Prince Charles, Quebec and Separatist Monarchists

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Prince Charles in Quebec

As the Who’s Who of Québec separatistati is getting ready for what promises to be the gala event of this year’s season:  the November 10th demonstrations against the Montréal visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, I have a confession to make:

I am not a republican.

Now, no citizen of the Commonwealth should deny him or herself the delightfully anachronistic privilege of demanding the head of their king (in waiting) from the safety of a carefully cordoned off perimeter protected by the police,  and hereditary monarchy certainly is one of the most retarded institutions of 21st century politics, no argument here.

But I believe an independent Québec should keep the Queen (or Chuck or that other kid) as head of state, at least for a while.  Not for their own sake, but for the sake of political stability and the British parliamentary system.

Québec has been governed according to the rules of the Westminster system since 1791, way before Australia, New Zealand, or modern Scotland or Ulster ever got their own parliaments.  The British parliamentary system is the only one people in Québec have ever known and I see no reason why Québec should be in any rush to get rid of it.

It might not be the best system out there, what with the confusion between the legislative and executive branches of government and the uselessness of MPs (We call ’em Members of the National Assembly in Québec) who are told what to vote by the whip.  But that said, it also has the sturdy robustness of a 1973 Buick Regal and there is that very healthy tradition of letting opposition parties yell at the government for 45 minutes on Tuesday afternoons.

The thing is, the British parliamentary system need a head of State who is not the Prime minister and if Québec became a Republic, who would get that job?

Now, the Head of State does not absolutely have to be a King or Queen.  India is a republic that kept a version of the British system.  Québec could elect some sort of honorific president as Head of State like Israël or, say, Russia, but electing someone might give that person the impression that they have the legitimacy to use the powers technically theirs under the constitution and those powers are pretty awesome.

Alternatively we could nominate a king or president like we nominate the governor-general, but then he or she would be so weak that governments would feel entitled to push them around.

Only the Windsors have both a centuries old tradition of protecting the stability of the governments under their dominion and a well established irrelevance that makes it impossible for them to actually use any of their powers.

I know there’s few people on my team who feel the same way I do. Most of my peeps are really into massive reforms of the Québec democratic system and things like public initiative referenda, proportional representation, fixed-date, state-funded, two-round elections.

That’s all good, but you and I know it would be a disaster.  People are still confused about the three ballots—one to elect a Mayor, one for the borough mayor and one for a city councilor—in last Monday’s municipal election in Montréal.  Try to explaining to them the subtleties of a German-style hybrid system and party lists.  No fun at all.

I also think that in the context of change and confusion—I believe the dear leader called it turbulence—that would inevitably follow Québec’s accession to the concert of free and independent nations, it wouldn’t hurt, if only from a public relations point of view, to maintain it’s ties to the Commonwealth and the monarchy who would then be obligated to stand up and protect their brother State.

That and we would also be able to reassure nervous investors by showing them the face of Queen Elisabeth (or King Charles) on the 20 piastre note.

May the oecumenical spiritual being save the symbolic head of State!

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 5, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Bill 104: While English Canada Obsesses Over Language Mafia Takes Over Montreal

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bill 104You know how the English-Canadian media is always lecturing the Québécois on how their language issues are distracting them from the real important stuff, like economic developement and roads?  And how the separatist obsession with language is killing Montreal and has been causing it’s decline?

Two stories broke in the news yesterday.  One involved language, the other one about…  hum…  just something about the Mafia running the City of Montreal.

Loi 104 LabontéThe three French-language dailies in Montreal headlined with the Mafia story.  Only le Devoir even mentioned the Supreme Court ruling on bill 104 on the first page.  The Montreal Gazette went for the language headline and gave the story about the former of leader of the opposition and former executive council member Benoit Labonté’s allegations that the City of Montreal’s administration is hostage to organised crime a whopping 1/40th of the front page.

Inside, the Gazette gave the language story more that 4000 word, including the main editorial.  The City Hall scandal?  332. Eighteen less words that this post.

