Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities

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                          Montréal                   Quebec City

Stereotypes are abound in Quebec City. Recently the mayoral candidate Jean-François Gosselin, elegantly stated that when he frequents restaurants or bars on the rue Maguire, it isn’t more trees he would like to see, but more parking lots. He likes trees as much as anyone else, though not the detriment of parking spaces. Also heavily promoting the “3rd link” project, meaning a third bridge or tunnel linking the north and south shores of the Saint-Lawrence in the Quebec City region, in addition to the two existing bridges, he has said that “all respectable cities have a big perimeter beltline highway. It’s time for us to have ours!” He is not a fan of the SRB (Service rapide par bus), proposed and then put on hold by the current Mayor Labeaume’s team, stating that SRB is too expensive (wouldn’t the 3rd link project be loads more expensive?). I myself am also not too crazy about the SRB. I would much rather have a métro or tramway, but I digress.

Jean-Marc Léger, Jacques Nantel and Pierre Duhamel explain in their book Le code Québec :

[People in Quebec City] are more involved in their community life, identify more with their city than with their province or country, and are interested in municipal politics. It's simple. They are civil servants who value the private sector. They are proud people who cherish individual freedoms, but who mobilize quickly for common causes. In short, they are rebellious conservatives who also demand change. From a Montréal perspective, these are contradictions difficult to understand. That is why many Montréalers often talk about the mystery of Quebec City.

A short time ago, I caught a new TV show called Les Simone, where the first episode presented a Quebec City woman who had spent some time in Montréal. When her boyfriend picked her up to drive back to Quebec City, all of the usual clichés were plentiful. He kept on complaining about how bad Montréal smells — too crowded and dirty with pot holes everywhere. Montréal just plain sucks. She wasn’t quite so critical and said that the city had its charms. The shows plot followed her leaving him after he told her that he was on the verge of buying a typical suburban house across the street from a cemetery. She then went back to Montréal and began a bit of partying, seemingly not yet wanting to “settle down” to a more conventional suburban life.

On one of my recent trips to Montréal, I stopped at the neighborhood restaurant, Les belles sœurs, and while at the counter I struck up a conversation with two servers and the cook. Upon hearing that I live in Quebec City, they presented me with the line about how racist Quebec City is (and how supposedly better and cosmopolitan Montréal is) and congratulated themselves on living in Montréal. But sometimes you have to bring some context and nuance. Montreal wasn’t in the past, nor is today a little hipster paradise where everyone gets along and tolerates anything and everything. For example, Mathieu Lapointe in “Nettoyer Montréal” explains:

The generation born during the Second World War or after lived through the long period when Mayor Jean Drapeau reigned supreme at the Montréal City Hall. For them, Drapeau had become the embodiment of a paternalistic and unshakable power, vaguely megalomaniac, insensitive to social issues and the perverse effects of a modern urban development centered on the automobile, as well as other “big projects” (Expo 67, Olympic Games, etc.).

Then there’s the famous radio poubelle of the Quebec City region. People hear many things about it, but I’ll try to be objective. The pejorative term radio poubelle refers to the talk radio style with little real content and puts more of an emphasis on trying to attract the largest number of listeners, often to the detriment of pertinent and “intelligent” content. The label started to stick in the 2000s, when several Québec media outlets and academics began referring to the style and content of some animators of stations like Blvd 102.1 or CHOI-FM (Radio X). Jean-François Fillion, André Arthur, Sylvain Bouchard, Jonathan Trudeau and Stéphane Dupont supposedly represent this trend in Quebec City. It is said that the hosts of these stations have nothing good to say about the Parti Québécois, the Bloc or Québec sovereignty in general and are strongly anti-union. Others even say that it’s right-wing radio (though I beg to differ, it’s more liberal in the classical use of the term).

One of those personalities, Jean-François Fillion (going by the name of “Jeff” Fillion, which I can only imagine is because he is of that ilk in Québec who think everything in English is better) has been the target of much controversy. In 2007, he and Patrick Demers (owner of CHOI-FM) were ordered to pay $593,000 to the ADISQ and a few others, after apparently questioning the ADISQ’s credibility, calling them a music industry mafia, while personally insulting certain individuals, calling them things like “cow” and “cunt.”

Regarding language and nationalism, the stations seem pretty federalist and anglophile, though they broadcast in French to a francophone audience. That being said, wouldn’t it be in their interest to at least promote the French language instead of always having a chip on their shoulder about it? What would their careers be without French? Something tells me that Mr. Fillion thinks that everything the Anglophones do is better. Whether or not that’s true, he’s still putting that idea out there and people believe it. They think Québec is awful and that everything would be better with more English. I also read was that Demers considered the host Gilles Parent of not being a true radio X-er (which is what they call listeners and staff at CHOI-FM) because of his insufficient interest in rock music (I imagine this means US pop-rock). Shows where their values are.

