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The Three “Martins” : Introduction (#191)

Here’s a little Quiz for you (answers will be at the bottom) …

  1. Did you know that “Martin” is the most common surname (family name) in France?
  2. But in Québec, “Martin” is not the most common surname. What is it?
  3. Montréwood’s, Québec’s and Canada’s Francophone pop-culture scene has three well-known “Martins”.  Most Francophones know them.  Who might they be?


  • The first one is Franco-Manitoban (from Winnipeg). His surname is “Martin”.
  • The second one is from Québec. His given name is “Martin”
  • The above two guys look very similar (their physiques are so similar that some people actually mix them up).
  • The third one is also from Québec. His given name is also “Martin”, but he looks nothing like the first two.
  • All three are stand-up comedians, but they also have their own television programs — either as actors or as hosts.
  • All three are in high demand for television and event appearances; so much so that we have seen them as regulars on the talk show circuit, in gala events, and as invited interview guests for years. Bluntly put, all three are staples of the Montréwood and Francophone pop-culture scene.
  • Additional hints:
    • The first one has an adolescent daughter, Livia, who is regularly referred to in the media when they talk about her dad.
    • The second one likes to talk (I mean really likes to talk)
    • And you would think that the third one likes to fish.
    • All are around the same age


Here are the answers:

  1. Most common Québec surname: “Tremblay”
  2. The three famous “Martins” :
    1. Maxim Martin
    2. Martin Matte
    3. Martin Petit

See if you agree with everyone else that Maxim Martin and Martin Matte look alike.  Here are google images of them:

We’ll learn more about these Martins in the next three posts.

In the meantime, I’m off to see if I can still get tickets for Maxim Martin’s big comedy show here in Montréal tonight (I drive back to Toronto tomorrow… so tonight’s my last chance to take in his show).   Talk to you again soon!!


Lise Payette – An “eavesdropping” short series: Nadeau-Dubois / Payette – Post 2 of 3 (#154)

I’m actually writing this post during the middle of the night from about 40,000 feet, flying somewhere over the state of Wisconsin, I think.  I have to make a quick trip to Nevada for work, and will meet up with some friends flying in from overseas, but I’ll try to find time to keep up with the daily posts.


Although this is the second post in the three-part mini blog series featuring Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Lise Payette, this post is a must-read for context, in order for the next post to make sense (the next post will be the summary of the actual audio recording of the coversation between Nadeau-Dubois and Payette).

Lise Payette (born in 1931) is a still-respected former, well-known politician (learning about her has even been incorporated into Québec’s school curriculum).  She used to be a government minister within René Levesque’s Parti Québécois government.   She has not been a politician since the early 1980s, but she certainly made her mark on the party, and on Québec.  In more recent times (including today), she is a listed, and widely-read newspaper columnist (thus, her opinions still hold weight in certain circles).

Despite only being in government from 1976 to 1981, it’s notable just how well known she is – although younger generations (under 40’s – which I’m still part of) may not necessarily know her as well as those over 40. We under 40’s (especially Francophones, or those who have lived large parts of their lives between the French-English lines) have undoubtedly seen her in old film footage or documentaries, dozens and dozens of time.  Probably most Anglophones in Canada have also seen her in Canadian history documentaries, very often standing beside René Levesque, but perhaps were not aware of who she was.  However, for Anglophone Canadians, she likely is simply “that lady” they see standing on stage, beside René-Levesque, when seeing old footage of his speech upon losing the 1980 referendum, or of old footage of his other speeches.   But now when you see documentaries or old footage on the History channel or other major networks, at least you’ll now know who she is.

lv,py 80

If you’re over 40 and Francophone (or well acquainted with Francophone culture), you perhaps already know quite a bit about her. Likely two things would stand out in your mind :

  1. She was one of the first women in Canada to be a career cabinet minister. She held numerous cabinet positions in her short five years in politics – charting the way for other female politicians to hold senior government positions.
  2. She is forever associated with « L’affaire des Yvettes » (The “Yvettes Affair”).

