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Marie-Mai (#3)

Marie-Mai Bouchard (known simply as Marie-Mai in pop-culture) is a pop-singer who is one of the biggest names in French music at this time (especially popular with younger generations.  Her music is frequently played on hit-music radio stations in French).

After 10 years, her star appeal is still going strong !

She is a Québeco-Ontaroise singer born in Varennes, Québec, but, who spent much of her growing up years in the town of Moonbeam in Northern Ontario (Ontarios is a more modern name for Franco-Ontarians)

Although Ontarois live throughout Ontario, the highest percentages live in Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, and Northern Ontario (where Moonbeam is located).  Moonbeam is one of a number of towns along Ontario’s Pan-Northern highway 11, where most towns on the highway have Francophone populations exceeding 70%.

Because of Marie-Mai’s success in the French-speaking world in general, she is a source of pride for French-Ontarians, and is part of a list of successful French-Ontarian personalities.  With over half a million Francophones in Ontario, it is the jurisdiction with the second largest French-speaking population in North America.  There are more Ontarios than the entire population of Newfoundland, and twice as many Ontarois as there are Acadians – one of the reasons why Ontario continues to be a source of successful Francophone pop-culture icons.

Like many Anglophone Canadian artists who leave Canada to find larger success in the US, many Ontarois singers leave Ontario for Québec for the same reasons.  The North American French pop-culture industry is highly concentrated in Montréal, just as it’s highly concentrated in Los Angeles for Anglophone North America.

English Canadian pop-culture has several reality singing and talent shows such as The Voice, Canada’s Got Talent, Canadian Idol, etc., and Quebec has a series of French language reality singing and talent shows.  The two main shows are La Voix, and Star Académie, both produced by TVA (one of the “big four” television networks in Québec).  Marie-Mai achieved cultural icon status after achieving 3rd place on Star Académie in 2004 at the age of 18.   The programme’s singers traditionally go on tour across Québec following the season finale of Star Académie, enhancing their celebrity status.

Marie-Mai’s first album was released in 2004.   Career highlights from 2004 until present:

  • she has constantly held top spots on Francophone radio countdown charts in Canada, and occasionally in France
  • she has achieved prizes for best music videos (ie: MusiquePlus, the Francophone equivalent of MuchMusic)
  • she has sung at the St-Jean-Baptiste festival, as well as Canada Day celebrations (which both tend to have amongst the largest annual television audiences in each respective language sphere)
  • she has sung at the Vancouver Olympics
  • she has held several concert tours
  • from 2008 to 2013 she won numerous “best” categories at the Prix Félix (the Quebec award which most closely resembles the Juno or Academy awards).
  • Her music has repeatedly gone both Gold and Platinum

For a taste of some of the songs which has made her a star, check out the following music videos:

  • Sans cri ni haine
  • Je repars (a duet with David Usher in French)
  • Jamais Ailleurs
  • Comme Avant
  • Emmène-moi
  • Encore une nuit
  • J’attendrai mon tour
  • Mentir
  • Rebatir notre histoire
  • C’est moi
  • heart attack
  • Jamais trop tard (a hit duet with with Jonas in French)

Also see if you can catch some of her interviews.  Her accent in French is from Northern Ontario (it’s as charming as both her personality and down-to-earth character – it’s easy to see how she has won the hearts of so many people).

Songs can be purchased on iTunes and other venues (artists are part of our cultural fabric – please do not pirate or illegally violate their work, music, or videos).

Bonne écoute !!

HARPER finally makes his début on Québec’s talk show variety TV! – Part 2 of 2 (#377)

This is the second in a two-part post.

If you want to skip the blah-blah-blah… scroll down straight to the video.

Yesterday, in post 1, I informed you that Prime Minister Harper was playing political “catch-up” in Québec against the other party leaders.

He could see how other leaders’ consistent appearances on Québec’s talk TV and TV variety circuit were serving them well.

It was helping to tear down the walls between the political beast and the the human face behind the political role, and obviously Harper’s political team said “We want some of that too!!”

With the Liberals rising in the poles in Québec (rather quickly, within just a matter of a week or two), and with only a fraction of the campaign left in which the Conservatives could try to stop the Liberal rise, Harper did what he has never done before (and what he has always resolved to never do)…

Last night he appeared on Salvail en mode, Québec’s equivalent of Jimmy Fallon.