Recently, I heard Jonathan Trudeau say that “if the French language is in decline, the fault lies with francophones themselves, so quit complaining about anglophones and allophones.” While there may be some truth to this, it is not that simple. Look at the kind of comments their listeners leave on social media. They say that something is pathétique or that they want to supporte something. The average person cannot be bothered to look up a word in a dictionary to make sure they are using it correctly. Calling something pathétique in French means that you are moved emotionally. Saying you supporte someone means that you can barley tolerate them, not that you want to offer your support, in the English sense of the term. The right word is soutenir in French. The public murders their own language though the constant exposure to English and that, coupled with bad attitudes from anglophiles like Jonathan Trudeau, the radio personalities and public are incapable of seeing that constantly being surrounding by English has a detrimental effect on our French language. Is Fillion’s and Trudeau’s way of thinking preventing them from seeing this flagrant reality?

In numerous ways, many of these radio hosts do nothing but work the base desires of their listeners. Turn things into a spectacle, into comedy, make fun of people, attack the person, not their ideas, etc. This kind of tactic is as old as time. Offer them bread and circuses, dumb down everything so that everyone can understand and make it funny so that they keep listening. Not all the radio poubelle folks are this way, but many are and this is why they have their reputation (and their audience).

Is the so-called radio poubelle of Quebec City really such an important factor? When I listen to it, I hear both good and bad content. I like it when they grill politicians and don’t seem to be afraid of calling a spade a spade. Much of the media in Québec tiptoes around sensitive topics instead of addressing them full out. The radio poubelle has a style that sounds like your average Joe complaining over a few drinks, which can be quite funny. The negative side is how much they like English (to the detriment of French), how they so often talk about the superiority of cars and highways and their aversion to public transport, with snide remarks, claiming that “nobody wants it.” What we need are more highways, because everyone apparently has a car and cars are freedom. However, they were almost unanimously for the amphithéâtre (Centre Vidéotron), which was a pretty expensive project for a flimsy idea of one day attracting a hockey team in Quebec City. Does this touch on the so-called Québec-Montréal rivalry, explaining why Quebec City wants a hockey team so much, as a way of saying: “we exist too!” I’m sure there are plenty of people attached to their cars in Montréal, and I am not anti-automobile. But I would also like things within the city to be reasonably accessible with public transport. Why should people NEED a car to get to work, go to the park or go grocery shopping?

Returning to Le code Québec, pages 152-153:

On October 19, 2015, the Conservative Party won 10 of the 12 ridings in the Quebec City area and 10 of the 12 ridings during the federal election. It was the most recent manifestation of what some commentators, researchers and politicians call the "mystery of Quebec City," a phenomenon so named by Montrealers to show their incomprehension at the propensity of the citizens of the old capital to behave differently from those of the rest of Quebec on many aspects. For Quebec City, it’s rather the Montréalers who distinguish themselves from the rest of Quebecers. The city counts 87% of the 974,900 foreign-born people during the 2011 census, representing 23% of the total population of the city.

Moreover, the vast majority of Quebec's English-speaking population lives on the Island of Montréal. This gives the metropolitan region a distinct characteristic distinct from other regions of Quebec, which are more homogeneous both demographically and culturally. The population of Québec as a whole recognizes three great advantages for the Québec City region: the beauty of the city, the proximity to nature and the fact that this city is predominantly francophone. Conversely, Montreal is recognized for its transportation system, cultural activities and access to all services. The relationship with Quebec City is more emotional, whereas that with Montréal is more rational.

Although Quebec City has also voted bleu in the past, why do people generally vote more on the so-called right (except in the city center riding of Taschereau)? I don’t think the blame can be placed on the radio poubelle, at least not as much as many say it does. Why is there a supposed hostility to public transport, but an openness to individual cars (and consequently the highways necessary)? Why do they seem to admire English and run around talking about how things like the loi 101 are preventing economic growth or that a greater anglophone population in general is no problem, as the francophones are at fault if French declines? The radio in Quebec City often provide a fast-food version of history, while other media outlets tend to provide a fragmented version, making it next-to-impossible to connect the dots and get a clear picture of what’s going on in our society.

