Micheal Ignatieff Unexpectedly Endorses the Separatist’s Constitutional Platform

with 63 comments


Canadians have always had a hard time telling the difference between a country and professional sports franchise.  They love anthems, logos, flags and little patches on their backpacks that neatly tells you which team everybody is playing for.  They also, just like sports fans, have no problem whatsoever with the fact that their country shares its branding with a beer company and a major retailer of replacement wipers and cheap camping equipment.

The important thing is that they are recongnized.  As long as people stop confusing them with Americans, they’re good.

Micheal Ignatieff, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and one of our time’s great intellectual fashion victims – support for the war in Irak?  Support for torture? But everyone was doing it! – apparently believes that the Québec independence movement and the forty or so years of important political upveal that has rocked the province stems from the same petty insecurity.

Speaking about the concrete effects of Québec being recognized as a “nation within a united Canada” by Canada’s House of Commons last year, the would-be Prime Minister candidly admitted that the whole idea, for which he has often claimed credit, was just a whole lotta nothing.

“The Charest government has all the powers it needs to do excellent work for the citizens of Quebec and I see no reason to revisit the issues of jurisdictions and powers,” Ignatieff told the The Canadian Press on Thursday.  According to him the canadian federation is “working well and that  he “sees no need to increase either the central government’s power or the power of the provinces.”

So, Micheal Ignatieff thinks that fatal waves of terrorism in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, four election victories by Québec’s seccessionist party, two referendums on sovereignty, one of which came within a statistical error of being successful was only about the Québécois longing to be recognised?

This wise thinker and writer thinks that the reason every political party in the province refuses to sign the canadian constitution is not because of an unnacceptable allocation of powers or because for four decades English-Canada has aggressivly rejected any possibility of discussion or change.  Nope. The professor thinks all about English-Canada.  He thinks all the Québécois really want is for Canada to acknowledge that they exist, in the same sad way that canadians feel vindicated whenever Access Hollywood recognizes that Micheal J. Fox or William Shatner are Canadians.

As of today  Mr. Ignatieff is on the record saying that the Canadian Federation will not change.  It’s the status quo or else.

That’s what the sovereingtists have been saying the whole time.

That’s called scoring in your own net, Mike.

Written by angryfrenchguy

June 5, 2009 at 10:15 am

63 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. And your point is ?

    So Quebec sovereignists won’t vote for Ignatieff, did anyone ever expect them to ? They will vote for Duceppe and “plus ça change plus c’est pareil”.

    Fatal waves of terrorism ? You mean like the IRA, ETA or the Tamil Tigers ? Like 9/11, Oklahoma City etc.?

    Oh I get it , you mean like 1970 , 29 years ago, thats a whole generation ago.


    June 5, 2009 at 10:25 am

  2. The point is Canada hasn’t change, and probably never will. We are outcasts and don’t belong in this Canadian Tire Nation.


    June 5, 2009 at 11:08 am

  3. You’re really reaching with the beer and hardware comparisons. Can I compare your province’s “branding” to a fast-food chain and media company then?


    June 5, 2009 at 11:26 am

  4. While claiming to write in English in order to reach out to the anglophone population of Canada, AFG likes to provoke his anglo readers with easy little jabs towards Canada. It’s a bit childish, I think, but I think AFG likes to get recognition from the few members of his little personal fan club. Véronique did provide a very good example of this…


    June 5, 2009 at 11:39 am

  5. @ AFG

    I know that the idea that “Quebec just seeks recognition”, when expressed by Michael Ignatieff, might sound insulting. But… what if he was partially right on that? I’m not saying that the separatist are bent on recognition, at least not the hardcore separatists. But what about those softcore separatists, those that sit on the fence and sometimes fall on one side, sometimes on the other? The whole “Nation” debate seems to indicate that there might be, at the very least, a little bit of truth in that theory.

    “…that the whole idea, for which he has often claimed credit, was just a whole lotta nothing.”

    Just one question here : has it changed anything yet? I mean, what has the “recognition of the nation” done for Québec up to now? Hardcore separatist and hardcore federalist have been debating the issue for centuries it seems… but now that it’s there, well… I guess it was a whole lotta nothing!