So what is this « Affaire des Yvettes » (The “Yvettes Affair”)??

We all know about the infamous 1995 remarks Jacques Parizeau made when, upon losing the 1995 referendum, he declared it was lost because of “money and the ethinc vote”.  But you may be surprised to learn that a similar referendum “oral gaff” scandal took place during the first 1980 referendum, caused by remarks made by Lise Payette.

You’ll need to understand a little bit of the background first.  Not only was Lise Payette a successful and pioneering politician, but prior to her time in government she was also was a successful media personality.  With several high-profile exceptions (such as Jeannette Bertrand), a woman of media prominence in Québec during the 1960s and 1970s was still relatively uncommon (and a multi-portfolio female cabinet minister was even less common).  After having attained media prominence, and after being a government cabinet member for a few years, she was sensing that the 1980 referendum may be lost.  But more importantly, she feared women may be the “loosing factor”, meaning she feared they would not vote for sovereignty.  Payette therefore launched a controversial plea to women across Québec; to stop being “Yvettes”, and to take a chance and vote for sovereignty.   By accusing women of Québec of being “Yvettes”, the “Yvette” she was referring to was a character from Québec textbooks who was a subservient, traditional and passive girl.  Yvette, the character, fit the traditional role of what females had filled for hundreds of years.  Basically, translated into a reference Anglophones can identify with, Lise Payette was calling Québec women “timid little June Cleavers” (for lack of a better way of putting it).

Payette’s exact words were (translation from French):

« Guy practices sports : swimming, tennis, boxing, and diving. He plans to be a
champion with many trophies. Yvette, his little sister, is happy and docile. She always finds a way to please her parents. Yesterday at supper, she sliced the bread, filled the tea pot with hot water… And after lunch, she’s more than happy to wash the dishes and sweep the floor. Yvette is quite a dainty girl, eager to please ».

This comment inflamed women across Québec. To add further insult to injury, Lise Payette took a cheap shot at the expense of the wife of Claude Ryan, the then head of the Liberal Party and leader of the federalist “No” campaign of the 1980 referendum. Of Claude Ryan’s wife, Payette she proclaimed (in French):

“He (Claude Ryan) is just the type of man who I hate… I’m sure that Québec is full of “Yvette’s”… after all, he (Claude Ryan) is married to one.”

Just as Jacques Parizeau’s 1995 post-referendum “money and ethnic vote” comment infuriated huge swaths of Québec society, and perhaps turned off segments of society from ever voting for sovereignty in any future hypothetical referendums, so too did Lise Payette’s remarks infuriate significant segments of women in Québec. The difference, however, was that Payette made her Yvette comments “before” the 1980 referendum (whereas Parizeau made his comment “after” the 1995 referendum was already lost).

Following Payette’s remarks, but prior to the 1980 referendum, women across Québec founded a grass roots movement called « Les Yvettes » (“The Yvettes”). They organized conventions and rallies to denounce Lise Payette, the Parti Québécois, and to thus vote against sovereignty. The first rally, organized by Claude Ryans’s wife herself, attracted 1700 women. Subsequent rallies took place, with the largest attracting 14,000 women. It’s estimated that over 40,000 participated in several rallies in just a few short weeks.

Did this female backlash influence the result of the referendum?  Perhaps it did somewhat.  But did it result in the referendum being lost by a 20 point spread? Despite some people claiming it did, we will never truly know for sure what the effect was on the results, or by how much it influenced the result (opinion-polling was not a major part of the process in 1980, but I cannot see how it could have influenced the vote by a full 20 point spread – but that’s just my own guess).

What’s interesting is that both the 1980 and 1995 referendums came with major verbal gaffs from the highest ranks of the PQ leadership (I suppose whenever people are involved in something so critical and so emotional, human error will always have the potential to become an unpredictable wild-card).

