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Conditioning: The goal of the “Estates General of French Canada” (#279)

The next couple of blog posts regarding the Estates-General tend to discuss quite controversial and emotionally charged matters for many people – both Anglophone and Francophone.

I’m going to talk about some events which many Anglophones may not be aware of.

I am going to present events from an angle of history which is not necessarily taught in Québec, but rather from the point of view of how Canada’s Francophones outside Québec tend to often view Canada’s recent history.  It is a version which places extra weight on the failure of the the “Estates-General of French Canada” (Les États généraux du Canada français” as being one of the root causes for other constitutional events snowballing over the past 40 years.

Nonetheless, I believe the events I am about to talk about should not be overlooked (as they often are).  Having a more complete picture from various angles is always beneficial to understanding nuances so as to move forward.

The “Estates-General of French Canada”

By 1966, the Quiet Revolution in Québec was in full swing.  I don’t need to elaborate much on the Quiet Revolution.  It is something all Anglophones and Francophones in Canada study in school.

But I will say that it was a response to two major factors:

  1. It was a modernization and societal affirmation in response to a fast changing and re-ordered, post-WWII world, and
  2. it was a societal “realignment” to counteract perceived obstacles Francophones in Québec faced vis-à-vis Anglophone dominated industry and national (federal) politics.

But something else was occurring at the same time — something which is not taught in Anglophone Canada, which is only lightly skimmed over in Québec history books, and which is poorly understood in both Francophone and Canadian societies (Francophones outside of Québec perhaps know its history more than any other people in Canada).  It is an event which spanned from 1966 to 1969, and which we call the Estates General of French Canada (Les États-généraux du Canada français).

Prior to the 1960s, Canadians of Francophone heritage saw themselves as one cohesive group, regardless of where they lived in Canada.  Picture it this way… Imagine two whole maps of Canada.   Let’s say one map is coloured green and represents Anglophone Canada, and the other is coloured red and represents Francophone Canada.  Now superimpose those maps on top of each other, and the map of Canada turns yellow (red + green = yellow).   This is how Francophones used to view Canada as whole.

In a general societal context, Francophones did not view themselves in terms of a distinctive Québec or Francophone society which was demarcated by borders (the view many hold today).    There were no “Québécois”, or “Franco-Albertans” or “Franco-Ontarians” and even the term “Acadien” did not have the same significance as it does today.   There was only one term and one way of viewing oneself:  “French Canadian”… coast-to-coast.

But what happened in the last half of the 1960s at the Estates-General was a major game-changer.  It set much of the tone for the rest of Canadian society’s modern history – socially, constitutionally, and politically.

Post WWII Canada was rapidly changing from coast-to-coast.  It was having a tremendous effect on Francophone society across Canada, and Francophones saw themselves at a cross-roads.

On one hand, there were high degrees of Francophone assimilation across Canada.   But on the other hand, aspects of Post WWII Canadian society made it so that Anglophone Canadians were more “open” and “worldly” than they had ever been at any other time in Canadian history.  People were travelling on an unprecedented scales, television and radio made people aware of issues they never knew or thought about in the past, and people were becoming sensitive to the needs of others around them.  Francophones across Canada felt that a window of opportunity finally opened with which to allow them to affirm themselves, as one people, from coast-to-coast, and thereby not only counteract assimilation, but to also grow their societies on equal footing with Anglophone Canadians.

In 1966, Francophone delegates from across Canada gathered in Montréal.   They were comprised of large numbers of “French Canadian delegates” from all regions of Canada.  Most were French Canadian community leaders, union heads, or French Canadians who had constant interaction with their local or regional governments.  They gathered in Montréal to discuss how to advance French Canadian culture in a national context so as to be able to adapt to, and thrive in a new Post WWII Canada.

The assizes (rounds) of the Estates-General were to take place annually, starting in 1966.  The goal was to come up with resolutions to seek changes to the Canadian federation, from coast-to-coast.  They were to make Canada a country where all Francophones (and Anglophones) could live, and feel at home – regardless of the region of Canada.   In a sense, it was like an unofficial “Francophone parliament”.   The clincher was that the Estates-General has such a large population backing it (more than 30% of Canada’s population), that its clout would be difficult for Canada’s provincial governments and federal government to ignore.   For many, a sense of change was in the air.

The timing of the start of the Estates-General was appropriate, and telling.  Québec, as a province, was going through its own Quiet Revolution.   But many other aspects of Canadian society and various provinces were also going through their own styles of a “Quiet Revolution”.

