Archive for March 2008
Exactly 50% of participants to the AngryFrenchPoll on Québec identity have said that they consider National Post columnist Barabara Kay to be a Québécoise. The other half don’t.
Not surprisingly, Francos and Anglos don’t see things the same way. 64% of Anglos think she is a Québécoise, while only 22% of Francophones think so.
Quebecers discovered the previously unsuspected existence of Ms. Kay in the summer of 2006 when she published a column called “The Rise of Quebecistan” in which she essentially suggested that an independent Québec would be a haven for terrorists because sovereingnist leadership took part in a peace march for Lebanon. “Think about what this would mean if Quebec ever were to become independent, detached from the leadership of politicians who know the difference between a democracy and a gang of fanatical exterminationists.”
The article also informed us that “all Jews are federalists”. Salomon Cohen, Paul Unterberg, Henry Milner, David Levine and Armand Elbaz apparently are not Jewish.
The results of the poll are expected to hurt and trouble Ms. Kay who has lived in Québec most of her life and has always strived to be an active and dynamic part of her community.
In a 2005 column she recalled how she and her husband had bought land in the Laurentians north of Montreal where she planned to build a “habitant-style pre-fab”. Now this proud Québécoise even went so far as to, get this, hire some French-speaking help to build the house! The contractor in question’s English was rudimentary but that did not stop this wild and crazy gal who hired him nonetheless. “I function pretty well in French, so I saw it as an adventure.”
The owner of the Club de Hockey Canadien de Montréal George Gillette and Montreal businessman Joey Saputo said this week that they were working together to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Montreal.
That’s cool. People in Montreal are loving soccer. Support for Saputo’s Impact soccer team of the struggling United Soccer League is very strong and a new 15 000 seat stadium is being built for the team in the eastern part of town. MLS itself is a league on the rise with no less than David Bekham now playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
One thing bugs me, though. In every story I read about this news item, Montreal’s new Major League Soccer team is called Montreal FC. As in Montreal Football Club.
I don’t know if M. Saputo and Mr. Gillette have expressed their preference for that name or if it’s only a coincidence, but Montreal FC is a really bad name for a soccer team.
Common, now! I get it! I understand those who want a name that recalls the great FC’s of international soccer, but I don’t think Montreal should have a soccer team with an English name, and I don’t think I should have to explain why.
FC is lame. It’s so lame it’s what Toronto’s team picked as a name.
If Montreal wants to look to Europe for inspiration, I think l’Olympique de Montréal is the obvious choice.
Right… Olympic is not necessarily an inspirational word in this town…
How about the more subtle CF Montréal
CF for Club de Football de Montréal? Get it?
The name is directly inspired by the truly glorious Montrealers: le Club de Hockey Canadien de Montréal – That’s what the CH on the jersey and tattooed on your heart stands for.
CF makes you think of Canadiens-Français, so federalists can’t claim it’s covert separatist propaganda.
CF Montréal instead of Montreal FC is a name that will hint at Québec’s and Montreal’s frenchness without the cruelty of forcing Anglophones to say words like Alouette.
It’s in French yet “Club de Football” gives the name that true franglais feel that all Montrealers can bond around.
Plus, it’s obvious. CF Montréal instead of Montreal FC. People will get it.
Or how about AC Montreal, for Associazione Calcio Montreal?
It’s neutral ground, being neither French nor English, and still is very Montreal as italian has long been Montreal’s strong third language.
Furthermore, the role of Montreal Italians in Québec soccer is undeniable.
Unless you’d rather go with another another classic Football club name: Montreal United.
Right. Montreal United. All Montrealers, Franco, Allo, Anglo united around a united team. Montreal United… Or will it be l’Unité de Montréal?
And then they’d have to do one of those silly graphics that kind of looks like a D but at the same time kind of looks like an accent aïgu and a Fleur-de-Lys….
How about not?
At some point in the mid-eighties something odd happened. Half the kids around the world suddenly decided they wanted to be black. For some still mysterious reason, young people of every ethnic origin and language recognized themselves in the sounds and colors that were at that very specific time coming out of New York City. The Bronx, to be more specific. The South Bronx to be exact.
