AngryFrenchGuy

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The Myth of Montreal’s Bilingual Hospitals

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Dying generally sucks, but you do get a few perks: things like a 24h VIP direct line to a nurse you can call when weird things start happening to your mother’s cancer-ridden body.

The thing is, at night the system is rigged up so that you have to go through the Montreal General Hospital’s internal operator to get to the nurse.  Not the public operator used to communicating with the taxpaying public.  The internal switchboard lady.

Dispatch.  What service?

This being one of Montreal’s  “bilingual” hospital, in-house communications are in English.  It takes a few seconds for the operator to switch gears into French and a little bit longer for her to figure out French acronyms and terminology.

Selles?  Selles?  Shit!  What are selles?

Eventually I get the nurse on the phone.  The situation I’m describing is kind of gross and she recommends I take my mom to the emergency.

My mother used to be a patient of the Montreal Neurological Hospital’s Docteur Olivier, the French-speaking successor to the legendary Dr. Wilder Penfield who revolutionized brain science, and the living proof that Montreal’s English hospitals are, according to the Montreal Gazette, nothing but a “mischievous myth”.

“There are French ones and there are bilingual ones”, they explained after former Québec Prime Minister Jacques Parizeau was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital last week.  “Parizeau is getting that care in French – or, at least he is if that’s what he wants. Parizeau’s English is so fluently mellifluous he might just choose to use it.”

While I’m sure the staff at the Jewish will avoid the diplomatic faux pas of addressing Monsieur Parizeau in English, those of us who haven’t managed to come as close to breaking up Canada don’t quite receive the same level of consideration.

When my mother’s name was moved from the interesting cases list to the basket cases list, Dr. Olivier passed her file on to a Czech doctor who didn’t speak a word of French.  He greeted every patient in the clinic hallway with a single question:

Do you speak English?

Only about 40% of patients in Montreal’s bilingual hospitals are English-speaking so the doctor spent the first ten minutes of every second consultation sighing loudly as he fished around for an idle nurse, orderly or first year student who could translate his patients for him.  I got on his good side by setting aside my modest expectation that in 2009 my mother was entitled to receive health care in French in Québec.

The Neuro doesn’t have an emergency ward so that night I take her across the street to the Royal Victoria Hospital, named for the glorious British Queen who spoke German, English, French and Hindustani.  A doctor walks into our examining room wearing a hijab.  This is English Montreal, a tolerant, multicultural community where people value and respect each others cultures…

Do you speak English?

Non.

Really? Are you sure?

The doctor tells me that she can take a look at my mother now or that we can wait.  Mother’s been writhing in pain for about seven hours now, so I take her hand and tell her softly that it’s her turn to be bilingual.

Because my family refuses to live in Saguenay or Rosemont where we belong, we, like 1.7 million Québécois from Côte-des-Neiges to Val-d’Or — people like Jacques Parizeau, Yves Michaud, Pauline Marois, Éric Lapointe and the AngryFrenchMe — have been designated as wards of the McGill University Hospital Center.

Every single word of every single medical file of every single member of my family is written entirely in English.

Twenty-five percent of the province of Québec’s health care is administered by a medical establishment that doesn’t require it’s doctors to learn a single word of the language spoken by the majority of their patients.  The Charest government just gave McGill 3.6 billion dollars, half of the tax dollars earmarked for the construction of two university hospitals in Montréal.

No need to worry, according to The Gazette.  For that price they’ll even care for separatists.  Me and my mom’s can be assured that Montreal’s bilingual hospitals “are open to all, regardless of language, creed, ethnicity, or political conviction.”

The day shift doctor who showed up in the morning didn’t speak French either.  I don’t speak French I’m from Brazil, he told me, almost proud of himself.

I made him speak to me in Spanish.  He got the point and dropped the grin.

(Now let’s have a moment of silence for the millions of Mexican-Americans who don’t have access to health care in their own language.  Aren’t you just fucking proud to be Canadian right now?)

That night was a hard one, but it wasn’t the toughest yet.  I spent many other long nights at the Royal Vic and the Montreal General Hospital with my mother.  Tired, scared and confused by the quick succession of unfamiliar faces coming and going around her, my mother started to speak to me in English in those last few weeks of her life.