The National Post also headlined with language.  No national daily in Canada mentions the fact that Canada’s second major city is in the midst of a major corruption scandal one week from a general election.

A news search for bill 104 on the 22nd and 23rd of october returned 167 stories in English.  A search for  Labonte returned ony 21 articles.  A search in French netted 84 stories for Labonte as opposed to only 47 about Loi 104.Loi 104 Journal de Montreal, the ultra-nationalist clearinghouse for all things language and separatism-related in the Québec media lists 50 stories on Bill 104 and 90, almost twice as many, on the City Hall scandals.

Even those language-obsessed separatists of the Parti Québécois are reported by Radio-Canada not to have mentioned language, the Supreme Court or Bill 104 for the first 20 minutes of question period!

Meanwhile, the “Top court strikes down Quebec English school law” is the most active story of the day on with 1170 comments and growing.  The four stories on the Montreal situation, stories that just might be the answer to the eternal question as to why Montreal has so many potholes, have a total of 94 comments.

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 23, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Bill 104: The Supremes Got It Right

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Bill 104 quebec langauge law

The Bill 104 case was not about language. It was about fraud. The plaintiff’s represented by Brent Tyler were not contesting the articles of the Charter of the French Langage that say they couldn’t send their children to publicly funded English-language schools in Québec. They went to court to protect a right to cheat.

The Court has already examined the articles of Bill 101 that say only a child who has himself, or who’s parents have, received the majority of their schooling in English somewhere in Canada can go to public English schools in Québec. They ruled them to be just fine.

This case was not about that at all. This case was about parents who had found a loophole in the law by which they could buy their children a spot in a public school by sending one child to an unsubsidised private school for one year and then claim that their six year old child had received « the majority of his schooling in an English school in Canada. »

This case has nothing whatsoever with these parents’ right to choose the language of education of their children. They have that right. They exercised it when they paid for the private school.

This case was about my obligation to pay for the English-language education of the children of people too stupid and disoriented to find the English-speaking part of North America or too cheap to send them to summer camp at the Y.

Christ, doesn’t Tim Horton’s have a program or something?

The justices ruled that Bill 104, the law passed to close the loophole, was unconstitutional (not that Québec has ever signed that constitution) and contrary to a Charter of Rights and Freedoms purposely designed to open up such loopholes in Québec’s language law. Aware of all this, and of the political mess their ruling would probably cause, the justices suspended the application of their judgement for one year while the Québec City government lawyers find another way to patch the loophole.

The justices decided that an unconstitutional law should stay on the books for one whole year. In other words, they said the intent of the law was the right one, but that it was badly formulated, and gave Québec a year to fix it.  I’d say that’s quite a statement on the moral legitimacy of Brent Tyler and his gang’s cause.

Now, of course, it’s on. Pauline Marois is going to claim that the Charter of the French language is peril and that only independence can save the French language. The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste will say something terribly old fashioned about the Québec Nation and Patrick Bourgeois will make veiled hints at violence.

The Liberals are going to act very upset, lest they get labeld as week on language.  Spaceman Marc Garneau might even take a crack at the posturing.

And, of course, Anglo Righters are going to claim the court gave every parent the moral right to find a way to send their kids to public English schools and you can expect a steady stream of angry and factually incorrect letters in all major English language dailies.

They’re all wrong.

Only the Supremes got it right.

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 22, 2009 at 7:48 pm

What’s Yann Martel Reading?

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yann martel

Hey Yann,

I was watching you on Radio-Canada’s Tout le Monde en Parle last Sunday and I heard you say something so grotesque, so stupid and so ignorant that I felt I had to respond.

You said something like: “As far as I’m concerned, all languages are the same.”

So I’m going to do exactly what you are doing to Stephen Harper and send you a couple of books to set you straight. Feel free to pass them along to Steve when you’re done.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an anglophile. I read and write in English all the time. I read Life of Pi in English. My Dad was raised much like you, speaking French at home but going to English schools. My grand-father was the son of a protestant preacher’s daughter who went to Catholic school with Félix Leclerc.

English is a fine language, Yann, but the one thing it isn’t is a language just like any other.