Verbal gaffs are as old as the hill, and regrettable human gaffs will likely always be a part of politics.

Speaking of verbal gaffs, as a somewhat related aside (and something we may see escalate further in the next few weeks), the following recent account of verbal gaffs gives a good idea about how quickly they can snow-ball in Québec politics:

We recently saw a similar episode of a few verbal faux-pas in Québec politics. The first week of November, 2014, François Legault, the party leader of the (recently rebranded “federalist”) provincial party “Coalition Avenir Québec -CAQ” (Québec’s 3rd place party out of the four parties with seats in the National Assembly), took a verbal jab at both Pierre Karl Péladeau, PKP, (the aspiring leader-to-be of the Parti Québécois), and his politically engaged “media super-star”and activist wife, Julie Snyder.  In French, Legault made off-the-cuff remarks which he likely thought would highlight that Snyder and PKP come as an activist pair, but that he felt the two as a pair shouldn’t be given disproportionate attention.  Instead of referring to either of them by name, he referred to them as (translation):  “that guy and the wife of that other”.  

In response, Julie Snyder publicly proclaimed that Legault’s remarks should be interpreted as him having “no respect for the public, and no respect for women in general”.  Her husband, Pierre Karl Péladeau said that Legault should have more respect for his wife, considering “she is the creator of the most successful television and entertainment programs in the history of Québec”.  (their words, not mine).

Aspects of the media in Montréal, many of which have professional ties with, and are historically friendly to Julie Snyder, launched a barrage of accusations against Legault, with some accusing him of being a “misogynist” (dictionary definition of a “misogynist”: someone who hates or dislikes women or girls, and which can include sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and the sexual objectification of women).

Legault apologized, saying it was just an off-the-cuff comment meant to be humourous, and that his remarks had no association with a stance regarding women.   But Legault obviously was quite bitter about the way Snyder drew massive public media attention to his remarks, owing to her celebrity status, and the way that this can create a sour mix when media-meets-politics.

A few weeks later, on December 18, Legault upped the ante and bore out his frustrations live on the “Show du matin” (The Morning Show) of one of Québec’s most listened to radio stations, Radio X (which is the most popular radio program in Québec City and Eastern Québec).  I was actually listening to the program live, as I was getting ready for work, when François Legault sought to even the score with Julie Snyder.

Legault ranted that Julie Snyder is (quote – his words, not mine) “more dangerous than her husband” and “(she is) dangerous in the sense that she allowed inferences to go on that I am a misogynist, she allowed inferences to go on that my wife doesn’t have the right to speak… Do you know anyone who is able to, in one fell swoop, appear on (Québec’s most popular morning TV show) ‘Salut Bonjour’ (on TVA), who can appear in every show on TVA, and can appear on all radio stations?  Do you know anyone else like that?  She is dangerous in the sense that she can have an impact on public opinion, which has nothing at all to do with reality.”

This latter statement garnered attention in the Québec City / Eastern Québec regions (the web lit up – check it out), but strangely enough, did not receive much coverage in Montréal, where Québecor/TVA/Newspapers (owned by Pierre Karl Péladeau), Productions J (owned by Julie Snyder) and their media “acquaintances”  are physically based.

I’m still waiting to hear what response Péladeau or Snyder will give.  They have not yet responded, but my guess is there will be some pointed comment launched at Legault sometime in the coming weeks, bringing all this squarely back into the public arena.  After all, it appears the duo is now are trying out a new tool in their war-chest… That of trying to find ways to make labels stick to their opponents the way people managed to brand Lise Payette in 1980 on gender-based issues.  But apart from a ranting few and some TVA personalities (all in Snyder’s court by default), the public didn’t bite.  The question is, will they try this stunt again?  And who will be their next target?  Stay tuned…

My advice?  Now, now, Children, Kings, Queens!! Grown ups!!  Settle down a bit and behave!  (Aren’t politics so much fun?!?!).