So what could be going on? I did a bit of sleuthing and, while nothing I found explains the differences, I did find some food for thought. I read about the Educational reform form the 1960s, usually shortened to the Commission Parent, which was an investigation on the educational situation of Québec in the 1960s, with the Rapport Parent, responsible for things like the creation of the Ministère de l’éducation du Québec, mandatory schooling until 16 years of age and the creation of CÉGEPs to replace the classical and Catholic education institutions.

The context of the Rapport Parent concerned a debate on the historical cause of the economic inferiority of French Canadians. The Commision d’enquête Laurendeau-Dunton on bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada showed statistically that French Canadians were the poorest ethnic group in the country, followed only by recent Italian immigrants and Amerindians. From this point, two schools of thought contested the reasons to explain this phenomenon—the École de Montréal (School of Montréal) and the École de Québec (School of Quebec City).

For the TL;DR crowd, here’s a quick graph illustrating the main differences between the two schools of thought.

From the book L’histoire nationale à l’école québécoise, page 338, the École de Québec from Université Laval, under the direction of Marcel Trudel, Jean Hamelin and Fernand Ouellet proposed the thesis that the economic lag among French Canadians was largely due to the superiority of the “Protestant Work Ethic” regarding capitalism, which was inspired from German sociologist Max Weber. This school of thought viewed the British conquest as having many beneficial effects, especially economically speaking. They had the idea that it was better to have good relations with the rest of Canada (ROC) and not rock the boat. In short, the École de Québec is usually thought of as bonne-ententiste. The solution to French Canadian economic inferiority is that Quebec should abandon classical and Catholic pedagogy in favor of an Anglo-American teaching style, seen as more pragmatic and scientific for economic competition—in the spirit of the “struggle for life” idea. Generally, Quebec City is liberal (in the classical sense) and thinks we should make an effort to get along with the ROC because, after all, they are not so bad, are nice to us and are better at making money.

So, from the École de Québec point of view, we should be more like the British and Protestants, but still be Catholic and Francophone? Am I missing something? Does this help explain the favorable attitude of cars and highways in order to be more like the Americans? 

By contrast, the École de Montréal, established at the Université de Montréal, under the direction of the historians Michel Brunet, Guy Frégault and Maurice Séguin, was inspired by Lionel Groulx and insisted that the underlying cause of the French Canadian economic inferiority was due to the 1760 British conquest and the negative effects thereafter. Differing from the École de Québec, which perceived that the economic lag was due to Catholicism and that the arrival of the British was beneficial on just about all levels, the École de Montréal’s vision of history is much more nationalist and presents the Conquête as a fundamental military defeat that had tarnished everything that came afterward in Québec’s history.

The École de Montréal asserts that only the independence of Québec could remedy this situation in any real and meaningful way, as long as such a thing remains possible (given the mass immigration policies we have today). The founding of the Parti Québécois in 1968 and the rise of the Québec independence movement in the following decades are directly linked to the École de Montréal.

And then there’s Rémi Guertin, who wrote a doctoral thesis on the structure of Quebec City in which he devoted a full chapter on the mystery of Quebec City. Mr. Guertin believes that Quebec City originated from the regions and purchases symbols of urbanity (such as the Centre Vidéotron, the Le Phare real estate project, a new airport, a congress center) in an effort to forget its regional situation and to prove that it is not just a city of civil servants. The frustration of always trailing behind Montréal and the reality of being a “provincial city” despite its status as the Capitale-Nationale would explain the mystery of Quebec City.

Another line from Le code Québec, page 155, went something like this: “the people of Quebec City are proud. They demand respect for their difference. They are the Capitale-Nationale, the center of Québec, the heart of the nation.”

Generally, I found Le code Québec to be a feel-good book, with a pat-on-the-back writing style. For me, while I like living in Quebec City, people here, and more precisely those in its suburbs, seem to be disenchanted with their language, culture, history and French-speaking identity. They are unwilling to assume the role that the capital of Québec must play. They are indifferent to the fact that the French language in Montréal is diminishing and consequently deny that this affects them because this isn’t so much the case in Quebec City (yet).

While I still cannot explain the origin of the differences between the two cities, I think the Rapport Parent had some interesting things to say about the differences, while not explaining them. It seems perfectly obvious to me that without independence, we’ll just disappear. The basic question that Quebec City folks need to ask themselves is this: do you prefer a small provincial capital (resembling a suburb outside of the riding of Taschereau) or the capital of a country and all that this would bring? This would be real control of our resources and economy, dozens of embassies and all the tra-la-la. Maybe we could keep our chars and also have better public transport!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The SJW's Bible - Rules for Radicals

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I’m well aware of the growing presence of a certain portion of people who identify themselves with the political left and are pejoratively called Social Justice Warriors (SJW). Even my little blog is putting me in direct contact with these folks who, thinking themselves rather righteous, believe that there is a huge slew of “injustices,” whether seen or unseen. Not being content with the idea of equality, they are seeking special treatment and privileges for whatever group they deemed oppressed.

