AngryFrenchGuy

Babara Kay Strikes Back To the Future

with 183 comments

I’m sorry to go after her again, but I’m lazy and it’s just too easy.

Everybody’s favourite National Post columnist Barbara Kay is all exited about a new film she just discovered called “L’illusion Tranquille” by Joanne Marcotte.  The movie is nearly two years old but Barbara just heard about it, presumably because of the dubbed version that just came out.

L’Illusion Tranquille is documentary about what Québec’s Right considers the failure of the Québec Model.

The Québec Model is a one-size-fits-all of a concept used to describe all that is supposedly different about Québec’s economics, things like cheap tuition, cheap electricity, government intervention, one of the biggest cooperative sectors of the free market economies, high income taxes and low corporate taxes.

Everything that makes Québec either the shinning beacon of progressive capitalism or a stray Soviet republic, depending on where you stand.

We all know where the National Post and Barbara Kay stand:

“See [L’Illusion Tranquille] to be informed, but if for no other reason, see it to penetrate the wall of silence used by the mainstream francophone media to shield their audiences against criticism of the “sacrosanct” Quebec Model.  The wall of silence ensured that press reaction to the French-language version of the film was, predictably, to shoot the messenger rather than acknowledge the message.”

See, this is what you get when you hire someone as uninformed about the society she lives in as Barbara Kay to write commentary about Québec.

L’Illusion Tranquille actually received an unprecedented amount of coverage in the Québec media considering it was small budget film made by a pair with no film-making experience.  Just about every political commentator in the province wrote about or discussed the movie.

Canal D, a very popular cable channel, bought the right to air it 15 times.

This is an astonishing response for what turned out to be an uneven movie that even the people featured in it refused to endorse. The more enthusiastic called it a healthy Micheal Moore-style exercise in shit-stirring.  The others dismissed it as a Micheal Moore-style exercise in shit-stirring…

L’Illusion Tranquille was first screened in November 2006.  Four months later, the conservative Action Démocratique du Québec and Mario Dumont became the official opposition in Québec’s National Assembly on a pledge to overhaul the “Québec Model”.  In front of them sat the Premier, Jean Charest, twice elected on a promise to re-engineer the “Québec model”.

In June 2007, six months after the movie came out, the film’s director, Joanne Marcotte, was named by the Premier to a government commission presided by former health minister Claude Castonguay on health care financing in Québec.

In six months Joanne Marcotte went from complete nobody to government consultant on the provincial government’s biggest budget expenditure, health care.

They sure shut her up!

This is the bizarre upside down world of Barbara Kay: a world where marching for peace is an act of terrorism and where speaking French in Québec is an adventure.

What really bothers Barbara Kay about Québec is not the wall of silence, but precisely the absence of this wall.  Barbara Kay has a problem with the fact that there is actually a relatively healthy debate on the issues in Québec and that people don’t automatically buy the Right’s Miracle Magic solutions to all that’s wrong in the world.

She has a problem with the fact that people in Québec ask the Right annoying questions like: Why are we in Afghanistan?  What good will come of sending 14 year old children to jail when Québec already has the lowest crime rate in Canada?  How exactly is the sad parody of capitalism currently collapsing all around us better than the Québec Model?

Or questions like: Am I wrong or is your latest column not just a rewrite of a 2007 column by Henry Aubin?

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm

Posted in AngryFrenchGuy Speaks!

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183 Responses

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  1. @ Barbara Kay:

    “The regions of Quebec outside Montreal are probably the last place in the western world where virtually an entire population is culturally homogeneous”

    This outrageous statement, by itself, is enough to convince anyone with an active, functioning brain, to realize how much of a joke Kay is. Her outlandish claim is sufficient to completely discredit her article and relegate her as a clown. This “theory” is so utterly ridiculous that it shouldn’t even be dignified or aknowledged with an answer. It’s not worth the time or the effort.

    Cancerous

    November 5, 2008 at 10:29 pm

  2. Acajack:

    I’ve read somewhere, not so long ago, about the german heritage in Quebec. I remember of the surnames Dubé and Boulianne (among many others) being french versions of german surnames. Documentation on this matter seems quite rare

    tremblay

    November 6, 2008 at 1:14 am

  3. “This “theory” is so utterly ridiculous that it shouldn’t even be dignified or aknowledged with an answer. It’s not worth the time or the effort.”

