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

The following is a commentary I wrote, in conjunction with consultations and discussions with Andrew Griffith of the widely read blog Multicultural Meanderings.

It is a blog worth following (it’s very unique and insightful).

It has been a week since the Federal election (although it feels like more).  Stephen Harper is Prime Minster for a few more days.

It is not unreasonable to ask what has changed, in particular in Québec.  Although Prime Minister-Elect Justin Trudeau will not assume office until November 4th, the answer is that actually quite a lot has changed.

In fact, everything.

This week we are seeing the convergence of two very important events in Canadian history.  Their importance is not to be underestimated.   How these two events are being viewed in Québec constitutes an earthquake of change.

First, the obvious event which everyone is talking about in Québec is how a Liberal government, headed by a new leader who appears to embrace a new spirit of openness (relative to the outgoing Prime Minister), embodies a focal point for cohesiveness in both a pan-Canadian and Québec societal sense, rather than regional or partisan divisiveness.

Second, and perhaps more profound, is that this week marks the 20th anniversary of the 1995 referendum for Québec independence.  Yet, the manner in which this week is already unfolding, being talked about, and “felt” with the backdrop of a newly elected Trudeau-led government is something I would not have fathomed only a year ago.

Political commentators in Canada’s English media often report on events in Québec from the perspective of being “outside the fish-bowl looking in”.   Sure, they can tell you which direction the fish are swimming, as well as the colour of the fish and the pebbles.

However, how the water tastes, the suitability of its temperature, and how the fish feel about each other (and how they feel about those peering in at them from outside the bowl) can only be told from the perspective of the fish themselves.

I’m going to take a crack at describing the tone in Québec from the perspective of the fish (ignoring the colours of the pebbles and the likes).

Let’s back up to a year ago.  

Trudeau had already been head of the Liberal party for more than a year.  Not only was his party in third place in terms of physical seat counts, but in the minds of Québécois, he might have well been in fifth place.  The Liberals were stagnant from a legacy going back to the 1990s, years of leadership gaffes, and a lack of innovative policy.

For the longest time, Trudeau was not making decisions which demarcated himself as a credible replacement to Stephen Harper, and was viewed in Québec as the greater of the two evils.

A large part of the reason was that in the minds of Québécois, he was viewed as “the son of…”.  To many Francophones in Québec, Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) is still viewed as the man who forced a constitution down the throats of Québec rather than finding common ground which could have seen Québec otherwise sign it.   To this day, the constitution is regarded by Québec’s baby-boomer generation as being an illegitimate document, and by some as a reason to withdraw from Canada.

This all played against Trudeau (Jr.) for the longest time in Québec.  He was viewed as leader who was set to go nowhere (another in a long line of Liberal Martins, Dions and Ignatiefs).

Let’s move forward by a few months to the winter of 2015 and what happened on the provincial political scene.  

Pierre Karl Péladeau (PKP) was campaigning hard for the leadership of the Parti Québécois (PQ).   With Harper at the helm of Canada, those in the sovereigntist camp saw PKP as the man to take on the Federal government and achieve sovereignty.  He was a successful billionaire, he was business-friendy (able to connect with a new demographic) and he was viewed a potential “saviour” (to quote an often-used word in sovereignist circles last winter).   The optimism towards PKP from both soft and hard sovereigntists alike had not been seen since the days of Lucien Bouchard.

Add to this mix that PKP’s wife, Julie Snyder, is Québec’s #2 pop-culture superstar, only eclipsed by Céline Dion.  Thus,  the PKP/Snyder power-couple was viewed as a potentially unstoppable force to woo the masses and lead Québec to sovereignty.

But starting last April, PKP proved to be awkward in his speeches.  His stances on critically important issues were incoherent.  For example, one day he would say the Bloc Québecois was utterly useless in Ottawa, and the next day he would say it was as important as oxygen is to life.  He would attack immigrants as being detrimental to the sovereignty movement on one day, and then the next day he would say that he loves them and that they’re family.

It was clear that PKP was testing the waters in every direction to see what issues might find traction with the public rather than speak from consensus-reached convictions.  It showed a side of him the public did not like.  In the end he began to develop an aura of “playing” the public.  It diminished his credibly, and prevented support from ever coalescing on a massive scale (he ended up winning the PQ leadership with only 58% of the membership vote, and he and his party have only ever hovered in the 32%-35% percentile range of public approval since his accession as party leader).

In addition, Julie Snyder’s injection of “showmanship” into sovereignist politics (using her TV programs to drum up nationalism, and even going so far as to give autographs in exchange for PQ membership cards at the subway entrances) has been viewed with more and more cynicism on the part of the public.   The Julie card appears to have backfired, and her Princess Diana styled wedding in August seemed to be the straw that broke the back of a camel named “credibility”.