When I went to China a couple of years ago, young students would stop me on the street and beg me to – please, please mister! -speak English with them for ten minutes.  Do you think they behaved like that because they just happened to prefer your books to those of Michel Houellebecq or Lao-Tzu?

Of course not.  These students wanted – needed – to master English because it was their only way into the best universities, free economic zones and a decent life.  English was the difference between a meaningful career and a lifetime of stamping documents at the Sechuan Ministry of Public Works.

That’s what English is today.  It’s the great gatekeeper.  Ninety percent of Korean workers have to take English tests all through their careers just to keep their jobs.   Do you really thing that English is just another language to them?

Do think that the parents of the 30 000 Korean elementary school students that are sent to study in English-speaking countries every year in this world that confuses English with intelligence feel that it is a language like any other?  Elementary school kids, Yann.  They’re not even ten years old yet!

How about the citizens of Qatar whose government hired the RAND Corporation in the wake of September 11th to design a new education curriculum that the Washington Post celebrated as More English, Less Islam? I’m sure they got the message that English is just another neutral, international language, freely available for their use, should they be so inclined.  As the British scholar Sohail Karmani pointed out: « One need only reflect for a moment on the moral legitimacy of parallel calls for, say, more English and less Buddhism, less Sikhism, or less Judaism—or indeed even more absurdly ‘more Arabic and less Christianity’—to appreciate just how ludicrous and utterly repugnant such formulas are. »

Unlike you and me, Yann, most people in the world didn’t have the privilege of learing educated standard English effortlessly while they were young.  Cultivating the illusion that one chooses a language in which to persue a career and bogus theories about the equivalency of cultures and the benign nature of the worldwide spread of English is a luxury most of the world doesn’t have.

It might help you to rationalise the fact that the ability to write in the language of your ancestors has been educated out of you, but you are only kidding yourself.

So here’s a couple of books I think you should read. If you are in a scholarly mood, I suggest Linguistic Imperialism by Robert Phillipson or anything you can pick up by Alastair Pennycook. You might also want to check out Buying Into English, the very interesting book by Catherine Prendergast, an American teacher who witnessed first hand how English transformed from a tool of freedom to a crash course in capitalism in Slovakia.

But the book I’m sending you is Decolonizing the Mind by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, about his rise to international fame in English and his realization the language had only really put him to the service of the English-speaking elite of Europe and America and completely isolated him from Kenya and Africans.

It’s the last book in English he ever wrote.

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm

The Québécois, Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey

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Bruny Surin et Pauline Marois

I’ve alway though the story of Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey were the perfect metaphor to explain Québec identity to those who couldn’t understand it in other terms than ethnicity and race.

On the 27th of september 1996 at the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Donovan Bailey ran the 100m dash in 9.84 seconds, broke the world record, clinched the title of fastest man in the world and vindicated Canada’s honour after the humiliation of the whole Ben Johnson episode.  A Canadian hero had arrived.

Well… except in Québec.  People in Québec appreciated what Bailey had done, but they didn’t quite identify with the Jamaica-born athlete in the same way other Canadians did.  In 1996 another runner who hadn’t even qualified for the final became Québec’s hero. Bruny Surin.

Why did people in Québec identify with Bruny Surin and not with Donovan Bailey?

Bailey and Surin are both black.  They were both born in the Caribbean  in 1967 and emigrated to Canada in their teens.  Bailey and Surin both loved playing basketball and it is while they were dribbling and shooting hoops that some Phys. ed. teacher noticed their potential and encouraged each of them to persue athleticism and running.

Both Surin and Bailey quickly achieved international success.  They worked with the best european coaches and trained year round on the sunny campuses of american universities.   They both became key members and medal hopefuls of Canada’s Olympic team in 1996 and it is wearing the same red and white maple-leafed uniform that they won the gold medal of the 4X100m relay. Today they share the Canadian record for the 100m sprint: 9.84 seconds.