    Then why do you post? if its not worthy of your time as you say….

    ABP

    ABP

    November 6, 2008 at 1:35 am

  4. “Then why do you post? if its not worthy of your time as you say….”

    Although I can see Cancerous’ point, I don’t really agree with it (hence my long-winded responses). Crap like this has a tendency to take on a life of its own – especially in cyberspace -, and I don’t like to leave it unanswered. I actually tried to respond directly to Kay’s column on the National Post’s site, but it appears that the Comments section for this particular one is now locked down.

    Acajack

    November 6, 2008 at 10:15 am

  5. “I’ve read somewhere, not so long ago, about the german heritage in Quebec. I remember of the surnames Dubé and Boulianne (among many others) being french versions of german surnames. Documentation on this matter seems quite rare”

    I’ve heard this too. Apparently Québécois names like Godmaire, Godbout, Godcher, Anctil, Pauzé, Payer, Meilleur/Mayer (Meyer), Besner are of German origin.

    Acajack

    November 6, 2008 at 10:19 am

  6. > Although I can see Cancerous’ point, I don’t really
    > agree with it (hence my long-winded responses). Crap
    > like this has a tendency to take on a life of its
    > own – especially in cyberspace -, and I don’t like
    > to leave it unanswered.

    Yes, especially that English Canadians seem to believe a whole lot of false information about Quebec. Many of them don’t get that much exposure to what Quebec actually is, and don’t hear much about what Quebecers are actually saying (given that most of the time they’re saying it in French).

    Marc

    November 6, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  7. “Yes, especially that English Canadians seem to believe a whole lot of false information about Quebec.”
    Sorry Marc, have to disagree with your generalization there regarding English Canadians. I AM an English Canadian and I do get exposure to Quebec. I also read, speak and write French so once again “another generalization”. I guess you consider yourself an authority on English Canadians? Since you’re one I guess? Same can be said regarding French Quebecers, who don’t get to Canada much and never hear much about it, since most of the time it’s in English anyway. Your statement is just ridiculous and before you go casting all English in the same light, think before you speak.

    AQ

    November 6, 2008 at 5:14 pm

  8. Sorry to burst you bubble AQ, but English Canada is profoundly in the dark about what Québec is about. Even many who speak French. Even many who consider themselves enlightened. This is the very reason for this blog, because of the gross misconceptions about me and my culture I kept hearing from English-Canadians. Well-intentioned, smart people that I consider friends.

    Yes, the average Québécois is just as ill-informed about Canada, perhaps even more. The average québécois doesn’t, however, think he is well informed or spend as much time commenting, second-guessing and straight out judging Canada as Canadians do Québec. We don’t have that that whole industry of columnists, pseudo-pundits and so-called scholars who’s entire careers are about keeping Québec society under surveillance.

    People like Barbara Kay.

    angryfrenchguy

    November 6, 2008 at 5:56 pm

  9. I’m not saying francophone Quebecers (and Quebecers integrated to the francophone society) know a lot about English Canada; they don’t. But English Canadians know just as little about Quebec, and I agree with angryfrenchguy that the main difference is that it’s very common for them to think they know Quebec. But they don’t.

    Sure, there are Quebecers who think they know the rest of Canada, and often they’re just as wrong. I’m thinking for example about this idea that seems to be held by some on Quebec’s political left that Quebec is a pacifistic society compared to the warmongering Canada, but it doesn’t rise to the level of pseudo-serious commentary in the minds of most people. angryfrenchguy said it well: we simply don’t have a whole industry of “thinkers” employed at criticizing the rest of Canada in our media.

    I know why you’re keeping this blog, angryfrenchguy; I actually thought of doing something similar about two years ago because I think it’s needed. (Ultimately I didn’t do it.) I don’t agree with all your opinions (for example, Genesis is a fantastic band), but it’s good that you’re out there, and it’s too bad that so many comments call you a bigot or a racist, or say that your goal is to infuriate anglophones.