Alberta was set to make the leap to abandon a Social Credit philosophy-based government and to embrace a massive movement of secularization, economic realignment, and industrial nationalization.  Saskatchewan was embracing a new wave of political progressivism and secularization.  BC’s, Manitoba’s and Ontario’s industries and governments were undergoing tremendous changes and adapting to a new era of trade and international interactions.   The Atlantic provinces were having to completely restructure their way of interacting with the rest of the country – politically and economically – to keep pace with the changes in what was quickly becoming a new, modern Canada (one in which a Post-WWII realignment saw Atlantic province prosperity shift more and more towards Central Canada).

The first assize (round) of the Estates-General of French Canada took place in 1966.  It was simple in the sense that it was not meant to pass resolutions.   Rather, it was to set the agenda for future Estates-General – so that everyone was on the same page (it could be considered the “negotiating stage” to ensure that all delegates were on the same page).

The planning of the Estates-General did not go unnoticed in English Canada.   Changes were in the wind within Anglophone Canada itself.  Anglophones in Post-WWII Canada were coming to the realization that French was to be treated on “equal-footing” in English Canada.  In the early 1960s, the Federal government’s Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (the Bi-Bi Commission) was mandated to look at ways to correct linguistic inequalities.  Various provincial governments were also looking at similar matters.

Anglophone Canadians across Canada, who previously had no prior interaction with any aspect of Francophone culture were actually beginning to take notice — and to take an interest.   A good number of concerned unilingual Anglophones launched was became the very first French immersion programs (in the late 1950s in Central Canada, eventually spreading to parts of Western Canada in the 1960s).

Francophones themselves were educating their provincial and local governments across Canada, and dialogue was finally beginning on a level never seen before in the history of Canada.

I don’t want to make it sound like everything was picture-perfect.  It was not.  There were many challenges to be overcome.  There would be a long road for all Francophone demands to be met.  But the time was better than it had ever been to undertake such a journey.   And the chances for success were better than at any other point in the past.

Anglophone Canada was beginning to brace itself for major linguistic changes – socially and politically.  For the first time in history, Anglophone Canada was preparing to carve a new prominent place for Francophones in Canadian society – from British Columbia, stretching all the way to Newfoundland.    It would likely occur on an asymmetric basis, with variances between the provinces – but national change appeared to be coming.

The second assize of the Estates-General of French-Canada took place in 1967 with all of the above happening in the background.   Again, it was made up French Canadian delegates, nominated from across Canada – over 1600 in fact (with the majority being from Québec).

In the minds of most delegates, this was going to be the start of a major push to bring about sweeping changes across Canada – once and for all.  And many believed that the time was right for it to work.

The Estates-General were going to deal with, and attempt to put into action a plan which would finally resolve (in a national sense) Francophone matters of

  • the status of French in Canada (including its use as an official language federally, with windows and options open to push for it to be adopted as an official language in most, if not all provinces — at least in some capacity)
  • radio & television (with the establishment of local stations and networks in all provinces and major cities… much larger, deeper, and wide-reaching than the current status of Radio-Canada),
  • work legislation (so that companies across Canada would be better able to deal with Francophone customers and staff from ocean to ocean, and resolutions which could influence provincial civil services),
  • social services and health matters (bilingual and Francophone services, hospitals, and benefits -all across Canada),
  • education advancement
  • family affairs
  • agriculture
  • finance and banking
  • Canada’s international relations
  • other resolutions as deemed necessary.

As an aside:  Just to give you an example of how significant the Estates-General could have been…  I know numerous people in British Columbia who still recall talk of potential legislation in the 1960s, to be implemented in the 1970s, with which to mandate all restaurants to provide bilingual French/English menus – in British Columbia!  That’s how wide-reaching an impact the pressure from the Estates-General could have been.

For the first time in history, there was actually much excitement about being able to resolve many of the above issues.  The Bi-Bi Commission’s preliminary report had come out in 1965, and it was becoming clear that Anglophones were taking note of issues they historically had not paid much attention to.   But with the advent of Post-WWII modernization, international integration and mobility, such issues were difficult to ignore any longer.

However what happened next, during the 1967 assize of the Estates-General, forever changed the course of French Canada’s history, and that of Canada as a whole.   It was a case of shock and horror — which I will discuss in the next post.


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

Conditioning: In the context of Canada’s “modern” history (#278)

In the last post, I spoke about negative consequences (and misunderstood realities) when conditioning provides an incomplete picture of Canada’s bi-cultural and bilingual reality – within the realms of Canada’s two dominant societies:  Francophones and Anglophones.

In this post (and the next few posts), we will look at the “modern” historical context which has played a major role in shaping much of our current conditioning.

There are a number of events in recent history which have shaped our national psyche, which in turn has given rise to a certain conditioning set”, and thus affects how Francophones and Anglophones view each other (or do not view each other).

For lack of a better term, bluntly stated, this has led to numerous “mental blocks” within Canada’s Two Solitudes.  Such mental blocks provide momentum for a viscous circle, and the continuation of the Two Solitudes.