    In a way, this is also somewhat of a representation of why I’ve never been convinced by the separatist argumentation. Whenever I see the Patriot flag, I’m wondering if those waving it are in this for the right reasons. Dave actually has a point when he says “… 29 years ago, thats a whole generation ago”. Issues have evolved since 1970, as they have since 1837. Whenever I read slogans and prepared formulations like “We are outcasts and don’t belong in this Canadian Tire Nation.”, I always wonder if those pronouncing them actually have arguments to back up their claims. And by arguments, I mean something more that easy quotes generated by a minority of idiots in the ROC. We have our own idiots to worry about.

    You are right, however, when you mention that things are not as simple as Ignatieff wished they were. There is a solid base for the separatist movement, but it feels like it might be growing thinner. Jean Charest, although he seems to be despised by a majority of Quebeckers, has won three elections in a row. Of course, there were other factors that helped, like the fact that the PQ and ADQ were going nowhere. Those factors also exist for the BQ, which was able to take advantage of the holes the Liberals dug for themselves with the “scandale des commandites”.

    I think that the harsh tone that was used in the 90s and 70s is not working as well nowadays.


    June 5, 2009 at 11:36 am

  6. I understand and agree with your point, AFG, and contrary to Iggy’s take on the matter, this British Columbian wants a decrease of federal government power and an increase of provincial power.

    Chrystal Ocean

    June 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm

  7. Ignatieff disgraced himself in 2003 by supporting the ridiculous war in Iraq. I can’t bring myself to ever vote for him or any political organization he’s affiliated with.
    On the other hand, it’s nice to finally see a major politician with balls to stand up to separatist bullying and try to put a stop to endless concessions and pampering of one unhappy province. Although it doesn’t completely redeem his 2003 blunder, it’s very refreshing nonetheless.


    June 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm

  8. “endless concessions and pampering of one unhappy province”



    June 5, 2009 at 1:06 pm

  9. You’re kidding, right?


    June 5, 2009 at 3:54 pm

  10. Still waiting your examples…..nothing as usual….


    June 5, 2009 at 5:53 pm

  11. National Post!!!???

    You’ve just made my point!


    June 6, 2009 at 12:10 am

  12. As much as I despise the National Post, if they write that the sky is blue, I won’t claim that it’s red. However, this article only gives two examples: QC being at la Francophonie (NB is too) and QC being over compensated in equalization. But it’s pretty undeniable that Canada has some asymmetry in its federal system. This is usually dealing with functional apparatuses of the state (ie selective devolution, opt-outs etc) rather than constitutional ones as, of course, each province is technically equal.

    “endless concessions and pampering of one unhappy province”

    The word “pampering” obviously speaks to ‘allophone’s political bias, but they are concessions and a great number of Quebecers are unhappy with the confederation as is.

    “with balls to stand up to separatist bullying”

    Wow. Macho Man Iggy is going to beat up the sovereigntits at tonights Main Event! Live! Real! Wrestling!

    I could go more into this but it’s probably pointless. You guys have about as much capacity to understand each other’s political viewpoints as Scrooge has empathy.


    June 6, 2009 at 2:10 am

  13. “You guys have about as much capacity to understand each other’s political viewpoints as Scrooge has empathy.”

    Master Yoda.


    June 6, 2009 at 11:03 am

  14. “However, this article only gives two examples: QC being at la Francophonie (NB is too) and QC being over compensated in equalization. But it’s pretty undeniable that Canada has some asymmetry in its federal system”

    Pardon me for interrupting again, Yoda, but I think it also mentions Canada’s turning a blind to QC language laws that violate some people’s rights.
    But you probably subscribe to the belief that some rights aren’t individual but rather collective, as in this masterpiece:

    Very clever. They must have had a team of philosophers working around the clock to come up with that.


    June 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

  15. I do have a team of philosophers working around the clock on that!

    How did you know?

    Have you heard of them? They’re called the Supreme Court of Canada.


    June 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm

  16. Warning. Very `meprisant` stuff.

    “On November 14, 1988 the political and human rights watchdog organization Freedom House published “The Doctrine of ‘Preponderance of Blood’ in South Africa, the Soviet Union and Quebec” in its journal Exchange. Introduced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s National Security adviser, the essay compared the language of instruction provisions of the charter with South African apartheid statutes and jurisprudence.“


    June 7, 2009 at 11:21 am

  17. Finally what’s your point?


    June 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm

  18. “essayist Tony Kondaks”… now where have I heard this name before?


