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

Quebec’s Efforts to become 30% English

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Many people this week were upset at the news that the Québec government was giving lifetime access to government services in English to new immigrants.

According to a report in Le Devoir, as many as 27% of the 48 000 immigrants Québec welcomed in 2009 were designated as Anglos in the State databases, even though only 3,5% of them claimed English as their mother tongue.  According to Québec laws, government services in English are a privilege of Québec’s historic Anglo community, not a right of all citizens, even though any one can decide they are Anglo any time they want.

According to the numbers published by the daily,  many as 30% of these new members of Québec’s historic anglo community don’t even know how to speak English!

In other words, the Québec government was now in the business of teaching English as our common and business language to immigrants.

And why not?

The future of Québec’s English-speaking community is, as everyone knows, in peril.

Québec’s Anglos, live in near isolation, a whole 45 minute drive from the biggest and most powerful English-speaking nation on earth where the fragile English language media is drowning in a sea of French media imperialism that leaves them without HBO.

Québec’s 607 165 English-speaking souls, 8,2% of the population, struggle to keep a community and a network of institutions alive with only 25% of Québec’s entire Health-care budget and a mere 50% of the money ear-marked to build two new University hospitals in Montréal.

In Montréal, where  as many as 20% of the population is English-speaking, they have to make do with only 45% of the povince’s higher education budget and 57% of all university professors in the city.

There comes a time, as Angela Mancini, president of the English Montreal School Board said, when Anglos have to start thinking of themselves…

It’s only a small gesture, but maybe, just maybe, by giving up 30% of it’s immigrants to the English-speaking community, Québec can help save English in North America…

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 13, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Reasonnable Accomodations on the Citizen’s Band

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I completely missed the entire Reasonable Accommodations episode that hit Québec a couple of years ago.  I never watched a single minute of the infamous Bouchard-Taylor hearings on TV.  I never got to experience the re-emergence of Québec’s deep roots of “xenophobia, racism and sexism”.

In 2007 I was hauling freight in my Volvo 670. I spent my days sitting on top of a 430 horsepower Cummins engine, going around on the Interstate, from Dorval to Memphis, down to Mississippi, back up to Winnipeg, back across to Chicago where I would pick up Corona beer or roof shingles and deliver it to Brampton or Mississauga. There I’d strap on another trailer load of unindifiable industrial materials and head back south to NJ, VI VT, MD or OH.

I rolled old school. My cell phone service didn’t cover the States. I didn’t have satellite radio. My old laptop didn’t have WiFi.   I got my information from the FM band an neither NPR or the preachers had much to say on Québec’s identity crisis. Neither Diane Rhem or Rush Limbaugh ever brought it up.

I listened to those communists at NPR trying to destroy capitalism by speading lies about a supposed impeding collapse of the housing market in America…  and shows by guys like Mike Savage.  I remember being stuck in a traffic jam, somewhere on a highway, when news came on the radio that a bridge between Minneapolis and St-Paul had collapsed.  Savage was on the air informing us that there was no doubt that the Arab terrorists had blown it up. The politically correct liberal media was afraid to tell us the truth, he said, but not him.  American bridges don’t just fall in the water, he analysed, so it had to be the Arabs.

Many, if not most divers today have iPhones and satellite radio, but the good old Citizen’s Band is still a huge part of the culture. It’s used to warn other driver’s that « he’s in the middle » or to tell a brother that he has a burnt trailer light. It’s was also used in Georgia and Indiana truck stops to urge fellow drivers to organize against illegal Mexicans and Bush’s amnesty law that was going to destroy American culture forever.

The impossibility of telling exactly where a voice on the CB is coming from makes it a fantastic window into people’s true thoughts and beliefs.

I remember this one night in a Memphis truck stop.  It was a nice warm night.  The moon was in the sky and the parking lot smelled of urine, rubber and diesel.  The boys were heading to the showers, working out plausible entries for their logbooks on their calculators and setting up the sattelite dishes on their truck so they could watch a game.