Eric Salvail said the entire thing was organized within 24 hours at the request of the Prime Minister’s office (translation:  they felt they might actually lose the election, and desperate times call for desperate measures).

I got home last night just in time to watch it at 10pm.

Considering his level of French, I asked myself how the heck this interview was going to fly (Harper’s French level is similar to former Prime Minister Chrétien’s level of English, but perhaps a bit worse than Chrétien),

  • The crowd cheered his entry.
  • During the first few minutes, I thought he actually was doing quite well, and that he seemed relaxed while both the Éric Salvail and Harper joked with each other.
  • Salvail put him on the spot with some questions many of us wanted to know.  Salvail asked him what was going on in head as he made certain decisions regarding strategy and other topics reporters never have the opportunity to ask him (other reporters have to get straight to the point when they ask him questions because Harper never allows time for the “flowery and secondary” stuff).   But… thanks to this interview, we now we know that his hair is real and not a toupee, but that there is someone usually standing by to give him a fresh cut.
  • Then came the “sideline” questions.
    • At one point Salvail noted the announcement of one of Laureen Harper’s pregnancies was made in Québec.  Salvail asked Harper if that meant that Harper and Laureen had sex in Québec, and if his child was “Made in Québec”.  That’s when the awkwardness seemed to begin (at least for Harper).  I had the feeling it set the tone for the rest of the interview.
    • At another point in the interview, Harper said he was always at home in Québec.  Therefore Salvail pulled out a “Two Solitudes question” (HA!!!) and asked him if he knew who Marie-Mai is (she is Québec’s equivalent of Justin Bieber, and one of the best known people in Québec, especially for under 40s).  Harper didn’t seem to know who she was – and out came the editing job (the joys of pre-recording).  It was quite obvious they cut out follow-up questions (and continued awkwardness).
    • They threw in a few awkward photos of Harper and the Bonnehomme de carnival in strange positions.
    • They dragged out a photo of Harper from his first campaign when he was known as “Steve Harper”, and when he looked like he was a kid from the Adams family.
    • He was asked why he’s so frigid and won’t appear on camera, and they give him “loooong silence” which forced him to a longer answer.
    • He was told that he always says “erection” in French when he means to say “election”.  He was given the opportunity to show the world he can actually say the word “election” – and the crowd cheered and applauded when he said the word correctly.
    • He was asked if he would work better with Conservative-supporter Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto (who very publicly just gave Harper a very big dose of support), or Liberal support Denis Coderre (the very popular mayor of Montréal and former cabinet minister in the Chrétien government).  Well, can you say awkward?   But Harper’s answer was very good… He would only work with Denis Coderre because he only works with “current” mayors, but he said he currently has disagreements with Coderre.

Then came the monkey-show highlight of the evening:  Harper played the piano and sang for the audience, Québec, and all of French Canada, in both English and French.   I don’t know why it looked and felt strange, but it sure was different.  Yet Harper seemed in his element.

The final dig from the host was left to the very end.

Salvail said how great it was for Harper to finally appear on variety TV and to give Québec a live performance.  Salvail told Harper that it was because of such beautiful moments that Harper should not cut the culture budgets in Québec.   Harper, caught of guard, let out a laugh and shrugged it off with a brush of the hand.  (HA!!!)

All-in-all, I wish we saw more of these types of things from our politicians, and it is unfortunate that Harper never let his guard down like this in the past.

Yes Harper’s appearance felt awkward on more than one occasion in this interview, but…  yes he held his own and he navigated through it.  I thought the Prime Minister actually did OK.

Nothing incriminating came out of it, and I’m sure he would get better at these sorts of interviews and appearances if he were to have done them more frequently (all politicians do get better at these… unless you’re Sarah Palin of Jean Chrétien).

This interview will be front-page news and talk of the town all day today in Québec, and likely through the weekend, right up to Monday evening.   It is a thunder-stealer (that’s what people in political circles call “s-t-r-a-t-e-g-y”).

It will remain to be seen if having Harper’s “performance” front-and-centre in everyone’s mind’s (eclipsing last week’s platform talk on the part of the other leaders) will make a difference at voting time.

Who knows – it might.  The Liberal climb and the NDP drop-off in the polls were quite sudden, so there is no way to know what other sudden changes may occur.

But we will only know at erection… er… election time.