    June 7, 2009 at 3:23 pm

  19. I thought my point was clear from the beginning. I’m here to save the rainforest.


    June 8, 2009 at 11:13 am

  20. AFG,

    I could not have said it better. Hopefully this time, the mild nationalists of Quebec will get the message that the fruit will not be ripe for constitutional change in Canada because English Canada wants Canada as is.

    BTW, I thought you prefer the term “indépendantist” instead of “sovereignist”.


    June 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm

  21. If by “English Canada” you mean parts of Ontario, you are correct. The West is certainly not fully on board with the Federalist vision.


    June 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

  22. Back to the Future with Iggy

    On le savait. C’était écrit dans le ciel… De même que, si j’ose le noter, dans plusieurs de mes chroniques depuis belle lurette.

    Eh oui. Michael Ignatieff, s’il devenait premier ministre du Canada, ne céderait aucun nouveau pouvoir au Québec. Même pas la culture…

    Mais, alors, quelle est sa meilleure offre? Il s’engage à nommer des francophones dans son gouvernement….

    Bref, à part sa reconnaissance «stratégique» d’une «nation» québécoise qui, de toute façon, comme il le confirme lui-même, est une coquille aussi vide à ses yeux qu’à ceux de Stephen Harper, Iggy refait tout simplement le coup classique de Pierre Trudeau avec le «French Power» des années 60. Il invite donc les Québécois francophones à voter pour le PLC en échange de sa promesse de nommer des Québécois dans des postes de pouvoir…

    Et on a bien vu à l’usure ce que cela avait donné…. Comme si l’«origine» ou la langue d’usage d’un élu tenait lieu de programme politique…


    June 5, 2009 at 9:28 pm

  23. Iggy wants quebecers to vote for power: Trudeau did the same in 1981 and the constitution was changed without the signature of a state that reprensented the quart of the country. So what did those quebec mps for the population they represented? NOTHING. The liberal slogan was at that time: PARLE FORT QUEBEC. So now, no more of that bullshit, i can’t trust them..


    June 5, 2009 at 10:43 pm

  24. Trudeau did the same in 1981 and the constitution was changed without the signature of a state that reprensented the quart of the country.

    For those who loathe the Big Red Bamboozle, there is one important conclusion from this, which is that the constitutional putsch of 81-82 marked the beginning of a now generation-long secular decline in the fortunes of the PLC among Québec francophones. The Liberals have simply never recovered from that act. You can do this map retrospectively from 2008 on back election by election, and notice the secular trends from before vs. after 1982 :

    It’s like night and day. The putsch began a quarter century bear run for the Libs among the Québécois, whereas the sovereignty movement is in a 40-year bull run.


    June 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

  25. Sorry, it was midnightjack


    June 5, 2009 at 10:44 pm

  26. Maybe it’s just because I’m completely wasted following the Mondial de la Bière in Mtl (btw… if you’ve never tasted any beer from the brewery “La Barberie”, you’ve never tasted a really good beer…), but I just feel like asking you all wtf is it that you want? Can you fucking define it or anything? I mean, you’re all royally complaining about what it is that doesn’t work, but seems to me like real plausible suggestions are lacking. What is it that you’d want in a “free” Québec? Control over our culture, and over the promotion of our cultural event? Well, what more would you promote (I’d suggest giving more budget to those organizing the Mondial de la Bière, but I’m still conscious enough to recognize that this idea has some down sides)? You’d want full rights in establishing more and more social measures that have a real cost for those who really work? What the hell more would you do? Come on, be constructive and don’t come up with empty ideas like “I’d promote our culture more”. Give me something tangible for Christ’s sake!

    To me, this is a really basic question. Maybe I’m blind, maybe I just can’t see because I’m not a fucking Believer, but wtf more would you do? ‘Cause otherwise, to me, this is just some fucking empty rhetoric that leads nowwhere! Go ahead, fucking convince me, this is the time. Tell me what the hell it is that you’d do and how the hell is it different from what we already are doing, and spare me you’re fucking 1981 paranoia ’cause I wasn’t even born at the time. Convince me that I should believe in what you believe without coming up with some 150 years old junk that nobody cares about. Please enlighten me as to why I should hold grudge for what some stupid anglo idiot did to my ancestors, why I should hold grudge for the fact that a stable boy was preferred over my grandfather for a job advancement 60 years ago.