Two drivers, a black one and a white one, started trash talking on the CB.  Comfortably anonymous in the cab of their rigs, two among a hundred parked in the Flying J that night, they engaged in the most stunning racist poetry I ever heard. Hate and ignorance weaved in clever rhyme.  No one intervened, no one said a word.  We just sat and listened, not to truth, no, but to sincerity.

The next day I was driving north to Virginia behind another Québec driver. We had to change the channel on our CB three times because of angry and menacing messages from drivers didn’t want to hear any French on the air. In the USA there is an uneasy tolerance for trucks with Canadian plates who come down to « steal their miles », but Québec drivers learn quickly to be very discreet when not speaking English on the phone or to each other.

It wasn’t long after that, after a 10 hour drive somewhere in New York State where they apparently do not broadcast Radio-Moscow, that I finally decided to get a satellite radio. Waiting for my load in some small rural Ontario town , I asked a colleague with a Molson Canadian t-shirt and a satellite antenna sticking out from his cab witch of the two rival satellite providers, XM or Sirius, he recommended.

« All I can tell you », he said, « Is that whatever service you get, get it through an american membership, not the Canadian. That way you won’t have to pay for that French shit. »

I drove back home on the 401 highway in Ontario, where in just about every other rest area toilet someone had written « free turbans! » above the toilet paper dispenser, listened distractedly to the ongoing commentary on channel 19 about how everybody’s load was late, how their company doesn’t pay, how the Chinese don’t know how to drive and the « Pakis » share driver’s licences because, apparently, they’re all called Singh.

That night I hooked up with friends for a couple of beers. They told me all about Bouchard-Taylor and the audiences held around province and about all these people who came out of the woodwork with all these ignorant and bigoted views of muslims and immigrants.

« You wouldn’t believe how many racist people are still out there! »

You know what? I had no problem believing it at all…

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 6, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Québec: Canada’s Xenophobic Obsession

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Pic by: Ulrik F. Thyve

Now that science has determined that women can neutralize all of men’s self-respect protection systems by exposing very precisely 40% of skin and my own experience with the very powerful effect of long dark hair being nonchalantly tossed over a shoulder to reveal a soft, tanned neckline, I think we can all agree that Islam’s founders knew what they were talking about.

If only we could say as much about the English-Canadians media…

Just last week I was eating soup at a Vancouver area Timmy’s after driving 5000 kilometers across northern Ontario, the Prairies—where I did not come across any mosques, big or little—and a snowstorm in the Rockies, just letting the left coast mellow wash away my separatist rage while I read the Vancouver Sun, only to discover that the religious paraphernalia of Québec’s civil servants was what was on British Columbian minds.

Who knew?  More than seven months after Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor handed in their report on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences I had to drive across an entire continent to find out that Québec was still obsessing with so-called reasonable accommodations!

“Reasonable accommodation is a ridiculous phrase, not least because it sounds like a reference to a decent hotel room”, writes Naomi Lakritz in Reasonable Accommodations: Québec’s Xenophobic Obsession.  “But used in the context of Quebec, it’s clunky and it carries overtones of an us-versus-them mentality that, frankly, because it is not an issue in the rest of Canada, lends a distinct xenophobic tinge to Quebec’s obsession with the idea.”

And I naively thought we had moved on to much more important topics, like how not speaking English very well is a worse crime than being a front for organised crime

Lakritz, a former writer for the National Examiner, the fine news organization that broke the story of the Clinton divorce and the return of Bob Barker as host of the Price is Right, is apparently very angry at the prevailing consensus in Québec that employees of the state should not be allowed to wear visible religious clothing.

“As I type this, I am wearing a chain with a little pendant on which is inscribed in Hebrew the Shema, the prayer that is central to Judaism. I’ll wear what I please in this free country, regardless of whether I work in the private or public sector.”

Listen, Naomi,  I don’t care if you have Aleister Crowley’s eight lecture on Yoga for Yahoos! tattooed on your ass and share it with the world in your free time, there is no way you will wear what you please while on the clock at the Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec.  You’re not wearing a Bloc Québécois baseball cap while you’re working for the government and you’re not wearing a Marc Lépine Rocks t-shirt.  Some things are absolutely inappropriate to wear when representing the government of all Québécois.