Objectively, Bailey, not Surin, is the great Canadian hero.  Bailey set the Canadian (and then world) 100 meter dash record while winning a gold medal in Atlanta.  Surin failed to make the final as a solo runner in 1996 and only equaled Bailey’s performance years later in Seville when he finished second at the 1999 World Championships.

Yet, in 2009, Bruny Surin is still a star in Québec.  He’s a successful businessman, big corporations pay him thousands of dollars to give pep talks to their employees and he is still a regular on the television and media circuit.

Meanwhile, if it wasn’t for racial profiling, thirteen years after his triumph in Atlanta, Donovan Bailey could probably cross the entire city of Laval could without a single person stopping him on the way.

The reason people identify with Surin and forgot Bailey has nothing to do with race, ethnicity or immigration.  It’s very simple actually.  Bruny Surin and his family live in Québec and speak French with an (haitian-flavoured) Québec accent.  Bruny Surin lives in their world and Donovan Bailey, no matter how many maple leafs are on his jacket, does not.

That’s it. It’s not anymore complicated than that.

There is no great anti-Québec conspiracy theory here.  Donovan Bailey won fair and square.  Bruny Surin succeeded at all he did, yet always seemed to carry the stigma of the one who chokes at great historical junctures.

Hey, maybe that’s what the Québécois identify with.

This doesn’t mean there is no racism in Québec, or that young Haitians in Montreal do not face discrimination.  But this is not different than the discrimination black and Jamaican kids face in Toronto, despite Donovan Bailey’s success.

Bruny Surin’s biography just came out (haven’t read it) and he is said to be shopping for a political party to persue a political career.

Surin isn’t associated with any political team yet, but he has publicly supported the Parti Québécois‘ Richard Legendre in the past.

Should that ever happen,  I can’t wait to see Canada’s reaction when an Olympic medalist who carried the Maple Leaf flag up high countless times joins the Parti Québécois.

I know, I know, you won’t hate him because he’s an ungratful immigrant.  Just because he’s a separatist.

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 6, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Pierre Falardeau: The Original Angry French Guy

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Pierre Falardeau

The best interview of Pierre Falardeau I ever saw was the only one I ever heard him give in English.   In English Falardeau couldn’t pull the rancid foul-mouthed chain-smoking schtick that had made him such a polarizing and familiar face on TV.  In English he was just a soft-spoken filmaker talking about his art.

To most people, however, the director of Elvis Gratton, Octobre, Le Party, Le Steak and 15 Février 1837  will always be the bitter and angry separatist ranting about the Molsons, Trudeau and Big Federalist Media, waving his cigarette menacingly.  Pierre Falardeau died yesterday.  Not from lung cancer, in case you were wondering.

Pierre Falardeau’s character served him well.  It made him a celebrity.  A media personality.  It didn’t matter if people liked him of not, he could deliver the ratings. Once it even got him a seat on Bouillon de Culture, the French TV show about Haute Culture where a dozen parisian luminaries with broom handles up their asses talk about Alain Finkelkraut’s latest essay for four and a half hours. Falardeau slouched on his chair, smoked on the set and cranked the joual to blasphemous.  The French loved him.

Falardeau constantly had to sell himself because he wouldn’t sell out.  He refused to shoot commercials to make a living.  Since it’s just about impossible to raise the money to make a movie anywhere outside Hollywood without governement financing Falardeau had to go on TV and put on a show every so often to remind his fans that he was waiting on a check from Telefilm Canada, the governement agency that funds canadian movies.

Without the public pressure from his fans the militant filmaker knew his scenarios would have been killed one after another until he would have broken down and agreed to make films about “the migration of Canadian geese and the existential angst of Outremont’s middle aged.”

He wasn’t faking.  He really was angry.  He had to fight for every foot of film he ever got.  Guerrilla warfare.  He had to set the original script of 15 Février 1837, his movie about the Patriot Rebellion, in Poland to get it past a first round of bureaucrats.

Ultimatly, though, it got old.  Falardeau got stuck in his character: a drooling separatist bogey man consumed by anger.  A defeated man who would never live his dream of an independent Québec.

