AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘immigration

Justin Trudeau is right

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Justin Trudeau is absolutely right. The recognition of Québec as a nation by the House of Commons last year was a bad idea. He made the comments in the Parc-Extention News, a local newpaper in the Montréal riding where he plans in representing the Liberal Party in the next federal election.

The motion is the equivalent of placing the Québécois on Canada’s endangered list along with the Metis, Algonquin, Abénakis and Mohawks. We are now just one step away from the reservation. It’s the trading of ancestral rights for a bottle of whisky.

I don’t want to be part of a Nation. I don’t even know what that means. I want to be a citizen. I want to be the citizen of a country that doesn’t treat me like a second class citizen. I want to be the citizen of a country that will represent my culture and my values in international forums and on the world stage. I’d like to be the citizen of a country where I can speak my own language when I call my embassy. I’d like to be the citizen of a country where all citizens earn as much, regardless of the colour of their skin, their gender or the language they speak. That country is not Canada.

Justin Trudeau is right once again when he says the concept is an antiquated one from the 19th century. It does raise the question of who is a member of this nation. All the residents of Québec or only the « Québécois de souche »? All residents of Canada are in theory equal. All residents of an independent Québec would be in theory equal. If you don’t like your country, you are free to change it by participating in the political process, or to leave it altogether by moving away. You can’t do either of these things in a Nation.

I agree with Justin Trudeau that the House of Commons motion recognizing the Québec Nation is wrong. I totally disagree that the kind of Canada he represents and that used to be peddled by his father is any better.

In Justin’s father’s bilingual and multicultural federation 50% of Canada’s french speaking population outside Québec has been disappearing with every generation. Canadians of colour born in Canada are among the lowest earners in the country. Natives still live in conditions somewhere between those of pre-civil rights movement blacks in Alabama and India’s untouchables.

Nothing can guarantee that an independent Québec would be a more Just Society. Like most countries it will probably fall short of the grand goals it sets out for itself. But if America’s french-speakers wish to increase their political power at home and in the world, political independence of the only state that is their own is something concrete they can do about it.

A House of Commons motion that recognises the « Québec Nation » is just another broken mirror used to buy off a defeated nation.

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 19, 2007 at 4:19 pm

No One Is Illegal When They Can’t Speak Their Minds

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Montreal collective No One Is Illegal tried to disrupt the Taylor-Bouchard Commission yesterday to protest against what they consider an exercise “fundamentally rooted in xenophobia, racism and sexism.”

40 years after the Quiet Revolution the preachers and curés are staging a comeback. Wearing their black bomber jacket uniforms and ceremonial Palestinian scarves, the preachers tried to disrupt a free assembly of ordinary citizens just like in the good old days of the Great Darkness.
The Bouchard-Taylor Commission is illegitimate, they say. We are all sinners on stolen land! The whiteness of our skin is the mark of the beast! No accommodation with the devil is possible! Repent! Repent!
When I was a young student activist who had it all figured out I was fighting FOR public forums where ordinary citizens could voice their concerns. Participatory democracy was the ideal we strived for. No One Is Illegal is apparently quite happy to have Stephen Harper and Jean Charest tell them what’s right for them. That’s fine, but most people in Québec seem to appreciate the opportunity to speak for themselves.
No One Is Illegal says the commissions has provided an “uncontested platform for racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”. This is true, but in reaction to those comments the Commission has also provided an unprecedented forum for informed citizens to debunk all forms of myths and prejudice. The facts about Québec’s cultures and the opinions of the members of different communities have had unprecedented exposure in the media. That’s the first step of understanding and dialogue. It’s a good thing. It’s called free speech.
Listen my young Concordia friends. You’re not in Pickering anymore. You’re not in your suburban development by the 401 where everyone pretends they like each other and then go off to the mall. Québec is a family. Members of a family don’t choose each other and often don’t even like each other. But they have to live together. The only way they can do that is by talking to each other.
Communication is a good thing. What you guys are doing is preaching. It’s not such a good thing.

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 28, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Membership has it’s privileges

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Instead of a Québec citizenship that is more restrictive that the Canadian citizenship we already have, why not create a citizenship that is broader and designed to attract the bright and dynamic immigrants Québec needs? Why not give Québec citizenship to non-Canadians?

All over the demographically-challenged western world countries are engaged in a fierce battle for the world’s young bright dynamic minds. If Québec plays by the same rules as the others it will lose. Québec’s geography and culture are not a disadvantage anymore in the online globalized world, but only if it plays a smarter game than its competitors.

The controversial clause of the Parti Québécois’ Identity Act that would restrict the right of newcomers who don’t speak French to run for public office or submit petitions to parliament is superfluous and distasteful but it was not racist or ethnically motivated. It was a botched attempt by the PQ to put some meat around their proposed Québec citizenship when they realized it was a hollow concept that people had no use for.

The idea of a Québec citizenship itself is not to keep anybody out. Quite on the contrary, the concept is meant to facilitate the integration of immigrants into civil society and the use of French as the common language of this society.

Who would want a Québec citizenship? Membership should have its privileges. What privileges can the government of a province provide? Health services and education are by far the two main services provided by provincial governments and are certainly a big factor in any immigrants decision to chose Canada and Québec over New Jersey and Portugal.

Giving out free health care to more people is unfeasible. And a system designed to attract the sick and the old is not what I have in mind.

On the other hand, Québec also maintains a highly subsidised quality network of Universities. These universities have a three tiered pricing structure. Québec residents pay the lowest tuition, Canadian students from other provinces pay more and international students more still.

My proposition is this: Quebec should make the cheaper price available to all students who pursue a higher education in French and have a second price for students studying in English.

Yes, I think Québec “citizenship” and a cheap education should be made available to all students, even those who are not Canadian citizens, if they study in French in Québec. This would help make Québec and Montréal the choice destination for young and bright francophone and French-speakers from the world over. These French-speaking and French-educated students would be more likely to build relationships and social networks in the province and to stay after they complete their studies.

Smart kids from Saskatoon or Surrey who don’t have to prove their fluency in English to anybody now have to pay a premium if they want to pad up their resume with a university degree in French from a Québec university. This is madness! These are the kids we want!

All residents of Québec would have Québec “citizenship”, of course, and automatically be eligible to the cheaper price. The novelty would be the possibility for Québec to grant “citizenship” to anybody in the world who chooses to come to Québec to pursue a higher education. Under Canadian law they would remain students temporarily in the country with a student visa, but with their Québec “citizenship” they would have access to other services not usually available to international students. The cheaper tuition is one such privilege. Access to other provincial services such as the 7$ kindergarten network could be another.

There are many advantages to have English-language universities in Québec and with my proposal these universities would not be jeopardized. If they certainly will be at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting Québec residents, their access to English-Canadian, American and worldwide English-speaking students remain unchanged.

Under this plan, absolute civil equality of all citizens is also rigorously protected. If Brandon from Kirkland studies in French, he gets the cheap price. If Sylvain from Cacouna wants to study at McGill, he’s going to have to pay more. People will be writing tests at school, where they should, not at Immigration Québec offices.

One possible objection is that all programs are not available in all languages. Perhaps a program could be eligible for the cheaper “citizen” price if a certain percentage—80%, 50% or 30%?—of the classes are in French. I don’t see why students of McGill Law School who take a great deal of their classes in French and usually stay in Québec to practice should not be eligible. On the other hand I don’t see why students of McGill Medical School who often graduate without the skills to carry out a basic conversation with a French-speaking patient and who leave the province after graduation in alarming numbers should have their education subsidised by the taxpayers of Québec.

I am afraid of Barbara Kay

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Yes, I have reconsidered my decision to not pursue a debate with Barbara Kay. She called me a wimp and, in the words of the great teacher KRS-One, “if you call my name I come get that.”

A double standard, Ms. Kay, is when you make a living out of denouncing what you perceive to be the racism at the core of the Separatist movement while at the same time write some of the most unilaterally chilling dismissal of an entire ethnic community, nay, culture, namely Arab, that I have ever read. Twice you have condemned Québec sympathies not for regimes, dictators or terrorist organizations, but “Arab countries”.

Moral relativity, Ms. Kay, is when you condemn a so-called preoccupation by some Québec politicians for “ethnicity” while your writing is replete with a constant division of the citizens of Québec between “old-stock Quebecois”, “Pure Laine” and the very eloquent: “by “we” I obviously mean anglos and ethnics”. “Most educated Québécois are wonderful people to live amongst“( my italics), you wrote. Nobody is excluding you from the Québécois but yourself.

And by the way, God knows we’ve heard a lot of questionable ideas on religion, language and citizenship in the last few weeks, but who the hell is talking about ethnicity but you and my buddies at The Suburban?

Selective memory is when you write “it is only in Quebec that you find racist remarks coming from the mouths of so-called political leadership”. Remember federal cabinet minister Doug Young telling Bloc MP Osvaldo Nunez to find himself another country? Or how about the uplifting anti-Québec political ads run by the parliamentary wing of your newspaper in 1997? Betty Granger’s Asian invasion? Remember Reform MP Bob Kingma sending gays and “ethnics” “to the back of the shop”?

Hypocrisy is reaching far back into the past to a “long tradition of anti-Semitism in the discourse of French intellectuals from France”as proof of “the strains of racism that invariably accompany hardline separatists” and conveniently overlooking that the “principled Stephen Harper”‘s (your words, not mine) own Reform/Alliance/Conservative Party struggled late into the 1990’s to purge itself of the Heritage Front and Social Credit Party elements at it’s root.

Yes I am afraid, Ms. Kay. I am afraid of people who holds someone guilty until proven innocent (how french a concept…) because of the accident of their culture and/or birthplace. I fear a culture in witch fast and easy logical leaps from French-speaking to Arab Francophonie to Rampant Anti-Semitism are not considered “in any way unusual or even highly provocative”. I fear a climate where the cultural insecurities of provincial townspeople who wouldn’t know a Jew from a Sikh from a Mormon are portrayed as proof of widespread organized projects of ethnic cleansing. I fear a country where you must subscribe to predetermined values determined by an arbitrary third party (pun intended) before you are allowed to seek public office or take part in a public demonstration.

I fear a time when what used to be passionate debate about political structures degenerate into politically motivated structured campaigns of fear. I fear that by engaging fear-mongers I feed the beast that I most fear.

I’ll be out of the kitchen for a while, not because of the heat, but because I work for a living.

The End of the Parti Québécois

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René Lévesque did not want the political party he founded to be called the Parti Québécois. His choice was the much less emotionally charged and very descriptive Parti Souveraineté-Association and it is apparently very reluctantly that he accepted the choice of the party members. He did not want his party to be the party of a people. He wanted it to be the party of a people’s project.

The essence of this project and what made it a model from Scotland to Catalonia was that you could create a country for a historical and cultural community while protecting a strictly legal atheistic deaf-dumb and blind definition of citizenship.

It seems we have lost this notion of citizenship. Mario Dumont’s action Démocratique du Québec became the official opposition by correctly identifying a real discomfort in the francophone population and positioning himself as the defender of Québec’s “identity” and “values”.

Because of its very narrow victory many forget that the Liberal party narrowly escaped annihilation at the last election. Its francophone supporters were massively jumping over to Mario’s ship. In the end, only the Anglophone minority’s stubborn refusal to participate in democracy and their soviet-style support of the party with the most red on its logo allowed the Liberals to win the most seats in the election with less than 20% of the francophone vote.

After the election Liberal Jean Charest formed a cabinet with only one self-described member of the Anglophone community even though half of the votes that elected him were from the Anglos and other minorities. The Liberals new priority was to shed its image of Parti des Anglais and position themselves as defenders of Québec’s “identity” and “values”.

During the last election campaign, only André Boisclair chose to stand above this very real dividing of votes along ethnic lines. René Lévesque latest successor, Pauline Marois, has decided to turn her back on this principled heritage of her party’s past and decided that the party’s future was to become another party defending Québec’s ‘identity’ and ‘values’.

All three parties are no waiting for the Bouchard-Taylor Commission to tell them exactly what are these values they are defending.

If they had not panicked, the Parti Québécois could have realized that they actually had an ideal position in the current political climate. First of all, they had and irreproachable record when it came to the protection of Québec’s rights.

Second, while the Liberal’s and Mario would have been arguing about who was the “real” spokesperson of the Québécois, the PQ could’ve turned to voters and said: “Listen, we won’t try to tell you who you are or what your values are. We will give you the tools for these values, whatever they may be, need to not only survive, but thrive. We will give you an independent country.”

By removing from her party’s program any obligation to actually do anything about independence, like holding a referendum, Pauline Marois has relieved sovereignists of their “duty” to vote for the PQ. Just like the Liberals could count on the rock solid base of Montreal’s Anglophone community to deliver 15 to 20 ridings even in the worst of times, The PQ had its own hardcore base of indépendantiste who would have supported them through the darkest hour. These voters will now feel free to vote for any party that they feel can best defend Québec’s ‘interests’. And I don’t think many of them feel that is Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois.

In an era of identity politics and cultural polarization, it seems the only thing the Parti Québécois has got going for it is it’s name. René Lévesque would not be proud.

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 3, 2007 at 9:48 pm

Immigrants are funny

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Montreal Anglo stand-up comic Sugar Sammy was on the radio last week promoting le Show Raisonable, a comedy event showcassing funny guys from Québec’s minority communities.

Sugar tried out one of his jokes on the air. “You know, there’s two types of Québécois, there’s the 50% that are educated, cultivated people, then there’s the 50% that voted Yes in the referendum.”

Ha!

If I had had the opportunity to go onstage after him, this would have been my comeback: “You know, there’s two types on anglophones in Québec. There’s the educated and cultivated anglophones, those with an open mind, a passion for ideas and a love of democracy. Then there’s the 99, 9% of those who voted No in the referendum.”

Sugar described himself as an anglophone although as the son of immigrants from outside Canada he is one of the so-called Children of bill 101 ‘forced’ to go to french school. If they had had the choice his parents would have sent him to english school, he said.

I can only admire Sugar’s participation in a french-language show. Allthough Montreal is filled with many perfectly billingual people like him, we almost never see artists, and even less comedians, with the talent or balls to cross over to the other solitude. More power to him.

I happen to find comedy based on truths funnier than jokes based on prejudice. Sugar might be interested to know that support for Québec independence rises with scholarity and that the first PQ cabinet had more PhD’s than any other cabinet in Canadian history.

I suppose you have to excuse Sugar for not knowing that, after all, he didn’t have the smartest parents. They wanted to raise their son in English and chose to live in the Only city in North America that was not English-Speaking.

All Québécois are racist

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Kristian Gravenor wrote one of his always clever columns in witch he tells about the citizenship test his wife had to take to become a Canadian. The questions were hard, he said, and even he couldn’t answer many of them.

“If Quebec separates”, he wrote, “the questions could worsen. For example: “Who was the first mayor of Drummondville and how much beaver could he bag per day?” “What brand of shoe polish did Camille Laurin rub into his hair?” “What’s Celine Dion’s dog’s name?””

I am sick and tired of English Montreal and Canada’s media license to make unsubstantiated allusions to the alleged intolerance of the Québécois in general and of Québec’s sovereignists in particular. Saying ‘black people are dumb’, ‘Jews are cheap’ or ‘Quebecers are racist’ is the exact same thing. It is making a blanket generalization about a group of people. It’s prejudice. And prejudice lives across the street from real racism.

Go ahead, bring out Parizeau’s ‘money and ethic votes’ remark and Lucien Bouchard’s white babies. I raise you (former liberal minister) John Crosbie telling Bloc MP Osvaldo Nunez to ‘go back to his country’ in the House of Commons and Mel Lastman’s comment about sitting in a boiling pot of water surrounded by cannibals in Africa. Should I understand from that comment that all English-canadians are prejudiced against Africans? Or is it Ontarians? Torontonians? 905ers? Or maybe it’s just MEL LASTMAN?

How about we ignore the politicians and take a look at our city, ok, Kris? Let’s talk bout the wonderful ethnic and social diversity of Westmount, and Beaconsfield, and Hampstead, and Pointe-Claire. Oh no! That’s right! They ‘separated’ from Montréal. That must mean that the white English-Speaking people of Westmount and Beaconsfield hate Asians and French people, right?

But no, how about we do talk about Westmount and Beaconsfield and the Philipina ‘nannies’ employed in these neighborhoods in conditions that human rights groups have described as slavery. Let’s talk about the Bloc Québécois being the only party that came to these women’s defense. Do you think they’ll ask your wife if she knows that on her Canadian citizenship test?

Or do you think they’ll ask her if she knows that it’s under the rule of the Patriotes and Papineau that Québec became the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to give full rights of citizenship to jewish people? Or that the first black man elected to the National Assembly in 1976 was a member of the PQ while the liberals fielded their first black candidate—candidate!—in 2000!?!

Get it, Kris. Nationalists don’t want to keep immigrants OUT of Québec, they want to bring them IN! They want more immigrants. They want immigrants who will stay and not leave after three years because there are no Mounties and they can’t send their kids to English schools. They want immigrant kids in their schools. They want them in their neighborhoods and not only to cut the grass and take care of the baby. They want them to be part of our community, to be part of our family to the point where when one of them is named Governor-General of Canada we protest not because she is black or because of the monarchist institution, but because they claim she is one of theirs!