AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘separatist

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!

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Written by angryfrenchguy

October 12, 2008 at 10:46 pm

6 Myths about McGill and Concordia

with 271 comments

So here you are. You’ve left New Jersey or Bangalore behind, came to Montreal, McGill and Concordia and you are now ready to explore your new home and indulge in your new life of freedom and very loose drinking laws.

During your stay in Québec you will be expected to ingest quite enormous quantities of cheese, fries, gravy, beer and bullshit about your new home, all of which could quite understandably make you sick to your stomach if you are not careful.

Lucky for you, you’ve found the AngryFrenchGuide, the voice of reason and truth about Québec who will help you see through the fog of dinsinformation and closet francophobia that you might come accross in the streets of Montreal.

To start you off, here are a few myths about McGill and Concordia universities that you should be weary of:

1. McGill is Montreal’s only world-class university.

Although it has often claimed to have more international students than any other university in Canada and even though half of those “international” students live only a few hours down highway 15/87 in the United States, McGill only managed to attract 400 more students on a visa than l’Université de Montréal (the big yellow building that kind of looks like a mosque on top of Mount-Royal).

In 2006 McGill had 5549 international students while UdM, with it’s affiliated engineering and business schools, Polytechnique and HEC, had 5130. Every single one of those had to take an airplane to get here. Who’s world-class now?

2. Québec needs McGill and Concordia to attract young upwardly mobile students from abroad.

What is this? 1998? You guys need to get with the program.

According to the British Council, the demand for a Western English language education by international students is falling fast, especially in Asia. In 2005 4 out of 5 UK universities recorded a drop in foreign students, as sharp as 50% in the case of students from China.

Most countries in the World have adapted to the reality that English is the global language. People are learning English at home, now. They don’t need to come to Canada and the West anymore. The British Council’s conclusion: “The recent decline in international students studying in the main English-speaking countries is unlikely to reverse.”

The latest numbers from McGill tell us that although international admissions were stable this year, admissions from China, Japan, Mexico and Latin America all were down.

3. English is still the global language. There will always be a demand for an English education.

India’s outsourcing business is in crisis because it doesn’t have enough multilingual staff. They need German, Chinese and Spanish-speaking staff to get new lucrative markets. It started outsourcing the English-language business to more inexpensive places like Viet Nam, Guatemala and the State of Georgia (not the country, the US state). English is no longer a high value skill. Anyone can speak English.

The word on the street is multilinguism. You can’t graduate from Montreal’s French-language universities without a high proficiency in English. You can very easily spend four years at Concordia without learning a word of French, which makes you unemployable in Québec, and just another unilingual English-speaker in that big multilingual world out there. Maybe you can get work at that Indian call-center in Atlanta?

4. I’ve heard about you AFG, you’re one of those bitter separatists trying to wipe English out of Montreal.

There are exactly 744 430 English-speaking people in Québec, not even 10% of the population. Nevertheless Québec has three English-language universities that receive 27% of the government higher education funding, including 33% of the research budgets.

The rest of Canada has exactly ONE French university and it doesn’t have enough money to have a medical school.

You’re welcome.

5. Yeah, but Montreal’s English universities help offset the “brain drain” in Québec.

Actually, if it wasn’t for Montreal’s Anglo universities, Québec would be in a “brain gain” situation. 70% of English-speaking students leave after earning a Ph.D. Every year, wilst Québec is in the middle of a doctor shortage crisis, more than 50% of doctors trained by McGill leave the province.

Québec’s French universities can train more fluently English-speaking doctors and engineers than McGill and Concordia at a fraction of the cost. McGill and Concordia are just not good investments.

6. Fuck you AFG! English Montreal built McGill and Concordia and you separatists don’t have any business telling us who and what we should teach!

Actually, McGill and Concordia have received between a quarter and a third of all the higher education budgets of Québec for the last 40 years. They were built by the Québec people and belong to the Québec people. If the people of Québec decide they need Concordia to train people to work in Tagalog, that’s what Concordia’s should do.

So there you have it. French-speaking North Americans (3% of the continents population) are subsidizing the education of English-speaking North Americans (90% of the population). Pay attention in your your PoliSci class when the teacher will describe neo-colonial systems. You just might hear things that sound like this post.