What in Canada’s recent history “triggered” such mental blocks?

We can re-word the question to ask :

  • “In the past 50 years, what happened to condition” Canada’s Francophone and Anglophone societies to act in a manner which continues to perpetuate the notion of the Two Solitudes?”

Canada’s history can be divided into major periods:

  • Canada’s “earlier” history and
  • Canada’s modern” history.

What distinguishes these two histories is that the witnesses, players and decision makers from Canada’s “earlier” history are mostly gone, or will soon pass away.   The witnesses, players and decisions makers in Canada’s “modern” history are often still alive or can still be remembered, and are sometimes still in a position to be able to influence the outcome of the future.

It is a natural emotional response that human beings accord value to “pride and honour”.  Thus it is no surprise that so many people around the globe accord more weight to “earlier” history than they do to “modern” history (that is why we see wars and agendas being fought today on the basis of events which occurred many generations or even centuries ago).

Yet, I have always believed that such weight tends to be misplaced.  We cannot hold people accountable for the actions of past generations.  Past generations lived in a different value system, and frankly in a very different culture (to the extent that people of past eras would be from a completely different planet if they were to be compared to modern generations).   That is why I shake my head when I hear arguments for sovereignty based on past events such as 1914 conscription, the consequences of the patriot riots in the 1800s, or school abolition acts in the 1930s.

The way I reconcile such issues is by asking myself the following two questions:

  1. Would those events be promoted, valued, or exacerbated in our modern society if someone were to attempt to re-create them today?, and
  2. If not, are steps being taken today, at a societal level, to correct mistakes of the past (to the extent that they can be corrected within existing mechanisms and in a modern context)?

As events in and of themselves, Canada’s “earlier” history should be left to history, rather than to the whims of emotional response.

The “modern” history equation:

Owing to the illogical nature of granting greater weight to earlier history than to modern history, we can and should place greater emphasis on our “modern” history.   Yet, there are also dangers in according too much weight to modern history as well.  Modern history is not immune to mistakes or events stemming from misunderstandings.   But modern history affords us the luxury of making corrections to the mistakes of the the recent past before they become etched in society’s collective consciousness.

Our “modern” history is a tale of so many nuances.  Thus, we should view it as many shades of grey, rather than as black and white.

In the most general of terms, more hardcore elements of Québec’s sovereignist movement unfortunately tend to view our modern history as black and white, as do certain entrenched aspects of Canada’s unilingual Anglophone political establishment, headed by certain unilingual Anglophone politicians and community leaders.

For the purposes of this series on conditioning, I will define Canada’s modern history as the period in which many witnesses are still alive, and in which major changes occurred which gave rise to most of our modern value sets.   Therefore, we can say that Canada’s modern history began roughly around the mid-1960s.

View it this way… prior to the mid-1960’s, people lived within a very different value set.   Thus, for the purposes of the next few posts, let us wipe the slate clean from anything prior to 1965, and let’s start to look at things from that point on.

Viewed in this manner, we can say that the first major national Anglophone / Francophone event after 1965 would also be the first major event in the modern story of the Two Solitudes – the point which set the tone for later events.

In the next post I will discuss what I believe is this first major event in the modern story of the Two Solitudes… The Estates-General of French Canada (les États généraux du Canada français).


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

Conditioning; The importance of gestures (#277)

In the last post, I discussed how “conditioning” can affect our cultural cohesiveness and national psyche – and more importantly, how, in a broad sense, it is not necessarily a bad thing.   In fact, in Canada’s unique context, owing to vast distances and numerous regional differences, “cultural conditioning” (ie: laying the foundations of cultural “expectations” with respect to how Canadian citizens interact with each other) strengthens to our national cohesiveness.

I ended the last post by saying that negative consequences can arise from conditioning if our upbringing has led us to be conditioned (ie: led to expect, or believe) that Canada’s reality is one thing, when in truth it is another — OR if we are only aware of part of the overall picture.

A word to Anglophones on the negative consequences which can arise from an incomplete picture arising from certain sets of conditioning

In an Anglophone Canadian context, such negative consequences arise when Anglophones think of their country only in an Anglophone context.  This often leads to charges from Francophones that they are being ignored, misunderstood, or not accounted for in the overall context.   It goes without saying that such conditioning is not the best for national “cohesiveness”.

If you are Anglophone and if you have been following this blog for the last year, you are undoubtedly aware that many of my blog topics cover matters which many people are unaware of.  This is because many Anglophone Canadians (primarily unilingual Anglophone Canadians) have been conditioned (either by way of geographic regionalism / isolation, school, or silence in the media) into not realizing that there is a need to look beyond Anglophone culture to be able to view and understand Canada in its entirety.

It is an unfortunate reality, because frankly speaking, this “is” one the major reasons why Québec’s sovereignty movement exists.

