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This is the last post in the 11 part series on the 20 most trusted people in Québec (based on an Ipsos Reid poll).
#20 Richard Martineau –
You just read my not-so-nice review on the direction I feel Anne-Marie Dusseault has taken her show, 24/60. This next (and last person on our list), Richard Martineau, also throws around his opinions and views.
BUT, I am going to be a lot nicer in this post. I am not going to be overly critical of Richard Martineau for one reason, and one reason alone:
Richard Martineau is an opinion-columnists (as a major celebrity TV, radio, and written press columnist), whereas Anne-Marie Dussault purports to be an objective reporter/interviewer, but I feel she comes across as anything but.
If Anne-Marie Dussault relabelled her program (24/60) as an opinion-maker columnist-formatted program, I would have nothing to gripe about. Yet, she does not – She and Radio-Canada publicize her show as an objective program. That is misleading, and can be dangerous when the public forms their views based on what they believe to be “objective” information.
With that now said, in his role as an opinion-columnist, I do not necessarily agree with a number of Richard Martineau’s views. Many of his economic views I do agree with and I can relate to. Yet, a good number of his social views sometimes rub me the wrong way.
BUT, like I said above, he is very upfront by saying he is an opinion-maker columnist, and that his goal is to provide a different perspective for the purpose of rounding out everyone’s views (and he even admits that his views change on occasion as others present new perspectives to him). That honesty and approach is a quality which gets my respect (regardless if I agree with him or not).
The public sees, hears, and reads Richard Martineau everywhere. He has been front-and-centre in Québec for many many years.
- He has a major newspaper column in Le Journal de Montréal,
- He is the host of les Francs-tireurs television program (one of the most watched journalistic-styled opinion-maker television programs in Montréwood). I wrote a previous post on Les Francs-tireurs. Click the link.
- He is the regular invited guest on several radio stations across Québec – providing commentaries on a host of issues,
- Until this week, he was LCN’s main breakfast morning show host (I believe it is the most-watched morning show in Québec). However, Martineau just announced (May 11th, 2015) that he would be stepping down (lots of mystery surrounding this one).
With that said, what are Richard Martineau’s particular views which he brings to the table (to add to the pot of open debate)?
- He is generally right of centre, both socially and economically.
- Economically, I believe he is pro-balanced budgets, for reduced debt load, for greater government accountability, for economic development with respect to the resource industry (including Hydro, pipelines, fisheries), and for lower tax burdens,
- Socially, he has much to say about immigrant integration and reasonable accommodations. He believes that there should be much more emphasis placed on integration (and less on accommodations) than what multiculturalism & interculturalism currently provide (he was for numerous aspects of the PQ’s Charte).
- Martineau, I believe, is one of the more influential voices in this debate in Québec (I believe he plays a role in forming public opinion). Yet, despite his stated concerns with current multiculturalism & interculturalism policies, after many years of listening to him, I have yet to hear what specific aspects of multiculturalism & interculturalism he does not like (keeping in mind that both concepts are quite flexible, and both allow for a large degree of leeway to incorporate greater, or lesser degrees of integration… it’s simply a matter of having the political will to tweak them at a policy level both in Ottawa and Québec City).
- Environmentally, I believe he’s kind of a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. He’s not anti-pipeline, nor anti-oil industry, and he’s generally happy if environmental safeguards are in place. But it’s all relative… so that can mean a million things at the end of the day. Nonetheless, I get the feeling people further to the left on environmental issues do not like him.
- If I were to make a political comparison… I see aspects of Conservative, CAQ, and “blue Liberal” policy in many of the things he writes and comments about.
Richard Martineau comments most on matters pertaining to provincial economics, social policies and politics. He is first and foremost a “Québec-oriented” columnist. But he wanders into Federal territory often enough.
On the topic of Federal matters, Martineau rarely wanders into debate surrounding the sovereignist movement.
- I have only ever twice seen him overtly discuss his own viewpoints.
- The first time was in 2006 on Tout le monde en parle, when he said he was very much on the fence (a political “wanderer” if you will). He stated the deal-breaker at that point would be if federal multiculturalism remained incompatible with Québec’s integration needs (he was adamant at the time that the two concepts were incompatible… a point on which I personally do not agree with him – see my previous post Multiculturalism & Interculturalism: Lost in definition… POST 1 of 3 (#180)
- The second time was on the TV program Bazzo.tv. On that show, the National Post columnist, Barbara Kay, quite disgracefully and continuously Québec-bashed (on air) with very intolerant views of Québécois as a people. It was shameful (I just about died when I saw the show — with my face buried in my hands). It provoked a strong, emotional on-air backlash from Martineau (one of the talk-show panel members). He said that Barbara Kay’s intolerant prejudices made him want to seek sovereignty for Québec because he felt she was speaking for all of Canada.
It was awful to watch something so petty play out on television (and especially on one of the flagship television programs of Télé-Québec). I’m sure that after Martineau calmed down off air, his views perhaps tempered… but nonetheless, that was the day I lost total and complete respect for anything related to Barbara Kay (who I did not really know until that point). I wrote about it in a post on Québec’s columnists and opinion makers. I even provided a translated transcript. You can read here: Québec’s network of opinion-makers (#111). (I’m more than certain that the vast majority of English Canada would be outraged against Barbara Kay if they knew about the contemptuous intolerance she was spewing from her mouth).
- So where does Martineau truly stand when he’s not being provoked on constitutional matters? I don’t know. Honestly, I get the feeling he’s open to anything, so long as it can be justified and makes sense in his mind. The key word in this last sentence is he is “open”.
Why do people list Richard Martineau as one of the people they trust the most?
I believe it relates to his upfront manner in expressing his views, and the fact that he does not attempt to monopolize those views. He regularly, and wholeheartedly engages in public debate – but every single time, he gives more than enough breathing space to opposing views. He never pretends that his views are the only views, or the correct views. He is honest about the fact that his role is that of a columnist, and not an objective journalist.
People respect that… and at the end of the day, people trust him for it.
And with that, we have just concluded the list of the 20 most trusted people in Québec. It has been interesting, hasn’t it? It probably gives you a little more insight into what people in Québec are talking about, listening to, watching, and value. Understanding these sorts of topics are key to helping to bring down the Two Solitudes.
There is lots of online information about the people and topics discussed. I’d encourage you to take in YouTube videos, online written resources (Wikipedia, news articles, etc.) and to form some of your own opinions. More than that, I’d encourage you to explore a little deeper and do a little additional learning. Knowledge makes a huge difference in the end – and knowledge can be quite powerful.
We’ve arrived at the 19th spot in this series which looks at the 20 most trusted individuals in Québec. These rankings came from an Ipsos Reid poll of people across the province. Lets now look at the last two spots on this list of the top 20.
This particular post was supposed to be the last post in the series (10-post series)… but I used up so much of the room’s oxygen from all my huffing and puffing from typing so much about Anne-Marie Dussault, that there was no time for me to make this the last post in the series.
Thus there will be one last post after this one. Let us now get right into this next post!
#19 Anne-Marie Dussault–
Of all the people on this list, Anne-Marie Dussault is the one who I’ve dreaded the most to write about. The reason is actually quite simple: I simply do not know what to make of both Dussault, or her show 24/60.
I’m going to get something off my chest before I go into why I believe Anne-Marie Dussault is one of Québec’s most trusted individuals (et ça je dis avec une pince sans rire).
This is going to be a completely subjective opinion piece… I have a couple of friends who completely disagree with me — so let it be known upfront that I certainly do not have the monopoly on opinions here … and you are free to watch 24/60 to form your own opinions.
I also say the following while fully recognizing, that Anne-Marie Dusseault knows her subjects, quite often formulates excellent questions, and works for an organization (Radio-Canada) which I feel normally does an very good, professional job.
My beef rather is with the format and the direction her show, 24/60, has taken.
24/60 airs on the 24-hour news channel, RDI. It is a dinner-time talk show. The show has a format very similar to Larry King’s old show. In this sense, Anne-Marie Dussault could be considered Québec’s Larry King.
I’ve mentioned 24/60 and Anne-Marie Dussault a number of times throughout this blog… I even did a post on what I thought was one of her train-wrecks of an interview (although a couple of my friends chewed me out in private after writing that post, since it was their belief that I missed the point of the interview entirely – and they love Anne-Marie Dussault). Regardless, I still stand by that post, which you can read by clicking HERE. Thus, if I’m going to continue to mention 24/60 in this blog… I might as well let it all out with how I feel about the direction Anne-Marie Dussault has taken her show.
I watch her show quite often. It comes on TV when I get home from work, and I often watch it as I’m doing stuff around the kitchen. The fact that I watch the show demonstrates that I value the show’s overall societal contribution. But I still can never quite shake the feeling that the show makes me uneasy. I feel it misleads the public into a false sense that they’re their receiving the “full-picture”, whereas I believe it gives only half the picture (if even that).
Actually, I think I just hit the nail on the head when I said the show gives me a feeling of “uneasiness”. You’ll note that I chose to say that Dussault is “Québec’s” Larry King, and I did not chose to say “Montréwood’s” Larry King. There is a difference between saying “Québec” and “Montréwood”, and it’s all in the nuances.
If I chose to use “Montréwood” as an adjective (ie: Montréwood music, Montréwood movies, Montréwood Television, Montréwood radio, etc.), then it is Francophone culture which is open, inclusive, and available to anyone who also shares that same culture (or to anyone who at least integrates a large part of that culture into their daily lives). It doesn’t matter if the person lives in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, or Nova Scotia. It is a bit of everyone’s culture – and it’s something all of us can be proud of. I can use Hollywood culture as a parallel analogy. It would be wrong to say that Hollywood culture belongs to only those who live in California. It belongs to people living in Washington, Florida, Vermont, and Missouri.
But if I chose to use “Québec” as an adjective to describe something cultural, such as a Québec TV program (such as my description of Anne-Marie Dussealt as being “Québec’s” Larry King)… it means that I feel there has been a wall erected between whatever it is which is being discussed by Dussault , and the rest of the country. It makes me uneasy… especially as someone who lives a big chunk of his life in French outside of Québec. This has been the topic of conversation among a few other people I know here in Ontario (both Francophone and Anglophone; all who share French as the common denominator in their daily lives and) – and they too also share the same sense of unease regarding Anne-Marie Dussault and her show, 24/60.
First of all, her show is presented and advertised to us as supposedly being an objective interview program. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that it is an opinion-maker columnist-styled program (read the next post on Richard Martineau to understand the difference).
That is my #1, main beef. I would not have a single problem with the show if it were promoted as an opinion-maker, subjective, and columnist-driven program. But it is not. You can’t say you’re one thing, and then act as if you’re another. Ironically… I likely would give her show raving reviews if those behind it simply faced up and said very loud, very clear that they are an opinion-maker columnist-styled program.
But the rest of my critique will be from the stand-point of critiquing a program which purports to be objective. Buckle your seat-belts… because I have a lot to say, considering they (and the CBC/Rad-Can ombudsman) claim the show is supposed to be “objective”.
Her show airs on a national (pan-Canadian) network, for which we all have in interest, investment and certain expectations (RDI belongs to Radio-Canada, and is one of “our” public broadcasters).
Yet this show is 99.99% Québec-centric (even when it discusses “national” or “federal” issues, it only presents the arguments from a Québec-centric point of view). Regardless if you are living in Whitehorse, Yukon (which, by the way, is over 25% Francophone and Francophile), or a 50 minute drive away from downtown Montréal, just on the other side of the Québec/Ontario border, you get the sense that this show doesn’t give a beep about you (purposely, might I add), unless you physically reside in Québec – or are Québécois de souche. Anyone else with an interest in this show might as well not even exist (so much for our caring “national” host with the most).
You can’t help that this show deliberately wants to erect walls, that it deliberately choses lines of questioning and topics which accentuate the notions of the Two Solitudes (including the pan-Canadian Francophone-to-Francophone Two Solitudes, as well as Anglophone/Francophone Two Solitudes, and Québec/Canada Two Solitudes).
You wonder if Dussault wishes to send a message which says “there’s us, and there’s you, and we don’t give a rat’s-ass about you”. Seriously… If that’s the case, it’s just not right. Imagine if one of Hollywood’s highest rated “national” talk shows refused to relate to the rest of the USA, or refused to point out the importance of anything unless it happened in California?!! In other words, unless it were California related, then it is not worth two cents. Do you think that CBS, ABC, NBC, or PBS would dare to format one of their national programs in such a manner? That’s the situation we’re seeing with the direction Dussault and her team have taken with 24/60. (And don’t think that I give a free-pass to certain CBC programs either… they have programs which are just as guilty of this – and which fail to live up to its national mandate).
I don’t have many beefs about Radio-Canada. I’m a huge supporter and friend of Radio-Canada. I greatly appreciate its dedicated, hardworking, and well-intentioned employees. Radio-Canada is an essential and commendable institution. But this is one of the very few shows which I feel has gone off the rails.
But hey, if I have pegged this show wrong… then someone from Radio-Canada, please, by all means, post a comment and tell me I’m wrong (I saying this while “knowing” that there are people within Radio-Canada who are reading this blog). Thus, I’d be more than happy to “publicly” receive a rebuttal from Radio-Canada insiders – even if it’s done anonymously.
I’d only ask that the 24/60 Robert Latimer interview in Vancouver not be used (again) as an example of the show’s “openness” After all, Latimer obviously felt lost by Mme. Dussault’s lines of questioning during the sit-down interview in Vancouver. She kept drilling him about “Québec” and “Québec’s deepest political inner-workings”, and how it pertained to the right-to-die debate. Robert Latimer had never even once set foot in Québec (he went from living his whole life in Saskatchewan, to going to prison, to being released in Vancouver). Thus it left him speechless about how to answer Dussault’s questions (just as someone from Manitoba wouldn’t be able to comment on the inner workings of the Newfoundland government). Not only was Latimer left speechless, the rest of us were left speechless that Dussault would even formulate her questions to him in such an insensitive manner.
I just find it ironic that for a show which is supposed to be non-biased, with a goal of putting things into “overall context”, that it seems that guests who have an interest in Canada’s welfare (and its overall citizen’s welfare) seem to be the ones who are taken to task the most. Read into that what you will.
It’s unfortunate, because Anne-Marie Dussault can otherwise be a very good interviewer.
What I find even more ironic (and just plain weird) is that I see sovereignists complain about a bias against them (accusing Dussault of being Federalist with a chip on her shoulder against them), and then I see Federalists complaining about a bias against them (but this time, accusing Dussault of being sovereignist with a chip on her shoulder against them). So I (and many others) are left to wonder what the heck?! That in itself shows that Dussault’s program is flawed — nobody should be complaining along these lines.
Can’t the show just balance everything out – and put the issues in an overall provincial, national, and international context?? Then nobody would care if she’s left, right, sovereignist, federalist, blue, green, fluffy, bumpy, plump, thin, tall, short, yummy, sour, a fashion wreck or a fashionista.
RDI’s other two flagship shows do a commendable job. Therefore what is holding 24/60 back from doing a better job? RDI’s “Le Club des ex” (with Durivage at the helm) gets rave reviews from “everyone” (it’s no wonder that it’s RDI’s highest rated program).
Over the past year, even RDI Économie has done a very commendable job of adding greater local, national and international perspective and context to the issues being discussed. I’ve noticed a significant difference in how Gérald Fillion of RDI Économie has re-balanced his show and how it presents its stories in a more provincial, national, and international context. Hats off to that program as well.
Radio-Canada has many other examples of well-balanced, probing programs. Just because you touch upon sensitive subjects does not mean that you cannot lose objectivity. An excellent example of a program which definitely does things right is Faut pas croire tout ce qu’on dit – and it is only one of many. It touches upon many of the same subjects 24/60 does, but the difference is night and day.
So what is Anne-Marie Dussault and 24/60 waiting for?!? Her colleagues at RDI and elsewhere in the network are leaving her behind in their dust!
What’s even more unfortunate is that I think I agree with a good number of Dussault’s viewpoints… and thus I am not saying any of this from the standpoint of being an ideological enemy towards Anne-Marie Dussault . She just is unbalanced in how she presents her program which many people depend upon to help them shape their views of the world. People are being mislead into believing that the views being presented to them are objective (that’s scary!).
Perhaps I should just lighten up a bit with respect to Mme. Dussault, and just laugh. Here’s a funny clip… and if you’ve been following this blog, this clip mentions many people who have been the subject of previous posts over the last few months.
Good… now that I got that off my chest, I’ll get back to the bit where I’m supposed to be objective. 😉
Every evening (Monday to Friday), at 7pm, Anne-Marie Dussault invites Québec-related newsmaker guests or current-events experts to her show to talk about the major events of the day.
As the host of 24/60, Anne-Marie Dussault demonstrates a deep knowledge of local Québec-related subjects of the day.
She brings years of accumulated knowledge to the table, and she is able to pose probing questions which can lead her interviewees down a path they may not otherwise feel comfortable talking about. I suppose that’s the value of her program.
Dussault chooses what guests she will invite, how far she will push her guests, and which guests she will push harder (and guest she will not push as hard).
I guess there is a good chunk of people out there trust her for that.
I watch her show.
I have nothing else to say about her.
The next post will be with respect to our last person in the list of the top 20 most trusted individuals in Québec.
I ended the last post by stating that this post would report on the “husband of the other”, and someone who makes fun of them all. So what the heck does that mean? Read-on…
#16 Pierre Karl Péladeau (PKP) –
Pierre Karl Péladeau (PKP) is now publicly known for three things in life:
- He is to be crowned the head of the Parti Québécois on May 15, 2015
- He is Québec’s largest media mogul, owning 40% of Québec’s media empire (Québecor, the television network TVA, the Journal de Montréal, the Journal de Québec, Metro, a plethora of magazines, production companies, and others).
- He is the “husband of the other”. This is a play on words of a now-popular expression which denotes that he and Julie Snyder are a power-couple in their quest for Québec independence (Snyder was the subject of the previous post). The original expression was “the spouse of the other”, which was coined by the political party CAQ leader to describe Julie Snyder – and which started a very public spat between the CAQ leader and Snyder.
I have already written quite a bit about PKP in this blog, and there is already enough info out there in internet land about him. Thus, there is not much reason for me to go much further into the topic. If you’d like to read some of my own thoughts about PKP and his actions, by all means, feel free to read the post No way, le Figaro (#76).
Wikipedia can also offer you some info: Click HERE for the Wikipedia article.
But I will briefly mention why I believe he ranked #16 in the list of the most trusted people in Québec.
- First, I find it quite interesting that he is considered less trusted than his wife (in the #15 position).
- Second, I find it even more interesting that he ranks 6 full places behind his political enemy, Philippe Couillard (he has a lot of work cut out for him if he wishes to lead Québec to independence… but he has a full three years to try to pull of an increase in popularity to the extent that he can win the next election. Never forget that a year in politics is a lifetime – so anything can happen).
- Third, I find it remarkable that PKP and Julie Snyder rank back-to-back in trust level. I believe that it shows they come as an inseperable political couple — our own political Ding & Dong of the world of politics (remember that post?).
- Fourth, I’m not surprised he ranks on the list (after all that’s a feat in and of itself considering that Justin Trudeau does not appear on the list, and neither does the CAQ leader). PKP is a politician who is followed very carefully by both friend and foe. And when you have friends (and everyone has friends to some extent), you’re going to have support. PKP’s has enough support to rank #16, but not enough to rank #1, 2, 3 (or 9 & 10 – the ranks of his greatest political foes).
I’ll just leave it at that… for now.
#17 Jean-René Dufort –
Again, I had previously written a post of Jean-René Dufort, which you can read by clicking his name in blue.
Briefly speaking, he is “sort of” like the Montréwood version of CBC’s Rick Mercer (or a field-reporter version of John Stewart in the USA). However Jean-René Dufort’s program seems to be a bit more improvised, and a little more… intrusive.
He takes everyone to task, and delves into the crux of issues through quip, one-liners stuffed full of rhetorical irony.
I’m really not sure there is much more which I can say. Because he takes everyone to task in his regularly aired Radio-Canada comedy program, people likely “trust” him to get to the bottom of things.
I’ll offer you one of my own little quip one-liners, stuffed full of irony: Isn’t it interesting that the Snyder-PKP duo pretty much fall in the same trust zone as a comedian? Like I keep saying, this year will continue to be interesting… with more than a few laughs (But perhaps with a few surprises too. It goes without saying that after seeing last week’s Alberta election – nothing is impossible anymore).
#18 Stephen Harper –
This guy needs no introduction (so at least it makes for less typing on my part).
One thing I can tell you, is that one year ago, and certainly two years ago, I don’t think we would have seen Stephen Harper on this list (like I said earlier, Justin Trudeau has not found his way on the list of Québec’s most trusted). The fact that he ranks in the same band as Julie Snyder and PKP shows that the Conservatives have been gaining in popularity in Québec.
I find Harper’s ranking even more astounding considering that he can hardly speak French (it’s the most awkward, impersonal, and disconnect French of all the politicians who make the effort). I mean, do you think that Ontarians, Albertans, or most other parts of the country would vote for a politician they couldn’t understand?
I’ll give a perfect example (and don’t laugh too loud!!) — Stephen Harper cannot say “election” in French. Every time he tries, he ends up saying “Erection” !! Yes… he comes out with sentences like “With this erection, I’m going to get right in there!” (I’m not “stiffing” you folks!). This is but one of the many “language issues” he has which has made him the laughing stock of Québec’s electorate.
I personally have never voted for the Federal Conservatives (although I saw much merit in the former federal “Progressive” Conservatives of Joe Clark — Joe Clark was my Calgary man of the hour. But, in the absence of the old PCs, I truly have no idea which of the three main parties I would vote for if an election were held tomorrow — I truly see merit in all of our parties… and I’m waiting for that right combination to of policies to come forth). Yet, I don’t have it out for Harper. I may not agree with a chunk of his policies, but I don’t think he is a “bad guy” or ill intentioned (I believe his heart is in the right place with how he tries to make what he sees as the best decisions for the country). And, as in any democracy, the rest of us are simply free to decide if we agree with that path or not — pretty simple stuff. No need to demonize him (or any other politician or party for that matter — we’re all on the same side, after all). Some countries have had it a lot worse (ever hear of Jean Marie Le Pen? or George W. Bush?).
But I wholeheartedly admit that it is extremely distracting and difficult to take your political class seriously if they can only say “erection” instead of “election”. Here is a short montage to show you “exactly” what I mean:
Here’s the transcript:
- – The 4th erection in 7 years. Question: Do you want erections?
- – A 5th erection before the 4th one is even finished. Are you sick and tired of having repetitive erections?
- – Do we really need this erection?
- – Liberals, NDP and the Bloc have forced this erection at the worst time.
- – To initiate erections.
- – Repetitive erections.
- – Dear friends, we the Conservatives, we do not want these erections! But we will nontheless conquer this erection!
- – Canada cannot ruin the start of this growth by way of a useless erection.
- – During the partial erection, during the partial erection… to start a useless erection… an erection which will cost you hundreds of millions…
- – Repetitive erections…
- – How much does an erection cost??
- – Are you tired of repetitive erections?? (YEEESSSS!!!! Cheers!)
- – They decided to initiate a useless and opportunistic erection!
- – People ask me why we have erections.
- – People ask me why we have our fourth forced erection in seven years!
I should mention, teasing aside, that Stephen Harper has made an effort to start every single one of his official speeches in French, rather than English (even in very Anglophone places such as Medicine Hat or Sydney). I’ll give credit where credit is due (neither Trudeau, Mulcair, nor May goes to the trouble of making such as gest… Harper is the only one).
Despite his difficulties in French, the Conservatives are especially popular in Québec City, and they have relatively higher support in a few other ridings in Québec. I think that says something.
I’m not sure how the Conservatives will perform in Québec in the upcoming election. After Alberta’s election, I have a funny feeling more and more people will be looking towards the NDP as a viable alternative worth considering. And if Justin Trudeau can shore up his economic platform (and if he can come across as being someone who “understands” the numbers he’s preaching), then the Liberals may also be able to ride on the NDP’s new found momentum. Thus nothing is certain for the Conservatives in Québec. But then again, I could be completely off in left field.
Regardless, objectively speaking, the Conservative’s upswing in trust in Québec is impressive – considering they really were not on the political map in Québec even a couple of years ago.
The next post will be the last one in the top 20 countdown of the most trusted people in Québec.
This post continues our little journey of looking at Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals.
What’s interesting about the two people in this post is that one is a very famous elected official, and the other is very famous, but is not elected — although she acts as if she is. This may be the most “controversial” post out of all the posts in the little series on the most trusted individuals in Québec.
#14 Régis Lebaume –
I previously wrote a post about Québec’s two best known mayors; Denis Coderre (Montréal), and Régis Lebaume (Québec City). You can read the post by clicking here: The Duo “Coderre – Lebeaume” (#175)
The post on the famous “duo” sums up why the mayor of Québec City, Régis Lebaume, is so well liked, both as an individual and as a mayor. But as with anything, there are many nuances (lately he has come under fire for his support of certain private sector initiatives… and some are wondering if we are beginning to see the end of his honeymoon). But I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of all the little nuances. I’ll simply try to concentrate on why I believe he was named one of Québec’s most trusted individuals.
To understand things in context, Québec City has gone through more than 25 years of very interesting politics. For 16 years of the past 26 years, the mayoral seat was held by the former mayor Jean-Paul L’Allier. Of course, there are real reasons why he was re-elected numerous times. But as with anyone who is in politics for a long time, L’Allier was fast approaching his “expiration date” in the mind of voters. He had the political prowess to know how to read the tea-leaves, and he decided to not seek re-election. His successor was extremely popular as a “regional” mayor in Ste-Foy: Andrée P. Boucher. But unfortunately she passed away only two years into her mandate in 2007. It left a huge hole in Québec City politics.
That hole was soon filled by Régis Lebaume. He came with a background and personality that many big cities could only dream of having in their mayor:
- He was a successful businessman
- He talked like the average person in the street, and not like a politician (he didn’t have la langue de bois, as we say in French)
- He didn’t talk “down” to people
- He sought consensus (well… at least more than we see with other mayors),
- He was more than willing to work with anyone who was also willing to work with him (regardless of their political stripes),
- He has “star-power”… in the sense that the talk shows and tabloids can’t get enough of him (you would think he’s a pop-culture star as much as a popular politician),
- He has not made many “bad” decisions (perhaps he’s being “tried” as of late, and he’s being qustioned on certain decisions more now than in the past – but up until quite recently, he has done quite well)
- He has usually conveyed a message which makes many believe he truly cares about the welfare of his electorate.
I believe it’s a combination of all of the above which gives him a ranking in this year’s list of the most trusted people in Québec. What will be interesting will be to see where (or if ) he places in next year’s poll of the Québec’s most trusted personalities.
#15 Julie Snyder –
Oh boy, Julie Snyder…
If I were writing this post only two years ago, it would be completely different. Julie Snyder has undergone a dramatic public transformation, all within less than two years.
I previously wrote a post on her, which you can read by clicking here: Julie Snyder (#9)
A little preamble (before I get into what is going on with Ms. Snyder)
She went from becoming one of the most popular, well-known, pop-culture icons in Québec (perhaps on par with what Angelina Jolie would be to Americans), to being one of the most politically divisive individuals – not only in Québec, but in all of Canada… period.
Whenever someone is labelled as being “divisive” , that means they “divide” the population. There are those who “like” her, and there are those who probably can’t stand the smell of her. At this point in time, I truly do not known what the proportions would be: 40/60%? 60/40%? 30/70%? 70/30%? 50/50%? Truly, I have no idea. But if I were pushed to hazard a guess, I would guess that somewhere around 40% of the population either truly likes her or dislikes her – simply based on the actions of her recent “political activism”. But I truly wouldn’t know on which side of the fence that 40% would fall (I don’t know that anybody would — and I have yet to see any official polls in this regard).
With that being said, there is obviously a large enough percentage of the population who likes her — enough that she places #15 on the list of the most trusted people in Québec.
But… (and there is always a “but”), you will note that Julie Snyder ranks 5 full positions lower than her sworn enemy, Philippe Couillard. I believe that says a lot – to the point that public opinion may be turning against her.
So what’s the beef?
Julie Snyder has been a TV star from the 1990s, until the present (I, like millions of others, sort of grew up, or spent a big chunk of my life watching her on numerous television shows). A good number of years ago, she started her own production company, and she became the romantic partner of Québec’s media mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau, AKA “PKP” (who owns 40% of Québec’s television and radio press). When Snyder became romantically involved with PKP, it was a natural thing that her entertainment production company’s near-exclusive client was PKP’s Québecor owned TVA television network.
So far, so good…
Snyder did a marvelous job of creating top hit television programs for TVA. Some of the biggest viewership numbers in Montréwood and Canadian history followed (her shows regularly draw in millions of viewers per episode). Star Académie, La Voix, and Le Banquier were instant hits. She also embarked on other projects, including promotional works with her « best friend », Céline Dion.
All of this propelled Snyder from being a “regular” celebrity household name to being Québec’s “superstar” – with perhaps only Céline Dion who could eclipse her stardom.
And then came the politics…
Julie Snyder began to engage in political activism a few years ago. However she did not put a partisan label on her activism at that point. The following is a good example. She appeared as a witness before a provincial parliamentary commission, in which she attempted to put the “then” health minister, Philippe Couillard, in his place for not providing better access to invetro fertilization.
But then came the party politics… and in no small way, either.
To the surprise of many (and to absolute elation of others), Julie Snyder appeared on stage at a Parti Québécois election rally in August 2012, in support of the PQ and of Québec independence.
In the eyes of many in the public, everyone’s favorite celebrity lost her aura of innocence and jumped off the pedestal so many had placed her on in their minds. It was a huge kick to the gut for a good chunk of people. But on the flip side, others rejoiced.
Twas the birth of a brand new, yet extremely “divisive” Julie Snyder; born and rebapatised before everyone’s eyes. And boy, was it the start of a saga!
That same year, Snyder became heavily involved in street-level protests against the Liberal government. She advocated for the Parti Québécois’ extremely controversial and divisive Charte des valeurs (proposed legislation telling immigrants how to behave and how not to practice their religion in certain public environments). Snyder not only divided the public’s opinion about her as a person, but she also helped to divide Québec’s population on issues of fundamental importance to Québec’s overall society. This was no laughing matter which we simply see in a television entertainment program. This was now real life.
And if you think it couldn’t get any more controversial…
Fast forward to January, 2014. Julie Snyder and PKP announced their breakup. The mystique of the fairy-tale life seemed to be in the balance. But lo and behold, soon after their break-up, in March 2014, the presumably newly single PKP appeared in front of a microphone with the then PQ leader, Pauline Marois. With his fist in the air, PKP proclaimed he was running for office to “make Québec a country!”.
But wait a second… what about Julie? Was this not “her” dream?
Well, then came be bombshell. Let me say upfront that celebrity stardome and politics do not necessarily make the best mix. But, regardless, soon after PKP announced his plan to free Québec from the “tyranny” of Canada (which I say sarcastically), Snyder and PKP quickly reconciled and announced their engagement — Boy that didn’t take long!.
(And back to that little quip about “tyranny”… I figure I’m just as much the face of Canada and the average Canadian as the rest of them… so if I’m considered to be the typical representation of the Dark Lord of Tyranny… then God help us all!! The world might as well end now.)
It left people asking one of two questions: (1) Did Snyder & PKP reconcile as a result of PKP pursuing their mutual dream of independence? or (2) did they reconcile because PKP was pursuing “Julie’s dream” so as to convince her to reconcile? We may never know.
“Officially”, they both stated that they knew they realized they were meant to reconcile when they both flew off to Scotland to be first-hand witnesses to Scotland’s birth as a nation on referendum night (that little bit didn’t go so well for them).
But what struck me when the media (and PKP) reported this as their “official” reason for reconciliation was that fact there was no mention of their children (seriously… you would think that “children” would be the publicly stated reason for reconcilation… not a new-found ultra-nationalist kinship with Scotland!! wouldn’t you?). I guess it brings me back to my two previous questions… Did they only get back together to achieve Québec independence or for PKP to woo Julie by persuing “her” dream? Boy, what I wouldn’t have given to have been a fly on the wall during their reconciliation pillow talk (with my eyes closed, of course).
So how’s that working out for Julie?
Let’s just say it has been quite an interesting year for Julie Snyder, for her relationship with the public, and for the Parti Québécois’ overall relationship with Québec and even its own members.
In the one year since Snyder and PKP reconciled in May 2014, PKP entered the PQ leadership race (which he will win in a few days — Today is May 11th, 2015).
A number of political commentators and columnists allege that it is Julie Snyder who is truly calling the shots behind the scene. They allege that Snyder is metaphorically ever present, just behind the stage curtain, always pushing PKP out onto stage and into the spotlight.
We may never know if this is true or not, but it has not stopped the speculation – which seems to only be increasing with time.
But much of the increasing speculation stems from Snyder’s increased vocal, and very public activism against anyone or anything who is not “nice” to her husband, and his political aspirations. For example, she has come out and publicly attacked the leader of the third party in the National assembly (François Legault), the Liberal minister of health (Gaetan Barette), and political columnists (Joanne Marcotte).
Her perceived media “soft-power” has caught the ire of a good chunk of Québec’s political circles who are facing off with the PQ. The reason: Snyder’s entertainment productions come into more contact with more of Québec’s people than any other mass media channels. She has the ability to form a message, chose the delivery method of the message, and then execute that message so that more people in Québec hear her message than anyone else’s. Her opponents are crying foul.
Seriously, it is not just anybody who would be allowed to randomly jump on stage during the concert of one of the largest pop-music icons (the Franco-Ontarienne singer, Marie-Mai – who was discovered by Snyder). Snyder’s sway and reach in the pop-culture world is unlike anything we have ever, ever seen before.
To add to the soft evidence of Snyder’s “media power interference”, just before the PQ’s vote to crown PKP as their new leader, Snyder went and collected 101 signatures from some of the best known names in the artistic and entertainment industry. The signatures were to “acknowledge”, in writing for the world to see, PKP’s contributions to Québec’s culture (and presumably to be used to boost PKP‘s chances of securing the PQ leadership, and shoring up his votes).
What was very “interesting” about this list was that some of the names (actually, more than just a few) are known federalists. Yet, these same people may depend on the PKP owned TVA television network, and perhaps Snyder’s own production company for some of their bread and butter. It left many wondering if there was a dose of unethical backroom arm-twisting to acquire the signatures. (A number of people have pointed out that what is even more intriguing is that some of Julie’s closest friend’s names do not appear on this list – such as Céline Dion. These are not people dependent upon TVA. And if they’re not willing to support their best friend Julie Snyder, then are we starting to see the very first signs of chinks in Snyder’s armour??)
As an aside, I want to give you an example of how much this can all get out of hand — and especially just how wide of a net this situation can inadvertently cast. When I started this blog, I swore I would never do a post on Celine Dion. I wasn’t going to touch her (there was just no need – everyone knows all about her). But we’re possibly starting to see the sort of damage which Snyder’s political aspirations can have for others around her. I’ll explain…
Québec’s Montréwood artistic, entertainment and celebrity industry leans heavily towards an ultra-progressive version of sovereignty. If I had to hazard a guess (and I have no numbers to back this up), I would guess it is an industry which is perhaps is 75% – 80% sovereignist (there are exceptions of course, such as Gilbert Rozon, the owner of Juste pour rire, but there are not all that many like him… and most keep quiet to keep the peace with their sovereignist peers). I understand it. Picture it… imagine you’re a celebrity in Québec, and people fall all over you for autographs, photos and just to be in your “aura” the moment you step out your door. Then picture that you drive 45 minutes from downtown Montréal to the Ontario border, you stop in the first town in Ontario (Cornwall), and nobody (who is anglophone at any rate) – has any idea who you are. You fly on Air Canada across the country, and the flight attendants, passengers, and public have absolutely no idea there’s anything special about you or your achievements. Heck… many can’t even speak to you in your language. Would you feel you’re still in your “country”? Welcome once again to the world of the Two Solitudes.
Celine Dion is a huge superstar and is best friends with Julie Snyder’s. She has never talked publicly about her political affirmations. I’ve heard high-profile celebrities say she is federalist, but I have no idea… and I’ve heard some high profile people say René Angélil is federalist, whereas others say he’s sovereignist. Regardless, Céline and René never ever talk about it publicly, and they have avoided politicizing themselves at all costs (they would alienate a huge portion of their fan-base and peers, one way or the other). This is an extremely difficult act to pull off considering the entertainment milieu in which they find themselves on a day-to-day basis.
The only time in my entire life I have ever seen Céline Dion be politicized was waaaaay back in 1990. At that time, she was making the transition to singing more and more songs in English. Québec’s “sovereignist” music industry did not like this one bit. The ADISQ awards (the Montréwood version of the Grammy’s and Juno’s) created a “separate” category just for Céline, and awarded her the best “Anglophone” singer award. Céline was less than impressed. Actually, she was pissed! When her name was called out during the awards ceremony, the look she gave René Anglil said it all. She marched up to the stage. Live, in front of hundreds of thousands of people (perhaps millions of people), she gave the ADISQ organizers a tongue lashing, she sternly affirmed she is not Anglophone, she refused the prize, and she marched off the stage. NOBODY has EVER tried to politicize Céline again. Below is the video. They all “got taught” — until now.
BUT, for the very first time since 1990, people are now dragging Céline Dion into this whole Julie Snyder rigmarole. Columnists are openly pointing out that Céline’s name does not appear anywhere on Julie’s list of 101 people artists who support PKP. They are pointing out that Céline is not getting involved in Julie’s initiatives, and that Céline is not publicly standing beside her best friend. I’m am sure this is not the sort of coverage Céline wants. She has worked her entire life to avoid getting caught up in divisive politics… as have 90% of Québec’s arts and entertainment scene (regardless of their political affirmations).
This whole Julie Snyder affair seems to be “forcing” politics down the throat of Montréwood. I can’t help but wonder (1) if this will some day backfire in the most grandiose way against Snyder, and by extention, against PKP? or (2) if this will somehow play right into the hands and the ultimate goal of the Snyder-PKP duo? This is uncharted territory, we have NEVER ever seen anything like this before in Québec or Canada. The stakes are large (the stakes of an entire country).
The Liberal government in Québec City appears to want to formulate legislation to force PKP and Snyder to divest themselves of their media empire (to forbid party leaders and their “immediate” family members from owning shares in media companies). The also are talking about revoking tax credits for production companies (ie: Julie Snyder’s company) if they provide services only to one main client, rather than to a diversity of companies. The PKP-Snyder duo are fighting back – and the PQ is taking up their cause.
The Liberal government (and the CAQ opposition party) argument is that when the PQ was in power several years ago, the PQ forced David Whissell, a liberal member of the National Assembly, to resign because of shares he owned in a company which gave the appearance of a conflict of interest. Thus, the Liberals and CAQ are arguing “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.
You can imagine how well this is going over with Julie Snyder. She came out in the media (“her & hubby’s” media, of course) alleging there is a witch hunt with her name on the “most wanted” poster.
So with all of this going on, why then is Julie Snyder ranked the #15 most trusted person in Québec?
Gee, I’m glad you asked. Like I said earlier, there is a portion of Québec’s population who agrees with Snyder’s politics and her end goals. There is a portion of Québec who has grown up watching her on television – and who, after all these years, likely feels they know her as a person. Media stars become “stars” because they forge a special bond in the hearts and minds of their fans. These people (both political supporters and die-hard fans alike) probably would list Julie Snyder as one of the people they trust the most. Hence, we see her on this list.
But as I also mentioned earlier, her main political foe, the (very) Federalist Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, ranked five places higher than Julie Snyder in the same poll. I believe that in itself speaks volumes. Are we witnessing the fading of Snyder’s star?
This coming year will be quite interesting. There are many things up in the air – and I would not even hazard to guess where she will be on the next years’ list (Higher? Lower? Even on the list?). Stay tuned on this one, and keep watching.
After all, everyone else in Québec is following this one too.
The next post will look at the “husband of the the other” (I’ll explain the expression in the next post), and someone who makes fun of them all.
Note: All videos are streamed from YouTube channels
Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 12th and 13th positions [post 7 of 11] (#262)
These next two figures in the list of the “20 most trusted people” have forever shaped Québec’s cultural landscape and collective psyche. As a reminder, this list comes from a recent poll of Québec’s public.
#12 Alain Gravel –
Montréwood and Québec’s #1 rated investigative journalism TV show is named Enquête. It is a Radio-Canada production.
Since 1997, Alain Gravel has been the main host of Enquête (which means “Inquiry” in English).
However, in September 2015, he will be giving up his position has the host of Enquête to take the role of Radio-Canada’s main morning radio host in September 2015 (replacing Marie-France Bazzo, who left Radio-Canada in April 2015, owing to a mysterious “divergence of opinions with management”; her words, not mine).
When Gravel does assume his new role as Radio-Canada’s main morning radio host, he will be directly competing with Paul Arcand (in the #3 position on the 20 most trusted individuals) for the top spot as the most listened to radio-host in Montréal (and the entire province).
Getting back to why Alan Gravel is the 12th most trusted individual in Québec…
In Québec the investigative journalism program, Enquête, is perhaps more influential, with higher “proportional” viewership numbers, than “The Fifth Estate” & “W5” in English Canada, or “60 Minutes” in the United States.
Enquête has become so powerful, that it recently lead to one of the largest political and collusion-related shakedowns in Canadian history.
If you refer back a couple posts to France Charbonneau (the #7 position on this list), the Charbonneau Commission may have never taken place had it not been for Enquête. Enquête tirelessly investigated and broke the story about illegal collusion between construction companies, unions and provincial government procurement bidding. The investigation came with a risk to the personal safety of the program’s reporters, and one of the alleged participants involved in the collusion scandal even sued Gravel for $2.5 million – which many assume was to try to stop the program’s investigation.
Nonetheless, the program continued its investigations and blew the lid off the whole story. A number of the program’s episodes aired the results of the investigation in 2009. The public’s faith in the Premier Charest’s Liberal government plummeted when Charest refused to launch an inquiry. This was one of the reasons why Jean Charest lost the 2012 election, after which the Charbonneau Commission started.
The public’s trust in Alain Gravel’s and his team’s work shot through the roof – to the point that he is now one of the most well-known, trusted public figures in Québec.
#13 Guy A. Lepage –
Guy A. Lepage was the topic of one of the very first posts of this blog. His talk show, Tout le monde en parle, was the topic of the very first blog post I wrote (the translation for Tout le monde en parle is “Everyone is talking about it”). You can read both of those blog posts by clicking the blue links. It is the second highest rated television program in Québec and Canada (after TVA’s La Voix).
Tout le monde en parle airs every Sunday night, across Canada on Radio-Canada television. It sometimes draws in over 2 million viewers per episode.
The fact that I chose to write about him and his show when I first launched this blog should already be an indication that there is something very unique about him.
Most people refer to Lepage as simply as “Guy A.”
I am going to say right up front that there is a major ideological difference between Guy A. and myself. Publicly, Guy A. can be “quite” political. He is sovereignist, he has strong nationalist sentiments for Québec, and he’s an advocate for a very strong, rather heavy welfare state. Deficits and high taxes (especially for corporations, but society in general) do not seem to be an issue for Guy A. He is quite far left (sometimes I’m not sure if the NDP would be far enough left for him). He used to vote for the Bloc Québécois (he lives in Gilles Duceppe’s former riding), but I suspect that he voted NDP the last go around (he won’t confirm that though). But with that said, Thomas Mulcair seems to be a favorite guest of his show (Guy A.’s riding is now NDP, by the way — the riding in the Le Plateau district of Montréal — Canada’s strongest Left-leaning riding).
Contrast that with me… I too can sometimes be “quite” political (if you haven’t noticed from time to time). But I am federalist, and my nationalistic sentiments are a bit wider – for both Québec and the rest of Canada. I too take an interest in both Québec’s and Canada’s progressive future… but I have a notable streak of financial and business (small “c”) conservatism in me (a range of politics which Lepage generally has not looked favorable upon). I would say that economically, I certainly am further to the right of Guy A. Fiscally, I am right of centre (Lepage is to the left). But on social issues I’m more centred and left of centre (if I feel we can find a way to pay for the programs with a balanced budget). Thus politically speaking, I’m kind of all over the map – which makes me a political orphan. And my vote has a tendency to be more fluid.
That’s all to say that Guy A. Lepage’s politics and my politics are not the same.
Yet, I have a good deal of respect for Guy A., and my respect for him has only grown with time. I believe I have seen him change as a public figure over the past two to three years – from someone who tries to “push” a political agenda through his television program, to being someone who tries to “round out” everyone’s views through his television program. He doesn’t shy aware from where he stands politically, but he seems to be making more and more of an effort to include “alternate” and “competing voices” in public debate.
Québec’s “public political debate” forum has always been in its legislature. But there seems to have been a metaphorical shift the last decade. It seems to have shifted, in large part, from the National Assembly (the Québec legislature) to Guy A.’s interview program, Tout le monde en parle.
Metaphorically, he is both the interviewer and the “Speaker of the House”. Every Sunday night, a huge portion of Québec’s public rushes home to make sure they catch the latest show (which runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes !!). It is also simultaneously broadcast live on the radio across Canada. It is the #1 rated program for Radio-Canada.
The issues of the week are discussed openly on the show, and players on all sides are invited. Invitees can be as varied as politicians, celebrities, pop-culture icons, professionals, sports stars, and ordinary people. The who’s who of Québec society regularly appears on the program, as do all major news-makers. Guy A. makes an effort to invite panels of opposing views, which can sometimes make for interesting sparks.
Careers have been made as a result of appearing on Tout le monde en parle, and other careers have been broken following appearances. Regardless, it would be political or career suicide to not turn down an invitation to appear on the program (if you are not there to defend yourself when you are going to be the topic of conversation, you might as well hang up your hat on the spot).
An example: Jack Layton probably would have not taken all of Québec, when the NDP won the province in 2012, had he not accepted Guy A.’s invitation to appear on Tout le monde en parle. He performed brilliantly on the program, and the next day his popularity in Québec went through the roof. In many ways, it won him the province. Likewise, Justin Trudeau appeared a couple of times on the program, and (hmmm… how should I put it…) his performance was “less than stellar”. The Federal Liberal’s ratings in Québec went down after his appearance, and it has never really fully recovered (he appeared during the winter of 2015, and it is now May 2015).
Guy A. is a strong supporter of the Arts and Entertainment industry. Little-known signers have been invitees on the program. But after their appearance, they became instant household names and saw amazing record sales (New Brunswick’s Lisa Leblanc is a prime example… she became a huge French-language music star after appearing on Tout le monde en parle).
On the opposite end of the scale, there was another celebrity, a comedian (who will go unnamed) who made mesogenous remarks about another celebrity on his blog. He took a lot of heat for that move, and was sued. Appearing on Tout le monde parle perhaps was his last chance to publicly redeem himself. He appeared on the program, but came across miserably. The public seemed to lose all confidence in him, and days later he permanently retired from show-business.
Guy A. is not only one of the most well-known people in Québec, but his program’s “soft-power” makes him one of the most powerful people in Québec (this is truly not an understatement).
I admit that I used to be more than a little concerned that he was wielding his own political views a bit too much on the program, in support of his own political agenda. The controversial nature of the program shot the ratings through the roof! It was a windfall for Radio-Canada (the advertising dollars were spectacular!!). But at the same time, it must have also been a huge ethical and moral dilemma for Radio-Canada; in the sense that the #1 program for Canada’s “national” public broadcaster had a pro-sovereignty, and very far-left political bias to it (I cannot imagine being the head of CBC / Radio-Canada and having to deal with such a scenario).
But as I said, Guy A. has tamed down remarkably (Of his own free will? Perhaps, but I don’t know). I and everyone else knows where he personally stands on many issues. But I think we all recognize that his tone has changed. He now seems to give more space (actually a good portion of the show’s overall airtime) for opposing views. He does so in a very respectful manner (much more respectful than in the past, without much of the past “cynicism” we used to expect from him or 3/4 of his panel).
That’s why he has earned my respect. It is an extremely difficult thing to try to remain politically neutral, or to give political breathing space to opposing politics. For such a political-oriented personality as Guy A. Lepage, the challenge must be even greater than for most people.
But the results of his efforts are visible, and commendable.
As a side note: I have met a few people who “personally” know Guy A. Lepage. Although I have never met Lepage him myself (perhaps I will some day), people who know him tell me he is one of the most personable, most “humble” people you could meet… without any sign of having an off-screen “confrontational” character, or of having an ego. I suppose that says a lot too.
When you take all of this into consideration, that is why he is one of Québec’s most trusted individuals.
The next post will look at two very interesting characters.