Québec has no Colour TV

with 143 comments


Québec’s TV industry is huge.  For a country it’s size, with a potential public of only a a few million viewers, most of whom understand English and are perfectly able to tune in to the American TV networks that make up at least half of the channels of any cable subscription, the vitality of Québec’s TV is simply astonishing.

Québec’s television is also very high quality television with well-written dramas like Les Invincibles, sitcoms like Tout sur moi innovative talk-shows like 3600 Secondes d’Extase.   Québec’s TV rarely feels small-time and production values are often world-class.  Star Académie, Québec’s weekly reality/talent show, is an extravaganza of massive production numbers featuring American and French guest stars that makes American Idol look like community television.   Seriously.

There is only one major problem with Québec’s television.  It’s not in colour yet.

This week AngryFrenchGuy talked to Frédérick Isaya, a young community activist and budding actor about this time bomb that is just waiting to blow up in Québec’s face.

Who are you Fred?

I am a community activist on Montreal’s South shore with a 12 to 17 year olds, an actor and the father of two kids.  I’ve been a member of Québec’s Union des artistes for three or four  years. I’ve been acting since my teens, but never as a full time occupation.  It’s something I do, but not something I gave up everything for.

You wrote a memoir for last year’s Bouchard-Taylor Commission in which you said that Québec’s TV does not represent Québec’s identity properly.  What do you mean?

When you look at TV today, the socio-cultural image you see is anachronistic.  It is the image of a Québec that is gone.  Long gone, I should say.  At some point we have to come to terms with that because we are creating many different little parallel societies that don’t include each other.  The mass media is the spearhead, of the cornerstone of the collective imaginary.  It has to look like us or else we are creating division and people will watch their TV somewhere else and not take part in Québec society.  It’s not healthy for anyone.

The consequence of this is that people who don’t live in Montreal have no idea what Montreal looks  like.  If they only see black people on TV who are up to no good, or Chinese people who are in the Asian mafia, or Arabs preparing a terrorist coup…  If that’s the only images they have of cultural communities because they don’t know them in any other way, you can’t unify Québec.  We have to change this and change it right now.  We can’t wait.  The clock is ticking.

Why is it like this?

I really don’t know.  I’d rather think it’s a form of indifference or of negligence rather than think it’s deliberate, because if it is deliberate it scares me.

How does it work with casting calls?  Can you show up for any role or are you only expected to come if it specifically says: Black guy?

We often face closed-minded people who make pretty restrictive casting calls, but, fortunately, it’s more  and more common to see some « all ethnicities welcome » castings.  There’s a role for a police officer, a mason or a doctor, and the police officer, the mason and the doctor can be anybody.  Every time I see that, I’m reassured.  But all to often, right after that I see another breakdown that specifically reads « White man » or « White woman », and when you read the role you just can’t figure out why.

You know, if they’re looking for an actress to play the wife of (union leader Michel) Chartrand during the second world war, I can understand they don’t want a black or a Chinese woman!  But when there is no reason…  if it’s only because the person in front of you imagined a white woman, I think we are getting awfully close to racism.

What are you going to do about it?

I decided if I didn’t get involved, I was going to be responsible for my own failure.  I went to the annual assembly of the UDA (Union des Artistes) and brought up the issue.  I think I got things started.  A committee was formed to look into all groups excluded from television.  You should see things starting to move in 2009.  Maybe not on television, just yet, but you will hear about people starting to get involved.

Last year you ran in both the federal and provincial elections as a Bloc québécois and a Parti québécois candidate. Many English-speaking people in Canada still associate sovereigntists with exclusion.  What do you have to say about that?

I don’t understand why people associate sovereignty with exclusion.  Maybe Parizeau’s message has something to do with it, but it’s been 13 years…

You can’t forget that M. René Lévesque is the instigator of visible immigration in Québec. Before 1976 mass immigration in Québec was essentially an immigration of Caucasian people.  M. Lévesque did not hesitate to encourage immigration from French-speaking Africa and Haiti because he felt we needed French-speaking immigrants to solidify the sovereignty project.

There are many people in the Parti québécois think integration is a good thing, but there have not been many concrete acts by the governments of the last 30 years.  Including the Parti québécois governments.  I would be a hypocrite to say anything else.

Maybe that’s why people associate integration difficulties with the sovereigntists.  Even though there have been many federalist governments in the last 30 years, in Québec we are having difficulties with integration of cultural communities, and so, by extension, as a kind of doubtful extrapolation, people associate that with the Parti québécois and the sovereigntist movement.  But it’s not about a political party.  It’s about everyone.

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 24, 2009 at 4:27 pm

143 Responses

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  1. Swiss multilingualism is highly functional. It doesn’t really satisfy Italian speakers, but you’re right devolution offers its advantages. That said, if you move from Geneva to Ticino you’re right to French language education and health care goes up in smoke. This is why the Swiss model is not applicable to Canada. A francophone Canadian navy captain stationed in Vancouver can send his kids to French language public schools. Moreover, tensions in Switzerland are eased by the balance of German-language demographic dominance with the general greater prestige of the French language.

    If a Swiss like situation were applied to Canada, Ottawa would not be required to offer any services in French (eg Bern is a unilingual city) and Western Quebec would be able to form an 11th province with the acquiescence of Canada as a whole (eg Jura becoming a half-canton in 1979). New Brunswick, despite being bilingual would not have to offer municipal services in two languages (eg Canton of Bern, Canton of Grissons). The Swiss system is very effective, but way too rigid for Canada.

    Switzerland has traditionally fractured along confessional rather than linguistic lines.


    February 27, 2009 at 5:54 pm

  2. I can tell you that for the most part, in the ROC, “Canadian” = “English(-speaking) Canadian”.

    In Quebec as well.


    February 27, 2009 at 8:13 pm

  3. I can assure you the feeling is quite mutual.

    Have a good weekend and be careful with assumptions.



    February 27, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  4. Depends upon how the Quebecois view themsleves..

    You take the money..then you are on welfare.


    You demand the money and are given then you are winners.. politically and economically.

    At the end of the day, you are receiving funds you have not worked for or deserve.

    You be the judge.



    February 28, 2009 at 1:00 am

  5. You think your a Quebecer or quebecois. Nice try…your not pure wool so get acquainted with non acceptance. Sorry to bust your new world.

    You think that because you speak french you will be accepted…Good luck. Your are not “pure laine”.

    The reason you are in Quebec is only because you are considered a fench speaker which bolsters their numbers.

    Do you actually have a job and pay taxes..??? I am sure you do..Just a quesion with my bad english as you already know.



    February 28, 2009 at 1:28 am

  6. Moi, je suis ontaro-canadien, chus pas “English-Canadian”!

    Je suis un chien bâtard sur le plan ethnique, mais bâtard de souche, bien sûr avec un nationalisme civic canadien!

    Mes enfants sont anglo-ontaro-canadiens-chinois qui parlent aussi français comme les québécois-canadiens sauf que les québécois-canadiens qui ne parlent pas français si l’on me suit ( comme, par exemple, ABP lorsqu’il a bu trop de vin rouge et faisait comme toujours ses plaintes sans cesse, que, pauvre lui, il ne peux pas parler français, désolé, mais sa femme qui est fransaskois-canadien peux le parle assez bien mais elle est trop occupée avec les conforts de lui chez eux et elle n’a pas le temps d’afficher ici parce’qu’il n’a fait pas d’efforts de l’aider dans le besogne qu’il la faut faire au ménage. Mais ils ont des amis frontièresquois-canadien qui habitent à Yellowknife, et qu’ils écoutent à la radio-canada et aussi à la télévision franco-ontarienne (tfo) pour leur culture québécoise-canadienne. Mais comme FON a dit, lui, il n’est pas anglaise ni française. Il est seulement un honnête homme, canadien, qui est aussi québécois-canadien, mais pas de souche parce qu’il est noir est pour cette raison, avec ses trois langues excellentes, son diplôme, licence, baccalaureate et toute cela, les mecs blancs qui ont râtés la sécondaire se dressent devant lui dans le ligne pour des emplois. Mais il rest quand-même bon citoyen, raisonable, intelligent, de bonne volonté, avec ses bras ouverts au tout le monde, même les maudits qui lisent le NatPost et jurent que le cbc force la culture québécoise dans leurs gorges collectives, crues, et rouges. (L’horreur de tous leurs ravissements si impitoyables et doleureuses! ces gens minoritaires qui lisent le Post!!) C’est affreux que s’arrive aux amis de abp!