Some of the things unilingual Anglophone Canadians may not be aware of (including unilingual individuals in Canada’s Anglophone media, political and education systems) – but which exacerbate the notion of Two Solitudes — have to do with

  • understanding Québec’s and Canada’s Francophone culture,
  • who is talking about what issues withing French Canada and Québec,
  • how those people’s views are valued and weighted within Québec’s and Canada’s Francophone society,
  • what Québec’s primary societal values are and what weight is accorded to those values,
  • what discussions may be different in Québec than in English Canada,
  • what actions in the rest of Canada can lead to Québec’s collective sense of alienation from the rest of Canada, and finally,
  • what simple things can be done in the rest of Canada to make Francophone Québécois feel more valued, better understood and a more complete part of Canadian society — just as an Anglophone would feel in any part of Anglophone Canada.

I have always said that we need to avoid a situation in which Anglophone Canadians feel perfectly at home and emotionally understood in 80% of their country, but in which Francophones can feel perfectly at home and emotionally understood in only 20% of their country.  I truly do not believe we are at this stage (yet)… but many people in Québec have been conditioned to believe we are at this stage.   Once someone is conditioned into holding preconceived notions with respect to a particular idea, then that person tends to look for signs that the preconceived notions are true; a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will.

I can give you a perfect example of this latter statement.   I have a Francophone friend (originally from Québec) who lives in a small town in Ontario.  He feels that he has been mistreated by a few Anglophones owing to a cultural misunderstanding.  Ever since then, I get the impression he has been “actively” on the lookout for repeated patterns owing to this prior and unfortunate conditioning.   Invariably, any time I talk to him, he always seems to have found a new story of “mistreatment at the hands of Anglophones” to tell me about — despite the fact that I think he is finding issues where issues do not exist.  I’ve been repeatedly pointing out to him that I see other people around him — especially Anglophones — who are experiencing the same things that he is in this smaller community.  I’ve been trying to point out that it is not a Francophone/Anglophone issue, and he just ran into a few bad apples.  But owing to the conditioning stemming from these few experiences, I’m having a tough time getting this point through to him.  His conditioning, owing to these few experiences, has tainted his view and now he believes the issues are deliberate, targeted against him as a Francophone, and it has made him quite unhappy.

Likewise, I have a good Anglophone friend in Montréal who I have known for almost 15 years.  He moved to Montréal four years ago from another part of Canada, before which he immigrated to Canada several years back.  During his first two years in Montréal, he worked in a hostile work environment.   It is important to make the distinction that work environment was Francophone and hostile — not hostile because is was Francophone.  My friend was hired into an English-only high-technology position for which the company could not find Francophones to fill the position    Yet, because my friend was new to Montréal, and because he did not speak French, he was came to the conclusion that he was being harassed because he could not speak English.  As someone looking from the outside in, I could see that he worked in such a toxic workplace that he would have been harassed regardless if he was Francophone or Anglophone.  But his experiences conditioned him into believing the harassment was owing to the fact that he was Anglophone.  His conditioning led him to become so bitter that he refused to learn French out of pure spite.  Needless to say, it is not the most pleasant experience to visit him in Montréal, and I’m actually at the point of urging him to leave Montréal (and Québec) — not only for his own sanity, but for the sanity of those around him (I can see that Francophones around him are now incorrectly holding him up as an incorrect example of what Anglophones are like… It’s just not a good situation all around.  I’m actually surprised to see how it spiraled out of control).

I find it very interesting how both of the two friends above (one Francophone, one Anglophone) believe they are being mistreated at the “hands of the other linguistic group”.  Yet, from the outside looking in, I can see that it is not the case and that these two friends have simply become overly sensitive.   I would love to bring them together to share their experiences and compare notes — precisely so they could see that their emotions are skewing reality (and I might some day).  However, their “conditioning”, which is based on traumatic events, has led them to actively search for reasons to believe that everyone in a particular language group has it out for them.  So they can see that their view of reality is incomplete and skewed, I’m trying to get them both involved in their communities more — to do volunteer work, to join a sports team, or to find a club of people with similar interests.  But it is an uphill battle… especially when emotions are running high.  This is a very poignant example of negative conditioning.

Like I said earlier, once someone is conditioned into holding preconceived notions with respect to a particular idea, then that person tends to look for signs that the preconceived notions are true.   The sovereignty movement would not exist if a critical mass of people did not have these types of conditioned sentiments, regardless if I or you believe such sentiments are baseless or not.  You can argue facts, but it is impossible to argue emotions.  Thus it is impossible to tell someone their emotions are “wrong”.

That is why gestures are so important.   Gestures and overtures are what influence emotions.