My father had started to do the same thing in the last days of his life.  So did my grand-mother.  So did my grand-father.

Anyone still wondering why I’m angry?

Add to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to Twitter SHARE.  ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

Gilles Duceppe’s Separatist World (…ok, Canadian) Tour

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In his excellent biography of Pierre Bourgault, journalist Jean-François Nadeau tells the fascinating story of the gay veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who lived with a pet kangaroo in his Shaughnessy village house near the old Forum and became an indépendantiste pioneer. In his book, Nadeau also recalls the separatist firebrand’s long forgotten tour of the Canadian West, early in his career.

Way back in the day, before paying lip-service to Canada’s “bilingual” nature became a litmus test of canadianess, Bourgault toured the Prairies to explain the idea of an independent Québec to hostile crowds of Westerners who had no sympathy for any “French power” or “Québec Libre” nonsense and who basically were going out to see a freak show.

According to Nadeau, Bourgault usually left the room to standing ovations.

This week the Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe launched his own Canadian Tour, but Québec’s independence is not the radical idea it once was.  The idea that with Québec out, Canada will be more a more united and nimble country has much greater acceptance today than it did when Bourgault spelled it out to his unsuspecting audiences of farmers and cattle ranchers.

And Canada has changed too, since Bourgault’s time.  Like the Prime Minister’s muse, Tom Flanagan, is quoted as saying in the Globe and Mail: “In the West, it’s a yawner, whether Quebec is in or out”.

Duceppe is one of the longest-serving members of the House of Commons, a familiar face to all Canadians and, even if bashing separatists who collect a federal salary is always a good for a few votes in te ROC, most people in Ottawa recognize the Bloquistes are kickass parliamentarians.

It’s hard to see what Duceppe will accomplish with this tour, or even who would come out to hear him.

One useful thing Duceppe could do, if he was so inclined, is reach out the Canadian left and see if  his sovereigntists comrade Amir Khadir‘s suggestion that the Bloc and the NDP work out some sort of  formal alliance has any legs.

Why, not?  If the Bloc is in Ottawa for the long run, there is not fundamental reason why it couldn’t form a united opposition with the NDP, with a common social platform and separate constitutional planks.

Damn, I could even make a case that it could form a government with the New Democrats, deferring it’s votes on any constitutional or federal-provincial issue to Québec’s National Assembly, achieving a kind of sovereignty-association without changing a coma in the Constitution.

I’m not holding my breath.  Big ideas are hard to sell in the age or micro-targeting.  It would be surprising if anything inspiring or novel came out of Duceppe’s voyage.

Now I’m not saying Duceppe is a boring politician of that he doesn’t have any good ideas.  He’s certainly one of my top 5 separatists.

I’m just saying he looks more like a dog man than a kangaroo type of guy.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Drunken Anglo-Canadian Mob Beats up One of Their Own: Kevin Parent

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Québec signer Kevin Parent, the all-time best-selling artists in Québec music history after Céline Dion, was beat up by a mob of drunken tourists a couple of night ago while out on the town in Québec City.

The singer suffered a concussion and says he remembers nothing of the incident, but bystanders report the attackers were drunken English-speaking tourists.

As if the apparently xenophobic attack was not pathetic enough, Kevin Parent is himself an Anglo.  The morons beat up one of their own.

“This incident made me understand the rage of the oppressed Québec francophone who is pissed on in his own city, in his capital, during his own carnival…”, declared Parent in a press conference on Tuesday.

“I spent years building a bridge between French and English.  I spent years going to the Junos to say that the Québécois are cool and going to the [French-language music award ceremony] l’ADISQ to say that Anglophones are not all boring and are good people…”

Essentially famous for his French-language albums, Kevin Parent’s mother tongue is English.  Just like Mary Travers, a.k.a. La Bolduc, who became Québec’s first ever popstar during the Depression, Kevin Parent is a Anglo from the maritime region of Gaspésie who made records in French.

In a move that says a lot about the impressive vitality of Québec’s music scene, in 2007 Parent reportedly had to leave his record label, Tacca records–ironically run by fellow Anglo Donald K. Tarlton–and join Audiogram to finally record his first English language album.

