Tag Archives: Political Commentary

Annual Fistfight with Police Ends in Multiple Arrests

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay Condemns SPVM Police Brutality Parody 2

Once again Montréal was the scene of it’s much beloved annual fistfight between students/activists and the city’s police, leading to a record-breaking 250 tickets being handed out, an as yet undetermined number arrests and several officers taken to hospital for treatment.

Mayor Applebaum could not be reached for comment, but a pre-typed statement indicated he had absolutely nothing to do with unethical and preferential re-zoning legislation, resulting in a multi-million dollar residential development project he most assuredly did not personally benefit from. His press-attaché noted that he had recently become an admirer of MP Peter Penashue’s method of answering unscripted questions from the public.

I kid – no one asked him what he thought.

Who could possibly care – all this was expected anyways.

The Anti-Police Brutality Coalition’s seventeenth annual anti-police brutality march was over pretty much before it got started, which I can imagine any sensible person might suppose, given the heightened police presence in general as a consequence of long-running and utterly futile demonstrations against education-specific austerity measures employed by our most recent minority separatist youth-parliament.

In fact, it seems as though police from the GTA were called in to bolster SQ and SPVM ranks, something I’m sure didn’t sit all too well with a bunch of activists who are convinced of a broad state conspiracy in which all police forces are working together to clamp down on dissent etc. etc.

Yes, we live in more of a conservative state than we’re generally used to, but it is not a police state.

And though the Montréal police do not have the best of reputations when it comes to apparent ‘over-zealousness’ (to use a term recently batted about the local press) in dealing with demonstrators, to do have a very real problem killing people needlessly, be they poor, young, immigrants or orderlies walking to work on a sunny summer morning.

That said, the COBP should know better by now that they have no hope of holding any kind of peaceful demonstration if the people they attract have no actual interest in having a peaceful demonstration.

Among other things, they know full well that the law states the planned march/demo needs to be approved by the SPVM ahead of time. While I’m certain the opinion of the membership is that doing so would be a waste of time, I’m also willing to bet they didn’t bother just to cover their own ass.

In any event, apparently the cops were more than ready for it and employed what I would consider to be excessive force in quickly dispersing an already illegal demonstration. Considering the actions of some of the protestors (but by no means a small number) – including blocking irate drivers rather than simply letting them pass – police action doubtless had the tacit approval of the working classes too busy getting on with their jobs to participate.

I didn’t see much but considering how many local journalists covered the events, I feel like I was in the thick of it. Kudos to all the brothers and sisters out there reporting and recording for posterity the very minutiae of our lives. Once we sober up we might be able to make sense of it…

***

Is it me or this all a bit nuts?

For COBP, does it not discourage the general public from taking their issue seriously (and let’s face it, there aren’t too many organizations out there who are actively engaged in at least drawing attention to police brutality, save perhaps for Julius Grey (for those who can afford his rates) and the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations’ Fo Niemi, who is specifically focused on race-relations)?

Where are their lawyers?

Where’s their legal fund?

When do they hold their fund-raisers or issue their press releases?

What relationship do they have with the voting public? Which local politicians and elected officials also care about this problem of police brutality and have the interest of COBP in their hearts and minds when they’re developing legislation?

If these seem like ridiculous questions (as they might pertain to COBP) then I think you get my point – they exist but to use ‘direct action’ against the police as a single entity instead of using public appeal to push out the truly rotten apples in this bunch.

But of course, if the organization is opposed to very concept of policing in the first place (an easy position to take when one grows up in the nearly-no-crime suburbs, but I digress) then there’s simply no chance an event like this will go anywhere but South.

As for the police, the sheer number of police who are available (and seemingly enthusiastic about such operations) is disturbing – but maybe not for the reasons you think.

Montréal police make, on average, $19.50 an hour, and work about 65 hours over two weeks. They are close to the very bottom in terms of police salary nation-wide (ballpark $33,000 per annum for the young cops who handle the bulk of the work, especially the dangerous stuff). These are, predominantly, family-oriented people who live in the suburbs, and signing up for riot duty is a surefire way of making a little more green to help pay all the bills a typical nuclear family might incur. Toronto cops make three times as much as their Montréal counterparts.

What I find disturbing here is that we have an abundance of police officers who require more work, shitty work, and further still that there’s clearly a burn out in process if police need to be ‘imported’ from at least three different forces in the GTA.

This is bad news. On top of all of this is the anachronistically-named Policeman Brotherhood’s request that the ‘test-schedules’ implemented a year ago become the new normal (something beneficial to the load of new parents on the force, and a plan which has been rejected by the city leading to the possibility of more ‘fashion-protests’ wherein the police don’t wear their new all-black uniforms) and union boss Yves Francoeur’s on-going feud with the city’s director general Guy Hebert, asserting the latter wanted to sack SPVM police chief Marc Parent.