A word to Francophones on the negative consequences which arise from an incomplete picture arising from certain sets of conditioning

This leads me to the next point…

Likewise, in a Francophone Québec context, negative consequences can arise when conditioning prevents Francophones from being aware of the realities, context, changes, evolution and nuances of what is happening elsewhere in Canada.   This often results in many Québécois unnecessarily (and often unintentionally, but sometimes intentionally) erecting emotional walls between themselves and the rest of Canada.

It is unfortunate when this occurs, because it can often be based on inaccurate pretexts and preconceptions (false “conditioning”).  It leads to a sense of being more and more detached from the rest of Canada.  The problem is that this sense of isolation is as much to do with (or even more to do with) Québec’s own “wall building” as it is with any unilingual Canadian’s disconnect from Francophone culture.

This blog is primarily for Anglophone Canadians.   But I am told that more and more Francophones have been reading it over the last several months.  If you are Francophone, and you have been following this blog over the past year, you perhaps have become aware of various things about the rest of Canada you were not aware of (things not mentioned in school, in Francophone media, and certainly not by politicians and interest groups interested who seek to score political points by way of playing the nationalist card).

Perhaps some of the things you have probably learned are that there are quite vibrant underpinnings of Francophone society outside Québec and across Canada.  They are vibrant because they continue to evolve and adapt to a changing world.   Francophone society across Canada is increasingly shifting to the online digital world (making it so that a Francophone’s community is available at the touch of a button in any village, town or city across Canada).

Francophone society across Canada is indeed seeing proportional challenges arising from increased Anglophone immigration, but Francophones have been adapting.  In many cases, Francophone immigration is breathing new life into areas where Francophone society was struggling only 20 years ago (Southern Alberta and the Edmonton area are prime examples of regions where Francophone communities have grown by large numbers over the past 15 years owing to international and inter-provincial immigration).

You perhaps have learned from this blog that Francophone society in other regions of Canada comes in many different sizes, colours, and accents – different from one province to another.  You have read how Francophones are working with their local governments (provincial and municipal) to build infrastructure and greater service networks within their communities and across the country (including schools, universities, health and other government services).

One of the more poignant things you perhaps have learned from this blog is the tremendous change in openness which is occurring on the part of millions of Anglophones towards Canada’s French fact.   I have been citing many of my own observations, experiences, as well as many statistics on this topic.  One such example is Canada’s immersion program — a truly ground-breaking program by any global measure.   Other countries are now looking at Anglophone Canada’s grass-roots immersion movement which is transforming a nation.   In absolute numbers, bilingualism is on the uptick and it is “sensitizing” politicians, governments, and the Canadian population as a whole.   Changes are being made across the country.  Courts are recognizing these changes and are providing extra “nudges” in areas where there has been some “slacking off”.   If “conditioning” were to come in the form of a reset button, it is an understatement to say that more than a few Anglophones have pressed it in the past two decades.

In the next post we will look at the “modern” historical context which has shaped much of our current conditioning.


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

“L’autre midi, À la table d’à côte”; Nadeau-Dubois / Payette discussion summary, post 3 of 3 (#155)

This is the last in our three part Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Lise Payette activist mini blog series.

The last two posts touched on some complex and controversial subjects.  However, these topics have played a role in forming Québec’s culture and phyche.  It’s difficult to attempt to answer “What is Québec’s culture?” without delving into these types of issues.  Because they are complex, and because the nuances can only be picked up through knowing French, it contributes to why certain aspects of Québec are poorly understood by Anglophone Canada (just as Anglophone Canada’s culture is often poorly understand by aspects of Québec’s society).

Let’s now bring together Nadeau-Dubois and Payette, and look at the one-on-one conversation they shared over a meal on the radio program « L’Autre midi à la table d’à côté ».  Again, like the two other posts I did using « L’Autre midi à la table d’à côté » as a series summary, I am providing you with a link to the recorded program, and I will only give you a written summary of their conversation.

If you are learning French, I really want to encourage you to continue do your best to continuing to improve your language skills.  For Anglophone Canadians, it truly will open a whole world for you – one which is your own country after all.  It’s perhaps one of the finer gifts you can give yourself, and it will give you a sense of belonging, wherever you are in Canada (and it will tear down that sense that there is “you over here”, and “them over there”).

Even if your French is not at a very high level, give the audio recording your very best try.  Here is the link:   http://ici.radio-canada.ca/emissions/lautre_midi_a_la_table_da_cote/2014-2015/.

Click on “audio fil” half way down the page.  An audio feed window will then open.  If there are parts you cannot understand, you can rewind and listen again until you do get it.  Use my summary notes below as a crutch to help you work through it.   I’m super proud when I see Anglophone Canadians trying their best to improve their French – something which I regularly see.   The fact you’re just reading this and are simply interested in tearing down your country’s Two Solitudes, by way of arming yourself with a sense of understanding and awareness is more than reason enough for you to be proud too.