Here is the circus interview (click the image below):

Hpr.intvw

Oh, and one more thing…

If you were hoping that Harper would also dance, no fat chance.

He leaves that to his wife and Canada’s “first lady”, Laureen (filmed yesterday in Brampton, ON — It’s worth watching — I think it’s great)…

Isn’t campaign season awkward fun !?

MHarp.dnc

Web-user’s favorite Anglophone Québécois – Part A (#305)

I have focused very heavily on Québec’s Francophone nature in this blog.

But it is undeniable that Anglophones have always been major contributors to Québec’s overall fabric, and are as equally Québécois.  Québec would not be Québec without its Anglophone flare and evolution (as Québec’s society evolves).

You may recall I talked a little bit about Anglophone historical contributions to building Québec in the post “200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo: How it shaped Québec and Canada (#289)”  

In this post and the next, we will look at people who internet-users have voted as their favorite Anglophone Québécois (via Rankopedia).

You will notice that some people on this list are less contemporary than others.  I assume that many of the voters come from all age-brackets, and thus voted for personalities who used to be quite famous, but perhaps are not so well-known to younger people.  Regardless, this is still a great list!! (After all, every society is the sum of its past, as much as its present).

I’ll also provide you with some videos links of well-known Anglophone Québécois who also sing in French (near the bottom).

One thing you may have noticed is that I have used the word “Québécois” to describe Anglophones in Québec (rather than the term “Quebeckers”).  More and more Anglophones in Québec are choosing to use the word “Québécois to describe themselves.  They use it as an “all-inclusive” term for anyone from Québec and who has Québec’s society as a whole at heart.

(You may recall that I wrote a blog post in FRENCH, in which I explained some of the nuances between various  Anglophone “residents” of Québec:  Une pub forte intéressante “pro-français” à la télé en Saskatchewan, qui passe à l’écran aux heures de grande écoute (#207)).  I described how many Anglophone Québécois feel quite integrated into Québec’s Francophone fabric, and I also accounted for the nuances ahd circumstances of others who may not fit such a mould (a touchy subject, but one which I tried to tactfully take on nonetheless).

This change in semantics is a major shift from the 1980s and 1990s, when it seemed that the word “Québecker” was used for Anglophones and “Québécois” for Francophones.  It is a wall which appears to be falling.

I think it’s a good sign of progress when the semantics of demarcation start to fall.   It’s evidence that the Two Solitudes are being bridged.

Here is the first list in a two-part post of voter’s favorite ANGLOPHONE Québécois:

1.  William Shatner
  • Actor (from Montréal)
  • “Capitain Kirk” on Star Trek, with many other acting, activism, and musical roles
2.  Leonard Cohen
  • Singer Songwriter (from Montréal)
  • One of Canada’s more successful singers.
3.  Glenn Ford
  • Actor (Raised in Sainte-Christine-d’Auvergne, half way between Quebec City & Trois-Rivières).
  • Born in Québec City (when there used to be a much larger Anglophone population in the region).
  • Named after his father’s hometown, Glenford, in Alberta (wink, wink – Go Oilers!!!).
  • 50 year career in Hollywood’s golden era (first half of 1900s), as well as post-war era through to the 1970s.
  • One of Canada’s first major international movie actors.
4.  Elisha Cuthbert
  • Actress (Grew up in Montréal, although she was born in Calgary, Alberta – Go Flames Oilers!!!).
  • Perhaps not so well known to Francophones as she is to Anglophones (I’m guessing people who voted for her were mostly Anglophones).
  • Known to people under 25 and other younger adults for her performances in kids shows, Hollywood films and US TV programs geared towards young adults.
5.  Emmanuelle Chriqui
  • Actress (Born in Montréal.  Raised in Toronto area).
  • Main actress in numerous Hollywood box office films.
6.  Christopher Plummer
  • Actor (Born Toronto, raised in Montréal).
  • If you’re an Anglophone Canadian or an American, I don’t think I need to describe Christopher Plummer.  But I asked a couple of Francophones, and they were not sure who he was (that ‘ole 2-way door of the Two Solitudes… works in both directions).   It is kind of strange because Plummer is bilingual, and I believe he has done stage performances in French.
  • One of Hollywood’s most successful film actors, stage actors and Broadway actors of the past 50 years.  Think of a major acting award (in Canada, the UK, or the US), and he has won it.
7.  Scotty Bowman
  • NHL Hockey Coach (from Montréal)
  • Has coached numerous NHL teams to five Stanley Cup wins.
  • He has been coach of the Montréal Canadiens, Baffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, as well as Team Canada (Go Oilers!!… ok, ok… no affiliation – I just wanted to get in another Go Oilers!!).
8.  Mike Bossy
  • Hockey Player (Born & raised in Montréal)
  • Was a major factor for the NY Islander’s 4-year Stanley Cup winning streak in the early 1980s (for two of which he scored the winning goals as forward).
  • The NHL’s 3rd highest goal average, and the NHL’s only 50 goals / 50 games record.
9.  David Usher
  • Rock Musician (Actually, a number of places can claim him, but he calls Montréal as his home town.)
  • Was top-of-the-charts a few years ago.
  • Although he’s Anglophone, he sings in both French and English.  In fact one of his better known French songs was his hit duet with the Franco-Ontarien singing star, Marie-Mai (Marie-Mai’s status is sort of Canada’s and Québec French equivalent of Justin Bieber… but without the “issues”).
  • If you only know him for his ENGLISH songs but haven’t heard him sing in FRENCH, here’s your chance:

