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

The marriage of the “adrenaline-charged Super-Duo”, PKP (Pierre Karl Péladeau, the head of the Parti Québécois) and Julie Snyder (Québec’s best known super-star celebrity), this weekend was a reminder to all that the 2018 Québec election will be squarely about Québec independence.

Premier Philippe Couillard knows that this will be the #1 topic coming from the lips of the PQ for the next few years (a major shift from the past which saw the PQ be just as pre-occupied about subjects of day-to-day governance as the Liberals and CAQ).

The turfing of the Bloc Québécois leader a couple months ago, Mario Beaulieu, by his own party (and presumably by PKP) and the resurrection of Gilles Duceppe has shown to what extent the sovereigntist movement is prepared to go to in order achieve their goal.

Under PKP’s leadership, the entire movement is beginning to resemble more and more an extremely slick, well ran, and super-competitive board-room or corporation (of the likes of Wal-Mart when it tries to run all other competitors out of town), rather than that of a political party.

This is new.  We have never seen something like this before.

Although it continues to be new to the extent th at it has not yet found “solid” traction with the electorate, there have been polls which have shown a slight increase in support for the PQ and sovereignty (hovering around 35% or 40% at its highest.  But the numbers remain quite low considering that the figures group soft sovereigntists — who are less inclined to vote “yes” during a referendum, which would probably bring a “YES” to under the numbers I just provided….  But 35% still isn’t a number to laugh at).

Update 2015-08-20 – A new CROP poll today shows that the PQ’s support has fallen to 29% (35% for Francophones) in the days following the PKP/Snyder marriage.  Pierre Karl Péladeau’s personal popularity took a nose dive to 23%.  Perhaps people are seeing after all that the PKP/Snyder’s Party will only be about one topic, and perhaps people have had enough … for now.  The Liberals are only slightly ahead.

Three years can be an eternity in politics, and 2018 could be enough time for the movement to bounce back if the “corporation’s” PQ’s business political plan is effective.

Since 1995, the most effective method Federalist parties have invoked to avoid mass sovereigntist sentiments from reigniting has been to avoid a Federal-Provincial clash between Ottawa and Québec – especially one involving constitutional matters.

Both the Chrétien/Martin Liberals and the Harper Conservatives were of the opinion that slow and stable civil-service governance, and tackling each issue as it arrives (without opening the constitution) was the best way to prevent a show-down or constitution crisis.  I also have to admit that the fact that Harper has kept a very tight reign on the flow of information has probably, and ironically, helped somewhat too (in the sense that it has likely avoided unintentional slips-of-the-tongue from backbencher MP’s… especially preventing comments which could have inflamed sovereignist politicians and debate).

The Chrétien/Martin Liberals, and the Harper Conservatives firmly took a stand that a large degree of national reform could be achieved “on-the-ground” via small adjustments over time (supported by Common Law at the courts) rather than through re-opening the constitution.   In this sense, the constitution, its interpretations, and its application has been able to keep up with the times — turning it into a “living” document, without ever having to change the document’s wording or provisions.

They were of the view that the constitution could be re-opened at a date in the distant future once enough incremental “administrative” and “legal” reforms had occurred over a number of years (or decades) on the ground.  Thus, when it would come time to re-open the constitution, it would have simply been a matter of “updating it” to reflect “already-existing” realities (rather than having it “create new realities” in and of itself).

So far, this approach from Ottawa seems to have worked (on many levels, independent of one’s political affirmations or party beliefs).  It has been good for governance, good for Canada, and good for Québec.

Just as importantly, it had completely taken the wind out of the sails of the Parti Québécois and the Bloc Québécois.  It had given them nothing to grab on to – and a few times the movement had come to the edge of collapsing.

But lo and behold, something has changed this year.  It appears that both Mulcair’s NDP has expressed its desire to try to re-open the constitution (although Trudeau’s has  not expressed a desire to open the consitution on the campaign trail, he has said in his book that he would support such a move in the right “time and place”).

Trudeau’s book “Common Ground” talks in length about his disappointment in that Québec has not signed the constitution.  He did not necessarily believe in Meech or Charlottetown, but he did say that the constitution will have to be re-opened and signed by Québec eventually (something I also say).  But you get the feeling that his “right time and place” may be sooner than later.  I say this because the book gives you the impression that wants this whole issue to go away as fast as possible, and that he believes his terms will be the right ones.  Thus, if elected PM?  (Oh, Oh – there just might be a new constitutional round, and that could mean trouble).

Mulcair has even gone so far as to campaign on the issue of re-opening the constitution in order to abolish the senate (Oh crap – big trouble!).

Their intentions (Trudeau’s and Mulcair’s) might be good, but the timing could not be worse.

They would be putting Premier Couillard in a very difficult position, and they would be picking a fight with PKP-Snyder, as well as with PKP-Snyder’s grasp on Québec’s media, pop-culture elite, and their board-room games to capture the hearts and minds of Québec.

P.Coui1

Above;  Premier Philippe Couillard… If you’re not familiar with him, take a good look now, because if Mulcair or Trudeau (or both of them together) try to re-open the constitution, it will be this man’s face which you will see plastered all over English Canada’s news for the next several years as he tries to keep Canada together.

Although Premier Couillard is the most Federalist premier Québec has possibly ever had, such actions on the part of Trudeau or Mulcair would thrust Couillard into the political battle of not only his life, but possibly for the survival of Canada.

A new round of constitutional discussions would be messy – very very messy.

It would not be as clear-cut as what Mulcair says (and Trudeau isn’t letting us know what he would throw on the table – but if his book is any indicator, it could quite possibly be everything, since he seems to want to change everything [remember that Mansbridge interview a few years ago when Trudeau said he want to, quote “change the world”?] ).

  • This would result in the PQ crying for everything to be put on the table at a new round of constitutional negotiations (which is impossible to do), otherwise they would shift into war mode to raise emotional tensions to the maximum with which to convince Québécois to vote to leave Canada,
  • BC, AB, and SK would have their own demands (Christie Clark, Rachel Notley, and Brad Wall have all hinted they want bigger roles and controls (code for constitutional changes) for their provinces).
  • Ontario (under Kathleen Wynn) says Ontario want new mechanisms to prevent Ottawa’s “lack of cooperation” on matters of importance to her government (with the new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan being a prime example).
  • And then there are the Atlantic Provinces which would likely want their own constitutional provisions to counter the effects of what they believe is the “fight of their lives” to retain political relevance at the national level (as their populations continue to shrink as people move West).

This could not be better news for the PQ and the PKP-Snyder duo.  They must be salivating at the prospect of a possible Mulcair led government (and it would be even better for them if it is a minority government with Mulcair as PM and Trudeau as head of the official opposition – thus paving the way for re-opening the constitution, a demonizing of Canada, and emotions getting the better of everyone – including the public).

Last weekend was the Québec Provincial Young Liberals convention.  Premier Couillard is well aware of the unfolding situation which I just described.

True to his brain-surgeon style, Philippe Couillard is a strategist hors-pair.  At the Liberal convention, he announced that he will “not concede an inch to the sovereignists”.  

For the very first time, we have just seen Couillard shift into high gear anti-sovereigntist mode – that of pre-emptive damage control.

He knows that should the Federal NDP or Liberals come to power in October (as a minority or majority government), they may try to re-open the constitution.

Couillard wants to be ready and have his ducks all in place.

This weekend, he asked Liberal delegates to “quickly” (within hours) give him a short-list of what they would want to see added to the constitution should it be re-opened.  Precisely, he asked them “What is Québec’s role in Canada?”

Do not forget that Couillard is 100% pro-Canada.

His convictions make it so he would do anything to avoid hurting the federation.  He would want any propositions to work for his own electorate and all people in Québec, as well as for everyone else across the country.  In fact, at the Liberal congress, he delivered a fiery speech against sovereignty – one which carried an overtone which would have anyone believe we were already in full referendum mode.  

Thus his question to provincial Liberal delegates should not be viewed as something negative by the rest of Canada.

When he posed the question to delegates, he asked them to bear in mind issues such as:

  • Equalization program,
  • Health payment transfers,
  • Economic development file, such as infrastructure, Northern development, and Maritime strategies.

These are all soft (and safe) issues.  They are issues people across Canada can agree on.

Couillard also asked federal party leaders to make clear their stance on how they view Québec in Canada.  (After all, if he’s going to stick his neck out to confront the PKP-Snyder offensive, and if Mulcair & Trudeau are going to back him into a corner by forcing him to confront PKP-Snyder, he naturally wants Trudeau and Mulcair to also step up to the plate, to put their money where their mouths are, and to take some responsibility for their own words and actions).

The delegates gave Couillard their thoughts, and he sent off a letter to all Federal party leaders with his views on what he believes needs to be reviewed in the constitution:

  • Senate reform
  • Supreme Court judge nominations
  • Limitations on Federal spending in the areas of provincial jurisdiction,
  • A veto vote for any other constitution changes.

When elected in September 2014, Couillard told Harper that he would like to see Québec eventually sign the Canadian Constitution.  Ever since 1982, the fact that Québec has never signed the constitution has been the “raison d’être” and free wind in the sails for the sovereignty movement – precisely the ammo the PQ was always used to argue their point.

Couillard wants to put this to rest once and for all.

But as you can see, re-opening the constitution is a double-edged sword.

So while the rest of the country is talking about things such as whether Toronto should or should not host the 2024 Olympics, whether it should be illegal for regular citizens to transport wine from Halifax to Fredericton in their cars, or whether Alberta should or should not regulate the flavour of chocolate, Philippe Couillard is already beginning to fight the political fight of his life, and that of the future of Canada.

Owing to the fact that others in Canada do not seem to know what is happening, I just hope the rest of Canada does not (innocently and naïvely) act too surprised, offended, or dare I say “angry” when all of this suddenly comes to the fore should a new government in Ottawa try to do something risky such as “prematurely” (or foolishly) reopen the constitution at this point in time — or at the very minimum, before Couillard specifically tells Ottawa, and all the provinces (after back-door discussions) that he’s ready to go forward and safely deal with all of this.

After all, the rest of Canada will have had had someone in Québec who has long since been trying to do his damndest to avert what could have easy been a catastrophe had anyone else been at the helm.

What can I say… The two solitudes (Sigh).


Edit:  An earlier version say that Trudeau was disappointed with the failure of Meech and Charlottetown.  What I meant to say that he was disappointed with the “wording” of Meech and Charlottetown which lead to its failure (meaning his own deal, if he were dealing with the issues, would have proposed quite different matters to entice Québec to sign the constitution… or he would have waited for another time to open the constitution).  I corrected my post.

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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.

Conditioning: A few words regarding the death of Jacques Parizeau (#285)

A short word on today’s passing of Jacques Parizeau.

This will be quite an unexpected lesson in conditioning (the subject of the current series of several posts) – one which was not planned and is completely by chance owing to today’s sudden announcement of Mr. Parizeau’s passing.

Although controversial, Jacques Parizeau was a man of incredible vision and one of the most influential people in not only Québec’s modern history, but also Canada’s modern history.

The book “Jacques Parizeau, un bâtisseur”, by Laurence Richard, was the first biography I ever read (in the early 1990s, strangely enough when I was in was about 14 or 15 years old).

During his time as Premier, it was quite apparent to most people that he had one goal. He had the integrity to head straight for that goal as fast as possible — No detours, no hesitation. It was understood that the any pieces and “collateral damage” resulting from that goal could be dealt with after. Regardless if people agreed or not with his approach or end goal, people knew where he stood, and were invited to take it or leave it. In 1995, people left it.

Mr. Parizeau was generally upfront in this sense (as upfront as he could be considering he had to form and maintain coalitions with others who were more hesitant), and he deserves everyone’s respect for having the integrity to let it be known where he stood on issues under such circumstances.

It is a lesson all politicians from all political stripes can learn from.

How this fits into conditioning:

As a builder of government institutions during Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, he achieved more in his time as a cabinet minister during René Levesque’s government than what several ministers achieve in the course of a few governments.   He embarked on a wide range of industry nationalizations, the setting up of sovereign investment and pension funds, and other government institutions – many of which have since been copied across Canada – provincially coast to coast, or federally.

I always thought that had Mr. Parizeau been federalist, and had he sought to change the federation, the country in its entirety would have achieved heights never before conceived of.  However, history made it so he assumed a different role.

Yet his role as a builder of Québec’s fundamental institutions, and the values which have ensued from those institutions have undoubtedly had a spill over imbued effect into Canada’s overall collective psyche (one region of the country invariably and eventually affects other parts of the country).

In a strange twist of fate, Parizeau’s role as a “builder of modern Québec” has made him a builder of Québec’s modern psyche and society — and through the spill-over affect, of Canada’s modern psyche and society also (which heavily revolves around our highly province-to-province integrated collective welfare & social systems, economic and political systems, and societal expectations).  Thus, Mr. Parizeau has indirectly (and probably quite unknowingly) played a role in bringing Québec’s and English Canada’s collective psyches and societies closer in line than any time before.

He likely thought that Québec would have achieved independence decades ago before such a phenomenon could have ever occurred.

In this sense, a little bit of Jacques Parizeau will always be with all of us, regardless if you are Anglophone, Francophone, or regardless if you are from Vancouver, Saskatoon, Yarmouth or Hamilton.  We have all be impacted in some way by Parizeau’s society-building efforts.

Yet neither Anglophone patriotic conditioning, nor Francophone nationalist conditioning has him seen in this also equally valid light.


SERIES:  HOW THE PRESENTATION OF EVENTS IN MODERN HISTORY WHICH HAVE CONDITIONED US ALL REGARDING HOW WE VIEW OUR PLACE IN CANADA (13 POSTS)

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

This post can help to provide you with additional audio material if :

  1. You are looking for various opinion-pieces to help round out your views about what many people are talking about in Québec, and
  1. If you are learning French, working to improve your French, or are are looking to improve your comprehension of (a) informal French, (b) Joual, (c) street expressions, (d) every-day colloquial accents.

RadioEGO (Ego Radio) is a website which accepts and collates submissions of short radio segments and interviews from around Québec’s world of radio – be it mainstream professional radio stations, or amateur web-based “radio” stations.   The segments are made available for everyone to listen to.

In this sense, RadioEGO could be the equivalent of a “Québec Radio YouTube”.

The website is http://www.radioego.com/

When you open the main page, you will notice it is divided into three sections.   You can chose segments from any of the three sections.   There is also a “search” option for any topic of your choice (just like YouTube).  You can open additional pages at the bottom of each of the three main sections.

Radio EGO

If you search for “culture”, for example, you will get a ton of segments.  The results can be quite varied (ie: an interview with the minister of culture, or a segment about a cut in funding to a music conservatory, or perhaps a segment about a summer concert, etc.).  The same goes for any type of topic search.

A growing number of people have started their own “amature” radio stations – and they turn to RadioEGO as a platform on which to post various segments of their radio programs.

There are also other people who are well-known to the public (such as the columnist and blogger Joanne Marcotte) who are regularly invited guests on mainstream radio stations (such as Québec City’s CHOI FM), and who also post their radio-segments on RadioEGO’s website.

Certain mainstream radio stations, such as talk radio Radio9 in Montréal, talk radio CHOI FM (Radio X) in Québec City, 93FM (Québec City), CKOI FM (Montréal) will also post segments of their radio programs (there are other mainstream radio stations which also post their segments)

What is good about this website is that you can sift through tons of radio segments to listed precise topics of interest.

Example:  Let’s say you’ve been following the Parti Québécois leadership race… you may find the radio interviews of Pierre Karle Péladeau, Bernard Drainville, or Alexandre Cloutier to be of interest (all three were leadership contenders).  The audio segments have self-evident titles “Interview with Alexandre Cloutier” or “PKP” or “Drainville”.   The date is provided, as well as the number of other people who have listened to the audio clip (ie:  if you see that 3500 other people have listened to the clip in the last week, chances are that the clip is much more interesting than one which was listened to by only 15 listeners).

Topics are all over the map:  Politics, sports, society, and economics – you name it.

A WORD OF CAUTION:  The contributors are radio columnists/opinion-makers.   None of the programs are to be considered unbiased or objective (although you will run across some interviews and programs which try to bring a more balanced approach).   The website is open to all who wish to contribute their radio programs and segments, but the tendency is that programs are most often a bit towards the right (although there are programs / segments which are a bit more in the centre, and sometimes further on the left end of the spectrum).

With that said, I think there is still something for everyone.  I’m a firm believer that it’s always good to listen to all points of view from all over the spectrum.   That’s how you round out and form your own views, thus allowing you to feel better informed and more comfortable in your own viewpoints.

Bonne écoute !!!

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

Avec un peu moins de 200 jours avant l’élection fédérale, je remarque déjà une différence de style entre les publicités négatives. 

With around 200 days to go until the Federal election, I’m already noticing a difference in styles and focus in attacks ads.

Quatre des partis s’attaquent les uns les autres — mais au moins ces attaques visent les enjeux qui ont rapport à nos vies quotidiennes, et celles de nos enfants à l’avenir… …

Four of the parties are attacking each other, but at least on issues which concern our daily lives, and those of our children in the future… …

Ci-dessous – Exemple d’une publicité conservatrice contre les libéraux

(Below – Example of Conservative ads against the Liberals)

c.on.atq.1

Ci-dessous – Exemple d’une publicité libérale contre les conservateurs

(Below – Examples of Liberal ads against the Conservatives)

l.ib.atq.2

Ci-dessous – Exemple d’une publicité néo-démocrate contre les conservateurs

(Below – Example of NDP ads against the Conservatives)

n.dp.atq.3

Ci-dessous – Exemple d’une publicité des Verts contre les autres partis politiques

(Below – Example of Green ads against all the other parties)

v.er.atq.4

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Et puis, il y a un parti qui se démarque par ses attaques contre… … et ben… le monde”!

And then there’s that one party which stands out for its attacks against… well… “the world”!

Exemple des publicités du Bloc. —— Mais en toute honnêté, chu pas sûr que c’est le NPD qu’elle vise

Example of ads from the Bloc.—— But I’m not sure it’s the NDP they’re truly targeting

b.loc.atq.5

Grand soupir, Il y en a toujours “une” dans la salle, n’est-ce pas?

Big sigh, there’s always “one” in the crowd, isn’t there!

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Lien:  Comment gérer la colère d’un enfant ?

Link:  10 Great Books That Can Help an Angry Child