The incident is reminiscent of another in 1997 when Québec legend Serge Fiori, frontman of Harmonium, was also allegedly attacked by four drunken English-speaking women in Montreal.  The women were later acquitted.

Although Fiori and Harmonium are closely associated with the  Québec nationalism of the 1970’s, he declared in a 2007 interview with Richard Martineau that he “functions a lot in English, writes in English”, and even seriously considered starting over, in California, in English, under another name when fame back home became to much to bear.

Anglo on Anglo xenophobic violence…  The English-canadian press is reportedly brainstorming ways to blame the attacks on the separatists…

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

There is plenty of French at the Vancouver Olympics

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Walking around downtown Vancouver yesterday I was thinking many things.  I was thinking it just might be Canada’s most beautiful city.  I was asking myslef if Vancouver was the first city to hold the Winter Olympics in the middle of summer.  I was thinking that if I was a crackhead I would also prefer to live in Vancouver than, say, Thunder Bay.   I also thought about Pamela Anderson a lot, but the fact that she is from Vancouver was only a pretext.

One thing I wasn’t thinking is : “This is a bilingual city.”

Montréal’s federalist media, Québec’s Premier Jean Charest, the Liberal Party of Canada’s Denis Coderre, the federal commissioner for official languages Graham Fraser, the Heritage minister James Moore are pissed off at Vancouver for not appropriately showcasing Canada only officially approved branding as a billingual/multicultural country during last Friday’s opening ceremonies.

“I am so proud to be a Canadian! It is with great pride that I realized that the organizers of the Vancouver Olympics truly understand the real Canada!”, wrote Réjean Tremblay–in English!–in La Presse. “I am so proud that I had to put some of my emotions in writing in this country’s “superior language” so that the bosses at VANOC would be proud of me.”

See…  I don’t get that.

God forbid Vancouver should present itself to the world as what it is:  one of the great Pacific cities like Singapore and Hong Kong and San Francisco, born of the fateful meeting of Asia and Great-Britain, of wandering Brits, Punjabis, Cantoneses, Hans, Scots and Malays.  A city where English is the common language.

Why do Canadians always feel the need to pretend we’re all living in northern Ontario, hunting moose and speaking bilingual under four feet of snow?  Over two thirds of Canadians live on the Pacific Coast and in the Great Lakes area!  French and snowstorms are as foreign to the culture of Canadians in Vancouver and Toronto as bullfighting yet English Canadians always seem obligated  to pretend they’re living in Kapuskasing!

You hear French all the time in Vancouver.  Walking the city yesterday I heard French spoken by squeegee punks on Granville and very chic Haitian ladies on the waterfront.  Some fluently French-speaking Anglo hipster on Commercial was able to explain to me how to purchase a six-pack.  I even talked French with a Sécurité du Québec police officer on loan to the RCMP.

But I also heard just as much Japanese, Cantonese and Punjabi.  I also heard kids who’s roots could have been anywhere in the world speaking English to each other.  That’s what Vancouver is:  a multicoloured (the concept incorrectly expressed as multicultural in Canadian English) city where people are educated and work in the commonly agreed upon language of English.

Kind of like the society the people of Québec have been trying to build for the last 40 years, except that because it’s being done in English instead of French, British-Columbia it is considered “normal”…

Vancouver is an English-speaking City and its Olympic Games and cermonies reflect that fact.  If anything, it’s the Asian aspect of BC culture that is absent from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic branding, not the French language.

Now, let’s just hope that if and when Québec City get’s to host it’s own Olympic games in 2022, the French language will be as visible as English in Vancouver…

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Jack Jedwab and the Celestial Association of Canadian Nonsense

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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;

e. mermaids;

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;

l. etcetera;

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:

a. French-speakers;

b. les Anglais;

c. People from the 450;

d. Haitians;

e. People from Québec City;

f.  the French from France;

g. the Viet at the Dep;

h. Muslims.

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.

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 29, 2010 at 11:38 am

A Place de Resistance and a Place of Hypocrisy

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Determined to make good on his ambition of providing a decent living to his children, Rémi M’ba (not his real name) moved his entire family to Ignace, a minuscule town on northern Ontario’s highway 11. The single father from Gabon and former PhD. student at the Université du Québec à Montréal was lured to Ontario by the province’s more generous pay scale and easier training for teachers.

