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Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 20th position [post 11 of 11] (#266)

This is the last post in the 11 part series on the 20 most trusted people in Québec (based on an Ipsos Reid poll).

#20  Richard Martineau –

You just read my not-so-nice review on the direction I feel Anne-Marie Dusseault has taken her show, 24/60.   This next (and last person on our list), Richard Martineau, also throws around his opinions and views.

BUT, I am going to be a lot nicer in this post.  I am not going to be overly critical of Richard Martineau for one reason, and one reason alone:

Richard Martineau is an opinion-columnists (as a major celebrity TV, radio, and written press columnist), whereas Anne-Marie Dussault purports to be an objective reporter/interviewer, but I feel she comes across as anything but.

If Anne-Marie Dussault relabelled her program (24/60) as an opinion-maker columnist-formatted program, I would have nothing to gripe about.  Yet, she does not – She and Radio-Canada publicize her show as an objective program.  That is misleading, and can be dangerous when the public forms their views based on what they believe to be “objective” information.

With that now said, in his role as an opinion-columnist, I do not necessarily agree with a number of Richard Martineau’s views.  Many of his economic views I do agree with and I can relate to.  Yet, a good number of his social views sometimes rub me the wrong way.

BUT, like I said above, he is very upfront by saying he is an opinion-maker columnist, and that his goal is to provide a different perspective for the purpose of rounding out everyone’s views (and he even admits that his views change on occasion as others present new perspectives to him).   That honesty and approach is a quality which gets my respect (regardless if I agree with him or not).

The public sees, hears, and reads Richard Martineau everywhere.  He has been front-and-centre in Québec for many many years.

  • He has a major newspaper column in Le Journal de Montréal,
  • He is the host of les Francs-tireurs television program (one of the most watched journalistic-styled opinion-maker television programs in Montréwood). I wrote a previous post on Les Francs-tireurs.  Click the link.
  • He is the regular invited guest on several radio stations across Québec – providing commentaries on a host of issues,
  • Until this week, he was LCN’s main breakfast morning show host (I believe it is the most-watched morning show in Québec). However, Martineau just announced (May 11th, 2015) that he would be stepping down (lots of mystery surrounding this one).

With that said, what are Richard Martineau’s particular views which he brings to the table (to add to the pot of open debate)?

  • He is generally right of centre, both socially and economically.
  • Economically, I believe he is pro-balanced budgets, for reduced debt load, for greater government accountability, for economic development with respect to the resource industry (including Hydro, pipelines, fisheries), and for lower tax burdens,
  • Socially, he has much to say about immigrant integration and reasonable accommodations. He believes that there should be much more emphasis placed on integration (and less on accommodations) than what multiculturalism & interculturalism currently provide (he was for numerous aspects of the PQ’s Charte).
  • Martineau, I believe, is one of the more influential voices in this debate in Québec (I believe he plays a role in forming public opinion).  Yet, despite his stated concerns with current multiculturalism & interculturalism policies, after many years of listening to him, I have yet to hear what specific aspects of multiculturalism & interculturalism he does not like (keeping in mind that both concepts are quite flexible, and both allow for a large degree of leeway to incorporate greater, or lesser degrees of integration… it’s simply a matter of having the political will to tweak them at a policy level both in Ottawa and Québec City).
  • Environmentally, I believe he’s kind of a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. He’s not anti-pipeline, nor anti-oil industry, and he’s generally happy if environmental safeguards are in place.  But it’s all relative… so that can mean a million things at the end of the day.  Nonetheless, I get the feeling people further to the left on environmental issues do not  like him.
  • If I were to make a political comparison… I see aspects of Conservative, CAQ, and “blue Liberal” policy in many of the things he writes and comments about.

Richard Martineau comments most on matters pertaining to provincial economics, social policies and politics.  He is first and foremost a “Québec-oriented” columnist.   But he wanders into Federal territory often enough.

On the topic of Federal matters, Martineau rarely wanders into debate surrounding the sovereignist movement.

  • I have only ever twice seen him overtly discuss his own viewpoints.
  • The first time was in 2006 on Tout le monde en parle, when he said he was very much on the fence (a political “wanderer” if you will). He stated the deal-breaker at that point would be if federal multiculturalism remained incompatible with Québec’s integration needs (he was adamant at the time that the two concepts were incompatible… a point on which I personally do not agree with him – see my previous post Multiculturalism & Interculturalism: Lost in definition… POST 1 of 3 (#180)
  • The second time was on the TV program Bazzo.tv.  On that show, the National Post columnist, Barbara Kay, quite disgracefully and continuously Québec-bashed (on air) with very intolerant views of Québécois as a people. It was shameful (I just about died when I saw the show — with my face buried in my hands).   It provoked a strong, emotional on-air backlash from Martineau (one of the talk-show panel members).  He said that Barbara Kay’s intolerant prejudices made him want to seek sovereignty for Québec because he felt she was speaking for all of Canada.

It was awful to watch something so petty play out on television (and especially on one of the flagship television programs of Télé-Québec).   I’m sure that after Martineau calmed down off air, his views perhaps tempered… but nonetheless, that was the day I lost total and complete respect for anything related to Barbara Kay (who I did not really know until that point).  I wrote about it in a post on Québec’s columnists and opinion makers.  I even provided a translated transcript.  You can read here: Québec’s network of opinion-makers (#111).   (I’m more than certain that the vast majority of English Canada would be outraged against Barbara Kay if they knew about the contemptuous intolerance she was spewing from her mouth).

  • So where does Martineau truly stand when he’s not being provoked on constitutional matters?   I don’t know.  Honestly, I get the feeling he’s open to anything, so long as it can be justified and makes sense in his mind.   The key word in this last sentence is he is “open”.

Why do people list Richard Martineau as one of the people they trust the most?

I believe it relates to his upfront manner in expressing his views, and the fact that he does not attempt to monopolize those views.  He regularly, and wholeheartedly engages in public debate – but every single time, he gives more than enough breathing space to opposing views.  He never pretends that his views are the only views, or the correct views.  He is honest about the fact that his role is that of a columnist, and not an objective journalist.

People respect that… and at the end of the day, people trust him for it.

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And with that, we have just concluded the list of the 20 most trusted people in Québec.   It has been interesting, hasn’t it?  It probably gives you a little more insight into what people in Québec are talking about, listening to, watching, and value.   Understanding these sorts of topics are key to helping to bring down the Two Solitudes.

There is lots of online information about the people and topics discussed.  I’d encourage you to take in YouTube videos, online written resources (Wikipedia, news articles, etc.) and to form some of your own opinions.  More than that, I’d encourage you to explore a little deeper and do a little additional learning.   Knowledge makes a huge difference in the end – and knowledge can be quite powerful.

Les francs-tireurs (#34)

In French, a “franc-tireur” can have two different English meanings;  a “sniper” (mostly a military-type sniper), or a “maverick” (in the sense of a rebellious person seeking to throw a cog in someone’s wheels, or be a thorn in someone’s side regarding issues of importance).

The Télé-Québec interview show Les franc-tireurs probably has a closer fit to the “maverick-type” definition, although they definitely pull out a sniper’s scope when they decide to delve into certain issues.

You’ll recall I wrote an earlier blog post on the subject of Radio-Canada’s interview show Tout le monde en parle (TLMEP).   Well, if TLMEP had an alter-ego on a competing network, Les francs-tireurs would be it.  However, the show’s format is very different from TLMEP.  It’s not filmed in front of a live audience, and it most often features one-on-one interviews with the host seated in a chair directly facing his seated guest, knee-to-knee.

The show has had four main hosts/interviewers during its 15 years on air.   They are all well-known personalities in their own right as political & current-events columnists/commentators/journalists in the newpaper, television and radio press;  Benoît Dutrizac, Richard Martineau, Laurent Saulnier, and Patrick Lagacé.   Of these four, the current host, Benoît Dutrizac, has hosted the show for many years (although he left the show for a few years, but now is back).  Richard Martineau is also one of the current hosts.

Invitees are generally political personalities, newsmakers, or figures who have some public controversial aspect to them.  The questions asked of the interviewer will often have a sarcastic, cynical and political feel to them, and can therefore ruffle feathers if certain political camps, individuals or groups feel they’ve been targeted.    Nonetheless, the show is hugely popular, and its hosts, past and present, are regularly invited on television and the radio to give their views.  — They have the public’s attention —

The questions asked of the interviewees are very pointed, direct, frank, and sometimes nasty… especially if you get the feel that the host’s political views differ from those of the person being interviewed.   But at other times, certain interviewees seem to get off easy – which is why the show might be considered to have a political bias.  Personally, when I see that a guest or topic is taking a nasty thrashing, or se faire varlopper (in this case the French word probably fits better here than the English one), I can’t help but wonder if the interviewer is simply playing a very cruel devil’s advocate, of if the interviewer really has it out for the guest or the topic being discussed (especially if people from the same political camps or topic of discussion seem to be subject to the the same treatment over and over).

Regardless, the public knows guests will often be asked very intense questions, and topics of controversy will be scrutinized to the letter.   It should stand to reason that the public is interested in viewing how the episode will unfold, and so it should come as no surprise that Les francs-tireurs is one of the most popular, quoted, and talked about current events interview programs on television in Québec.   It also stands to reason that the show would hold political sway with the audience – especially if certain figures or topics come off in a negative light.  Those who don’t fare so well on this program may even suffer when it comes to polling time (never forget that holding a pop-culture microphone means holding soft power).

If you agree with the interviewer’s line of questioning, then wonderful — you’ll enjoy hearing the answers.   But, even if you don’t agree with the direction the interviewer takes the interview, the show will offer you a new and different perspective which will make you think of issues in a whole new light.   Objectively speaking, the interviewer’s questions are intelligent, thought provoking, sharp, and well laid out.  All-in-all, Les frans-tireurs represents arguments which are constantly put before the Québec public, and which are regularly discussed, debated, and important in Québec.

As a guy who considers himself as a rural-bred, Anglophone Albertan who’s been around the block a few times, here’s my message to Federal politicians of all political stripes (I’m not singling out any one political party), especially if you feel you’re having difficulty getting or maintaining a foothold in Québec:  All of us who hold a Canadian passport are taking this journey together which we call “Canada”.  So I would strongly recommend that you pay attention to this show, take notes, and learn from it.  To fall out of touch with many of the issues and arguments brought to light in this program frankly means you will not be in touch with much of your potential base electorate, to whom you are ultimately accountable, responsible, and to whom you’ve pledged to make their lives a bit better.  If you’re not up-to-speed or in tuned to the issues being discussed, it should therefore come as no surprise if you are left wondering why certain parts of your platforms run into a brick wall with this portion of the Canadian electorate.  As a politician for “all” Canadians (Striped, Polkadotted, Fracophone, Anglophone), if you haven’t taken the initiative to understand French — the “other” language of “your own” country, electorate and compatriots,  well…  you have parliamentary staff who do, and who can translate for you.

Les francs-tireurs airs on Télé-Québec Wednesday at 9pm, with rebroadcasts on Thursday at 1:30, Saturday at 8pm, and Tuesday at 11pm.  You can also watch the most recent episode online on Télé-Québec’s website by clicking HERE.