But it’s cool, don’t worry about it. You’ve got time. Take those four years, learn some French, explore the east, make some friends and join the good fight.

And remember, don’t go back home without having that poutine. It helps keep everything down.

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 25, 2008 at 12:36 am

On Québec’s Independence and Belgian Mathematics

with 47 comments

The separatist threat is over.

This is the new conventional wisdom in Canada. Québec’s independence? Old news. Problem dealt with. Taken care of.

In the Globe and Mail Lawrence Martin writes a one paragraph obituary of what was only a brief episode in Canada’s glorious history:

“In Quebec, a corner has been turned. Separatism? It’s old, it’s boring, the debates as shallow as a birdbath. Decades of referendums, constitutional battles, separatist threats drained the national spirit. They curbed foreign investment, preoccupied the federal government, sidelined other national priorities. Not so now.”

The latest polls show that support for independence is at it’s lowest in decades. Only 36% of the Québécois would vote for sovereignty according to an April 2008 poll by CROP. Léger Marketing counts 42% (google English).

Insignificant, apparently.

Well… you know what they say about numbers and what we can make them say.

Take Belgium, for example.

Now, French-speakers in Belgium have always had a slightly odd way of counting, different from the way other French-speakers count. Ninety and Seventy, for example, are in French Quatre-vingt-dix and Soixante-dix, but not in Belgium. Over there they say Nonante and Septante.

Apparently the perception of numbers is also different in Belgium. In Canada when 42% of the Québécois support the secession of Québec it means the movement is moribund and agonizing. In Belgium, when 49% of the Flemish say they support the independence of Flanders, the country is thrown into the worst political crisis of it’s history.

Yet, if you take a standard 5% margin of error, there could mathematically be more separatists in québec than Flanders right now…

Of course, the situations in Québec and Flanders are very different.

Over there, the crisis is the result of Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s failure to reform the country in a way that would give Flanders more autonomy whereas in Québec, Trudeau’s constitutional reforms and Mulroney’s Meech Lake accord have… left Québec pretty much in the same situation where it was when the “troubles” started 40 years ago.

In the very heated context of a political crisis that has been going on for years and the very fresh rejection of Flemish autonomy by the French-speaking Wallons, half of Flanders wants out of the kingdom of Belgium.

In a still favourable economic climate, with a governement that panders to the nationalists and after four decades of “referendums, constitutional battles, separatist threats” that have “drained the national spirit”, “curbed foreign investment” and “sidelined other national priorities”, between one third and one half of the Québécois STILL want independence from Canada.

Insignificant, I’m sure.

There is no way those numbers could go back up again, right? French-speaking Montrealers are feeling very secure linguistically right now, aren’t they? And there is no way the 55 000 new immigrants the Québec governement wants to recruit every year will have any effect on the demographic balance on the city either. Of course not.

And as the people of Québec watch their manufacturing sector collapse in the wake of the American economic meltdown, they will surely find comfort in the fact that they can always flee Québec and it’s horrible language laws for the riches and linguistic freedom of Alberta.

How could any of this ever flare up into a rise of support for Québec’s independence?

Thank God for Canadian Math.

Written by angryfrenchguy

July 27, 2008 at 7:07 pm

A Beautiful Mindfuck

with 10 comments

québec fascism

I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a book. A book and movie, actually. I’ve been trying my neighborhood libraries, bookstores, the National Library, without any luck, even though the package came out in December 2007. In the end I had to drive to the Mile End, to an industrial side street, right to the distributors office where I bought the thing with cash.

The movie is called Un sur 1000 and the book Post-Scriptum. It is about and by René-Daniel Dubois.

René-Daniel Dubois is an actor, playwright and writer who got into serious trouble for calling the 1995 referendum on Québec independence a failed suicide attempt in French daily Le Monde. He quickly found out that talking against the family abroad is a big no-no in Québec.

Unsettled by the violent reaction to what was only one intellectual’s personal opinion, he set off on a quest to seek the roots of Québec nationalism. He came to the conclusion that Québec society was what he called “the first successful fascist society – that is to say where not only is there no form of resistance, but where the very idea of resistance doesn’t even seem to be conceivable.” In a filmed lecture that accompanies the movie he demonstrates how, in his opinion, this society has, at it’s root, the ultramontane French clergy and their opposition to democracy, individuality and, finally, the act of thinking in general.

“No, nationalism does not, not at all, have for objective the preservation of a popular culture–or of a language–, or the welfare of citizens of a given society–those are only pretexts.

Nationalism is not an ideology, it’s a rhetoric: it is not a cookie, but a way of selling it – changing the packaging does not affect it in any way. Nationalism, it’s a way of maintaining one and only one vision of what life in common could be: the one in which, by means of the notion of permanent menace, the population is summoned to obey elites who, because of the gravity of the situation as they describe it themselves since they are the only ones allowed to talk, don’t have to seriously answer to anyone.”

In all fairness Télé-Québec aired the movie once. La Presse and, incredibly, the weekly Suburban (google English), published excerpts (google English) – in French ! – and Dubois was recently invited to Tout le Monde en Parle, a major talk show, again on Radio-Canada.

Most of the above media are considered by Québec nationalists as propaganda organs of the vast Canadian conspiracy to destroy Québec specificity so it only strengthened their conviction that Dubois was a federalist agent earning a comfortable Canada Council of the Arts job with some timely Québec-bashing.

“You’re so vain you think this song is about you….”

Québec’s nationalists are so narrow-minded that they took it personally, but Dubois was talking about a much broader phenomena. Let’s read the passage I quoted again:

“Nationalism is not an ideology, it’s a rhetoric: it is not a cookie, but a way of selling it – changing the packaging does not affect it in any way. Nationalism, it’s a way of maintaining one and only one vision of what life in common could be: the one in which, by means of the notion of permanent menace, the population is summoned to obey elites who, because of the gravity of the situation as they describe it themselves since they are the only ones allowed to talk, don’t have to seriously answer to anyone.”

The outer menace is Americanization, the inner menace is… Québec’s separatists. The situation is so fragile that any questioning of bilingualism, the senate, the division of power between provinces and the federal government could lead to the break-up of the greatest country on earth!

If nationalist had bothered to read the book before condemning it they would have come so hard they would’ve ejaculated blood reading how Dubois tears apart their arch-enemy Pierre-Elliot Trudeau.

Early in the book Dubois remembers how in the days of the Great Darkness Québec free thinkers used to flee to Ottawa – the university and the federal institutions – where they felt they had more wiggle room to think.

“In the middle of the XIXth century, the ultramontane clergy – the catholic equivalent of the Talibans – seize total power inside Québec society, letting the few remaining real democrats to play by themselves in Ottawa. They can run, anyway, one day or the other they will be caught up with and the score settled.”

The score was settled, according to Dubois, when the Jesuit-educated Trudeau and his suite take over the Liberal party and Ottawa in the 1960’s. Proof? His decision to suspend civil liberties and send the army in the streets of Montreal in October 1970. “How do call what I’ve just described? A fascist coup.”

René-Daniel Dubois conclusion that the Quiet Revolution was a sham because television in Québec sucks and and the Cultural Affairs Ministry doesn’t properly fund Artistes like him is not entirely convincing. His demonstration that Pierre-Elliot Trudeau and FLQ terrorists really belonged to the same nationalist elite is, to say the least, very sketchy.

But, the way in which nationalists in Québec immediately rejected Dubois’s work as federalist propaganda and, inversely, the way the federalists, oblivious to the fact his book depicted their messiah as the ultimate incarnation of Québec fascist nationalism, used it as an argument against the separatists…

What could be more convincing proof that Québec is a society where people don’t think!

Don’t think, don’t read, don’t know shit!

The reaction to his book on all sides vividly demonstrates his thesis that Québec is a society where thinking is not only discouraged, but where it simply doesn’t happen!

Feels like we are going to have to keep looking for his books in back alleys for a while….

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 2, 2008 at 10:55 am

Québec needs an English-language newspaper

with 23 comments

Québec doesn’t have an English-language newspaper. Québec doesn’t have an English-language television, radio station or Internet portal.

The Québécois are keeping silent in the lingua franca of the Internet.

In 2008 that means Québec doesn’t exist.

French-speaking North Americans who are celebrating 400 years on the continent have no media of their own to talk to the 400 million English-speakers who surround them.

Is it any wonder the wildest politically-fictional fantasies still circulate about Québec?

An Indian or an Armenian googling some news about Québec has 10 times as many chances to come upon Barbara Kay’s or Mordecai Richeler’s paranoiac diatribes about a fascist ethnic tribe trying to wipe it’s province clear of strangers and “coloreds” than a simple description of the French Language Charter.

What about the Montreal Gazette? The Gazette is not a “Montreal newspaper that happens to be in English” as columnist Henry Aubin once told me. It’s the newspaper of Montreal’s English-speaking minority. Period.

One token separatist columnist is not enough to fairly translate the diversity of thought of a population twice as numerous as Ireland’s. The Gazette deserves credit for giving some space to strong voices, from former RIN leader Pierre Bourgault in the 80’s to the current incumbent Josée Legault, but one person can’t possibly incarnate the diversity of ideas and opinions barely skimmed by 13French -language dailies.

Is it any wonder Canadians confuse the Parti Québécois, small-town nationalists, right-wing conservatives, 19th century ecclesiastic ideologues and violent student radicals of the 1970’s into a single seditious movement of anti-Canadianism that has to be crushed?

Why does Québec need an English-language newspaper? 2 reasons:

1. Because if Québec doesn’t talk directly to the world, it lets Barabara Kay, Jan Wong, Mordecai Richler and the Gazette do it for them. If the curious individuals around the world have access to The Gazette’s, The National Post’s and The Globe and Mail’s perspective on Canadian events, they should have access to Québec’s. Or more accurately to the plural: Québecs’.

2. 48 000 newcomers will come to Québec this year. At least half of the will not speak French when they arrive. Many of them will have some understanding of English, though. These people will learn to know their new country through the biased, truncated and partial coverage of the Anglo minority’s newspaper. With no access to French-language media, they will assimilate and adopt the Anglophone perspective and identity. They are entitled the French majority’s perspective as well.

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 7, 2008 at 9:41 pm

What’s a Canadian Citizenship good for anyway?

with one comment

In the 1970’s the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground and many other black power and student movements turned to violence, kidnapping and bombings in their struggle against, among other things, the Vietnam war. The US government fought these movements (often illegally) with police forces and the judicial system.

In the 1970’s the Front de Libération du Québec, a group of canadian students turned to violence and kidnappings in their struggle against, among other things, discrimination against french-canadians. The Canadian government unilaterally suspended all civil rights of all residents of the province of Québec, arrested without warrant hundreds of citizens and sent the army in the streets of Montréal.

What good are rights that can be unilaterally suspended as they were in the case of Canadians of Italian, German and Japanese descent during the world wars? Or as they were in the Province of Québec in 1970?

A few years ago the Royal Canadian Mounted Police assisted the United States in illegally transferring Maher Arar to an axis of evil, Syria, where he was tortured. Omar Khadr’s has spent the last 5 years in Guantanamo awaiting military trial as an enemy combatant. His Canadian passport has not been of much use to him in Guantanamo. If he had an American passport he would have been allowed a lawyer and a trial in a US jurisdiction where the constitution applies.

This week we learn that a Canadian citizenship doesn’t even mean you are allowed to work in Canada. In a Montreal Gazette editorial published on december 26th we learn that Canadian companies who have contracts with the United States Military are not allowed to hire Canadians if they happen also hold the citizenship of such countries as Haïti, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran.

The companies who have these military contracts and who therefore enforce the US State department rules are Bombardier, SNC-Lavallin, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Bell Helicopter Textron. The companies that are legally allowed to discriminate against Canadian citizens are all massively subsidized by all levels of government.

Omar Khadr, Maher Arar and all those of us who happen to hold dual citizenship with countries that the United States government doesn’t like would have more rights and protections if we were US citizens than we do as Canadians.

So what’s a Canadian passport good for anyway?

Justin Trudeau is right

with 2 comments

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