Somehow out of the concrete, poverty and crack violence that plagued that place and time an uncontrollable epidemic of art and sound sprang out. At twice the speed of Rock and Roll, massive murals of graffiti covered the walls of cities worldwide and the sounds of a culture called Hip Hop infiltrated every record collection.
Hip Hop became a worldwide culture, but a culture that could only express itself in the reality of one’s environment and personal struggle. To be Hip Hop was to be Real and to Represent.
Hip Hop legend KRS-One is now in his third decade of representing the South Bronx around the world. The one who calls himself the Teacha was in Montreal on March 9th and spoke to the AngryFrenchGuy from a hotel room in New Jersey a couple of days later.
I’m thinking of when you said « I manifest as a black man, but I’m universal. » When I was young that made a lot of sense to me. Today, how do you balance being an African American and just a human?
To tell you the truth I’m more Hip Hop than African American. I think that’s where the balance comes from, that there really is no balance.
African American, I don’t know what that is, really. I can’t put my hand on that. I know what it is politically, I know what it is spiritually, but I don’t know what it is in reality. How does it affect my life? Where’s the African American constitution? What is the collective African American goal? What is our set of ethics? Who are our heroes? I don’t see that in the African American community. I don’t even know if you can call it a community for that matter. What is our collective interest as African Americans? What do we all want? I don’t see any of that jumpin’ off. But I can answer thee questions when it comes to Hip Hop.
I find the way you define Nation interesting. Where I come from, Nation is a very charged word. Is Québec a Nation? How do you define the Hip Hop Nation?
A nation is a glorified community. A nation is any group of people who say they are a nation and can sustain their nationality.
When you speak of the Hip Hop group in world History… project your mind to 2200. We’re all gone. 2200 is looking back on a specific period of time when this movement was created and flourished. Now Hip Hop may not exist in 2200, but everything we’re doing today will. Hip Hop may not be practiced anymore, but everything we’re doing right now: the rhymes, the DVDs, Cds, the live performances, the scandals, the newsworthy stuff… All of that will be in existence in 2200.
Our offspring is gonna be looking back on our activity today for their heritage. This begins the mechanics of our civilization.
If you’re a Philosopher, this is the greatest time in human history. This is the age where new cultures are born. New civilizations come into play. This is nothing to do with nationalistic thought, or militarism leading to some sort of terrorism, far from that. This has to do with the need of the people. Worldwide people are crying out to be relieved from having to communicate through race, through ethnicity, through class, through gender, through their job, through their degree… I respect these things no doubt! But those who have this blood or this awareness of Hip Hop they can transcend their race or their class and achieve great things in this other community.
Is that how you explain the international appeal of Hip Hop? That it travels all over the world because people recognize something central in it?
The only thing I would say for the sake of scholarship is that Hip Hop met in America. Met in the Bronx. Hip Hop didn’t really start in the Bronx. Hip Hop has always been in the world at different times. It just becomes more concentrated at certain places.
Hip Hop met in the Bronx in tough time for the black community in the end of the 70′s and 80′s. How do you feel minorities are doing right now, either blacks, Latinos, Asians or new minorities?
We didn’t know that we were living badly ’till we got money. To say that was a low period in African American life, to answer your question I would say no! I don’t think the African American experience has changed from slavery to now. And I don’t mean to say that slavery is the backdrop of all African American History.
As a matter of fact, before the Louisiana purchase the Seminole tribe ruled Florida. The Seminole tribe was made up of runaway American slaves and Native Americans. Napoleon had French-African soldiers and government. Florida, Mississippi, what is now New-Orleans and Louisiana, that whole region was ruled by French blacks. African blacks. There was a lot of black government in the early days. The idea of blacks being slaves like the idea of Roots is a conspiracy to make all black people think that a small population of them represents the whole of them.
And it’s even happening today, it’s the way they do Hip Hop. You look on TV and you see a small population of us representing the whole of us. So you would think that all Hip Hop is what you see on TV, but only those who truly study know that there was a KRS, a Public Enemy, there was a RUN-DMC.