That’s why it was so refreshing to discover the other Falardeau in that English interview.  The anthropologist.  The scholar of imperialism and colonisation.  The man who’s ultimate struggle was not about some administratively independent state for Québec but giving the Québécois the opportunity to make and watch their own stories on the big screen before they came to believe, like Elvis Gratton, that American stories are the only stories in the world.

But you keep bitting the hand that feeds you! said the reporter in the English interview. Why should canadian taxpayers give you any money at all?

-Because I’m the only filmmaker in Canada who’s movie have ever made a profit, quitely answered Falardeau. I don’t cost money, I make money.

Things have changed since that interview.  This summer Québec movies made 18% of the box office revenue in the province.  The top grossing film of the entire summer, beating Harry Potter, Tansformers and G.I. Joe, was De Père en Flic, a Québec movie.  There are very few countries in the Western world where domestic movies have that big a share of the market.  Canadian films count for less than 2% of tickets sold in English Canada.

But before they could start building a man had to come to claim the land.  He had to cut down the trees and scorch the earth.  He had to fight off the bears and squatters.   He had to make sure the bankers money would be used to build a railroad.  It was tough work.  Not for your average film school grad.

The only reason there is a Québec film industry at all is because Pierre Falardeau proved that moviegoers would come out and pay to see a Québec movie at the multiplex.  Slapstic comedies, documentaries and historical dramas.

Pierre Falardeau made Québec’s commercial film industry possible.   And he did it without selling out.   Respect.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Inuits at the Water Slides

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Canadian Artic

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke: it’s 33° and I’m driving a bus full of sweaty Inuit teens in their bathing suits to a water park in a place called, of all things, Pointe-Calumet.

The day had not started well. I drove up to the address on my paperwork in the leafy West Island suburb of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue to find out that the street was closed. After some pretty awesome driving that nobody got to witness, I finally made my way to my pick up location where a dozen bored Inuits just stared at me.

C’est vous la gang pour les glissades d’eau? I asked.

English!, some obnoxious fat eskimo girl barked back.

-Français!, I answered.


I tell you kids these days. English please, maybe?

I was fuming. I was ready to fight the battle of Oka all over again. I was making plans to get on a plane to Kuujuuak right that day and just spend the day walking around yelling Français! every time someone addressed me in Inuktitut.

Driving down highway 40 all the way to the other side of Montreal to pick up the other half of my group at the Cégep Marie-Victorin it occurred to me that my chances of someone addressing a white boy like me in Inuktitut, even in the North, were probably quite slim.  I was tired and cranky.  Maybe my usually cheerful AngryFrenchDisposition had not come across well.

I blame the Jews. Two of them: Jon and Benji who had me out drinking until way passed my bedtime the night before.

So anyway, by the time we reach the East End, I’m considerably less pumped. Another dozen Inuits come on the bus but this time no one speaks to me in the world’s great order-giving language.


Bonjour, Monsieur.

It turns out these kids had literally just landed in Montréal and were spending their first few days away from home. They were all from Nunavik, a series of Inuit villages that line the northern shores of Québec, from Hudson’s Bay to the very tip of the province and back down to Labrador.

Québec’s Inuit villages, contrary to popular belief, are not reservations and the Inuits who live there pay taxes even though they receive precious few government services. One of the many services they don’t get is higher education. The kids on the bus were in Montréal to go to Cégep. Half of them we’re studying in English at John-Abbott College in the West, the other half were going to school in French at le Collège Marie-Victorin.

Language politics are obviously completely different in the North—where, at least until further notice, the first language of most people is neither French nor English—but it still struck me how the French and English Inuits reproduced so many of the south’s social behaviour.

Anglo and Franco-Inuits kept apart, with one group occupying the back of the bus, the other the front. If the Anglo-Inuits spoke or understood any French, they weren’t using it. On the other hand, the French-Inuits all seemed to be able to speak English. Indeed, they often used English when addressing the Anglo Inuits. The Anglo-Inuits were (as the morning’s experience illustrated) loud and testy. The Franco Inuits ate poutine for lunch and their women were hotter.

