23 February 2010

Love thy (schoolyard) neighbor


Anglos outside Montreal told the pollster they feel they are discouraged by their schools from interacting with francophones, to avoid "conflict." Surely French- and English-language school boards should end this old-fashioned approach.

18 February 2010

Who are they, and where do they live? Names ...


When Ignatieff spoke of the strategic importance of the Alberta oil sands on a daylong visit to Montreal last month, I could not think of the last time a federal leader had spoken of Canada in Quebec, or at least done so outside the narrow confines of what more the federation could do for Quebecers.

Quebec sovereignists lost the last referendum; their cause has been in decline ever since and yet, almost fifteen years later, the Bloc has a virtual monopoly on speaking of Canada in Quebec and for Quebec on the federal stage.

Ignatieff will not have much of a shot at bringing the boom-and-bust Quebec federalist cycle to an end unless he brings more of the Canadian conversation to Quebec, and a more engaged generation of francophone federalists to that conversation. Those federalists actually exist. But more of that in another column.


"Insultés et agressés parce qu'ils parlent anglais"


Au Saguenay, des jeunes anglophones installés dans la région ont été la cible d'insultes et d'actes de vandalisme.

Le groupe d'adolescents séjourne dans la région depuis octobre dernier dans le cadre du programme Katimavik.

Des oeufs sont lancés régulièrement contre leur résidence. Un projectile a même fracassé la fenêtre de leur maison d'accueil il y a trois semaines ...

Assaults against federalists, physical and emotional, are common in Quebec; I was subject to one. Federalists believe in the rule of law, and freedom of assembly, so the opposite is seldom the case.

What else is common is police inaction against the perpetrators; I was subject to that as well.

Some "thoughtful" replies:


I don't want anyone to get beat up (duh!) but I do kind of wonder that the "federalists" in question were doing. I've certainly encountered thuggish federalists of the Galganovite variety. Of course they are for the "rule of law" when that means majority-nation domination.

And it is simply not true that assaults on federalists (or anglophones, unless they are also people of colour, gay etc, just like francophone or allophone people of colour or [LGBT] people) are common in Québec. What is common is people like you always referring to Québec as "this province", and not by its name, as if we were dirty or something.

You really shouldn't stereotype the political views of anglophones - many are progressive and, while not necessarily sovereignist, believe in the right to national self-determination. You'd be surprised how many happily work in the labour movement, the women's movement and other progressive social movements here. And wouldn't live anywhere else in North America.
And another:

I notice that "toddschneider" has taken for granted the shock title given by TVA to that piece of news, viz. that these youths were assaulted because they spoke English.
We don't know that, actually. The dynamics of respect or lack thereof between two groups - across political lines in most cases - are complex enough that I seriously doubt the summary explanation offered by this title.

I live in an area of Montreal (Plateau Mont-Royal) where people coming out of bars or restarants late at night can be quite a nuisance. Anglophones are a minority here, but when a group of late night partiers is especially loud and boisterous, it so happens that three times out of four, it is in English that those affluent white boys wake me and the neighbourhood up.

If I were to let loose with a bucket of water, would it be because they speak English? I am sure "toddschneider" would think so.
No, I wouldn't actually. But thanks for asking.

Coincidentally, a francophone resident of the Plateau wrote a dismissive piece recently republished in Maissonneuve magazine, about trendy anglophones from outside Quebec moving in to that painfully hip area, and not learning French for years, if at all. As residents of Canada it's their right, but it's also their loss. Boorishness comes in all languages.

While all incidents can have multiple interpretations, my first reflex is to side with the victims. And of course, I would do the same if the perpetrators were anglophones. Bigotry comes in all cultures.

Putting aside the facile acceptance of a national self-determination argument, at no point did I say that anglo = federalist = regressive, nor would I. Reactionism comes in all tendencies.

But I would argue that groups like the Jeunes Patriotes and their type, are given a very large leash, and few dogcatchers to worry about. They even routinely send out advance notice of their presence, to which the cops routinely yawn. Whereas that hasn't happened on the federalist side, from my intimate knowledge of my province, *since* the so-called angryphone era.

For the record, I am an "angryphobe" (sic) as well. Lose your temper, lose the argument.

10 February 2010

Psycho-history of la nation

... PQ Cabinet Minister Dr. Camille Laurin ... used to muse about how he went into politics to administer "psychoanalysis" on the Quebecois people. [He believed they] suffered from a collective [Oedipal] complex [towards] the English, that could only be cured through [voting] YES in a referendum on [sovereignty].

03 February 2010

"How to kill Quebec separatism"


... So how can Quebec separatism be killed once and for all as a credible threat? By taking three steps:

Ottawa must challenge in court the pretensions of Bill 99, which summarizes all the myths and illusions propagated by secessionists for the past 40 years. Ottawa can do this directly, or by funding private interests, such as lawyer Guy Bertrand, to launch a legal attack.

Ottawa must declare that it will enforce the decision of the Supreme Court on secession, and uphold the Constitution. That means not only that it will refuse to negotiate secession unless the conditions spelled out in the Clarity Act are fulfilled; but, most important, that it will resist any attempt to secede unilaterally and unconstitutionally, in accordance with its solemn duty.

The federal government must declare firmly, unequivocally, that it is the trustee, not the owner, of native lands in Quebec, that these lands will never be handed over to Quebec as part of a secessionist agreement unless the First Nations themselves choose to secede from Canada. They never will ...