Jack Jedwab and the Celestial Association of Canadian Nonsense
Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies released his latest survey on cultural relations in Canada, this week, and just like in every other study published by the association, we learn that the people of Québec are less tolerant of immigrants than English-Canadians and that they don’t like Jews (oups… actually the Québécois are slightly MORE tolerant of immigrants than other Canadians… Even I am starting to believe the lies and prejudice! Argh!).
The only big novelty this time around is that the results show than English-Canadians really don’t like French-Canadians all that much.
Like most other Association for Canadian Studies surveys, this one doesn’t make any sense.
Nevermind the slow-pitch worthless self-assessment questions that only tell us that people in Ontario express more politically correct sentiments than people in Québec or Alberta. No one needed a government-financed survey to find that out. What strikes me about Jack Jedwab polls is that they always seem to be inspired by the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, a made up Chinese encyclopedia invented by Jose Luis Borges in which the animals of the world are divided into:
a. those that belong to the emperor;
b. embalmed ones;
c. those that are trained;
d. suckling pigs;
f. fabulous ones;
g. stray dogs;
h. those that are included in this classification;
i. those that tremble as if they were mad;
j. innumerable ones;
k. those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush;
m. those that have just broken
the flower vase;
n. those that at a distance resemble flies.
For his latest survey, Jack Jedwab asked Canadians if they had a favourable opinion of: French-Canadians, English-Canadians, Aboriginals, Immigrants and Jewish people.
In other words, he asked them to compare two linguistic groups, an ethnicity, a civic status and a religion …
Jews get their own sociodemographic box but Blacks, South Asians and the Chinese, for example, don’t. Neither do Muslims, who are twice as numerous in Canada as Jews, and who are the fastest growing demographic group in the country.
Now if your want to measure tolerance in the 21st century, islamophobia is what you want to be looking at. And it certainly would have been interesting to compare Québec and Canada on this issue considering the two communities very different approaches to issues like the hijab.
Now what about my buddy AK? Is he a Jew, an immigrant or a French-Canadian? How about Jon in BC, is he Jewish or English? How about my sister’s friend Sofiane, a French-speaking immigrant from the English-speaking part of New Brunswick?
Even the concepts he tries to measure are not the same from one part of the country to the other. Ask someone in Toronto to think of “a Jew’, and he will think of Mike in sales. Ask someone in Québec to think of “a Jew” and he is much more likely to picture the members of an ultra-orthodox sect who raise their children like Cistercian monks or images of the Middle Eastern conflict.
It’s not that French-speakers don’t know about secular Jews. They are just more likely to categorize Leonard Cohen and Julius Grey as English-Canadians than as Jews. There almost no Hasidics in Ontario while Québec has the third biggest community in the world after New York and Jerusalem. It’s a demographic reality.
As best as I can tell, a French-speaking Montrealer in 2010 divides the world into:
b. les Anglais;
c. People from the 450;
e. People from Québec City;
f. the French from France;
g. the Viet at the Dep;
This is not the way the world looks like to someone in Vancouver and those categories are not objective or exclusive, but they are not less real. Just ask any Black person in Montreal who is not from Haiti how many time a day he is being asked if his family is alright.
And they certainly make as much sense as the categories cooked up by Jack Jedwab and his scholarly association.
Now any point of view is as valid as any other. The problem is that the Association for Canadian Studies gets several hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year to evaluate Canadian attitudes on complex issues from the very narrow perspective of an English-speaking Montrealer in 1947 and then publishes it’s results as if they were the objective evolution of Canadian thought.
That and they never include Mermaids in their polls. Nonsense, I tell you.