While I don’t think the SPVM will strike as they did back in 1969 (leading to an as-yet un-matched orgy of violence, chaos and destruction in our fair city), more student unrest could result in such drastic action. And why not? All we need is for the police to say they won’t work for a defined period of time and we can sit back and witness the city tear itself to pieces, seemingly for the sport of it.

It would be as silly and needlessly destructive as maintaining an annual anti-police brutality that habitually results in police brutality. It takes two to tango after all.

A thought: next year, what if COBP held a candlelight vigil on St-Jean or Canada Day, in front of City Hall, or in Place Jacques-Cartier (or any other high-tourism location), as opposed to what they currently do, which is in essence to bring a knife to a gun fight, giving the police every reason to use irregularly strong force and then decry the actions COBP instigated.

There are saner ways to achieve social change.

In any event, for your viewing pleasure, a CBC report from the 1969 Murray Hill Riot.

Those were the days… people used to get killed in Montréal riots. It occurs to me that there’s a part of the current student/activist mentality that yearns for the street battles of Paris, Chicago or Prague circa 1968.

That was a long time ago, and time’s have most definitely changed. Their issues are not our own, their methods useful for purposes we no longer have. But there’s nonetheless a palpable sentiment public demonstrations, marches and rioting is all part of the process on the road to social progress.

I doubt it – at least with what I’ve seen here, and I came up in my more formative years in precisely this environment.

Yes, there’s a lot to be royally pissed off about, far more today than eight years ago in my opinion. But we’ve known nothing but widespread and regular public demonstrations for a considerable time. Most have been peaceful, but there seems to be a troubling number that quickly turn south and further isolate the movement for social change from the general, and voting, public.

Such a situation is untenable. If violence is to be avoided, those organizing against state-sponsored violence must do all they can so as not to elicit it. Again, as I said before, we don’t live in a police state.

So why provide the justification for a such a state to exist? We, the youth, have no power but our ability to use modern communications technology to make our point heard, quickly and often with devastating effectiveness. In the last weeks, we saw how idiotic PQ policies quickly wound up making our province an international laughing stock and yesterday saw the birth and death of Amir Khadir’s equally idiotic notion we should commemorate the terrorist and murderer Paul Rose.

We can’t find a better way of getting our point across?

Are we even trying?

An Incomprehensible Display of Political Incompetence: Amir Khadir Must Resign

The slovenly and unkempt Paul Rose, attempting to demonstrate his solidarity with the world's oppressed.
The slovenly and unkempt Paul Rose, attempting to demonstrate his solidarity with the world’s oppressed.

Earlier today perennial last-place contestant Québec Solidaire issued a statement pertaining to the death of the convicted terrorist, felon and murderer Paul Rose.

Further still, MNA Amir Khadir insinuated that he will table a motion before the National Assembly that something be done to recognize Rose’s efforts – as an activist and militant separatist, Rose was also involved in several parties that would eventually become Québec Solidaire, a party I once honeslty thought I’d support. According to Khadir, it’s all about paying tribute to those who helped shape Québec’s identity and history.

Right – this sounds curiously similar to Southerners who parade around Klan memorabilia and Confederate flags as innocent tokens of ‘a spirit of independence’.

The FLQ, a terrorist organization that sought to secure Québec independence through armed insurrection, bombings, robberies, kidnappings and, eventually the murder of Pierre Laporte, has been given a similar treatment by modern day separatists, so fuelled by piss-poor revisionist history they refuse to put the issue plainly.

Too many times they have asserted that Laporte simply died, that his kidnapping and beatings at the hands of a gang of illiterate thugs had no impact on his demise, that he suffocated on his own crucifix, that he had tried to escape and got cut up so badly he bled out.

And now Québec Solidaire is going a step further in what can only be described as the worst kind of political opportunism, seeking to pick up a little more support at the expense of the vastly unpopular Parti Québécois.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Québec Solidaire would call for tributes for a man convicted of murder, there’s the bigger issue in that QS is by extension advocating violence as a legitimate method of either forcing a political issue to the fore or of accomplishing a political goal of one kind or another.

Does it give anyone else the willies QS polled so high amongst student activists? The very same militant students, in fact, who refuse to negotiate and who are equally unwilling to even try and keep their ranks calm during their monthly protest marches.

What shall we do as a society when the next FLQ rears its ugly head? Will Amir Khadir be responsible for a kidnapped education minister?

