Posts Tagged ‘quebec’
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.
Special Black History Month edition AngryBoys and Girls. It’s the story of Michel Adrien and Ulrick Chérubin, two buddies from the town of Jacmel in Haiti who both ended up as mayors of Mont-Laurier and Amos, two lumberjack towns of Québec’s North West.
The story of both men starts in the late 60 and early seventies when a whole generation of scholars, professionals and intellectuals was chased out of Papa Doc Duvalier’s Haiti. Quite a few of these men and women came to Québec where they found a surprisingly familiar society that spoke French and shared their catholic faith. Québec was also a society that, unlike Haiti, was now moving on after the long reign of it’s own tyrant, Maurice Duplessis.
Michel Adrien came to Québec in 1969 and took a job teaching high school physics for a year in Mont-Laurier, a small city of some 13 000 souls in the Laurentians. Québec’s Quiet Revolution had lead to massive education reforms and there were many jobs jobs for all those who were willing to do a tour of duty in the woods.
He remembers the Mont-Laurier of the late 60′s as an effervescent regional hub. Black people were rare, but not unheard of as many came to work in the many government agencies in town.
“What was funny was the reaction of parents when we has PTA meetings. The students, for the first few weeks had a natural curiosity that lead them to ask questions, but once they got their answers, I’m the teacher. That’s it. Often they would forget to even mention it to their parents who would freeze when they first saw me. But I’m talking about the first few years, here. Young people have a wonderful ability to adapt.”
Adrien made friends and signed up for a second year. Then a few more. He met a girl. Classic. He founded the city’s astronomy club, the bike club and was eventually elected union representative, first at his school, later at the regional level. “You have to remember the era was one of major union militancy in Québec. That position had some kind of power.”
Michel Adrien’s childhood friend, Ulrick Chérubin, came to Canada a few years later, to a New Brunswick seminary where he studied to become a priest. The seminary closed and he moved to another seminary, in Trois-Rivières. There he met a woman that asked him he had ever thought of being a father instead of a priest. “I told her I had never considered it”, he lied.
After leaving the Church, which was a very fashionable thing to do in those years in Québec, Chérubin recycled his theology credentials into a teaching career. Like his friend, he headed north, to the small city of Amos in Abitibi. Amos is almost exactly the same size as Mont-Laurier and is also dependent on the forestry industry.
Chérubin’s political career started after retirement, following a dream in which his deceased mother reprimanded him for watching to much TV. In 2002 he was elected mayor with an ultra-thin majority of only 50 votes. A year later his childhood friend Adrien was elected mayor of Mont-Laurier.
In 2005 Ulrick Chérubin was re-elected, his time with a record-breaking 84% of the votes.
Québec’s Haitian community is usually associated with the urban neighbourhoods of North East Montreal, but there is actually a surprisingly long history of Haitians not only living , but becoming political leaders in Québec’s and French-Canada’s remote communities.
The first black mayor in Canadian history was Dr. Firmin Monestime, an Haitian who was elected in the little bilingual logging community of Mattawa in Northern Ontario in 1964, only one year after Martin Luther King’s march on Washington. The first black mayor in Québec was René Coicou, another Haitian who in 1973 was elected in Gagnon, an ultra-remote mining town half way between Montréal and Irkutsk that was shut down and evacuated in 1985. Another Haitian political figure is the Parti québécois’ Jean Alfred, the first black member of Québec’s National Assembly, elected in the Outaouais ridding of Papineau in 1976.
Could being one of the few visible minorities in an area where people from a different postal code are foreigners actually be an advantage in the highly public profession of politics?
“I don’t think so”, says the mayor of Amos. After some years, people don’t see my colour. They see Ulrick, a guy who’s active in the community. I forget I’m black.”
“I would say it can be an advantage”, the mayor of Mont-Laurier disagrees. “People go through three phases. First, I’m the Black guy. Then I’m Monsieur Adrien. Then I’m Michel.” That said, Montrealers might find it odd to find a black mayor in Mont-Laurier, but his constituents got over his skin colour a long time ago, he swears. “When I’m in a public forum, talking about Mont-Laurier, no one finds it caricatural or unusual.”
Would Monsieur Adrien or Monsieur Chérubin consider provincial or federal politics? “If I was seven or eight years younger”, muses Chérubin. “I have more affinities with the PQ. What happened to me is that in my riding we have François Gendron [of the Parti Québécois] who’s been there since 1976. So I don’t think I’ll have a shot at that seat as long as he’s there.”
