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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Grégory Charles (#13)

By this point in our 12-part series of exploring the personalities of “The Poll that Shocked”, you will have noticed that Québec celebrities often weave in-and-out of various artistic platforms (you’ll recall in the post on Rémy Girard that I touched upon this phenomenon common to both Francophone and Anglophone celebrities in Canada, versus the U.S. star-culture which tends to see American celebrities stick more to one stream).

Grégory Charles fits with the mould of performing in many art and media platforms.  I’m not sure how to accurately classify him.  He’s done a bit of everything.   When growing up in Alberta, some of my earliest memories of him were of watching him as the host of the early 1990s TV game show Que le meilleur gagne, as well as a comedian appearing on various TV programs.  But it seems his heart is that of a singer (he was Canada’s best-selling singer in 2006 after Nelly Furtado.

Charles is one of those people whose English and French are perfect in either language, with no accent.  His father is Anglophone and mother is Francophone.  He lives between the linguistic lines and in both linguistic sphere, and could be classified as being both Francophone and Anglophone – a proud sum of both (however, it’s my guess that most Francophones are not aware of his Anglo side).   I remember him as the TV host of Culture Shoc on Radio-Canada… a pan-Canadian show devoted to bridging the two solitudes by bringing Francophone culture to Anglophones.  Conversely it offered Francophones a window of Anglophone culture across Canada, airing in both languages (in English on CBC, and in French on Radio-Canada).   Grégory Charles was probably one of the perfect people to choose to fill that role

Sidenote:  Likewise, but not directly related to Grégory Charles, you may wish to check out CBC Radio’s C’est la vie, hosted by Bernard St-Laurent – a very popular, long-running show dedicated to bringing an understanding of pan-Canadian Francophone culture to the lives of Anglophones.  It has been on air since 1998, having reached millions of Anglophones – with no sign of slowing down.  Like Grégory Charles, Bernard St-Laurent is another one of those celebrities who lives between the linguistic lines and is a sum of both languages.

Charles became a famous to the wider public in the early 1990s as a comedian-actor on TV and a daily radio-host on Montréal’s French language hit-music station CKOI-FM.   His television career was very active in the 1990’s.  Apart from the above, he was a host of children’s TV programs, and the host of Cha ba ba (a talk show styled on U.S. late-night TV talk shows).   His recurrent appearances at the televised Juste pour rire festival cemented his role as a successful stage comedian.

His Francophone television career continued to roll in the 2000s with various long-running programs.  The mid 2000s were also the period when his musical career took off.  His concert appearances, attended by tens-of-thousands, and record-breaking music / album releases increased his celebrity status.  His love for music is apparent, and Charles was fittingly a coach on Star Académie (mentioned in the earlier post on Julie Snyder).

His work to bridge the Two Solitudes hasn’t gone unnoticed.  Keep up the great work and keep breakin’ ’em barriers Grégory!!

I would encourage you to conduct some searches online for Grégory Charles, because I have a feeling he’ll be a part of our cultural lives for a long, long time to come.   When conducting your searches, please stick to officially sanctioned photos and videos.  Our artists are part of our cultural fabric – Please to do no pirate (his music is available for sale on various platforms).

Janette Bertrand (#12)

It’s not easy to capture the essence of Janette Bertrand’s place in pop-culture.   There’s a great deal of historical subtext.  She’s more than just a C.V. or the sum of her appearances before the public.  It’s more about what she stands for in the eyes of the public, what she stands for as an individual, and where she stood during the history and the making of a modern Québec.  In many ways, she is a living relic of history – a living legend.

To start, Janette, with three great-grandchildren, will soon be 90 years old (but she looks like she’s in her 60’s, and continues to have the energy of someone in her 50’s).  Not only is she one of the best known personalities in Québec, but she may be better recognized and better known than the likes of the Prime Minister of Canada (I say this tongue-in-cheek, but if Québec were to have its own currency, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her face on one if its bills – an example of the power pop-culture can have over society).

I suppose she would mean different things to different generations.   Through radio and television, she was there as Québec was coming out of the Grande Noirceur of the Duplessis years – with her public début on radio in the early 1950’s.  She was up front and centre on television, pushing the envelope of change and social dialogue, during (and in the wake of) the Quiet Revolution, in addition to being a well known 1960’s and 70’s television personality.  She continued to be omnipresent on television in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  She all the while penned several well-known books and has engaged in various other forms of the arts (theatre, song).

During a Parti Québécois rally for the 2014 provincial election, she appeared on stage and publicly declared (quote) “for the first time, I’m speaking of my political allegiances”.  With that, she became a high profile PQ activist, with much focus on her support for limitations of certain accommodations for religious minorities in Québec, as proposed by the Parti Québécois’ Charte des Valeurs. However, despite the highly public condemnations and accolades she attracted (and there were lots on both sides), I would say that her recent political activism has been of much less relevance to the public – especially in light of the PQ’s recent defeat – than her life-long contribution to Québec society.

She would likely be seen as a societal peer or sister-figure to the oldest generations in Québec (those in their late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s), a mother-like figure to those in their 50’s and 60’s, a figurative grandmother to those in their 30’s and 40’s, and for those in their 20’s or younger, she’s likely a curiosity – someone who has just always existed, and who is now adding her political opinions to the foray.

Much as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz incarnated the lighter side of the 1950’s couple through their comedy “I Love Lucy”, Janette Bertrand and her husband appeared together in their own comedy show in the 1950’s (Toi et Moi), incarnating couples during that period in Québec.  Family and its importance has always been central in Bertrand’s eyes, and she and her husband later hosted a 1960’s husband/wife game show.  But times were changing quickly in Québec – and the Quiet Revolution was redefining the family’s role.

Bertrand embarked on a new mission in the early 1960’s, setting foot where no one has gone before… to sexually empower youth under 21 by answering, on television, their letters written to her asking sex-related questions (to the extent that the subject could be discussed on television in that era).  Picture it this way… Imagine sweet, innocent June Cleaver, or funny, light-hearted Lucille Ball all of a sudden transforming overnight into Sue Johanson on live black-and-white early 1960’s TV — just for the kiddies – and then imagine how well that would go over!  Well… actually… for a good part of society, it didn’t! (the press condemned Bertrand for perverting the youth, and even the Archbishop of Montréal wrote her to stop) – But as Bertrand herself said, the viewer numbers were there!  And she came to personify much of what was happening with the Quiet Revolution (but if parents ever did feel left out of the party, Bertrand had a newspaper column, similar to a Dear Abby, to whom they could write their own curious questions).

Her devotion to family roles nonetheless stood strong, and she continued her path with family based sitcoms in the 1960’s and 70’s, featuring her own family members.  Her shows were as popular as “The Brady Bunch”, “All in the Family”, and “Diff’rent Strokes” were to Anglophone audiences.  One such show, Les Tremblay, became popular in France – and quite possibly was the first time France was introduced as a nation to the modern Québec family, or any family from Québec for that matter.

It’s fitting to her played roles as a mother that she published an extremely popular cookbook in 1968 – Les Racettes de Janette – earning her place as a Québec pseudo-Betty Crocker (a highly successful revised edition was published in 2005, but this time without alcoholic ingredients – somewhat of a controversy in itself!).

As Québec matured as a society, so did Bertrand’s shows.   Two TV shows in the 1980’s and early 1990’s (Parler pour parler and L’Amour avec un grand A) took an interview format unique to Bertrand (no audiences – just Bertrand sitting with guests on couches, at tables, or hosting role plays).  She asked them questions which people in general wondered about others, but wouldn’t dare to ask a stranger – with the goal of uncovering what makes different people tick.  It was all in a serious, non-judgmental and open environment.  It might be considered an evolved version of her earlier sex-ed show of the 1950’s, but with a greater scope.  This time it was Bertrand asking the questions – and others letting her into their minds.  Her guests were as varied as absent fathers, abused wives, practitioners of S&M, those who enjoy the quirkier side of gay sex, advocates for feminist issues, etc.   She entered into uncharted territory for Francophone television, and in this regard, could be considered a ground-breaking Donahue-like figure for Québec.

She has written numerous best-selling books.  The first to come to mind is her famous autobiography Ma vie en trois actes.  She’s been featured and parodied in numerous comedies (RBO was one such comedy which took her on from time-to-time – remember RBO from the post on Guy Lepage?).  She has written for the stage, and even wrote a song for Celine Dion to sing.

It came as a surprise for many that she chose to become an active political advocate at 89 years old, advocating for Québec indepedence, the Parti Québécois, and more so for the PQ’s controversial Charte des valeurs (pro-Charte advocates felt it showed her continued openness towards societal and social evolution, and anti-Charte advocates felt it was uncharacteristically narrow-minded of her, taking Québec backwards — two very different interpretations of what is progressive – the dichotomy and often complicated irony of Québec politics).  But then again, she has never been one to shy away from controversy, and she has earned society’s respect through the ages for staying true to her principles during decades of uncertainty.  With all said and done, her foray into politics at the age of 90, and her advocacy for a very controversial aspect of it, maybe should not be so surprising after all.

For further information:  Typing her name online will reveal a lot of information.  When viewing videos or images, please only access officially approved footage or photos.  You might wish to try out some of her recipes with friends and family, especially for special occasions such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any holiday of your liking.

Normand Brathwaite (#11)

Normand Brathwaite has been a rock of cultural stability since the early 1980’s in an ever-evolving pop-culture industry in Québec.   Although it was his desire to become a mainstream actor, he was suddenly thrust into stardom in La cage aux folles in the early 1980s, a very popular music comedy.   Brathwaite himself once said in an interview with Dice B that it unexpectedly propelled him to a high level of stardom in the early 1980s, and that level has never dropped.

Since then, in general terms, his career a taken a two-pronged journey; one as a television personality, one as a radio personality (although some of my earliest memories of Brathwaite were of regularly seeing him doing comedy on stage in front of full houses and making being a guest on all sorts of TV shows).  

His television career saw him host numerous programs, including the very popular Piment Fort on TVA for much of the 1990’s (a game show-styled program with celebrities as the participants), as well as other shows and televised comedy.   His show Le Match des Étoiles hit TV viewerships of over 1 million people, and he continues to host Belle et Bum on Télé-Québec, where he’s been the host for over 10 years.

His TV career also saw him take an active role as an awards presenter on numerous cultural Prix and Gala broadcasts (hey, you don’t get to repeatedly host the biggest awards nights in the industry by being just anybody!). 

For 20 years, he was one of the first voices people heard on morning radio when they tuned into CKOI-FM (Montréal) – one of the more popular hit-music radio stations in Montréal.  After leaving CKOI, he was on Rouge-FM for a couple of years.

He has repeatedly hosted the annual St-Jean-Baptiste evening concerts, which along with the parade, is one of the most televised events of the occasion.

Normand Bratwaite, you could say, is pop-culture in Québec.  If you were to ask Québecers to name three of four stars, he would likely be one.

When conducting your internet searches for material (videos, images, etc), please stick to officially approved sites, footage and public commons images.   He’ll be guaranteed to make you smile, just as he has been making Québec smile for the last couple generations.  Please do not pirate (our artists are part of our cultural fabric).

Véronique Cloutier (#10)

Véronique Cloutier (often known just as “Véro”) is one of the first people who comes to mind whenever I think of Francophone TV.  She’s just a bit older than me (she was born in 1974), and so watching her all these years makes you feel that you’ve lived aspects of adulthood at the same time.   Like all of us, she’s lived through ups and downs – with the difference being that she has been in the public eye during several high profile and difficult challenges in her private life.  I really believe that has given her a human persona that resonates with the public, creating a feeling that she’s “just one of us”.  She’s one of my favorite fun-loving personalities on television – and she has the respect and adoration of the public.  Even if my first series of posts had not been a response to “The Poll that Shocked!”, Véro would still have been one of my very first posts.

Véro first became known to youth on MusiquePlus in the early 1990’s (a 24-hour music video TV channel similar to MuchMusic), when she hosted a video-clip show.  During the same era, she worked on various TV shows on different stations – and quickly became one of those faces people saw everywhere.

But it was her later show, La Fureur on Radio-Canada, which really drove her celebrity status with Francophones and French speaking youth from coast-to-coast.  It aired for around a decade.   La Fureur was a karaoke singing competition in which a group of guys were pitted against a group of ladies in a sing-off, to see who could spontaneously sing famous songs while getting the words right.  Celebrity stars were always invited to participate, and it was filmed in front of a live studeo audience cheering madly for their teams.   It basically was a a huge screaming, singing, and laughing party on TV each week with hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people turning in for each episode.  Because of the audience sizes, the show’s success, and the guest celebrities the show attracted, it thrust Cloutier into a league of her own. 

Being a household name, she took on more and more roles in the public limelight.  She has been regularly featured in television commercials.  For the last several years, she has hosted Les Enfants de la télé on Radio-Can, a show in which celebrities of yesterday are the guests and participate in fun exchanges and activities (her husband produces the show).

Véro is also a successful radio-host on Rythme FM, one of the more popular radio stations in Montreal, with affiliate stations throughout Québec.  It could be said she is just as famous in radio spheres as TV spheres.

Cloutier became a recurring host for numerous televised award ceremonies, Gala de l’ADISQ, (similar to the Juno and Academy Awards), les Prix Gémaux (similar to the Gemini Awards), and has been the award recipient of numerous awards.   As a testament to her popularity and her work in general, she repeatedly wins some of the highest industry awards, including Les Prix Artis in which the public themselves choose the annual award recipients.  It’s particularly notable that she continued to win the public’s favorite person after having gone through very public difficulties on the personal and professional front — a true testament to how she difficulties with dignity, responsibility and integrity.

Her name has become synonymous with the annual New Years’ Eve Le Bye Bye TV broadcast on Radio-Canada.  It was a comedy broadcast which ran on New Years’ Eve in a skit format – drawing in much of the home New Years’ Eve viewership that evening. 

I haven’t mentioned Véro’s husband to this point, Louis Morissette (a celebrity himself), but she herself has stated numerous times that her work has been a team effort between the two, professionally as well as on the personal front.  Morissette is a successful comedian and producer. In many ways, without detracting from either of their individual successes, they have become a power-couple on the pop-culture stage, and have been together for much of their respective careers.  Le Bye Bye has been co-jointly hosted by Cloutier and Morissette.  Their popularity could be, in some ways, a type of “BrAngelina” status in Québec (did I get the spelling of that right?).

When conducting your own, TV, radio, web and video searches, please do so through officially approved sites and do not access pirated material.   Happy viewing!

Julie Snyder (#9)

PREFACE:  I wrote another post on Julie Snyder, complete with videos, which traces how she has gone from a show-biz celebrity to a de facto politician for sovereignty.  You can read that post here:  Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 14th and 15th positions [post 8 of 11] (#263)

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We’re now half way through the group of 12 famous Quebec personalities who most Anglophones could not identify when polled (see the previous post “The Poll that Shocked”).   We’ll continue with the remaining 6 personalities mentioned in the polls.

Julie Snyder, like Guy Lepage (earlier post), is a well-known interviewer and TV show producer, but the nature of her productions are quite different.

I particularly remember growing up in rural Alberta, watching Julie Snyder’s show L’enfer c’est nous autres after school on Radio-Canada in the early / mid-90s — light-hearted TV variety show in which she conducted amusing interviews, or took part in various events.  She always wore eccentric-themed dresses (flower bouquets glued on her dresses, a working water-fountain dress, a dress in the shape of unlikely objects like a guitar, bowling pin, etc, etc.).   Her wacky clothes became her trademark of sorts and added to the fun atmosphere of her shows.   If one of your friends was wearing any piece of flashy clothing, you could joke with them that they looked like a “Julie, in the flesh” (the uniting factor of pop-culture).

Born in 1967, she’s been on and off the TV since age 18 (more “on” than off).  A couple of generations have grown up watching her on television.

Her interviewing style matured into a more conventional manner with the inception of her show Le Poing J on the TVA TV network in the latter half of the 1990s.   Her interviewees were newsmakers in cultural spheres (singers, actors), and she also brought on various controversial figures as well.  Her handling of controversial topics earned her a new respect, and her style as an advocate for numerous societal issues began to define her in the eyes of the public.

After hosting her own interview show in France for a couple of years, she returned to Québec and galvanized her name (and career) into the history books as the TV producer and host of the wildly popular, weekly reality TV singing competition Star Académie which aired on TVA for 10 years until 2012 (you’ll recall from an earlier post that Marie-Mai’s career was launched on Star Académie – with Julie having played a direct hand in the launch of Marie-Mai’s career, as well as those of many others).    Because of her show helped to launch so many singing careers, the ampler, popularity and impact of her show on the Québec singing industry cannot be underestimated (in terms of artistic contribution, as well as pure economics).   Closely resembling Canadian Idol in style, but with a much deeper concentration of viewer penetration, Star Académie repetitively drew in over 2 million viewers, breaking records for viewership for a Canadian television program.

Snyder put Star Académie on hold in 2012 and concentrated on other matters, while continuing to develop, produce and host the television game show Le Banquier on TVA (a show similar to “Deal or No Deal”).  Because the prize stakes are so high (prizes climbing as high as $1,000,000), the show attracts record audiences (exceeding 2 million viewers – again, record breaking territory for Québec and Canadian television).

Being a central figure in the star-culture of Québec, some of her best known friends are amongst some of the biggest stars and icons in Québec, as well as the francophone world in general.  Her friendship with Céline Dion is particularly prominent.  It’s often a publicly shared friendship, and Julie and Céline are regularly seen together on television, with Céline having been featured in Julie’s numerous shows.

Pop-culture in Québec often crosses paths with politics.  While most celebrities do remain politically neutral on the public stage, the political opinions of many well-known artists and icons are sometimes thinly veiled and can often discerned by the public (after all, 1+1 always equals 2).  But only a handful of celebrities venture to publicly endorse specific political parties, ideologies, or people in an overt manner.   Snyder’s personal integrity for standing up for issues she feels strongly about is well-known, and she by no means has hidden her political inclinations — throwing her support behind the Parti Québécois and sovereignty.

[Note: The purpose of this blog is not to politicize celebrities — even if they politicize themselves in the grandest of ways.  So I’ll leave it to the readers to do their own research if further interest exists.  However, from time to time, I may bring up political affiliations if it may provide depth of context for the topic being discussed.]

Apart from her political activism, Julie Snyder is also a staunch advocate of several issues, including gender equality, specific health-related matters, and state secularism in Québec (with the latter having been a hotly debated issue in the last provincial election – further defining Snyder’s political activism).

Much of her career has developed and continues to be featured on TVA (you’ll recall the last post highlighted Pierre Bruneau’s career on TVA).   Snyder’s spouse of almost 15 years, Pierre Karl Péladeau (often simply referred to as PKP), is the former CEO of Québecor, the communications company which owns TVA.  The Péladeau family continues to run Québecor.   Pierre Péladeau is now a Parti Québécois MNA in the Québec legislature (the equivalent of an MLA, MPP, or MNL).  They have children together.

Julie’s career continues to flourish, and it is certain that her influence, popularity, and causes close to her heart will continue to leave their mark on Québec society and culture as a whole.

Suggestions for additional research:

  • Star Académie
  • Le Poing J
  • Le Banquier

Please only view non-pirated content through official websites when conducting web-searches for content.  Songs featured on Star Académie are available for purchase through legal venues (please do not pirate – the hard work of artists form part of our cultural fabric).


ADDENDUM 2015-01-17:  

Continue to refer back to this post every few of months (I may update it periodically).  Snyder’s political engagement has become more and more public and more frequent since initially writing this post.  She makes regular political on-air statements, and in late 2014 engaged in a battle of words (a very bitter, personal and public one at that) with the CAQ leader, François Legault (and Snyder has in the past lambasted Premier Couillard when he was a former Health Minister in Jean Charest’s cabinet).

Without having been elected, her political self styling and her use of a very large public microphone is beginning to show traits of morphing into a de facto politician, without a seat or portofolio of course.  As Québec’s most watched person on television, she is using her role to compliment and back-up the political campaigning and positions of her husband, the billionaire media-mogul, Pierre Karl Péladeau (who is expected to become the leader of the Parti Québécois, lest the tide unseeingly turns against him in the run-up to the PQ leadership convention in May, 2015).

It is quite interesting, and considering this very different and new “business empire”-cum-“media-star” political partnership, neither Québec, nor Canada has ever seen something quite like this before (the Snyder-PKP political team).   It could possibly lead to one of the most significant political shake-ups and show-downs in Québec’s and Canada’s history.

Without wanting to overplay it, only time will tell if it goes down this road.

A four to eight year chess-table is being slowly laid out.  However, we are only at the very beginning of this game, and not nearly enough moves on that chess table have been made yet to tell what direction it will take.  Syder’s and PKP’s ultimate goal is Québec’s sovereignty – full stop, period!   And for them, the faster the better (PKP has said in the last few weeks that he has zero interest in governing Québec.  He wants to get in, hold a referendum, win it, and then get out).

But because the chess moves are only starting to be made, there are way too many factors to tell what will happen.  Some of the unknowns:

  • Couillard’s government still has four years to govern.  At the end of those four years, will he be more popular than PKP, and if so, will that thwart PKP’s hopes of becoming Premier in the next government mandate?  If not, will PKP be interested in sticking around for a whole “eight years” for the second general election if he can’t win the next one?  Will his party tolerate such a situation?
  • The “Conflict-of-interest wildcard”:    Will he be allowed to keep his media fortune without being forced to sell it off?   Many believe he would never HAVE made it this far if it wasn’t for his and Snyder’s fame, money and influence convincing decision makers to day to put their confidence in PKP (ie: people in the party and PKP’s riding voted for him because of his stature).  But many feel this gives an unequal and unfair advantage, and thus are advocating for him to be forced to sell his media empire.

There is also a fear (even in certain aspects of the sovereignist movement, that the TVA/Canoe/newspaper news & commentary segment of his media empire will not challenge him, for fear of what happens when he returns to the CEO seat after politics). It becomes extremely complicated and interwoven with so many other aspects:  His wife, Snyder, is the most watched person in Québec media – either on stage or as the creator of Québec’s most popular programs – and she is given free reign because here projects are all on her PKP’s personally owned networks – and thus that holds huge influence over the electorate.  Also refer to the prior post No Way, Le Figaro! for poignant examples of other complicated twists this whole rigmarole is taking — to the point that it is now reaching as far away as Alberta.

With this being said, there’s also another Julie Snyder association to the whole “conflict-of-interest” conundrum.  In Québec, to ensure all candidates and parties are on equal footing and nobody has more of an advatage than others (either for party positions, or elected positions), there are very strict spending laws with respect to campaigning and advertising.   Travel and paid television airtime is included in this equation.  Those with the most media expoure often tend to have a leg up anytime there are party votes or electorate votes.  Spending caps are designed to even out the amount of media exposure any one candidate can get.  BUT it has the appearance of a conflict of interest when PKP has the money to pull “personal” media attention-getters, and when Snyder has the television programming power with which to air those activities as a “private family affair” (rather than a politcial one).

It’s seemlingly an important possible loophole which other politicans (foes or friendly) cannot compete with.  I’ll give you a couple of examples.  A couple of months there was the ice-bucket challenge.  Snyder and PKP went on a “family vacation” to the Madeleine Islands where they participated in the ice-bucket challenges as a “family.”  Snyder was interviewed and was part of a great deal of media appearances (both live, and as repeat feeds), with her husband standing in the background, just “tagging along” (I watched it live on TVA Salut Bonjour).  It was not considered a political campaiging expenditure in the legal sense, but it had all the allures of campaigning to far off regions of Québec, raising PKP’s profile in those regions, and then broadcast repeatedly across the province through Snyder’s own “private” media appearances.  How can other politicans compete with this?

The same thing happened with their “family” jaunts to Scotland and Barcelona to be present for their respective referendums.  In many ways, the Snyder-PKP self-paid family vacation became just as much the news story as the referendums themselves.  PKP spends the money, and Snyder pulls in the television appearances.  It’s an issue – and this is why attempts have been made to come up with some sort of binding parliamentary resolution requiring that Party heads (ie: PKP, should he win the PQ party leadership) “and” their immediate relatives (ie: Julie Snyder) must sell all shares which they hold in any media company (rather than just restricting it to Party heads).  PKP already said there’s no hope in hell that he will do that.

He states his ownership of Québecor was inherited from his father, and he has every intention to pass it to his own children when they become adults (they’re young children right now).  (Note:  Snyder owns Productions J, which produces all of her shows – much like Oprah’s company “Harpo”… and then Productions J sells them to or cooperates with Québecor and its media affiliates to air her programs – which in turn, owing to the fact that they constitute some of the most successful TV programs in Québec’s and Canada’s history, bring in Québecor’s/TVA’s/QMI’s ratings – and thus a huge chunk of PKP’s sorce of cash.  It’s complicated, but can you follow?).

Will attempts to restrict politicians from owing media companies be successful, and can such a resolution be passed?  I don’t know.  Due to the complexity of the matter, many people have their doubts (there are major legal, and possible constitutional implications).  Laval University, which Couillard requested to produce a research paper and recommendations on the issue, declined due to the politicization of the topic.  But what happens if such a binding resolution can be attained?   And what happens if it cannot?  Both answers have major implications.

  • IF PKP does become Premier in 4 years time (and, of course, there is no way of knowing), who will be in power in Ottawa to face him down in a possible referendum?  Will it be Harper? (with a minority or majority government?), Trudeau? (with a minority or majority government?).  What will they be able to bring to the table to counter PKP?  Harper has never been popular in Québec, and his French is not good enough to carry on any type of major debate in French (imagine what would have happened in the 1995 referendum if Canada’s Prime Minister at the time was rock bottom in the polls in Québec and could not have debated or carried any make-in-or-break-it speeches or arguments in French!!).

What about Trudeau?  PKP is arguing that Trudeau’s father (Pierre) is responsible for all of Québec’s woes.  Will PKP-Snyder use the media to try to transform that into some type of provocative public anger against Trudeau, leading to Trudeau having to enter a referendum fight with low popularity?  Will Justin Trudeau be able to counter other Snyder-PKP societal connections in Québec’s media?  (Snyder is well connected with Québec’s media, and there is a possibility she could organize a large segment of Québec’s media against who ever is in power in Ottawa.  Imagine what would happen in 10 or 20 of Québec’s most popular and influential celebrities and television figures all publicly turned against Ottawa at once – be it Harper or Trudeau.   Read the post Le Plateau for a bit more insight into this card).

  • PKP is not immune to ideological criticism.  He is currently campaigning as a left-of-centre politician to rally the PQ’s traditional base, but many people are pointing out that his past actions as a major business figure fly in the face of this (ie: his past as a union buster, fiscal conservative, and numerous other associations indicate he has right-right ideologies).  This has divided many people who support the Parti Québecois.  He needs a united supporter base with which to advance any agenda (either prior to or after any PQ leadership campaign).  Will he be able to move forward if that base is fractured regarding their take on him?  Is this where Snyder will try to intervene to consolidate that base via her position as a powerful media figure?
  • But, with all this said… Québec’s public today is VERY DIFFERENT than Québec’s public in 1995 and 1980.  There is no longer life-long loyalty to any one party, and dare I say to any one ideology in Québec.  In very general terms, Québec’s electorate is very much like electorates elsewhere in Canada (it’s no longer the odd-sheep out in that asepect – and is very much a Canadian electorate in form and substance).  It seems that Québec’s public votes based on “feelings”, the “personality” of party leaders (with less emphasis on party platforms or a party’s ideology than what existed 20 years ago), and they they vote more and more in “pragmatic” rather than ideological terms (ie: how will their vote affect their wallet and services — and in particular, retirement.

Remember, Québec’s population is getting older).  PKP’s life has been devoted to business (the Snyder-PKP team are billionaires)… and will he be able to win over such an electorate considering his platform is ideological?  Will he be able to use his and Snyder’s media and business history to shift what is essentially an ideological argument to one which can be viewed as a practical one?  That’s a major shift, and if has never been tried before in the sovereignty sense… at least not to the extent it will have to be tried if he wishes to win a referendum.

  • Will Snyder be able to use her media profile to isolate Ottawa and wrestle away the hearts and minds of Québec?  (She is already producing some popular programs, which happen to also be quite nationalistic).
  • What happens if Couillard shows that his fiscal cut-backs were good for Québec in four years time?  Will PKP be able to win based on the economy-card if Couillard takes the wind out of his sails.
  • We’re heading into possible turbulent times with the drop in oil prices… but it could be good for Québec’s export sector, and could keep Couillard in power in four years time.  What will PKP do then?
  • On the reverse side, what happens if oil prices rebound, even to record heights, in four years’ time?  If the dollar goes through the roof, it could spell dark days for Québec’s manufacturing, exports, and thus any ruling party.  Will that be a god-send for PKP to defeat Couillard?  Will the Snyder-PKP team pounce on the opportunity through the media and consolidate their chances?
  • If there is a new Printemps Érable in the spring of 2015 in protest regarding Couillard Liberal budget cuts (right around the time of the PQ convention – which is possibly why the PQ leadership convention was delayed until May 2015), how much momentum and ammunition will that give to PKP?  And will it have a tangible effect he can carry with him for 3-4 years until the next general election?  Keep in mind that Snyder was a major figure in the Jeannettes movement of the last Printemps Érable in 2012… and she could use her media position to build it into a downhill rolling snowball (which has to crash into something at some point).  Just how long can they keep that snowball rolling?

Can Léo Bureau-Drouin, Martine Desjardins, and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois be rallied to support any stances PKP or Snyder may take in any future Printemps Érable? (They were key figures, and arguably the success-drivers of the last Printemps érable.  Their notariety and inclusion in any future Printemps érable may be a necessity, but which may come with a double-edged sword for Snyder-PKP).  Whereas Bureau-Drouin’s and Desjardin’s support can almost be guaranteed (with them both having respectively been a former PQ MNA and defeated PQ MNA cadidate), Nadeau-Dubois may prove to be a thorn in the side of any Snyder-PKP attempts to fuel, fan, or even organize a new Printemps Érable.  Nadeau-Dubois is already giving clear signals that he is not a fan of PKP, let along a supporter.  Lise Payette even tried to convince him in late 2014 to at least support PKP in principle for the sake of sovereignty, if for nothing else, but he wouldn’t hear any of it.

Seeing as Nadeau-Dubois is the most publicly followed of the three “Érabliers-à-trois” (for lack of a better term for these three individuals), what will happen if he denounces PKP (or Snyder) in any new Printemps érable, either in spring 2015, or any time after that?   There’s a possibilty it could fracture the PQ, and sovereignists in general, even more than what they already are.

  • As you can see above, there are a number of bumps in the road, and mini-hurdles which would have to be overcome, one-by-one, step-by-step, for the Snyder-PKP team to achieve their goal.  In the behind-the-scenes strategy rooms of the Parti Québécois (and perhaps more relevant, in PKP’s own office), they would have to lay out a road map… a long scroll with a beginning (now) and and end (sovereignty), and every step, as well as every hurdle which could come along between those two points.  So as to stay on track, they would have to take their best guesses as to how they would chronologically play out.

What not many in the media have picked up upon is that Couillard, to date, seems to be a “silent” strategist.  I get the impression he’s not thinking one step ahead, but perhaps 10 or 20 steps ahead (I could give numerous examples, but I won’t go into that here).  Bottom line, I’m guessing he probably has the ability to also draw out a mirror image of the same political strategy the PKP team has drawn for themselves, and he’s likely to try to thwart off in advance (quite possibly with large degrees of success) numerous necessary steps in the Snyder-PKP strategy road map… perhaps so far in advance, and to such a degree of effectiveness, that it could make it so the Snyder-PKP team can’t even find the anticipated foot-holds they were hoping and planning for (simply because Couillard was able to anticipate them in advance, and remove those footholds).  This is pure conjecture on my part, but Couillard is a brain surgeon by profession, and he has an extremely analytical mind.  He’s shown this with numerous decisions he has made.

  • And then, probably the most import factor, what about Québec’s general lack of appetite for a referendum or hard sovereignty stances (which is very different from soft nationalism, or even a soft sovereignty position).   The hard sovereignty advocates of yesteryear (much of the generation from the 1970s) are now going into retirement, if they’re not already there.  It takes public support to win a political battle.

Has the PKP-Snyder team taken up the torch too late?  The younger generations and immigrant 1st & 2nd generation Québécois, those which more economic room to risk, have a much more “global outlook” on life and their place in the world (as opposed to a “nationalistic inward outlook”, which has always been needed in the past in order to consolidate mass support for sovereignty.

The last attempt to foster this type of “nationalistic inward outlook”, La Charte des valeurs, didn’t exactly go very far, and even backfired to a large degree).  Perhaps the Snyder-PKP team may simply be too late for the times, and perhaps, if for nothing else, this could already predetermine the destiny of their efforts.  But we will not know this until a good number of chess moves are played in the coming months, and possibly coming years.

As you can see… there are a million different things which could happen.  But if you follow things (and you can only really do so in French if you wish to get a true “feel” for what is happening – which is the reason why Anglophone media hasn’t seemed to clue in to any of this), you can see the starting point of strategies and various plans (A, B, C, D, etc.) taking form by way of subtle statements and stances in the media.

It’s really anybody’s guess.   But I guarantee you, the run-up to the next provincial election in four years time will be anything but dull.  Stay tuned.

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ADDENDUM 2015-04-01:  A few updates…

  1. PKP sold off Sun News TV, but still owns all the rest
  2. PKP’s campaign transportation (charting airplanes) will be accounted for as campaign expenses
  3. The 2012 student protest leaders (Desjardins, Bureau-Drouin, Nadeau-Dubois) are nowhere to be seen during the renewed (but sputtering) 2015 spring student protests.   The rest pretty much remains the same (for now).

ADDENDUM 2015-04-20

  • The spring student protests were a total flop.   They sputtered, then their leadership started to in-fight, they then became the laughing stock of all, then they died.   The super-hero trio of 2012 (Nadeau-Dubois, Bureau-Drouin, and Déjardins) was nowhere to be seen.  Instead, the leadership consisted of no-name and incoherent unknowns.
  • Unlike 2012, there was nothing Snyder could have involved herself in, protest-wise, without looking like she would be involving herself in something foolish.   So that was out of the cards for her this time around.

ADDENDUM 2015-04-24:

Round 1:

  • Yesterday Dominic Maurais of Radio-X interviewed Vincent Marissal, a well-known newspaper columnist.  Marissal wrote a column in which he touched upon a massive star-studded rally Snyder is trying to put together for the crowining of PKP as head of the PQ.
  • Marissal states that he has inside info that Snyder is wielding her influence as one of Québec’s best connected media and cultural personalities to call in favours from many in the artistic world her owe her one (singers, artists, TV personalities, etc.).   She is trying to get 101 personalities to appear in a massive show to support PKP on May 8th.
  • Marissal asserts that this has left many artists uncomfortable, but many owe her for past favours.   It is a conundrum for many artists.   In addition, many fear being damage to their careers if they refuse to Snyder’s call, and subsequently find themselves locked out of Québecor’s (TVA, and by extension Productions J) media sphere (which controls 40% of Québec’s media).
  • Later on the same interview show, Pierre Céré, one of those running for the head of the PQ, insinuated that Vincent Marissal’s assessment is not necessarily wrote.  He stated that it worries him,  That is big news – and it is going over the head of most people.
  • To add to all of this, the purported rally is to take place in Québec City’s new Ampithéatre ($90 million hockey & multi-purpose stadium) owned by Vidéotron, which is owned by Québecor, and thus owned by PKP.   It may take the defacto form of a giant “Thank-you PKP” festival (after all, Québec City die-hard hockey fan residents have been desperate for the construction of a new stadium with which to try to attract the Nordiques back to the city).  The rally’s goals would thus be to win the hearts and minds in the Québec City region, and turn them to PKP, AKA Jesus — all in a region where PKP and the PQ desperately need votes.
  • If people were only aware…
  • My thoughts:  An extremely dangerous situation, if it’s true.  What single other politician (provincial or federal) can compete with such Snyder-PKP tactics.   Whether it works or not will be whether people manage to see through it.

From here on in, for the sake of simplicity and efficiency, anything political to do with the PKP-Snyder-PQ ménage à trois will be written as addendums to the post No Way, Le Figaro! (#76) (Click the preceding link to access that post).

Addendum 2015-06-11:

I also wrote a piece on her background and how it fits into her officially becoming the unofficial (or unofficially becoming the official) one-woman communications / publicity / marketing department of the entire Parti Québécois and Bloc Québécois political machine.

You can read it here in the post Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 14th and 15th positions [post 8 of 11] (#263)

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