    Marc

    November 6, 2008 at 6:20 pm

  10. AFG & Marc – When referring to English Canadians, are you referring to the RoC, or English Quebecers? I am an English Quebecer and although I may not know everything about your culture, can say that I understand it quite well. I live here.
    AFG – regarding your comment about average-Quebecois not commenting or judging Canada, I feel that is incorrect, I have read a lot regarding of statements regarding Canada and Anglophones of Quebec that simply were outrageous. The best example was when I read something by a Francophone, that Anglophones in Quebec learn Spanish before they learn French. Also, that there are absolutely NO services in French in the RoC. I have provided two examples but there are several others however, I don’t feel like typing all of them.
    Marc – As for calling AFG a bigot or a racist and believing his goal is to infuriate Anglophones, I do not believe I have have accused him of any of these.
    To be honest, I appreciate this his site as it gives me insight as to what Francophones think in a less hostile environment than those where you mention you are Anglophone and all you hear is “la loi 101 ou le 401” or “go home” etc… These blogs are actually more open minded and welcoming than others.

    AQ

    November 6, 2008 at 7:43 pm

  11. P.S. Sorry to inform you but I don’t agree with Barbara Kay as I’m sure several other Anglophones don’t either.

    AQ

    November 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm

  12. “We don’t have that that whole industry of columnists, pseudo-pundits and so-called scholars who’s entire careers are about keeping Québec society under surveillance.”

    My, its a terrible thing to be criticized…as the poor Quebecois. Maybe we should have a federal bill passed to prevent this from futher happening as of course everything is perfect in Quebec..Its the other provinces who have it all wrong, right? Did you watch the federal election debate in french and listen closely to Duceppe’s remarks? Who is being criticized on the national stage?

    I really doubt that many people, at least in Western Canada, have a lot of thoughts about Quebec in their daily lives other than the tranfer payment issue.

    ABP

    ABP

    November 6, 2008 at 7:57 pm

  13. “Yes, especially that English Canadians seem to believe a whole lot of false information about Quebec”

    False information you say…Can you enlighten us about what we Anglos in the ROC are mistaken about our beliefs, with regards to Quebec?

    ABP

    ABP

    November 6, 2008 at 8:18 pm

  14. Yea, the whole idea that the Quebecois aren’t concerned or crtical of what Canada does is laughable.

    The independance movement is, by definition, concerned with pointing out what is wrong with Canada. There aren’t anti-Canada journalists?? Umm.. http://www.vigile.net .

    But that’s fine. I’m not really anti-independance, although I certainly don’t support it either. But let’s be honest, there is a whole network of anti-Canadaism in Quebec society, right up to a major federal political party! When an anti-Quebec political party assembles, they need police protection.

    There are tons of francophone Barbara Kays. Which is to say plenty of people who are critical of what the majorty of Canadians believe, yet not always overtly racist. They get a pass, as they should, y’know freedom of speech and all.

    The attempted censorship that affects anyone with an english name who writes about or in any way affects Quebec is very much present. The Gazette is evil, McGill and Concordia should be demolished, english rights groups are fundamnentally racist, english voters are xenophobic in their voting habits etc. We’ve heard them all, hell we’ve heard them all on this blog. It begs the question, what can an anglo say? What can his institutions (assuming we are allowing them the right to exist) stand for?

    RoryBellows

    November 6, 2008 at 11:33 pm

  15. “The Gazette is evil, McGill and Concordia should be demolished, english rights groups are fundamnentally racist”

    Of course, they are anglo so they must be evil…Wait a minute, one of the most distinguished post secondary educational institutions in Canada and renowned worldwide as McGill…Could it be that is anglo in foundation and not something Franco…HOW could that be true? Of course des maudits anglos have nothing to offer.

    ABP

    ABP

    November 7, 2008 at 1:14 am

  16. RoryBellwows wrote:
    “There are tons of francophone Barbara Kays.”

    Oh yeah?…Name _one_ proeminent columnist in a major newspaper.