The 1970′s were a time of tremendous political and social upheaval in Québec and there were plenty of opportunities for adventurous immigrants like Michel Adrien and Ulrick Chérubin, especially since, at that time, the Haitian community had yet to set deep roots in Montréal, or anywhere else. But times have changed. The forest industry is in crisis. There are few jobs in Amos and Mont-Laurier, today. For immigrants or anybody else.
“We used to have a very cosmopolitan society”, reminisces Michel Adrien. We even had an Afghan in Mont-Laurier. But they’re gone. Of my group that came in 1969, I am one of the few who stayed.” He talks of recent statistics that suggest that Mont-Laurier is one of the Canadian cities of over 10 000 people with the fewest immigrants in Canada. “Certainly the fewest immigrants of any city where the mayor is an immigrant!”
There are two schools of thought in Québec when it comes to the historical significance of the British conquest of 1759. The so-called Montréal school of thinkers consider it was a historical, economic and social tragedy that stunted the development of French-canadian culture and society. According to the Québec school of thought it spared Québec from the chaos and violence of the French Revolution and gave it access to British government and democracy.
I’m more partial to the second school’s interpretation. The conquest did result in two centuries of rule by a lunatic papist theocracy propped up by a cotery of racist British robber-barons, but at the end of the day, we’re still here, we’re still speaking French and we can only imagine how much bloodier things would’ve been if New France had been conquered by the Spaniards or the Dutch.
The conquest was a thing. It happened. What are you gonna do about it?
We’ll I know at least one thing I wouldn’t do about it is celebrate it.
Yet, that’s exactly what Québec City is getting ready to do.
The National Battlefields Commission is organizing a full-scale re-enactment of both the battle and the siege of Québec this summer to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the British Conquest of New France.
I get it. The whole thing is historically-minded. There’s going to be conferences by scholars. The website says they are ‘marking’ the anniversary, not having a party. The poster for the event shows two smiling generals shaking hands and the program includes a comedy cabaret with Wolfe and Montcalm impersonators.
Yet you have to be seriously clueless to think that a full-scale re-enactment of the mother of all of Québec’s many historical traumas and unresolved ‘issues’ is going to go down without drama. Come on! It was only a few months ago that some people nearly lost it because Paul McCartney went on the Plains to sing in English!
The Réseau de Résistance des Québécois and filmmaker Pierre Falardeau have already given the organisers an ultimatum: “This is why the Réseau de Résistance du Québécois (RRQ) is as of now on the war path, to be ready to get into action on the 15th of February if the said commission does not back down by then and announce the cancellation of the event.”
I can already imagine the the battalion of Jeunes Patriotes with flags and gaz masks charging the middle aged suburban Americans in tights playing the role of the british troops. Maybe Amir Khadir will attack the Wolfe impersonator with his shoes.
This said, I do think they have a point. The Conquest is a very emotional and significant historical event. In the country with the Occident’s strongest and best organized secessionist movement, you’d think people would take that into consideration.
Compare this to the emotionally charged and masterfully played lead up to Barack Obama’s inauguration. This week we saw the president-elect re-enact the train trip Abraham Lincoln took to Washington on the eve of the Civil War and a massive concert was held in front of the Lincoln monument where Martin Luther King gave the most famous american speech ever. All of this evokes slavery, civil war and segregation, but in the context of the the first black president’s swearing in, America is actually creating a brand new historical moment. A moment of reconciliation.
Over here the Canadian government thinks it can defuse the memory of the Conquest by treating it like the emotional equivalent of the war of the Peloponese and turning it into a vaudeville. This is the opposite of what the Americans are doing. This is trivializing the past. It is disrespecting the many Québécois who still have the memory of the consequences of the Conquest stuck in their throats.
Next year: the re-enactment of the American Indian genocide!
My friend Vince is one of those prototypical couch jocks who’s whole lives revolve around NFL football, hockey playoffs and three-day NHL ’08 marathons. Amazingly, Vince also finds time to get some work done between his ultra-realistic and complex online baseball league simulations. He’s a very successful disc jockey who’s been rocking dancefloors since way before he was legally allowed to even be in the clubs.
For the last three years Vince has also been working as the DJ at the Bell Center during the Canadien’s hockey games. Up there on the gallery with the best seat in the house for every single home game and 25 000 cheering Habs fans below, Vince is as close to heaven as he’ll ever be if lust, gluttony and sloth are indeed deadly sins…
Since last May, however, some bad vibes have been drifting up to his happy place. Nothing major. Just a very persistent controversy about the amount of French and Québec music that is being played at the Bell Center.
