Archive for January 2010
Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies released his latest survey on cultural relations in Canada, this week, and just like in every other study published by the association, we learn that the people of Québec are less tolerant of immigrants than English-Canadians and that they don’t like Jews (oups… actually the Québécois are slightly MORE tolerant of immigrants than other Canadians… Even I am starting to believe the lies and prejudice! Argh!).
The only big novelty this time around is that the results show than English-Canadians really don’t like French-Canadians all that much.
Like most other Association for Canadian Studies surveys, this one doesn’t make any sense.
Nevermind the slow-pitch worthless self-assessment questions that only tell us that people in Ontario express more politically correct sentiments than people in Québec or Alberta. No one needed a government-financed survey to find that out. What strikes me about Jack Jedwab polls is that they always seem to be inspired by the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, a made up Chinese encyclopedia invented by Jose Luis Borges in which the animals of the world are divided into:
a. those that belong to the emperor;
b. embalmed ones;
c. those that are trained;
d. suckling pigs;
f. fabulous ones;
g. stray dogs;
h. those that are included in this classification;
i. those that tremble as if they were mad;
j. innumerable ones;
k. those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush;
m. those that have just broken
the flower vase;
n. those that at a distance resemble flies.
For his latest survey, Jack Jedwab asked Canadians if they had a favourable opinion of: French-Canadians, English-Canadians, Aboriginals, Immigrants and Jewish people.
In other words, he asked them to compare two linguistic groups, an ethnicity, a civic status and a religion …
Jews get their own sociodemographic box but Blacks, South Asians and the Chinese, for example, don’t. Neither do Muslims, who are twice as numerous in Canada as Jews, and who are the fastest growing demographic group in the country.
Now if your want to measure tolerance in the 21st century, islamophobia is what you want to be looking at. And it certainly would have been interesting to compare Québec and Canada on this issue considering the two communities very different approaches to issues like the hijab.
Now what about my buddy AK? Is he a Jew, an immigrant or a French-Canadian? How about Jon in BC, is he Jewish or English? How about my sister’s friend Sofiane, a French-speaking immigrant from the English-speaking part of New Brunswick?
Even the concepts he tries to measure are not the same from one part of the country to the other. Ask someone in Toronto to think of “a Jew’, and he will think of Mike in sales. Ask someone in Québec to think of “a Jew” and he is much more likely to picture the members of an ultra-orthodox sect who raise their children like Cistercian monks or images of the Middle Eastern conflict.
It’s not that French-speakers don’t know about secular Jews. They are just more likely to categorize Leonard Cohen and Julius Grey as English-Canadians than as Jews. There almost no Hasidics in Ontario while Québec has the third biggest community in the world after New York and Jerusalem. It’s a demographic reality.
As best as I can tell, a French-speaking Montrealer in 2010 divides the world into:
b. les Anglais;
c. People from the 450;
e. People from Québec City;
f. the French from France;
g. the Viet at the Dep;
This is not the way the world looks like to someone in Vancouver and those categories are not objective or exclusive, but they are not less real. Just ask any Black person in Montreal who is not from Haiti how many time a day he is being asked if his family is alright.
And they certainly make as much sense as the categories cooked up by Jack Jedwab and his scholarly association.
Now any point of view is as valid as any other. The problem is that the Association for Canadian Studies gets several hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year to evaluate Canadian attitudes on complex issues from the very narrow perspective of an English-speaking Montrealer in 1947 and then publishes it’s results as if they were the objective evolution of Canadian thought.
That and they never include Mermaids in their polls. Nonsense, I tell you.
Determined to make good on his ambition of providing a decent living to his children, Rémi M’ba (not his real name) moved his entire family to Ignace, a minuscule town on northern Ontario’s highway 11. The single father from Gabon and former PhD. student at the Université du Québec à Montréal was lured to Ontario by the province’s more generous pay scale and easier training for teachers.
« In Québec I would have had to study four more years for a 40 000$ a year job. In Ontario, after one year I was licensed and earning 64 000$. »
However, this monetary boon notwithstanding, adaptation to life on this lonely stretch of Trans-Canada highway has proven to be quite a struggle for the West African family. It’s cold, small and far. Hired to teach at the village’s French school, Rémi has also discovered a francophone community « completely colonized by English » where his children are doomed to lose the French aspect of their heritage.
Rémi is already planning to move south, but he refuses to raise his black children in central Toronto where, he says, the black community has been « plagued by crime, violence and gangs ». Finding a place where he, a French-speaking black man, belongs in Ontario has proven more difficult than he ever had imagined, but he vows to press on.
Rémi M’ba is hardly alone. An AngryFrenchMediaCenter analysis of English-Canada’s performance in a number of key sectors viewed as barometers of economic, cultural and political integration of minorities – inspired by a similar investigation by Andrew Chung of the Toronto Star – suggests that the bestest country in the world still has a long way to go before it can claim to be the colour blind multicultural Mecca it’s branding itself to be.
By carefully stitching together StatsCan data, carefully chosen anecdotes and the testimony of political activists we will present as independent scholars, the AngryFrenchMediaCenter will make the French people of Québec feel all warm inside by telling them what they want to hear: that they are so much better than the Anglos.
Among the self-serving facts carefully chosen to make Québec look good and Anglos like backward hicks:
Natives: The proportion of Natives in Saskatchewan’s prisons is seven time higher than in the population at large while in Québec it is only twice as high.
