proponents of a British Imperial Fascism. People like Mosley who inspire him, and with whom he corresponds.
His is a racist, antisemitic, very Hitlerian approach to the far right, but English-style. That’s peculiar. For him, the New World will come about through the British Empire, the defence of a King and of the British monarchy. That’s why French-Canadian nationalists hate him so much, even if they defend ideas that aren’t far from his. They reject him because he is an imperialist.
It’s fascinating to read in your book that Arcand was one of the first Holocaust deniers.
After the war, even if his newspapers have lead him into a detention camp, Arcand doesn’t change his mind.
He can’t accept the idea that there had been a massacre of Jews and of political opponents. He doesn’t need any proof of a Jewish conspiracy, he’s already convinced. He will be one of the first to deny, on the basis of faith in the irrational that supports all his thought, that death and concentration camps could have existed.
He will be one of the first in 1946-47 to develop those ideas, which he will maintain, to the point of enriching the thinking of those we consider today to be the pioneers of Holocaust denial—that’s not a very appropriate name, we should call them falsificators of History. He is the one at the root of many of their ideas. In temporal terms, I see that he is writing these sorts of things before the leading theorists of denial even started to write.
One very surprising revelation in your book is that Pierre Elliot Trudeau defended Arcand. In what way? Was it a purely legal exercise?
When he was a student in London—but let’s be clear, when I say a young student, I mean a man of almost thirty years, with all his head and able to make a judgment—he wrote in a very conservative newspaper called Notre Temps that what was done to Adrien Arcand was horrible. He will write that a regime that claims to be democratic but is not able to support the opposition and freedom of speech of Arcand is denying itself.
That’s a little bit odd because he will himself use that very law, the very exceptional and contested War Measures Act, in 1970, to contain the supposed insurection of the Front de Libération du Québec. Yet we could very well take everything he writes in the case of Arcand and transpose it very exactly to the situation in 1970.
It’s very peculiar because people from the far right like Arcand, who are likely to have contacts with the enemy, are a real menace to the Canadian State. The country is at war against a formidable force. It’s not an apprehended insurrection like in 1970, it’s a real war with real tanks and aeroplanes and a real man called Adolf Hitler. And we have people here who wear uniforms with the swastika and are likely to help the enemy from the inside.
It’s not a coincidence if in May 1940, in England and South Africa and all over the world members of these groups are arrested on the exact same day. In 1970 we suppose there is a menace, but there is no proof. In 1939-40 we know that Poland has fallen, that France will be hit, that Belgium was hit, that Danzig is done and Czechoslovakia too. It’s not an apprehended menace. It’s a real physical menace.
So Trudeau’s point of view is a little bit peculiar…
Now, in all fairness, fascist movements in that period weren’t all as anglophile as Arcand’s. There are also nationalist French-Canadian factions with fascistic tendencies, right?
Yes, and they weren’t quite as important.
A few years ago we decided to do an ideological trial of the work of Lionel Groulx, and it is impossible to deny that there is an antisemitic variable in his thought and his brand of French-Canadian nationalism of the 1930′s. There is some very antisemitic prose published under his name or his pseudonyms.
But there is a great difference between this thinking and that of Adrien Arcand. First of all, it’s very latent and there isn’t much of it. More importantly, it doesn’t support the architecture of the thought. To use architectural language, if you remove the antisemitic variable from the discourse of people like Lionel Groulx, everything still holds. If you remove it from Arcand’s movement, everything collapses. The foundation of his ideology is that there is a Jewish project of world domination and that it is imperative that they be eliminated. That’s not the issue in right wing nationalist movements.
There is also Paul Bouchard’s La Nation group from Québec City, which is very strongly for independence and very antisemitic. They will strongly oppose Arcand’s ideas, even though they essentially are the same as their own: coporatism, against democracy, against representation, against traditional political systems.
But it’s Arcand who succeeded, in those networks, to structure the far right. Not that he was that successful. In the 1930′s, he wasn’t on his way to become Prime Minister of Canada, far from it. He was probably 3 or 4 years too late.