    Égrevisse

    November 7, 2008 at 7:15 am

  17. Though I appreciate RoryBellows’ comments in which he makes some really good points, I am still of the view that, if the ROC and Quebec can be seen as distinct territories, this debate in Quebec is much less an extra-territorial one than the one in the ROC. Even if you take into account the fact that the ROC has three times the population of Quebec, there are literally mountains of stuff passing judgement on Quebec from outside its borders compared to what emanates from Quebec about the ROC.

    In Quebec, the focus of the debate is massively on the political, linguistic, cultural, economic and demographic impacts *within* Quebec of the province’s presence in the Canadian federation, rather than how people live their lives or govern themselves in the ROC.

    Another point that should be made is that of the handful people from Quebec who may deride the ROC on occasion (and though they do exist, I would agree with AFG and others that there don’t appear to be any who really make this their bread and butter), all of them have at least a knowledge of English and so can understand the ROC from the ROC’s perspective. On the other side, even someone like Barbara Kay who actually lives in Quebec admits herself that she only has a very rudimentary knowledge of French. This was also true of Mordecai Richler, who in spite of his lack of French was a valued source of opinion on Quebec for the New Yorker magazine as well as several British media outlets. One could also wonder how good people like Diane Francis, Andrew Coyne and Mark Steyn would fare in French?

    Acajack

    November 7, 2008 at 9:28 am

  18. “Many of them don’t get that much exposure to what Quebec actually is, and don’t hear much about what Quebecers are actually saying (given that most of the time they’re saying it in French).”

    This comment made me reflect on my time spent going to university in Ontario in English. I took many courses on Canadian politics, Quebec politics, Canadian history, Quebec history, Canadian society, Quebec society… You get the picture.

    Anyway, I was just thinking at how we never, during our study of the issues, used books that were published originally in French. So we studied the Quebec nationalism/sovereignty issue without any real mention of stuff like Option Québec by René Lévesque, or the more radical Nègres blancs d’Amérique by Pierre Vallières, or Pourquoi je suis séparatiste by Marcel Chaput. We didn’t even study any originally French books that were more middle of the road on the issue, like Égalité ou indépendance, by Daniel Johnson Sr., or those that came to federalist conclusions like Mon Pays: Québec ou Canada?, by Solange Chaput-Rolland. Yet virtually all of these were and are available in English translation.

    All of the references and sources of opinion on Quebec were written in English originally, almost always by anglos, with the possible exception of Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s Federalism and the French Canadians, which he penned in both French and English himself, or Trudeau’s often-cited essay Some Obstacles to Democracy in Quebec.

    On the history and sociology sides, not a word on Fernard Dumont and his Genèse de la société québécoise. The main sources on Quebec were always people like Frank Scott (not particularly known for his sympathy to francophones) and Charles Taylor (more sympathetic to francos but whose body of work – almost all of it in English – is more universalist and not that focused on Quebec and Canada). Not a word either about Quebec’s major francophone historians like Jacques Lacoursière, Paul-André Linteau and François-Xavier Garneau.

    Laurier LaPierre was there of course, although in spite of his name and his wicked French accent (I think after all these years speaking almost only English it’s probably faked now), most of his career has been in the ROC in English, with almost all writings originally in English. He tends to see the Quebec-Canada issue from an anglo perspective as well.

    Not that there’s fundamentally anything wrong with seeing the issue from the anglo perspective, but just that given the total absence of stuff written originally in French from university curricula, academia in the ROC is more often than not sorely lacking in its understanding of “the other side of the story”.

    Acajack

    November 7, 2008 at 9:53 am

  19. Hi, Pure Laines! Big news for us! Ontario will get around $26 per person while Quebec gets $1,038 per person. Equalization. They dare to say we are the author of our own misfortunes. Before Bill 101, Quebec was a thriving province and Montreal was a world-class city. Since the adopting of Bill 101, stupid companies have deserted the province like rats from a sinking ship, and few businesses want to open up in the province. Is it true?

    new quebecois

    November 7, 2008 at 12:31 pm

  20. New Québécois is plagerizing the reader mail in the Ottawa Citizen again… (We know when you do that because all of the sudden you are actually able to construct well formed sentences.)

    angryfrenchguy

    November 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm

  21. AFG! I did not know that English grammar is so important in Quebec! Next time I will be more cautious. But what about equalization and welfare in Quebec?

    new quebecois

    November 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm

  22. AQ:
    > AFG & Marc – When referring to English Canadians, are you
    > referring to the RoC, or English Quebecers?

    Don’t know about AFG, but in my case, both really. Anglophone Quebecers, especially the younger generation, are more aware of Quebec than anglophones (and francophones) in the rest of Canada, but they still don’t share the same culture as their French-speaking neighbours.

    > I am an English Quebecer and although I may not know everything
    > about your culture, can say that I understand it quite
    > well. I live here.

    The fact that you live here and can communicate in French doesn’t mean that you understand the culture all that well.

    ABP:
    > False information you say…Can you enlighten us about what
    > we Anglos in the ROC are mistaken about our beliefs,
    > with regards to Quebec?

    Well, for example, anglophones seem to be totally obsessed with the idea that (francophone) Quebec is an ethnically pure, ethnocentric (not to say racist) society. In my experience, it’s totally false. Even so-called “pure laine” (an expression anglophones seem to love, but I’ve never heard a francophone use non-ironically) French Canadians are certainly not ethnically pure, and there’s plenty of cultural diversity in French-speaking Quebec.

    But even in the comments on this blog I’ve heard it suggested that “real Quebec” is not diverse: after all, Montreal is diverse, but that is not “real Quebec”. Well, even if that were true — and it’s not, I’ve lived in Gatineau and now in Sherbrooke, two places with a fair number of minorities — do people really think that if you remove Toronto from Ontario, or Vancouver from BC, these provinces would be nearly as culturally diverse? Would they be so different from rural Quebec? And now, would anyone claim that Vancouver is not “real BC”, or Toronto “real Ontario”? (OK, I could see that last one.)

    But I must give you this, ABP. I’ve heard a lot of English Canadians complain about Quebec and the fact that we’re supposedly a bunch of lazy welfare-addicted morons, but for some reason they still seem attached to Canada’s national unity. At least you’re consistent: if we suck so much and we’re so inferior to you in every possible way, it makes sense that you’d want to get rid of us. (But I don’t think Quebecers are actually inferior — or indeed that different — from other Canadians, so there’s another misconception that you at least hold.)

    RoryBellows:
    > The independance movement is, by definition, concerned
    > with pointing out what is wrong with Canada. There aren’t
    > anti-Canada journalists?? Umm.. http://www.vigile.net .

    I’m looking at mainstream media, not some Web magazine I’ve sort of heard about before but don’t even know what it is. Anyway, what the independence movement is concerned with is what they see as the negative effect on Quebec of being a part of Canada. I don’t see the Bloc québécois criticizing English Canada for being a racist society because there are some ethnic tensions with Sikhs in BC (for example). Anyway, Acajack already made this point.

    > There are tons of francophone Barbara Kays.

    Heh, name a few.

    > The Gazette is evil, McGill and Concordia should be demolished,
    > english rights groups are fundamnentally racist, english
    > voters are xenophobic in their voting habits etc.

    McGill and Concordia are public universities owned by the Quebec government, so I guess those of us who think they should be “demolished” are few indeed. I mean, we pay for them, and we don’t complain. The Gazette is a paper with an agenda, one I disagree with, but they’re allowed to have it. English rights groups, in my experience, like to play the “racism” card even when there’s absolutely no justification, so I’m tempted to say they have a mostly negative effect on Quebec and Canada. Or maybe that’s just the noisy ones. But they don’t have to, they could have a positive effect. And anglophone voters? They’re not xenophobic, they vote according to their own self-interest, but so do all of us. It would be in anglophones’ best self-interest to have a bilingual Quebec (and possibly even a unilingual English Quebec, but then again maybe not because they couldn’t pat themselves on the back with how great they are for the little minorities, like they do in the rest of Canada :-p ), but that doesn’t mean it fulfills our best common interest.

    Acajack, great post about Canadian studies in the rest of Canada. I’ve studied at the University of Ottawa, but it was in mathematics and not in history or politics, so I can’t comment. The University of Ottawa might be sort of an exception anyway, with its relatively large number of professors from Quebec.