***

I’m a combination of too tired and too mortified to make much sense here. I honestly cannot believe any self-respecting individual, a doctor and father no less, could possibly have anything positive to say about this horrible man. For the record, I believe in rehabilitation, and I’m more than willing to accept that people can change fort he better. But that requires remorse, something Paul Rose never showed.

We should remind ourselves that René Lévesque set the stage for peaceful political negotiations by coming out, during the height of the October Crisis, and joining his arch-rival Pierre Trudeau in savagely denouncing the FLQ for what it was – a group of uneducated schmucks, petty criminals, who killed and maimed janitors, maids, night watchmen and other working class types before finally killing Laporte. Lévesque made his point clear – he didn’t want to lead a new country if that country couldn’t come into existence without violence. He set a high moral standard most of Québec society agreed with.

After all, Laporte may not have been the most popular politician according to the fringe separatist/anarcho-syndicalist/Marxist-Leninist types who composed the FLQ back in 1970, but he didn’t deserve to die in such a way.

When they kidnapped him from outside his modest suburban home, he was playing football with his adopted son. Paul Rose organized the Chenier Cell’s kidnapping operation.

What a monster eh?

I wonder if Mr. Khadir has ever feared being kidnapped by political extremists while enjoying quality time with his children? I shouldn’t think so.

Politicians and activists get kidnapped and killed in his native Iran. He moved here the year after the October Crisis, so perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt – politicians aren’t typically terribly knowledgeable about e=historical events, even if they were alive while they happened. Fuzzy memories…

***

I’m calling on Mr. Khadir to renounce violence as a means to achieve political goals and resign, immediately. Obviously there’s little hope he’ll do the right thing, but what the hell – it needs to be said, he has no right to represent any Québécois.

It’s grossly hypocritical, inconsistent and so devoid of logic, rational thinking or even a basic understanding of Québec social and cultural norms you’d think these statements came from a recent Republican immigrant from the most inbred counties of West Virginia.

But no, Mr. Khadir is a self-styled progressive, doctor, and seems to be interested in running an independent country. This is what an apparently educated man thinks.

I’m at a total loss. People wonder why I have no interest in being a politician…

Québec Solidaire is dead to me as long as this clown retains his seat.

The PQ: Destroying Québec’s Reputation, One Scandal at a Time

She was that kid in school who wasn't exactly a top-performer, but she was always really keen to be hallway monitor and snitch to the principal.
She was that kid in school who wasn’t exactly a top-performer, but she was always really keen to be hallway monitor and snitch to the principal.

I found the following statement posted to Reddit’s Montreal community page. It’s not entirely clear where or what the original source is, but it’s nonetheless attributed to Dr. Joe Schwarcz, a well-respected local chemist, professor and published author. Schwarcz is a mainstay of Montréal’s vibrant intellectual and academic class; he keeps a regular column in The Gazette, runs McGill’s Office for Science & Society, and is a frequent guest on CJAD and the Discovery Channel.

He rose to prominence as a popular ‘de-bunker’ of magicians and mentalists (such as Uri Geller) by demonstrating that there are simple, scientific explanations for myriad phenomena. In other words, hardly the type to make rash judgements based on emotional (and unnecessarily so) political decisions.

Consider for yourself, I think the man has an excellent point:

“Within the last ten days I’ve been in New York, B.C. and Washington.

I was there to talk about various issues in chemistry but in each instance the topic of conversation with my hosts quickly focused on “pastagate.”

I felt ashamed to be from Quebec. We have become the laughing stock of the world. It is sheer lunacy that with numerous legitimate issues to be addressed, the narrow minded Quebec politicians worry about the French language losing its eminence because of what they see as a treacherous restaurant menu.

And it’s equally disturbing that while the Parti Quebecois commits these linguistic atrocities, the Federal government just stays silent.

The simple-minded critter who was in charge of the language police, and that is the proper description, claims that her heart was in the right place. Maybe so, but it is her brain that is missing.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, our education system is a mess, our emergency rooms are stressed to the limit and we are funding the Office Québécoise de la Langue Francaise to the tune of some 30 million dollars a year.

This is a crime!

A colossal misappropriation of public funds. We are actually paying people to go around measuring signs and telling stores to cover up “on” buttons on microwave ovens.

It is time to disband this foul operation and put the expertise of the employees to use in measuring the depth of potholes. Filling them probably lies outside their capability. It is truly amazing that Minister Diane de Courcy, when announcing the resignation of the head of the OQLF and declaring that questions in English would not be entertained, did not recognize the irony of standing in front of a sign declaring “Un Quebec for Tous.” Surely that rusty brain needs some oiling.