This past summer, the PKP/Snyder duo flopped faster than an ice-cream cone melts in the August sun.   In Québec, you often hear the phrase “There was no PKP effect” (let alone any political honeymoon) when political commentators talk of the new PKP era of sovereigntist politics.   The provincial Liberal government in Québec City has managed to remain at the top of the polls (although their overall polling numbers are not sky-high either).

Fast forward to the present and back to federal politics. 

Three weeks before the Federal election the Trudeau Liberals attracted the public’s attention in both Québec and English Canada.

The Liberals developed a wide-range of policy proposals, and famously broke the mould needing to avoid deficits.  They were able to position themselves as the ‘change’ option.   This shift saw their “no-harm, broad-range middle-ground” brand positioned to the left of the Conservatives.

The NDP — hemmed in by fears they would constitute being irresponsible spenders — adhered to deficit-avoiding orthodoxy (in itself less distinct from the Conservatives).  Given the NDP orthodoxy on avoiding deficits allowed the Liberals to carve a platform niche.

In Québec, a lack of enthusiasm for the PQ translated into a lack of enthusiasm for the Bloc Québécois.  The Bloc was already dealing with a troubled recent past.  It was not viewed as being organized (several months ago it voted in a highly unpopular leader, Mario Beaulieu, who was to be booted out a short while later and succeeded by a recycled Gilles Duceppe).

The Bloc was simply not viewed as a viable contender (the PQ and the Bloc were both riding on the same sinking ship – leaving the public to ask “Why bother?”).   On election night, the Bloc had the lowest percent of the popular vote in the history of any sovereignist party in Québec (and only gained new seats through a division of the popular vote, which saw the majority of the popular vote in those same ridings go to the Liberals and NDP – and not to the Bloc).

Yes, the Conservatives played up the Niqab issue in Québec, and kept it front-and-centre.  In past elections, the Conservatives’ success hinged on being able to play to their base.  They believed the PQ’s 2013/2014 hijab/secular debate in Québec ignited the same base they were looking for.  Many of the niqab announcements were made in Quebec..

Even if the public shared the view that the niqab should not be worn during citizenship ceremonies or in the public civil service, Québec’s and Canada’s public showed that they have a greater distaste for “wedge politics”.

Ultimately, the public proved they would rather vote against wedge politics than for policies invoked by such politics.    In nutshell, the Conservatives overplayed their card.  The tipping point perhaps came with the ‘snitch-line’ announcement (a new government hotline to denounce barbaric cultural practices) by Ministers Leitch and Alexander.

Combined with a lack of enthusiasm for Harper-style politics in many other areas of governance, it is noteworthy that the Conservative gains in Québec were with moderate Clark/Mulroney PC-styled MP’s, and not Harper-style MP’s (the Conservatives increased their seat count to 12 from 5 in Québec, however their share of the popular vote in Quebec only increased to 16.7 compared to 16.5 percent in the previous election).

The Bloc and the Conservatives both played politics on the “extreme ends” of the political spectrum.  It left a bad taste in the mouths of both English and French Canada.

On the other end of the political spectrum was the NDP.   Traditionally another “extreme end” party, Mulcair tried to moderate the NDP’s tone, pulling it towards the centre on many issues.

However, the feeling in Québec (and seemingly elsewhere in Canada) was that Muclair was trying to bring the party towards the centre on one hand, yet trying not to alienate his own far-left base on the other.  It left room for vast amounts of doubt and uncertainty in the minds of the electorate.   Not wanting to risk another bout of “extreme end politics”, the public quickly jumped off the NDP ship.

The niqab issue also played a role.  Mulcair’s defence of the niqab was framed in legal terms in the context of the Charter and Constitution, a sore point with many in Quebec.   In contrast, while having the same substantive position, Trudeau spoke in terms of values, a softer way of making the same point.

Who did this leave as the first choice for Québec and English Canada?   The Trudeau Liberals.

Talk radio and TV interview programs tend to reflect a wide spectrum of the public’s thoughts towards issues of the day.   What I find fascinating in all of this is that during the past week, Québec’s talk radio (even those commentators and radio hosts who have been cozy with the Conservatives / NDP / Bloc, or vehement anti-Liberals in the past) all seem optimistic — or at the minimum, comfortable — about Trudeau’s victory.

You get the sense that many are even relieved that there is finally middle ground which is finding broad-range consensus.   It is a new middle-ground which has the allures of being acceptable to both the left and right elements in Québec’s society, in addition to Atlantic Canada, Ontario, the Prairies, and BC.

The newly elected Conservatives MP’s in Québec and elsewhere in Canada appear to be more moderate than Conservatives of the past.  The NDP members who won their seats are more centrist than those who were voted out.  All of this is resonating in Québec.

Many sovereignists for the first time are not sad to see the end of the BQ (that’s new).   Yet this week in sovereignist camps, there has been quite a bit of talk about how they can learn from the federal Conservatives’ mistakes (as well as the mistakes of the Marois era).

There is now talk that the PQ may want to consider abandoning nationalist identity policies, and embrace all-inclusive (ie: a “multicultural’ish” but labelled as interculturalism, of course) style of sovereigntist policies in order to try to woo the youth and the electorate in the 2018 provincial election.   The PQ may be looking for ways to capitalize the public’s sentiment enough is enough with divisive politics based on ethno-religious grounds (ie: the niqab and state secularism).

In this same vein, the BQ looks as if it may be trying to quickly create their own “Trudeau” by having 24 year-old (and defeated BQ candidate) Catherine Fournier slipped into presidency of the BQ.   Fournier has been front-and-centre in Québec’s talk-show and panel circuit for about 6 months now.

She has taken many by surprise with her maturity and insight, and people are saying she’s a real change from the old guard.  I don’t have any idea if she would be able to woo the youth to the sovereignist cause.  However, she’s getting noticed, and she may be just the type to introduce a style of “multicultural’ish” sovereignty.

Yet, if open-style politics led to Trudeau’s election win, he may have already taken the sail out of the sovereigntist movement’s countermeasures (it is difficult for an opposition party to re-invent itself on a new platform when their number one challenger already owns that platform).

The question will be if he can avoid a Federal-Provincial clash of ideologies and values with Québec leading up to the 2018 provincial election (Harper managed to take the wind out of the sails of Québec’s sovereignist politics by staying out of matters of provincial jurisdiction and keeping a tight rein on what issues his MP’s were allowed to comment on… It remains to be seen how Trudeau will manage to juggle similar issues).

For the first time after a federal election, people on the street and in the media in Québec are no longer referring to the Canadian West as the “Conservative base” or the “Conservative West”.   Yes, the majority of the Prairie ridings have gone Conservative, yet Québec’s political commentators are emphasizing the fact that that a large chunk of the Prairie’s Conservative ridings only saw Conservatives elected through vote splitting, with the majority of the popular vote in many ridings going to the Liberals/NDP – especially in cities which make up the bulk of the Prairie’s population and decision-making base:  Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

That’s a big change in the conversation in Québec, and an even larger change in how Québec views the rest of Canada.

To see almost no federalism-bashing or Canada-bashing in Québec following a very long and hotly (even venomously) contested election — even from those in the sovereignist camp who traditionally love to Canada bash — is quite a game-changer.

To think that we’re seeing this change in tone during the week of the 20th anniversary of the 1995 referendum makes it even more significant.


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.


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.

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

Ce billet en sera parmi les plus directes que j’ai écrit jusqu’à présent.

Bien qu’on en parle très peu au Québec, il demeure un fait que partout au Canada, nous sommes tous impactés par les ruses politiques de Julie Snyder et son but ultime.  Hier, devant les caméras, elle a pleuré sa maison de production – son « bébé » comme elle a dit – sans jamais démontrer le moindre égard pour les millions de gens ailleurs au Canada et au Québec qui auront bien plus en jeu que le bien-être de sa société.

En effet, nos vies — telles qu’on les connaît — sont en jeu.

Je ne peux simplement me contenter laisser-faire l’ironie, l’hypocrisie et la tromperie que j’ai vue aujourd’hui à la télévision.

Même le TVA 22h d’hier n’y a pas passé plus que 40 secondes sur l’histoire.   40 seconds: À mon avis, c’est bien courte comme « manchette de la soirée » – et peut-être un message en cachette qui pourrait en dit long sur l’avis de l’entourage à Snyder.  Radio-Canada en a parlé plus longtemps au Téléjournal d’hier (après un reportage sur la situation en Grèce), mais d’un œil bien plus critique.

Les réseaux principaux ont fait allusion à ce que je m’apprête de vous dire.   Mais en raison des politiques qui entourent l’affaire, ils étaient bien plus polis et diplomatiques dans leur choix de mots que moi.  Bien qu’ils ne soient pas prêts à prononcer ce qu’ils en pensent vraiment, cela ne m’empêche pas de prononcer mes pensées à moi.

(Voici une version “polie et discrète de Radio Canada qui explique l’affaire des crédits d’impôts et comment ils sont liés à la maison de production de Julie Snyder:  http://ici.radio-canada.ca/audio-video/media-7309274/le-fonctionnement-des-credits-dimpot)


Hier, Julie Snyder a annoncé qu’elle ne peut plus « produire des productions de télévision pour son entreprise», Productions J. (sans les détails, on n’a aucune idée de ses intentions).

Voici la couverture de LCN sur la conférence de presse de Julie Snyder:  http://tvanouvelles.ca/video/4328615372001/julie-snyder-se-dit-laquoforceeraquo-dabandonner-la-production-demissions-point-de-presse/

Le voici le reportage de LCN sur l’histoire même: http://tvanouvelles.ca/video/4328956566001/julie-snyder-abandonne-la-production-tele-reportage/

Voici l’article écrit de LCN :   http://tvanouvelles.ca/lcn/artsetspectacles/general/archives/2015/06/20150629-114846.html

Voici l’émission 24/60 à RDI :   Anne-Marie Dusseault était absente aujourd’hui, et on est chanceux que Sébastien Bovet était à la barre de l’émission.  Alors, finalement on a pu voir les bonne questions posées à 24/60 à l’endroit des intentions de Snyder / PKP :  http://www.radio-canada.ca/widgets/mediaconsole/medianet/7309403  (Bravo Sébastien!  Très bonne entrevue.)

Mais attention:  Snyder n’a jamais dit qu’elle « fermerait la boutique! ».

J’ai l’impression qu’elle se réserve pas mal plus de cartes à jouer.

Nous allons à très bientôt découvrir les projets pour son entreprise.   Je ne serais pas étonné de voir plus qu’un lapin sauter de son chapeau.  Peut-être elle va se métamorphoser dans un autre genre d’actionnaire assez créative à la scène de sa société.  Ou peut-être elle donnera pour 1$ vendra la division de télévision de sa société à un « frontman » personnage bien connu afin de s’assurer que son entreprise demeure à l’avant plan aux feux de la rampe nationaliste, et dans « le cœur et l’esprit » du public (malgré tout, si vous êtes une politicienne de facto comme Julie Snyder, à quoi sert-il de détenir une société médiatique si vous ne pouvez pas exercer un control orwellien d’une échelle massive sur gagner le cœur et l’esprit des téléspectateurs?)

Snyder invoque le fait qu’elle est privée des crédits d’impôts gouvernementaux comme raison de ne pas pouvoir continuer produire des productions pour son entreprise (les « crédits d’impôts » est un nom de « fantasie » pour les cadeaux gratuits en forme de subventions gouvernementales).

Sa déclaration pourrait facilement donner l’impression au public que Productions J. n’est plus rentable sans subventions (mais garder à l’esprit que Snyder n’a jamais prononcé le mot « rentable » au cours de son discours.  Alors, je me pose la question si la question de « rentabilité » est la vraie question dans l’équation).

En mars 2015, le gouvernement Couillard coupa les crédits d’impôt pour les sociétés de production qui ne produisent que pour un seul réseau médiatique.  La raison invoquée est qu’une telle société est quasiment une compagnie interne par extension du réseau médiatique qui achète ces productions en question (Productions J. ne produit que pour TVA, tandis que d’autres entreprises de production – telle Fabienne Larouche – produisent pour plusieurs réseaux).

Le système des crédits d’impôts est en place afin de permettre une meilleure rentabilité pour les maisons de production qui doivent éliminer considérablement leurs marges face à leur concurrence, qui tentent eux aussi obtenir les mêmes contrats.

Cependant, si une maison de production ne doit pas livrer concurrence (telle Productions J., qui d’ailleurs est assurée une rentabilité en raison de la promesse d’octroi de contrats par TVA – la société de PKP), on pourrait dire que d’octroyer des subventions à une telle maison de production n’est qu’un gaspillage de fonds des contribuables.

Je vous offre un exemple simple::

Imaginez que vous êtes le/la propriétaire d’une épicerie.  Vous avez une équipe de 8 commis aux caisses qui mettent les produits achetés dans les sacs de plastique pour les clients.

Supposons que l’industrie de “l’emballage” (pas dans les épiceries) a droit aux crédits d’impôts du gouvernement à l’ordre de 14% à 20% sur le montant de leurs dépenses totales et sur leurs revenus.   Le gouvernement donne des “remboursements” car l’industrie de l’emballage est hautement compétitive – au point où les marges (et les chances d’obtenir de nouveaux contrats) sont si minces qu’il est trop facile de faire faillite.

Mais vous, avec votre épicerie, vous n’avez pas besoin d’embaucher une tièrce compagnie d’emballage (aux frais supplémentaires) pour mettre les produits dans les sacs des clients.  Alors l’industrie d’emballage n’a rien à faire avec vous.  Vous avez votre propre équipe de 8 commis (emballeurs).

Pourtant, un jour, vous constatez que si vous détachez, sur papier, votre équipe de 8 emballeurs de votre épicerie — et encore sur papier, si vous faites en sorte que l’équipe devienne sa propre société (à l’intérieur de votre épicerie même), vous aussi, vous pouvez recevoir un rabais gratuit du gouvernement de 14% à 20% sur l’équivalent de la valeur de tous les produits mis dans les sacs en plastique.

Mieux encore, vous auriez l’avantage de ne pas avoir les maux de tête des autres sociétés d’emballage qui doivent faire promener leurs commis ailleurs à la recherche du travail supplémentaire.  Et de plus, vous ne serez pas obligé de faire venir d’autres sociétés d’emballage travailler à l’intérieur de votre épicerie.

Vous demeurez content(e) parce que vous pouvez toujours controler les hausses salariales de votre équipe de commis, et votre équipe de commis demeureront heureux car ils seront toujours payés et n’auront pas a craindre d’être mises à la porte par d’autres travailleurs concurrentiels moins chers.

Bref, la seule chose qui change, c’est que vous, en tant que propriétaire de l’épicerie, reçevez une maudite grande somme d’argent gratuit des contribuables pour n’avoir rien fait — à part une modification sur papier du statut de vos employés.

C’est une situation semblable à qui est en train de déjouer devant nos yeux au petits écrans (sauf que Snyder et sa société se sont jointes à celle de PKP suite à leur rencontre).  La maison de production de Julie Snyder serait l’équipe de 8 commis (la société d’emballage), et vous êtes TVA (l’épicerie).

Puis il y a un hic additionnel:   Vous, le/la propriétaire de l’épicierie, est marié(e) avec le/la chef de l’équipe des commis emballeurs.   Félicitations!  Vous êtes riches, tous les deux!!

Dans de telles circonstances, les subventions ne servent que de remplir les poches de la maison de production plutôt que de la rendre plus rentable face à sa concurrence.  C’est un transfert direct des fonds des contribuables au bilan de l’entreprise.

En mars 2015, le gouvernement Couillard a déclaré que cela suffit.  Il a terminé l’ancien régime de crédit d’impôt aux sociétés qui ne livraient pas concurrence (et à l’heure actuelle, la société à Julie Snyder est la seule au Québec qui fonctionne de cette manière hautement bizarre).

Des restrictions aux subventions devraient exister pour toute société qui conclut un accord de relation exclusive.  Et il va de soi qu’une règle semblable s’appliquerait pour n’importe quelle société qui ne livre pas concurrence, et qui n’est pas exposée aux risques des pertes financières — même s’il n’y avait pas de question à l’égard de la société de Julie Snyder (N’ai-je pas raison?)

Fait peut-être plus intéressant encore; Snyder ne semble pas récolter aucun appuis publique des autres maisons de production.   Hormis un groupe de pression, personne dans l’industrie n’est sorti publiquement pour dire que le gouvernement avait tort (en effet, le premier ministre est allé jusqu’à dire qu’il avait l’appui de l’industrie, qui d’ailleurs se réjoui de sa décision).

Il ne fait aucun bon sens de donner de l’argent à volonté lorsque le récipiendaire ne livre aucune concurrence et n’en a pas besoin.  C’est plus vrai encore lorsque d’autres maisons de production qui livrent concurrence ont réduit leurs offres de contrat (et leur rentabilité), faisant qu’ils ont besoin désespérément des fonds afin de rester concurrentielles.

L’Hypocrisie des revendications à Snyder

Avant février 2014, une maison de production comme celle de Julie Snyder n’avait pas droit aux crédits d’impôts.

Il semble que tout allait bien à la société de Snyder avant février 2014, et ce sans recevoir des crédits d’impôts.  Malgré tout, La Voix et Le Banquier se trouvaient en haut des cotes d’écoute.  Et corrigez-moi si j’ai tort, mais j’avais le sentiment particulier qu’une petite et obscure émission qui s’appellait “Star Académie” aurait connu un certain succès… un tout petit succès.   Est-elle le fruit de mon imagination?

Mais sérieusement, peu après Star Académie, en hiver 2014 est venue l’amie à Julie Snyder Pauline Marois et son gouvernement péquiste.  Dans sa grande générosité, le gouvernement Marois a alloué des crédits d’impôts aux sociétés comme celles de Snyder.  Ce versement a eu lieu tout juste avant que PKP a fait le saut à deux pâtes dans l’arène avec le poing en l’air pour se joindre aux rangs de Marois (la table se dressait).

C’est par pure coïncidence que mon p’tit doigt me dit que les locaux du Parti Québécois se situaient convenablement au bout du même couloir, du même étage, du même édifice qu’occupaient les locaux de Productions J. de Julie Snyder (1200, avenue Papineau – Bureau 160 dans le cas de Snyder, Bureau 150 dans le cas du siège social du Parti Québec… Bon!  Regardez — Ils sont des voisins!  La porte à côté!  Voilà!!  Pourquoi j’ai l’image en tête d’une chambre d’hôtel avec une porte qui s’ouvre à la chambre d’à côté?)

Maintenant, revenons à hier, et Julie Snyder dit qu’elle ne peut plus fonctionner sans ses subventions.  Elle n’offre pourtant aucune explication pourquoi elle n’éprouvait aucune difficulté avant l’entrée en vigueur des subventions il y a 16 mois.

Mais aux fins de son allocution « tragique » d’hier, elle plaidait qu’elle ne pouvait tout simplement pas vivre sans ses subventions (« She could not live without them » — je crois bien qu’il s’agit d’une chanson de Mariah Carey, non?).

I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU — Mes subventions!!

Dans sa façon habituellement grandiloquente, Snyder a convoqué les caméras du Québec à sa conférence de presse afin de prononcer sa victimisation aux mains odieuses de Philippe Couillard.  Elle proclame la fin de sa carrière comme réalisateur des productions à la télé.

Pendant qu’elle faisait la morale au monde, on apprenait que la vie devait être tellement dur pour une certaine productrice nommée Julie Snyder.  Mais sur une note plus optimiste, on est sorti avec le sentiment que le séparatisme ne poserait aucune inconvenance pour personne!   Non — pour absolument personne – pas une âme.  En effet, la vie post-indépendance sera merveilleuse.  Malgré tout, les efforts de Julie feront qu’on devrait se réjouir à l’idée des familles brisés à travers le pays, d’un peuple brisé, et au fait que nos cœurs seraient arrachés de nos corps encore chauds avant d’être piétinés dans la boue.

Dans une performance digne du mauvais côté du monde du show-biz, pourquoi se contenter d’avoir le projecteur sur soi-même lorsqu’on peut l’arracher de ses adversaires? 

Je le trouve fort intéressant que Snyder ait choisi la journée d’hier pour lancer son cri de rivière souffrante.  Les preuves démontrent à quel point elle est une adepte du show-biz – in extrēmus.

Au début de sa conférence de presse, elle a dû croire le pointage Julie-0, reste du monde (RDM)-1.

Mais il est devenu vite évident qu’elle semblait vouloir régler son compte, et probablement bien plus encore.

  1. Elle a amené une avocate sur scène de sa conférence de presse pour déclarer que Snyder est la victime aux mains des Libéraux provinciaux. Pointage dans sa tête : Julie-1, RDM-1.
  2. Elle a fait venir une deuxième avocate pour dire que Snyder est la victime du sexisme et qu’elle ne se trouverait pas dans une situation semblable si elle était un homme (Vraiment? Sérieusement?  Alors, cela veut dire que PKP est une femme déguisée comme homme?  Car lui aussi, il subit les mêmes pressions de se dessaisir de son empire médiatique).  La carte maîtresse du sexisme qu’elle prétend nous flasher a rapport aux commentaires de François Legault (chef du parti CAQ) qui remontent à novembre 2014 lorsqu’il a appelé Snyder « la femme de l’autre ».  Dans sa tête:  Julie-2, RDM-1.
  3. Elle a décidé tenir sa conférence de presse la même journée que les Libéraux de Couillard annonçaient leur premier grand réinvestissement multi-milliardaire (La stratégie de la voie maritime) suivant la fin des compressions budgétaires de l’année. Snyder semble avoir choisi cette journée-là afin de voler la vedette à Couillard, et de recentrer les feux de la rampe directement sur son visage plein de larmes de crocodile.  Dans sa tête:  Julie-3, RDM-1.
  4. Par pur hasard (ouais), sa conférence de presse se tenait en même temps que l’annonce de la nouvelle plateforme Libéral fédérale sur l’environnement de Justin Trudeau (une que tout le monde attendait depuis longtemps… trop longtemps [et peut-être trop tard]). Encore, l’adepte du jour semble savoir comment jouer les caméras à son avantage.  Il va sans dire que les amis de Snyder au Bloc devaient se réjouir d’une telle tactique.  Dans sa tête:  Julie-4, RDM1.

Mais à la fin de la journée, il est devenu assez évident que Snyder voulait passer le message qu’elle demeure la seule personne au monde lésée.   Malgré tout, elle n’agirait jamais de façon sournoise elle-même (non… jamais — baff!).

J’ai hâte de voir comment elle va “manipuler” le sort de sa société.

Je conclurai par un ou deux conseils pour Julie

Si vous allez, en tant que femme d’affaires, vous engager de façon très publique au jeu très risqué qui joue sur la rupture d’un des meilleurs pays au monde, et la destruction des vies des millions de gens et de familles qui sont profondément attachés les uns aux autres (peu importe leur origines linguistiques), bon, vous devez être prête à subir les grosses bosses et les courbes raides de la chaussée sur laquelle vous vous êtes embarquée.

Et c’est d’autant plus important de faire ce constat si vous vous utilisez de vos affaires pour s’élever au-dessus des autres afin de gagner cœurs et âmes dans cette lutte politique.

La performance d’hier n’était qu’un exercice de marketing afin de marquer des buts politiques et pour recueillir l’appui public.

Tout comme vous voulez créer le pays de vos rêves (pour que vous puissiez se vanter être « la » superstar de votre propre pays à vous), il y a bien plus de gens au Canada (au Canada anglais et au Québec) qui partagent un intérêt très profond à se battre pour la survie de leur pays, et leur famille Francophone-Anglophone qu’on a tous créé ensemble.

Cependant, quand les choses ne se sont pas passées comme vous auriez voulu, pas besoin de brayer que vous êtes la victime des politiques d’amertume lorsque vous avez créé ces politiques vous-même (car si je ne me trompe pas, c’est vous qui avez fait le saut en politique bien avant votre mari).

Août 2012 (18 mois avant le saut en politique de son époux, PKP)

« Comme on fait son lit, on se couche », selon le proverbe connu.

C’est dommage: Les productions de votre maison de production sont d’une grande qualité et me plaisait vraiment avant que vous et votre époux les avez politisé.   Je me sens mal pour tous les merveilleux chanteurs et artistes qui sont entraînés dans le bourbier de vos actions (mais je présume que vous allez continuer opérer le côté musique de votre société comme d’habitude).


ADDENDUM:  2015-06-30

Voici un excellent reportage de RDI avec les chiffres qui vient de confirmer beaucoup de ce que je viens de dire:  http://ici.radio-canada.ca/audio-video/media-7309560/mur-video-julie-snyder-abandonne


Bon, regarder ce qui viens d’arriver…

Pour un montant “secret” ($1??), Julie viens de vendre l’aspect télévision de Productions J à son ami et ancien collaborateur, Benoît Clermont.  Clermont va continuer produire les mêmes émissions de Productions J (La Voix, etc.).

Il aurait du être très bien payé ces quelques dernières années afin de pouvoir acheter une telle société pour une valeur juste.  Mais tout ce gang refuse d’en parler aux médias, alors nous sommes dans le noir quant à tout sujet qui touche cette transaction.


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

… Or if anything, it makes you think twice.



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.

A widely read opinion article on PKP and the question of his shares in Québecor (#271)

The following is a commentary article written by Sébastien St-François.

The article has been published by the Huffington Post Québec.  It also appears on Mr. St-François’ own blog:  http://parlonspolitique.net/

Mr. St-François has appeared on numerous media platforms in Québec as a political commentator, and I believe his articles resonate with many people.

I tend to agree with Mr. St-François’ assessment.  I also invoked a related argument when it appeared possible that Mr. Péladeau may be trying to sow a seed of bitter discontent between the population of Québec and the population of Alberta/Canada by way of his funding of the now defunct Sun News Network TV station (to the tune of $16 million / year).   I wrote about that situation in the post entitled No way! Le Figaro”.  

I asked Mr. St-François for permission to translate his latest article and to re-post it on my site.   He graciously granted permission (to which I am grateful).   The following is a translated version of his article.

The original French-language blog post can be consulted at: http://parlonspolitique.net/2015/05/19/pkp-remporte-sa-mise/


With PKP’s win having played out… Now what?

Well, it’s done.    After the first round of voting, Pierre Karl Péladeau (PKP) won with 57.6% of the votes in what all predicted was his to win.  Pierre Karl Péladeau has hence become the eighth leader of the party founded by René Lévesque in 1968 – one with the goal of making Québec a country.   Jean-Marc Fournier [a provincial Liberal cabinet member] can continue to play his broken record that the Parti Québécois is in fact “Party Québecor”Sam Hamad [another provincial Liberal cabinet minister] can continue to sing the same old tune “… what matters for us is the economy and jobs”.   With the goal of his re-election, Philippe Couillard [the Liberal premier] will not allow us to overlook the fact that the 2018 election will be about another referendum.    La Belle Province will yet again continue to be paralysed by the same old squabbling between Sovereignists and Federalists.

As you would expect, the Liberals must be overjoyed with the idea of having, for the next three years, a media baron as the head of the official opposition.   With respect to François Legault’s Caquistes [the informal name given to members of the right-of-centre federalist CAQ, the second opposition party, with François Legault as their head], they would likely never admit it, but the Parti Québécois (PQ) with PKP as its head can turn out to be a bad thing for the CAQ in 2018.  On the other hand, PKPs crowning could be a good thing for Québec solidaire [the third opposition party; far left-of-centre & sovereignist], precisely because those who voted for the PQ’s far left leadership candidate Martine Ouellet or left-of-centre leadership candidate Alexandre Cloutier do not view PKP as one of their own.   One could go so far as to even question if Bernard Drainville [a high-profile PQ leadership candidate who “unhappily” dropped out of the race] will decide to remain in his seat as an elected PQ member.   You could not help but notice his low-hanging head last Friday [during the leadership election event in Québec City].  Many are left to wonder if he is a ruined man.

I am not a supporter of the Parti Québécois, but had I been, I would have been one of those who had hoped for a second round of voting which would have squared Alexandre Cloutier against PKP.   I personally would have voted for Cloutier.  Cloutier was both the youngest, and the most experienced of all the leadership contenders.  He wound up achieving a more-than-honourable percentage of the final vote; 29.2%.  It comes as a surprise that only 72.9% of eligible PQ voters availed themselves of their right to vote.  I would have expected a higher voter turnout considering the importance of what is at stake for the PQ.   One should not lose sight of the fact that in April 2014, the PQ suffered the worst election results in their 46 year history.

But destiny had it that the PQ membership would now chose PKP.  The “hardest of the hardcore”, those who have been fighting for their country for decades, have overlooked the elephant in the room.  They have decided that PKP is their best bet to quench their separatist** thirst [**note that the author used the word “indépendantiste”, which in English has a connotation half way between “separatist” and “sovereignist”, but which is a word which does not exist in English].    That is to say, “You gave me a strong, clear mandate, that of making Québec a country.”  Yet, Mr. Péladeau should not forget that this mandate was given to him by less than 30,000 Québécois (71,000 PQ members x 72,9% x 57,6%).  This leaves him with a colossal amount of work in order to obtain a general mandate from the people of Québec – of which he acts as if he has already obtained (and one which would chisel Québec out of the Canadian federation).

Notwithstanding the mandate which he believes he has obtained, Pierre Karl Péladeau – and the PQ – now have a real problem which needs to be settled… fast.  The “PKP file” will be brought before a parliamentary commission beginning May 26th.   The chances are high that the Liberals will try to turn it into a political court of opinion by trying to “settle the Péladeau file”.   There are equally high chances that it will be an off-the-rails, political debate with low-flying daggers.  But at the end of the day, the question at hand will be of the utmost importance — for Québec’s population, and for our parliamentary system.

Can Pierre Karl Péladeau hold the title of being the leader of the Official Opposition at the National Assembly, all the while being the controlling shareholder of Québecor? [Québecor is a media conglomerate which controls 40% of Québec’s news and entertainment industry].   Yes, Mr. Péladeau undertook to place his Québecor shares in a blind trust.  That would be the normal expectation.  However, can he reserve the right to prevent his trustee from selling his shares while PKP is supposed have no right of control?  That is the point of a blind trust.  And there is the true question.

There is something surreal when we see how PQ members vehemently defend PKP’s current trusteeship pledge.  I say this because several years ago the same PQ members forced Liberal minister David Whissell to sell his simple asphalt company in the name of an apparent conflict of interest.  To quote Stéphane Bergeron (the PQ parliamentary leader at the time):  “Public perception frowns upon this situation, and the population will agree it is problematic.  It will raise questions.  It does raise questions”.   Yet, today’s question is one which looks squarely at this media giant – one with tentacles reaching all across Québec.  We’re in this one with both feet… and that could even be an understatement!

In addition, we recently learned from the President of Québecor’s executive counsel, the former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, that Mr. Péladeau will continue to exercise an advisory role “from time to time” with respect to the company under this trusteeship.  Following PKP’s victory last Friday, this situation has become even more worrisome.

Pierre Karl Péleadeau’s win has played itself out as we expected.   He has become the head of the Parti Québécois.  He now has his sights squarely fixed on the Premier’s office so as to bring his dream, and that of hard-core separatists to fruition.  Regardless if we respect PKP as a person or not, it remains his fundamental right to try to play his political hand.  However, considering what is at stake and his ultimate goal, he must divest himself of his shares in Québecor, or at a very minimum, renounce any involvement in the management of those shares.   He cannot have his cake and eat it too.