AngryFrenchGuy

Québec Brings the Internet to Canadian Politics

with 16 comments

In a move that your kids will no doubt study as one of the classic blunders of Canadian political history, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided that the best way to launch the 2008 election was to throw small bone to his loyal base and cut some 45 million dollars of arts funding that only handful of communists, faggots and infidels were going to miss.

Well, it turns out that pissing off underemployed creative types who express themselves for a living and know how to put up a website just might not be the best way to get a good media buzz going.

Only a few weeks ago people who know about this stuff were lamenting the hopelessly archaic web strategy of Canada’s political parties.  2008 was not going to be the year the Internet changed politics, many thought.

They were wrong.  At least in Québec.

But the political parties had nothing to do with it.

The first shot came from three of Québec’s most successful artists.  Michel Rivard, Stéphane Rousseau and Benoit Brière – the Québec-scale equivalent of Paul McCartney, Will Smith and Jerry Seinfeld – who released a 5 minute video on youtube of their apocalyptic vision of arts in a Conservative Canada.

It’s a strategy that Americans have been using for years.  You make a controversial commercial, put it out on the web or on some local community TV station somewhere in Idaho and wait for the big media to pick it up and play the hell out of it for free as a news item.

Harper tried to brush off the attack.  Ordinary working people did not identify with “rich artists”, he said.

Harper himself might get his political inpiration from Tom Flanagan and the Fraser Institute, but most ordinary people are actually quite attached to “their” celebrities – whether it is in Québec, Canada or Tennessee -and do in fact pay attention to what they have to say.  If anything, Harper’s attitude might have encouraged others to act.

Unissonsnosvoix.ca is a website launched by young filmakers and web designers you and I have never heard of.  On the site 50 personalities, many artists but also doctors, professors, farmers and the chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Québec, speak out against Harper and the Conservatives.

The concept is simple and everyone with a white wall and a webcam is invited to record their own video that will be added to the site.

Both initiatives are supposed to be non-partisan.  Unissonsnosvoix.ca links to another interesting website called voteforenvironment.ca that has a neat little gadget that let’s you type in your postal code and tells you who you have to vote for to beat the Tories in you riding. In tight races in Québec City or in the Pontiac, the site does seem to recommend voting for the strongest runner up, whether it is the Bloc or the Liberals.

Conspiracy Theorists will notice that the look and message of Unissons Nos Voix is just about identical to the Liberal campaign ads that have been running since before the website went online.  For the record the “trashing a rival in front of a white background” concept was around way before this election got underway.

In any case, the Bloc, not the Liberal party, is clearly reaping the benefits.  While they started their campaign on the defensive, they have now taken back a solid lead while the conservatives have dropped to third place according to some polls.

And you can bet the Conservatives are going to spend the next four years trying to prove the separatists were involved and turn this into the Bloc’s little adscam of illegal campaign finance.

But when you take a minute to think about it, the unprecedended media hype and exposure these artists were able to get with basically a laptop and no money does beg the question:  Why do they need federal funding at all?

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Written by angryfrenchguy

October 5, 2008 at 10:53 pm

16 Responses

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  1. Yeah, like Quebec brought the web to Canadian Politics. Like Youtube was created by Quebecers. Like a protest video has never been uploaded to Youtube. Like a protest video has never been available on Youtube during an election in Canada or elsewhere…

    Now where did I leave my navel again? Where would the world be without Quebec?

    Thanks to Harper, finally these artists are producing something people want to watch. Maybe their budgets should be cut more often – It seems to get them off of their lazy asses.

    But they being from Quebec, they have to produce something typically Anglophobic – like no one knows French as a second language in Canada… Ce sonts des artistes ou des caves ?

    Toutum

    October 6, 2008 at 11:56 pm

  2. I love reading this blog and, agree or disagree, it’s often really interesting and intelligent.. giving us new perspectives for seeing things. Also, I am an indépendantiste. But this post (especially the title!) was a bit presumptuous, to say the least… Yes these projects are good… but even if I’m not following what’s happening in the ROC as closely, I’m sure there have been a couple of similar projects there too. One example, this song that came out today: check avaaz.ca. Anyways, its good to read you and keep up the good work. Also I wonder where all the comments have gone since a couple of posts…?

    f.g.

    October 7, 2008 at 12:38 am

  3. “But when you take a minute to think about it, the unprecedended media hype and exposure these artists were able to get with basically a laptop and no money does beg the question: Why do they need federal funding at all?”