    Maybe this is all just over the top (and it probably is, mind you), but I’m growing tired of all the empty rhetoric. “We are outcasts and don’t belong in this Canadian Tire Nation.” Well tell me why the fuck you think that is, without using some anglo-intolerant argument, and tell me why I should think like you, but don’t go ahead simply repeating a fucking meaningless formula. And when you do that in a convincing way, using real logical arguments, maybe I’ll see the fucking bright light too and agree with you.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:19 am

  27. Preveler tous nos impots, toutes nos taxes, faire toutes nos lois,signer tous nos traites, favoriser notre developpement economique, pouvoir se representer nous-memes au niveau international, faire de Montreal la metrople economique et culturelle de notre pays. C’est deja pas mal..


    June 6, 2009 at 1:04 am

  28. “faire de Montreal la metrople economique et culturelle de notre pays”

    You vote to secede form Canada, Montreal votes to secede from Quebec. We’ll be Canada’s West Berlin.

    Cool with me.


    June 6, 2009 at 11:08 am

  29. I vote to secede from you. Cool for me.


    June 6, 2009 at 11:23 am

  30. I’m very hurt.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm

  31. Why you poor oppressed thing you! Worse than growing up in the slums of Bombay. Have you thought of putting Brent Tyler on retainer? Explaining yourself over a lobster and white wine dinner with Jan Wong? Appealing to Reporters Sans Scrupules? Or Médecins Sans Gêne? Or Human Rights Watchers for the CIA and State Department? Bon courage, insignifiant.


    June 6, 2009 at 6:40 pm

  32. “Why you poor oppressed thing you!“

    “ Have you thought of putting Brent Tyler on retainer? Explaining yourself over a lobster and white wine dinner with Jan Wong? Appealing to Reporters Sans Scrupules? Or Médecins Sans Gêne? Or Human Rights Watchers for the CIA and State Department?“


    June 6, 2009 at 11:23 pm

  33. For paranoids:


    June 7, 2009 at 1:49 am

  34. That is hilarious (no sarcasm this time).

    They should have let him play Adolf:


    June 7, 2009 at 10:53 am

  35. I agree with Midnight Jack. That is totally what he wants… probably.

    Fuck man! No man knows what he wants. Why do you think men cheat on their wives?

    There are a myriad of opinions in the sovereigntist/indépendantiste camp. What they all want in general is a sovereign or independent Quebec. Federalists tend to want a united Canada. Similarly, this viewpoint comes in two billion flavours.

    The only real question here (and this point is so important I’ll repeat it throughout this post, because no one seems to pick up on it) is: Considering his viewpoints and his options did Iggy do the right thing?


    June 6, 2009 at 2:15 am

  36. As someone who is not a sovereignist nor as hard-core a federalist as you Vinster, I would like to ask you this question: do you actually think that NOTHING at all would change if Quebec were to become independent?

    You seem to have spent quite a bit of time analysing the issue, so it puzzles me to no end that you seem to think that:

    1) There are no constitutional changes that could be made to the current arrangement that would bring the percentage of Quebecers “comfortable” within Canada up to around 80% (acknowledging the fact the some purs et durs will never be happy). So Canada has absolutely nothing to learn from other multinational federations that are differently structured like Switzerland, for example?

    2) That Quebec becoming an independent country would change barely an iota of the economic, social, educational, linguistic, and cultural environment here, when national independence has produced tremendous changes (both positive and negative) in every single place in the world where it’s occurred. So you mean to tell me that Quebec-Canada is that unique a situation that it would be THE exception that confirms the worldwide historical rule of thumb that “independence changes everything, for better and for worse”?


    June 8, 2009 at 9:29 am

  37. Lesson number 1 to be learned from this : not a good idea to leave your computer and your internet connection on when you know you’ll be coming home quite wasted. My apologies for that.

    What puzzles me to no end Acajack is why you think that I am a hard-core federalist, and why you seem to imply that I don’t believe any constitutional amendment are needed whatsoever? A few months ago, on this website, I had precisely specified that I though some changes could be made to the Canadian constitution that would be satisfying to everyone.