    Marc

    November 9, 2008 at 1:48 am

  23. Marc,

    Vigile (which I’m apparantly no longer allowed to link to) is a website that pulls articles from all major newspapers in Quebec and sometimes in Canada, as well as publishing articles written specifically for the site. It isn’t just another webezine.

    RoryBellows

    November 9, 2008 at 3:32 pm

  24. RoryBellows:
    > Vigile (which I’m apparantly no longer allowed to link to) is a
    > website that pulls articles from all major newspapers in Quebec and
    > sometimes in Canada, as well as publishing articles written
    > specifically for the site. It isn’t just another webezine.

    What do you mean, you’re “not allowed” to link to it? It worked in your last post, maybe there’s just a bug with the site right now. Anyway, I don’t see how what you’ve said tells me Vigile is anything else than any other web magazine. They republish articles from major newspapers and produce some original content. Okay. How does that make them mainstream or influential? I’ve never heard of them in the mainstream media. I’ve reached some of their articles doing web searches, but that’s it.

    Marc

    November 10, 2008 at 1:09 am

  25. Vigile is not considered by anyone in Quebec to be an opinion driver. It’s certainly very far from being the Quebec equivalent to the Drudge Report and other such influential sites in the U.S. This type of Web-based journalism hasn’t reached the Quebec political scene just yet.

    The really anglo-critical media like L’Action Nationale and L’aut’journal aren’t really opinion drivers in Quebec either.

    Anonymous

    November 10, 2008 at 11:11 am

  26. Last comment at 11:11 by Acajack, BTW.

    Acajack

    November 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm

  27. One thing that must be said about Vigile is that though their editorial line is clearly nationalist, pro-French and sovereignist, they are pretty thorough in covering everything that is written about those questions : pro like con.

    So, if for example a PQ proposition is decried by The Gazette and The Suburban, Vigile will republish the PQ proposition as well as the Gazette and Suburban’s articles about it. Readers get both sides of the medal.
    That contrasts with the information people who only read Anglo media get about Quebec nationalism.

    Another point is that people who write on Vigile, both contributors and posters, adopt a spectrum of positions, from moderate to more radical.

    In short, Vigile is pretty representative of the good half of the Quebec population who is interested in those debates.

    Raman

    November 11, 2008 at 11:59 am

  28. Vigile’s cool. And very useful for people interested with the language/unity debates.

    But I’m bored with their columnists who start every post with grandiose “Nous le Peuple du Québec…”

    angryfrenchguy

    November 11, 2008 at 7:35 pm

  29. Don’t get me wrong, I visit Vigile regularly. I only brought it up in response to someone who asked for examples of a certain kind of journalism. I was only pointing out that there, you’ll find many examples of viewpoints that are just as critical of Canada as Barbara Kay’s are of Quebec.

    RoryBellows

    November 11, 2008 at 9:05 pm

  30. Once again, I maintain that the vitriolic stuff that you’d find on Vigile (from a wide range of sources, including mainstream media of course) pretty much always focuses on the political, linguistic, cultural, economic and demographic impacts *within* Quebec of the province’s presence in the Canadian federation, rather than how people live their lives or govern themselves in the ROC.

    Yes, there are articles very critical of the alleged unilingualism of a large segment of the anglo population in this province, but the truth is that this situation has a much greater impact on the everyday lives of the 50% of Quebec francophones who live alongside them in Greater Montreal, than the relative quality of Quebec French has on the lives of anglos in Calgary or Brantford. Right?

    Sorry, but I just don’t see any articles in Quebec’s media drawing blanket conclusions that Ontario is a “sick” society (with the barely-hidden subtext being of course: these people aren’t capable of governing themselves, God forbid!) because young black men in Toronto are murdering themselves with guns at an alarming rate because their socio-economic situation is so hopeless and depressing.

    People, you gotta admit there is something wrong when the Hérouxville/reasonable accommodation/Bouchard-Taylor story gets way more coverage in the national English-Canadian media than the mounting (dark-skinned) body count in Toronto neighbourhoods like Jane-Finch, Malvern, Rexdale, etc.

    Acajack

    November 11, 2008 at 11:28 pm


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