Educated Americans used to be ashamed to say that George W. Bush was their president. Compared with our premier, he was an intellectual giant.

– Dr. Joe Schwarcz

The OQLF – Still Ridiculous After All These Years

The OQLF is a joke.

There is simply no threat to the stability and sanctity of the French language in Montréal, Québec or Canada, nor is there any doubt whatsoever of the predominance of the French language in the public sphere of Montréal. English has been chiseled off the façades of our heritage buildings, bilingual signs covered up and monolingual ‘À Vendre’ and ‘À Louer’ signs are now far too predominant on our city streets.

It’s quite frankly a crime, a deceit of profound public irresponsibility, to campaign and dictate social policy based on the fabricated notion not only that the language of the majority of Québecois and Montréalais would be threatened with extinction, to the point of cultural genocide, but further that a small minority of English speakers are somehow holding Québec back from it’s place in the sun.

There are at present some seven million speakers of Canadian French, representing about 22% of the national population (it should be noted as well, somewhat astoundingly, that there are several small pockets of those proficient in our variety of French in the Northeastern United States), of which roughly 6.2 million speak the Québec variety as mother tongue. How many more have at least basic knowledge of conversational French, or who understand it perfectly while being unable to speak it (for whatever reason) likely puts the total number of people familiar with the language and it’s socio-cultural implications far higher.

There are at present some 661,000 Anglo-Québecois, with about one million calling it their first official language, out of a total population of eight million Québécois. Roughly 40% of the Québec population is bilingual to one degree or another in both Official Languages, while 53% of Québécois are monolingual Francophones.

The largest the Anglophone population ever got in this province was just under 800,000 people, in 1971, when they represented 13% of the population. Today the Anglo-Québécois community represents about 8% of the Québec population. It has been growing, modestly, since 2001, after an equally steady thirty-year decline immediately prior to that.

Political instability in Québec since 1970 has resulted in a net out-migration of 400,000 people, of which 285,000 compose the Anglo-Québécois Diaspora.

In Québec, Bill 101 has so far mandated that all immigrant students be educated in French regardless of mother tongue or at-home language proficiency. All businesses with more than fifty employees must conduct all official business in French. Government services are to be first and foremost in French, though with limited English services for communities where the Anglophone minority is prevalent. And all this to guarantee the supremacy of the French language in Québec.

It worked. There is simply no question French has been guaranteed forevermore in Québec. The Anglophone community is no threat – they’re no longer in control of everything and sitting on all the money. In fact the most successful among us split some time ago, taking their money with them.

There’s no question whatsoever that Québec is a French province, a robust and still far-too homogeneous nation of Francophones on the not-entirely Anglophone and increasingly inter-cultural North American continent. I’m glad it worked – I’ve benefitted from it personally. I am the product of cultural integration, bilingual by choice, mixed by birth. I know why Bill 101 was important, why it’s still relevant, and how it has positively impacted parts of Québec society.

But the party that was never supposed to be more than a movement to secure constitutional talks with the federal government (another success for Lévesque – he helped push repatriation and the Charter more than any other premier, even if he didn’t sign it, he succeeded in making Canada more sovereign – federalists owe him that much) has fallen on bludgeoning an already dead horse. A non-issue conjured to life like a modern-day Golem to scare the Anglophones out of Québec (again).

Now the PQ says Bill 101 needs to be strengthened. It needs teeth. At a time when we have to cut healthcare and education spending (resulting, as expected, in a raise in tuition despite all the campaigning to the contrary), it pushes for more OQLF inspectors (something the PLQ was planning on doing principally to mollify the soft-nationalist vote) and sets them lose amongst the small-business classes, a challenge to civic harmony if i ever dared imagine one, and hopelessly inept at containing bad PR as witnessed recently by the appropriately named pastagate – the suffix ‘gate’ so overused and meaningless it now appears to be entirely fitting when covering anything to do with the over-zealous law school drop-outs and philosophy minors who constitute the rank and file of the tongue troopers.

It’s a kind of political theatre. The appearance of actually doing something to fix a problem that doesn’t actually exist.

If Québec French was actually threatened with disappearance ‘within a generation’, as the PQ and other linguistic-supremacists sometimes imply, UNESCO would have a local office working round the clock to create a full record of the language and would have provided funds for local French-language schools. If that seems ridiculous I’m glad – it is. Such a thing would happen if there were fewer than 10,000 local speakers. Canadian French is a growing language that ranks roughly among languages such as Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Xhosa, and Haitian Creole in terms of number of native speakers. These languages, much like Canadian French, can sustain themselves, and are not about to disappear.

