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

… Or if anything, it makes you think twice.

www.antagoniste.net

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This is a French language blog with hundreds and hundreds of posts which comments on everything happening in Québec… especially politics, but in many other societal spheres as well.  It is written by “David”.

A word of warning:  Antagonist.net is an opinion-maker website and should not be taken as 100% objective.  But hey – what blogger’s website out there is strictly objective.

Although many (most?) of its posts are right of centre and Federalist, many of its posts could also be considered centre (and sometimes even difficult to place).   There are also a good deal of posts which those on the left, as well as sovereignists would concede make sense.

In this light, there could be a little bit of something and food for thought for everyone (Left, Centre, Right, Federalist, Sovereignist).

There are lots of charts and graphics.   Who doesn’t like charts and graphics?

And unlike me… they keep posts short and simple (something I can probably learn from 😉 ).

Just to give an example of what I mean, and using some of its recent posts as examples:

  • Today there was a post on sexual crime statistics,
  • Yesterday there was a post listing the top 5 news stories in Québec, and the top 5 news stories in Canada as a whole.
  • A few weeks ago (21 May 2015), PKP declared that Québec would be the 17th richest countries in the world, richer than Sweden and Germany, if it were to secede from Canada (Québec’s news organizations went to town with PKP’s statement and reported it with grande pompe).  Yet Antagoniste.net provided us statistics to show that if Canada were to break up and Québec were to secede, Québec would be far behind the 17th position, with $10,000 less purchasing power per person than Germany or Sweden.   Oooops!!!   Oh, and there are pretty (and revealing charts) to go along with it.

Have a look.   Despite sometimes being “Antagonistic” (take such posts with a grain of salt), it is nonetheless quite interesting.

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Paul Arcand (#176)

Paul  Arcand is one of Québec’s best known opinion-maker talk-show radio hosts, and is best known in the Montréal area (where his daily radio show is broadcast).  However, unlike many other Québec opinion makers, he rarely aligns himself with controversial subjects, and he keeps his show relevant to what the vast majority of people can relate to.  It is one of the reasons why he is so popular, and in this sense, he is associated with being a man of the common people.

He has been on the radio for 35 years.  Paul Arcand would be the first person many people in Québec would think of when their thoughts turn to Québec talk radio (simply by virtue that the region in which he is broadcast contains over half of Québec’s population).

To give you an idea of his popularity, this past week, the internet in Québec was abuzz regarding Paul Arcand “losing it” on the radio when he heard his name being used (not very flatteringly) in a radio advertisement for a product. (If you’re learning French, “losing it” or “freaking out” can be referred to as “péter une coche”).  In short, Arcand did not give his consent for his name to be used in the advertisement.  Needless to say, he did not take too kindly to the idea of his own station played such an advertisement, and he let his station have it on air.

It became one of the most viewed news stories of the week in Québec, which attests to his popularity with the public (this would not have been a story had someone less popular made a deal of a similar issue).  Like I mentioned earlier, probably the reason why he is so popular is because his approach to topics, and the way he presents them resonates so well with the public (as does any popular radio host).

He hosts the morning show, “Puisqu’il faut se lever” (Since you have to get up) on 98,5 FM Montréal.   It should therefore come as no surprise that he is the voice who many people in Montréal listen to while getting ready for work or during their morning commute.

98,5 FM’s official website is:  http://www.985fm.ca/

You can listen to 98,5 FM at the above link.

Paul Arcand’s morning radio show can be listed to as an online re-broadcast at http://www.985fm.ca/em/puisqu-il-faut-se-lever-391.html

If you’re learning French, perhaps try listening to Arcand’s shows online for a week or two.  See if it helps with your comprehension skills.   The language he uses is at an average speed, but it not overly filled with Joual or slang.   This might be a good way to ease yourself from “news reporter” French, towards more “street informal” French.  In addition, the topics he discusses and how he discusses them are relevant and should also be of interest to the average Anglophone Canadian.

If you find you listen to 98,5 FM on a regular basis, they have a downloadable app which works quite as well (it covers all the Cogeco FM network radio stations – a grouping of various talk show radio stations in different cities of Québec).

Enjoy the programs!

2015-02-08

 

The Duo “Coderre – Lebeaume” (#175)

A new travelling road-show has taken to the stage over the past couple of months, and the fans are loving it.  However, they have not yet hired a band or back-up singers.

During the winter, we have been witness to the rise of a different type of media sensation in Québec, quite different from anything we’ve seen in Québec or Canada – at least during my time.   The mayors of two major cities, Montréal and Québec City have entered into what can only be described as a political marriage (for lack of a better term) – and they’ve taken it on the road.  But what is more significant, this hand-in-hand “best friend” relationship has turned them into celebrities of a completely different type; almost with rock-star status.

Denis Coderre (Montréal’s mayor) and Régis Lebeaume are together so often in the news, at events, and as a part of each other’s city’s respective initiatives that I’m left wondering if they’re spending more time travelling between each other’s cities than they are in their own cities (Québec City and Montréal are a three hour drive apart, after all).

We have three levels of government (Federal, Provincial and Municipal), but in Québec, this duo has seemingly forged a relationship which appears to be operating as a fourth level or province unto itself (take your pick), that of the “Montréal-Québec City” government (singular).   The two mayors are speaking as one voice, even on issues that don’t concern each other’s cities, to maximize attention to issues and to get what they want from the federal and the provincial governments.   As a duo, they have become a sort of “Captain Municipality”, standing up for issues important to smaller communities which do not necessarily have the populations behind them to bring their issues to the forefront.

It’s almost as if Coderre and Lebaume are now operating as their own city council, giving each other the nod before either embarks on any individual project, and this new approach to municipal politics is making waves.  The public cannot get enough of it and both Coderre and Lebeaume have been appearing on television and radio talk shows together, non-stop, for weeks on end.

Any time politicians gang up together to get what they want from another level of government, you would expect there to be verbal clashes and fighting.   But what I find fascinating is that they’re not confrontational towards either the Federal government (Ottawa) nor towards the provincial government (Québec), and the higher level of governments are not being confrontational towards this duo neither.  Instead, all levels are meeting together, almost as chummy friends, to talk about issues.  What’s more, they’re all meeting as if they were “equal-level” partners – and we’re not hearing many of the condescending tones towards the city level which we often hear from the provincial governments (or federal government).

There are probably a few reasons why this Coderre-Lebeaume approach has not degenerated into conflict.

  • One is that the mayors bring “population numbers” with them to the tables. It is in the interest of higher level governments to meet on friendly ground with the mayors (it would be political suicide, especially in a federal election year, to peeve off such large base populations).
  • The second reason likely stems from both Coderre’s and Lebeaume’s personal backgrounds. Coderre is a career politician (30+ years in the Federal government), and Lebeaume was a successful businessman.  Both have the experience and knowledge to know that things do not change overnight.  In this sense, they are patient and seemingly quite understanding of financial constraints and political nuances when talking to their provincial and federal counterparts.  They’re making demands, but they’re also giving higher levels of government a lot of slack in light of current economics.  Likewise, their federal and provincial counterparts are affording this mayoral duo due respect and consideration in return (these “new” dynamics are truly fascinating to watch – and not just from my point of view, but from that of Québec at large – the media coverage of it speaks for itself).
  • Another reason likely has something to do with this duo’s personalities. I get the impression both mayors want to approach matters with a win-win approach (regardless if you agree or not with their stances on issues).  Both are very personable people, with populist personalities, and they are very media savvy.  They love to laugh and make jokes on camera, and common people can’t get enough of them.
  • Perhaps the feature of this duo which the public finds the most attractive is that they seem to be above petty ideological politics – something which the public in Québec is not used to seeing in many other politicians. In the case of the Coderre-Lebeaume couple, it’s almost a case of “opposites attract”.  Denis Coderre is very federalist (as I stated above, he was a federal Liberal MP and minister in Ottawa for decades, fighting hard for Canada, including during the 1995 referendum).   Régis Lebeaume has traditionally supported sovereignty.  But in their roles as mayors, they’ve been able to do something very few other politicians in Québec have ever been able to do… they put these ideological differences behind them, rolling up their sleeves, calling others players to the tables, working with them, and addressing matters head-on.
  • Montréal went through a rough patch of mayoral scandals and controversies the past few years (a water-metre scandal, one mayor resigned because of corruption in city bureaucracy, and another mayor was arrested for corruption).  Québec City’s population was also polarized by a prior divisive mayor.   The rise of Denis Coderre and Régis Lebeaume came as a breath of fresh air to many – even for those who may not agree with their policies.

This duo’s ratings continue to be sky-high.  Even those who perhaps are not so hot on their individual policies find this duo has a certain star appeal.

If I can draw a parallel, Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, recently won the “world’s best mayor” award.  Upon receiving the award, he was asked if it posed problems that he is a progressive mayor in a conservative city (Nenshi could very easily be a Liberal, and perhaps even NDP whereas his city’s electorate is quite conservative.  Yet Calgary loves him).  Nenshi responded I reject these terms – ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’. I think they are meaningless to the vast majority of people, who just want good government at a decent price.  As the former Governor of Washington and Senator, Dan Evans, wrote in 2002, “There are no Republican schools or Democrat highways, no liberal salmon or conservative parks.” I really believe that this kind of categorization alienates people and keeps them from participating in the political process.” 

In the case of the Coderre-Lebeaume duo, their relationship seems to be based on the same principles.  In their roles as Québec politicians, this duo is a rare breed which seems to have rejected the terms ‘federalist’ and ‘sovereignist’.  Rather, they are taking on the issues, one-by-one, with the attitude that city issues are neither federalist, nor sovereignist, neither Liberal, Conservative, nor Péquiste.  In return, higher governments have repaid them in kind for their “depolitization” of municipal politics (which works well for both the provincial Liberals, and federal Conservatives).  Higher levels of governments have repaid by not “playing politics” with city governments.

One could ask themselves how much of the media hype around this duo is owing to their electric and populist personalities.   It is obvious that they are a good match on that front (these two probably wouldn’t be dancing if their personalities didn’t matcH).  I get the impression the public can’t get enough of this duo owing to the fact that it is simply rare to see politicians working so well together on so many levels, and even more rare to see politicians laughing and joking as a duo as they go about their jobs (hand-in-hand).

Something unexpected just happened in the last couple of days… the Coderre-Lebeaume duo may be opening up their relationship.  When they were in Toronto for the annual Canadian mayor’s conference this last week, Coderre had one-on-one indepth discussions with Toronto’s mayor, John Tory (one of their meetings lasted two hours).  Tory’s personality is not far off from either Coderre’s or Lebeaume’s and Toronto and Montréal pledged they are going to start to work together.  Is the Québec duo positioning itself for a menage-à-trois?.

A few days ago, Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, travelled to Québec City and had meetings with Régis Lebeaume. Perhaps the relationship has the potential to become even kinkier than a ménage-à-trois (politically speaking, of course).  After all, Toronto’s John Tory, and Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi also both speak French (and French is the language of love, n’est ce pas?  Oh la la!).  Regardless, this kinkier political twist and turn is just pure speculation on my part (only a political infidelity divorce filing or love child time will tell)… But in the meantime, we’re going to see more and more of this political couple – and it is rapidly changing the face of Québec politics.

Perhaps they’ll soon hire that band I mentioned, along with back-up singers for their travelling road show to go with all the rest 😉 .

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

This post will be on the very hot-button issue of oil pipelines in Québec.  The pipeline company, TransCanada, is planning to upgrade existing cross-Canada pipelines, and build extensions.  It will pipe Canadian domestic “oil-sands” oil to Eastern Canadian refineries for the very first time in history (currently, Eastern Canadian refineries refine imported foreign oil or oil brought in from Western Canada by train).

Here’s a map I made which gives a general overview of the plans (click to enlarge)

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Unless you watch or listen to the media in French, people in predominantly Anglophone provinces seldom hear the actual conversations going on between Québécois themselves (it’s kind of an unfortunate reality, but then again, provincially-specific topics in Canada are rarely discussed anywhere but in their own respective provinces, regardless if they are in English or French).

I was driving from Québec City to Montréal earlier this week and listening to a Québec City radio station when I overheard an interesting discussion between two rather influential public figures.  It was a discussion of opposing views on the whole issue of oil pipelines being laid across Québec.  I thought I’d translate a portion of the conversation and share it with you to give a little bit of insight of how people in Québec are viewing the issues.    The next Federal election is slated for end October 2015 (unless for some reason it’s called soon after the March budget – which looks less and less likely), and this conversation embodies how the issue is being discussed in the run-up to the election.

Carl Monette is a radio program host on Radio-X, Québec City – Eastern Québec’s most listened to radio station.

Bernard Drainville is a contender for the leadership of the Parti Québécois.  He is a former PQ cabinet minister, and used to be a well-known reporter for Radio-Canada.

The following is a translation (from French) of a small part of their much larger conversation on Radio-X.  This particular segment relates directly to oil piplelines.

—————————- ————————–

DRAINVILLE:  [In a conversation about sovereignty, Drainville says…]  If we cannot hold a referendum in the first mandate [if we can win the next election], then we need to take the time during that mandate to show to the electorate that we’re able to [achieve sovereignty].  We need to give the economic numbers, we need to present economic and financial forecasts.   We need to demonstrate that it will be a good thing. Look what’s happening with the [TransCanada] pipeline [which they want to build across Québec].   [Liberal Québec Premier] Couillard tells us we have to accept a pipeline which moves 1.1 million barrels of oil a day, on our soil, solely in exchange for a [$9 billion federal] equalization cheque.   For me, forget the equalization cheque – because just look at the price tag which will come with it for us:  It’s going to be a 100 year pipeline, it can actually last 100 years if it’s well maintained.   So then [within that period], who’s going to pay if it bursts?   Who?  Who’s going to pay if it bursts [sometime in the next 100 years]?  (note:  I’m assuming he means that TransCanada, the company, may not exist in say 40 or 80 years, just as companies which existed 50 years ago don’t exist today).

MONETTE:  So then, are we better to then just continue importing our gas from Texas, already refined, on our St. Lawrence River?   You want it to be done this way rather than bringing it in from here at home, refine it here at home, and using it here at home?  That’s what I understand you to be saying.

(note:  Eastern Canada imports oil primarily from North Africa, Venezuela, and somewhat from the US.  This is because there are no pipelines from Western Canada.  Whereas Western Canada’s gasoline is mostly from domestic sources, Eastern Canadian gasoline is primarily imported from other countries).

DRAINVILLE:  Come on, we don’t refine anything here at home.  The TransCanada pipeline…

MONETTE: So then we don’t do anything?  We do absolutely nothing?   The money that Canada will make from the pipeline, it’s going to come back to us.  It’s also our money too you know.

DRAINVILLE:  The TransCanada pipeline, it’s used to transport oil across our territory [Québec], which is not refined here.  [The pipline’s] only function is [to move the oil from West to East], to export the oil.

MONETTE:  Yes, but that money, who do you think it goes to?   Canadians get it.

DRAINVILLE:  (Pause, & puffing noise)

MONETTE:  We get it back in taxes!  Would you rather pay for oil from Texas, and bring it in by boat on our St. Lawrence, than bring it in by pipeline?   I don’t understand you.

DRAINVILLE:  My objective is to reduce our dependence on oil.  You know, our oil comes in from elsewhere, regardless if it comes from Alberta, Newfoundland, or Saudi Arabia – it all comes from elsewhere.  It’s about time that we replace…

MONETTE:  Why not bring it in from here at home?  It’s always better to bring it in from our own country than from another, or a Mid-East country, or the United States?

DRAINVILLE:  What’s the interest in allowing a pipeline which brings us hardly any major advantages?

MONETTE:  It’s the most secure form of oil transportation that exists.  It’s coming across our territory [Québec] regardless.  So we’re better to take it in this manner for the time being [by pipeline], and once we develop other resources, then we’ll take those other sources.  But for the time being, I know it sucks, but my car doesn’t run on water.

DRAINVILLE:  Well, once we get to that point, the pipeline, we’re going to be stuck with it for 100 years.  I’m not one for that.  I think there are ways we can develop… Yes, I think you’re right, we have to make a transition.  Of course we’re going to continue to use oil for a certain period of time…

MONETTE:  We don’t have a choice.  Look around you.  About 95% of anything you see if made from oil.  We don’t have a choice.   I don’t want to buy my oil from the United States, or from the Middle-East.  We have it here, so why don’t we use it in our own country?

DRAINVILLE:  No, not with the [environmental] price that’s to be paid for it.  Not with the risks that come with it.   It’s not right what you’re proposing.   The oil sands, the dirtiest form that exists.

MONETTE:  When it comes to oil, there is no such thing as dirtier or less dirty, or half-dirty… Can we just agree on this?  I don’t want boats coming here from Texas with oil that has already be refined.

DRAINVILLE:  I’m going to tell you something… If you run a pipe under my property, but I’m the one who assumes all the risks, if an accident does ever occur, then I’m the one who’s on the hook for cleaning it up.   Can you think of a reason why I should say that’s ok?

MONETTE:  Ok… we have the (Québec) Ministry of Natural Resources who have already announced that the risks are going to be assumed by the pipeline companies. It was all covered in the media last week.

DRAINVILLE:  Oh, come on… look at how you believe that sort of thing!

MONETTE:  Yes. Well, it’s better than listening to the Parti Québécois when they say we’ll be living a rainbow dream with separation and that will make us rich.

DRAINVILLE:  We saw how much the “beautiful assurances” did for us when we saw what happened in Lac-Mégantique.  (Note:  A train, moving oil from North Dakota to Maine, transited Québec two years ago, derailed, exploded, killed about 40 people, and basically blew an entire town off the face of the map – it was an awful tragedy, and emotions have been running sky-high ever since). Frankly, in Lac-Mégantique, Transport Canada didn’t do its job – Specifically Transport Canada.  We saw the risks involved when you transit oil through our territory.   Don’t you think it’s possible to draw some lessons from that experience?  Don’t you think we can create a goal of reducing our dependence on oil?  Are we not able to resist jumping on board in such projects, such as those of TransCanada which do nothing but make us run enormous risks for marginal benefits?

MONETTE:  Oh, come on. No way, No way.  It will be billions of dollars in taxes which will go into Federal coffers from this.

DRAINVILLE:  Yah, there you go (sarcastic tone), right, the Federal government is going to put the money in “their” pockets.

MONETTE:  Well, they’re giving us right now $9 billion dollars [in equalization payments], so I’m not jumping on the line you’re feeding me, you know. We’re never going to agree on this.

DRAINVILLE:  No, on this we’re not going to agree on, but there will be other things we can agree on.

MONETTE:  Yes.

The two concluded their conversation on other topics.   After hanging up, Monette had the following to say…

MONETTE:  Bernard Drainville is someone for whom I still have respect, even if I agree with almost none of his stances, except for the Charter of Values.   He’s come to the studio for past live interviews.  We always have good discussions, but then we always finish in a pile of crap (tout le temps dans la marde).   It’s not complicated – it usually goes like this… we start out never agreeing, our conversations go slowly up-hill, it turns an a not-so-great direction, but at least we finished on a good note.

—————————- ————————–

As you can see, pipelines are very hot-button issues in Québec, with many people at odds on how to view them.  I’m doing my best to write this post in as an objective manner as possible (I do have long-standing views on oil pipelines myself, but I don’t consider my views to be extreme, one way or the other.  I consider them to be balanced, but in this post, I won’t discuss my own specific views in order to maintain a more neutral tone).

I can tell you, from my own personal experience in discussing this issue with friends in different regions of Québec, the whole issue of pipelines can become very emotional.  There can be a strong principle & ideological based divide between people who believe pipelines are mostly an environmental matter versus those who believe they are mostly an economic matter.  Adding to this complex mix, some people believe the issues should be managed strictly on a principle and ideological-based platform, and others believe the issues should be managed strictly on a practical, quick results, and a day-to-day reality basis.  Regardless of your views on oil pipelines, more than in any other province in Canada, it would be in Québec where you would be likely to get into a very heated and emotional discussion on this issue (of course there are exceptions in every province, but I’m presenting this post in very general terms).

Probably only a few major issues will play into how Québécois will vote in the next Federal election (perhaps 4 or 5 major issues).  One of the main issues will be the issue of laying oil pipelines within Québec.

In order to understand the issues, it’s important to mention that environmental and natural resource issues are usually “provincial” jurisdiction – but they constitutionally become federal jurisdiction when it enters the realm of cross-border domestic pipelines or cross-border international pollution – and thus because the pipelines will be crossing various provincial borders, the matter has become federal jurisdiction.  It thus becomes an issue for the federal vote.   That being said, Federal parties are more than aware that it would be political suicide to not include their provincial counterparts in the discussion, and at the very minimum, give weight to what provincial governments have to say (even if it’s not provincial jurisdiction).  Much like BC and Ontario, Québec’s provincial government has said it will not give their (symbolic) consent to the TransCanada pipeline project unless certain environmental and safety conditions are met (Québec and Ontario drafted a list).  Despite the province not having jurisdiction to impose such conditions, it would be political suicide for the Federal government to ignore such conditions – and thus the Feds are agreeing to accept provincially outlined conditions.

People in Western Canada are generally used to dealing with pipeline issues.  Generally speaking (and yes, I’m overgeneralizing here):

  • we see strong support for pipelines in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba,
  • little support for them in BC (particularly in urban regions where the majority of the population resides, and especially when discussing pipelines in environmentally sensitive areas),
  • very mixed signals towards them in Ontario (Ontario is a funny case – some regions are ok with them, yet other regions and people are quite skeptical or anti-pipeline)
  • Pro-pipeline and luke-warm support in Atlantic Canada (yet NB is quite anti-fracking, which is interesting because other pro-pipeline regions across North America are often OK with fracking),
  • A very mixed bag in Québec, but overall, a negative view towards pipelines being laid in the province. But there seems to be a lot of soul-searching on the issue in Québec at the moment.

I say there’s a mixed bag in Québec because of the Montréal / Québec City political and economic divide.  Québec is often a Tale of Two Provinces (a concept very poorly understood in the rest of Canada).  It’s a split between two major population zones; the East (Greater Québec City, and to some extent Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean / Beauce), and the West (Greater Montréal and to some extent other adjacent regions).

To give you an idea just how differently these two regions think, view issues and vote, you need to look no further than today’s Crop-La Presse poll on Québec City’s voting intentions :

  • In Québec City region, with 37% of intended votes, the Federal Conservatives would win the majority of the vote if an election were held today.  They would also likely pick up additional seats. The 2nd place goes to the NPD (31%), the Federal Liberals are 3rd place (they get 21%), and the Bloc Québécois is 4th place with 11%
  • The poll didn’t give Montréal (West Québec) voting intentions, but it did give Québec’s overall voting intentions as a whole. The Liberals and in 1st place (37%), the NDP 2nd place (30%), the Bloc Québécois has 3rd place (17%) and the Conservative are 4th place (13%).   That 13% presumably is entirely concentrated in the Québec City and adjacent regions.
  • These latter numbers are for Québec as a whole, but Montréal votes much heavier for the NDP than other reasons. In Montréal, I would not be surprised if the NDP has 1st place, the Liberals 2nd, if the Bloc is 3rd, and the Conservatives have almost zero (the exact opposite from Québec City and Eastern Québec).  These are what recent past polls have shown at any rate.

Montréal, and surrounding regions (which has the bulk of Québec’s population) are generally against pipelines – and you see this reflected with almost zero Conservative support in the Montréal region.  There is a strong anti-pipeline activist movement in the region and in Montréwood media.  People in the region often take a harder environmental line based on principle.  Yes, I know there are nuances, but this is a general overview.

Québec City and surrounding regions (the 2nd most populous region of Québec) are not as hostile towards to the idea of pipelines, and you’ll note that the Conservatives are leading in this region.  There is a major refinery in the Québec City metro region (Lévis), and people in the region are used to seeing (with their own eyes) petroleum ocean tankers going down the St. Lawrence, past downtown Québec, and docking at the oil terminal port in Lévis (when I was in Québec City this week, I stood on the banks of the St. Lawrence and watched as a couple foreign oil tanker steamed passed me – it was interesting to watch them dock at the refineries – and even more interesting to know that this very oil, be it from Africa or Venezuela, could very likely end up in my car’s tank in Toronto in a few weeks time).    Also, overall political tendencies in the Greater Québec City region can be very different from those in Montréal.

If we look back to the radio conversation, both sides said things which are valid, and there are many other things both sides could have used in their respective arguments.  As you could see, the conversation was generally discussed on an environmental vs. economic scale.  Some of the facts which both Drainville and Monette gave were not correct, and some of the facts both gave were correct but incomplete.  But the points which were incorrect were not major inaccuracies.

Drainville could have mentioned additional argument points, such as:

  • the high CO2 emissions and waste water created from the oil-sand extraction process (in Alberta)
  • issues regarding water and solid waste resulting from the oil-sand extraction process (in Alberta)
  • the need to inject polluting and diluting chemicals directly into the heavy oil within the pipelines in order to make the oil viscous enough to be transported – and the problems of what to do with all these chemicals after the oil reaches its destination
  • the emissions which will come from the Suncor, Lévis and Irving refineries in Québec and New Brunswick once a heavier oil is refined in these three refineries (imported oil, currently being refined in here is much lighter and doesn’t require as much upgrading).
  • Even after refining and consuming the pipelines’ oil, there will be an excess of oil (about 1/3 of all the oil piped in the pipeline) which can be exported from Québec ports to other countries of the world. To date, proposed locations for new export terminal ports have been in environmentally sensitive areas, such as Cacouna, Québec – a place where noise-sensitive Beluga whales (an endangered species) mate and rear their young. (Note, two weeks ago, both TransCanada pipelines, the Québec government and the Federal government all agreed Cacouna is not an acceptable place to locate an export port – and they’re now searching for a new location)
  • With more pipelines come more oil extraction, and there is a question as to whether “per-ton of oil” reductions in pollution can outpace “per-ton increases” in oil extraction.
  • The potential damage to the environment (in Alberta and Québec, through potential pipe leaks, oil tanker accidents, and general emissions), while waiting for better environmental results to come about, could be severe.

Monnette could have mentioned things such as:

  • Alberta’s provincial government carbon market imposes financial penalties on oil companies which pollute above a certain bar. The penalties are paid on a per-ton of pollution basis, and monies garnered are automatically placed in an environmental technology development fund.   Companies have therefore been actively developing ways to reduce their pollution per ton of oil extracted, and every year there are better results per barrel of oil.   If results continue in this same direction for another 30 years, there could be very promising results which will satisfy a much larger part of Québec’s concerns.
  • Alberta’s government has been investing massively in developing new environmental pollution control technologies, and has been making substantial progress.
  • The Québec Provincial government and BAPE (A Québec Ministry of Environment public consultation mechanism) have imposed newly developed, strict environmental and safety conditions on the Federal government. They minimize risks of accidents on any portion of the pipeline and oil transport process.
  • Both the Suncor oil refinery in Montréal’s East End, and the Jean-Gaulin refinery in Lévis (Québec City) will, for the first time ever, be refining domestic oil. In order to refine the heavier oil-sands oil, they will require major upgrades with the latest and most modern environmental technology available (more modern than almost any other refinery in the world).   Thus, their pollution controls will be among the strictest available anywhere in the world (better than they currently are), and they will directly create hundreds of direct jobs in Québec, and thousands of indirect jobs.
  • Oil tanker ships are already doing daily runs on the St-Lawrence (Québec City residents see them every day, but Montréal residents don’t see them owing to the location of docking locations). The situation wouldn’t change from today’s current situation, except for the direction the tankers will take.   In addition, all levels of government and private industry are looking for a much safer and environmentally friendly location for an additional export port (after Cacouna’s rejection).
  • There will no longer be any need to transport oil by train across Québec (which is much more dangerous than through pipelines).
  • Pipelines already cross under the St. Lawrence River and all across Québec (even underneath various parts of Montréal City itself), so in this respect, there would be nothing different from what is already being proposed, and nobody has complained before.  The new pipeline would be even more modern and safer than existing pipelines.
  • Current oil tankers bringing in foreign oil on the St. Lawrence are often from developing countries, and their safety designs are not as good as those proposed for the new tankers which will take Canadian oil from Québec ports to foreign markers (thicker hulls, newer technology, etc.).

There are many other arguments both Drainville and Monette could have made, apart from the ones I mentioned above.  But some arguments become quite complex and technical (while still remaining quite significant).  They’re not generally arguments made on a fast-paced radio program or around a kitchen table.

Regardless, Premier Couillard’s nix (a complete ban) earlier this week on any shale gas extraction within Québec was directly related to the public’s lack of appetite for running various environmental risks.  That in itself shows just how touchy a matter energy and the environment can be in many parts of Québec – regardless of what arguments and counter-arguments are presented.

But what really makes things complex is that there is a large part of Québec (the Québec City and surrounding regions) which would be for the pipelines, whereas another large part of Québec (Montréal and surrounding regions) is very much anti-pipelines.    There’s a lot of internal debate in Québec, and heavy-weight public personalities, on both sides of the issues, are making very vocal arguments in the media – television, radio, and newspapers (often anti-pipeline voices are heard much louder simply by nature the Québec’s media base being physically located in Montréal).

It will be very interesting to see how things pan out over the next year.  I personally predict that the pipeline will be built, a much less sensitive location will be found for the new export port, but that the Federal Conservatives and Liberals will both continue to pay a political price in the Montréal region (whereas they’ll continue to fare quite well in the Québec City region) — status quo if you will.  The provincial Liberal government’s own public opinion ratings (and the CAQ which is allied with the government on this issue), as well as those of the opposition PQ may also see similar political consequences shift in théier favour or against them based on a Montréal / Québec City split.

That’s my prediction, but time will tell.  As usual, things will remain quite interesting.

fnry1 fnry2

No way, le Figaro (#76)

A word of caution:  Subjects discussed here are rapidly evolving, and certain matters quickly become outdated.  Refer to the addendums at the bottom for the most updated information.

French President, François Hollande, is on a state visit to Canada.  Because of the strong business relations being forged between Alberta and France, he chose to visit Alberta as his first stop to Canada, Ottawa as his second stop, and Québec as his third.   This was a break from tradition which sees French Presidents or Prime Ministers generally visit Ottawa first and Québec second (or sometimes the other way around if the trip to Québec is viewed as a private visit).  This trip to Alberta was not to be considered a snub to Québec.   There are simply important business matters developing between various provinces and France, and President Hollande made note during his trip that he viewed the economic activities of Alberta as being vital to France and Québec alike.

Hollande decided to give Alberta a nod of confidence, and Canada a nod of confidence, including Québec.   For Albertans, it was a humbling gesture — the people of Alberta were very honoured and grateful (media coverage within Alberta was extensive — I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much local coverage granted to any other visited head of state to Alberta, including those of US Presidents… that in itself should speak volumes).  This gesture will go a long way to building Alberta’s feelings of interest and affection towards France, and towards all of our cousins in La Francophonie in general.

Then Le Figaro, a major national newspaper in France, in one fell swoop, came out with a thunder stealing article, and gave Alberta a few hard kicks to the gut. Quote:

Le camouflet de Stephen Harper à François Hollande:  À la veille de la venue du président de la République français au Canada, le gouvernement dirigé par Stephen Harper a décidé de rebaptiser le pont Champlain, à Montréal, en pont Maurice-Richard, du nom d’un joueur de hockey populaire. Le Français Samuel de Champlain, fondateur de Québec en 1608, passe à la trappe, alors même que François Hollande a choisi de se rendre dans la très francophobe Alberta. Un symbole fort.

Ok, Le Figaro… you had your word.  I’ll now have mine...

Quand vous nous appelez “la très francophobe Alberta”, précisément de qui et de quoi parlez-vous ?

Si vous parlez d’un peuple ou d’un gouvernement dans son ensemble (ce que vous me laissiez croire), en êtes-vous au courant que le gouvernement de l’Alberta investit, chaque année, de plus en plus d’argent dans l’édification de nouvelles écoles francophones et d’immersion, y compris leur soutien croissant dans l’éducation du français en général?   Il le fait non seulement de nécessité pour les francophones de la province, mais également comme démarche afin de rendre les anglophones plus bilingues – qui d’ailleurs, a pour effet de faire en sorte que l’Alberta puisse s’intégrer davantage dans la francophonie à la fois pancanadienne, à la fois globale.  Et ce, sans toutefois parler de son investissement dans le rendement des services en français

Au niveau individuel, en êtes-vous au courant qu’en ce moment, le nombre d’élèves en Alberta qui suivent des cours de français est l’équivalent de la population totale de toute la ville de Montpellier en France?  Saviez-vous que la demande des parents d’inscrire leurs enfants dans les cours d’immersion est si accrue qu’il existe maintenant des listes d’attente en raison d’une manque de professeurs?  (Note aux lecteurs et lectrices de France: si vous êtes professeur et vous êtes à la recherche d’emploi, Alberta en a besoin de vous.  Salaire de première année 40,000 € (55,000$CAD), salaire de cinquième année 55,000 € (75,000$CAD), avec prestations pour professeurs aussi bonnes en Alberta qu’en France – et ils/elles seront aceuilli(e)s à bras ouverts).

J’imagine, à moins que j’ai tort, que vous ne parliez pas de moi, ni de ma famille, ni de mes voisins, ni de ma ville, ni de mes amis – qui, pour la plupart, résident dans les régions rurales de l’Alberta.   De plus, je n’ai jamais vu de la francophobie ni à Edmonton, ni à Calgary (nos deux villes les plus grandes).  C’est d’ailleurs étrange, n’est-ce pas, que mes amis francophones qui habitent un peu partout en Alberta ne m’en ont jamais parlé d’avoir été victimes de la francophobie.

Alors, compte tenu de ce que je viens de décrire, je présume que vous ne parliez ni des deux grandes villes de l’Alberta, ni des régions rurales de l’Alberta, ni du gouvernement de l’Alberta.  Alors, veillez m’excuser si je demeure un peu bafoué.

Je continue me casser la tête… Il doit y avoir de la logique quelque part dans votre article.   Peut-être devrais-je me diriger un peu vers le sud de la province pour trouver la réponse?    Malgré tout, c’est le sud de l’Alberta qui est “censé” être la région la plus conservatrice   Mais à ma grande surprise, c’est en effet cette région-là qui reçoit le plus haut niveau d’immigration en Alberta… y compris des français de France!   La ville de Calgary (toujours dans le sud, et dont le maire est musulman pratiquant), a un taux de minorités visibles de 30% à 35%, un chiffre qui ne cesse d’accroître en raison de l’immigration internationale (encore, veuillez me corrigez si j’ai tort, mais je croyais qui les immigrants ont tendance d’aller où ils croient que la discrimination n’existe pas et où ils peuvent trouver l’esprit le plus ouvert).

Et bien, je pense peut-être enfin savoir de quoi vous en parlez… Je ne peux croire que j’aie raté le coche à ce point.  Vous devez sans doute être en train de parler de Sun News TV, basé à Calgary… Ce poste de télévision qui sert d’exemple d’une idéologie qui cherche, avec difficulté, à trouver des fidèles — et qui est tant considéré par les médias au Québec comme l’incarnation du Québec-Bashing.  Ce poste, oui, on le connaît tous.  Mais avec mois de 1% des cotes de téléspectateurs (oui, moins de 1%… c’est ça ce qu’on dit, le chiffre cité dans les médias)… je ne vois guère comment ce poste pourrait représenter l’Alberta en quelque forme que ce soit.  Peut-être est-il dû au fait qu’il n’est qu’un poste de chroniqueurs à l’extrème bout d’une échelle, plutôt qu’un poste de vraies informations et d’actualités (même la CRTC en a dit autant, refusant de l’accorder une désignation catégorie “A”).   Apparemment, ce poste a subi des pertes annuelles de l’ordre de 10 à 20 $ millions.  Alors, tout le monde — même en Alberta — reste perplexe face au fait qu’il puisse demeurer toujours en ondes.  Les chiffres exactes restent à vérifier (si vous avez les chiffres exactes, genez-vous pas de me les faire parvenir — car j’ai même lu quelque part que leur cotes pourraient être aussi bas que 0,2%).  Moi, je ne trouve rien d’étonnant dans ces chiffres car je rencontre très très peu de gens, soit en Alberta, soit en C-B, soit en Saskatchewan, qui sont des fidèles de Sun News TV.

Alors, on se demande quel genre de propriétaire de chaîne de télévision pourrait tolérer une telle perte sur son bilan.  N’est-ce sans doute une personne qui aurait perdu toute vue de la réalité?  Autrement quel genre de personne serait incliné vider ses poches, année après année, pour garder un tel poste en vie ?  Avec des pertes annuelles de 20$ millions par an, des cotes d’écoute de moins de 1%, et sur la surface du moins, un poste qui ne sert que de semer, par exprès, le désaccord entre le Québec et la Canada anglais, quel genre de personne ayant du bons sens pourrait vouloir garder un tel poste en vie?   (N’oubliez jamais que ce sont les reporteurs de Sun News TV qui se font pointer du doigt le plus souvent lorsque les médias au Québec cherchent des exemples du Québec-Bashing de la part du reste du Canada — souvent par les chaînes Québecor de TVA et LCN, mais également par certaines émissions-débat / d’interview télévisées très populaires de Télé-Québec, Radio-Canada et certains chroniquers de journeaux)Sous n’importe quelle autre prétexte, un poste de télévision comme Sun News TV aurait déjà fait faillite il y a très longtemps.

Mais un instant!  Le propriétaire de Sun News TV, n’est-il pas Pierre Karl Péladeau?  (Le propriétaire de Québecor lui-même).  C’est bizarre, car je croyais qu’il avait déjà vendu ses actions de Sun News Media.  Mais non… au deuxième coup d’œil, il a seulement vendu ses actions dans la presse écrite de Sun News hors Québec…  Et depuis qu’il est devenu député à la scène du Parti Québécois, il semble avoir décidé, mettant à disposition une bonté innée, garder Sun News TV en vie… et il faut se poser la question, pourquoi?    Il va sans dire que ce mélange du monde des politiques, des ambitions personnelles pour la souveraineté, et des affaires dans l’industrie des médias est très dangereux, très très dangereux — et un conflit d’intérêt obscène.  Cette fois, non seulement les Québécois sont bernés par ces tactiques, mais les Albertains se voient utilisés dans ce jeu dangereux, et presque personne au Québec ne leur donne la voix juste pour contrer ce stratgème – un stratagème pour faire que les Québécois nous haïssent.

M. Péladeau est un homme très intelligent, un homme d’affaires très astucieux qui sait comment utiliser son empire médiatique et ses investissements pour atteindre ses buts ultimes.   Mème si ses stratagèmes qui ne sont pas annoncés prima-facie, et même si ses actions de Québecor sont mises en fiducie sans droit de regard, le fait qu’il y a une compagnie médiatique associée à son nom avec des investissement qui s’en écoulent toujours (dont il doit surement avoir un droit de décision, tout comme il l’aurait eu dans la décision de garder Sun News TV en vie) aurait toujours de répercussions politiques.   C’est souvent le “pouvoir discret” (“soft power” comme on dit en anglais) qui compte plus que le “hard power”.

Alors, quelle serait la prochaine étape?  L’Achat des Ramparts de Québec comme étape additionnelle envers le repatriement d’une équipe LNH?  C’est sur que ça va arriver car les affaires de la planification de l’amphitéatre de Québec, du gouvernement Marois, de Québecor et des contrats qui l’entourent était trops entremêlées pour en croire autrement.  Mais comment reconcilier l’apparence (et la forte probabilité) que le tout aurait pu être planifié pour servir comme outil pour gagner les coeurs et âmes dans une région où il en a besoin de gagner le plus de votes possibles?

Je n’ai rien contre le fait que M. Péladeau s’engage dans la politique, à titre d’individuel et même à titre d’homme d’affaires.  Le débat publique des idéologies devrait faire son chemin, et tout le monde y a droit.  Mais il y a un problème lorsqu’on est homme d’affaire et ses placements puissent influencer les “sentiments” des gens.  Ce sont les sentiments qui mènent aux votes — et à ce niveau les règles du jeu ne sont plus équitables (face à une telle situation, quel autre politicien, peu importe leur affiliation politique, pourrait vraiement livrer concurrence?).

Le “pouvoir discret”, ça parle fort.

Peut-être c’est dans ces histoires où vous trouverez votre vrai scoop.

Monsieur ou madame l’éditeur ou l’éditrice au Figaro, on ne vit plus dans l’époque de la visite du Général de Gaulle.  On est en 2014.   Peut-être c’est le temps de revisiter ce que vous en savez de la situation actuelle en Alberta.   Peut-être c’est le temps de différencier l’époque de la visite de M. Hollande de celle du Général de Gaulle.

M. Hollande semble en avoir pris conscience.   Peut-être c’est également à votre tour.

Sorry folks, but Alberta bashing is so not cool!


2014-12-14, ADDENDUM:

There are new developments in this saga (see below), and so I think it’s appropriate to translate the above so add coherency.   The translation is as follows…

Summarized paragraph of Le Figaro’s article:

On the eve of the visit of the President of the French Republic to Canada, the government of Steven Harper has decided to rename the Champlain Bridge, in Montréal, the Maurice-Richard Bridge, after a popular hockey player.  The French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, founder of Québec in 1608, was tossed aside, just at the same time that François Hollande decided to visit the very francophobic Alberta; quite a message that sends.

My response to that:

When you call us the “very francophobic Alberta”, exactly who and what are you talking about?

If you’re talking about a people or a government in its entirety (which you’re leading me to believe), are you aware that the government of Alberta is investing, year-after-year, more and more money in the building of new Francophone and French immersion schools, as well as an overall support for French education in general?  It is doing this not only out of necessity for the province’s Francophones, but also to help Anglophones become more bilingual – which has the effect of also allowing Alberta to integrate further into Canada’s and the world’s French fabric.  And this is not to mention the additional services in French that the Alberta government now provides.

On an individual level, are you aware that at this very moment there are more students in Alberta who are studying French than the number of individuals who make up the entire population of the city of Montpellier in France?  Are you aware that the parental demand for French immersion placement outnumbers the number of places available, resulting in waiting lists due to a lack of a teacher shortage?  (Note to readers in France:  If you are a teacher and you’re looking for a job, Alberta needs you.   First year salary, $55,000, fifth year salary $75,000, with a benefits package just as good in Alberta as it is in France – and you can expect to be welcomed with open arms!).

Unless I’m wrong, I can only guess that you’re not talking about me, nor my family, nor my neighbours, town, or friends – who, for the most part, reside in rural regions of Alberta.  Whats more, I have never witnessed Francophobia or Francophobic Acts in Edmonton or Calgary, our two largest cities.   So isn’t it strange that my Francophone friends in Alberta, who live a little bit of everywhere in the province, have never ever mentioned being the victims of Francophobia?

In light of what I’ve just described, I can only assume you were not referring to our largest cities, nor our rural regions, nor the government of Alberta.   So excuse me if I’m left a little perplexed.

I’m still racking my brains over this one… I mean, I’m sure there has to be some logic somewhere in your argument.  Maybe I should look to regions a little further South in Alberta to find the answer.  After all, it’s the South which is “supposed to be” the most conservative.   But… to my huge surprise, it’s actually the Southern parts of Alberta which have the highest rates of immigration in Alberta… including French immigrants from France!  The city of Calgary, in the South (and which has a practicing Muslim mayor) has a visible minority rate of 30% to 35%, a number which continues to climb.  So excuse me again if I’m wrong, but don’t immigrants tend to go where they believe discrimination does not exist, or at least where they feel people have the most open minds?

Oh, but wait a second… I think I finally might know what you’re talking about… I can’t believe this one went past me.   You most certainly must be talking about Sun News TV, based in Calgary.  Yes, this is the television station which upholds an ideology which is still looking for people to hook on to – but which is having such a difficult time finding those people.  It’s also the television station which is considered by Québec’s media to be the incarnation of Québec bashing itself.  This station, yes, we all know it.  But with no better success than attracting less than 1% of television viewership (yes, less than 1% … that’s what they say, it’s the number cited in the media)… I can’t possibly see how this station is representative of Alberta in any form of substance.  Perhaps all of this is due to it being nothing more than a station of columnist opinion-makers at the extreme end of a scale, rather than a true news station (even the CRTC said as much when they refused to grant it category “A” status).  Apparently this station has been suffering annual losses of around $20 million.  Thus, everyone — even in Alberta — remains a bit baffled that it can manage to stay on air.  The exact numbers need to be verified (if you have them, please don’t be shy and let me know — because I’ve even read that their share of market viewership may even be as low as 0.2%).  Personally, I don’t find anything shocking in such numbers because I know of very very few people in Alberta, BC, or Saskatchewan who actually watch Sun News TV.  I watch it from time to time, but only to find out what absurdities they’re talking about, not because I agree with them — and I think that’s the case for the other few who also might tune into it once or twice a month.

So… It begs the question:  What kind of an TV station owner could ever tolerate such a loss on their balance sheet?  It could only be someone who has lost touch of all sense of reality.  Otherwise, what person would be inclined to empty their pockets, year after year, to keep such a station alive?  With annual losses approaching $20 million, viewership numbers of less than 1%, and on the surface at least, a station which appears to have a main goal of causing division between Québec and English Canada, what type of person in their right sense would ever want to keep such a station alive?  (Never forget that its the reporters of Sun News TV who are on the receiving end of fingers pointing at them when Québec media looks for examples of Québec Bashing on the part of the rest of Canada… and it’s often Québecor’s TVA, LCN and debating / opinion-maker interview programs on Télé-Québec, Radio-Canada, and certain newspaper columnists who do the finger pointing).

In any other context, a station like Sun News TV would have gone bankrupt a long time ago.

But wait a second!  The owner of Sun News TV, isn’t he Pierre Karl Péladeau?  (The owner of Québecor himself).  That’s strange – I thought he already sold his shares in Sun News Media.   But no!  On second glance, he only sold his shares in the written press outside Québec.   Since he became a Member of the National Assembly within the Parti Québécois, he seems to have decided, in all his goodness, to keep Sun News TV alive and well…. And now the question begs to be answered:  WHY?

It goes without saying that this mix of politics, personal ambitions for sovereignty, and media business is very dangerous — and an obscene conflict of interest.   This time, not only have Québécois had the wool pulled over their eyes, but now even Albertans are being used as pons in this dangerous game — and almost nobody in Québec is giving them a fair voice to counter this strategy — one which is to make Québec hate us.

Mr. Péladeau is a very intelligent man, a very acute business man who knows how to use his media empire and investments to attain his ultimate goals.  Even if his strategies are not announced prima facie, and even if his shares are placed in a blind trust, the fact that there continues to be a company associated with his name – with all the repercussions which stem from such a company’s investments (for which he surely has a right of decision, such as keeping Sun News TV alive) — makes it so that there will always be political repercussions.   It’s often soft power which counts more than hard power.

So, what will be the next step?  The purchase of the Québec Ramparts hockey team?  After all, this would go a long way to promote ticket sales with which to attract an NHL hockey franchise back to Québec City.  I can’t see how such a purchase will not go through.  After all, look at what has happened with the contracts and laws surrounding the construction of the new Québec coliseum, the Marois-lead PQ, Québecor’s involvement, and how it has all been interconnected.  In such a scenario, it’s difficult to reconcile the appearance (and strong possibility) of a conflict of interest, in the sense that it was all pre-planned as a tool with which to win hearts and minds (and thus votes) in a region where PKP and the PQ needs to win them the most (that being Québec City).

I have nothing against Mr. Péladeau becoming a politician, as an individual or as a businessman.  The public debate of ideologies and the future of Québec needs to run its course – and everyone has a right to their ideologies.  But the problem arises when a businessman’s ownership in massive conglomerates can influence the “emotions” of people.  It’s always emotions which lead to votes – and in this sense the game is no longer equal (in the face of such a situation, what other politician, regardless of their political adherance, even those in the PQ, can actually compete against this?).

“Soft power” speaks loud.

Perhaps it’s in this story that you’ll find your real scoop.

Mr. or Mrs. Editor at Le Figaro, we no longer live in the period of Général de Gaulle.  We live in 2014.  Perhaps it’s time to revisit what you know about Alberta.  Perhaps it’s time to differentiate between the eras of Mr. Hollande’s visit, and that of Général de Gaulle.

President Hollande seems to have realized it.  Pehaps it’s now your turn.


2014-12-03, ADDENDUM:

Guess who I just found out bought Les Ramparts de Québec a couple of days ago!  Tonight’s hometown first match under new ownership:   PKP/Québecor vs. Les Olympiques de Gatineau.  

And to Louise Beaudoin, Pierre Curzi and Lisette Lapointe… things seem a lot clearer now, and you three must have seen this coming.  Now I can understand how difficult your decision must have been in 2011 to leave the PQ.  It appears now that you three acted with extreme integrity when confronted with la loi 204 — My level of respect for all three of you just went up 100 points.

The next few months are going to be interesting.

Write about that, Le Figaro.


ADDENDUM 2014-12-14:

A couple of days ago, Patrick Bellerose (a published commentator) wrote an article in the Québec (French) addition of The Huffington Post.

In his article, he draws many of the same inferences I am with respect to the appearance of PKP making strategic business investments attain votes and his political goals – leading to the eventual independence of Québec through the winning over a population which is currently not hot on the idea.

However, what I find extremely interesting about Bellerose’s article is that he found a completely different business deal, but with the same kind of end-goal as those I mentioned. Combine Bellerose’s inferences with those of mine, and it seems we’re seeing a very dangerous pattern beginning to develop.

We’re now way beyond the realm of soft-power vote-buying for something like the re-paving of a highway or the location of a government office in a riding.   Rather – we’re now entering the realm of the future of a Canada, and its 35 million+ inhabitants. The stakes are high, and the game being played on PKP’s end has the appearance of being a dirty strategy. This is worrisome because there are no other politicians who can compete against PKP’s personal money being used in this way to secure votes, hearts & minds.

Here is the link to Bellerose’s article: http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/11/vision-globale-achetee-pour-aider-la-campagne-de-pkp-_n_6310470.html

In a nutshell, what he is saying is the following…

PKP is a member of the National Assembly (MNA) representing the relatively rural provincial riding of St-Jérôme. Mirabel International Airport (Montréal’s former main international airport), which has been closed for years to commercial passenger traffic, is physically situated close to where the majority of the St-Jérôme riding’s population lives.  Following the closure of passenger traffic, Mirabel’s passenger terminal has been in a state of limbo, but has found new life as a backdrop for movies (if you watch Hollywood movies which contain airport scenes, you may sometimes notice that they’re filmed in Mirabel terminal — it’s the only major large-scale terminal of its type which is not being used in North America, making it perfect for movie sets).

The Québec film company, Vision Globale, is responsible for filming movies around Mirabel (it includes Mel’s studios). In June, after PKP became an MNA, he proposed to purchase Vision Globale.  TVA Group (owned by Québecor, which is owned by PKP) recently just concluded the purchase, for $118 million. Prior to the purchase, PKP, in his capacity of a sitting MNA, attended a government committee meeting in which he urged government support for the purchase because it would keep Mel’s Studio ownership within Québec (PKP’s company was the only Québec bidder – so by default, it would see PKP become the owner of it). Making this proposition in committee was a blatant conflict of interest.  The government’s ethic’s commissioner investigated it and agreed as such – but concluded it was an unintentional error on the part of PKP.   Fine, ok, no problem. That’s conflict of interest #1 in this affair, but I can let it slide.

But there’s now another conflict of interest (conflict of interest #2), which is more serious, and this one shouldn’t be allowed to slide…

The purchase of Vision Globale (& Mel’s Studios) for sure will secure jobs for PKP’s riding, and will help to ensure his popular support in his riding. That’s the real conflict of interest (not the fact that he brought it up in government committee). But what’s worse is that it Bellerose alleges PKP made the purchase at a significant financial loss (Vision Globale is losing money, and minority shareholders in TVA Group say Vision Globale should not have been worth $118 million).  Allegedly, this has greatly upset minority shareholders in TVA Group, because they never would have approved the deal.  However, because they were only minority shareholders (PKP has the majority of shares), they had no say. Adding insult to injury, Bellerose presents evidentiary statements which claim that, as part of the deal, PKP’s company issued a slew of additional shares as part of the deal, which further diluted any say existing TVA Group minority shareholders would have had.

Bellerose states that minority shareholders are now proposing that any further moves in this affair be put to a shareholder’s vote, presumably so that true shareholder sentiment and views can be made public. Bellerose says that TVA Group says these accusations or inferences are groundless.

My thoughts now?… The Radio-Canada investigative reporting program “Enquête” (similar to W5 or The Fifth Estate) did an amazing job of piecing together small indicators and chunks of apparent wrong-doings in a former scandal (unrelated to PKP), and using them to uncover one giant corruption scandal involving municipal governments and the construction industry (road resurfacing, bridge construction, etc.). It was the biggest government scandal in Québec’s history.

There seems to be the makings of a pattern in this new story too, which piece-by-piece are leading to a bigger picture. It’s perhaps time that something like Enquête takes this one on too. If there’s nothing there, fine. But if there is… we need to know. Too much is at stake (the future of a country is bigger than the future of the resurfacing of a road).


FURTHER ADDENDUMS, END 2014:

  • PKP, in his role as a “politician”, speaks out in the National Assembly to limit Netflick’s potential harm to Québec culture, and seeks restrictions on Netflick… and who will that directly help?  PKP’s own company, Québecor and TVA.  Hmmm… conflict of interest?
  • The CEM (a department of Université Laval) was requested by Premier Couillard to investigate PKP’s conflict of interest allegations.  The CEM refuses to investigate, citing the situation is too politically sensitive and charged for them to become involved: http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/18/le-cem-refuse-detudier-le-cas-de-pkp_n_6348758.html
  • PKP gives less-that-stellar performance when faced with hard economic Questions by Gérard Fillion.  Normally this would be big news (PKP is Mr. Québec Business Tycoon) but Argent doesn’t mention even two words about his economic viewpoints or performance in economic interviews … it appears PKP is still their boss and will return one day.   Info regarding the interview can be viewed HERE.

ADDENDUM 2015-02-09

  • Another clear example of the influence of PKP’s media empire and its conflict of interest with PKP’s political life.  A few days ago PKP was at a major music festival (attended by another PQ candidate, Alexandre Cloutier, mayors, other officials, and large crowds of fans).  During the concert, an Anglophone band was playing a song and PKP shouted out “En français!” as they were singing in English – enough to throw the band off, not knowing how to react.  Seriously?!?  What kind of place with Québec be should he come to power.  Neither Pauline Marois, nor Bernard Landry would have done this.  Quite possibly, even Mario Beaulieu (known as the most nationalist of all sovereignty leaders) likely would not have done this either.   This was covered and carried by all the media, in detail, over a few days, including all the television stations, except (drum roll)… TVA.   Yup… I’ve been waiting for a week, watching everyone else talk about it over and over… but am still waiting for TVA to say something.  I guess they “never heard of it”.

ADDENDUM 2015-02-13

  • Sun News TV is closing tomorrow morning… the reason:   nobody is watching it (only 8000 people at any one time), and annual costs of $16 – $18 million per year.   The other reason:  It looks like PKP really really wants to avoid being forced to sell his company Québecor for conflict of interest.   It remains to be seen what happens next.   Nonetheless, if you read the above, you will notice that sometimes the crystal ball is right (another article for you, Le Figaro).
  • I will say this — and I’m very categorical in this statement — :  I did NOT want SunNews to shut down with the aim of stifling their manner of disseminating information, or the dissemination of their ideologies.   What I AM happy about is that many of their ideologies did not resonate with Anglophone Canadians – to the extent that they were not financially viable.  I am a full supporter of free speech — loud and clear speech of all ideologies, from all directions.   It just happened that Anglophone Canada did not like what they were saying.  That, my friends, is the crux of what I am happy about (not the fact that they were shut down for the sake of being shut down).   And like I said earlier in this post… Write about that, Le Figaro! (and while you’re at it, send a copy of your article by express mail to PKP’s constituency office, you know, for good measure, “en français SPV”!).

ADDENDUM 2015-02-22

  • Billet au Huff-Post Québec: Le jeu de la loyauté http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/louis-michel-gratton/le-jeu-de-la-loyaute_b_6707782.html – Ça va de soi.   L’Entête:  Depuis que PKP s’est lancé en politique, il m’est impossible d’écouter les nouvelles de LCN ou encore de lire un article du Journal de Montréal, sans me demander si les journalistes sont en mesure de faire abstraction de l’idée que leur « ancien patron » reviendra un jour en affaires.  Louis Michel Gratton)

ADDENDUM 2015-03-15

  • Here’s yet another one with a familiar ring to it.  Last week PKP was taking questions at a press conference.  National assembly rules do not state that reporters are only allowed one question each.  Other politicans do, and always have, taken follow-up questions from the same reporter.  But PKP changed the rules at his press conferences;  one reporter, one question.  Even if others have a problem with that (and many do) I have absolutely no problem with that.   He can run his show any way he wants.  After all, at election time voters will ultimately decide if they do or do not like how he runs the show.
  • But here’s the beef… Québec’s non Québecor carried this news like a wildfire takes to a mountainside.  It was one of the top headlines and most trending new stories in Québec last week.   But funny how TVA didn’t seem to know about it.  Not a peep.   There’s another one for you to write about, Le Figaro.

ADDENDUM 2015-04-22

Is official without being official… Drainville withdrew from the leadership course and endorsed PKP.  He’s now the defacto head of the PQ.  He now has three years to realign the PQ to try to convince voters to endorse sovereignty.  To do so he will likely re-centre the party.  This will isolate and turn off the more left-wing elements in the party, but he will do so in the hope that he will pick up new centre and right-of-centre supporters to off-set the losses from the left.

The question now will be if he will consider the next provincial election a “referendum election” (ie: to hell with a referendum, and just go straight to sovereignty if the electors elect him after being forewarned).

Let the games begin!

ADDENDUM 2015-04-24:

Round 1:

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

(there y’are, Le Figaro!, have at ‘er!!)