    Why is is that fending off cheap sovereignist arguments (because a lot of them are exactly that, cheap) immediatly gets you labelled as hard-core federalist? Look at the answers that followed my drunken slur, Acajack. It’s filled up with what I called “empty rhetoric”. “Maître chez nous!” Gosh, I love the enthusiasm but, where exactly is that an argument? Are we slaves at this moment? Damn, I wasn’t even aware of it!

    I am not a “hardcore” anything, Acajack. You’re not a “hardcore” anything either, although I could probably label you as a closet separatist, which is why lots of people on these boards appreciate you. Maybe some day I’ll have lived enough to see lots of Constitutional failures, and maybe that day I’ll chant along with the stupid “Maîtres chez nous!” slogans. But ’til then, I can’t help but feel that this is a tad too simplistic, and that if funny catch phrases like “We are outcasts and don’t belong in this Canadian Tire Nation” are enough to convince you that separation is the way, then your mind probably isn’t as sharp as I though it was.


    June 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm

  38. Maitres chez nous, un point c’est tout.

    Les anciens grecs avaient une haute idée de la liberté et de l’autonomie poliltique.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:44 am

  39. I don’t think Athens was the only city in ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks also had ideas about military oligarchy and political subservience.


    June 6, 2009 at 2:17 am

  40. Athenes n’était pas la seule ville autonome. Les cités grecques estimaient grandement leur liberté quelque était le régime politique qu’elles adoptaient. Il était inconcevable pour un citoyen grec de ne pas être maître de son gouvernement.


    June 6, 2009 at 3:51 am

  41. Wait where was Sparta?


    June 9, 2009 at 11:12 pm

  42. Comme s’il fallait une raison d’épicerie pour être souverain.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:45 am

  43. 1. Iggy is a federalist.
    He’s not about to say: “You know what, Gilles? You’re right. If elected, I’ll support an independent Quebec, and then move there.”

    2. Iggy is not a masochist.
    Iggy is not about to say: “If elected I’ll propose XYZ constitutional changes that by keeping Quebec part of Canada will not appease hardcore nationalists.” He’s manoeuvring against the Bloc and the conservatives on this one.

    Iggy said what he was supposed to say.


    June 6, 2009 at 2:29 am

  44. I really wish New Jersey would finally get organized and secede from the rest of the United States. We are never accorded the respect that we deserve by other Americans, who just take and take from Jersey without acknowledging our massive contribution. Our GDP at $343 billion is slightly greater than that of Denmark. Though a large consumer of energy in major industries of pharmaceuticals and chemical production, we produce domestically more than half of what we consume using our 3 nuclear power plants, one of which, Indian Point is the oldest in the nation (marking yet another notable “first” for our great state). The rest of the US is a financial drag holding us back. According to Wikipedia:

    “New Jersey has the highest imbalance of any state in the United States between what it gives to the federal government and what it receives. In fiscal year 2005, New Jersey taxpayers gave the federal government $77 billion dollars but only received $55 billion dollars back. This difference is higher than any other state and means that for every $1.00 New Jersey taxpayers send to Washington, the state only receives $0.61 dollars back. This calculation is applied correctly after making the federal government deficit neutral as sometimes the federal government spends more than it takes in.[38] As of 2005, New Jersey has never been above 48th in rank for per capita federal spending (with a rank of 50th for the majority of that time) since 1982 while being 2nd or 3rd in the per capita federal taxes paid to Washington.”

    Yet do the good people of the great state of NJ complain? Do we insist that people stop telling insulting Jersey jokes? No! And why not? Well perhaps it has something to do with the runnoff into the water system from the pharmaceutical industry, but more likely it is because we are a good-natured folk who simply seeks to serve mankind.

    Well I for one am fed up and believe that the time is ripe for us to cut away dead flesh of the sagging US auto-industry in the midwest, of the water-starved Califorinian agricultural dust bowl, and of the Red Sox loving, chowder-eating New England states. NJ must stand up and assert her rights. We want the right to our own olympic team (sure we’ll never win anything but at least we’ll proudly carry the banner of the Great State of NJ with its 3 plows representing the “Garden State” and its horse head representing the Mafia, and its two catholic girls, representing catholic girls).

    I long for the day when I can stand up proudly with my hand over my heart and sing our state song “Born to Run”.