The video above is from 1998 and features commentary by the incomparable Mordecai Richler. Richler first brought the world’s attention to our idiotic and obviously punitive linguistic laws back in the 1980s and 1990s in some articles he had written for the New Yorker, irking the separatists to the point where he is typically today lambasted as ‘anti-Québécois’ in the same manner that he might have accused some elements of the separatist elites of being anti-Semites.

It never ceases to amaze me how the mere mention of his name in certain circles will produce a torrent of denouncement from people who, by their own admission, have never read any of his books and thus for that matter can’t give you any examples of the apparently rampant ‘Québec bashing’ strewn throughout his prose.

As a fan of Richler’s, I haven’t found it either.

In any event – just a few thoughts on a festering, oozing sore. Enjoy the video, it seems clear to me Morley Safer found the whole thing rather amusing, least of all because of Louise Beaudoin’s near-hysterical defence of Bill 101’s excesses (such as the language cops). It’s quaint seeing how a recently neutered PQ government, such as it was in 1998, returned to using the OQLF to give itself the appearance of legitimacy. Fifteen years later and we’re in just about the same situation.

***

Final thoughts – why doesn’t the OQLF do anything to support Francophone communities elsewhere in Canada? Why do they send language inspectors after small-business owners and restauranteurs when, by virtue of their own protocols and operating principles, they refrain from adopting a standardization of the French language in Québec? Curiously, I suspect the answer is in fact that they want Québec French to be as mutually intelligible and malleable as possible, and thus refraining from standardization will facilitate integration with French-speaking immigrants. Ergo, linguistic integration, but only as long as you don’t speak any English.

Anyways, I have to cut this short. Presentement, je prend un cours de français et je dois terminer mes devoirs. Cet semaine je re-lis ‘Les Aurores Montréales’ de Monique Proulx, un livre assez impréssionante comme collage de petits vignettes des vies de divers Montréalais dans les années 90. Un analyze socio-culturelle assez profond – un livre clé pour comprendre la société et l’histoire récent de Montréal.

Changing the Game

Admittedly, not our proudest moment as Montrealers
Admittedly, not our proudest moment as Montrealers

We need to change the question of Québec independence.

From the ground up, in fact.

For nearly forty years Montr̩al has been on a veritable decline Рin terms of economic security, long-term investment, population growth and relative political power among others Рand the single driving force of this decline is the as-yet unresolved (and I would argue fundamentally dishonest, historically inaccurate and politically hypocritical) issue of Qu̩bec separation.

We’ve been lucky – the decline has been steady and, at the best of times, appearing to be on the way out. It certainly helped that, since the creation of the Parti Québécois most of the significant prime ministers – Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and Martin – have Québec roots and strong personal connections with Montréal. But alas, it’s 2013 and the City of Montréal finds itself in a perilous state. Now the prime minister is a schmuck, a mail-room clerk with a spending habit, decidedly anti-Québécois in manner and speech. We also have a separatist dimwit premiere trying to impose austerity measures, something I would have figured ran counter to progressive, perhaps even historically Keynesian economic approaches valued by the PQ. A considerable portion of the local population is now thinking about greener pastures elsewhere, a brain drain is occurring, militant student protesters clash with police in our city’s streets, we have no faith in municipal officials and our initial enthusiasm about Ms. Marois (thinking she might, at least, focus on the economy, progressive social values and seek to run a corruption-free government) has all but disappeared as we begin to see her true colours as a vindictive and short-sighted wannabe iconoclast.

We have a place-holder mayor and our public focus, of late, has been on the over-zealous actions of a state-sponsored public annoyance while we wonder whether the Charbonneau Commission has anything more than quick wit and a sharp tongue-lashing in store for the criminal shit-stains who have robbed us of an immense wealth in tax-revenue with kick-backs and socks stuffed with cash.

Our city isn’t just held hostage by an unstable political situation, it’s that such a situation is being purposely maintained, and has been for quite some time in fact, quite to the benefit of the organized crime element in the city. As long as the political situation remains unstable, political parties of every shape and size will seek to attain some new leverage by feeling compelled to bend or break rules to secure a militant voting base.

Is it any wonder our best and brightest refuse to involve themselves with politics? It’s a losing proposition, particularly if you actually value clean government over whatever bribe might get waved in your face. The altruistic among us leave – if we can’t get our shit together here why even bother trying to create a more perfect and just society, we were best suited to make it happen, and look at us now. Forty years of stasis.

At the provincial level it seems as though one party is in bed with the mob while the other is in bed with the unions that work for the mob. The rest don’t owe anyone any favours and thus aren’t likely to get elected, even in a province as progressive as our own. This situation trickles down to municipal level, especially when it concerns Montréal – that from where nearly all the money flows. Either way you slice it, it’s the people who wind up fucked.