The Franco Inuits also had their token white boy who was able to speak (what seemed to me) fluent Inuktitut, which is pretty cool.

As the sun came down and the humidex level fell,  my white guilt shot up.  I had had negative feelings about native kids.  Micheal Ignatieff would so hate me.

I needed to redeem myself from the morning’s tense encounter with the first group and to demonstrate what a culturally sensitive person that I really am. I asked the big and beautiful First Nation lady who had yelled to me in English if she could teach me how to say Hello in Inuktitut so I could impress the other kids as they came on the bus.  Apparently unaware that we had been fighting, she was glad to teach me.

It turns out that Hello in Inuktitut is Ai, which, with a gringo accent, sounds exactly like English Hi, which left the kids absolutely unimpressed with my linguistic skills.

There is even one of the Franco Inuits who replied with a very dry Bonjour, as if she was annoyed that I assumed she spoke English because she was an Inuit.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm

The FLQ Manifesto, Whiggers and English Canada’s Jungle Fever

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On the 29th of January 1969, 10 months 22 months before the kidnapping of James Cross and Pierre Laporte by the Front de Libération du Québec and the beginning of the October crisis, about 200 black and white students of Sir George William university—now Concordia University—occupied the computer room to protest racism and discrimination. Things got ugly, fire broke out and the university called in the riot squad to arrest the students while a crowd of white students stood by, chanting « Burn, Nigger, Burn ».

Canada briefly became the symbol of racism and imperialism across the black world, writes Sean William Mills of Queen’s University in The Empire Within, as « protests against symbols of Canadian power erupted throughout the Caribbean. In the aftermath of the event, students at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados mounted a “symbolic burial of (…) the racist institution of Sir George Williams University,” and the visit of Canadian Governor General Daniel Roland Michener to the West Indies on a ‘good-will’ tour set off a series of mass protests, contributing to a revolutionary moment that nearly toppled the government of Trinidad. »

That was Montreal in it’s “glory days”, you know, before the separatists showed up…

Earlier this week newspapers across Canada offered unsolicited advice of the controversy surrounding the proposed reading of the Front de Libération du Québec’s manifesto on the Plains of Abraham as part of a commemoration of the 1759 battle that, according to a Globe and Mail writer “marks the birth of the great Canadian spirit of cultural accommodation.”

Some, like the Calgary Herald, argued against “celebrating and glorifying the racist text.”  Most, however, thought the manifesto should be read in the name of memory and History.  It is a reminder of the dark side of Québec nationalism, editorialized the Edmonton Journal: « The document is as ancient, paranoid and creepy as a lunatic pamphlet promoting sterilization or racial cleansing ».   The National Post also agreed the Manifesto should be read, as long as it was « delivered with all the savage, sneering, race-supremacist spirit in which it was written. »

The National Post editorial board saw a black québécois, Luck Mervil, who announced he was going to read the manifesto of a 1970’s radical gang that trained in Jordan with the PLO, idealized Algerian revolutionaries, worshiped the Black Panthers, kidnapped a couple of white guys–a Brit and a French-Canadian–before fleeing to exile in Cuba, and with their deep and subtle understanding of History discerned a “race-supremacist spirit »?!?

People sometime do that. When they don’t like an event or memory in their personal past they ctrl-x it out and ctrl-v another story in its place.

The way in which English-Canada has been mapping the events of the Civil Rights movement and the violence that shook the deep american south onto the October Crisis is transparent. English Canadians are cast as the good guys, progressive and modern JFK-type northerners. French Canadians play the role of the fundamentally good yet slightly retarded southern whites in need of stern moral guidance.  English Montrealers become the powerless black folk and the FLQ is completely reinvented as a hate-filled rear-guard militia of inbred bigots known in other parts as the KKK. In that story the Canadian army was sent into the streets of Montreal to prevent a race war and restore harmonious multicultural peace.

Hey, Canadians aren’t the only ones who are trying to live out someone else’s history. The white private school guerrilleros of the FLQ had deeply immersed themselves in the writings of Malcom X, Aimé Césaire and Black Liberation. They had come to see and describe themselves as the « Blacks of Canada » and the « White Niggers of America ». Whiggers with dynamite.

Québec and Black Nationalists actually did bang together on some occasions, like that time in 1962, reported in Time magazine, when a “frowsy, 6-ft. blonde named Michelle Duclos, 26, (…) a frequent visitor to New York for dates with African representatives to the U.N.” was arrested for transporting dynamite over the border for “the Black Liberation Front, a hot-eyed batch of pro-Castro New York Negroes.”  Randy negros and promiscuous French girls:  Protestant America’s nightmare.

But at the end of the day the fact is there were black people in Montreal in 1970 and they weren’t down with the FLQ any more than they were the FLQ’s target. They had their own struggle.

Remembering History is great. Remembering what really happened is even better.

And what actually happened is that when the anti-racism Sir George William University demonstrators were tried for civil disobedience and destroying 2 million dollars worth of computers, their attorney was Robert Lemieux

…the FLQ’s lawyer.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm

English Montreal Hates Celine Dion

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

In her entire career, Céline Dion has has produced one and only one acceptable recording:  1992’s Je danse dans ma tête, 4 minutes 14 seconds of unintentional pop pleasure which has finally been properly recognized and covered by Orange Orange.

The rest of her music should be banned like hip hop in Iran (Iranian hip hop actually is the bomb and shouldn’t be banned, but sadly is… You know what I meant…)

I remember clearly sitting on my bed in the late 80’s, looking for pictures of cute girls in one of sisters Québec celebrity magazines and finding instead this article about this very ordinary looking Jesus Freak who was confidently informing us that she was going to be as big a Micheal Jackson.  I laughed.

Look who’s laughing now.

I have tremendous respect for Céline Dion and her manager/husband René Angelil for an impeccable commercial carreer. I especially appreciate how she has been as loyal to her fans.  She goes on Oprah and talks to America as if she’s in her living room talking to her sisters.  Even as she became one of the biggest selling artists in the United States she kept on appearing on local Québec TV, hosting l’ADISQ, Québec’s music awards and participating in Québec’s cultural scene.

Others, like Roch Voisine (who actually was a bigger star than Céline for a while) tried to follow her footsteps down the middle of the road, but failed because he did not understand the need to consolidate what he had built.  He used the Québec market as a stepping stone to France, and French success as a springboard to the English-speaking market.  Focused on the Holy Grail of the best selling English album, he ignored his first public for years and years.  When he came back, defeated, for a consolation prize French career, his fans had moved on.

Céline has one career.  She is an international star who sings in French and English.  Céline brought all her fans along with her to the top.

Except English Montreal, apparently.

Brendan Kelly, a reporter covering the French-language showbiz beat at the Montreal Gazette posted a couple of lines a few weeks ago about Céline Dion’s pregnancy.  The story triggered a deluge of, in Kelly’s onw words, “not just negative, but bitterly negative” comments.

The comments are apparently not only about Céline’s crimes against music, which would certainly be justified, but about her being Franco, about the old story of her infamous “I am not an anglophone, I am a Québécoise” quote and about how she really is a separatist mole…

“I’m actually not sure but it underlies once again that Céline is something of a lightining rod for feelings of discontent amoungst anglo Montrealers”, speculated Kelly.  “Like I said, weird.”

Yesterday Kelly expanded his theory on his blog:  “Could it be that this anger is a kind of odd manifestation of the discontent felt by some in the anglo community as francophones here gain more and more power (politically, socially, in business)? Céline rose to the top at the same time that we anglos were slipping far from our previous dominance and, to add salt to the wound, Céline was becoming the most famous franco Québecoise in the universe by singing in English, the language on the downswing chez nous.”

I would say that Brendan is correct.

I would add that Céline’s success also shatters two important Angryphone myths:

Myth one: Francophones need the benevolent unilingual Anglos to take them by the hand and  guide and and protect them in the wider English-speaking world.

Myth two: Once you have made it in the real (i.e. English-speaking) world, you do not go back.

Céline’s success brought home the fact that the English-speaking world is only a part of Céline’s world.  Céline Dion, Québec, the French language and the world go on beyond English.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 4, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Will CJNT continue to Use Public Airwaves to Anglicize Québec’s Immigrants?

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This is exactly why Québec must become an independent country.

Once upon a time, back in the late 90’s, Québec’s different cultural communities had their own TV station, called la Télévision Ethnique du Québec.  It was a public access community station that broadcast cheap looking shows of uncomfortable looking men and women sitting on chairs and talking in one of 35 languages in front of cartboard sets.

Of course it sucked.  How could immigrants and wide-eyed community activists fresh out of CEGEP ever produce any good TV? Especially back in those days before digital when making TV actually cost money?

Yeah, but it was local TV.  Made by Montreal’s immigrants and about their lives and concerns.

In the summer of 1995, a date which I am sure has no significance whatsoever, Canada’s guardian of the airwaves gave away TEQ’s valuable cable channel to some vast media empire that eventually traded it to CanWest media, the owners of the Montreal Gazette, Global TV and the National Post.  Within 18 months of the sale, as many as 20 local shows were replaced by shows produced in Toronto or the States.   Interestingly, the cut shows were essentially those “from communities more integrated in the francophone majority”, according to Pedro Quirido, president of producers union of TEQ.  Eventually locally produced programming was all but abandoned and actual ethnic content dropped from 100% less than 60%.  David Letterman and infomercial made up the rest of the grid.

“One City, many Cultures”, became CJNT slogan.  To which we can add: One language.

Yep.  Nearly all of the station’s ID and promos suddenly became all-English and French became just another one of Montréal’s linguistic communities.  Montréal’s “multilingulal” TV station still only has an English only website.

Just like the founders of the station warned ten years ago, the owners of the Montreal Gazette transformed a TV station run by and for Montréal’s ethnic communities into a pedagogical tool used to perpetuate the myth that Québec’s allophones and anglophones are one and the same community and the “ethnic” programming became like training wheels on a bike used to train immigrants into consumers of anglo media.

Either these people don’t know that at least 60% of Québec’s immigrants are French-speakers when they get here…

…or they do know, and they are trying hard to do something about it.

You know, for all the angst about the use of English by Québec’s immigrants, the majority of them are already part of the French-speaking community when they get here!  Seven out of the top 10 countries of origin of immigrants are part of the Francophonie.  The US is the only English-speaking country of origin in the top 10 and, please, I beg you to argue Americans don’t have acces to enough TV in their language.  French is still the most used language by 60% of immigrant workers, it is the language their children study in and the language of the majority of the people who live around them.

There is no justification for CJNT treating them like generic Anglos.  It’s not based on demographics, culture or any real numbers.

Except economics.  Of course, the owners of CJNT are going to trash locally produced programing in favour of  cheaper mass produced Toronto and American fare.  And of course a media empire in the business of selling English-thinking minds to advertisers will use all its ressources to train and format more and more English-thinking minds and consumers.

That is why they put on air a channel where nearly all station IDs, commercials, and promos are in English and an English only website when targeting a market that is mostly French-speaking and living in a city where French is supposed to be the common language.  That’s somewhere between disrespectful and socially dangerous.

And it sure as hell is not an innocent decision.

This week CanWest Global sold CJNT to Toronto’s Channel Zero.  Will the pornographers give back the station to cultural communities?

It’s doubtful.  Not only did the CRTC not demand that the station stop acting like an ESL network, it straight out relieved the new owners of of any obligation to use any French at all!  (Which is not a reasonnable decision, Fagstein, if CJNT continues to broadcast in English). Read all about the company’s purchase of a multilingual channel in a French-speaking city in their English-only press release right here.

The CRTC’s decisions consistently reduced the amount of programing available to cultural minorities in their language, encouraged the exclusion of immigrants from Québec society and CanWest didn’t even make any significant money.  This is a perfect illustration of why a Canada-wide body like the CRTC is inadequate to govern Québec’s airwaves.

And this is why Québec should become it’s own country.

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 30, 2009 at 10:08 am