The debate started with an online petition by publisher Michel Brûlé demanding that the Bell Center respect the CRTC requirements imposed on French commercial radio stations and play at least 65% of French music.
The Bell Center is a private business, not a broadcaster and that idea got very little support. The debate about the amount of French music and local artists played at the Bell Center, however, lived on and today, just like Bob Gainey, Carbo and the guys on the ice, Vince is discovering the joy of hearing people second guessing how he does his job on TV and in the papers.
Vince is very lucky to have his job, but he absolutely deserves it. Before he was drafted by the Canadiens, he was the Expo’s DJ at the Olympic stadium. Not many people know this, but before hockey games on Saturday nights Vince is at the Université de Montréal stadium playing music for the college football team Les Carabins. He doesn’t need the money. They can’t afford him anyway. Vince is just really intense about sports and music.
Ever since Vince first appeared at our school in the fourth grade with his strange and cool breakdance LPs under his arm, it’s always been about the music, and the music could only be about what we were, French-speaking kids from this place called Québec. Singing in English or changing your accent made you a poser and earned you our sincere contempt.
Vince led the way for the rest of us white kids into the then-scary world of Rap or deep into his dad’s collection of old Offenbach, Harmonium and Charlebois records. He can say he’s battled Kool Rock of the first ever Québec Rap crew Mouvement Rap Francophone (coolest band logo in Québec music history) way back when you and your dad wouldn’t even acknowledge Hip Hop as music yet. Fifteen years before the Cowboy Fringants, Vince played the drums for for Trad Rock band les Pères Verts, and wrote the lyrics for their nationalist anthem Racines (Roots).
Later, with his band Phénomen, Vince recorded two crazy eclectic albums, one of which was nominated as best Hip Hop album at the Gala de l’Adisq, the Québec equivalent of the Grammy’s.
Speaking of the Gala de l’Adisq, this year’s edition was held last sunday at, precisely, the Bell Center and I watched the gala with Vince at his house. He’s not going to like me telling you this, but when Luc Plamondon payed homage to Québec’s most successful artist ever, recalling Céline Dion’s rise from Charlemagne to worldwide stardom, her sincere loyalty to the Québec public and how she never stopped recording in French, Vince cried.
A few minutes later another legend, Claude Dubois (the guy the CBC edited out of it’s broadcast of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame along with all the other francophones artists) sang Si Dieu Existe. Vince cried again.
I very seriously doubt that in it’s 100 year history the Montreal Canadien has ever had an employee who is more passionate about Québec music and culture.
The average hockey fan watching the game on TV, however, doesn’t actually hear much of the music played at the arena. The “music” during the game is really just a quick succession of 5 and 10 second snippets: “We will, we will, Rock You!”, hand claps, an organ riff and face off. If you listen to any sports event from anywhere in the world, you will quickly notice there is a very small cannon everyone seems to be working with: Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll part two, I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett and… that’s about it.
Vince makes it a point of playing Québec artists that he likes during intermissions, when he actually gets to play the whole song. The TV viewing crowd, sadly, is watching beer commercials or game “analysis”. Montreal already does have it’s hometown classic sports anthems, although they are getting a bit old: Illégal by Corbeau when the other team makes a nasty hit and Éric Lapointe’s Les Boys or Rocket (on est tous des Maurices Richards). In fact, I seriously wonder if you’ll hear as much properly ‘local’ music at any other NHL’s team home games…
Smarter artists, Loco Locass to name one, understood this and instead of calling for legislation or quotas, went to work and did their jobs and recorded a hockey song for Vince. (Btw, les Locos, Vince aimerait bien avoir un .wav…)
And let’s hope they keep doing it and keep putting out high impact rocking anthems Vince can play during Hockey games.
If they can come up with the beats and the chants, they’ve got a very good friend up there.
Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen are in Paris. It’s about midnight and there is no one around. Stephen holds up a small piece of paper with an address on it, not sure he’s at the right place.
-I told you it’s too late, Stephen! Everybody’s gone!
-Trust me honey, this is when French parties get started. We’re fine.
Stephen sees a man smoking a cigarette and walks up to him holding his piece of paper.
-Exkweesay moi, savay vous oo ey l’Eleesaye?
The man smells like cigarettes and Pinot Noir. He doesn’t even look at the piece of paper. He just shakes his head.
-Stephen Harper. Never thought I’d see the day we’d be at the same party.