This has been going on for far too long, and I know I can’t be alone thinking we fundamentally need to change the question, change the political situation, so at the very least it is the people of Montréal who force and shape the issue.

As long as the question of Québec independence remains unresolved, we cannot hope to grow, to develop, to progress as a city. We’ll remain stuck between the apparently competing interests of Québec and Canada. We’ll remain hostages.

If the twentieth was the century of nation-states, then the twenty-first shall be the century of great cities; already we’re seeing the development of an entirely new network of key cities that focus the world’s cultural, social and political development, a trend that will assuredly grow as cities begin to implement new methods to lessen their negative environmental and ecological footprints. A lot of progress will flow forth from cities the world over, and I want Montréal to regain its position as a global city, a leading city, a city that defines itself and future orientation, rather than one caught between outside interests attempting to settle scores from a quater-millenium ago. Our greatness cannot and will not be denied.

An illustration of the maturity of progressive Québécois politicians
An illustration of the maturity of progressive Québécois politicians

I want the brain-drain to end, I want an end to the instability. Most of all, I don’t want our city to continue having to go hat in hand to various levels of government seeking funds to grow. Enough is enough, we have nearly two million people within the city and another two living in bedroom suburbs that simply would not exist without the city’s economic power. Why are we not in control of our own destiny?

Is it not time for us to be masters in our own house?

I propose we change the debate – permanently – so that Canada and Québec work for us, and we cease to be the battleground for this ridiculous war of attrition. Let’s be real – don’t tell me these student demos concern the rise in tuition exclusively – this is just as much an expression of extreme public distaste for the Harper regime and the ‘out-of-left-field’ development of a socially-regressive and economically incompetent conservative element in Canadian politics.

But we cannot be a permanent political battleground, which is why we must forge ahead and seek to do what is best for ourselves first and foremost. I’m not advocating that Montréal seek to make itself a sovereign and separate entity – far from it – but it wouldn’t hurt us to steer the conversation, and possibly seek to create new revenue streams and strategic wealth reserves so as to throw a bit of weight behind our demands, our interests as a city and metropolis.

So how do we change the conversation?

Either Montréal will become Québec’s metropolis and economic capital or it will be rejuvenated as Canada’s cosmopolis and international city. But it’s high time the matter is settled permanently so that we can get on with our lives and start planning our city’s future.

That, of course, is far easier said than done. The spineless Parti Québécois has so far fell so short of numerous campaign promises it is now focused nearly uniquely on punitive measures designed to limit the Anglo-Québécois community to a permanent underclass. Provisions in Bill 14 to change the bilingual status of numerous ‘historically Anglophone’ communities is quite literally erasing their existence and making it impossible for their presence throughout much of Québec to be sustained.

Hitting Montréal right in the pills are the provisions that demand all entreprises over ten employees to conduct all official business in French. For the innumerable start-ups and small businesses that actually drive the local economy, this may prove the final straw; why stay here when your clients are all in Silicon Valley?

The PQ wants to go further still by making it impossible for Francophones and Allophones to attend bilingual ‘Anglophone’ post-secondary institutions (literally telling adults where they can go to school, and what languages they can choose to be instructed in). And despite massive cuts to education and healthcare, there’s apparently more than enough money to continue funding the OQLF, who rather than do anything to encourage people to speak French, send petty, short-sighted zombies to harass local small businesses, charging them if they dare display a sign in English (which now includes the On/Off switch on microwaves, signs that say WC above the loo, the words pasta, caffé, steak).

Used Without Permission
Used Without Permission

All of this isn’t just bad for Québec’s Anglophones mind you, it’s bad for Montréal as well. Montréal’s future as an integrated cosmopolis is largely dependent on how the Francophone majority interacts with the Anglophone minority, and how both communities seek to pursue enhanced cultural integration. The inter-married, multicultural and multi-lingual among us should be particularly prized as a clear sign of the future – languages can coexists, even at an official level, with no cultural loss or societal deterioration. Those come about when we retreat into our silos and define ourselves in terms of opposition. It screws up literally everything we’ve been working towards over the course of the last 371 years.

Quick aside, I was overjoyed to see how quickly all this OQLF bullshit went viral, attracting international scorn and further serving to remind the world of what a pathetic laughing stock the PQ really is.

For a party that claims to wish to defend the ‘European’ or ‘Latin’ in North America, it’s remarkably poor at recognizing most Europeans have openly accepted multi-lingualism and it hasn’t had any negative effect whatsoever on the sanctity of the myriad languages spoken in Europe. For a party that suggests it is emblematic of a bright future for Québec, it’s remarkably poor at understanding modern communications and social media technologies as well. Perhaps this explains their inability to recognize our nascent high-technology start-ups, the ones that function principally in English and are focused on international business development, are so crucial to our future economic success.

