AngryFrenchGuy’s Pop Culture Reference Institute explains Michel Gauvin/Mike Gauvin

with 131 comments


Way back in the day, after a young, ambitious and afro-ed young politician called Jean Charest was recruited by federalist headhunters to take the leadership of the Liberal Party of Québec and save Canada, a snoopy reporter dug up his birth certificate and discovered that – scandal! – his true name was not Jean has he had claimed, but John James!

Jean/John was coming to Québec months after the 1995 referendum, just as the emerging scandal about the illegal funding of the federalist campaign by secretive occult organizations was coming to light and amidst (still persistent) rumours that a ‘golden bridge’ was built for him by Canada’s business community, including a (confirmed) salary and Westmount home.

Already suspected of not being completely transparent about his financial supporters, the fact that he did not use the name his mother gave him only confirmed (at least in sovereingtist eyes) the duplicitous character of Jean Charest.

The Anglo-Canadian media’s interpretation? “Poor Jean Charest. He just isn’t pure laine enough for some Quebecers.”

It’s not that at all.

Jean/John James problem is that his birth certificate made him look like one of Québec’s most ridiculed archetypes, the Michel Gauvin/Mike Gauvin.

Michel Gauvin/Mike Gauvin is the hilarious character in the just as funny movie Québec/Montréal who completely changes the way he pronounces his name depending whether he is speaking French or English.

In some small circles, this is considered the ultimate in Canadian bicultural cosmopolitan cool.  Justin Trudeau lives in that world.  So does Robert Guy Scully/Robert Scully (said in a bad european accent in French).

This said, some people are able to pull off the Michel Gauvin/Mike Gauvin.  Brian Mulroney could be both French and English, although, to his credit, he didn’t change the way he pronounced his name.   To this day many francophones Québécois are convinced he is one of them, while many Anglos in Canada would be surprised to learn he speaks French at all!   Of course, Pierre Elliot Trudeau also played that game.  As did Paul Martin, with considerably less success.

Despite the appeal of this 21st century meta-Canadian who is both French AND English (and soon to be a little bit ethnic too) to nationalist Canadians, it is generally considered very uncool by the Québécois, both sovereigntists and federalists, to try to have two identities, depending on your audience.

The fact that the Michel Gauvin/Mike Gauvin is generally associated with politicians involved with shady financial conspiracies (Robert (Guy) Scully was never in politics but in 2000 he had to publicly and shamefully renouce the title of journalist after it was established he was involved in secretly government-financed federalist propaganda on CBC/Radio-Canada) doesn’t exactly help to project the image of name-switchers as stand-up honorable people.

The purity of the roots of these modern-day Januses is not what worries the Québécois.  Gilles Duceppe will repeat to anyone who will listen that his grand-father was British and, yet, it didn’t prevent him from kicking federalist ass in Québec for two decades.  The PQ had a Prime Minister called Pierre-Marc Johnson.  The Curzi’s, Rebello’s, Khadir’s and Kotto’s and McKay’s of the sovereignty movement have no problem being elected despite the fact they can’t hide their non-pure laine-ness.

The problem is not purity.  It’s a little bit about duplicity.  And a lot about just plain silly.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 26, 2009 at 6:24 pm

131 Responses

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  1. i’m not sure if you are referring to luc chartrand or daniel sanger as a clownophone. clinically speaking, does this mean you’re a bozophobe?
    or do you suffer in the advanced stages of polipoppschyo syndrome?


    May 1, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  2. No, it’s to see the obvious – the bitterness of people marginalized for too long. That translates into actions which are then excused as an effort to preserve a language.


    May 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm

  3. Ouch. Please stop it, you’re hurting my feelings…

    Cameroonian friends? I don’t believe I have any.


    May 1, 2009 at 11:12 pm

  4. I see in you the bitterness of people who marginalize themselves from the society in which they live


    May 2, 2009 at 1:09 am

  5. OK, advice: what if you’re American and have a very, very French last name (by virtue of ancestors who left Picardie over a hundred years ago or the U.S.) and yet speak French haltingly as a second language and get lumped in with Montreal anglos? Pronounce my name the way my family in the U.S. does or the way everyone here does?


    May 2, 2009 at 1:51 am

  6. Edgy555,

    My advice would be to pronounce it the way that best defines you, the way you feel the most comfortable with. You can’t please everyone and you’re bound to mesh with ignorants who simply want to remain that way.

    Don’t follow their path. Don’t take the same intellectual shortcut they take. Don’t project the behavior of the few on the whole. Don’t let them taint your rapport with individuals simply because s/he is part of a bigger ensemble.

    Dismiss their reaction for what it is, rubbish…

    Pure Laine

    May 2, 2009 at 6:32 am

  7. wrong as usual johnny. Luc Chartrand is talking *about* the clownophones, of which you and allo are prime specimens. But thanks for demonstrating your functional illiteracy in 2 languages at once. Perhaps we need another neologism for you. A Nullophone, maybe?