    Moi, j’ai d’autres problems — ma femme est chino-albertano-canadien mais elle déteste tellement fort le Nat Post, parce qu’elle adore plutôt le CBC, qui n’a jamais, pas même une seule fois, forcé la culture française dans la gorge! Parce qu’ il faut qu’elle doive chercher la tfo et radio-canada pour son enchantillon quotidien de la culture biculturelle canadienne-québécoise, mais mon fils anglochinois- columbo-canadien à Vancouver doit lire de temps ou l’autre des rapports de loi en français a la faculté de loi parce que nous sommes un pays bilingue, et de ce type de gens il en y a un. Avec des occasions peut=être dans l’avenir parmi les franco-ontariens dans la fédérale. Mais ma nièce ne parle rien de français au travail à la caisse populaire (qui n’est pas une succursale Desjardins) à Vancouver parce’qu’elle préfére les mecs indopersano-canadiens, qui “watchent” les Canadiens de Montréal sur la place en anglais. Mais le franco terre-neuve-canadien à la caisse Desjardins ici à Guelph est un originaire du Côté-Nord du Québec et son français a un accent acadien.

    C’est un petit monde, je trouve.

    Mais il y a trop d’etiquettes!

    Fon, tout ce que tu dis semble juste à moi!

    Bonne nuit,

    Bruce de Guelph Ontario.


    February 28, 2009 at 1:40 am

  7. ABP,

    I would seriously consider leaving Canada without the CBC, although I don’t know any better place that I could go to.

    The National Post is such a terrible newspaper, and I don’t really want to read any their crap so I’m not taking you up on the link you offer.

    Stop bitching, already, about those of us who post in French here. I don’t bitch about you posting in anglo-speak, so don’t tell the others here that they have to “speak white” Except its not really “speak white” Mais la langue de Molière et Voltaire et la lange de Shakespeare, sont tous les deux de très belles langues. Heureusment ta petite-fille et ta femme parlent, je suis certaine, le français. And that is your most redeeming feature — good for you allowing them to speak French although you complain about it in this blogue.

    But it is a shame nonetheless that you strike out at something so fundamentally Canadian and important to this country as the CBC. Important to me, and important to the people who provide leadership in citizenship and culture, all those who help enormously to facilitate reflection upon who we wish to be as Canadians.

    Every penny for the CBC is well spent and vive la culture! Célébrons-la nous!


    February 28, 2009 at 2:00 am

  8. Désolé Fon, tu n’est pas anglais ou français parce que t’es un homme! (J’ai râte ton genre — je’m’excuse.)

    Aussi les ‘Habs’ jouent sur la Glace pas sur la place.

    Oui, j’admette, bien d’autres erreurs, c’est de rigeur chez moi!

    : -)


    February 28, 2009 at 2:12 am

  9. Burger boy!

    at 1:19 p.m. Feb 27 (since the thread reply allocator dispositif ‘thingmejiggy’ doesn’t function at the moment!)

    Burger! What’s that there between your two buns? Just wondering! :(

    (Cuz I thought I saw a Jeune Patriot having a little go at the undercooked part.. must have been mistaken though … in all the gun-smoke wafting about up there on Abraham’s little, charnel house on ze prairie. Were you one of the red coats that eventually got screwed over up there?

    Just tchecking zat you got your joli!. .. Hé! .. comme gcl était souvent ravi … (avec un peu trop de méchancété -oui, d’accord! … je lui déprécie.. mais pas moi-même) … de faire signaler d’une manière rude.

    Anyhoooo, le stupide triomphalisme reste comme il est, … bien stupide!