I see the same thing when I look at French History in North America. The story is so much more diverse than the one we are told which gets simplified terribly to: Europeans came, killed Indians, fought against each other and the English won…
That’s crazy. Imagine, that never happened. Not that it’s inaccurate. It never happened! Imagine a story being told to you!
Who does it benefit?
It benefits the order. It benefits social order. Here’s where I contradict myself, because when you’re building society, you kind of need these stories. You know: cowboys killed Indians. You don’t teach that native Indians and many cowboys even became family together and intermarried. There was more of that going on than the shooting and the murder.
No History is the truth. None. We are creating History. History is art. We have some bad artists, and we have some very good artists. And then we have the people and they have their own agenda. And some people take art as truth, and pattern their whole lives by it. It might work for some, but it defines the lives of so many more.
African Americans are all over the United States. If there was a concentration like there is for French-speakers in Canada. If there was a region, or a State, where 80-90% of the population was African American. Would you be in favor, for the sake of true political power, of an independent African American state in North America?
Because we could use the term African American more clearly. To suggest that I am African American yet I do not own Africa or America. If we had a black nation within North America that would be dope. I think that would be great! But we would still have to act humanely. We would still have to trade with whites and Hispanics and Asians and Africans. We still have to get in the world and act accordingly. And I could run America. I could run a White Nation too!
We, as French-Canadians, don’t necessarily have a color, we have a language. Is there a way for French-Canadian artists who produce in French to find their way to listeners in the US? Not necessarily in the mainstream, but somewhere.
Start loving your own artists. That’s what started Hip Hop in the beginning. We respected each other we held up each other. Look at my record South Bronx, that was a regional record. Why does the world sign that record? It’s a regional song! I did it for one little block! I was in a scrawny little battle and now that became what it was. Why? Because it was true to it’s time. It was true to it’s neighborhood. It was true to it’s people. What we need is a song, a Quebec! South Quebec! South! South Quebec! Or something!
You probably remember me: we worked together in another life. We worked weekends and I remember you enjoyed reading the National Post to get angry. I just discovered you blog thanks to the article published in the Gazette and I said to myself: I only know one Georges Boulanger and it can only be him!
So congratulations for your blog, I’ve read a few articles and I found it very interesting. I think we have to tell the Anglos in their own language what the fucking problem is. I’m not sure they’ll get it but if we write in French they’ll say “Oh it’s French” and it stops right there. Communication breakdown.
I felt especially concerned since I now work for the federal government (Oh yes! The superb city of Gatineau) and I work in English 90% of the time. I write briefing notes in English, memos in English, instructions in English, research and analysis in English, etc… My colleagues are all Anglophones, except for the secretaries, of course. Ah, government secretaries have to be Francophones (bilingual, of course) because they are the point of first contact with the public.
French training usually gives rather poor results. In theory management jobs are bilingual but it’s a hoax: once someone has passed their French exam, they can easily never speak French ever again. I do have some Francophone colleagues in other ministries but meetings, even if Francophones are the majority, are in English.
That’s the big problem with Canadian bilingualism: its purely institutional and imposed from above. The reality is that Anglophones (except those who live in Québec, and even then…) have no reason to learn French, so why would they?
Anyway, all this to tell you I found your blog interesting and that I’ll continue following it.
If English is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.
-Apocryphal quote attributed to, among many, Texas governor Miriam Ferguson and South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond.
How about Moses? Did he speak English?
A recent poll by the Association for Canadian Studies revealed that 41% of Quebecers felt Jews did not “want to participate fully in society” and 35% felt that Jews had not “made an important contribution to society.” In the rest of Canada, 72% felt Jews wanted to participate in society and only 10% did not feel they made an important contribution to society.
As usual, these results were explained as being either symptomatic of Québec’s cultural insecurity or further proof of the rampant anti-semitism simmering just beneath the surface of Québec society. In any case, Jack Jedwab, the executive director of the ACS, was quoted in the Canadian Jewish News saying that these results “do not support the idea that Quebec has had successful intercultural programming.”
But what if these results simply reflected a fact? What if many Québec Jews did not want to participate in Québec society and what if their contribution to this society was, if not minor, less important than their contribution to other cultures?