-AngryFrenchGuy! I thought you looked familiar!
-Stephen Harper, the friend of France! Who would’ve thought? Trudeau was never a friend of France. Chrétien was never a friend of France. And then you, the rigid policy wonk from Calgary, you’re the one who gets the president of France to declare: “Our friends, the Canadians, our brothers, the Québécois”. Way to make it with the cool kids, neighbour!
-Don’t forget he also said he prefered a united Canada!
-Yeah, yeah.. whatever. C’mon I’ll introduce you to everybody.
-Are you sure it’s this way?
-Hey. This is my cousin’s house.
AngryFrenchGuy, Stephen and Laureen walk up the stairs to a vast room filled with people and cigarette smoke. EuroHouse music is playing very loud. AFG points over to a small gray-haired man standing by himself in a corner.
-That’s George W. Bush over there.
-Wow. I thought France and the USA we’re not getting along! Darn, even Republicans don’t want to be seen with Bush anymore!
-Hey, Bush is not only Sarkozy’s friend, he’s his brother! The first thing Nic did when he was elected President was have a barbeque at the Bush house in Kennebunkport. “Even within a family there are disagreements”, he said, “but we are still a family. And we may be friends and not agree on everything, but we are friends.”
-He said Bush was family...?
-Gaddafi? I thought we weren’t talking to him?
-Sarko is talking to him. He’s a friend of the family. He invited him to France for his first official visit in 34 years. He also negociated with him for the release of those Bulgarian nurses.
-But you can’t negociate with terrorists! That defeats the whole purpose!
-Sarko also talks to them all the time. When he was mayor of Neuilly there was this guy called the Human Bomb who took an entire class of schoolchildren hostage. Sarko negociated with him on TV!
-On TV!? That’s dangerous! A head of State just can’t go around talking to anyone, giving them credibility!
-Sure he can! Check it out over there: That’s Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia. Sarko talks to him. And over there in the fatigues, that’s the Colombian revolutionaries of the FARC. Sarko also talks to them. Oh! come here!
AFG grabs Stephen’s hand and drags him over to two angry looking men with red, white and blue ribbons accross their chests. One is old and sitting, the other is middle aged and standing.
-Stephen, I’d like you to meet Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the Front National and Vladimir Poutin, President of Russia.
-Le Pen? You can’t be a friend of Sarkozy!
-I am not. He eez a dirtee immigrant.
-But why are you at his party?
-I have to come here to see my friends, now. Before, ze other partees they leeve me alone with my supporters. This Sarkozy he openly copies my ideas and reeche out to my supporters.
-Is there anybody this Sarkozy will not be associated with? My God! Terrorists! Fascists! George W. Bush for crying out loud…
Stephen can’t finish his thought because Vladimir Poutin has him in a jiu-jitsu hold and has his face 2 centimeters from his own.
-You listen. Sarkozy is good man. He is only western leader who call me when I have big electoral victory in 2007. No one else call me. Be careful what you say. Sarkozy is my friend.
Poutin eventually let’s go of Stephen and he and AFG walk back towards the stairs. Stephen turns towards AFG.
-Listen, AFG… I’m going to go, now. I’m just not comfortable with this crowd. I thought this was a good move, you know, normalizing Canadian relations with France and getting the French president to support a united Canada… But I’m not so sure anymore. I mean, this guy will be friends with anyone! It’s ridiculous! How can YOU be friends with him?
-Oh, I think Sarkozy is a fucking jerk! He’s a disgrace and an embarassement! He’s not my friend at all, he’s my cousin! You know what they say: you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family…
The separatist threat is over.
This is the new conventional wisdom in Canada. Québec’s independence? Old news. Problem dealt with. Taken care of.
In the Globe and Mail Lawrence Martin writes a one paragraph obituary of what was only a brief episode in Canada’s glorious history:
“In Quebec, a corner has been turned. Separatism? It’s old, it’s boring, the debates as shallow as a birdbath. Decades of referendums, constitutional battles, separatist threats drained the national spirit. They curbed foreign investment, preoccupied the federal government, sidelined other national priorities. Not so now.”
The latest polls show that support for independence is at it’s lowest in decades. Only 36% of the Québécois would vote for sovereignty according to an April 2008 poll by CROP. Léger Marketing counts 42% (google English).
Well… you know what they say about numbers and what we can make them say.
Take Belgium, for example.
Now, French-speakers in Belgium have always had a slightly odd way of counting, different from the way other French-speakers count. Ninety and Seventy, for example, are in French Quatre-vingt-dix and Soixante-dix, but not in Belgium. Over there they say Nonante and Septante.
