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Michel Rivard (#80)

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One of the most iconic, culturally and politically significant music groups in Québec and Canadian history, ever, is the 1970’s group Beau Dommage (Canada’s French “Abba”, if you will – forever changing the face of Québec music and cultural coming-of-age).

But the lead singer, Michel Rivard, is a star in his own right – forever tied to the living legacy of Beau Dommage.  He therefore holds a special place in the hearts of Québécois as being a part of their living history, a living cultural legacy of La Révolution Tranquille, and everything that period embodied.

He’s more a spiritual figure with guru status – in a sense, a living founding father of modern Québec.  If Québec history is not your strong point, it would require me to give a history lesson to help you fully grasp his significance.

Suffice to say, I can’t even imagine what it must be like being Michel Rivard – or what the public’s reactions must be when they run into him on the street.  I’m sure there is demographic out there who would want to just touch him, or kneel down and kiss his hand – and I’m not joking.  He’s politically active, so that demographic would be specific, but it wouldn’t be small.  Regardless if I do or do not agree with his politics, he also has my respect.

This is one guy I would love to sit down with over a meal – I have a billion questions I would want to ask him.   By simple nature of the significance of Beau Dommage, he was a pole of gravity through some of most dramatic moments in modern Québec history.

Now for the the elephant in the room (as there often is)…    I’ve recommended a number of times to Anglophone friends that they should view Rivard’s now famous 2008 YouTube video if they want to get a sense of the flip-side of the coin – of how things can politically feel for many Francophones who have political views of Québec’s place in Canada (or rather, not in Canada).  And I’ve likewise recommended to Francophone Canadian friends that they too should watch the video so they know just how much some issues can be over-exaggerated, twisted, and misrepresented.   So, there’s my “on-the-fence” point of view for you – making opposing points with the same video, but different arguments depending on which linguistic group I’m showing it to.   It always makes for great discussion… or at the bare minimum, causes an awkward silence … (hahaha – my sick humour – but it’s 2014, so sometimes you need to just take it with a grain of salt).    You can view the YouTube video here:

(For English subtitles, turn on the YouTube “closed caption” function when you open the video).

Anyway, I love Michel Rivard’s music, I respect the man, I cherish Beau Dommage’s place in history, and his politics make for great discussion (regardless of one’s political stripes).

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