But enough about the Snyder/PKP-Legault gong show (regardless of how entertaining it has become), and lets get back to Lise Payette.

The next post will wrap up this 3-part mini blog series which brings Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (part 1) and Lise Payette (part 2) together. The next post will give you a summary of their first meeting together over which they share a meal and conversation. I find it quite interesting.  You will have the controversial 24 year old, aspiring-world-changer activist share a meal with the 84 year old formerly controversial aspiring-world-changer activist of yesteryear. What will they talk about? What advice with Payette give to Nadeau-Dubois? Will he agree with her? Will either of them make controversial statements? Will they be two peas in a pod, or will they disagree like oil and vinegar?  In anticipation of the next post, I will say this upfront; they won’t be throwing their food at each other.

But stay tuned – and we’ll find out tomorrow.

P.S.  Gee, I wonder if I too will be given any labels by Julie for referring to Lise Payette in one of the sentences above as that lady” standing beside René Levesque!  (Score!   Ooops!, my bad)




“L’Autre midi à la table d’à côté”; Mofatt – Tremblay discussion summary, post 3 of 3 (#152)

This post will tie the last two posts together, and you can use the audio track to as an opportunity to work on improving your French (if you’re at an elementary or intermediary level), or to help you develop an ear for French (if you’re at a more basic level).

In the audio track of this episode of radio program “L’Autre midi à la table d’à côté” (The Other Afternoon, at the Next Table…”), Ariane Moffatt and Guylaine Tremblay sit down for a one-on-one meal together.  I get the impression they have never met before, but they spend the hour learning about each other, and focusing on what they have in common.

Both are mothers, but both did not carry their own children (in Moffatt’s case, it was her spouse who carried their children, and in Tremblay’s case, her children were adopted).   They also speak about a number of other topics regarding children (such as Christmas and childhood memories).

I think you’ll hear both of their personalities shine (the intimacy and one-on-one nature of the conversation greatly facilitates the conversation).

The dialogue summary (below) is written in chronological order with the audio track, highlighting various discussion points and the dialogue continues.   You can use the summary as a crutch when listening and improving your French listening skills.

The official link-page for this episode of L’Autre midi à la table d’à côté can be opened by clicking HERE.  (Click “Audio fil” half way down the page… that will open an audio window with the sound track).

Dialogue summary;

  • Both spoke of Christmas as children and their Christmas experiences with their own children, what they like about Christmas, and how it fits in with their own experiences.
  • Guylaine talks about how Christmas in Québec used to be celebrated different than how it is celebrated now (mass traditions on Dec 24th have been moved to 7pm now from midnight decades ago). She says Christmas today seem to be all about gifts, whereas when Guylaine was a child, she could hardly remember receiving any gifts.
  • Ariane talks of her family’s Christmas traditions.
  • Ariane talks of how she slowly starting to fall into music as a child, and her family’s role in influencing her artistic talents. Guylaine also shares her childhood development stories and relates them to her family.
  • They talk about their different styles of communication and how they perceive their respective styles.
  • Guylaine took her two daughters to the 2012 protests, “le Printemps érable” to protest university tuition hikes
    • (Comment: “Le Printemps érable” (the “Maple Spring”) was a period of mass student protests in Québec in the spring of 2012, which greatly divided Québec society as a whole.  Students refused to accept government tuition hikes – and (in a very very general sense) it pitted right-against-left, and opposition parties against the government at the time.  Many believe it had a direct impact in the defeat of the Charest government, but it left much bitterness in Québec’s society – involving accusations flying everywhere;  against the government, the opposition, school bodies, and even the media.  It also greatly divided student bodies).
  • Guylaine talks about having being an angry child, and how she still becomes vexed and involved if she believes there’s an action she judges to be unjust.
    • (Comment:  This actually surprised me when she said this – she seems like such a calm, cool headed person whenever I have seen her in interviews, the type of person with measured and empathetic emotions.  It seems like this is a part of her character which she doesn’t regularly show in interviews – but she also seems very self-aware, which in itself is a very good thing – regardless if you do or do not agree with her politics or the battles she chooses to fight, and how she chooses to fight them.  Something also quite interesting is that she states she took her children to the protests.  I also found this surprising because many people were criticized for taking their minor children to events which (a) involved much emotion which minor perhaps could not have conscious control over, and (b) periodically turned quite violent, resulting in many arrest and police action.  However, I do not know the context in which she involved her own children.  All-in-all, I find what Tremblay says to be extremely interesting.  I will probably pay much more attention to her public appearances in the future.  Like I said in the earlier post about her, she has a personality I really like and greatly identify with, even if I don’t agree with her politics.  And I have learned many other things about her in the last couple of years, which makes her a very intriguing figure.  I don’t have to agree with her views on various issues to have to like her – and I still very much like her.  She’s the type of person who is difficult not to like – and as you listen to the audio track, I venture to say you’ll agree with me).
  • Both spoke about how they act upon what they feel is right (Ariane speaks about her own coming out, and both talk about how society has changed to be accepting of the new normal).
  • Both speak about their choices to have children which they didn’t carry themselves, and what their children signify to them in this context, and in general. Guylaine said people often ask her “Do you love your children as much as if you had carried them yourself?”
  • They speak of their worries as mothers.
  • At 44:00 minutes, they sing a Capella songs which bring back Christmas memories for both. For the remaining 15 minutes of their meal, they just sing Christmas carols.   You may be interested in this part, because they sing certain carols which do not exist in English – and even for me, they brought back memories from my childhood when much of that period of my life was in French.

I hope you enjoyed this 3-part mini blog series, and found it insightful on a few fronts.



Guylaine Tremblay – An “eavesdropping” short series: Moffatt-Tremblay – Post 2 of 3 (#151)

Few television actresses are as recognizable as Guylaine Tremblay.  She has played central rolls in some of Montréwood’s most successful TV drama and comedy series, which have included La Petite vie, Omerta, Unité 9, and Les Rescapés.

I recently listened to an on-air radio interview in which Marina Orsini interviewed Guylaine Tremblay.  In the interview, I think Orsini hit the nail on the head when she told Tremblay she believes Tremblay’s public appeal lies in her being someone the public can identify with – the person who could be anyone’s sister, mother, or daughter – and that it is not only reflected through her acting rolls, but how she leads her life in general.

Tremblay is the mother of adopted daughters (the theme of not carrying one’s own children is a theme which Tremblay and Ariane Moffatt discuss in detail – which I present in the next post), and lives with her husband.

I will say, one thing which caught my eye (actually quite surprisingly) was when Tremblay politicised herself (at least in the sense of giving herself a public political label in the mind of people who have followed her career).  I say this because, over the course of her 30 year career, she’s someone I, and others, grew up watching in Western Canada (she is very well respected by Francophones, Francophiles, and French speaking Anglophones all across Canada) – and she was someone I always considered to be part of my own cultural sphere. She unexpectedly appeared (at least for me it was unexpected) on stage at the Parti Québécois’Rassemblement national” prior to last-year’s election.   That doesn’t bother me in-and-of-itself (I think political engagement is important and a necessary part of our democracy – and a society must have to have opposing political views to make keep the democratic process healthy and make it work).  But it has always felt like a case of “innocence lost” when actors and actresses take on a high-profile political stance (regardless of the political party or ideology) — and when they do, it always seems to feel like they jumped off the pedestal on which you purposely wanted to place them.   When I saw Tremblay get on stage that night, I can distinctly remember thinking to myself “Oh man! Guylaine, of all the things you could have done, why did you have to go and choose to do ‘this thing’?”.   It’s a bit disconcerting, because as the public, we tend to think that our actors and actresses belong to all of us, regardless of political stripes.  In that sense, they are so often a point of commonality and unity in a world often filled with petty divisions and differences.  That’s one of the beautiful things of the acting profession which should be cherished.  But then some go and take that feeling away by placing themselves in a political camp – basically saying, there’s “us” and then there’s “you”.  It’s just not a nice feeling.

But I suppose at the end of the day, there is still a human behind every acting role, and everyone has the right to express their political beliefs – and we should respect everyone’s right to make such choices.  It’s maybe not a pleasant reality, but we live in a very real world, not in utiopia.

Regardless, she’s still an amazingly talented actor, one of the best Québec & Canada has – and all the drama series in which she appears would not have nearly the same degree of a human element without her (she is a very human person – and anytime I see her true personality in interviews, I really get the impression she could so easily have been any of the bubbly, kind, caring, and empathetic people I grew up with in Alberta, or anywhere, really – be it friends or family… that’s why I really like her).

In the next post, we’ll take a brief look at a summary of the conversation Guylaine Tremblay and Ariane Moffatt had when they met and shared a one-on-one meal on L’Autre côté à la table d’à côté.



Ariane Moffatt – An “eavesdropping” short series: Moffatt-Tremblay – Post 1 of 3 (#150)

Much like the last three posts, I’d like to keep the same format for the next several posts (a 3-part mini blog-series, with the first two parts featuring two famous people, and the third part directing you to the audio website of L’Autre midi à la table d’à côté, where you can hear the conversation between the two famous individuals).   In this case, we’ll be focusing on Ariane Moffatt and Guylaine Tremblay.  With that, lets get into the first post of this next mini blog-series.

In any culture, there seems to be two types of singers & musicians who garner mass public attention.

There are those who are one-hit wonders (you know the type – they come out with a catchy tune, are overplayed on the radio for a few weeks or a couple months, and then people get sick of them and they disappear forever).

Then there are those other ones who consistently come out with high quality work, a major hit or album here and there over the years, and they always seem to be there in the background, making long-lasting contributions to a society’s music.  Eventually they become part of a society’s collective cultural identity.  Ariane Moffatt is one such singer.

She was born in 1978, and her career really took off in the early 2000’s with a hit album Aquanaute.  Over the last decade, she has released a number of other albums.  Her numerous Félix Awards – one of Québec’s highest music awards – and her platinum and gold albums attest to her popularity.

A couple posts ago, I mentioned that Charles Lafortune is a host of the hit television singing competition program La Voix (The Voice).  Likewise, Ariane Moffatt is a judge on La Voix (You don’t become a judge on a show like that unless you’ve made it, bigtime!).

When discussing singers or actors, it’s always tricky when trying to describe who might be a similar Anglophone Canadian equivalent.   Everyone is truly their own person, with their own style – so I hesitate to give comparisons for fear of overgeneralizing.  But if I had to pick a couple names, I would say that many of her songs have traits in common with the “softer” side of Alanis Morissette’s (and perhaps even the softer side of Ireland’s Sinead O’Connor).  But even with that, Moffatt definitely ventures into other genres, and usually remains loyal to heavy guitar tones to carry many of her songs.

In a couple posts from now we’ll be looking at the conversation Moffatt has with Guylaine Tremblay,  Therefore, I’ll quickly mention a bit about her personal life to set the scene for this later post.   Moffatt came out a couple of years ago on the wildly popular show Tout le monde en parle.   She has a spouse, and they’re raising their two children.  Much of the conversation with Tremblay will focus on this aspect of her life.

If you’re looking for some of her work, some of Ariane Moffatt’s better known songs include:

  • Je veux tout,
  • Réverbère,
  • Point de mire,
  • Mon Corps,
  • Imparfait,
  • Hasard,
  • Blanche,
  • La barricade.
  • Also, if you want to hear her interpret an Anglophone song in French, check out her interpretation of “Everybody Hurts”.

Ariane Moffatt’s official website is: www.arianemoffatt.com

Her music is for sale through various venues.  Please stick to official sites and do not pirate (our artists are part of our cultural fabric).