The summary below will be a little bit different than the wrap-up summaries in prior related posts.   Nadeau-Dubois says certain things regarding sovereignty which I do not agree with and which I feel quite strongly about.  There will be parts of the summary below where I am going to annotate with my own thoughts on why I do not agree with him.  A soft sovereignist friend suggested I perhaps could be a bit more “forceful” in my own convictions on sovereignty vs. unity (he’s a pretty open guy, and I’m a pretty open guy too – and making one stances known isn’t a bad thing when speaking with other open-minded people about the topic).  I’ve always been a bit hesitant to being too “direct”, simply because I don’t want it to tint the main purpose of the blog, which is simply to bridge the Two Solitudes (regardless of one’s own politics).  But I guess I’ve written a number of other posts in a way that its kind of obvious where I stand on the unity front.   So, OK… For this post, why not just say my stand on the whole issue?  Here we go…

Summary of the recording:

  • Payette: She says her mother raised her in the Montréal borough of St-Henrie.  Unlike most other mothers in the 1930s, she only had 2 children instead of 6 to 8.   Payette feels this was a good thing because it helped the family fight off the poverty others in their neighbourhood were struggling with (in that era, poverty was a daily fight for so many families).
  • Nadeau-Dubois: his parents were both militants, his father was a syndicaliste (union leader), Left wing, and both parents were independentistes (sovereignists).
  • Nadeau-Dubois: He first attended May Day celebrations (for world labour solidarity) when he was just 5 or 6 years old.  It was the first time he saw a group of 100 people wearing cagoules (balaclavas) while beating drums.  His father explained to him that the people were anarchists.  This made a big impression on him, and he finds it interesting that 15 years later he was marching with the same type of people.
  • Payette : She said her grand-mother brought her into politics.  Her family wasn’t religious when she was young, which was strange for the era.  This gave her a political freedom people which other families didn’t have.
  • Payette : Her first job in radio allowed her to meet numerous personalities.  One such person who she met happened to regularly perform in front of large crowds on stage.  He once told Payette “When I’m on stage in front of crowds, if I wanted to, I could make the crowds run out into the streets, and it could easily get violent.”  Payette said this statement left her with a rather deep impression.  It was a scary thought for her because it made her aware of the danger which comes with the power of being an influential figure.  Payette lightly nudged Nadeau-Dubois to be careful and to remain aware of this.   Nadeau-Dubois responded by saying that he understands her counsel.  He says he understands it because he did incite people to protest in the streets through the delivery of fiery speeches.  However, he realized later that if he had given the same speeches in a different time and place, the situation could have become quite violent.
  • Payette said she wants a “recall” law which will allow the electorate to fire a government while they are in their executing their elected mandate. She wants such a measure to be able to be used if the population becomes unhappy with the government.  She says this ties into her vision of sovereignty.  Her argument is that when people vote today, they too often are voting for a preferred personality rather than on substance.  Only after they vote do they find out that they do not like the substance of the politician.  She believes this is a way to fix the problem of cynicism towards politics.
  • Nadeau-Dubois says one thing that hit him in 2012, during his protests, was that ordinary people were telling him to go home and stop making so much noise and to stop creating disturbances. He was surprised that the people telling him this were not meeting him on an idealogical basis when telling him to go home.

My personal comment related to the above:  Take from that what you will… my interpretation of what this signifies is different from his.  I believe that if people were not willing to engage him in an ideological debate, it means they did not agree with his ideology, and it should perhaps have been Nadeau-Dubois who should have been more respectful rather that the other way around.

  • Nadeau-Dubois says he believes Québécois are not willing to become more militant like him, and are not willing to take up his causes because he feels they have it in their heads that the province’s population is not big enough to take up causes which may cause divisions within society

My personal comment related to the above:  I find NadeauDubois’ comment condescending, and bordering on insulting.  It’s almost as if the notion or reality could not occur to him that there are people – a majority in fact, based on two referendums and poll-after-poll – who actually care for, and have a vested interest in the health, advancement and strength of Canada (not just a majority in Québec, but elsewhere in Canada too).   I mentioned in earlier blog posts that Anglophones can be amazingly cool, and Francophones can be amazingly cool.  There are many of us, in Québec and across Canada, who enjoy living together and building something together, as compatriots.   The reasons both referendums failed in the past is because there “is” a majority which is concerned with splitting up the country, and who would not feel whole – culturally, as a nation, or as individuals – without one another.  This is quite unique on the world stage, and it is very special.

Canada is not dysfunctional or abnormal, as many sovereignists do argue (their words, not mine). Rather, for Federalists, it is sovereignty which can be argued as dysfunctional and abnormal, in the sense that Sovereignists proclaim sovereignty is the right option, whereas the majority does not agree.  (On that note, I’m not a big fan of the word “Federalist”… simply because in many people’s mind, it has a legal association related to the signature of the 1982 constitution defining the legal framework of the “Federation”.   That’s a whole other kettle of fish, and that’s not what I’m talking about when I say “Federalist”  When I use the word “Federalist”, I simply mean someone who is pro-Canadian Unity… and the “legal” stuff can be hashed out in a different context).

Most people across the country (including Québec) do not want to give Canada up or allow others to take it away from them. Most people want to seek and work for the continued evolution of Canada through collaboration.  Canada is not what it was 100, 40, or even 15 years ago.

For Federalists, why sovereignty seems like a dysfunctional and abnormal option is because it feels like someone is telling you the brother or sister you have always lived with (even when there was tension in an earlier era) is someone you should try to not like, and you should turn your back on them and learn to dislike them because there are differences in personalities.  Most people, when faced by that type of discourse, would simply tell that person to kiss off!  Family is family.

When I’m told that Québec’s relationship with Canada should be severed so Québec can normalize its economics and policy decisions, that argument also doesn’t hold weight with me. What is normal?  If a majority of the population accepts it, or wishes for its continued evolution, improvement, and reform within Canada, then it already “is” normal.   Getting into specific economic or policy arguments, frankly speaking, is just a waste of time for both Federalists and Sovereignists.  Why?  Because anyone can twist numbers or policies in their favour (A Federalist can make it sound like 4+4 = 9, and so can a Sovereignist).    So what boils down to is what do you harbour as feelings, emotions, and sentiments.  You either feel attached to Canada, or you do not.  If you do not, fine – that’s OK, and Federalists should respect that.  But if there are people who are attached to Canada, then as a Sovereignist – you too should respect that, live with it, and also move on… just as you would want, and ask for Federalists to respect Sovereignist’s sentiments, especially if Sovereignists were the majority – am I not right?  It should not be a one-way street when I hear that Federalists should respect Sovereignist sentiments right now, then thus move on if they lose a referendum, but that Sovereignists should not accept Federalist sentiments right now, nor simply move on if they lose a referendum (and continue to lose a majority of the public’s support and sentiment).  How does that make sense??  Think about it.   The old adage is “if you can’t beat them, join them” (at least that’s what Sovereignists often tell Federalists they should do if a majority wants and votes for Sovereignty).  But if the reality is the other way around (as it is right now), why does that not hold true in the opposite sense?    Actually… I don’t advocate that Sovereignist should drop their convictions and “join” Federalists.   I think both sides should respect each other’s sentiments.  But I do advocate “acceptance”, which means accepting and “moving on” if public opinion is not on your side (regardless if you’re Federalist or Sovereignist – and at this moment, and quite possibly for a long long time – if not indefinately- public sentiment is towards a united Canada, both in Québec and in every other province).

But hey, Gabriel NadeauDubois is entitled to his opinion. His exposure and experiences in the Canadian context are very different than mine and many others (which is why most people in Québec seemingly did not, nor do not agree with a good deal of his actions).   But I figure that’s ok – everyone can lead their life how they want.  It’s a free country.  I suppose for Federalists like myself, the idea of respecting and having strong sentiments and emotions “for” Québec, its people and other people across Canada goes hand-in-hand with what we represent as a country.  These values are not out of sync with some of Québec’s most profound values.  It’s about caring for people, sharing our wealth, our accomplishments, creating something we can be proud of, encouraging others to pursue a better life, and to give society the tools and opportunities so people can also help themselves make life a little better.  We share those values, in Québec, and across the country – and people are given the opportunity to live anywhere they want in this country in pursuit of those goals.   End of my commentary.

  • Nadeau-Dubois says he is always having to consult his entourage to help him make decisions. Payette says that’s a healthy thing, and doing the same thing has always been important for her too.
  • Nadeau-Dubois says he didn’t know what to do when he was awarded the Governor General’s award. Payette said if it was her, her initial reaction would have been to reject it.  Payette said she was very surprised to see what happened when Dubois accepted it.  She was surprised he donated the money to another cause of his liking, one linked to Québec independence.  Both he and Payette agreed that receiving the Governor General’s award money wasn’t such a bad thing after all, and served their cause well (commentary supplement:  through garnishing media attention in the form of a media event, as well as providing money to a cause of their approval.  As I stated two posts ago, after receiving the money, Nadeau-Dubois was given a platform on “Tout le monde en parle”, where Nadeau-Dubois began a telethon of sorts to increase the dollar value of the fund).
  • Both said that they felt it was too bad that people frown upon those who disagree with others (Commentary: I can only guess they’re talking about mud-slinging politics. To Nadeau-Dubois’ credit, I’ve listened to him criticize ideas and other people’s actions from A to Z, sometimes quite forcefully – but, with the exception of some of the most heated moments of the 2012 protests, he generally does not launch personal.. so on this point, I agree with him). 
  • Nadeau-Dubois says he feels the Quiet Revolution should continue because he feels societal inequalities were dealt with during the Quiet Revolution. Payette responds that it should start with a connection between the old guard (her generation) and younger generations.  After forging such connections, she believes the torch should then be left to the younger generations to re-take up the causes of the Quiet Revolution and morph into into a new movement.
  • (Commentary: this next paragraph is an interesting point of disagreement between Nadeau-Dubois and Payette):  Nadeau-Dubois asks Payette what she thinks of Pierre Karle Péladeau and the likelihood of him becoming the leader of the Parti QuébécoisPayette responded she believes PKP can incite Québec’s business spheres to take up the sovereignist cause (which, for the most part, they never have before).   She said, because PKP knows Québec’s business community very well,  it would be interesting to see if he can convince the business world not to choose sovereignty because of the Parti Québécois, but rather to simply vote yes in one referendum, and then vote for whatever party they want (left, right, centre) after a referendum succeeds.  She feels PKP would also be a good negotiator against the might of Ottawa should a referendum succeed.  She doesn’t know if having PKP as the head of the Parti Québecois will bring about these results, but she said it would be interesting to find out.  Nadeau-Dubois rebutts what Payette  (Comment For Anglophone readers who do not speak French or who do not follow the sovereignty debate in Québec, you may find the following insightful because it will allow you to see that there can be quite different views within the sovereignty movement itself).  Nadeau-Dubois said he’s very worried by the idea of PKP becoming the Parti Québécois leader because of his refusal to resolve his apparent conflict of interest.  PKP should not be allowed to be both the owner of the Québecor media empire and a politician at the same time.   He said he believes politics are not like business – that politics call for a different kind of compromise and self-restraint.  He said PKP’s background as someone who goes on the offensive until he achieves what he gets will cause more problems than what it will solve.  He believes PKP was too anti-worker, too anti-unions, and too far to the right in his business relations.
  • Payette retorts that if there will be another referendum, regardless of which way it will go, it will be the last one (Nadeau-Dubois agreed), and thus, regardless of how PKP may have managed his businesses, if he can get results in a referendum, everyone should stand behind him. Payette says she believes PKP would rapidly introduction a referendum, and everyone in the Parti Québécois should set aside their differences to make it a reality.
  • Nadeau-Dubois said, as a person, he’s calm on the outside by nature, but that’s a good thing because it naturally tempers strong emotions he harbours on the inside.
  • Nadeau-Dubois said one of the motivating factors for his social & political engagement was having seen a new-immigrant child living in poverty. He said his life-engagements have since been as an anti-poverty activist.

This 3-post mini blog series, for me personally, was one of the more interesting ones I wrote.  As you saw, I through both hands into the dough in a political sense, and in this post I opened up about some of my own convictions on the unity vs. sovereignty front – more than I have in other posts.  Like I said earlier, one friend in Québec (someone who is a “Soft” Sovereignist) gave me a hard kick in the butt for hesitating to be a bit more direct on my own thoughts on sovereignty encouraged me not long ago to not be afraid to be more upfront, in my blog from time-to-time, with respect to my own convictions.  He’s of the same mindset as me that if you’re open about your thoughts, and those listening are also open people – dialogue can still be a great thing for mutual understanding and respect (even if views don’t change — but, hey, sometimes they do too).  So with my commentaries above, there you now have how I view the sovereignty debate.

But I’m not going to keeping focusing on this particular political matter… Rather, the posts will continue to be based on what I think will be of interest to bridging the Two Solitudes (with the odd political-related post inserted here-and-there 😉 ).

I hope you found these last three posts insightful.  🙂

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ADDENDUM:  2015-02-02  

I mentioned above that it will be interesting to see where Nadeau-Dubois pops up next.  Well, he just appeared… and you’re not going to guess where.    Read the post GND Does it Again.

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MINI “EAVESDROPPING” SERIES

No way, le Figaro (#76)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le “pouvoir discret”, ça parle fort.

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

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

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

Sorry folks, but Alberta bashing is so not cool!


2014-12-14, ADDENDUM:

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

Summarized paragraph of Le Figaro’s article:

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

My response to that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Soft power” speaks loud.

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

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

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


2014-12-03, ADDENDUM:

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

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

The next few months are going to be interesting.

Write about that, Le Figaro.


ADDENDUM 2014-12-14:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


FURTHER ADDENDUMS, END 2014:

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

ADDENDUM 2015-02-09

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

ADDENDUM 2015-02-13

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

ADDENDUM 2015-02-22

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

ADDENDUM 2015-03-15

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

ADDENDUM 2015-04-22

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

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

Let the games begin!

ADDENDUM 2015-04-24:

Round 1:

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

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