« In Québec I would have had to study four more years for a 40 000$ a year job. In Ontario, after one year I was licensed and earning 64 000$. »

However, this monetary boon notwithstanding, adaptation to life on this lonely stretch of Trans-Canada highway has proven to be quite a struggle for the West African family. It’s cold, small and far. Hired to teach at the village’s French school, Rémi has also discovered a francophone community « completely colonized by English » where his children are doomed to lose the French aspect of their heritage.

Rémi is already planning to move south, but he refuses to raise his black children in central Toronto where, he says, the black community has been « plagued by crime, violence and gangs ». Finding a place where he, a French-speaking black man, belongs in Ontario has proven more difficult than he ever had imagined, but he vows to press on.

Rémi M’ba is hardly alone. An AngryFrenchMediaCenter analysis of English-Canada’s performance in a number of key sectors viewed as barometers of economic, cultural and political integration of minorities – inspired by a similar investigation by Andrew Chung of the Toronto Star – suggests that the bestest country in the world still has a long way to go before it can claim to be the colour blind multicultural Mecca it’s branding itself to be.

By carefully stitching together StatsCan data, carefully chosen anecdotes and the testimony of political activists we will present as independent scholars, the AngryFrenchMediaCenter will make the French people of Québec feel all warm inside by telling them what they want to hear: that they are so much better than the Anglos.

Among the self-serving facts carefully chosen to make Québec look good and Anglos like backward hicks:

Natives: The proportion of Natives in Saskatchewan’s prisons is seven time higher than in the population at large while in Québec it is only twice as high.

Politics: While a significant portion of Québec’s modern English-speaking population is composed of visible minorities, there is not a single minority mayor in the province’s English-majority towns, and only one minority councillor in all of the island of Montreal’s English-majority municipalities.

Sports: There are no Black English-Canadian goons in the National Hockey League while Québec has produced Montréal’s Georges Laraque and Québec City’s Donald Brashear, leading some people to wonder if Canadian culture isn’t teaching young black males that they are not allowed to fight back…

Culture: Despite the fact that 5 million Canadians – 15% of the population – are so-called visible-minorities, their visibility on Canadian television is… ok, that’s not fair. There is no Canadian television. Well, except for news…

Furthermore, with a quick google search that we will call « careful analysis », the AngryFrenchMediaCenter has discovered that there are only two visible minorities on the board of directors of Canada’s five big banks and no visible minorities on the board of the English Montreal School Board.

And while the number of visible minorities in Québec’s civil service is ever so slowly edging up, the number of visible minorities who work for the federal government has fallen from 9.8% in 2005-2006 to 8.7% in 2006-2007. A situation which the Public Service Commission says « is of great concern, since they remain the only under-represented designated group in the public service and their proportion of recruitment remains below their workforce availability. »

Ok… That’s enough.

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.

However, I have no more patience for English-Canada’s need to constantly caress it’s inflated national pride ignore it’s own many social problems by constantly comparing itself to Québec, as if the integration of immigrants into the world’s most powerful and wealthy culture—the world’s Anglo culture—and the challenges facing a minority society of seven million French-speakers in North America could have anything in common!

Perhaps Andrew Chung could have explored the fact that every year an important number of immigrants to Québec and their children themselves strongly resist integration into Québec society, choosing, for example, to persue higher education in English, a path that effectively funnels them away from francophone social circles and institutions like le Mouvement Desjardins or the Québec civil service.

In fact, if Andrew Chung actually cared at all about Québec, Francophones and integration he wouldn’t be working for the Toronto Star, he’d be hard at work breaking down doors and invisible ceilings at La Presse, TVA and Radio-Canada.

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Kenbe, pa lage

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Written by angryfrenchguy

January 14, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Hockey. It’s Quebec’s game and no one else’s

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One third of all things being said about hockey in North America is being said in Québec.

The mighty american media, with 24 teams to cover in as many major media markets only produces 14% of the hockey news, according to Influence communication‘s annual report on the news and media of 2009. But we already knew that because of their obsession for vulgar sports like football and rural anachronisms like baseball, they had little time for hockey.