    June 6, 2009 at 10:56 am

  45. The ancient Greeks bore the gift of Democracy to mankind.

    The modern Greeks have an amazing diner on rt 17 just off exit 18W of the New Jersey Turnpike.


    June 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

  46. The ancient Americans bore liberty to their country.

    The fat modern Americans have hamburgers and Paris Hilton everywhere you look.


    June 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

  47. Touché. It is indeed admirable how effectively Canadians have resisted hamburgers and hollywood.

    Beware of Americans bearing gifts.


    June 6, 2009 at 11:38 am

  48. Actually if my english writing was better, I would have a blog about how great the american people is and how important this people is for mankind, and discuss how this people is being manipulated to be a herd of docile cow. I really wish in the next few years you people will do something else with your guns than shooting cans in backyards and children in schools and get rid again of slavery.

    “There is something rotten in US kingdom”

    Best whishes.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

  49. We don’t do any of that stuff in New Jersey. (The Jersey Cow actually comes from England.) You’re thinking of the so-called “red states”. We’re a “blue state” just like Québec.

    …and I sure hope that “something rotten” comment wasn’t meant to be about New Jersey!!! We’re a bit self-conscious about the smell, but it’s not our fault really.

    Anyway I’m a big fan of Quebec too. I know you guys don’t just eat poutine and maple syrup, discriminate against islamic girls and misdiagnose cancer patients. I hope in the next few years you too will have a chance to prove to the world that you have a great literary and artistic tradition.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm

  50. You bet !

    Mind you, I have all respect for NJ, the homeland of Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen and Electric Frankenstein. I wish I’ll go there this summer and smell good industrial fragrances.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:34 pm

  51. Je te souhaite la bienvenue. Tu vas découvrir que
    Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est une autoroute.
    Mais c’est mon autoroute à moi.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:39 pm

  52. Ok. See you in Kingda Ka.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:43 pm

  53. heuuhh! I mean ON Kingda Ka.


    June 6, 2009 at 12:45 pm

  54. You won’t see me on Kingda Ka!


    June 6, 2009 at 8:07 pm

  55. Totally…sick!


    June 6, 2009 at 9:17 pm

  56. Whoa…gone for a couple of days an look at the rhetoric on this site.

    Here is one for you.

    Was in Alberta this weekend (Kananaskis) for a golf tournament but the weather didn’t cooperate with the 2 C, rain and snow. Managed five holes before the team and I called it quits. (hard to hold a golf club when you have no feeling in your wet and cold hands)

    Anyways, drove down to the Crowsnest (Blairmore region) to see some family.. Recurring signs we witnessed.

    “LESS OTTAWA AND MORE ALBERTA” on many ranches and business endeavors.

    I guess the Rednecks are getting restless and tired of Ottawa reaping the fruit and distributing it to others (who would they be). I can’t imagine why they would be upset!!! :)

    The sun was out in the Pass this morning, a bit cool but the golf on the mountain course was great, better yet now snow or rain.


    June 7, 2009 at 11:35 pm

  57. Dear AngryFrenchGuy and Bloggers all–

    I just discovered this fun blog today (6/3/09) and I’m enjoying the topics, exchanges, etc. (The humor and quips are hilarious, especially the monicker “angryphones!”) I’m an African-american ESL teacher at Orange High School in Orange, New Jersey. My students are all Haitians and Latinos in 9th–12th grades.

    Perhaps you kind and erudite Canadian folk can enlighten me about an incident I had during a vacation to your lovely province…..

    In the summer of 2007, I attended Language Studies Canada to learn some French and enjoy multilingual Montreal. (Malheureusement I was placed in French 1B instead of 1A where I knew I truly belonged, and blithely walked into the first class to learn–the passe compose! I’ve tried since then to improve my French and my students are teaching me, but I STILL can’t properly pronounce anything with the “eur” suffix if my life depended on it. But that’s another story….*)

    One day, I found this cute “Quebec” T-shirt with the elegant royal blue-and-white provincial flag on it in one of those little tourist shops and wore it to school and then to a store in the shopping mall there on Rue St. Catherine. Imagine my surprise when
    The Nice White Lady in my aisle suddenly upbraided me
    with the statement: “We’re all Canadian here!”

    So, I, The Nice Black Tourist Lady from New Jersey simply stated: “Uh…ma’am, I’m just an American tourist from the states–the T-shirt is not a political statement for me!” She just loooked at me in shock–I’m not quite sure what she expected me to say.