Apparently the perception of numbers is also different in Belgium. In Canada when 42% of the Québécois support the secession of Québec it means the movement is moribund and agonizing. In Belgium, when 49% of the Flemish say they support the independence of Flanders, the country is thrown into the worst political crisis of it’s history.
Yet, if you take a standard 5% margin of error, there could mathematically be more separatists in québec than Flanders right now…
Of course, the situations in Québec and Flanders are very different.
Over there, the crisis is the result of Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s failure to reform the country in a way that would give Flanders more autonomy whereas in Québec, Trudeau’s constitutional reforms and Mulroney’s Meech Lake accord have… left Québec pretty much in the same situation where it was when the “troubles” started 40 years ago.
In the very heated context of a political crisis that has been going on for years and the very fresh rejection of Flemish autonomy by the French-speaking Wallons, half of Flanders wants out of the kingdom of Belgium.
In a still favourable economic climate, with a governement that panders to the nationalists and after four decades of “referendums, constitutional battles, separatist threats” that have “drained the national spirit”, “curbed foreign investment” and “sidelined other national priorities”, between one third and one half of the Québécois STILL want independence from Canada.
Insignificant, I’m sure.
There is no way those numbers could go back up again, right? French-speaking Montrealers are feeling very secure linguistically right now, aren’t they? And there is no way the 55 000 new immigrants the Québec governement wants to recruit every year will have any effect on the demographic balance on the city either. Of course not.
And as the people of Québec watch their manufacturing sector collapse in the wake of the American economic meltdown, they will surely find comfort in the fact that they can always flee Québec and it’s horrible language laws for the riches and linguistic freedom of Alberta.
How could any of this ever flare up into a rise of support for Québec’s independence?
Thank God for Canadian Math.
What if Québec joined the United States of America as the 51st état?
One of the very few argument for Canadian federalism that actually has any effect on me is the fact that out of Canada, Québec would lose it’s shared position in some more prestigious international forums, notably the G8.
You have to admit that the sight of a country lawyer from Shawinigan hanging out with Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair does make you think twice about trading that seat for the satisfaction of having one of our guys between Quatar and South Korea at the UN.
But if you use that logic, why should Québec satisfy itself with being part of Canada. Why not join the United States?
If Québec is not to become an independent country and if it is to remain a part of a federation, why not join a real one? If you’re a small people destined to be a minority in any political or economic structure, then why not go Major League?
Why vote for the government of a pretend country if you can vote for the real thing? Why send our guys to Ottawa if we could send them to Washington?
The 49th parallel is not real, it’s a fictional line in the sand. In any case the 49th parallel is not even the border between Québec and the US. Nobody actually knows where that border is since most markers were swallowed by the forest years ago.
The economic frontier between the Québec and the US is a just as much of a myth and it ceased to represent anything real since way before NAFTA. Close to half of Canada’s economy is foreign-owned. That’s not a disaster, it’s globalization.
The disaster is pretending the Canadian government can do anything about it. Remember the softwood lumber crisis? It took the Canadian government years to achieve a barely face-saving deal. How long do you think it would have taken to resolve it if Québec had 15 electoral college votes in its pocket?
An État du Québec would be the 12th largest state in the Union, right between New Jersey and Virginia. That means about 12 House seats and 2 almighty senate seats. A real elected senate. A single US senator has about the power of the entire canadian senate plus the provincial legislatures of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and PEI combined.
As it is the Canadian government doesn’t even have enough pull to get a 15 year old kid soldier arrested for throwing a grenade at American soldiers out of jail. If Omar Kahdr had been an American citizen he would never have been in Guantanamo in the first place. The American government didn’t send it’s citizens to Guantanamo.
Actually, if the 7 million Québécois had voted in the 2000 presidential election there would have been no president Bush, no Irak war, no Guantanamo.
Get Québec in the United States. Save the world.
Of course, Québec would have to make some compromises. The American Federal government will not make French an official language all over the US, but since Canadian Official Billingualism is not much more than Welcome/Bienvenue signs outside Québec, it wouldn’t actually be a huge change.
In the US French would not be an official language at all, but then English is not an official language either. Equality at last!
At the provincial – I mean State – level, Québec could keep pretty much the same linguistic regime. There are already 27 states that have made English their official language, Québec would keep French as its official language.
And as a bonus it would be relieved of the appalling constitutional obligation to “promote and protect” the language of it’s English-speaking “minority”.