The question that the ACS did not ask is: Do you wish Jews took a more active role in Québec society and culture?
Considering the considerable influence of people of Jewish decent in academia, arts, culture, literature and business, there are worse things that could happen to Québec than having a few Jews who have some allegiance to that small pocket of French-speakers shoveling away 400 cm of snow at the top-right of the North American map.
Québec, whether you like it or not, is a society that recognizes itself through the French language. Most of Québec’s Jews speak another language. This means that Jewish people are not as visible in Quebec‘s editorial pages, movies and television as their numbers on the streets of Montréal would suggest.
Hence, the simplistic conclusion that Jews do not want to participate in Québec society. They are here + they don’t participate = they don’t want to participate.
Of course you can’t generalize! Phyllis Lambert and Julius Gray’s contribution to Québec goes way beyond the “Anglo” or the “Jewish” community. David Levine gained moderate notoriety as the Parti québécois’ most famous Jew. But the fact is that from Leonard Cohen to Mordecai Richler, the Steinbergs to the Bromfmans, the majority of Québec’s Jews have defined themselves as Anglophone Jews.
It’s hard to make an important contribution to a society that defines itself almost exclusively by the use of the French language… in English.
Around 20% of Québec’s Jews are Sephardic Francophones but unlike the traditional community they are mostly from a recent wave of immigration and they have yet to establish their place in either Québec or Montreal’s Jewish institutions.
In the rest of Canada all Jews speak the same language as the rest of Canadians. In Québec, Jews and the French-speaking majority often don’t even go to the same schools!
This situation has it’s roots in the refusal of the Catholic Church to admit Jewish kids to Catholic schools in the past.
The fact is that the doors of Québec’s French-language public schools have been fully open to all confessions since 1977 and it’s Montreal’s Jewish leaders that have been at the front lines of the battle to preserve a separate English language public school network.
In 2005 they even briefly convinced the Liberal government to fund a parallel network of straight-out Jewish public schools until public outcry forced them to back down.
This segregation feeds the vicious of cycle of ignorance and distrust and that benefits no one. The people of Québec – old stock and new immigrants alike – are denied the opportunity to know and build relationships with Jewish-Quebecers for reasons that have nothing to do with religion, only with language.
Worse, French-Quebecers are estranged from a Diaspora that is very Francophone and Francophile, and from that other small country with the blue and white flag that knows a thing or two about independence, being a minority culture and protecting an endangered language.
A vast majority of Irish people support the adoption of legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers in Northern Ireland.
Sixty-eight percent of some 11, 000 responders to a consultation by Northern Ireland’s government published last October responded favorably to a draft of the proposed Irish Language Act.
The proposed Irish law would use a rights-based approach. That is the same philosophy behind Québec’s language law.
Among the proposed modalities of the law is the creation of a Language commissioner who would have the power to “investigate complaints, and if necessary initiate a review, where there is failure to act on the rights of Irish speakers under the Act or any other enactment that deals with the use or status of the Irish language.”
The law would also stipulate that “Private individuals must have the right to make complaints and have court remedy if necessary.”
In 2005 the Republic of Ireland removed the legal status the English-language name of 2,000 towns, villages and roads in the Gaeltacht region of western Ireland and made the Gaelic version the only one that could be used by governement and public bodies.
Happy St-Patrick’s Day!
The first thing our professor told us on the first day of our first semester in the political science program at Laval University in Québec City is that we had to be able to read English at a very high level. “If your English is not good enough, leave right now. Go take English classes or go spend the year in BC and come back next year.”
Laval is a French language university in Québec City, which is 95% French-speaking. It’s the university of Lucien Bouchard. But English is the language of scholarly research, explained the professor. You had to be able to read and write in English, whether you were a separatist or a federalist, a communist or a neo-conservative.
English was a basic tool you needed to be able to work with in order to become a political scientist, the same way that an engineer needs math. The school functioned in French, our lectures were in French and we wrote our assignments in French, but being able to read many relatively arcane monographs and articles in English was a necessary skill required to do our job as a student and in the world beyond campus.
So my question is: if it is reasonable to expect political science students to understand English, why is it not required that nurses and doctors trained by McGill and the MUHC speak French?