You might have already heard of activist Saul Alinsky, who was an American community organizer and is generally considered the founder of modern community organizing. The kind of SJW behavior currently surfacing in online environments isn’t all that new and much of it comes straight from the Alinsky’s 1971 book Rules for Radicals.  In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky compiled some lessons learned throughout his community organizing experiences and wanted to apply them to the current, new generation of radicals.

Those who are now called SJWs are people who often bring up topics related to social justice. Upon closer inspection, they are mostly concerned with their own reputations, rather than effecting any real change. Wanting to be seen as virtuous and pure, they then toss around cherry-picked historical data in the form in slogans and catch phrases to fit a certain narrative. This opinion piece is a good example of this, providing an erroneous and, at times, outright false portrayal of the history of slavery in Québec.

One of the biggest traits among SJW types is their verbal abuse and bullying. While they are abusing others and calling names, they also play victim and are adept at using crocodile tears. Their favorite words tend to be one of the following: offensive, intolerant, sexist, racist, homophobic, antisemite or islamophobic. They are usually encountered on the internet, as it’s easier to post comments on social media than to actually go out and do something in real life.

Getting back to the book Rules for Radicals, Alinsky promoted the idea of finding an external antagonist and turning it into the community’s “common enemy,” usually a local politician or organisation having some connection with community affairs. Once the enemy is targeted, the masses who make up the community are called to unite in opposition to it. With the external antagonist established, the community's goal is to triumph over their adversary. This is usually done through slander and character assassination. It doesn’t matter whether the accusations are true or not, what counts is that the slanderous portrayal of the enemy sticks in the minds of the masses.

Rules for Radicals encourages exaggerated public demonstrations and protest. Alinsky put forth that his strategies allowed his organization to achieve its goals much more quickly than in regular bureaucratic methods. Perhaps this kind of weltanschauungs wouldn’t be so dangerous if individuals holding such worldviews were at least somewhat tolerant of their fellow community members with whom they disagreed. But today’s radical “far left” has turned social justice into a totalitarian ideology. You’re either with them, or you’re with the racist, murderous and oppressive skinheads.

Here are just a few of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:

Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. There is no defense. It's irrational. And it's infuriating.

Good tactics are ones your people enjoy. This means that your activist minions will keep doing the tactic without needing encouragement or incentive to continue. They're doing their thing and will even suggest better tactics because it’s a fun game. A good example of this would be ganging up on someone through online social media in order to ruin their reputation (professional or otherwise), as in the R v Elliott Twitter case.

If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive. This means that something like violence, usually condemned, can win over the public’s sympathy because the public tends to empathize with the underdog. Recently, someone calling themselves a snowflake on Facebook told me that he would be in favor of the death penalty if it meant getting rid of certain “racist groups”. Nevermind that the left has always been against the death penalty. However, some of them are now encouraging it to eliminate their enemies. They are now eating themselves from within.

Never go outside the expertise of your people. Feeling secure makes anyone more courageous. This is why SJW types, culture jammers and whatever else they are called only talk about the immediate here and now. They never analyze the history of ideas or the logical foundation of their worldview, because such research is outside their expertise and they might end up looking foolish.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the enemy from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. Remember when the Richard Lafferty compared Lucien Bouchard and Jacques Parizeau to Hitler? Or how Québec solidaire still viciously smears the Parti Québécois regarding the now defunct values charter, as if it were an ongoing project? Some of the more radical QS members quite often make caricatures out of old projects in order to personalize and demonize any PQ member (yet they rarely, if ever, have any criticism for the federal government).

Decent people cannot use Alinsky's “rules” because they are too polite, law abiding and honest. They find it difficult to lower themselves to the depravity necessary to effectively contest the rising menace of the fanatical SJW. They bully people into submission and censor the free speech of others. They get people fired from their jobs, thus preventing people from feeding their children or having a sense of independent livelihood. They engage in violence and property damage and think this is OK. Their self-delusion is probably the worst thing. They honestly believe themselves to be tolerant, open-minded and advancing their cause for the benefit of society as a whole.

Bottom line, these ideologues recognize a worldview based only on their emotions and their subjective experience. Reality and people’s lives do not matter. Their ends justify any means.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Québec solidaire and the regressive left

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Our current conceptions of egalitarianism came out of philosophical presuppositions emerging from the Enlightenment. From medieval nominalism came the modern tradition putting forth that objects in the world do not actually possess “natures,” but rather are assigned metaphysical categories and “essences” by a human conceptual framework. Thus, human nature is a tabula rasa. A large part of modernity is built upon the false notion that the source of mankind’s ills are located in differences — race, religion, language, gender, etc.  If these can be obliterated through a revolutionary myth which places all blame on class warfare, hierarchy, gender warfare, etc., then the humanistic gospel can finally create some distant utopia.

Maybe some leftists are realizing that humans do look to leaders and don’t always operate as rational, atomic units. Average folks always clings despairingly to clichés. Take them away and people have to do their own research, their own thinking and deciding. On a deeper level, can one really expect this sort of elitist behavior from ordinary people? Having recently watched a video conference organized by Québec solidaire: “Defeating the Liberals, what role for the anglophone left,” I am left wondering what role indeed does the left have? Having briefly flirted with QS back in 2007-08, I sort of understand their world view. That flirt, however, didn’t last long. Now I tend to see the left digging their own graves for their eventual post-modernist death in nihilism. But maybe Québec solidaire can redeem itself through a convergence with the Parti Québécois?

They begin by giving the usual line about how anglophones use words like “dépanneur” and “terrace,” so we shouldn’t worry if francophones speak franglais, meaning that anglophones using a few gallicisms here and there means that French is in no way threatened and we are living in a pluralistic and exciting “crossroad of culture” and other inane and empty catch-phrase type declarations.

Following the first speaker’s brief introduction, at around the 12:50 mark, the second speaker proclaims that if one is “progressive,” then one of the fundamental starting points is recognizing a people’s right to self-determination (I can only guess she is specifically referring to Amerindian nations). According speaker #2, while most progressives recognize this, those same progressives do not support Québec self-determination and sovereignty.

She says that all peoples have the right to “govern themselves in a traditional way… ” Alright. But I wonder… what does traditional mean for the far left? Who are the nation groups that have Québec solidaire’s seal of approval to govern themselves in a traditional way? Would they condone a traditional Catholic Québec society? From what I have seen and heard, such Catholic groups usually get the label “far right” slapped on them and the public is led to believe that those groups are populated with radical and violent skinheads.

At around 13:30, she says that we want to make sure that primarily Québec women are in the work force. Why primarily women? Furthermore, in supporting the right for traditional societies to self-determine, I can’t help but wonder how they would react if such-and-such traditional society decided that women should not work and stay home to raise the family. Is the speaker here suggesting that we should support that group’s choice for women not being part of the workforce in the name of self-determination?

Around the 18:15 mark, it is stated that Québec solidaire so often ends up defending itself in a right-wing sovereignty framework. The lady doesn’t seem to know her history, for if she did, she would know that Québec sovereignty, as we know it today, has been a predominantly left-wing movement since the Quiet Revolution, following the death of Maurice Duplessis. Only very recently has the PLQ begun framing it as a supposed far-right world view — in the European political party style like the Front national or Sverigedemokraterna. They know that such neurolinguistic programming gets people to associate Québec self-determination and sovereignty with Nazism, xenophobia and mass murder, which works only to the detriment of the sovereignty movement as a whole (and keeps the Québec Liberals in power).

Of course she brought up the supposed rise of right-wing ethnic nationalists in Quebec as one of the most pressing crises that our society faces, dramatized with a few anecdotes regarding one of the supposed right-wing groups carrying banners with Nazi-era symbols in her Quebec City neighborhood. Did she take a picture of the supposed Nazi-era sign? Because after having asked around, I was told that this is a bare faced lie. Seriously, think about it. It would be way too cartoonish and stupid for these groups to display Nazi symbols on their banners. It would be social and political suicide. Does anyone really believe that these people have the luxury of doing something so socially frowned upon and then expect no harm brought to their professional reputations and their ability to earn a living? Don’t the people in these “far right” groups also have lives, families, mortgages and cars to pay for? I swear, it seems that certain “activists” start with a certain belief and then go about looking to confirm their bias instead of dealing with the facts as they are presented. Then when they don’t find anything supporting their bias, they either exaggerate or outright make things up, just to say: “See, I told you! Quebec City is run amok with skinheads.” What can I say to that?

She also curiously said that the aforementioned group were distributing pamphlets calling for a boycott against multinational corporations like Starbucks and to support our local businesses. Isn’t this a good thing? Is this why such people are now being called the “regressive left”? They are now defending multinational corporations to the detriment of mom and pop stores.

Around 19:00, the second speaker closed with more questionable words: “[at Québec solidaire] we will come up with the best arguments and strategies to shut down the haters, [in any way that] we can”. I would like to know how she defines “haters” and “hate” as well as what “shutting down” actually entails. Sounds like shutting down, through slander and character assassination, anyone who doesn’t agree with you. What about defending freedom of speech? That means also defending speech that goes against you ideaology. Maybe they should come up with better arguments instead of “shutting down” people with other opinions.

The third speaker didn’t have much to say worth noting here, aside from stating, at 23:00, that he is a progressive, but not a separatist. So, does  speaker #2 still like him? After all, she did say that being progressive means supporting self-determination/sovereignty of a nation.

At around 31:30, the fourth speaker begins by declaring that “the issue” (I am assuming the anglo-franco divide) is not about language, but about “[social] class.” This leaves me scratching my head. With Montréal becoming more anglicized every day, with huge amounts of newcomers not knowing, needing to know, or wanting to know how to speak French, with the Liberal government doing almost nothing to protect and promote the French language, how is this possible? How can she just brush aside the very thing that speaker #1 said in the introduction regarding linguistic diversity that cited Montréal as “one of the cultural capitals of the world”? French is at the center of this debate, which is something QS has always been lukewarm about. This is a typical red-herring among anglophones, trying to take attention away from the very real problem of the anglicization of Montréal and splitting hairs on typical tired old Marxist class struggle gobbleygook. They would not be sitting there talking about any of this if Québec were just another anglophone province or US state.

At around 34:00, she spouts out the similar misinformation that speaker #2 said, that most of the sovereignty movement has been promoted by nationalist and racist right wing organizations. Again, anyone with an inkling of Québec history would know that the post-Quiet Revolution sovereignty movement has been primarily on the left. How can they keep on affirming such uninformed falsehoods? And what about Québec solidaire? Are they not part of the sovereignty movement? Is this to say that they are on the right?

This speaker also states that she thinks Québec solidaire has the most interesting program out there, but fails to give any examples of the superiority of their program. And she is left pondering why Québec solidaire does not get the immigrant and Amerindian vote. Well, that’s easy. Because people falling into those categories vote overwhelmingly Liberal. This is why QS needs a convergence with the PQ. There is no other way around it. The majority of immigrants and Amerindians do not live in Mile End or the Plateau. They don’t see things the same way QS does. Furthermore, at 35:30, she says that Québec solidaire is too pale, male and stale (and francophone). Apparently white, francophone (older?) men need not apply.

At 36:00, while vaguely addressing a possible PQ-QS convergence and further demonizing the Parti Québécois (which she called, in bad faith, the Parti Québecor), she asks: “why would we ally ourselves with a party that won’t question the economic or democratic political structure that is the very problem we have?” Again, she is talking about class struggle and thinks sovereignty isn’t a good enough base on which the PQ and QS can ally themselves. When are the folks at Québec solidaire going to realize that nothing can be done without sovereignty? None of their grandiose ideas can happen without the self-determination they claim to support. Even Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (QS male spokesperson candidate) recognized that in his campaign launching speech.

While talking about Montréal’s “new anglophones,” she reduces Indians and Pakistanis to being poor wretches who are desperately trying to earn their living, implying that expecting French from them is somehow cruel and cold-hearted. Does she mean that these people have absolutely no social/linguistic responsibility to the society that welcomes them? She puts them in a non-aggressor position by comparing them to the historical wealthy and white anglophone oppressor in Westmount. I know that the left likes to see everything in binaries. Oppressor vs. Oppressed. Man vs. Woman. Bourgeoisie vs. Proletariat. However, life is not a simple as the Oppressor/Oppressed dialectic. The (anglophone) South-Asians she mentioned may not be the historical anglophone that is rich and white, but they too are being used as pawns by the ideology behind multiculturalism. So, in this binary world view, while they are not direct oppressors, they are instruments of this oppression against the French language, because, heartfelt wishes aside, the end result is further anglicization of Montréal, more tension between various ethnic groups and further political divide between English and French.

At around 40:00, she also reiterates the old adage that “Italians were refused entry to French schools,” not seeming to be aware of the St-Léonard crisis that largely led to bill 101. I get that some Italians were, once upon a time, made to feel unwelcome in French-language schools, but how can anyone believe this cartoonish story about all the mean French nuns who were cruel to poor Italians, forcing them into the open arms of the kind English schools? What does she base this on? A few anecdotal stories? Anyway, I already addressed this in my text Allophones who are really anglophones.

One final incongruous thing she said was that the language someone speaks doesn’t define their political views. Has she ever seen an electoral map? The ridings where English is more commonly spoken are always, without exception, Liberal.

Toward the end, at around 45:00, Amir Khadir said that Québec solidaire’s militants have been lazy about not reaching anglophones—which is true. He expresses puzzlement over why their message — so inclusive, so just, so right — didn’t reach the masses they expected from their 2006 beginnings. Well, probably because Québec solidaire refuses to cooperate with other parties that should be their sovereignist allies. Getting back to the topic of the video, what is the (anglophone) left’s role in defeating the Liberals in 2018? It’s clear to me that Québec solidaire’s role in defeating the Liberals is to quit grumbling and proceed with the PQ convergence.

Quebec solidaire has rejected the idea of cooperating with the PQ.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Allophones who are really anglophones

Lately thinking about all things problematic going on in Québec, maybe it might be too petty to pick on the allophones. But then I run into one or two of them throughout the day and I’m reminded how silly the whole thing is and feel compelled to have my say. Ever since I came to Montréal, I had been surrounded by a species of people who only seem to exist in Québec—I am talking about the allophone! Now, if you’re not from Québec, you may be wondering what in the world is an allophone? Short answer is this: an allophone is a person in Québec whose mother tongue is neither French nor English. 

Here’s the way I see it. 

Having always disliked the politically correct term allophone, as it doesn’t do much besides distort the Montréal’s linguistic statistics, I suppose that you’ve got to say something for addressing the phenomenon of anglophones who are the children or grandchildren of Italian or Greek immigrants running around claiming to be allophones. These allophone shenanigans especially come up when you ask them why they don’t know anything about Québec, despite having spent their whole lives here. What's more, on the statistics side of things, certain allophone groups can be considered, for all intents and purposes, francophone or anglophone. 

Think of people from the Maghreb, Haiti, or even the Vietnamese from a few decades ago—these people function in French in Québec. As far as I am concerned, they are francophone. On the other hand, you got these “allophones” from India, Pakistan, Nepal or Jamaica who function in English in Québec—and usually only in English. For all practical and every day purposes, they are anglophones. But they get counted as the elusive “allophone” in statistical counts. I wish these people would just own their anglophone-ness and stop referring to themselves as allophones. 

It has been my experience that many of the faux-allo anglos, when spoken to in French, will freak out and tell you that they pay their taxes and therefore don’t need to be integrated or whatever. They will tell you to not patronize their businesses if you have the audacity to speak in French, all the while claiming to be speakers of some other language. They do this thinking they will be forgiven for acting like the historic Québec anglophone stereotype. Perhaps from a strict libertarian point of view, one could justify such assholery. But I, for one, would like to see Montréal keep its uniqueness as a francophone city. Furthermore, it’s really just common courtesy and only normal to speak French. Most of them are ill informed and will repeat the old “Canada is bilingual” line. Doesn’t matter what the laws really are, they will continue spouting that excuse for their own laziness, lack of interest and closure to the world. The worst part is that many francophone Quebecers have internalized this way of doing things and just let it keep happening. 

Then there are those faux-allophones who were “born and raised in Montréal,” (they just love saying the “born and raised” bit) with real immigrant family members from a generation or three ago. I usually find myself coming back to the faux Greeks and Italians. Montréal is full of them. I used to know a guy named Mike, who claimed to be Italian. He didn’t speak Italian. He had never been to Italy. He did speak French as a second language though, with English as his first. So that being said, what makes this dude an Italian? With that logical output, I could claim to be a Quebecer-Norwegian, since my mother’s ancestors were something around 80% from Québec. However, I am always referred to as American. But anglophone Mike from Montréal, he’s an Italian, as illustrated by one of his silly friends on the street who referred to Mike as “that Italian guy!” WTF? Similar stories abound in offices that I used to work at where this other anglophone girl was referred to as that Greek girl. 

When I bring all this up to them, they usually come back to me with some sob story about how they or their parents were refused access to French schools and how the Québec people were mean to them or something like that. They act like the pre-loi 101 reality of 1968, when 40% of Montreal’s Saint-Léonard were Italian immigrants, most of whom sent their children to English school, had nothing to do with it. Some say the French schools refused the Italian immigrants, but I find that suspicious when everybody knows that the vast majority of immigrants wanted the English schools, not the French ones, as was typical of immigrants of the time. 