10.  Corey Hart
  • Pop Musician (Born in Montréal and still lives there).
  • One of Anglophone Canada’s most popular pop singers of the 1980s.
  • Married to the very famous and popular Québécoise singer, Julie Masse
  • Sings in both French and English, and thus is known to both Francophones and Anglophones.
  • If you only know him in English, here is one of his French hits from a few years ago in which he sings a duet with his wife:

  • Here is an excerpt on his family life in Montréal (he has a very French/English balanced lifestyle)

That sums up the top 10 most popular ANGLOPHONE Québécois, as voted by web-users.

The next post will introduce you to the next 10 ANGLOPHONE Québécois, as voted by internet users.

——————————————————————————–

SERIES:  WEB-USERS’ VARIOUS QUÉBEC CULTURAL RANKINGS (11 POSTS)

You are going to know a hell of a lot more about Québec after this series of posts

Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 14th and 15th positions [post 8 of 11] (#263)

This post continues our little journey of looking at Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals.

What’s interesting about the two people in this post is that one is a very famous elected official, and the other is very famous, but is not elected — although she acts as if she is.   This may be the most “controversial” post out of all the posts in the little series on the most trusted individuals in Québec.

#14  Régis Lebaume –

I previously wrote a post about Québec’s two best known mayors; Denis Coderre (Montréal), and Régis Lebaume (Québec City).   You can read the post by clicking here:  The Duo “Coderre – Lebeaume” (#175)

The post on the famous “duo” sums up why the mayor of Québec City, Régis Lebaume, is so well liked, both as an individual and as a mayor.   But as with anything, there are many nuances (lately he has come under fire for his support of certain private sector initiatives… and some are wondering if we are beginning to see the end of his honeymoon).   But I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of all the little nuances.  I’ll simply try to concentrate on why I believe he was named one of Québec’s most trusted individuals.

To understand things in context, Québec City has gone through more than 25 years of very interesting politics.  For 16 years of the past 26 years, the mayoral seat was held by the former mayor Jean-Paul L’Allier.   Of course, there are real reasons why he was re-elected numerous times.   But as with anyone who is in politics for a long time, L’Allier was fast approaching his “expiration date” in the mind of voters.   He had the political prowess to know how to read the tea-leaves, and he decided to not seek re-election.    His successor was extremely popular as a “regional” mayor in Ste-Foy:  Andrée P. Boucher.   But unfortunately she passed away only two years into her mandate in 2007.  It left a huge hole in Québec City politics.

That hole was soon filled by Régis Lebaume.  He came with a background and personality that many big cities could only dream of having in their mayor:

  • He was a successful businessman
  • He talked like the average person in the street, and not like a politician (he didn’t have la langue de bois, as we say in French)
  • He didn’t talk “down” to people
  • He sought consensus (well… at least more than we see with other mayors),
  • He was more than willing to work with anyone who was also willing to work with him (regardless of their political stripes),
  • He has “star-power”… in the sense that the talk shows and tabloids can’t get enough of him (you would think he’s a pop-culture star as much as a popular politician),
  • He has not made many “bad” decisions (perhaps he’s being “tried” as of late, and he’s being qustioned on certain decisions more now than in the past – but up until quite recently, he has done quite well)
  • He has usually conveyed a message which makes many believe he truly cares about the welfare of his electorate.

I believe it’s a combination of all of the above which gives him a ranking in this year’s list of the most trusted people in Québec.   What will be interesting will be to see where (or if ) he places in next year’s poll of the Québec’s most trusted personalities.

#15  Julie Snyder –

Oh boy, Julie Snyder

If I were writing this post only two years ago, it would be completely differentJulie Snyder has undergone a dramatic public transformation, all within less than two years.

I previously wrote a post on her, which you can read by clicking here:  Julie Snyder (#9)

A little preamble (before I get into what is going on with Ms. Snyder)

She went from becoming one of the most popular, well-known, pop-culture icons in Québec (perhaps on par with what Angelina Jolie would be to Americans), to being one of the most politically divisive individuals – not only in Québec, but in all of Canada… period.

Whenever someone is labelled as being “divisive” , that means they “divide” the population.  There are those who “like” her, and there are those who probably can’t stand the smell of her.  At this point in time, I truly do not known what the proportions would be:  40/60%?  60/40%?  30/70%?  70/30%?  50/50%?   Truly, I have no idea.   But if I were pushed to hazard a guess, I would guess that somewhere around 40% of the population either truly likes her or dislikes her – simply based on the actions of her recent “political activism”.   But I truly wouldn’t know on which side of the fence that 40% would fall (I don’t know that anybody would — and I have yet to see any official polls in this regard).

With that being said, there is obviously a large enough percentage of the population who likes her — enough that she places #15 on the list of the most trusted people in Québec.

But… (and there is always a “but”), you will note that Julie Snyder ranks 5 full positions lower than her sworn enemy, Philippe Couillard.  I believe that says a lot – to the point that public opinion may be turning against her.

So what’s the beef?

Julie Snyder has been a TV star from the 1990s, until the present (I, like millions of others, sort of grew up, or spent a big chunk of my life watching her on numerous television shows).  A good number of years ago, she started her own production company, and she became the romantic partner of Québec’s media mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau, AKA “PKP” (who owns 40% of Québec’s television and radio press).   When Snyder became romantically involved with PKP, it was a natural thing that her entertainment production company’s near-exclusive client was PKP’s Québecor owned TVA television network.

So far, so good…

Snyder did a marvelous job of creating top hit television programs for TVA.  Some of the biggest viewership numbers in Montréwood and Canadian history followed (her shows regularly draw in millions of viewers per episode).  Star Académie, La Voix, and Le Banquier were instant hits.  She also embarked on other projects, including promotional works with her « best friend », Céline Dion. 

All of this propelled Snyder from being a “regular” celebrity household name to being Québec’s “superstar” – with perhaps only Céline Dion who could eclipse her stardom.

And then came the politics…

Julie Snyder began to engage in political activism a few years ago.  However she did not put a partisan label on her activism at that point.   The following is a good example.  She appeared as a witness before a provincial parliamentary commission, in which she attempted to put the “then” health minister, Philippe Couillard, in his place for not providing better access to invetro fertilization.

But then came the party politics… and in no small way, either.

To the surprise of many (and to absolute elation of others), Julie Snyder appeared on stage at a Parti Québécois election rally in August 2012, in support of the PQ and of Québec independence.

In the eyes of many in the public, everyone’s favorite celebrity lost her aura of innocence and jumped off the pedestal so many had placed her on in their minds.  It was a huge kick to the gut for a good chunk of people.  But on the flip side, others rejoiced.

Twas the birth of a brand new, yet extremely “divisive” Julie Snyder; born and rebapatised before everyone’s eyes.   And boy, was it the start of a saga!

That same year, Snyder became heavily involved in street-level protests against the Liberal government.  She advocated for the Parti Québécois’ extremely controversial and divisive Charte des valeurs (proposed legislation telling immigrants how to behave and how not to practice their religion in certain public environments).  Snyder not only divided the public’s opinion about her as a person, but she also helped to divide Québec’s population on issues of fundamental importance to Québec’s overall society.   This was no laughing matter which we simply see in a television entertainment program.  This was now real life.

And if you think it couldn’t get any more controversial…

Fast forward to January, 2014.  Julie Snyder and PKP announced their breakup.   The mystique of the fairy-tale life seemed to be in the balance.   But lo and behold, soon after their break-up, in March 2014, the presumably newly single PKP appeared in front of a microphone with the then PQ leader, Pauline Marois.  With his fist in the air, PKP proclaimed he was running for office to “make Québec a country!”.

But wait a second… what about Julie?  Was this not “her” dream?

Well, then came be bombshell.  Let me say upfront that celebrity stardome and politics do not necessarily make the best mix.  But, regardless, soon after PKP announced his plan to free Québec from the “tyranny” of Canada (which I say sarcastically), Snyder and PKP quickly reconciled and announced their engagement — Boy that didn’t take long!.

(And back to that little quip about “tyranny”… I figure I’m just as much the face of Canada and the average Canadian as the rest of them… so if I’m considered to be the typical representation of the Dark Lord of Tyranny… then God help us all!!  The world might as well end now.)

It left people asking one of two questions:  (1) Did Snyder & PKP reconcile as a result of PKP pursuing their mutual dream of independence?  or (2) did they reconcile because PKP was pursuing “Julie’s dream” so as to convince her to reconcile?   We may never know.

“Officially”, they both stated that they knew they realized they were meant to reconcile when they both flew off to Scotland to be first-hand witnesses to Scotland’s birth as a nation on referendum night (that little bit didn’t go so well for them).

But what struck me when the media (and PKP) reported this as their “official” reason for reconciliation was that fact there was no mention of their children (seriously… you would think that “children” would be the publicly stated reason for reconcilation… not a new-found ultra-nationalist kinship with Scotland!! wouldn’t you?).  I guess it brings me back to my two previous questions… Did they only get back together to achieve Québec independence or for PKP to woo Julie by persuing “her” dream?  Boy, what I wouldn’t have given to have been a fly on the wall during their reconciliation pillow talk (with my eyes closed, of course).

So how’s that working out for Julie?

Let’s just say it has been quite an interesting year for Julie Snyder, for her relationship with the public, and for the Parti Québécois’ overall relationship with Québec and even its own members.

In the one year since Snyder and PKP reconciled in May 2014, PKP entered the PQ leadership race (which he will win in a few days — Today is May 11th, 2015).

A number of political commentators and columnists allege that it is Julie Snyder who is truly calling the shots behind the scene.  They allege that Snyder is metaphorically ever present, just behind the stage curtain, always pushing PKP out onto stage and into the spotlight.

We may never know if this is true or not, but it has not stopped the speculation – which seems to only be increasing with time.

But much of the increasing speculation stems from Snyder’s increased vocal, and very public activism against anyone or anything who is not “nice” to her husband, and his political aspirations.   For example, she has come out and publicly attacked the leader of the third party in the National assembly (François Legault), the Liberal minister of health (Gaetan Barette), and political columnists (Joanne Marcotte).

Her perceived media “soft-power” has caught the ire of a good chunk of Québec’s political circles who are facing off with the PQ.   The reason:  Snyder’s entertainment productions come into more contact with more of Québec’s people than any other mass media channels.  She has the ability to form a message, chose the delivery method of the message, and then execute that message so that more people in Québec hear her message than anyone else’s.  Her opponents are crying foul.

Seriously, it is not just anybody who would be allowed to randomly jump on stage during the concert of one of the largest pop-music icons (the Franco-Ontarienne singer, Marie-Mai – who was discovered by Snyder).  Snyder’s sway and reach in the pop-culture world is unlike anything we have ever, ever seen before.

To add to the soft evidence of Snyder’s “media power interference”, just before the PQ’s vote to crown PKP as their new leader, Snyder went and collected 101 signatures from some of the best known names in the artistic and entertainment industry.  The signatures were to “acknowledge”, in writing for the world to see, PKP’s contributions to Québec’s culture (and presumably to be used to boost PKP‘s chances of securing the PQ leadership, and shoring up his votes).

What was very “interesting” about this list was that some of the names (actually, more than just a few) are known federalists.   Yet, these same people may depend on the PKP owned TVA television network, and perhaps Snyder’s own production company for some of their bread and butter.  It left many wondering if there was a dose of unethical backroom arm-twisting to acquire the signatures.   (A number of people have pointed out that what is even more intriguing is that some of Julie’s closest friend’s names do not appear on this list – such as Céline Dion.  These are not people dependent upon TVA.  And if they’re not willing to support their best friend Julie Snyder, then are we starting to see the very first signs of chinks in Snyder’s armour??)

