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Maurais Live (#49)

In an earlier post, “Québec Talk Radio – Who’s talking about what?”, we briefly looked at some of the more popular Francophone talk-radio stations & networks (all of which can be listened to through live streaming).   Two of the stations were the private network RNC’s Radio 9 Montréal, and CHOI-Radio X Québec (City).

Maurais Live is a Québec City based talk show which airs on both of the above stations, and is one of the most listened to talk radio shows in Eastern Québec and consequently on of the most listened to radio programs in all of Québec.  The show’s host is Dominic Maurais.

In general, it’s sometimes difficult (and touchy) to try to pin a precise political label on any one program owing to the fact that there are sometimes multiple, complex factors and measurements which can lead to nuanced conclusions.  However, for the purpose of context and understanding, I would say Maurais live, in terms of the broad Canadian political spectrum, can be classified as centre-right, generally not hostile to (yet constructively critical of) Federalism/Ottawa and generally critical of the direction Québec’s sovereignist movement has taken.  The program may find its greatest appeal with both Red-Tories, or Blue Liberals at the federal level, or CAQistes / Adéquistes / and centre-right-of-centre Liberals and Blue-Péquistes at the provincial level (Confused yet?)

Anglophones outside of Québec often tend to view Québec as one monolithic political bloc.  However, the reality is actually quite the contrary.  The Québec City region often votes very differently than Montréal, and rural regions will often vote differently than urban regions (with variances between those rural regions, depending on where they are).  Québec City and regions close to it (including the La Beauce, and Saguenay a little further out) comprise Québec’s “base” for Conservative Party votes & MPs, CAQ (and former ADQ) votes, as well as a good chunk of right-of-centre Liberal supporters (which is in stark contrast to Montreal which votes Liberal-left, Liberal-centre, left-of-centre NDP, far left Québec solidaire, and Parti Québécois in la Couronne [suburbs]).   Québec City is also less union oriented, whereas Montréal is more pro-union (think Windsor vs Toronto), less green/ecolo vs Montréal which is more green/ecolo (think Vancouver proper vs Calgary).

Again, in general terms, the overall political tendencies, opinions and views of Québec City and surrounding regions are very similar to those of BC (outside of the Lower Mainland), Northern Alberta (Red Deer North, including Edmonton), Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Northern Ontario (that’s already a pretty big chunk of Canada).   Québec City’s economy also closely resembles the economies of these same areas (less Northern Alberta’s oil).  It has similar low unemployment rates (they’re hovering around a 4-5% Canadian unemployment rate, which equates to 2.5-3% US unemployment), vibrant agricultural and forestry sectors, high service sector concentrations, with strong employment infrastructure in the government, university, and health service sectors — all with similar demographic drivers.  It’s a very different economic picture than other regions of Québec.

Sovereignty support in the Québec City region (not a simple subject to sum-up in one paragraph, but lets give it a shot … …) is not as overt, nor does it surface here as much as it can periodically in other regions of Québec.   Those sovereignists the region does have are generally considered to be “soft” supporters (des souverainistes mous) .  It’s a region where people will often say they’re not necessarily sovereignists, but they’re not necessarily federalists either (still confused?). It comes down to a lot of factors.  Generally it’s a question of sentiment.  People in this regions often feel the sovereignty movement does not provide a picture-perfect future, but yet Federalist camps haven’t exactly come home with a bag full of the freshest produce either (it’s kind of like hearing so many Anglophones elsewhere in Canada saying they “just don’t know who to vote for”… now is the ambiguity becoming clearer?).

Elsewhere in Québec, the sovereignist vote is driven on strong emotion (especially amongst the legacy Quiet Revolution generation, as well as those supporting left-wing politics), but that emotion is tempered to a large degree in the Québec City Region.  This tempered emotion, combined with more right-of-centre political tendencies make it so sovereignty has become more of an economic issue in the Québec City region than elswhere (and it has remained as such for much of the last 20 years).   With having to court such a diverse province-wide electorate, you can begin to see the headaches the PQ is having with rallying such a sporadic electorate to their cause (which has lead to the current collapse of votes for an organized sovereignist movement).   That’s not to say the movement is permanently dead, but there are a lot of things up in the air.

35 years ago, Yvon Deschamps, one of Québec’s best known figures and living symbols of the Quiet Revolution – and quite possibly the father of Québec comedy and all the spin-offs which have shaped Québec’s pop-culture today – said “Ce que les québécois veulent, c’est un Québec indépendant dans un Canada fort” (“What Québécois desire is an independent Québec in a strong Canada”).   His statement was full of irony – but strikes a chord on so many levels.  Québec’s politics and economics have followed along this trajectory for generations.    Many have decided, for them personally, that it means they can be proud Québécois and proud Canadians.  Others feel proud to be Québecois without the Canadian connection, others struggle with the issues, and yet others are simply apathetic (owing to many different factors).

Wheat this means, is that right now (as in generations past), there remains a large, drifting electorate to be courted by all parties of the political spectrum (federally and provincially), but which all parties are finding difficult to court as one coherent collective block (for politicians, Québec probably would be so much easier to court to if it were divided into two, or even three provinces — reflecting various regional political differences) .  Throw in a deficit that many feel is wildly out of control and in need of rapid remedy (a view that also has opponents who believe the deficit is not so dire, and does not need measures of austerity [or rigeur as some may say]), and you have political dynamics which become extremely complicated.   Then add the Federal Conservative equation to the mix, which has a social side that does not resonate with much of Québec, and politics become a big tangled ball of twine.  (When Québec votes “Blue”, which they do – CAQ, ADQ, right-PQ-elements, right-Liberal-elements, a few conservatives — those same people still place a lot of importance on certain aspects of a “Red” agenda — hence why Québec City and other regions have a “Red” Tory streak, but not so much for the current Conservatives).  After the Liberal collapse of the Chretien/Martin years, the Conservatives seem to have adopted a “don’t bring ‘it’ up” standpoint with anything regarding constitutional discussions, and an “ignore-it-to-death” approach to sovereignty.  Such an approach may have actually had an effect on sovereignty (it eliminated the Federal government as a “meddling” common target for sovereignists, leaving a parceled sovereignist base of competing factions and views which semi-imploded from in-fighting in front of the public – which has left the electorate less-than-impressed with any organized sovereignty movements).  But the “ignore-it-to-death” and “don’t bring ‘it’ up” policy of the Conservatives has also had the negative consequence of leaving many Québécois feeling out of touch with, and semi-abandoned/neglected by Ottawa.  For many Québecois who have little contact with the Rest-of-Canada (and there are many owing to Québec’s media which routinely neglects to afford the ROC comprehensive coverage), Ottawa is the only face they have with which to relate to Canada  – hence a feeling of “detachment” from Canada. But yet these same people also have a “detachment” from sovereignty.   We’re starting to see both the federalists parties and sovereignist parties trying to gain political traction, and trying to capitalize on these feelings of “detachments” with each other’s camps.  Both sides are thus trying to woo these “lost voters” (to fill the vacuum, if you will).  Although there is a stable provincial Liberal majority government in power, certain individuals in Québec politics are already making their counter moves (it will be interesting to see how things play out now that the PQ is planning one of the longest party leadership races in Canadian history, with a new leader to be selected in May 2015).   The economy of course is something everyone wants the government to pay attention to (federally and provincially), but in Québec, as much as the economy is an issue just like anywhere else in Canada, there are always these other issues as well.

As you can see, trying to objectively sum up “current” Québec politics in the most general of terms, all in one paragraph, is not an easy task, with no single correct explanation (don’t shoot me in the comments section).

If you’d like to get a better handle on the nuances of Québec politics and societal views, Maurais Live could be a really good radio program for Anglophone Canadians.  It looks at issues from the same political standpoint to which a large part of Canada adheres (which would provide many Anglophones with common a base reference point when listening to topics being discussed).

The show’s host, Dominic Maurais, is one of the few Francophone talk show celebrities who is also very familiar with Anglophone Canada (he graduated from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and lived in Toronto for a while).   He therefore can bring a larger perspective to many issues and can play devil’s advocate or give a voice to those without one when necessary.

His show (along with the RCN radio network’s other shows) deals an awful lot with the political and economic direction Québec is taking (as well as Canada’s), and he has a line of regular commentators and guest from all colours of the political and economic spectrum.   Although he himself is based out of RCN’s Québec City studios, the fact that he broadcasts on Montréal’s Radio 9, makes it so topics are of interest to the entire province.   Because of the Montréal / Québec City Left-Right political divide (mentioned above), the show can often be a flash-point of sparks.   It’s really a great way to understand the extremely complex political dynamics being played out in Québec.

Maurais has a regular column in Le Journal de Québec, is a guest columnist in some of the largest Montréal newspapers, and is a regular panelist on political talk-TV (especially the TVA / LCN networks).   Because of his presence, he is one of the best known and respected radio-show hosts in Québec.

If your French is not perfect, well…, it will improve by listening to Maurais live (give it a shot for a month… you only learn by trying).  The regular use of Joual  may throw many beginners, but you’ll have to learn to develop an ear for it anyway if you really want to understand the issues, so this might just be the right show.

Radio X has done an excellent job with their website.  The show is broadcast daily for two hours each day.  Shows are available online for one week (Friday’s show is related to music and light topics, no politics or economics), and each archived show online is divided into topics discussed (you can therefore browse what you wish to listen to).

Their APP is excellent for iPads and iPhones (you can turn the screen off, and it continues to play, saving your battery).

The shows website can be accessed at the link HERE.

Bonne écoute, et bonne chance de vous démêler dans toute cette grande boule de ficelle! (mais en fin de compte, c’est pas si compliqué que ça).


ADDENDUM 2015-01-24

Maurais Live is no longer syndicated on Montreal Radio 9.  However it remains on Radio X, and Maurais remains the most popular and listened to radio host in Québec city and the province’s Eastern half.

Political & Society Related Posts

A word of warning:  Brace yourself… because boy, do I have some opinions!
Je vous mets en garde, alors soyez avertis, car oui mes chums, j’en ai des opinions, moi.  Attachez bien vos tuques avec d’la broche !!
In and of itself, this blog is not political.  But that does not mean that I shy away from certain topics of a political nature from time-to-time.  You’ll notice below that the odd time I “let’r rip!”

Major Canadian parties

pty.pstns

Note in the above chart that:

1.  The Alberta New Democrats are further to the right than the Federal New Democrats (The issues are different at a provincial level, which requires different positions.  Western Canadian political commentators regularly point out that Alberta NDP positions are very similar to British Columbia Liberal positions).

2.  The Alberta PC (a) was not as far to the right as the Federal Conservatives and that (b) there is much overlap with the Alberta Liberals (one of the reasons why the Alberta Liberals could not get a foothold during the last Alberta elections — which opened the door widely for the Alberta NDP).

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pty.pstns.qc

[Montreal Gazette] Dan Delmar: Why sovereignty withered under Stephen Harper (#381)

One week after the Federal election: The aftermath in Québec’s context (#380)

  • An autopsy of the 2015 Federal election with the view from Québec and where things stand moving forward.

Qu’est ce qui est arrivé durant les quelques années suivant l’arrivée des Britanniques au Québec? (#379)

  • Pas ce que tout le monde en pense.

Funny what gets dragged from the attic when politics get involved (#369)

  • This posts highlights the importance of not skipping out on historical events when one wishes to bring up history to explain the present.

How you know you’re doomed on election day (kidding… well, kinda) (#368)

  • Why I endorse the fact that Canadians, who have resided abroad for 5+ years, should not be allowed to vote.
  • At least the reasons are one other factoid which seems to transcend the Two Solitudes.

A well-made BBC video questioning if Québec is able to integrate the Anglophone immigrants it “needs” (#363)

  • A well made video by the BBC, which presents an fresh unbiased angle on the topic from an outside point of view.

The Two Solitudes come to the fore after the French-language election debate (#361)

Our numerous Federal politicians’ French-language train wreck (#360)

  • How good French-language skills (or lack thereof) can make it or break it for Federal politicians.

CBC and the two solitudes (#359)

  • A classic case which shows how the right hand (English) doesn’t know what the left hand (French) is doing, and how, politically, it can lead straight to straight to… nowhere.

Article of interest: French new wave: A cultural shift for Toronto as ‘invisible francophones’ settle in [Globe & Mail] (#356)

  • A Globe & Mail article on the rapid and sizable growth in the number of Francophone schools across Toronto.  One more positive sign on how things are evolving on the French-front across Canada.

The push from Montréal to found the West (#347)

  • A societal post on how the founding of the West, and subsequent “building” of the West (into the early 1900s) was largely driven by hopes and dream from Montréal.  It’s a major part of history which binds the West with the East (and more specifically, Montréal).

Immigration et certaines prises de position des associations francophones hors Québec (#342)

  • Ma critique envers les organismes nationaux francophones hors Québec, et leur manière de traiter des questions relatives à l’immigration hors Québec.

Philippe Couillard’s “premptive” damage control positioning and constitutional preps (#334)

  • How Premier Philippe Couillard is beginning to position himself in a constitutional and referendum showdown with PKP-Snyder.

Poll: How certain celebrities may vote (#332)

Two “mystery forts” tied to Québec’s role in founding Alberta and Western Canada (#330)

  • A bit of history which is not necessarily taught in Eastern Canada (but which students in Western Canada learn)

Louis-Jean Cormier – one of a few political rarites (#317)

  • A lesson on the awkwardness which can occur when sovereignist and federalists meet on the field of culture (quite an interesting experience which occurred in Toronto).

Julie Snyder : « Je ne peux plus produire des émissions de télé » (#299)

  • Je ne me suis pas retenu face à la manque d’assumer la responsibilité de ses propres actions.

Julie Snyder’s statement today stating she can no longer run her production company (#298) — Including a MAJOR addendum at the end.

  • My candid thoughts on what I see as a move to mark political points and garner public sympathy.
  • Exactly as I predicted — She “sold” Productions J to a friend (this is all getting easier and easier to see).   Owing to the fact that her friend likely wasn’t making all that much in his former position, I can’t help wonder how much Productions J was sold for (perhaps a “nominal” sum which could facilitate “selling” it back to Julie in the future after she leaves politics?).  We’ll never know because, guess what… they won’t talk to the media about it (Shock!).   Funny how the writing was on the wall, isn’t it?

Chantal Hébert (#297)

  • One of Canada’s foremost political journalists and commentators.  Known to Francophones and Anglophones alike.  It is worth following her in both languages.

24 June: La Fête nationale du Québec / La Fête St-Jean Baptiste (#293)

  • Changes are in the wind… and they might not be as small as you think.

Is there a “personality difference” between Francophones and Anglophones? (#291)

  • A post which is more social / societal in nature than political.  But because of misunderstandings, such issues can “become” political.

200e anniversaire de la bataille de Waterloo : Comment elle a pu façonner à jamais le Québec et le Canada (#290)

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo:  How it shaped Québec and Canada (#289)

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SERIES:  EVENTS IN MODERN HISTORY WHICH HAVE CONDITIONED US ALL (13 POSTS)

A series regarding how the omission of facts and the conveyance of an incomplete picture can affect Québec society’s view of it’s place in Canada.

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Texto Lingo, and the debate about dedicated cycling lanes (#274)

  • How the issue of urban bike paths, dedicated biking lanes and biking as a “commuter lifestyle” is viewed in Québec versus the rest of Canada.

The first poll & interviews since PKP became head of the PQ (#272)

A widely read opinion article on PKP and the question of his shares in Québecor (#271) — written by Sébastien St-François (and features in the Huffington Post Québec)

A very interesting French-language experience in Anglophone regions of Canada (#270)

  • A good example of how Canada continues to change and move in the right direction since 1995.
  • Un bon exemple qui démontre comment le Canada continue d’évoluer sur le front linguistique, surtout depuis 1995.

Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 16th, 17th & 18th positions [post 9 of 10] (#264)

  • A brief, but telling analysis and summary of Julie Snyder’s in-depth involvement in Québec politics from 2012 to now (11 May 2015).  And for the first time, a few thoughts on the uncomfortable position in which this must be placing other high profile celebrities, such as Céline Dion.

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(French / Français) SERIE:  LES PRÉJUGÉS À L’ÉGARD DE L’ALBERTA (6 billets)

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Ville d’Ottawa: Mouvement pour le bilinguisme official (drive to make the city of Ottawa officially bilingual) (#248)

  • FRENCH AND ENGLISH POST:  Les enjeux dans le débat pour faire d’Ottawa une ville bilingue (avec l’exemple de Moncton comme point de repère)
  • The current questions in the drive to designate Ottawa an officially bilingual city (using Moncton’s case as a reference point).

Les publicités négatives 2015 / 2015 Attack ads (#229)

  • Il en existe toujours “une”  /  There’s always that “one”

How a little bit of ignorance of the Two Solitudes can lead straight to failure (#227)

  • I wrote this in the context of how I predict that the Canada-Australia-New Zeland-UK freedom-of-movement initiative is likely to fail if leaders of the initiative do not change their arguments from the standpoint of being firmly entrenched in on of the two camps of the Two Solitudes.

UNIS (Canada’s newest French-language TV station) — Tout franco, tout beau (#225)

  • Although this station is not political in nature, it nonetheless has the potential to fill a very large, long-standing void in Québec — in the sense that Québec’s traditional media (and education system) is so Québec-centric, that it rarely gives Québec’s population a (positive and balanced) view of the lives of Francophones outside of Québec.   UNIS has the ability to change that (and it possibly is).   Projections cast through the media have the ability to change societal and political perceptions.   It’s called “soft power” — and I am keenly watching what might happen.
  • That being said, I do NOT believe there is any hidden political agenda with the launch of UNIS (after all, it is owned by Télé-Québec, Radio-Canada, and TFO, and two of the owner networks produce shows such as Bazzo.tv, Tout le monde en parle, Les Francs-tireurs, 24/60, Deux gars en or, La soirée est encore jeune — some of the most “nationalist” programming in Québec).
  • But as UNIS evolves, it will be very interesting how it may change public perceptions (for the better) of what is going on outside Québec, and how people live and view their lives elsewhere in Canada.   In this sense, UNIS can serve as a real game-changer to make headway regarding the “Québec-towards-other-Francophones”, and the “Québec-towards-the-rest-of-Canada” Two Solitudes.

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SERIES:  FRANCOPHONE ONTARIO & ONTAROIS — These are the more political/societal posts in a several-post series which talk about sensitive issues regarding Ontario’s Francophone population:

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“Les Ontarois”: More than double Acadia’s population, yet they rarely get outside attention (#219)

  • A whole lot of Two-Solitudes, on many many levels.  The title speaks for itself.

PKP’s major Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Immigration Muck-up (#213)

  • This is regarding the super-controversial remarks PKP made during the leadership campaign which referred to immigrants as a ticking time-bomb against sovereignty.

Even the media can have a bad day, week… or year (#211)

  • Highlights how different elements of the Left and Right media can sometimes be at each other’s throats, and how they can sometimes abuse the “broadcast to air” button, but hitting it a bit too quickly.

Une pub forte intéressante “pro-français” à la télé en Saskatchewan, qui passe à l’écran aux heures de grande écoute (#207)

  • Un exemple de la vague d’ouverture envers le français, de la part des anglophones à travers le Canada.
  • Je discute, d’ailleurs, des nuances et différences entre certaines groupes d’anglophones au Québec même, et d’autres groupes d’anglophones qui se trouvent á l’extérieur du Québec.  Parmi ces nuances, certaines ne seraient pas nécessairement perceptibles au francophone moyen du Québec.  Mais ce sont quand même des nuances importantes, surtout lorsqu’on se laisse former des opinions au sujet des anglophones et leur interactions avec la culture francophone au Québec et ailleurs au Canada (un sujet assez délicat et sensible).

An Interesting, “Pro-French” Advertisement on Prime-Time TV in Saskatchewan (#206)

The 24/60 Charkaoui interview (#203)

  • An example of how emotions can immaturely get out of hand in the media (this time on Radio-Canada’s 24/60).

An embarrassing example of the “Two Solitudes” (#197)

  • When English Canada’s media and film industry was, well… not at their best.

Denys Arcand: A quick Québec film industry backgrounder — Post 1 of 2 (#189)

  • Discusses some of the political history in Québec’s film-making industry.

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SERIES:  MULTICULTURALISM AND INTERCULTURALISM (8 POSTS)

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Elvis Gratton – “Unveiled” (#188)

  • Perhaps Québec’s own post-referendum “Truth & Reconciliation Commission”, but expressed through a comedic film and television series

Multiculturalism Redefined? (#179)

  • J.Trudeau’s more-than-interesting definition of multiculturalism… one which could bridge the gap between Federal multiculturalism and Québec interculturalism (a possible happy definition for everyone).

Le multiculturalisme redéfini? (#178)

  • Une découverte surprenante – J.Trudeau, réécrit-il la définition même du multiculturalisme pour le rendre plus réaliste pour les besoins du Canada et le Québec?

The Duo “Coderre – Lebeaume” (#175)

  • They’re quite the pair.

The significance of Canada’s French Immersion Program – for Québec (#165) – Part 3 of 4

  • A must read for those who say nothing has changed in Anglophone Canada since 1995.

L’Importance du programme d’immersion française au Canada anglophone – pour le Québec (#166) – Part 4 of 4

  •  Pour ceux au Québec, un billet à lire absolument (pour ceux qui prétendent que rien n’a changé au Canada anglophone depuis 1995).
    • 1,000,000 (million) d’élèves…
    • 2,000,000 (million) parents…
    • des milliiers et milliers d’écoles et commissions scolaires…
    • ainsi que la force de toutes les machines gouvernementales de toutes les provinces, territoires et le gouv’t fédéral.
    • Là là… les chiffres parlent fort!

“L’autre midi, À la table d’à côte”; Nadeau-Dubois / Payette discussion summary post 3 of 3 (#155)

  • A friend, who I would consider a “Soft” Sovereignist, kicked my butt encouraged me to be a bit more forward in my blog (at least in one post) on my own views towards sovereignty.  The commentary in this post did just that.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois – An “eavesdropping” short series: Nadeau-Dubois / Payette – Post 1 of 3 (#153)

  • A summary of Québec politics from March 2012 to January 2015 – and how public sentiment was shaped in part by the public strick and activism activities involving Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
  • Addendum 2015-04-01:  A quick addition on what is happening with renewed student strikes in the spring of 2015 in Québec.

Julie Snyder (#9)

Guylaine Tremblay – An “eavesdropping” short series: Moffatt-Tremblay – Post 2 of 3 (#151)

  • In this post, I briefly share my own thoughts (in one paragraph) about what I think when I see actors & actresses (and singers too) politicize themselves by declaring a partisan affiliation (regardless of the affiliation).

La tragédie cette semaine en France – partie II. (#145)

  • People all across Canada showed tremendous solidarity with France & Charlie-Hebdo. But unfortunately, despite gestures going on for days, media reported very little across linguistic lines on grass-roots events across the country – a perfect example where the media can contribute to the notion of the Two Solitudes.    The post makes for interesting reading & perspectives (post written in French)

Comparisons can be a good thing (#137)

  • Some thoughts on why it’s twisted to focus on negative differences rather than seeing them as positives (unfortunately too many columnists, PQ politicians and BQ politicians absolutely love to twist differences between people to make anyone else seem like the devil who you have to flee from at a billion miles an hour).   The French equivalent of this post is here:  Comparisons can be a good thing (#137)

Végreville — et les petites villes du Canada (#125)

  • Our small towns across Canada, in every corner of the country, including Québec, are undergoing tremendous changes.  It’s time to lay-off them and stop thinking of them as small kingdoms of hickdom-come (I mean, really… lay off).

Gérald Fillion – Watch this guy if you want to know about Québec’s economy (#124)

  • Contains a commentary and examples on how little national coverage there can be on on major national events, especially by Francophone media coverage of major news of national importance outside Québec.  It even highlights how Anglophone media does not report major events in other parts of Anglophone Canada.  All this directly contributes to reinforcing the notions of The Two Solitudes.

Oil Pipelines in Québec – A Hot-Button issue (#123)

  • How various regions and aspect of Québec society and government are hotly debating the whole issue of new pipelines being laid in Québec — and how this fits into politics.

Bouleversement politique en Alberta (#122)

  • A post (in French) pertaining to Alberta’s mass Wild-Rose defections, and the direction the PC party seems to be going in (on the “progressive” and “conservative front) when faced with major demographic changes in Alberta.
  • Un billet en français portant sur la défection en vrac des députés du Parti Wild-Rose, et la direction que prend le PCP (sur les fronts “progessistes” et “conservateurs), et ce, comme résultat des changements démographiques massifs en Alberta.
  • Contains a February 2015 addendum with a link to a very interesting updated analysis from CBC

Premier Philippe Couillard’s Year-End Interview (#120)

  • A sit-down interview with Céline Galipeau.  Footage available online (see link in post)

Québec’s network of opinion-makers (#111)

  • A discussion of the close-knit nature of Québec’s political & societal commentary community (opinion-makers) in the media, and the implication of this realm’s unique structure in Québec.

Official Francophone Representation Outside Québec (#107)

  • A brief summary of organizations which represent Francophone communities across Canada (socially and sometimes politically), as well as some thoughts on the meaning of the Francophone community flags.

Michaëlle Jean & La Francophonie (#106)

  • A discussion of some implications for Canada with Michaël Jean as the new head of La Francophonie, the future of French in the world, and the place of La Francophonie in that world.

Sugar Sammy – People generally love him, yet some others… well… (sigh). (#103)

  • A discussion of the echos of yesteryear’s language politics

Some thoughts on common values (#100)

  • How Québec & Québecor print media has helped to forge a sense of local community across Canada,
  • How Francophone values and Anglophone values have become interwoven through progressive causes like health-care,
  • Some thoughts on Equalization and mutual assistance through the decades (with a very interesting photo).

ar.dp

Une de mes photos que je considère parmi mes plus chères, prise par mon arrière grand-père sur les prairies dans le sud en Saskatchewan dans les années 1930:   Le gouvernement arrive avec urgence dans l’ouest du Canada avec des provisions parachutées à la population durant la “Grande dépression” (à Pasqua, entre les villes de Moose Jaw, Rouleau et Belle-Plaine, Saskatchewan).  Les provisions étaient envoyées par le peuple du Québec (par des gens ordinaires)  pour éviter que les gens de la Saskatchewan ne meurent de faim.  C’est une des plusieurs raisons pour lesquelles l’ouest est tout à fait d’accord avec la notion de contribuer au système de la péréquation — une valeur profondément ancrée dans l’esprit des gens de l’ouest du pays.  C’est un geste que l’ouest n’a jamais oublié, et on est toujours reconnaissant envers le Québec.  Mais malheureusement, il me semble que le Parti québécois l’avait rayé des cours d’histoire au Québec dans les années 1970 dans leur but exprès d’effacer tout lien émotif avec le reste du pays (Merci beaucoup M. Jacques-Yvan Morin, ministre de l’education péquiste de ’76 à ’81 — C’était très gentil de votre part!).

One of my most cherished photos, taken by my great grandfather on the Prairies in Southern Saskatchewan in the 1930s:  The government arriving in the West, parachuting supplies to the population during the Great Depression, in Pasqua, between the towns of Moose Jaw, Rouleau and Belle-Plaine, Saskatchewan.  The supplies were specifically sent by the people of Québec so that the people of Saskatchewan did not die of starvation (one of the many reasons why the West has no problem with the notion of providing equalization).  The West has never forgot it, and is still thankful towards Québec.  But unfortunately the Party Québécois seems to have erased it from Québec’s history textbooks in the 1970s.

Louis Morissette (#93)

  • Contains an example of how the cultural world and the Québecor corporate world could clash, and questions that may pose now that PKP is running for the PQ leadership.

No way, le Figaro (#76)  (This post is a running post on matters involving PKP).

  • 2014- 11-04 – My response to Le Figaro’s Alberta-bashing comment, and some related thoughts on PKP’s politically motivated media and investment strategies
  • 2014-12-03 – Addendum:  Suspicions appear to have materialized
  • 2014-12-14 – Addendum:  (1) Translation of original French post, (2) New controversies seems to have come to light
  • 2015-02-08 – PKP doesn’t like people who sing in English in Québec.
  • 2015-02-13 – Sun News TV (the subject of this initial post) got shut down.

Le Plateau (#72)

  • One of Canada’s and Québec’s most influencial urban areas and ridings which receives some of the most attention – culturally, politically and socially.   A discussion of the influence certain political critics feel this riding holds, and their definition of La clique du plateau.

Political interview series of major Federal party leaders (#62)

  • Radio-Canada interviews which can be streamed online.

Anglo-Franco cultural nuances in the use of humour and comedy (#58)

  • Discusses how differences in humour can have a political impact on public perception.

Maurais Live (#49)

  • Discusses the concept of “soft sovereignists”

Les états généraux du Canada français en 1967 — Autrement surnommé “La première Nuit des longs couteaux” . 

http://journallareleve.com/wordpress/?page_id=609

(Ooof… que je touche des sujets sensibles! Non?) … …

  • Du côté linguistique (envers le français), les changements qui auraient eu lieu à travers le Canada auraient été profonds, bien plus vites, et auraient changé le Canada à jamais (même la Colombie-Britannique s’appretait à imposer des menus bilingues dans tous les restaurants de la province au début des années 1970).    Mais hélas, la trahison de Jacques-Yves Morin et sa délégation du Québec aux assises des États généraux du Canada français en 1967 a fait que les changements les plus radicaux et les plus beaux qui auraient eu lieu partout au Canada fussent tous tombés à l’eau — Et les Francophones hors Québec (et de nombreux Anglophones sympatiques à leur cause – beaucoup d’Anglophones d’ailleurs) étaient laissés à leur propre sort pour ramasser à eux seuls les morceux du pot brisé (car le “syndicat” des francophone pan-canadien pour le changement – [faute de trouver une meilleure définition] s’esteffondré d’un seul coup suite aux actions de Jacques-Yves Morin et ses délégués).
  • Certains francophones hors Québec l’appellent encore une trahison sans précédente dans l’histoire moderne du Canada – peut-être même plus grande que la deuxième Nuit des longs couteaux de 1981.   Tout le progrès linguistique et historique qui allait être implanté au Canada au cours des années 1970, et tous les efforts des francophones hors Québec (et leurs nombreux alliés Anglophones) qui allaient porter fruit dans un avenir très très prôche…  le tout s’est vu poignardé dans le dos par Jacques-Yves Morin et sa délégation du Québec dans un seul jour, en 1969.
  • Si cette acte n’aurait pas eu lieu, le Canada d’aujourd’hui aurait pu être un pays bien différent:  bien plus bilingue, et bien plus bi-culturel qu’il l’est à présent.   Et la Deuxième Nuit des longs couteaux de 1981 — celle qui est tant évoquée par les souverainistes comme la cause des malheurs des malheurs — n’aurait probablement pas eu lieu si ça n’aurait pas été pour les actions de Jacques-Yves Morin cette seule et sombre journée en 1967.
  • C’est une version d’histoire bien connue par les francophones hors Québec, mais c’est une version d’histoire carrément rayée des livres des cours d’histoire dans les écoles du Québec.  Malgré tout, les péquistes veulent éviter à tout prix de donner l’impression à leur propre électorat que leurs prôches collaborateurs (et leur ministre d’éducation lui même) étaient les instigateurs de la mort de ce qui aurait pu être une des plus belles révolutions envers la francisation du Canada – point.  Ils parlent si souvent, les péquistes, d’un génocide “culturel” des francophones hors Québec dans les années 1970s et 1980 (jusqu’au début de la nouvelle remontée des communautés francophones hors Québec dans les années 1990).  Mais si c’est ainsi, et si c’est la façon dont ils veulent bien le décrire, il tombe alors sur leurs mains aussi ce “génocide métaphorique” — Car c’était leur gang qui a mis les batons dans les roues pour ceux qui étaient sur le point de faire avancer la situation à grand pas partout au pays.   Bien sûr, ils n’oserait jamais faire réapparaître ce chapitre triste dans les livres des cours d’histoire au Québec.  Cette réingénierie de l’histoire est honteuse (Pour eux, c’est toujours la faute à quelqu’un d’autre et surtout aux “méchants anglos” ailleurs au Canada).
  • Mais, à la fin de la journée, tant pis pour eux.   Moi, au moins, j’ai le sentiment gratifiant que je contribue pleinement et activement à l’amélioration et l’édification de ce beau pays qui comprend non seulement le Québec, mais la francophonie canadienne dans son ensemble – et je suis loin d’être le seul.  Lorsque je vois des anglophones qui y participent avec enthousiame, et qui eux aussi font de partenaires et compatriotes hors paire, moi, je dors la nuit avec un sourir, et je me lève le matin plein d’énergie.  Mais comme j’ai dit, tant pis pour ceux qui ne le voient pas du même oeil.
  • Pour moi, les péquistes, bloquistes, et les Onistes (l’Option nationale… et surtout l’Option nationale) n’ont aucune crédibilité.  Ils voient l’histoire avec les oeillères sur la tête — comme une personne qui se plaint d’être la victime éternelle.  Ils feraient mieux de recanaliser leurs énergies pour coopérer avec les millions de gens au Canada qui veulent vraiement améliorer le pays – sur le plan linguistique, économique, culturel, et social.  Mais ils ne le feront jamais.  Je me sens toujours un peu mal pour ceux qui décident, à travers leurs propres actions, de mourir en “tristesse” lorsqu’ils refusent d’ajuster leur propre entêtement et bloc mental – surtout lorsqu’il y a des gens qui sont là pour les acceuillir ailleurs à bras ouvert.  Mais ils ne veulent pas… Ils ne le voient pas (encore la question des oeillères… Ben coup donc !!  On n’est plus en 1995!  Kessé ki s’passe?!  Voyons!).
  • C’est tout pour dire que je suis FORT FORT sur le principe d’appuyer sur le “bouton de réinitialisation”.   Que le passé appartient au passé… et que nous “vivons, construisons, et aimons à partir d’aujourd’hui” plutôt que de vivre âme et coeur par la devise “Je me souviens”.  Certes, une telle divise est belle, remplie de symbolisme glorieux sur plusieurs niveaux.  Mais aussi belle qu’elle soit, il faut regarder en avant sans assumer la notion saugrenue qu’il faut se venger des torts faits contre nos ancêtres qui sont déjà morts depuis des décennies, voire des siècles, et par des gens d’une époque qui n’ont rien à faire avec nos concitoyens et compatriotes d’aujourd’hui (qu’ils soient anglophones ou francophones).
  • En tout cas, je vous avais déjà averti au préalable que j’ai des opinions 😉

Simon Durivage (#129)

Simon Durivage just received the Order of Canada.

He’s a very famous, longtime anchor — with a television anchoring career dating back to 1968.  Actually, he’s one of Canada’s and Québec’s most respected Editor-in-Chiefs and Chief Station Anchors.  He continues to be a television host, and in this respect, he is among a very small group of Québécois anchors who could be considered the Québec version of a living/ongoing Nolton Nash & Lloyd Robertson (in English Canada) or a Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, or Barbara Walters (in the US).

Durivage started his career with Radio-Canada, and for many many years, he hosted several of R-C’s pillar programs including:

  • Enjeux (a W5 / 5th Estate / 60 minutes type program)
  • Le Point (the 30 minute analysis / special reporting section which used to follow the 30 minute news segment of the daily evening news on R-C)
  • Montréal ce soir (the Montréal evening news).

He had also anchored programs on Radio-Québec (today’s Télé-Québec) at the tail end of the 1970s, and he also hosted a show on TV5 (“the” international French television station) for a short period.

Durivage then moved to Québecor’s TVA network in 1997 in prominent Chief Anchor roles, hosting his own programs.

He moved back to Radio-Canada in 2003 as a Chief input anchor on R-C’s 24-hour network RDI.  Today, we see him on air everyday as the host of his own opinion-maker / commentary show, Le Club des ex.

Le Club des Ex is daily a program which sees Durivage as the moderator and interviewer of a 3-personal panelist of “ex”-politicians (hence the title of the show, “The Club of Ex’s”).  The three panelists are paid by Radio-Canada on a year-to-year contract, and are given full-salary by R-C (the salaries have been the topic of media attention over the last few months, and Gilles Duceppe even declined a panelist position because he would lose his former MP Federal pension if he were to derive a salary from a Federal agency, including Radio-Canada).  Each of the current panelists were former Members of Québec’s National Assembly, and they provide commentaries based on their personal experience, views, and political opinions.

Actually, it’s quite fitting I mentioned Simon Durivage’s current role on Le Club des ex, as it ties into some political commentary posts I’ve written in the past.  You may have read my previous post “Québec’s Network of Opinion Makers”.   In that post, I listed some of Québec’s most high profile and well-known opinion makers and opinion maker programs. Among that list, I mentioned Le Club des ex.  I mentioned in that post that some of Québec’s opinion-makers and opinion-marker programs often slant and lean their media-expressed commentaries and views towards sovereignty (although I do not believe “Le Club des Ex” has any political agenda).  In the past post entitled Le Plateau I gave some of the main reasons why this may be, despite a strong majority of Québec’s population not being in favour of sovereignty (although I discussed in the post Maurais Live that, although a majority of people do not support sovereignty outright, there is still an important segment of the population who could be considered “soft sovereignists”).  If you read these few posts together and take them as one continuous series, you’ll get a fairly good insight into how the ideology of sovereignty and the media-world meet (and for a further dose of insight of this sovereignty-meets-media phenomena, you might want to read the continuously running post No way, Le Figaro).

But unlike some other opinion-makers, Simon Durivage, as the host of Le Club des ex, does an  commendable job of maintaining political neutrality – with a sincere attempt to objectively get to the bottom of matters, regardless of the political topic being discussed.  I have absolutely no idea what Durivage’s personal political views are, and I frankly don’t care because he can be trusted to deliver a non-partisan point of view and to take everyone to task equally… always seeking to see and report the bigger picture. As such, Simon Durivage is one of the Canadian journalists who I trust the most (be they Anglophone or Francophone). Add to that a career dating from 1968 (46 years), and all the experience that entails, there truly is almost nobody in Canada’s media who can deliver topics quite like Simon Durivage.

He truly is the one of best that Canada’s media has to offer – and he deserves all the accolades he receives.

ADDENDUM: 2015-06-19

Today is Simon Durivage’s last day as host of Le Club des ex.   He is retiring, but he says the public will continue to see him in media projects dear to his heart.

I sent him a note earlier today, and I wish him the best.

Bonne semi-retraite Simon!  Profitez-en du temps libre avec vos proches.  Vous le méritez.   B.

INDEX (all posts / tous les billets)

If you’re curious, the second blog post, The poll that shocked, was actually supposed to be the first post.  The subject of this post gave me the idea and impetus to write this blog.

[Montreal Gazette] Dan Delmar: Why sovereignty withered under Stephen Harper (#381)

One week after the Federal election: The aftermath in Québec’s context (#380)

Qu’est ce qui est arrivé durant les quelques années suivant l’arrivée des Britanniques au Québec? (#379)

With so many languages out there, which one(s) to learn? (#378)

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SERIES:  Prime Minister Harper finally appeared on French-language variety TV (2 POSTS)

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More France / Québec dynamics, and plays on stereotypes (#375)

Thanksgiving in Canada & Québec (#374)

The party leaders’ final major interviews before the election (#373)

A very good election ad from Laval – which highlights Québec’s inclusive diversity (#372)

NOTA – None of the above (#371)

Enric Bellemare – Somewhat of a Québec fitness guru (#370)

Funny what gets dragged from the attic when politics get involved (#369)

How you know you’re doomed on election day (kidding… well, kinda) (#368)

Thierry Doucet, and his not so politically correct YouTube hit videos (#367)

Jean Leloup (#366)

Québec’s Squeegee Kids (#365)

A rare radio interview with Stephen Harper (#364)

A well-made BBC video questioning if Québec is able to integrate the Anglophone immigrants it “needs” (#363)

The Niqab debate is once again staying in English Canada’s headlines – With love from Québec (#362)

The Two Solitudes come to the fore after the French-language election debate (#361)

Our numerous Federal politicians’ French-language train wreck (#360)

CBC and the two solitudes (#359)

The Gémeaux’s reveals all shades of Québec’s cultural scene (#358)

Last night’s Gémeaux awards (#357)

Article of interest: French new wave: A cultural shift for Toronto as ‘invisible francophones’ settle in [Globe & Mail] (#356)

Article of interest: Finding a French connection: A week in an intense immersion program in rural Quebec [Globe & Mail] (#355)

Article of Interest: The Oxford Dictionary now shops at the dépanneur [Globe & Mail] (#354)

Un mot sur les opinions dans les réseaux sociaux (#353)

La radio de la CBC; un coffre au trésor pour les francophones qui désirent agrandir leurs horizons (#352)

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SERIES:  INTERESTING “RADIO” SHOW SUGGESTIONS ON RADIO-CANADA (3 POSTS)

These posts also include maps of Radio-Canada radio coverage across Canada.

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Let’s play ball: Who lives on the street? (#348)

The push from Montréal to found the West (#347)

Article: The Molsons, builders of our heritage (#346)

Another way to practice your French – Gov’t call centres (#345)

Some Metro (subway) & train videos from Montréal (#344)

You’re trying to learn French, you can read a bit, but it still sounds like one big garble. What to do? (#343)

Immigration et certaines prises de position des associations francophones hors Québec (#342)

A small insight into Québec’s unique “culture for children” (#341)

Portrait of a village: Debden, SK (#340)

Maritime population / community distribution based on language (#339)

Legendary loggers of a by-gone era – an online documentary from 1962 (#338)

The Quebec Board of the French Language (#337)

How summer vacation accentuates the “Two Solitudes” (#336)

Québec’s “surprise” album (and singer) of the summer (#335)

Philippe Couillard’s “premptive” damage control positioning and constitutional preps (#334)

Too funny !! Makes you love election season (#333)

Poll: How certain celebrities may vote (#332)

The most amateur, tacky video in the world about Gatineau, Québec (#331)

Two “mystery forts” tied to Québec’s role in founding Alberta and Western Canada (#330)

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SERIES:  COLLOQUIAL (SPOKEN) FRENCH – HARD-CORE LEARNING EXERCISE (6 POSTS)

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Quiz: Accents & Eagles (#326)

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SERIES:  QUÉBEC’S OWN B-DAY SONG & ANTHEM (4 POSTS)

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SERIES:  FRANCO-FÊTE DE TORONTO (5 POSTS)

2 weeks in Dundas Square / 2 semaines dans la place Dundas (Toronto), 
700,000 – 1,000,000 attendees / spectacteurs
100 concerts, 350 performers / chanteurs

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

Culturally, you are going to know a lot more about Québec after this series of posts

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“Hard-core French” learning exercise (#302)

300e billet / 300th post — Mon premier billet vidéo / My first video post

  • My first audio/visual video post (Combining thank-you to my blog followers, recognizing the 300th post, and wishing a happy Canada day all into one!).

Julie Snyder : « Je ne peux plus produire des émissions de télé » (#299)

Julie Snyder’s statement today stating she can no longer run her production company (#298)

Chantal Hébert (#297)

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SERIES:  THE ART OF “LA BISE” (KISSING ON THE CHEEK) (2 POSTS)

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Québec’s most trending YouTube video of the last couple of weeks (#294)

24 June: La Fête nationale du Québec / La Fête St-Jean Baptiste (#293)

Sometimes you just have to laugh… (#292)

Is there a “personality difference” between Francophones and Anglophones? (#291)

200e anniversaire de la bataille de Waterloo : Comment elle a pu façonner à jamais le Québec et le Canada (#290)

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo:  How it shaped Québec and Canada (#289)

A different website which throws a different light on things:  Antagonist.net … (#288)

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SERIES:  EVENTS IN MODERN HISTORY WHICH HAVE CONDITIONED US ALL (13 POSTS)

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Texto Lingo, and the debate about dedicated cycling lanes (#274)

Texto Lingo : C-tu c kwa? (#273)

The first poll & interviews since PKP became head of the PQ (#272)

A widely read opinion article on PKP and the question of his shares in Québecor (#271) — written by Sébastien St-François (and features in the Huffington Post Québec)

A very interesting French-language experience in Anglophone regions of Canada (#270)

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SERIES:  “TU” VERSUS “VOUS” (2 POSTS)

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RadioEGO – Québec’s audio equivalent of a “Talk-radio YouTube” (#267)

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SERIES:  QUÉBEC’S 20 MOST TRUSTED INDIVIDUALS (11 POSTS)

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The French signage issue is back — with a twist (#255)

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(French / Français) SERIE:  LES PRÉJUGÉS À L’ÉGARD DE L’ALBERTA (6 billets)

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Ville d’Ottawa: Mouvement pour le bilinguisme official (drive to make the city of Ottawa officially bilingual) (#248)

Roy Dupuis (#247)

Another Movie:  Ceci n’est pas un polar (#246)

Movie: Les Maîtres du suspense (#245)

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SERIES:  QUÉBEC AND CANADIAN FRENCH SWEAR WORDS (6 POSTS)

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

Odds ‘n Ends post: A play on words (#237)

A Montréal Mystery: the Mountain Mirowave (#236)

Odds ‘n Ends Post from Québec City (#235)

All province’s & territories’ “Francophone” flags proudly being flown in Québec City (#234)

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SERIES:  A SYMBIOTIC EVOLUTION & RELATIONSHIP (4 POSTS)

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Les publicités négatives 2015 / 2015 Attack ads (#229)

And Easter in Québec?… (#228)

How a little bit of ignorance of the Two Solitudes can lead straight to failure (#227)

FR –  UNIS (la toute nouvelle chaîne de télévision au Canada) — Tout franco, tout beau (#226)

ENG – UNIS (Canada’s newest French-language TV station) — Tout franco, tout beau (#225)

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SERIES:  FRANCOPHONE ONTARIO & ONTAROIS (6 POSTS)

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A short word on Belgian French (#218)

A brief history of France’s former languages, and how they helped to shape our French in Canada (#217)

The end of SNL Québec? (#216)

Real-life documentary: “Bienvenue chez Normand” (#215)

Montessori has also gone French (#214)

PKP’s major Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Immigration Muck-up (#213)

One of Montréwood’s biggest movie stars: “Patrick Huard” (#212)

Even the media can have a bad day, week… or year (#211)

A very funny, well made movie: “Henri Henri” (#210)

La Semaine Verte (#209)

The new “Links” page (#208)

Une pub forte intéressante “pro-français” à la télé en Saskatchewan, qui passe à l’écran aux heures de grande écoute (#207)

An Interesting, “Pro-French” Advertisement on Prime-Time TV in Saskatchewan (#206)

Odds ‘n Ends post (#205) – From Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Today’s Top Countdown French Hit music (#204)

The 24/60 Charkaoui interview (#203)

Still a Nation of Hockey Fever – No doubt about it (#202)

Nanette Workman (#201)

Post #200 — Un mot sur l’épanouissement du français au Canada anglais

Old video footage of Québec in the 1930s, 40s & 50s (#199)

A surreal experience in Témiscaming (#198)

An embarrassing example of the “Two Solitudes” (#197)

Ding et Dong (#196)

A bit of humour – See if you can figure this out (#195)

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SERIES:  THE THREE “MARTINS” (4 POSTS)

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TWO-POST SERIES:  DENYS ARCAND

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Elvis Gratton – “Unveiled” (#188)

Congrats! You’re making progress! (“Théatre St-Denis” & “Le Capitole”) (#185)

Major Projects in Sister Cities: Towers and Arenas in YQB & YEG (#184)

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SERIES:  MULTICULTURALISM AND INTERCULTURALISM (8 POSTS)

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Fanny Bloom (#177)

Paul Arcand (#176)

The Duo “Coderre – Lebeaume” (#175)

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SERIES:  “REGIONAL” VOCABULARY AND EXPRESSIONS (6 POSTS)

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GND does it again – (#168)

Véronic DiCaire – Who is that singing? (#167)

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SERIES:  FRENCH IMMERSION (4 POSTS)

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Learning French – don’t be afraid to take things to the next level (#162)

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SERIES: THE WORST CITIES??  SERIOUSLY??  DON’T BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE!! (5 POSTS):

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The Names of Residents of Cities, Towns and Villages in Québec, in French (#156)

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MINI “EAVESDROPPING” SERIES

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SERIES: AN INCREDIBLE SHOWING OF SOLIDARITY ACROSS CANADA (3 POSTS):

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Pierre Lapointe (#143)

Yup, There are those days which sometimes seem like this… (#142)

Stereotypes France has of Québec, and vice-versa (#141)

François Massicotte (#140)

The annual “Rendez-vous de la Francophonie”, coming to a city near you (#139)

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SERIES:  “SOME THOUGHTS FROM ALBERTA” ( 9 POSTS) — A few thoughts from my two weeks spent in Alberta over the holidays.   A number of these posts could be of interest to both Francophones and Anglophones.

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Today’s French hit music countdown (#134)

25th Anniversary of RDI (#133)

Tonight’s 2014 Bye-Bye Celebration (#132)

Simon Durivage (#129)

A few Christmas traditions in Québec (#128)

Gérald Fillion – Watch this guy if you want to know about Québec’s economy (#124)

Oil Pipelines in Québec – A Hot-Button issue (#123)

Bouleversement politique en Alberta (#122) (with a Feb’15 addendum on an interesting analysis from CBC)

Antoine Bertrand (#121)

Premier Philippe Couillard’s Year-End Interview (#120)

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SERIES:  “QUI ÊTES-VOUS?” ( 7 POSTS)

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这加拿大说法语的情况就是什么意思?(#113)

Marc Dupré (#112)

Québec’s network of opinion makers (#111)

A couple of interesting online documentaries on Télé-Québec (#110)

Free online films from the National Film Board (#109)

If you love films, this (travelling) festival is for you (#108)

Official Francophone Representation outside Québec (#107)

Michaëlle Jean & La Francophonie (#106)

Gabrielle – The movie (#105)

Charles Tisseyre – Découverte, his activism, and his “Cuys” (#104)

Sugar Sammy:  Most people love him, but others… well… (sigh) (#103)

Europe & Canada:  Same language, but culturally worlds apart (#102)

Thanksgiving (#101)

100th post – Some thoughts on common values (#100)

Good Cop, Bad Cop (#99)

La petite vie (#98)

TV5, & European French (#97)

Antoine Olivier Pilon (#96)

Alex Nevsky (#95)

Denise Bombardier (#94)

Louis Morrissette (#93)

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SERIES:  OUR 32 ACCENTS (7 POSTS) – One of the Internet’s most comprehensive and descriptive texts on the subject of Canadian French accents.  It’s worth a look – you’ll find little else like it.

(If the “32 Accents” series is of interest to you, you may also find certain things mentioned in the post onJoual, Informal French (#23)” to be of interest, as well as the last half of the post “TV5 & European French (#97)” to also be of interest)

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Remembrance Day in Ottawa (#85)

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SERIES:  THE MYTHIC THREE (4 POSTS)

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Michel Rivard (#80)

Dagobert (#79)  (note:  I still can’t believe I wrote a post about a bar!)

1987 (#78)

Montréwood’s 10 hottest sitcoms and drama series (TV) (#77)

No way, Le Figaro (#76)   (This is a highly political, running post on matters involving PKP).

Michel Louvain (#75)

Québec’s Rough’n Toughs (#74)

Maxime Landry (#73)

Le Plateau (#72)

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SERIES:  CANADIAN BILINGUALISM TRENDS (4 POSTS)

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Alex Perron (#67)

Yesterday, a day without the Two Solitudes / La journée d’hier, sans les Deux solitudes (#66)

Dave Morissette (#65)

Mes raisons d’écrire ce blogue (#64)

This week’s national tragedy / La tragédie nationale de cette semaine (#63)

Political interview series of major Federal party leaders (#62)

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SERIES:  COMEDY (4 POSTS)

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“Patrice Lemieux” or “Daniel Savoie” (#57)

Martin Matte (#56)

Mommy – Now playing in your city (#55)

Lise Dion (#54)

Terrace et la côte-nord de la Colombie-Britannique (#53)

Anne Dorval (#52)

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SERIES:  A COUPLE TIPS TO LEARN & IMPROVE YOUR FRENCH, FAST! (2 POSTS)

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Maurais Live (#49)

C’est la vie (#48)

Éric Salvail (#47)

Virtual tour of some pretty cool places in Québec City (#46)

Evening news programs (#45)

Les FrancoFolies (#44)

Today’s hit music Franco-Countdown (#43)

Les Trois Accords (#42)

Cayouche (#41)

Louis-José Houde (#40)

Paul Houde (#39)

Pierre Houde (#38)

La poussière du temps (#37)

Stromae:  French hit music in Québec isn’t just from Québec and Canada (#36)

“Archambeault”, “Renaud-Bray” and Québec books (#35)

Les francs-tireurs (#34)

Claude Legault (#33)

Québec Talk Radio:  Who’s talking about what? (#32)

Les enfants de la télé (#31)

Katherine Levac – Move over Acadia… and Bonjour Ontario! (#30)

L’Été indien (#29)

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SERIES:  THE GÉMEAUX AWARDS (2 POSTS)

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Marc Labrèche (#26)

Jonas & the Massive Attraction (#25)

Kain (#24)

Joual, Informal French – An Audio Post with Examples (#23)

Fabienne Larouche (#22)

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SERIES:  MONTRÉWOOD (5 POSTS)

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Country Music = Québec (#16)

Isabelle Boulay (#15)

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SERIES:  THE POLL THAT SHOCKED (13 POSTS)

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Tout le monde en parle (#1)


index

Le Plateau (#72)

Le Plateau is a rather small area (a neighbourhood) of Montréal – but whose population constitutes, as a geographic area, one of the most powerful poles of influence in Québec media, social movements, and Québec (and thus Canadian) politics.  This little piece of land gets a LOT of attention.  Canada has very few other examples of such a small area being so influential in so many sectors of society.

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Some background information on Le Plateau

Le Plateau is primarily a Francophone neighbourhood, however it also encompasses two Anglophone enclaves within its borders, each being only several blocks in size:  “The McGill Ghetto” and “Mile End”.

As an administrative entity, it is classified as a “borough” (or arrondissement) – a decentralized administrative district within Montréal City (the local borough council has a number of decentralized powers over administration within Le Plateau).

As a geographic entity, Le Plateau comprises only 8 square kilometres, with approximately 100,000 residents.  It is roughly located between ave. Sherbooke as the Southern boundary, the CP rail tracks as the Northern boundary, ave. du Parc (at the foot of Mont-Royal) as the Western boundary, and rue Iberville as the approximate Eastern boundary.

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In the Québec provincial legislature in Québec City, it is known as the riding of “Mercier” — which generally has the same boundaries as the city administrative borough.   It has been held by Amir Khadir of Québec solidaire since 2008.  Prior to that, with the exception of only two years, it was held by the Parti Québécois since 1976.

In the Federal parliament in Ottawa, Le Plateau comprises the Northern half of the “Laurier-Sainte-Marie” riding.  It has been held by the NDP since 2011.  Prior to that, since 1990, it was held by the former leader of the Bloc Québécois, Gilles Duceppe.

Radio-Canada recently published an article using statistics to test traditional stereotypes of residents of Le Plateau:  “Les bobos du Plateau existent, en voice la prevue” (“The Plateau Bohemians exist – here’s the proof”).  You can read the article HERE.  

A “bobo” is difficult to explain in English.  It can be pejorative (not a very nice word), and rather politically incorrect.  The article didn’t delve much into the meaning of the word in the plateau contact, but a “bobo” is a BOurgoeois BOhemian.  The expression has found its way into Québec vocabulary over the last decade (there’s even a television sitcom on Téléquébec named “Les Bobos”).  In a French context, I believe the word was originally used to describe someone from Paris’ East end in France (but don’t quote me on that).  The “bourgeois” part means a higher income bracket group.   The “Bohemian” aspect has a more cynical and pejorative meaning, within a metaphorical context of traits (a combination of any or all of the following):  granola, hipster, counter-culturalists, elitists, tree-hugger, organic lover, dressed non-flashy but trendy in earth tones, yoga practitioner, (younger) singles, double incomes no kids (DINKS), professionals, sneaker-wearing tech-savvy nerds, garden growers, art lovers, wine sippers, stage-theatre goers, intellectuals, book readers, bike riders, book writers, wine drinking.

The article basically took factual statistics to demonstrate that Le Plateau (and some areas immediately adjacent to it)

  • has the youngest median age groups in Montréal,
  • Has the highest concentration of people working in the arts, culture, sports and leisure (the arts and performance district is across the street from the southern boundary of Le Plateau).
  • Has the highest number of university graduates in Montréal,
  • Has the highest percent of people who bike or walk to work in Montréal,
  • Has the highest percent of singles in Montréal
  • Has the highest percent of atheists

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The article is generally making the point that many of the statistics fit the demographics of the stereotypical “Bobo”, and corroborate many preconceived notions people elsewhere in Québec may have of Le Plateau. (again, it’s a rather un-PC article in that respect).

Interestingly enough, may of the areas in Montréal with statistics at the “opposite end” of the scale were found in Montréal’s westernmost Anglophone districts, or Montréal’s easternmost Francophone, blue-collar districts (more context about these two districts can be found in the post Québec Trends in Bilingualism .

Anecdotally, I have two very good friends who live in Le Plateau, both Anglophone.  One, a young doctor, has been a close family friend since we were small kids 25 years ago, growing up in rural Alberta together — married to her French husband from France, no kids.  The other I’ve known for over 10 years — from China, who was one of my best friends when we both lived in Beijing, and who immigrated to Canada several years ago – holds two arts degrees, single, and self-employed in the computer animated graphics industry.  One very much comes from an earthy “environmental” family, and the other is from one of China’s most academic families (his grandmother was China’s first psychologist, and 3 generations in his family are all university professors and speak fluent English).  These two people have many friends like themselves who also live in Le Plateau, both Francophone and Anglophone.  I wouldn’t call them snobby (they wouldn’t be friends if they were).  But I believe they moved to Le Plateau because they felt it fit their personalities and lifestyles.

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Influence of Le Plateau

In the most general of terms, supporters of a combination of (1) sovereignty, and (2) the far left, and left-of-centre parties are generally Francophones (Anglophones rarely support sovereignty, and generally support the more centralist liberals, with some supporting the right-of-centre CAQ).  Francophones in many regions elsewhere in Québec also support the Liberals, as well as the right of centre Coalition d’avenir du Québec (CAQ), the Conservatives in some regions, and the Parti Québecois (PQ).

Politics in Canada seem to flow on a pendulum, most often between 3 main provincial and federal parties; all playing a role in influencing how fast the pendulum moves and its direction (in Québec, it becomes a bit more complicated with 4 federal parties, and 4 provincial parties, causing vote-splitting and, as a result, strategy-intensive politics).   Politics in Canada can be quite fluid, and Canadians (including in Québec) are less apt to be “born” a life-long political stripe – preferring to adjust their voting habits based on what they feel the situation calls for at the time of a vote.   However, political leanings in Le Plateau are much more weatherproof against pendulum swings than in other ridings in Canada.

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Because Québec’s more complicated political scene requires much more strategy than elsewhere in Canada, it is sometimes anybody’s guess which way many ridings will vote.   This is why Le Plateau has become one of the most important ridings in Québec, and possibly in Canada.   I’ll explain.

If you’re a party which feels you could be on the losing end of the pendulum swing, you will want to ensure your party’s biggest stars and leaders nonetheless keep their seats, enabling your party to remain in the news and keep your cause alive until the next election.   That way, if your party loses other ridings, you will still be in the spotlight, and your cause will continue to be on air during the period running up until the next election.

Federally, prior to the riding being ceded to the NDP in 2011, Le Plateau used to be a sure-fire win for the Bloc Québécois.  Thus the riding used to be reserved for its former leader, Gilles Duceppe.  Provincially, it was also seen as the best chance for Québec Solidaire to gain a seat and subsequent attention – the QS reserved their riding for their star-candidate, Amir Khadir (QS is a sovereignist party — the closest active political party in Canada with Marxist-Lenninist social principles, much further left than the NDP, Bloc, or PQ).   Khadir’s election in Le Plateau gave the party unparalleled attention in the media for many years – enough to keep the party on the radar until the next election cycle, which contributed to QS leader finally gaining an additional seat in the National Assembly years later, and splitting the sovereignist vote between left of centre Parti Québécois, and the far left Québec solidaire (this had huge implications for the Québec sovereignist cause — creating a large degree of disarray in the sovereignty movement, and was one of the contributing factors of how the Liberals’ secured a majority win in the last election).

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Le Plateau is one of the most die-hard “left” and “left-of-centre” ridings in Québec and Canada.  Without Le Plateau, leftist parties may not have been able to maintain the same degree of media coverage in Québec, year after year, in the face of changing voter demographics and tendencies.   Thus, Le Plateau plays a very important role in Québec politics by keeping alive a high-profile political counter-balance to the Liberals, CAQ, Conservatives and former ADQ.

Le Plateau’s soft power and it’s prominence in Montréwood

(Before reading further, you may wish to check out the following post to put things into perspective, in a concrete sense with examples:  Even the media can have a bad day, week… or year (#211) )

If pitting “Right against Left”  in Québec could have a face, it could be said it’s a story of “Québec City / La Beauce” against “Le Plateau”.   In an earlier post, “Maurais Live”, I touched upon some of these “Québec City vs. Montréal” political dynamics.  In Centrist-voting regions of Québec (and there are many), and Right-of-Centre voting regions of Québec (primarily Québec City, La Beauce, as well as occasionally in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean), there’s a tendency to refer to the Left movements as “La clique du Plateau”.  I’m not sure who coined it, but this is an expression which is being repeated more and more often.   You’ll hear it on talk radio, you’ll see it in independent commentaries in newspapers and magazines, and you’ll see it in blogs.

However, the expression “La clique du Plateau” is something you generally will not hear on television.   The reasons why is a somewhat touchy and controversial matter.  When trying to explain the possible reasons, there’s always the risk of incorrectly painting everyone with the same brush, just as there’s always a risk of overgeneralizing when talking about this subject.  Therefore, I’ll try to keep the following as general as possible without too much overgeneralization.  I’d prefer to leave it to readers to form their own judgments in their own free time.  My recommendation is that you pick 3 of the most popular programs of each of the 3 most popular networks (mix it up between variety and information programming), and see for yourself if you do or do not agree with the critics (I don’t feel it’s my place to formulate judgments for you).

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There are segments of independent media (those who do not have relations with the major cable networks), such as talk radio, magazines, independent columnists, etc., who regularly comment (and complain) that specific TV network program hosts, specific popular TV programs, specific producers, and to an extent, some network owners, have a political agenda which becomes evident in their programming.  The accusations are that the agendas are either too far Left or too Sovereignist;  most often leaning in the camp of Leftist-Sovereignist.  I can think of several programs for which I know I will see political biased programming when watching them (these types of programs can be found across almost all major networks — AND Anglophone television is NOT exempt from this phenomena either… there are numerous Anglophone television programs I can think of which are quite far right, quite far left, and which also appear in denial of Canada’s linguistic dualities).

The bias which critics point to is not necessarily obvious if you were to watch a single episode for the first time (ie: show host will not overtly say they support specific ideologies, nor will they tell viewers how to vote).  But the accusations from critics allege that bias surfaces as part of a regular pattern of repeatedly propping up left-leaning or sovereignist-leaning personalities or issues, while the hosts continuously criticize (or allow their guests to criticize) centrist, right-leaning, and / or federalist viewpoints.

Say for instance you watch a specific popular variety show, or a specific popular TV talk show program – one which has tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of viewers per episode.  Imagine a mix of guests, show after show, of people from all political stipes (politicians, celebrities, others sectors of society with political viewpoints).   At first you would have the impression that the show is making an effort to be well balanced and you would not necessarily think it is biased.   But then imagine, during each show, the most difficult, embarrassing, critical questions are constantly posed of center, right-of-centre, or federalist guests, and the easiest questions (or hardly any questions at all, but rather a friendly jovial discussion) are reserved for left-leaning and / or sovereignist guests.   If you were to see this same pattern after 10, 20, 50 programs, or 500 programs, you would begin to harbour more than a few suspicions that there is a political agenda to the program. Now, imagine if it’s a variety show which is not supposed to be political in nature (ie: it mainly features musicians, or other non-politicial personalities), but it is turned political through the hosts’ lines of questioning – thus turning an A-political show into one which promotes a political bias.   Fortunately, if this type of bias does exist, I do not believe that it is inherent in the majority of television programs (it would be limited to just a handful, or even fewer, interview and political commentary shows).

In theory, regardless of my own political stripes, objectively speaking, I have absolutely no issues with a certain degree of politically biased programming.   It makes people think, it brings new views to the table, it gives a voice to certain elements of society who may otherwise not have a voice.   But the biased-programming controversy which is being discussed in Québec right now pertains to the size, extent and concentration of programming which consistently portrays an  “appearance of bias” – apparently with the same leftist-sovereignist political stance in just a handful of media circles.

One of the "green" alleys -- Pretty, eh?   Part of a city-driven initiative to turn little alleys like this into an oasis for residents.

One of the “green” alleys — Pretty, eh? Part of a city-driven initiative to turn little alleys like this into an oasis for residents.

Some of the alleged bias is very subtle and nuanced.  Take for instance some of the most popular programs in Québec, drawing in hundreds-of-thousands, or even millions of viewers per episode, but it is alleged they make absolutely no references or allusion to Canada (be it certain types of talent programs, reality programs, or news interview programs).  Where there would be a Canadian flag in a shot of the city in the background, cameras may be re-positioned to avoid showing the Canadian flag.   Where there might otherwise be talk of a guest singer’s recent concert tour of parts of Ontario, the host may prefer to only speak about Québec tours in Gaspésie (despite the Ontario tour being much more significant).   In these examples of soft-biased programs, anything Canada-related tends to be completely eradicated, and the word “Canada” even becomes taboo (even to the extent of labelling a Francophone artists from Ontario as simply “Francophone” rather than Franco-Ontarian).

Now that I have said that, let me flip the coin a bit and give you a different perspective… when you watch Anglophone television, you will often see national reports relating to an event or belief that is portrayed as being wholly Canadian – but perhaps it is different in Québec, yet Anglophone television will give it no mention.  This type of more subtle bias, or “bias through omission” can be very dangerous when it infiltrates the most popular entertainment programs.   Pop-culture forges a national identity, a feeling of belonging, of being able to relate to your compatriots, as well as being empathetic of them.   If you deliberately ignore out of existence your compatriots from other parts of the country, or ignore out of existence Canada, then your feelings of attachment and solidarity with those compatriots, or Canada, slowly whittles away with time.   It’s basically social engineering through the soft-power of the media.   On the Québec front, should there one day there be another referendum, the influences of such long-term soft-power could affect the results.  On the Anglophone front, it’s difficult to build a feeling of solidarity and comradery with your Francophone compatriots if they too are given little attention in Anglophone media.

In a Québec context, this is alleged bias is where the expression “La clique du Plateau” finds its origin.   I’m not sure this is an entirely fair term – but critics have coined this term because they say that far Left-leaning and / or Sovereignist producers, hosts, and guests of the programs in question often live in Le Plateau district of Montréal.   They are often seen dining, shopping, or having coffee in Le Plateau.  They invite one another (and the same group of perhaps a few dozen Québec personalities) onto each other’s programs, and they seem to keep the programming in a tight knit circle – a “clique” if you will.   The headquarters and studios of Québec’s major television networks, for the most part, are also physically situated very close to Le Plateau.  Thus, the innuendo is that employees, writers, researchers, administration, managers, those with authority over financial decisions, and program directors also live in or around Le Plateau.   This reinforces the notion of a greater “clique”.  These are very broad generalizations, and they should be taken with a grain of salt.   It’s dangerous when you begin to paint everyone with the same brush.  However, I feel it’s important to describe what critics are referring to so you understand what they mean when you hear the expression “La clique du Plateau”.

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The critics continue by saying these same programs often take aim at independent media.  For example, the right-of-centre Radio X, has repeatedly been publicly labeled “Radio poubelle” (garbage radio) for being critical of programs it associates with La clique du Plateau, be it Radio X’s criticism of certain programming on Radio-Canada, TVA, Télé-Québec, or V.

For many Anglophone readers, it may come as a surprise that elements of Québec society would be critical of Radio-Canada for being grouped in as part of La clique du Plateau.  However, Radio-Canada takes some of the biggest criticism in this sense from various elements of society – the argument being that the journalistic and programming freedom (which must be upheld) has allowed some aspects of programming to be highjacked by La clique du Plateau.  The catch-22 is that these aspects of the alleged clique du Plateau have created and produced some of the best value-for-entertainment programs in Québec (translation: $$$ for the network).  Thus, for the simple fact of ratings and badly needed dollars, it would probably be difficult for senior management in Radio-Canada to correct any political-biased programming on a network which is supposed to have a Canadian nation-building mandate.  If these criticism are true, it must be a complex scenario for CBC / Radio-Canada’s senior management to contend with – having to safeguard journalistic & programming freedom (which is paramount), balance that with network revenues, allthewhile implementing a pan-Canadian “nation building” mandate, and trying to avoid a backlash from important sectors of their viewership.   I will say that compared to 3 or 5 years ago, I have noticed what appears to be a more active move on the part of Radio-Canada to provide more national, pan-Canadian news coverage on their news network and national news programs, and overall, the hallmarks of personal agendas (be it sovereignist, federalist, left, right or centre) are few – as it should be.  Criticisms towards Radio-Canada now generally relate to just a few, very specific (but very popular) programs with specific hosts, than what it relates to the network’s overall general programming.

The critics of the notion of La clique du Plateau tend to be much more severe towards Radio-Canada than other networks, simply because Radio-Canada is funded by tax dollars, and unlike other networks (which also do not escape criticism), Radio-Canada has a national mandate to uphold (whereas it’s free-reign for private networks).   That being said, critics of the concept of La Clique du Plateau are also taking aim at Federal tax credit subsidies which are being given to private networks – in the tens, and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

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Tensions in this whole affair are now beginning to come to the surface on a few different fronts (in the past, these issues were just mentioned up in passing, or not at all… but things began to change with how some media were perceived to be taking sides in the the student protests in 2012, and later with issues relating to the 2014 provincial election):

  1. Funding cuts at Radio-Canada: Popular media personalities (in fact some of Québec’s most popular television personalities), labeled by critics as being part of La clique du Plateau, are taking direct aim at Ottawa and Canada — and specifically Steven Harper — as being responsible for funding-cuts to their programs.  The “innuendo” is that the cuts are political vengeance on the part of the Conservative government, and that Canada as a whole should be blamed for voting conservative.  They argue that it shows Canada’s and Ottawa’s lack of understanding of the importance of funding Québec culture (other see these views as a twisting of words when economic matters become politicized by those with an agenda).  Critics say that sovereignist elements are now digging in their heels on air and are fighting back by politicizing Radio-Canada’s funding cuts.   When confronted with the argument that the English network of CBC is also having its funding cut, the reply from La clique has been that the Francophone network, which has high viewer ratings and is profitable, should not be punished because of the unprofitable operations and low viewership of the CBC.  Thus, they counter that Radio-Canada’s cuts are in fact political.  

(NOTE:  I made an addendum at the bottom of this post with some of my personal views pertaining to the budget cuts at CBC / Radio-Canada).

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  1. The PKP factor: TVA’s majority shareholder-owner is Pierre-Karl Péladeau (PKP for short).  He owns Québecor, which owns TVA.   His spouse is Julie Snyder.  Her production company, Productions J, produces many of the most popular entertainment programs which are aired on TVA.  PKP’s run for the Parti Québécois leadership seems more and more certain.  He has stated his primary goal is to lead Québec to independence.  Most in the PQ believe he is a godsend which could help to re-ignite a dying sovereignist movement.  Consequently, the provincial Liberal and CAQ parties say PKP is in a conflict of interest situation (or at least the appearance thereof) as the billionaire owner of what could be up to 40% of Québec’s media and television industry.  The provincial Liberals and CAQ have introduced a bill (currently going to committee) in the provincial legislature to force any political aspirants to divest themselves of all shares they, and their immediate family members hold in any media corporations.   As you can imagine, this has not gone over well in the ranks of the Parti Québécois (which does not hold sufficient political seats in the legislature to block the motion).  You can also imagine that this has not gone over well in those parts of the media which allegedly form part of La clique du Plateau.  A proverbial war has been declared, it’s not pretty, and we’re seeing it fought on our television screens.   The Liberals and CAQ counter that 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”.  The PQ counters that it should be sufficient for PKP to simply place his shares in a blind trust for the duration of his political career.  The PQ also states that it’s not fair for Julie Snyder to have to give up her media empire, considering she produces some of the most popular programs in the history of Québec and Canada.   The Liberals and CAQ retort that placing shares in a blind trust may not change the Hyper-Québec-Centric nature (and thus possibly pro-sovereignist soft-power) of TVA producers, journalists, and staff since they would expect their boss to one day return to work, and thus they wouldn’t want to cross him in the interim.

There’s also a new argument beginning to emerge in favor of PKP being forced to divest himself of his stocks — and this time it concerns Anglophone Canada.   PKP recently sold the Sun newspaper empire in Anglophone Canada.  However, he chose to keep Sun News Television.  It’s been reported that Sun News TV suffers from a financial loss, and that it only attracts a small fraction of Anglophone Canada’s overall viewership.   Yet PKP has decided to keep the network, a network which could go bankrupt if it were not kept on life-support by Québecor.  Québecor (and thus presumably PKP) founded Sun News Television as a far right-wing information and commentary network.  The comments of its on-air hosts are often hostile to Québec and directly counter to many of the principles people in Québec hold closest to their hearts.  Thus, in Québec media, particularly aspects associated with La clique du Plateau (including certain programs of Sun News TV’s sister-Québecor French media), Sun News TV is held up as a focal point to be attacked as an example of a lack of understanding from a cold, callus Canada.  When Sun News TV makes negative reports about Québec, it is cited by the aforementioned media as Québec-bashing on the part of Anglophone Canada, and how Canada is not compatible with Québec.  However, what La Clique du Plateau-associated media fails to mention is that it is not “Anglophone Canada” beating down Québec, but rather it’s a Québecor company based in Calgary, financially propped up by PKP’s Québecor media wing, which is bashing Québec.   That’s a huge difference.  So now the hypothesis being thrown around in Québec political circles is that this was part of PKP’s sovereignist design to turn Québécois off of Canada:  ie: create the appearance that Canada hates Québec, is incompatible with Québec, and then give it as much media coverage as possible in Québec.  (The other networks in Canada generally don’t have commentaries or opinion programs which say things which come anything close to what Sun News TV says, and they’re not the ones which are generally targeted in Québec media as being hostile to matters important to Québec).   It’s another argument as to why the provincial Liberals and CAQ are pushing for PKP to divest himself of his media empire if he is persists in taking over the leadership of the Parti Québecois.   Unfortunately, if this hypothesis and what certain critics are alleging is true, then Anglophone Canada, and particularly the far-right elements of the Federal Conservative Party, far right supporters of provincial PC parties, and supports of the Wild Rose Party – the demographics who may most likely support aspects of Sun News TV’s programming — seem to have no idea that they’re being used as pawns in a game which has sovereignist aspirations.  I wonder what Ezra would have to say on air about this if he could understand French.

The beginning of a major shift in the demographics of Le Plateau and the implications it may have:

I mentioned at the very beginning of this post that the physical area of Le Plateau encompasses two small Anglophone enclaves.   One is the “McGill Ghetto”.  The other is “Mile End”.   Until the mid-1980s, the Northwest end of Le Plateau, known as Mile End, was comprised of factories and warehouses catering to the clothing manufacturing industry (the “rag trade”).  Just like Winnipeg’s rag trade district (the warehouse district north of downtown), the industry closed, leaving scores of abandoned, but beautiful brick-faced factories and warehouses.

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In the 1990s, what was a decrepit eyesore began to undergo a period of restoration.   Former abandoned industrial buildings were being converted into shops, work studios, and condos.   Likewise, the Eastern half of Le Plateau, which traditionally was the blue-collar Francophone district where the “rag trade” and other workers lived, also began a period of restoration and gentrification.   Because most of Le Plateau was a relatively poor district, which rapidly fell into decline, and then just as rapidly underwent a period of restoration and gentrification, there was little time for any of the old buildings (often 100 to 200 years old) to be torn down to make way for modern structures.   Thus, the appeal of the gentrification process was based in large part of the restored historical beauty of the neighbourhood.

Apart from attracting Francophones, the uniqueness of the neighbourhood held equal appeal to Anglophones, who traditionally never lived this this part of Montréal before.  The Northwest corner of the district, known for over a hundred years as “Mile End”, thus suddenly became populated by Anglophones in the 1990s, and particularly in the mid-2000s.  There is still a steady influx of Anglophones moving into the Mile-End district today.   Anglophones are now, for the first time, starting to also move into other areas of Le Plateau traditionally not inhabited by Anglophones.

The other Anglophone district, the “McGill ghetto”, is a student district which abuts upon the McGill university campus in the far southwest corner of Le Plateau.  Because McGill is an Anglophone university, this area of Le Plateau has always had an Anglophone community of students, professors, and their families.   However, historically, the Anglophones associated with McGill have lived further West, outside of Le Plateau – until now.   Over the last few years, they’ve been moving deeper into Le Plateau, attracted by the overall beautification and gentrification of the neighbourhood, and its compatibility with university life.

Another important trend is the ethnic diversification which is taking place in Le Plateau; Chinese, European, Hispanic, Haitian, Arab, you name it – it’s all happening, and it’s happening quite fast.   When people of different backgrounds begin to live together, their attitudes towards one another begin to open up.   Anglophones who have moved to Le Plateau often do so from out of province — but they learn French.   This effort is seen, and it shows Francophones that Anglophones can be pretty cool too.  Add immigrant communities to the mix, a diverse workforce of varying age-groups, and we being to see changes in views — more towards the centre, rather than die-hard left views or die-hard right views.

All of this change may have huge political ramifications, not only for the language-politics and geo-politics within Le Plateau itself, but also for Québec politics as a whole – owing to what Le Plateau stands for, and its influence on Leftist, but especially Sovereignst politics in Québec (including leftist and sovereignist-biased television and media programs).   It should therefore come as no surprise that the Anglophone influx has not gone unnoticed.   There is nothing anti-Anglophone or sovereignist politicians can do to counter the political ramifications which may stem from Liberal Anglophone residents moving to Mile-End.  However, PQ politicians tried to prevent Anglophones, living in the McGill Ghetto, from voting in last April’s provincial election.   The PQ, backed by high profile media personalities, charged that many or most of the Anglophones living in the McGill Ghetto were not eligible to vote because they were out-of-province students who were only intending on residing in Québec temporarily, and thus would not qualify as holders of documents which prove that Québec is their place of permanent residence.   Legally speaking, the authority to make such a call resides with the election bureau.   At the time, the opposition Liberals asserted there was nothing the PQ government could do.  In the end, it was agreed that the election commission did have sole jurisdiction in ensuring voters met eligible requirements, and in the end more Anglophones voted than what the PQ would have wanted.   There was a good deal of bitterness left over from this episode in a number of circles (but fortunately, incidents involving language-politics, such as this, are not common — and seemed to only flare up during the 18 months the PQ was in a minority-government position.   The divisiveness of that whole period was enough to even turn a portion of the sovereignist electorate away from sovereignty during that particular election).

However the point was made – the demographics of Le Plateau are changing.  It has the potential to send shock-waves through Québec’s political establishment.   If Le Plateau, the bulwark and bellwether of Leftist and Urban Sovereignist politics falls, it’s possible that the entire foundations of the Sovereignist movement could, in part, crumble on many levels.   The Sovereignist movement is already in a very difficult position, with support lower than almost any other time in modern history.   This is why PKP, and the matter regarding his media empire is being given so much attention by both Sovereignists and provincial-level Federalist politicians in Québec.   If the Sovereignist and far-left movement lose Le Plateau, if Le Plateau’s connection with Québec media begins to sever due to a new demographic in town, and if PKP loses control of his Le Plateau-based media empire (or if he declines the PQ leadership in order to keep his media empire), serious questions will be raised as to whether or not the sovereignty movement will survive as a force in near-future politics.

LPL10

As much as language politics are supposed to be something from the past, it seems like aspects still exist.  But then again, it’s 2014.  The older generation, traditionally the torch bearer for sovereignty, has more important things to worry about.   The younger generation, with a future secure in French, has more important things to worry about.  And in the end, we’ve all grown up.  Language politics are not a forefront issue anymore.  But, who knows what will happen… politics can be a fluid and changing dynamic.  It will be what it will be.   I will tell you this; it will be very interesting to see who takes Le Plateau’s federal Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding in the next federal election, and especially by what margin.  It may be a sign of things to come.  Keep your TVs on, and stay tuned…

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Addendum:  2014-11-05

I should add a word of caution that journalists in Québec should not be painted with the same brush.  I’ve seen excellent journalism and commentaries.  I’ve seen professionals, known to have die-hard views covering all end of the political spectrum, maintain the most admirable degree of neutrality.  I’ve also seen many many journalists whose work is so well-rounded and exhaustive, that you would never know their personal political views.   These journalists should be commended, and are not those who are being referred to when aspects of society refer to La Clique du Plateau.

The Radio-Canada Ombudsman once said that the Ombudsman’s office often receives multiple complaints alleging personal political bias in a particular interview or news segment, but the complaints come from all sides (ie: sovereignists may feel the segment had a Federalist bias, Federalists may feel the segment had a Sovereignist bias, the Left feels it had a Right bias, and the Right feels it had a Left bias).   I think that’s quite telling — and means that you really have to view the news with a very open mind, allowing yourself to be open to different perspectives when viewing topics which matter to you.

With this regard, the ombudsman made the following remark when reviewing an important political bias complain during the 2012 student protests (a complaint that a famous Radio-Canada interviewer brought her own sovereignist viewpoints into the interview):

La lecture de ces plaintes m’a permis de constater que la plupart des plaignants analysent le travail des journalistes, des intervieweurs en particulier, à travers le filtre de leurs propres points de vue sur le conflit. Ce n’est pas un comportement anormal, et on le constate pour tous les sujets traités en information. Toutefois, dans des situations de grande tension sociale, lorsque les positions sont très polarisées, les opinions de chacun deviennent plus tranchées et les réactions aux contenus d’information plus émotives. Ce phénomène s’observe régulièrement durant des campagnes électorales, ou des référendums, ou lorsque des questions très controversées occupent l’avant-scène de l’actualité durant une longue période de temps.

It basically says that during times of electoral campaigns, referendums, controversy or emotion are involved, viewers tend to view programs through the lens of their own points of view on the topic, thus resulting in accusation of bias, towards the same segment, from all sides of the equation.

Addendum 2014-12-02:

The cuts at Radio-Canada are gaining more attention in Francophone media – much much more attention than cuts at the CBC have garnered in Anglophone media.  As for my personal opinion regarding the cuts, I do not know if they are or are not political.  If they are, it would be very sad.  But I will say this, and it is my personal opinion:  Regardless if there is the odd program which does have a political overtone, I don’t believe that it would be reflective overall of the network as a whole or the people who work there.  We see amazing work coming out of Radio-Canada.  It is a vital institution for those of us across Canada who transcend the linguistic lines.  It is equally vital for Francophones across Canada, as well as being a national institution which enriches the cultural identity of Anglophones.  I personally am against the cuts.  If the issue revolves around Radio-Canada’s lack of providing more comprehensive pan-Canadian programming, and then rebroadcasting that programming to every home in Canada, including in Québec (in order to live up to its mandate as a truly Canadian broadcaster), then give it more money, not less.  If the issue revolves around a lack of joint CBC/Radio-Canada ratings, then find funding mechanisms so they can increase their appeal in order to bring in more ratings (that takes money, not less).    If the powers that be feel it should be moving to the web, then give it the money it needs to make that transition.  If the issue truly is an across-the-board budget cut by a predetermined amount (ie: we’ll chop 20% from CBC/Radio-Canada just because we need to save money), then take a second look at the issue, see if there are important matters which were overlooked, and see if there are alternative solutions.  Sometimes the best solutions are in things neither side previously thought of.  This one budget cut is getting more attention than almost any other, regardless of political stripes — there are perhaps reasons why.  That’s worth a second look.

I understand perfectly that networks around the world, be it private or public (ABC-Australia, BBC, some US private networks for example) are cutting their budgets – especially in an age when things are moving to the web.  But the cultural nature of Radio-Canada makes it different from these other types of networks.  It is the voice of a people, of a language and of a country.  The fact that it is in French, in a unique environment, with different challenges does give it a different meaning.   It is so much more than only an entertainment or arts venue – it is synonymous with a collective identity.

At the end of the day. If cuts are going to be made regardless, I just hope they will be done smartly, with consideration to the context in the above couple of paragraphs.

ADDENDUM:  2015-03-17,  Related post with concrete examples:  Even the media can have a bad day, week… or year (#211)