    May 2, 2009 at 8:54 am

  8. James,

    50% is not higher than 78%.


    May 2, 2009 at 3:33 pm

  9. james,

    instead of creating what you consider clever repartee – why don’t you just declare yourself a misanthrope? thoroughly modern, maudlin and miserable.

    it’s going on 2 days that a fabrication on history was spun and has stood posted without serious challenge ( acajack – to his credit- offered an offhand and oblique refutation being “annoyed” but then veered off into righteous condemnation and more evidence of man’s inhumanity to man) – but you einstein – with your mocking of others names are above all that are more interested in imposing some type of moral and intellectual inferiority on your detractors.

    “The history of our race, and each individual’s experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.” ~ Mark Twain

    The secessionist movement points to the grand derangement (and 1837) and attempts to attribute cause and effect to a language spoken by the military and surprise surprise – it’s not french. that this lie is further used to predict events of the future in an attempt to change the course of history and stave off the inevitable is sad non? but it is false and the false sentimentality that goes with it.

    leveraging your political views into contempt (if indeed that is what you are doing) will not undo one injustice or bring back one life. you are standing in a glass house with broken windows and bricks in your hands.


    May 2, 2009 at 5:37 pm

  10. Je ne me souviens pas que des souverainistes aient utilise le grand derangement comme argument pour la souverainete: si c’est evoque ici, c’est pour denoncer une sorte d’aveuglement volontaire. Toronto inc, qui cherche a controler tous les centres de decision economiques du Quebec, me semble un sujet plus pertinent pour faire comprendre la necessite de la souverainete. Apres que Toronto inc ait litteralement vide Montreal de son secteur financier dans les annees 80, il lui restait a controler la bourse: il y eut alors un soi-disant fusion ou Montreal perdait la negociation de toutes les actions, et, en compensation, on lui laissait pour dix ans le controle des produits derives, a l’epoque ou le marche pour ce type de produit etait inexistant. La bourse des produits derives de Montreal inventa un systeme informatique de transactions tres innovateur, s’associa avec les bourses de Boston et plus tard Chicago et developpa ainsi un marche qui passa en dix ans de quelques millions a plusieurs milliards. Resultat, Toronto inc proposa une soi-disant fusion ou en fait Toronto ACHETAIT Montreal et demenageait ainsi les principaux centres de decision: seule compensation, le personnel devait demeurer a Montreal, ce que l’autorite des marches financiers garantie. Contre-offensive de Toronto sur le plan politique: Ottawa veut un seul regulateur Canadien des marches financiers, de facon a laisser la porte ouverte a Toronto pour demenager ce qui reste de la bourse de Montreal. Autre exemple de l’appetit de Toronto inc et de leurs allies politiques. Les etats, pour proteger leurs banques de la prise de controle etrangere, ont mis en place des regles comme la regle du dix pour cent qui represente le nombre d’actions maximale qu’une seule entreprise peut detenir dans une banque. La banque Nationale, qui est la banque des pme au Quebec, a une capitalisation legerement inferieure a celle des grandes banques canadiennes. Le federal a donc eu l’idee de l’exclure de la loi du dix pour cent en creant une loi qui exige une capitalisation superieure a celle de la Nationale: elle etait la seule banque visee par cette loi. Resultat: contrairement aux grandes banques canadiennes, la Nationale n’est plus protegee contre une prise de controle hostile.Il est facile d’imaginer les dommages economiques que creerait la vente d’une telle institution a des interets etrangers. On peut dire qu’il nous reste encore la caisse de depot pour empecher le desastre. Helas, son nouveau pdg nomme par Charest, issu de Toronto inc, a bien precise en entrevue que pour lui il etait hors de question d’utiliser le pouvoir de la caisse pour maintenir ici les joyaux de notre economie. Voila comment petit a petit la guerre d’usure que toronto inc et le gouvernement federal menent contre l’economie quebecoise rapetisse constamment notre autonomie faisant de Montreal une succursale de Toronto et du Quebec un benificiare de la perequation. Les dommages sont deja considerables. Je pourrais trouver 541 autres exemples de la necessite de realiser la souverainete, dans le passe, dans le present et dans le futur. Nous devons connaitre notre histoire mais les principaux arguments pour la souverainete se trouvent dans le present


    May 2, 2009 at 7:11 pm

  11. Fait interessant: la caisse de depot qui a plusieurs centaines de milliards en capitalisation, qui a des investissements dans toutes sortes d’institutions partout dans le monde, NE DETIENT AUCUNE ACTION DANS LA BANQUE NATIONALE: AUCUNE, ZERO.