What could be a more basic skill required of a doctor or nurse that she be able to understand easily and with great accuracy the language of her patients?
In Montreal and Québec the vast majority of people still speak French, as far as I know. Montreal’s so-called English-language hospitals like the Montreal General, the Royal Victoria and the Jewish are required by law to be able to provide French-language services to anybody who asks for it.
So how can an advanced knowledge of the French language not be an admission or graduation requirement?
McGill does not require language testing of it’s students either before admission or graduation. As a result about 50% of McGill trained doctors leave Québec every year!
The medical sector is not, by any means, the only one affected by this total failure of Quebec’s English higher education institutions to properly train students for the Québec job market. According to a recent study, 61% of English-speaking bachelors, 66% of English-speaking masters and 73% of English-speaking PhDs leave Québec.
The vast majority of Anglo-Québécois are self-declared bilinguals, that is absolutely true. But how comfortable is someone who has only ever studied in English, from kindergarten through university, in actually working, reading, and writing in French on a daily basis?
We don’t know the answer to that question because studies and census data on bilingualism in Québec and Canada usually rely on self-assessments. Actual second-language ability of students has not been tested at any point during their student career.
Because the vast mass of technical and scholarly literature is published in English, graduates from French language universities are actually much better prepared to work in a multilingual environment than graduates from McGill and Concordia!
McGill’s law school makes it mandatory for students to be fluent in French because to practice a legal profession in Québec’s legal system you not only need to be able to understand French, but actually work in the language.
And they would have us believe that health care professionals don’t?
Québec’s language laws limit access to English schools for most citizens of the province. That is true.
Yet, if any other Canadian provinces or American state wanted to offer it’s linguistic minorities access to the kind of education network Québec finances for it’s Anglophone minority, every single one of them would have to increase dramatically the number of minority schools it finances.
For example, if American states were expected to give their Spanish-speaking minority the same education rights that Québec gives to it’s English-speaking minority, then New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Utah, Rhode Island, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Kansas – all states that have more Spanish-speakers than Québec has English-speakers – would have to create a second publicly funded Spanish-language schools system.
Although all Canadian provinces have some minority education rights and schools, no other provincial minority has the vast network of schools, colleges and universities that English-speakers in Montreal and Quebec have access to. There are in Québec about 367 English public schools, 3 English public colleges called CEGEPs and 3 English universities.
In fact, if you use that standard definition of a major university as one that has both a law school and a medical school – New Brunswick’s Université de Moncton, the only autonomous French-language university outside Québec, does not have the latter – then Québec is the only state or province to fund a complete education system for it’s linguistic minority.
That’s if you accept the premise that English-speaking North Americans can be considered a minority at all…
In the 1970′s Francophones in Montreal became increasingly alarmed to see the vast majority of new immigrants to Québec sending their children to English Schools. That situation, combined with the demographic decline of Francophones in Canada and the availability of an extensive and totally free network of English schools in Québec meant that within one generation French-speakers could become a minority in Montreal.
Québec’s Francophones, representing over 80% of the population of Québec but barely 5% of North Americans were put in the position were they had to assist their neighbors in anglicizing immigrants.
Not only were Francophones being assimilated, but they were paying for it.
In 1977 the Québec government adopted the French Language Charter, known as bill 101, which made French the mandatory language of primary and secondary education. From that moment on, all residents of Québec – except the Anglophone minority – had to send their children in French schools from 1st grade through the end of High School.
Many people in Québec’s Anglophone community and in the rest of Canada were angered by this apparent limit to their freedom to choose their children’s language of instruction. Few noted that Québec was the only place on the continent where an actual school network made that choice possible at all.
In any case, the right of English-speaking Quebecers to a “separate but equal” public English-language school network was constitutionally protected. Parents who have been to English schools anywhere in Canada have the privilege to send their children to either school network in Québec.
It is only Francophones and new immigrants – those who make the informed decision of living in the French-speaking part of Canada – who are limited to French Schools.
In 1972, before the adoption of the Charter, only 10% of immigrants to Québec sent their children to French schools. Since the adoption of bill 101 the situation has reversed. Parents who send their kids to private schools can still send them to English schools as long as the school does not receive government funding.