    The most important paragraph in your post AGF.

    ABP

    ABP

    October 7, 2008 at 10:07 am

  4. “Yeah, like Quebec brought the web to Canadian Politics. Like Youtube was created by Quebecers. Like a protest video has never been uploaded to Youtube. Like a protest video has never been available on Youtube during an election in Canada or elsewhere…”

    Why is it you can never say “something happenned in Québec” without people understanding: “The coolest thing in the history of the universe happened in paradise and Canada sucks!”

    Anyway, tell me when a web-based campaign in the CANADA has turned the voting intention of voters upside down as dramatically as these ones have and I will stand corrected.

    angryfrenchguy

    October 7, 2008 at 10:20 am

  5. “When I hear the word Quebec culture, I reach for my share of public funding.”

    Ahhh, mythical creativity of Natives, sorry, post-Natives, wallowing in undeserved self-importance while relaying on public handouts.
    Here is hoping most of them will be starving in the near future…together with Dear Leader Stephane Dion who hasn’t paid off his leadership debt, missing two years worth of repayment and reporting deadlines…

    FrankD.

    October 8, 2008 at 9:24 am

  6. Why is David Suzuki saying that we are “electing” the PC ? We’re most probably sending less Conservative than the last election ! The vast majority of Quebeckers don’t vote Conservative, and if you look at the number of predicted Conservative MP, it’s even less than Ontario. And I think most of us do it on purpose – _against_ Harper more than _for_ the Bloc. A indepandantist, I would have voted for Dion if I could, and if I thought my vote could block Harper. But Mr. Dion have no chance in Quebec; so the best we can do is to vote strategically.

    Tancrède

    October 12, 2008 at 4:11 pm

  7. “Yeah, like Quebec brought the web to Canadian Politics. Like Youtube was created by Quebecers [sic]. Like a protest video has never been uploaded to Youtube. Like a protest video has never been available on Youtube during an election in Canada or elsewhere…”

    You’ve missed the point, sweeheart. I don’t think you quite understand what’s being said here about what these Quebecois have done and its *actual* effects.

    B-dette

    October 17, 2008 at 9:35 pm

  8. Only in Quebec could such blatant homophobia be used in a popular YouTube election ad and not cause comment. Well, that’s Quebec “artists” for you.

    Duceeep

    October 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

  9. “Only in Quebec could such blatant homophobia be used in a popular YouTube election ad and not cause comment. Well, that’s Quebec “artists” for you.”

    What homophobia???

    Anyway, that’s quite a statement considering Québec was the first province to recognize gay common-law couples and to have an openly gay leader of a major political party…

    angryfrenchguy

    October 18, 2008 at 5:13 pm

  10. “What homophobia???”

    QED. The fact that there’s a majorly queeny, sunglasses-wearing bureaucrat on the Evil Ottawa panel.

    Interesting that you don’t recognise this.

    Quebec doesn’t have a problem with gays, but it sure loves the gay stereotype.

    Duceeep

    October 19, 2008 at 11:08 pm

  11. ““What homophobia???”

    QED. The fact that there’s a majorly queeny, sunglasses-wearing bureaucrat on the Evil Ottawa panel.

    Interesting that you don’t recognise this.

    Quebec doesn’t have a problem with gays, but it sure loves the gay stereotype.”

    I think you are making a reference to Stéphane Rousseau’s NORMAL and HABITUAL demeanor… See, that’s what happens when you make uninformed comments about cultures you don’t know or understand…

    angryfrenchguy

    October 19, 2008 at 11:17 pm

  12. Well, exqueeeeze me.

    Duceeep

    October 20, 2008 at 12:40 am

  13. Maybe we don’t know or understand but we sure enjoy observing natives in their natural habitat. Bet

    FrankD

    October 24, 2008 at 6:01 am

  14. “Maybe we don’t know or understand but we sure enjoy observing natives in their natural habitat. Bet”

    Here we go again: another thick and satisfied racist statement.

    Kriss

    October 24, 2008 at 12:02 pm

  15. All I can say is some people sure like to yap when they realize that’s all they can do (this is directed to some of the commentators here – y’all know who you are).

    Face it. If this video material originated in the ROC, you would have been oh-so-proud to be in it.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    December 10, 2008 at 2:05 pm

  16. My fellow on Orkut shared this link with me and I’m not dissapointed at all that I came to your blog.

    Random T.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:52 am


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