In any event I digress. The future of Québec and Canada is a question Montréal wants solved, needs to have solved, in order to free us to grow, to become the great leading city we’ve always been destined to become.

I call on our potential mayoral candidates to state not a cop-out position of official neutrality on the issue of Québec separatism, but rather state a defined position that the problem must be solved immediately, and that until the issue is settled, Montréal will do what is best for its own citizens.

A member of the RRQ makes a compelling and insightful argument for the merits of an independent Québec state.
A member of the RRQ makes a compelling and insightful argument for the merits of an independent Québec state.

I would go so far as to recommend Montr̩al begin setting aside money as a permanent source of capital (much like the current Mayor of Atlanta did, setting aside a $100 million war chest of sorts to use as equity for a variety of long-term development projects). But we should take it a step further, seeking to unify all school boards into a single city-administered public education department and finally desegregate our schools, followed by mandatory bilingual public education (French being the majority language of instruction regardless of mother-tongue) in addition to taking a leadership role in maintaining decentralized public healthcare services. We already know superhospitals are an obsolete concept, and we should reconsider gutting our historic hospitals and selling them off to condo developers Рthese are our properties, our resources, and they ought to be ours to administer and use as we see fit.

Montréal must do what is best for its citizens, first and foremost. If we are unique amongst Canadian cities we should be cognizant as well of our uniqueness among Québec’s cities too.

Remaining in the middle, caught between competing interests gives us nothing but fodder for our media, and countless reasons to hate on each other, returning to solitudes and silos, something we once turned our backs on as regressive, counter to our nature.

Our city will only succeed when our own citizens recognize their inherent, personal sovereignty, and the sanctity of our own society and culture.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

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If you’ve been following the news of late, you may be asking yourself just how the PQ got elected back in September. I honestly don’t know with certainty why, but I’m fairly convinced the PQ’s victory is a direct consequence with popular displeasure with the PLQ under Jean Charest. The printemps érable didn’t help Charest either, as police brutality by the SPVM was viewed by the public at large as an extension of a dictatorial and aggressive state. Moreover, sticking his neck out and forming UPAC and the Charbonneau Commission, while ostensibly the right thing to do (and I should point out, Charest is not implicated in the slightest), was political suicide because, frankly, people are so goddamned stupid these days they equate the person calling for an investigation with the person complicit in the crime.

Unless I missed something, Charest hasn’t been implicated, indicted, or in any way involved in the on-going corruption scandals plaguing Montreal’s construction industry, yet was popularly believed to be exceptionally corrupt.

Curious that.

And now, not quite six months after Charest was unceremoniously booted from office by the slimmest of margins, the PQ under Premier Marois isn’t doing much of a better job. In fact I’d argue it’s doing a worse job.

But what’s truly amazing is just how well the PQ is destroying its own credibility. Or at least it seems rather impressive to me.

What preoccupies me is whether the PQ will undermine itself quick enough to provoke a strong public reaction against them, or whether they’ll so masterfully weave bullshit into a cohesive nation-building myth they actually manage to secure enough interest to actually call a referendum on Québec sovereignty (which as you might imagine, could mean just about whatever the fuck you want it to – every single Canadian citizen is 100% sovereign – our Constitution and Charter clearly define our rights and responsibilities, a proper social contract; without handing you bags of money I can’t imagine how much more the PQ plans on making you, me, or any of us for that matter).

So all that said, let’s take a quick gander at how the PQ is undermining itself. If nothing else, hopefully a series of outright idiotic incidents will make the collapse of the separatist movement in Québec a comic affair we’ll all share in laughing about later on.

Oh, and for the record, I’m exceptionally proud of the socially-progressive identity that has been crafted in Québec, particularly over the last fifty years. I believe the elusive Canadian identity can at least in part be found in the culture and society of my home province, whether the SSJB and PQ like it or not.

I’m also seriously thinking about joining both these organizations. The SSJB was once far more ‘federalist’ in political orientation (or at least Canadien Supremacist, if I may coin such a term).