As an asideI want to give you an example of how much this can all get out of hand — and especially just how wide of a net this situation can inadvertently cast.  When I started this blog, I swore I would never do a post on Celine Dion.  I wasn’t going to touch her (there was just no need – everyone knows all about her).  But we’re possibly starting to see the sort of damage which Snyder’s political aspirations can have for others around her.   I’ll explain…

Québec’s Montréwood artistic, entertainment and celebrity industry leans heavily towards an ultra-progressive version of sovereignty.  If I had to hazard a guess (and I have no numbers to back this up), I would guess it is an industry which is perhaps is 75% – 80% sovereignist  (there are exceptions of course, such as Gilbert Rozon, the owner of Juste pour rire, but there are not all that many like him… and most keep quiet to keep the peace with their sovereignist peers).  I understand it.  Picture it… imagine you’re a celebrity in Québec, and people fall all over you for autographs, photos and just to be in your “aura” the moment you step out your door.  Then picture that you drive 45 minutes from downtown Montréal to the Ontario border, you stop in the first town in Ontario (Cornwall), and nobody (who is anglophone at any rate) – has any idea who you are.  You fly on Air Canada across the country, and the flight attendants, passengers, and public have absolutely no idea there’s anything special about you or your achievements.  Heck… many can’t even speak to you in your language.   Would you feel you’re still in your “country”?  Welcome once again to the world of the Two Solitudes.

Celine Dion is a huge superstar and is best friends with Julie Snyder’s.  She has never talked publicly about her political affirmations.  I’ve heard high-profile celebrities say she is federalist, but I have no idea… and I’ve heard some high profile people say René Angélil is federalist, whereas others say he’s sovereignist.   Regardless, Céline and René never ever talk about it publicly, and they have avoided politicizing themselves at all costs (they would alienate a huge portion of their fan-base and peers, one way or the other).  This is an extremely difficult act to pull off considering the entertainment milieu in which they find themselves on a day-to-day basis.

The only time in my entire life I have ever seen Céline Dion be politicized was waaaaay back in 1990.  At that time, she was making the transition to singing more and more songs in English.   Québec’s “sovereignist” music industry did not like this one bit.  The ADISQ awards (the Montréwood version of the Grammy’s and Juno’s) created a “separate” category just for Céline, and awarded her the best “Anglophone” singer award.   Céline was less than impressed.   Actually, she was pissed!  When her name was called out during the awards ceremony, the look she gave René Anglil said it all.   She marched up to the stage.  Live, in front of hundreds of thousands of people (perhaps millions of people), she gave the ADISQ organizers a tongue lashing, she sternly affirmed she is not Anglophone, she refused the prize, and she marched off the stage.   NOBODY has EVER tried to politicize Céline again.  Below is the video.  They all “got taught” — until now.  

BUT, for the very first time since 1990, people are now dragging Céline Dion into this whole Julie Snyder rigmarole.  Columnists are openly pointing out that Céline’s name does not appear anywhere on Julie’s list of 101 people artists who support PKP.  They are pointing out that Céline is not getting involved in Julie’s initiatives, and that Céline is not publicly standing beside her best friend.   I’m am sure this is not the sort of coverage Céline wants.  She has worked her entire life to avoid getting caught up in divisive politics… as have 90% of Québec’s arts and entertainment scene (regardless of their political affirmations).

This whole Julie Snyder affair seems to be “forcing” politics down the throat of Montréwood.  I can’t help but wonder (1) if this will some day backfire in the most grandiose way against Snyder, and by extention, against PKP? or (2) if this will somehow play right into the hands and the ultimate goal of the Snyder-PKP duo?   This is uncharted territory, we have NEVER ever seen anything like this before in Québec or Canada.  The stakes are large (the stakes of an entire country).

The Liberal government in Québec City appears to want to formulate legislation to force PKP and Snyder to divest themselves of their media empire (to forbid party leaders and their “immediate” family members from owning shares in media companies).   The also are talking about revoking tax credits for production companies (ie: Julie Snyder’s company) if they provide services only to one main client, rather than to a diversity of companies.  The PKP-Snyder duo are fighting back – and the PQ is taking up their cause.