Joining the US would not be a huge deal for most Québécois in terms of their culture. Not being American is not a central part of our identity the way it is in the Rest of Canada. Feelings and attitudes toward the US change over time but beyond opposition to specific issues like the Irak war, there is not the same type of self-righteous contempt towards the Americans that is very common in other parts of Canada.
Many Americans would welcome Québec into the union with enthouisasm. Hey, seven million Québec votes could actually be just enough to tip the political scale to the the progressive side of issues in the States. The Québécois support the right to choose and universal health care. God knows how strongly we feel about keeping him out of schools.
Québec might be to the left of the American political spectrum (although not quite as far left as it’s neighbor Vermont), it would probably not have such a hard time finding common ground with the boys down south. They certainly wouldn’t have anything against fellow former secessionists joining them in the fight for state rights and the struggle to keep the Federal government out of local affairs.
In fact, I suspect a few of les gars up here would not be against the concept of a constitutionally protected right to form armed militias..
Speaking of minorities, the admissions of French-speaking Americans in the Union can only help the political empowerment of the new linguistic and cultural reality of the United States that is already very real on the ground. American Hispanics will no doubt welcome the arrival of los Latinos del Norte as allies in the struggle for greater linguistic and cultural diversity in the US.
Québec joining the United States could be a good thing not only for Le Bel État, but also for the US and even the whole world! And even MORE important, it would mean -oh yes!- federal funding for the Québec Interstate, from Val-d’Or to Gaspé! (Of course that would technically mean raising the drinking age to 21, but when have people in Québec ever payed mind to drinking laws?)
Happy 4th of July!
I am Pure Laine.
I’m the prototypical Frog. I’m a Pepsi, a Pea Soup, a fucking Frenchy. I’m white and French-speaking and baptized in the Holy Catholic Church.
I’m exactly who you’re talking about when you call someone Pure Laine. The grandson of a farmer who was the grandson of a voyageur who was the grandson of a Norman sailor.
I’m Pure Laine. As pure as they come.
How pure is that? I’ll tell you how pure.
As pure as my English-speaking father and his Jewish girlfriend. As pure as English-speaking grandfather and his protestant mother.
Last year a man in Toronto asked my mother if she was Chinese. It wasn’t the first time. That’s how Pure Laine my mother is. As pure as any other Paquette out there. As pure as the anonymous Huron warrior or Cantonese railway worker who left the genes to those eyes in my bloodline. As pure as the Irishman who brought my red hair to America.
I’m as pure as the Beauce’s Besré, Maheux, Allaire and Dallaire who’s ancestors were German mercenairies. As pure as the Russians of Rawdon and the Italians of St-Léonard.
In 1764 David David was the first Jew born in Québec. In 1912 Fleurette David, my grandmother, was born in Montreal. Was she a descendent of David David? Am I? To tell you the truth, I have no idea. So how the fuck would you you know? And what exactly would that change between you and me? Do you think I’d feel less Québécois because I had a Jewish ancestor? How about you, would you think less of me?
Would you take my name of the Pure Laine registry?
My name is Georges Boulanger. Google it for fun. Georges Boulanger is also the name of a French fascist general and a Romanian gypsy violinist. So what’s in a name? What could my name possibly tell you about who I am?
That’s about as pure as it gets. Even if I accept the ridiculous premise that there is such a thing as a “Pure Québécois”, an idea that no one cares about except a few retarded traditionalists and their biggest supporters, Canada’s English-speaking media.
Even if I accept to even think about Québec from that fictional point of view, that there ever was pure seed to the Québec genome, that Québec was somehow isolated from the movement of peoples in America and Europe before that.
Even if I let you suppose that I would for one second consider that someone who’s ancestors came here a little bit later, maybe five, six, three or two generations ago, were any less Québécois than I am, that’s still about as pure as it gets.
Why would you call me Pure Laine? Who exactly are you to cast the Québécois out of the ebb and flow of peoples and cultures? On what authority do you isolate a group of people, French-speaking North Americans, as somehow “pure”, untouched by time, as an anachronistic impediment to what should have been the ‘natural’ course of history?
The idea of the Pure Laine Québécois, the ethnicity of the Québécois is an invisible leash drawn around Québec to limit it’s contact with the world outside, folklorise a people and marginalize a culture. It’s a mental reservation.
It’s a lie. I’ve got the same parents as the rest of you, I just turned out a little bit different.
Yes I am Pure Laine. A Pure Laine Black Sheep.
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.”
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!