Are religious symbols part of those inappropriate symbols?  I’m not sure.  I haven’t made up my mind.  A ban on religious symbols is a pretty radical idea, but it’s a popular idea in societies that have first hand knowledge of religious extremism.  It’s the prefered option in Turkey, pretty much the only progressive and democratic muslim country out there.

My parents grew up in a province where catholic priest administered the province and when people who didn’t happen to be loyal Roman catholics, Anglicans or members of a major jewish congregation basically didn’t have access to education or health care. They fought pretty hard to kick God out of Québec’s schools and government and their not about to let him back in.

A ban on religious symbols is many things.  It’s hardcore, I’ll give that to you.  It’s not a perfect solution either.  The one thing it isn’t, though, is a manifestation of intolerance.  It’s the exact opposite of that.  It’s a dedication to the principle that all citizens are absolutely equal before the state.  Period.

Although well intentioned, Canadians must never forget that their approach, the so-called multicultural approach, the idea that the State can treat citizens differently, depending on their culture, religion and beliefs,  is part of the same continuum that, in most extreme cases leads to “separate but equal”, segregation, apartheid and Indian Reservations.

Oh, I’m exaggerating, now, am I?

Well tell me then, which xenophobic Québec school board was it that brought back racially segregated schools in 2009?   Wait, was it la Beauce?  No, wait, was it those evil rednecks in the Saguenay?

No.  It was the Toronto District School Board in Ontario.

The path to hell is paved with good intentions, they say.  Just ask Anakin Skywalker.

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Joual Renaissance

with 41 comments

In Québec there is this long tradition of artists who’s real names might or might not be Bob Walsh and Steve Hill who earn a living performing american blues standards in the provinces innumerable blues festivals with the technical precision and soul of a catholic priest performing mass.  Then, once in a while,  someone comes along to remind us that blues can actually be good music and that Québec French, especially street Joual, could be Delta English’s closest relative.  Offenbach proved it in the 1980’s.  Bernard Adamus does it again this year.  “Singing in English would have made no sense.  I live in French, I love in French, I read in French”, says Adamus, who was born in Poland and sings about Coors light, winter in Longueuil and all things brown (the colour of love…)   Bernard Adamus is in France this week to show the cousins how it’s done.  Consider yourself uncool until you’ve got La question a 100 piastre and Rue Ontario on your iPod.

For a more representative sample of the mans work click here.

There is no doubt that Muzion’s La Vi Ti Neg is the only song (partly) in Haitian Kreyol to be on regular rotation anywhere on the National Hockey Leagues circuit (and for that you can thank my brother Vince).  J. Kyll, the lyricist responsible for that Kreyol verse, just broke a long silence with Spit White, an homage to Québec Joual.  “Damn it’s beautiful to hear you speak Joual”, she raps, “It sounds so real”.  Bobbing his head next to J. Kyll is Imposs, who, as far as we can tell by Youtube clips floating around the Internet has been adopted by Wyclef Jean and just might be getting ready to try to become the first Hip Hop artist to make it big in both the American and French scenes.  A Hip Hop Céline Dion?

Now here’s one for the people who like to say that Québec French and Joual are not “real French”.   Well, I dare any of the amateur linguists who have shared such wisdom on the blogs and internet forums of the world to tell me what Pure Laine Parigot Renaud is singing about in his classic Laisse Béton, shown above.  Yeah, thats what I thought…  France’s street French is as far from the standards of l’Académie française as the French spoken on the corner of Papineau and Beaubien.  Check out Québec City’s Keith Kouna Joual version of the song, called Oublie Ça (get it? Of course you don’t.)   Suddenly Joual sounds a lot more like “real French”, doesn’t it?

Joual in Germany?  Ya.  Franco-Deutch duo Stereo Total liked the 514 so much they called their entire album “Carte Postale de Montréal” and managed to get their hands on some residual sponsorship scandal money to put a big maple leaf on the cover.  Check out their cover of Corbeau’s Illégal, complete with a sincere yet flawed attempt to reproduce signer Marjo’s accent in the line: “C’est TOÉ, qui m’fait d’l’effet.”

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm