Posts Tagged ‘canada election 2008

Why You Should Vote Bloc and Why I Will Not

with 151 comments

You’re all going to accuse me of being a bourgeois socialist so let’s just make one thing clear right away:

I am. Big time.

I’m from the very bourgeois NDG and given we are exactly the same age, I came just this close to being bourgeois pinup Justin Trudeau’s classmate at the very bourgeois Collège Brébeuf.  In my youth there’s been yacht clubs and brunches at the Hôtel Bonaventure.  I’ve owned plenty of penny loafers and polo shirts.

That said bourgeoisie doesn’t always rhyme with money and I’ve got more working class patches than most of you bitches.  I’ve got a taxi driver’s pocket number and I’ve hauled big rigs all the way down to MS and BC.  I’ve been union. I’ve even been a Teamster.

(Although looking back at my trucking days, cruising in New England in my Volvo, sipping allongés from my in-cab coffee machine and listening to René Homier-Roy on my satellite radio, I have to admit I was still pretty bourgeois…)

As we head into worldwide financial apocalypse, all indicates that on next Tuesday Canadians are going to re-elect a Conservative government determined to avenge the memory of Herbert Hoover, who was kicked out of the White House in 1933 just as his Great Depression action plan of doing absolutely nothing for four years and letting the markets sort themselves out was just about to show some results, or so he said.

Great Britain is about to nationalize British banks and George W. Bush nationalized AIG, Freddie Mac and Fanny May.  It doesn’t matter what your political ideology is or what Stephen Harper thinks about it, this is the new world order.

No other party than the Bloc has as many people who have first hand experience with the Québec tradition of using the state as an economic and financial agent with institutions like la Caisse de Placement et de Dépôt du Québec, Hydro-Québec, la Société Générale de Financement and the like.  No party has as much knowledge on how such institutions work and how they fail.  Conservatives are hostile to government intervention.  The Bloc has people that understand government intervention.

Québec’s Quiet Revolution was Canada’s most wide-ranging, most recent and most successful attempt to use the state to manage and reform an economy.  No other party can claim to represent the legacy of the Quiet Revolution better than the sovereigntists and the Bloc.  The Bloc can’t form the government but we need their knowledge and expertise in Parliament and in the committees.

By definition sovereigntists have not been afraid of overhauling institutions.  At the root of the sovereingtist movement there are people who spent their whole lives taking on corporations for the benefit of people who had no capital and limited power.

The Bloc’s left is not the old left.  More than any other party, even more than the NDP, the sovereingtist movement counts people who have been at the front lines of novel and progressive ways of thinking about the markets and capitalism. Think of Yves Michaud (goolge’s sad translation) and what he’s done for shareholder activism or of Parti québécois vice-president François Rebello and his work for socially responsible investing.

The Bloc can’t make Québec an independent country without another referendum.  You can support the Bloc without supporting sovereignty.  Don’t let your Canadian nationalism stand in the way.

That said, I ain’t voting for the Bloc.

I vote in the riding of Westmount Ville-Marie and in my riding the MP is not chosen by the voters.  It’s chosen by the members of The Party. Over here, as in the Soviet Union and in China, people don’t vote for ideas or candidates, they vote for the colour red. In 2006 the Liberals had an 11 000 vote majority.  In 2004 it was 16 000.

The Conservatives are not a threat here.  Our only hail mary hope for some change is for the riding’s sizable progressives (like myslef) and the handful or separatists (also like myslef) and the enviromentalists (that’s me) unite together like they did in neighboring Outremont and elect the NDP’s Anne Lagacé-Dowson.

In last Wednesday’s Gazette – Montreal’s Anglo newspaper – Lagacé-Dowson and Thomas Mulcair, the NDP MP from Outremont defended their support for a Bloc québécois bill that would’ve extended bill 101’s protection of the right to work in French to the federal service in Québec and to other federally chartered institutions.

“To give you the simplest possible example, a woman working at the Royal Bank doesn’t have the same linguistic rights as her colleague working across the street at the Caisse Populaire”, Mulcair told the Gazette.

He did qualify his support, saying he only wanted to extend the debate to committee, but you can’t deny it takes a serious set of mexican huevos for a pair of Anglos to defend the expansion of the Charter of the French Language in an English newspaper in the middle of an election campaign.

Armchair socialists of the world unite!

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 12, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Québec Minorities in the 2008 Election: Not So Bloc And White

with 6 comments

Ok, I know I’m going to get in trouble for this, but today we are going to look at the color and ethnicity of the Québec candidates in the 2008 federal election in Canada.

Yeah, I know…

I’m sorry but I know you’ve all been doing it too. Diversity is the 21st century litmus test communities, corporations and political parties are judged on. We all scan our products and teams to make sure they reflect the rainbow coalition that proves we are on the good side of the fight.

You know you’ve been walking around Montreal looking at Desjardins’ new ad campaign where they change the name of the company for your last name, secretly keeping count of how many English and “ethnic” names are used.  We’ve all been doing it.

Diversity has become a fundamental value of our society.  When the Montreal Canadien traded with Edmonton for Georges Laraque, I’m sorry, but my friends were not calling me to discuss the Habs strengthened defense. “We got a black guy!” was the big news.  

We value this diversity, but it’s a fluid morphing thing that we are never sure how to define.  Your Italian last name might have earned your grand-father a membership card to the “cultural communities” club, but in the age of Tiger Woods and Barak Obama, you’re just another white guy. Names don’t say much.  Just think of all the Peter McLeods and Normand Brathwaite’s of Québec who are as pea soup as Jean Chrétien.  The candidates bios, although many emphasize it, don’t always tell us much about the candidates heritage.  And then, some candidate’s names tell a very different story than their face.

Nevertheless, by using the very arbitrary criteria of VISIBLE minority, the AngryFrenchMediaLabs have determined that the Liberals have the most diverse team with 11 visible minority candidates, the Bloc québécois is second with 8 and the Conservatives and, surprisingly, the NDP, are tied with 6 each.

Two phenomenon have emerged from this politically incorrect exercise: First, the political parties still pad up their diversity cred by dumping minorities in unwinnable ridings.  Second, 2008 has seen the rise of a new political operative, the Minority WingWoman.

The Bloc

It seems Gilles Duceppe doesn’t go anywhere these days without his Wingwoman, Vivian Barbot, by his side.  She sits behind him in the House of Commons, her face is as big as his on the campaign bus and she follows him around wherever he goes in Montreal.   

Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc have worked harder than anyone to bring the sovereignty message to Montreal’s cultural communities and in 2008 these communities’ representation in the sovereigntist team is about proportional to their weight in Québec at large.  Most of them, with the exception of Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac in the more rural riding of Ste-Hyacinthe-Bagot, face extremely tough fights in central Montreal neighborhoods and even incumbents like Mme Barbot are far from certain they will have a job on september 14th. 

The Liberals

Way before it was fashionable, the Liberal Party of Canada was branding itself as the party of multiculturalism and it’s head start holds strong with 11 visible minority candidates.  Leader Stéphane Dion has even been campaigning in the ROC as the son of an immigrant himself – his mother is from France – for whom English is a second language.    

Most minority candidates are running in unwinnable ridings in Montreal, Laval and the South Shore.  It is not impossible that Marlene Jennings, Stéphane Dion’s answer to Vivian Barbot, will be the only one elected.

The Liberals do still have the unconditional support of Anglophones and third and fourth generation Italian, Portuguese, Greek and Jewish communities who will probably elect at least another half-dozen invisible minorities to Parliament. 


Jack Layton has a natural visible minority WingWoman, his real-life wife and fellow MP Olivia Chow.  

That said, it is surprising how few minorities are running for the only Canadian party that’s a charter member of the Socialist International.  The AngryFrenchGuy counted only six.  (A few names were not counted as the website offered no bio or picture of the candidate.)   

The NPD and Jack Layton have a tremendous amount of sympathy in Québec, but those people usually vote Bloc québécois when it counts.  The only chance the NDP have at a seat is in Outremont and Westmount-Ville-Marie if, and only if their candidates Thomas Mulcair and Anne Lagacé-Dowson, convince all the Bloc voters to vote for them.   

That’s right, the NDP’s only chance in Québec is getting sovereigntists to elect two Anglophone left-wingers in two of Canada’s wealthiest ridings.  The workers revolution…

The Conservatives

Unlike Gilles Duceppe and Stéphane Dion, Stephen Harper does not have a black woman sitting behind him in Parliament.  There are few women in the Conservative caucus to start with.  

With the exception of the Bloc, the Conservatives probably have the worst image problem when it comes to diversity and, as far as Québec is concerned, it’s not their handful of candidates in lost-in-advance ridings that will change anything about it this year.  The most notorious Conservative minority in Québec is Mustaque Sarker who got headlines for running in a French neighborhood while barely able to speak French himself.  

The Conservatives do, however, once again demonstrate their uncanny knack in appealing to forgotten constituencies, as evidenced by the high number of rural Québec Anglos running for them.


Written by angryfrenchguy

September 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm

I am Not as Much of a Nationalist as Gilles Duceppe (or Stéphane Dion)

with 21 comments

There is a federalist credo in Québec which all but the most intransigent centralists repeat like a mantra, it goes:

“I am a nationalist, not a sovereigntist.”

That’s Stéphane Dion meant the other day when he said he was “as much of a nationalist as Gilles Duceppe”.  It’s only because Dion’s used to be the Liberal’s point man in the war against the ‘separatists’ that the statement got anybody’s attention.  If any other candidate of any other federalist party had said the same thing, no one would have spilled their Starbuck’s over it.

There is a long tradition of nationalist-federalists in Québec.  Prime Minister Jean Lesage used to say “Le Canada c’est mon pays, le Québec c’est ma patrie” (Canada is my country, Québec is my homeland) and Daniel Johnson, the official leader of the No camp used those exact same words as a slogan in the 1995 referendum campaign.

Then there are the Canadian nationalists.  The Holy Trinity of Pierre and Justin Trudeau and Jean Chrétien – the Father, Son and Sketchy Uncle of Canada – who managed to export a peculiar kind French-Canadian ‘Chosen People on a Divine Mission’ nationalism – a nationalism that has it’s roots in the missionary fervor of the first Catholic settlers of New France –  right across the federation.

Yet even them, the most centralists of federalists who truly, sincerely believe that Canada is the ‘bestest’ country in the world, never miss a chance to remind us that they are proud to be Québécois.

I’m not.

I am not proud to be Québécois.  I am not a nationalist.  I am an indépendantiste.

Saying you’re proud to be Québécois or Canadian is the exact same thing as saying your proud to be white or right handed.  How can you be proud of an absolutely random twist of genetics and fate?

I  am Québécois.  I’m not proud of it.  I’m proud of things I do.  I didn’t make Québec.  It was here before I got here and it’ll go on without me.  I have, as of yet, not contributed anything of particular importance to it’s economy, culture or history.  I admire what Serge Fiori, Leonard Cohen, Efrim Menuk, Bruny Surin and Pierre Péladeau have acheived.  Can’t say I had anything to do with it.

I also admire Bob Marley.  I feel touched by his music and recognize a little bit of myself in his art.  Does that make me proud to be Jamaican?

I feel privileged to live in a pretty cool place.  Not proud.  Privileged.

I have gratitude – not pride – gratitude for the hard fought battles of Louis-Joseph Papineau, René Lévesque and Pierre Bougault to right some wrongs and to empower the powerless. I also feel a sense of duty to protect and expand those powers.

That’s why I am indépendantiste.  It’s not about being something, it’s about doing something.   It’s a plan. It’s a project. It’s an administrative reorganization of a political structure that could truly empower people.

I became a sovereigntist myself because of Québec’s language legislation.  I understood it but I didn’t like it.  I struggled to find a way to protect and empower French in North America without a Sign Law.  I think an independent Québec is the best idea anybody’s had so far.

There are other good ideas.  Federations are great political structures, allowing to balance local and central power.  But they need to be flexible and able to adapt to changing realities.  We tried that a few times in Canada, from the radical decentralization of the PQ’s Souveraineté-Association project to the timid Lake Meech accord.

Every time the nationalists – canadian nationalists, that is – stood in the way with flags and fear.

That’s why I want an independent Québec.  Because we need to get rid of the nationalists.  All kinds.  Blue and Red.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 10, 2008 at 10:14 am