    May 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

  12. Lorsque le Quebec a manifeste son intention de nationaliser l’electricite dans les annees soixante, Toronto inc s’y est fortement oppose, pretextant que jamais le Quebec n’aurait la capacite de bien gerer un tel projet: comme ils etaient detenteurs du capital, ils refuserent de financer notre projet.Quebec se tourna alors vers Wall Street qui trouva l’idee si emballante qu’ils preterent immediatement l’argent necessaire a la mise en oeuvre de ce chantier colossal.A Wall Street, contrairement a Toronto, l’argent n’a pas d’odeur . Dans les memes annees, comme Quebec etait trop dependant de Toronto pour financer ses entreprises, ce qui donnait lieu a une forme de chantage politique, on eut l’idee d’utiliser les milliards d’epargnes des quebecois qui jusqu’alors etaient investi dans le prive, a l’etranger, pour creer la caisse de depot, faisant en sorte que plus jamais notre etat ne soit en situation de vulnerabilite dans sa recherche du capital. Toronto inc et le gouvernement federal s’y opposerent fortement. Ainsi,par exemple, le federal crea une loi speciale pour empecher la caisse de se porter acquereur d’actions dans le canadien pacifique. En 1978, le Quebec a mis en place l’assurance automobile, protegant ainsi de la faillite des milliers de malheureux qui avaient eu un accident et qui auraient du payer des compensations a vie. Voyant un immense marche leur echapper, les compagnies d’assurances de Toronto s’y opposerent fortement, je ne me souviens plus du pretexte evoque cette fois..Voulez-vous que je continue?


    May 2, 2009 at 7:39 pm

  13. Je pourrais aussi parler des dommages economiques incommensurables suite a la creation de la voie maritime du St- laurent qui a permis aux navires de marchandises d’ignorer les infrastructures portuaires montrealaise pour servir Toronto: evidemment, ils nous firent payer une part de la facture. Ca me rappelle l’union du bas et du haut canada. Le bas Canada n’avait aucune dette et ses infrastructures etaient tres bien developpes. Ce n’etait pas le cas du haut


    May 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

  14. ..Canada, qui etait en plein developpement et qui avait une enorme dette. La solution fut l’union, ce qui nous obliga a defrayer la moitie de la dette contre rien en retour..


    May 2, 2009 at 7:50 pm

  15. Les federalistes nous parlent de leur ouverture, du plaisir de partager un pays, de l’unite canadienne: la verite c’est que l’essence de la politique, c’est la defense des interets des electeurs, leur etat et l’economie de leur etat. Toronto inc defends ses interets, c’est normal. Ce qui ne l’est pas, c’est que certains ne se soient pas encore rendu compte que leurs interets ne sont pas les notres…C’est quand ce simple etat de fait est mis en lumiere qu’on accuse les Quebecois de protectionnistes, de socialistes communistes, de racistes et de xenophobes.On aime pas que le Quebec se tienne debout..


    May 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm

  16. Un quebecois cree une entreprise innovatrice mais il manque de capital. Il va en bourse et son entreprise prosprere si bien qu’elle attire l’attention d’investisseurs etrangers. Ces derniers lui disent que pour continuer a grossir, il doit s’unir a eux, ce qui signifie etre achete par eux. Ils achetent donc l’entreprise mais promettent a notre quebecois de conserver son emploi de gestionnaire pour un certain temps. Puis, un moment donne, on decide de restructurer l’entreprise ce qui oblige le congediement des anciens cadres, dont le quebecois fondateur de cette entreprise. Licencie, il se retrouve sur le chomage. Il tente alors de demarrer une autre entreprise mais peine a trouver du capital de risque. Epuise par ses tentatives, il se retrouve sur l’aide sociale et on l’accuse d’etre un paresseux, un profiteur du systeme, presqu’un voleur. C’est la situation du Quebec par rapport au Canda: vous comprenez pourquoi ca nous revolte cette histoire de perequation dont nous serions les grands benificiaires, voir les grands PROFITEURS de la generosite de tous les canadiens hors Quebec.


    May 2, 2009 at 8:18 pm

  17. Bitterness? More like clinical depression caused by hearing the word “language” every single day for the past 20 years.


    May 2, 2009 at 8:55 pm

  18. jacqsminuit,

    je ne veux pas etre contraire, mais bon, moi, je me souviens.

    your rationale of secession, a complaint of why capital doesn’t owe allegiance to one set of political thought over another holds no water. and that is the beauty of capitalism – it does not adhere to a political agenda – it is only interested in the creation of wealth. wealth is a good thing and this fact cannot be denied.

    capitalism gravitates towards stability and profit – capitalism will shun and flee from instability.

    the irony of it all (whether secession is good for quebec or not) is: if and when quebec (montreal) becomes a finacial powerhouse again (as it was before the secessionist movement destroyed it) – the question of independance will be moot. you need really bad times to convince a population that radical change is necessary. when housing and food are in great supply – the idea of radical change is viewed as extreme. secession is radical today and will probably be viewed as radical tomorrow.

    the rebellions in upper and lower canada (37-38) bear little resemblance to the situation today – except for one thing in common – responsible government.

    maybe you can explain to me (since you are so big on economics) why my tax dollars should support the bad investment decisions made by the caisse? and if you even mention collectivity – don’t expect me to be friendly towards your argument.


    May 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm

  19. Je n’ai rien contre le capitalisme mais je hais l’imperialisme economique. Pourquoi l’ontario et le reste du Canada se sont si fortement opposes au libre echange alors que Quebec soutenait l’accord?


    May 2, 2009 at 9:25 pm

  20. Nullophone?

    “Well I am… over-fuckin’-whelmed. What d’you want for that, a junior g-man badge?”
    Al Pacino, Heat


    May 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

  21. C’etait ma reponse au dernier post de johnnyonline, a 9hrs15 pm: desole, elle est au mauvais endroit..


    May 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

  22. forget about toronto inc – they currently qualify as “have-nots” – in the future you will be complaining (no doubt) about calgary inc. le plus que ca change….


    May 2, 2009 at 9:36 pm

  23. johnnyonline: “it’s going on 2 days that a fabrication on history was spun and has stood posted without serious challenge ( acajack – to his credit- offered an offhand and oblique refutation being “annoyed” but then veered off into righteous condemnation and more evidence of man’s inhumanity to man) -”

    I don’t get this reference to a fabrication on history…

    The deportation of the Acadians is recognized by most historians as a quasi-genocide, or at the very least as one of the first examples of ethnic cleansing in North America. As such, it was a despicable act of human cruelty. Whether it was as scandalous (or not) as, say, the bombing of Hiroshima, Justin Timberlake pulling down Janet Jackson’s bra, or anything in between these two extremes, doesn’t really matter.


    May 2, 2009 at 9:45 pm

  24. Quebec and Canada’s problem will eventually be solved when Quebec leaves Confederation. No more debates on language, on equalization and on Quebec influencing National politics with the BQ.

    Would this not be a sane and more simpler approach than what we all endure at this time.

    What are the Quebecers waiting for… another Plaines of Abraham…

    No one is winning with the differences, time to get out.

    Now is the time.


    May 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm

  25. In a province as fiscally irresponsible as this one, you have to accept the fact that a big chunk of your tax money will be wasted one way or another.
    In the end it’s the federal funding that keeps this province afloat.


    May 2, 2009 at 10:10 pm

  26. Can it wait a year or two? Give me chance to relocate.


    May 2, 2009 at 10:15 pm

  27. If I were you I would think about moving ASAP. I have all my Quebec property on the market at this time.

    World economics are dictating those with debt will be penalized. Quebec has a lot of debt. And I doubt the ROC will by sympathetic going forward as all provinces but one are in deficit budgets. Who is going to pay for the 8.5 B in prequation to keep that money pit alive.

    Have a nice night.


    May 2, 2009 at 10:33 pm

  28. acajack,

    how soon we forget. i blatantly produced a version of history that had no basis in fact (something that happens around here far too often).

    d’accord. 110% – comparisons are ridiculous – attempts at equivocation are useless – in this case – they’re all manifestations of evil – failures of diplomacy in the sense that war is the only tool left available. if you are to condemn the actions of those taken to preserve themselves – then do not think twice and throw yourself off the pont champlain – because if self-preservation is not important then throwing yourself off a bridge is the logical conclusion.

    my game – taken at great risk (and i apologize for the distortion on the acadian expulsion – but anyone with half a brain or as you yourself said – junior understanding – could see right through it) is that half of what we say is misunderstood and half of what we hear is misunderstood – and underlining all of that is – how is it possible to evaluate anything anyone says? the answer is time – with time one can establish what another’s motives are.

    all the major or minor inconveniences or injustices we experience today look quite different in hindsight – this is nothing new – as a matter of fact – it is often the rule as opposed to the exception.

    did anyone besides you stand up and say i was full of shit? no. it passed. my point is this: what else has passed?


    May 2, 2009 at 10:36 pm

  29. moi non plus, c’est le defi de notre epoque.

    aucune idee. ca va prendre temps pour le comprendre.


    May 2, 2009 at 10:42 pm

  30. A sad story you tell for sure. But it is excuses.

    When will Quebec pay their own way without the welfare payments from other provinces.

    After all, you have loi 101, and you have full use of your language plus billions of dollars from Ottawa.

    Even with all this, you are not contributing. I would think this is a matter of pride of which Quebec obviously has no knowledge.

    Perhaps I am wrong with this?


    May 2, 2009 at 10:51 pm

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