The Liberal government (and the CAQ opposition party) argument is that when the PQ was in power several years ago, the PQ forced David Whissell, a liberal member of the National Assembly, to resign because of shares he owned in a company which gave the appearance of a conflict of interest.   Thus, the Liberals and CAQ are arguing “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.

You can imagine how well this is going over with Julie Snyder.  She came out in the media (“her & hubby’s” media, of course) alleging there is a witch hunt with her name on the “most wanted” poster.

So with all of this going on, why then is Julie Snyder ranked the #15 most trusted person in Québec?

Gee, I’m glad you asked.   Like I said earlier, there is a portion of Québec’s population who agrees with Snyder’s politics and her end goals.   There is a portion of Québec who has grown up watching her on television – and who, after all these years, likely feels they know her as a person.  Media stars become “stars” because they forge a special bond in the hearts and minds of their fans.  These people (both political supporters and die-hard fans alike) probably would list Julie Snyder as one of the people they trust the most.   Hence, we see her on this list.

But as I also mentioned earlier, her main political foe, the (very) Federalist Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, ranked five places higher than Julie Snyder in the same poll.   I believe that in itself speaks volumes.  Are we witnessing the fading of Snyder’s star?

This coming year will be quite interesting.  There are many things up in the air – and I would not even hazard to guess where she will be on the next years’ list (Higher? Lower? Even on the list?).   Stay tuned on this one, and keep watching.

After all, everyone else in Québec is following this one too.

The next post will look at the “husband of the the other” (I’ll explain the expression in the next post), and someone who makes fun of them all.

Note:  All videos are streamed from YouTube channels

Today’s Top Hit French Music Countdown (#238)

I’ve fallen behind by a few days with new posts, but I’ll see if I can get back on track now that my week has settled.

Here are the latest top-charters trending in French today across Québec and in French across Canada.   You won’t able to go anywhere in Québec without hearing these songs in some way or another.

It’s a great place to start your search if you’re looking for fresh music for your iPod or MP3.

Many of the artists below have official websites and YouTube channels for their songs & music videos.

You can hear free snippets of each song by clicking on the radio links below.

From Radio NRJ 93,4 FM – Montréal: 

  • # 1 – Sally Folk – “Les heures de visite”
  • # 2 – Jean Leloup – “Paradis City”
  • # 3 – Claude Bégin – “Avant de disparaître
  • # 4 – Ariane Moffatt – “Debout”
  • # 5 – Louis-Jean Cormier – “Si tu reviens”
  • # 6 – Jean Leloup – “Willie”
  • # 7 – Vincent Vallières – “Mélie”
  • # 8 – Les B.B. – “Snob (feat. Jean-Marc Couture)”
  • # 9 – Marc Dupré – “Là dans ma tête”
  • #10 – Alex Nevsky – “Fanny”

From Radio CKOI 96,9 FM – Montréal :

  • # 1 – Ariane Moffatt – “Debout”
  • # 2 – Sally Folk – “Les heures de visite”
  • # 3 – Sens – “Ce soir
  • # 4 – Jean Leloup – “Willie”
  • # 5 – Jean Leloup – “Paradis City”
  • # 6 – Avant de disparaître – “Avant de disparaître”
  • # 7 – Marie-Mai – “À bout portant”
  • # 8 – Nico & Vinz – “In Your Arms”
  • # 9 – Simon Boudreau – “La trotteuse”
  • #10 – Final State –  You & I Are All The Same” (French Version)

From Rouge FM, 107,3 – Montréal:

  • # 1 – Marc Dupré – “Là dans ma tête”
  • # 2 – Marie-Eve Janvier & Jean-François Breau –  Tu deviendras”
  • # 3 – Ariane Moffatt –  Debout”
  • # 4 – Marie-Pierre Arthur – “Rien à faire”
  • # 5 – Etienne Drapeau –  Marie-moi”
  • # 6 – Marie-Eve Janvier & Jean-François Breau – “Tu deviendras”
  • # 7 – Nicola Ciccone – “Comme au tout premier jour”
  • # 8 – Dominique Hudson – “Comme d’habitude”
  • # 9 – Jérôme Couture – “Pardonnez-moi”
  • #10 – Sally Folk – “Les heures de visite”

The above music is available for purchase through various online platforms.

When searching for online music or videos, please stick to official websites and do not pirate.  Our artists are part of our cultural fabric.

Bonne écoute!