Freedom of choice remains total when it come to higher education and students can study in English at college-level CEGEPs or in one of Québec’s three English-language universities.
In the decades since the law was adopted, some wealthy families figured out they could send their eldest child to an unsubsidized school – one that usually cost over 10 000$ a year – and then switch all of their children to the English public system the next year.
The National Assembly of Québec unanimously adopted law 104 to put an end to the loophole. The Québec court of appeals struck down the law in 2007 and the matter is now headed for the Supreme Court.
Click here for information of the Charter of the French Language’s sign law.
The first record of a black man in Québec City was Mathieu Da Costa who traveled with the city’s founder Samuel de Champlain as early as 1604 or 1607.
For a city that sometimes seems to be all about history, Québec City sometimes has a short memory. Just ask Aly N’Diaye a.k.a. Webster, who 400 years after Da Costa often feels like a stranger at home just because he’s black.
“This is where I’m from. My world is here. All the sons of immigrants are gone, to Montreal, Toronto or the States. We are first generation to say: fuck that! You’re not chasing us out! If we go it’s always the same pattern starting all over again.”
Webster is the son of a white mother and an Senegalese father. He studied History at Québec’s Laval university and with his cool lazy flow he is now passing down his knowledge to the kids of Québec City’s surprisingly vibrant hip hop scene. Everything in Québec City, it seems, is about History.
In his song Québec History X from his first solo album Sagesse Immobile (Still Wisdom) Webster raps about Da Costa, who spoke a variety of European and native languages and was employed as Champlain’s interpreter, and other forgotten blacks from Québec’s past, like the 10 000 slaves of New France. “There were blacks in New France. Slaves, but also free men. If that history was better known blacks in Québec would feel a whole lot more integrated.”.
The truth is Québec City has had many different faces over the years, from an Iroquoian village called Stadacona, the capital of New-France, an often very English city after the British conquest of 1763, a diverse and bustling port town and, after business and ship traffic moved upstream to Montreal, the sleepy and homogeneous French-speaking provincial capital of today.
Or should we say yesterday… Once again the city is being transformed by the arrival of new immigrants from Haïti, the Middle East and Africa.
Webster’s native Limoilou district is where Jacques Cartier spent the winter in 1535-36 and his day job is at the Parc National Cartier-Brébeuf commemorating the explorer’s encounter with local native populations. Today it’s a diverse neighborhood that he and his friends call L.Land. “In a bigger City like Montreal people tend to regroup culturally. In Québec City there it’s more mixed. In Limoilou, people of all races live together.”
Unlike in Montreal, language is actually not much of an issue in La Capitale Nationale. “When you arrive somewhere, you have to learn the language. In Québec City, to function, you need to learn French. That’s it.” Webster himself used to rap in English – his name comes from the English dictionary he used to carry around – but he switched to French in 1995. “The identity of Québec Hip Hop was starting to take shape at that time and I wanted to be part of it.”
In 2008 Québec City is celebrating the 400th anniversary of it’s foundation by Champlain. The event commemorates, depending on who you ask, the birth of Canada as a country, or Québec as a nation.
A true historian, Webster doesn’t want to take sides, on that issue or the eternal debate on Québec’s independence from Canada.
“I think the issue of independence is becoming obsolete. If it had to be done, it should’ve been done in the 1980′s. A country that wants it’s independence gets up and takes it. That’s all. If it happens, though, I will be happy from the historical point-of-vue. To see that live, from the inside. To live history. I’d love to see that.”
I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a book. A book and movie, actually. I’ve been trying my neighborhood libraries, bookstores, the National Library, without any luck, even though the package came out in December 2007. In the end I had to drive to the Mile End, to an industrial side street, right to the distributors office where I bought the thing with cash.
The movie is called Un sur 1000 and the book Post-Scriptum. It is about and by René-Daniel Dubois.
René-Daniel Dubois is an actor, playwright and writer who got into serious trouble for calling the 1995 referendum on Québec independence a failed suicide attempt in French daily Le Monde. He quickly found out that talking against the family abroad is a big no-no in Québec.