    Question–Did The Nice White Lady assume I was:
    A. Representing the Parti Quebecois?
    B. Saying I was quebecoise and she wasn’t?
    C. Stating that other Canadian provinces were unimportant?
    D. Declaring French to be the most important language
    of Quebec and therefore at odds with the ROC?

    (It IS the dominant language of Quebec, but in multilingual/multiethnic/multicultural Montreal I heard at least 5 varieties of French, four varieties of English, three varieties of Spanish, Brazilian
    Portuguese, two varieties of Arabic, and several Asian languages during just two short weeks.)

    We Americans have all kinds of tourist stores in all 50 states in which you can buy T-shirts with state flag and national flag designs, so to me, the Quebec
    T-shirt simply represented a geographic place called
    “Quebec.” Since most natives of any place usually don’t walk around with these kinds of “tourist-trap T-shirts”, I thought just wearing the shirt automatically screamed “tourist” to any Canadian who strolled past!

    During the years since 2007, I tried to read up on the
    history of quebecois French, the linguistic politics,
    the dude who wrote “White Niggers of America”, the
    francophone/allophone/anglophone thing, the office quebecoise de la langue francaise(still not sure if I spelled that right–pardon a moi/a thousand pardons, Good Blogfolk)et al–and I’m still puzzled by the incident in the shopping mall.

    Can anyone explain to me The Nice White Canadian Lady’s reaction to my tourist T-shirt?

    Much obliged et je vous remercie!

    Ye Most Confused Nice Black Anglophonic ESL Teacher Tourist Lady from New Jerseyl

    Charity Dell

    June 8, 2009 at 10:41 am

  58. Charity Dell,

    A lot of people here consider the Quebec vs. Canada issue to be an “either or” type of matter. That is, that if you are wearing a t-shirt with either the Quebec or the Canadian flag, it is assumed that you are showing your disavowal of the other entity whose flag you are not wearing.

    In the case of the White Lady (I would submit that she probably wasn’t all that Nice), she saw the Quebec flag on your t-shirt as though you were flaunting your disloyalty to Canada.

    In the minds of a lot of people (though not everyone thankfully), one cannot be loyal to both Canada and Quebec. The two identities are mutually-exclusive in their eyes.

    The fact that you are African-American (as you chose to mention) probably riled her even further, given that you are almost certainly “African” in appearance, and that some of the pro-Canada people in Quebec consider it to be their side’s “birthright” to have the unanimous support of minority communities. This has been changing very slowly in recent years, to the point where small numbers in the minority communities now support Quebec’s independence, much to the dismay of a lot of pro-Canada people in Quebec.

    Finally, it sounds as though the White Lady blurted this out at you in English, a choice which could be seen as comically counter-productive.

    Had you been, say, an immigrant from a French-speaking African country, who had made a new life in French-speaking Quebec, wouldn’t a total stranger making a pro-Canada statement at you, in English, in Montreal, in reaction to a Quebec t-shirt you were wearing, not provide further proof to you that the Canadian identity is no more than a Trojan horse to make Quebec more English, rather than something broader in which Quebec’s French speakers are embraced for what they are?


    June 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm

  59. Woohoo! Orange, NJ rocks! Birthplace of the brilliant “Radium Girls”.

    In Quebec, flags are ways of showing your political view about Quebec independence. While flying the lovely flag of the great state of NJ on your front lawn will only make people think you are running a local branch of the DMV –thats SAAQ for those of you who don’t speak Joisey– here in Quebec flying a flag is a way of saying that you either support “le Québec libre” or else “the True North Strong and Free”.

    The only place you’ll find a non-provocative Canadian flag in Quebec is at a major sports event or a post office. The only place you’ll find an apolitical Quebec flag is at a government office (!) or liquor store.

    So unless you were running some kind of minibar under your shirt, the White Lady (who no doubt spoke “White” too) surely took your shirt to be a pro-secession political statement.

    Serves you right for not wearing your “Atlantic City is for lovers” shirt instead.


    June 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm

  60. Quebec is a North Korea in the Norh America, soft clone.


    June 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm

  61. Oh God! we found Chuk Norris missing in action…


    June 9, 2009 at 12:53 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 160 other followers

%d bloggers like this: