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… 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 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 😉 .
Radio-Canada’s Chief Anchor, Celine Galipeau, aired a much-anticipated year-end interview with Premier Philippe Couillard yesterday. The interview was a hot topic of discussion because the government has vowed to balance its buget within only two years (a large feat considering it took power with Canada’s second largest provincial budget deficit after Ontario). Such action has not been seen in Québec since the Lucien Bouchard years of the last half of the 1990s.
The 15 minute interview (in French) can be viewed by clicking HERE on R-C’s website.
If you’re working on improving your French, the pace and accent in the interview would give you good practice (it’s standard, International French and not very fast).
In brief, Premier Couillard,
- declared that Québec will not pursue shale-gas extraction due to a lack of benefits, high risks, and little public appetite (this closed the door on a long-standing debate),
- explained the government’s various budget-cutting decisions
- explained the government’s goals for the coming year and remaining mandate
- defended various program decisions.
I skimmed the web, and there are many scathing reactions from various politically-engaged bloggers in Québec. The web lit-up yesterday and today with people picking apart the government’s actions since taking power last April.
On the flip side, a Léger-Le Devoir poll came out last week saying that the provincial Liberals are still leading in the polls on various matters, such as
- tax increases for insurance and banking institutions
- the reduction of school commissions
- freezing public sector wages for two years
- charging for public daycare based on the user’s annual income
- reforming municipal sector pension plans.
Overall ratings remain higher for the Liberals than any other party (at 46%).
Politics are never black-and-white, but it appears those who are barking are not necessarily representative of the majority. But like anything in politics, nothing lasts forever. Who knows if this will be a long or a short honeymoon – but it so far has been going for eight months and counting.
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!
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.
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.
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.
- 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”.
- 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”!).
- 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)
- 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.
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!
- 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!!)