Unsettled by the violent reaction to what was only one intellectual’s personal opinion, he set off on a quest to seek the roots of Québec nationalism. He came to the conclusion that Québec society was what he called “the first successful fascist society – that is to say where not only is there no form of resistance, but where the very idea of resistance doesn’t even seem to be conceivable.” In a filmed lecture that accompanies the movie he demonstrates how, in his opinion, this society has, at it’s root, the ultramontane French clergy and their opposition to democracy, individuality and, finally, the act of thinking in general.
“No, nationalism does not, not at all, have for objective the preservation of a popular culture–or of a language–, or the welfare of citizens of a given society–those are only pretexts.
Nationalism is not an ideology, it’s a rhetoric: it is not a cookie, but a way of selling it – changing the packaging does not affect it in any way. Nationalism, it’s a way of maintaining one and only one vision of what life in common could be: the one in which, by means of the notion of permanent menace, the population is summoned to obey elites who, because of the gravity of the situation as they describe it themselves since they are the only ones allowed to talk, don’t have to seriously answer to anyone.”
In all fairness Télé-Québec aired the movie once. La Presse and, incredibly, the weekly Suburban (google English), published excerpts (google English) – in French ! – and Dubois was recently invited to Tout le Monde en Parle, a major talk show, again on Radio-Canada.
Most of the above media are considered by Québec nationalists as propaganda organs of the vast Canadian conspiracy to destroy Québec specificity so it only strengthened their conviction that Dubois was a federalist agent earning a comfortable Canada Council of the Arts job with some timely Québec-bashing.
“You’re so vain you think this song is about you….”
Québec’s nationalists are so narrow-minded that they took it personally, but Dubois was talking about a much broader phenomena. Let’s read the passage I quoted again:
“Nationalism is not an ideology, it’s a rhetoric: it is not a cookie, but a way of selling it – changing the packaging does not affect it in any way. Nationalism, it’s a way of maintaining one and only one vision of what life in common could be: the one in which, by means of the notion of permanent menace, the population is summoned to obey elites who, because of the gravity of the situation as they describe it themselves since they are the only ones allowed to talk, don’t have to seriously answer to anyone.”
The outer menace is Americanization, the inner menace is… Québec’s separatists. The situation is so fragile that any questioning of bilingualism, the senate, the division of power between provinces and the federal government could lead to the break-up of the greatest country on earth!
If nationalist had bothered to read the book before condemning it they would have come so hard they would’ve ejaculated blood reading how Dubois tears apart their arch-enemy Pierre-Elliot Trudeau.
Early in the book Dubois remembers how in the days of the Great Darkness Québec free thinkers used to flee to Ottawa – the university and the federal institutions – where they felt they had more wiggle room to think.
“In the middle of the XIXth century, the ultramontane clergy – the catholic equivalent of the Talibans – seize total power inside Québec society, letting the few remaining real democrats to play by themselves in Ottawa. They can run, anyway, one day or the other they will be caught up with and the score settled.”
The score was settled, according to Dubois, when the Jesuit-educated Trudeau and his suite take over the Liberal party and Ottawa in the 1960′s. Proof? His decision to suspend civil liberties and send the army in the streets of Montreal in October 1970. “How do call what I’ve just described? A fascist coup.”
René-Daniel Dubois conclusion that the Quiet Revolution was a sham because television in Québec sucks and and the Cultural Affairs Ministry doesn’t properly fund Artistes like him is not entirely convincing. His demonstration that Pierre-Elliot Trudeau and FLQ terrorists really belonged to the same nationalist elite is, to say the least, very sketchy.
But, the way in which nationalists in Québec immediately rejected Dubois’s work as federalist propaganda and, inversely, the way the federalists, oblivious to the fact his book depicted their messiah as the ultimate incarnation of Québec fascist nationalism, used it as an argument against the separatists…
What could be more convincing proof that Québec is a society where people don’t think!
Don’t think, don’t read, don’t know shit!
The reaction to his book on all sides vividly demonstrates his thesis that Québec is a society where thinking is not only discouraged, but where it simply doesn’t happen!
Feels like we are going to have to keep looking for his books in back alleys for a while….