    Your math may be demonstrable but you’re not doing anything good here to further unity and reconciliation a few hundred years later.

    Canadians were fine with cancelling the re-enactment on the plains, and so some of your $ will thus be re-couped! It was an all-Québec “dust-up” in any case — Juneau vs. les ‘purs et durs’.

    Even Rod Love from Alberta said it was ‘stupide’

    Félicitations! Dontcha “relish” it?

    But I préfére la moutarde.


    February 28, 2009 at 2:49 am

  10. Toujours si amèr, abp. Too bitter man! La vie est courte!


    February 28, 2009 at 2:52 am

  11. Hey AFG,

    Medicare in North America started in Saskatchewan, — and
    80% of Québécois believe it was invented in Quebec!

    Now this! Soon you’ll have everyone believing that Québec was the trail blazer that invented multi-culturalism, and then Canada went and “copy catted” it later on!

    Message to AFG’s guest of the week:

    Anyhow, good on you, Frédérick Isaya … you reflect well on Canada, your country, even though you ran for ‘the other guys’– PQ adn BQ in the elections. (They do seem to have this perpetual identity crisis however…)

    Obama on the other hand was positive as a uniter rather than a divider. that’s why I would have voted for him. I would have loved to have voted for you, Frédérick, as a Green or an NDP, (even a Lib — mais les autres, je doute que je puisse faire ça.


    February 28, 2009 at 3:07 am

  12. Who are you adressing?


    February 28, 2009 at 7:47 am

  13. Who are you addressing?


    February 28, 2009 at 7:47 am

  14. Sorry for the double post. And you know what APB? I’m sorry for the ad hominem attacks. I really am. It’s wrong and petty. (But you should know the difference between “your” and “you’re”.)

    I think a lot of people avoid answering your questions, because they don’t expect real dialogue with you. That may be on them or on you (or both). If you really want to understand Quebec, you may find greater success with a more delicate approach. It is, of course, up to you. And you may not even care.

    If you can forgive my past sniping and hear me out on this: try imagining what you would want if you were an anglo-Quebecer… if you were a franco-Quebecer… not in a fantastical way but within the constraints that reality poses upon these people. I sometimes find it’s an interesting intellectual exercise that helps me identify with different groups and allows me to say “I hear you. You’re wrong, but I hear you.”

    By the way I am not a “closet separatist”. I don’t think many Quebec sovereigntists are “in the closet”. To be clear: I am a federalist.

    And again my sincere apologies for attacking you as a person. We may never be friends but these forum is about information and personal attacks are irrelevant, distracting and low-class. I’m sorry.


    February 28, 2009 at 8:20 am

  15. all i know is tha even if you say there is no color tv, they put a blackie here and there or an asian to make it seem like they arent racist. buts thats just to satisfy those who want to protest to their garbage television shows


    February 28, 2009 at 10:58 am

  16. Bruce,

    “Canadians were fine with cancelling the re-enactment on the plains, and so some of your $ will thus be re-couped!”

    No they were not. I have read editorials and articles in the two national Canadian newspapers; the Globe and Mail and National Post saying the opposite. The majority of the commentaires in those sites also agree. Many of these commentairies express hatred and disrespect for Quebec. I have also read editorials and articles in Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, and the Ottawa Citizen saying the same thing.
    So, no, judging by those national and local media I have consulted, the majority of Canadians were not fine with the cancellation of the the re-enactment. To put it politely. All of these are on the Internet if you simply would care to search for them.

    “It was an all-Québec “dust-up” in any case — Juneau vs. les ‘purs et durs’.”

    No, it was not that either. The majority of francophone federalists were also against this. Juneau has stated that he cancelled the event because he didn’t receive support from Quebec, including the federalist Jean Charest. This is one thing that both federalists and sovereignists agree on and they both helped cancel this tasteless event.

    This excuse of threats from violence by sovereignists as the cause of the cancellation was wrong and was a smear campaign from the English Canada media, as always.


    February 28, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  17. Bruce,

    “Medicare in North America started in Saskatchewan, — and 80% of Québécois believe it was invented in Quebec!”

    Do you have a citation for this? And even so, who cares? What is your point? That Quebecers are ignorant on some matters? Everybody is more ignorant on some matters than others including Canadians. With that said, I would like to see a citation for this.

    “Anyhow, good on you, Frédérick Isaya … you reflect well on Canada, your country, even though you ran for ‘the other guys’– PQ adn BQ in the elections. (They do seem to have this perpetual identity crisis however…)”

    How does he reflect well on Canada since he considers Quebec, not Canada, as his true country?

    And what identity crisis do the PQ and the BQ have? That is insulting. They know what they want. They want the Quebec identity to flourish. They believe, as do I, that this can only happen in an independent Quebec. I can say a few things about the ambivalence and the insecurity of the Canadian identity in relation to the Americans.


    February 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm

  18. No, Im not a “Troll” , just enjoy reading the rants that go back and forth here with the ” I’m right”, “no you’re wrong I’m the one that’s right”, posts. Had to comment though on the line you start off with …..”for a country it’s size”. I believe you meant to say….”for a province it’s size” You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
    No need to thank me for correcting you ! Any time mon ami !

    Brian K

    March 10, 2009 at 5:29 pm

  19. If Scotland can call itself a country, why couldn’t Quebec? It doesn’t necessarily mean an independent country. (Of course, both Scotland and Quebec have active independence movements, which makes things more complicated, I guess, but then again England and Wales are also countries.)

    I’ve noticed that many people (especially anglophones) are extremely sensitive at Quebec being called a “country” or even a “nation” and will jump on any discussion to point out that no, it’s only one province (out of ten). Would it bother them as much to hear of Newfoundland and Labrador being called a country? It used to be semi-independent after all, and today it still exists as a full society. It is a country, which is a province in another country (Canada).


    March 11, 2009 at 10:03 am

  20. Most of the Québec feel and understand Québec – independent or not – as a country, in the same way people of Scotland and Tibet idendify their country as only that part of the larger sovereign state.

    You won’t be able to wish that fact away with semantics.

    But nice try!


    March 11, 2009 at 11:56 am

  21. Brian—Québec may be a province to you because you can go there without a passport, but for those of us who cross into it from Plattsburgh, it’s a country. Ask any American whose car is low on gas after they clear Canadian customs. The nice customs agent will say something like, “I think there’s an Esso station in Lacolle—you do speak French, I hope?”


    March 13, 2009 at 7:22 am

  22. Scotland is actually constitutionally recognized as a “country” within the United Kingdom. Wales, Northern Ireland and of course England are officially “countries” as well.

    Of course, Quebec as a Canadian “province” has traditionally had more powers and autonomy than Scotland the “country” has had within the UK, although there has been less of difference since the UK went through its devolution exercise.


    March 13, 2009 at 11:13 am

  23. Yes marc,
    I would be offended if Newfoundland and Labrador called itself a country. It is NOT – it is a part of Canada as is Quebec. Maybe it’s time to learn what country and nation mean.. but then again I know you know what it means, so stop playing stupid please.

    Also, I hope you know that the majority of non francophone Quebeckers will without doubt choose to Stay in Canada. Given almost all of them live in Greater Montreal – Montreal and immediate suburbs like Brossard, Greenfield Park etc… will NOT be separating with you!

    So please go already. It’s been a slice.


    March 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

  24. Oh come on littlerob. I guess in that case then the Greater Montreal area, with 2,000,000 English speaking Quebeckers also qualify as a country.

    Let me assure you, they WILL opt to Stay In Canada and know you will be able to fill your tank not only in French and English, but probably any number of other languages as well.

    So keep enough gas in your tank till you reach our fair city and know you are welcome – no matter what language you speak.


    March 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm

  25. […] 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. […]

  26. Je comptais justement écrire un petit poste pareil à celui ci

    porn canaille

    October 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

  27. Post folloement captivant


    October 30, 2013 at 11:20 am

  28. Je voudrai vous dire que c’est incroyablement du bonheur
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    November 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm

  29. Tiens cett article va allr sur mon site perso

  30. J’ai guère fini de lire cependant je passe demain


    November 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm

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