Politics: While a significant portion of Québec’s modern English-speaking population is composed of visible minorities, there is not a single minority mayor in the province’s English-majority towns, and only one minority councillor in all of the island of Montreal’s English-majority municipalities.
Sports: There are no Black English-Canadian goons in the National Hockey League while Québec has produced Montréal’s Georges Laraque and Québec City’s Donald Brashear, leading some people to wonder if Canadian culture isn’t teaching young black males that they are not allowed to fight back…
Culture: Despite the fact that 5 million Canadians – 15% of the population – are so-called visible-minorities, their visibility on Canadian television is… ok, that’s not fair. There is no Canadian television. Well, except for news…
Furthermore, with a quick google search that we will call « careful analysis », the AngryFrenchMediaCenter has discovered that there are only two visible minorities on the board of directors of Canada’s five big banks and no visible minorities on the board of the English Montreal School Board.
And while the number of visible minorities in Québec’s civil service is ever so slowly edging up, the number of visible minorities who work for the federal government has fallen from 9.8% in 2005-2006 to 8.7% in 2006-2007. A situation which the Public Service Commission says « is of great concern, since they remain the only under-represented designated group in the public service and their proportion of recruitment remains below their workforce availability. »
Ok… That’s enough.
First of all, let’s make it very clear, I though Andrew Chung’s Toronto Star series on Québec immigrants called A Place de Résistance was spot on at the meta level. I have written myself on this blog about the scandalous unemployment levels of Québec’s North Africans and Haitians and on their invisibility on TV.
However, I have no more patience for English-Canada’s need to constantly caress it’s inflated national pride ignore it’s own many social problems by constantly comparing itself to Québec, as if the integration of immigrants into the world’s most powerful and wealthy culture—the world’s Anglo culture—and the challenges facing a minority society of seven million French-speakers in North America could have anything in common!
Perhaps Andrew Chung could have explored the fact that every year an important number of immigrants to Québec and their children themselves strongly resist integration into Québec society, choosing, for example, to persue higher education in English, a path that effectively funnels them away from francophone social circles and institutions like le Mouvement Desjardins or the Québec civil service.
In fact, if Andrew Chung actually cared at all about Québec, Francophones and integration he wouldn’t be working for the Toronto Star, he’d be hard at work breaking down doors and invisible ceilings at La Presse, TVA and Radio-Canada.
One third of all things being said about hockey in North America is being said in Québec.
The mighty american media, with 24 teams to cover in as many major media markets only produces 14% of the hockey news, according to Influence communication‘s annual report on the news and media of 2009. But we already knew that because of their obsession for vulgar sports like football and rural anachronisms like baseball, they had little time for hockey.
English-speaking Canada and its 5 teams produce 50% of all information about hockey in North America and that in itself would be quite impressive if not for the astonishing revelation that Québec, by it’s lonely self, produces 35% of all the information about hockey on the continent on any given day.
This is our game? I think what you meant is Ça c’est notre game…
Thirty-five per cent of all hockey news in North America emanates from Québec. Eighty-five per cent of it is about the Canadiens. Six of the top fifteen news stories of the year in Québec were about the Habs.
The amount of media coverage devoted to the Canadien is so out of proportion that Montreal newspapers have reporters covering the sports media, and a growing sub-genre of sports parodists that include Le Devoir’s Jean Dion—the only sports reporter who quotes Montesquieu more often than Bob Gainey—and Le Sportnographe who observe the sports world through the neglected perspective of left-of-center condescending intellectuals.
Hockey gets more coverage than federal or provincial politics, more than twice as much than arts and culture, five times as much as international news, and 16 times more coverage than news about the Rest of Canada. Just the small pityful part of the sports coverage devoted to sports and teams that are not the Les Canadiens is about the same amount of media space as is devoted to all the famines, revolutions and wars of the world beyond North America.
Influence’s numbers also give considerable scientific weight to the the conspiracy theories alleging that the wealthy Montreal families who have owned the team and the Liberals who love them have been using formidable power of Hockey to create media blind spots in which they could hide bad news and scandals.
Late Liberal premier Robert Bourassa, for example, was rumoured to coordinate unpopular measures with General-manager Serge Savard’s trades. Separatist conspiracy theorists speculated that the surprise firing of coach Guy Carbonneau last spring had more to do with neutralizing a bad Liberal news cycle than hockey.
On March 9th 2009, Henri-Paul Rousseau, the former head of la Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec—a sort of public investment bank that manages the government’s savings—was testifying about untold millions that were lost during his watch.
According to Influence communication’s numbers, Rousseau was the most mediatized person in Québec that day with over 12% of all the news in the province revolving around him, his alleged mismanagement of public funds and speculations of how much the Liberal government had known about the catastrophe before calling an election.
Then, at 4:30 PM, just when the suppertime newscasts were putting together their lineup, the Canadien’s GM Bob Gainey fired coach Guy Carbonneau, a couple of games before the playoffs. Everyone forgot about Rousseau. « A few minutes later, his media weight suddenly dropped to 4,31%, losing 66% of it’s velocity », reads Influence’s report. That evening, 82% of the news was about the coach’s firing.
« One day, the truth will come out », famously declared Guy Carboneau when asked why he was fired.
In fact, the truth is already out. Such media manupulations and shennannigans have become such an habitual part of politics in Québec that it’s hardly news at all…