Without further delay…

Step 1: Keep beating a dead horse. Even though support for Québec independence is low and the PQ has a minority government by the slimmest of margins, Premier Marois insists that “just as soon as we have the winning conditions” a referendum (presumably on the future of constitutional relations in Canada, but really, who the fuck knows) will be called and (apparently) Québecois will unanimously support the move for an independent Québec. The more she pushes the illusion of the necessity of Québec independence, the more she defines herself as a one-trick poney, something most Québecois may not approve of – after all, assuming she ever got her way, she hasn’t demonstrated she could lead an independent nation. This is largely because of…

Step 2: Alienating your support base. Such as the once-cohesive student protest movement that actually forced last fall’s election. Cutting $124 million from the post-secondary education budget while also not finding a viable solution to post-secondary education costs to the student is indeed a terrible situation, far worse given that it seemed the Charest administration brought in the tuition hike specifically to avoid the cuts. And what’s really puzzling here is that one would assume a liberal, if not to say progressive political party like the PQ would be in favour of more Keynesian economic theories, including managed deficit spending, as a necessary evil so as to maintain open access to high-quality universities. But no, not only are there cuts, now it seems as though there isn’t even a guarantee of possible future re-investment in education. If there’s anything a society should go into debt for, it’s without question the education of the next generations.

Which brings us back to alienating the base – it doesn’t help Marois much when Parizeau gets on her case for poor economic judgement. Remember, Parizeau is the economist who was supposed to have all the answers to the numerous questions about how Québec’s economy would work if we were independent. For the over 40 crowd, he may be seen as more ‘with it’ than the current administration, which is kind of all over the map. This can be illustrated by…

Step 3: Public demonstrations of disinterest, disengagement or flat-out pandering. Too much to list here, but I’m suspicious when cabinet ministers suddenly find money – $46 million to be precise – despite announced cuts and active cuts in related sectors, in this case education and healthcare.

Then there are the overt displays the PQ quite simply isn’t serious about governing. There’s no excuse for sleeping through Question Period. If you’re too sauced to pay attention, don’t bother showing up, but let’s be real, if you can’t manage to stay awake during what typically amounts to be a combative, argumentative session of political theatrics, you might not be cut out for the job. If Daniel Breton has trouble sleeping (as I and countless hundreds of thousands of other Canadians do), then he should see a doctor, take sleeping pills at night and coffee during the day.

There’s really no excuse for ‘being confused’ about simple government procedure and knowing how you want to vote on a given issue, yet somehow the PQ managed to vote against its own interests and support the opposition party’s motion which heavily criticized the PQ’s planned mega cuts to education. Being on the verge of tears in front of the TV cameras didn’t boost my confidence in our elected officials much either.

And then of course there was the ill-conceived trip to Scotland and, worse still, the failure to adequately prepare to be interviewed by the British Press. As you might expect, what Ms. Marois wanted to say and what was not the same thing, and though some logical or rhetorical incongruities may happen from time to time when discussing or debating large complex issues, the simple fact remains that Ms. Marois did not explain herself properly in either language – and if she had chosen to answer in French, for clarity’s sake, I’m certain the BBC could scare up a translator. Or perhaps Ms. Marois is so caught up in PQ rhetoric she actually believes Anglophones are insulted by French.

Qu̩bec independence is a joke Рis it any wonder Alex Salmond tried to keep his distance, and opted for closed door meetings?

She’d be wise to watch out for strange bedfellows. Though the Scotland trip was poorly received and French Socialist President (and Malian saviour) François Hollande has already stated he doesn’t want to get involved, there are plenty of rightwing and far-right nationalist parties throughout Europe who share, at least on paper, a desire for greater independence for their ‘oppressed and marginalized peoples’. In Flanders, a right-wing party that seeks to break up Belgium once and for all. Elsewhere in Europe, nationalism has far more sinister tones and implications.

I suppose I’ve made some kind of a point, but I need to end on this:

How much is this actually costing us? Not just in terms of tax revenue wasted pursuing this pie-in-the-sky ‘goal’, but in terms of lost morale, population decline (whether as a result of putting off starting a family because of politics or losing your progeny to an unstable and stifling socio-political climate), diminishing investor confidence?

We’ve been dealing with this go-nowhere issue for more than 30 years (it’s been at least that long since anything of consequence actually happened, and there I would point to repatriation of the Constitution, the Federalist victory in 1980, Bill 101 and the dual Charters of rights, liberties etc as the major successes to come out of that era. We’ve ben waiting for the other shoe to drop for a long time.

And it’s gotten us nothing and brought us nowhere. Contemporary PQ politicians don’t even bother laying out a plan, presenting their transition procedure, or even philosophize about how we’d carve out our academic and intellectual sovereignty in a world that’s getting smaller with every great technological leap forward.

To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, we’re driving towards the future, but our leaders (if you can call them that) keep their gaze uniquely focused on the rear-view mirror.

Do we let this go in the name of political correctness, or as a result of catastrophic laziness, until we don’t recognize you we are nor what we’ve made of ourselves?

Does a nation have to grow up?