English-speaking Canada and its 5 teams produce 50% of all information about hockey in North America and that in itself would be quite impressive if not for the astonishing revelation that Québec, by it’s lonely self, produces 35% of all the information about hockey on the continent on any given day.

This is our game? I think what you meant is Ça c’est notre game…

Thirty-five per cent of all hockey news in North America emanates from Québec. Eighty-five per cent of it is about the Canadiens. Six of the top fifteen news stories of the year in Québec were about the Habs.

The amount of media coverage devoted to the Canadien is so out of proportion that Montreal newspapers have reporters covering the sports media, and a growing sub-genre of sports parodists that include Le Devoir’s Jean Dion—the only sports reporter who quotes Montesquieu more often than Bob Gainey—and Le Sportnographe who observe the sports world through the neglected perspective of left-of-center condescending intellectuals.

Hockey gets more coverage than federal or provincial politics, more than twice as much than arts and culture, five times as much as international news, and 16 times more coverage than news about the Rest of Canada. Just the small pityful part of the sports coverage devoted to sports and teams that are not the Les Canadiens is about the same amount of media space as is devoted to all the famines, revolutions and wars of the world beyond North America.

Influence’s numbers also give considerable scientific weight to the the conspiracy theories alleging that  the wealthy Montreal families who have owned the team and the Liberals who love them have been using formidable power of Hockey to create media blind spots in which they could hide bad news and scandals.

Late Liberal premier Robert Bourassa, for example, was rumoured to coordinate unpopular measures with General-manager Serge Savard’s trades. Separatist conspiracy theorists speculated that the surprise firing of coach Guy Carbonneau last spring had more to do with neutralizing a bad Liberal news cycle than hockey.

On March 9th 2009, Henri-Paul Rousseau, the former head of la Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec—a sort of public investment bank that manages the government’s savings—was testifying about untold millions that were lost during his watch.

According to Influence communication’s numbers, Rousseau was the most mediatized person in Québec that day with over 12% of all the news in the province revolving around him, his alleged mismanagement of public funds and speculations of how much the Liberal government had known about the catastrophe before calling an election.

Then, at 4:30 PM, just when the suppertime newscasts were putting together their lineup, the Canadien’s GM Bob Gainey fired coach Guy Carbonneau, a couple of games before the playoffs. Everyone forgot about Rousseau. « A few minutes later, his media weight suddenly dropped to 4,31%, losing 66% of it’s velocity », reads Influence’s report. That evening, 82% of the news was about the coach’s firing.

« One day, the truth will come out », famously declared Guy Carboneau when asked why he was fired.

In fact, the truth is already out.  Such media manupulations and shennannigans have become such an habitual part of politics in Québec that it’s hardly news at all…

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Segregation, gangsters, dead african dictators and fabulous cops. AngryFrenchGuy’s Quebec 2009

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Orwellian moment of the year: “Cultural community leaders” (and members of the Mayor of Montréal Gérald Tremblay’s political party…) Marvin Rotrand, Robert Libman, Tony Sciascia, Kéder Hippolyte and Alan DeSousa call rival candidate Louise Harel a xenophobe because she expressed the wish Montrealers were not divided along ethnic and linguistic lines.

Second best idea by Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay (after those bixi bikes): « It is clear that Montreal’s cultural communities want more and more to get involved at the level of municipal politics, and our party Union Montréal understood that need. »

Municipal political party that had the fewest “cultural community” candidates in the 2009 election: Gérald Tremblay’s Union Montréal

Best argument in a Montreal Gazette editorial in favour of ethnic ghettos: «The big municipal parties choose their candidates centrally, which makes it easy to leave little room for anglophones, allophones, and visible minorities of all language groups. »

Number of visible minority columnists at the Gazette: 0

The unintended consequence of the year: The hysterical campaign against the separatist Louise Harel’s bid to become mayor of Montréal helps socialist separatist muslim Richard Bergeron rise from fringe candidate to within 12 point of being elected mayor. The Montreal Gazette’s bosses at CanWest were not happy about that.

Worst new Canadian trend of the year: Segregation.

Most unconvincing attempt to hide the fact you’re just another rich English-speaking  white guy of the year: The CDPQ’s new boss, Anglo Micheal Sabia, tries to get an easy confirmation hearing by posing as a poor defenseless immigrant: «As an allophone, I consider that I have deep roots here, in Québec.»

Fake punt of the year: Bob Gainey fires Hab’s coach Guy Carbonneau just as former Caisse de Placement et de Dépôt boss Henri-Paul Rousseau begins explaining how he lost all of Québec’s retirement money.

Anglocentric quote of the year: Eric Amber. « You obviously can’t read English because you are an uneducated bigot. Go fuck yourself. »

Lie of the Year: Tie. « Louise Harel doesn’t speak English » and « French is not threatened in Montréal »

Most solid argument in a Montreal Gazette editorial on the health of French in Montreal: “Ninety per cent of Quebec francophones think French is threatened. It isn’t.”

Dumbest separatist demo of the year: Demo against Anglos performing at L’Aut Saint-Jean

Worst proposed language policy of the year: The Parti québécois’s French-only kindergartens.

Best measure to protect French in Québec: Jean Charest signs a series of deals that lets workers from France and Québec work in each other’s countries.

Worst English by a Québec politician: Louise Harel and Pauline Marois

Best French by a politician from outside Québec or New Brunswick: Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty

Liberal of the year: Tony Acursso

Conservative of the year: Micheal Ignatieff

Independantist of the year: Amir Khadir

Federalist of the year: Nicolas Sarkozy

English Canadian of the year: Richard Colvin

Most unexpected friend of Québec: Gazprom’s Alexander Medvedev hints that he wants to buy an NHL franchise and move it to Québec City.

Pipe dream of the year: An NHL franchise in Québec City.

Imperialist scion of the year: Beer baron and Habs owner Goeff Molson’s made a good impression on the TV show Tout le Monde en Parle, but no one seemed to realise just how much of a truly astonishing TV moment it was. The Molsons have not come out to chat with the rabble many times since their ancestor John purchased the Province of Québec some 200 years ago. That Geoff Molson spoke fluent French, and even reminisced about going to French school is like Cecil J. Rhodes’ great-grandson speaking Xhosa on South African TV and talking about his education in a desegregated Bantu school. Sure the whole thing was carefully scripted by Le Cabinet de Relations Publiques National. It was an important moment of reconciliation nonetheless.

Political prospect of the year: He’s the mayor of a logging town, he’s a former union boss, he represents Québec at OECD meetings about rural development. Few other Québec politicians could have as broad appeal both in the « regions » and in cosmopolitan Montreal like Haiti-born immigrant Michel Adrien. God even gave him a tornado to raise his national profile in 2009!

Most ungrateful polish immigrant: Bernard Adamus in Voir: « Canada is… Bryan Adams and 10 years in jail for Paul Rose. »

Underreported story of the year: Ethnic profiling in Montréal-Nord

Letter to the editor of the year: Julius Grey in le Devoir on Bill 104

Independence referendum of the year: 90% of Catalans vote to separate from Spain in a non-biding referendum.

Most unconvincing promotion of Québec’s independence by a soverigntist party: The Parti Québécois

Best unsolicited interference by a foreign leader in Québec politics: Dead african dictator Omar Bongo casts winning vote for (former) new Action Démocratique du Québec leader Gilles Taillon..

SpaceClown of the Year: Tie. Cirque du Soleil founder and Westmount MP Marc Garneau

Fabulous fashion statement of the year: Cops in pink camouflage.

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 27, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Conrad Black is a Blast!

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« Québec is a bore », writes Conrad Black in this Saturday’s National Post. Well I guess that it makes sense, then, that it would be on the mind of the probably very bored former press baron wasting the last days of his useful life in a Florida jail cell.

The « first rich man to go to jail in 300 years », as Black was called on the British sitcom The IT Crowd, now watches the game from the penalty box, well aware that if the clock doesn’t run out before he gets to go back on the ice, he certainly will be to old to be of any use. So, as all old men contemplating the end, the mind of the british lord now drifts back to the Golden age of his youth, in his case, Duplessis’s pre-Quiet Revolution Québec.

To National Post readers unfamiliar with contemporary Québec thought—a pleonasm if there ever was one—Conrad Black’s reading of Québec history, the idea that the old conservative nationalist premier Maurice Duplessis was « the saviour of Québec’s jurisdiction and the physical modernizer of the province » and that the Quiet Revolution was a dud, might seem bold and original.

In fact, Black is only repeating 20 year old ideas first articulated by Mario Dumont and the deep blue conservative movement he revived in the early 1990’s.

The soft-nationalist conservatives, the lucids, Québec’s deep blue core, is the holy grail of Québec politics. This supposed « silent majority » of nationalist, federalist, conservatives are the reason the Parti Québécois’ Pauline Marois is alienating her progressive base with identity politics and by offering Éric Caire, a neoliberal ideologue, a seat in her party. They are the reason Jean Charest hides his Anglo MNA’s on the back benches and carefully doses empty burst of indignation at Ottawa.

They are the ones Brian Mulroney rallied in his crushing 1984 victory against the Liberal Party of Canada. They are the ones Lucien Bouchard took away with him to the Bloc Québécois in 1990. They are the ones the Bloc started losing when Gilles Duceppe took over from Bouchard and the Bloc became, according to a leaked internal report, “too centered around Montreal and ethnics”.  They are the ones Mario Dumont briefly united for his surprise 2007 breakthrough and the ones who are behind the « Québec City Mystery » of the Conservative Party of Canada’s only Québec stronghold.

Québec’s deep blue conservatives are also very much Conrad Blacks true family. It’s certainly not a coincidence that Lucien Bouchard, Brian Mulroney and that Anglo-Catholic kid from Montreal, Conrad Black himself, are all alumni of Québec City’s Université Laval law school.

Québec’s Old blues are the classic prototype of the conservative movements enamoured with mythical origin stories, paternalistic theocracies and outdated ethnic definitions of nationhood that Black has consistently championed in his publications in Québec, Canada, the USA and Israel.

For example, Conrad Black shares former sovereigntist premier Lucien Bouchard’s preoccupation for “the white races that has the fewest children. »

« The birthrate has collapsed. » writes Black. « This should not be celebrated, but in the perversity of Quebec’s desorientation, it is. » (Because Québec, of course, is the only place in the world where increased education and economic prosperity should not lead to lower birth rates.) Haitians and North Africans « are being imported to replace the unborn ». (Which, apparently, is completely different from the situation in English-speaking nations like Britain and Canada where East and South Asians emigrate in search of economic opportunity and political freedom.)

So why does Black hate separatists so much if many of them share his conservative, free market, traditionalist views?  Because Québec nationalists should have been on his team, like they were in Diefenbaker’s time and Duplessis’s time. It should have been possible to buy their votes with a flag like Duplessis did in 1958 or with a bogus parliamentary motion on the Québec « nation » like Harper tried to do in 2006.

The issue of Québec’s independence has been the tragedy of an entire generation of Canadian conservatives. Québec conservatives can be as virulently anti-separatist as any West Islander after a bad burrito, yet, on the other hand, some, like Mario Dumont and Lucien Bouchard in 1995, have at times embraced the cause, if only temporarily

This fraternal split over a constitutional dispute is what has prevented Québec and Canadian conservatives from building the great coalition of oil interests and people who think Jesus spoke English that, in other countries, have lead to the great prosperous era of George W. Bush, Dubai and deregulated investment banking.

It is this split that prevented Stephen Harper from having a majority in parliament and Jean Charest from proceeding with his « reingeneering » of the state. Now Canada is stuck with one of the only properly regulated and stable bank systems in the Western world and Québec suffers the indignity of being one of the jurisdictions the least affected by the recession.

The sovereignty movement was a farce, accuses a bitter Black in the pages of the National Post, a bankrupt ideological and partisan newspaper that has never made a profit. The leaders of the independence movement were traitors, thieves and even murderers, writes from prison the man caught stealing millions of dollars from his investors.

Maybe Québec is a bore, Conrad, but watching you and your conservative world collapse sure is a lot of fun.

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 21, 2009 at 4:25 pm