They act like there was never any good reason for the existence of the Mouvement pour l'intégration scolaire. They ignore that the Italian reaction to francization was by opening clandestine English-language schools schools in private homes that lacked basic supplies (although Montréal anglophone networks were providing some financial assistance). People in crass coffee shops on rue Jean-Talon near métro Fabre will tell you stories about how much they wanted to go to French school, but the mean francophones wouldn’t let them and the civilized Protestant (English) school board would. Anyway, none of that matters anymore. When the faux-Italians and faux-Greeks don’t speak French or don’t want to, they just use their “I’m Italian” or “I’m Greek” to justify their worldview of Québec indifference. After all, like that crazy dépanneur dude from India said in the link above: they pay their taxes, so shut the eff up and spend your money elsewhere! 

The most annoying thing is when they use it as an excuse for not knowing how to speak French, despite many years and decades of living in Québec. Once, I was at one of those Chinese restaurants on rue de la Gauchetière in Montréal and, while paying for the meal, the woman at the register spoke to me in English. I responded in French. She responded in some Asian language. I then asked her in French if she spoke French. She retorts by asking me if I speak Mandarin. (WTF?) I told her that we are in Québec, not China, so why the hell should I speak Mandarin Chinese? Eventually, she ended up serving me in French. Aha! The old bag did speak some French after all. Lady, why didn’t you just do it from the get go? Maybe the stereotype that some people in Asia think that all European languages are the same is true in her case? But it does go both ways. I once asked some silly guy in Minnesota what language his asinine oriental-language-character tattoo was and he told me it was “Asian.” Then he got upset when I told him there is no language called “Asian.” 

It’s weird, because in the grand scheme of things, these “allophone” people end up being not much of anything, blended as they are in the Canadian/North American multicultural feces-brown blob. They don’t want to be Quebecers and keep saying they are from this or that nationality—even when they are not. No real Italian would consider Mike a fellow countryman. They might say that they are “Canadian” in some way—whatever that means. When I lived in Minnesota and met Canadians, I asked them how they distinguished themselves from their USA counterparts. They usually repeated the tired old socialized healthcare bit. And they can’t even use that one anymore, cos those lucky Americans have now got the likes of Obamacare! 

Anyway, the allo-anglo situation isn’t getting any better in Montréal’s climate of anglophones telling stories about how awful they got it in Québec. Sometimes the STM tortures them. Sometimes there are stories that will make you think paramedics are eating children like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. Sometimes their brethren from other provinces chime in. Could you imagine the reaction in the anglo media if a francophone talked like that guy? 

Now before all the anglophones send me a bunch of negative comments, talking about their rights and blah blah blah, take note that I am merely pointing out that all you fake allophones should just fess up, stop calling yourselves allophone and say what you really are—an anglophone, none too different from any other, usually oblivious to Québec and all that goes with it, while using the language of your ancestors to justify your mediocrity. 

To end on a positive note, there are some anglophones in Canada starting to wake up and recognize that Québec was right all along regarding language, identity and society. 

Let’s hope more of the “allophones” will take heed.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Québec anglophones will vote OUI after reading this.

I’m not sure why the truth hasn’t been told to people in Québec. The immigrants, for example, who are after wealth and not integration have somehow been convinced by English Canada that it’s in their interest to stay in the poorest province per capita (I’m talking about the actual money you have to spend) in Canada. So they come here and run around talking about how great all the anti-colonial movements were in their countries, but then prevent us from doing the same thing. By calling its own shots, Québec could provide the possibility of generating much more wealth than it is currently in this Canadian federal regime. 

Since racism is attacking people for their race and not for what they actually do, I don’t need to excuse myself merely for saying what I see. Of course it’s fashionable among SJWs to say I am “privileged” because of supposed past wrongdoings. Before some start bringing up First Nation genocides to shut up Québec nationalism, I’ll just get it out of the way that Québec never massacred Amerindians. So, in today’s Québec, to immigrants, I say: “You do realize that you force us to stay in Canada and prevent us from acquiring the wealth that is ours and would also be yours? You force us to give them taxes and soldiers to bombard your brothers and sisters. Why believe the lie that it’s in your best interest to vote NON?”

Nobody seems to realize how rich Quebec is, including Anglophones who almost unanimously vote NON and Liberal, no matter what the Liberals do. They blindly give them carte blanche every time.

Doesn’t anyone ever ask why we have several enormously high bridges crossing the Saint Lawrence? It’s because of the huge vessels that pass through our territory, toll-free, from and to Ontario and the ocean. The new Champlain Bridge is supposed to cost us around $5 billion. Even though this bridge falls under the responsibility of the federal government, they want to make it a toll road. And who’s going to be crossing that bridge? Why Québec taxpayers of course! Certainly not anyone from the supposed have provinces (since they say Québec is have-not in federalist Newspeak). Doing a little math, the bridge will probably cost between $1,200-2,000 for each person paying taxes in Québec, depending on how expensive it actually ends up being. Regardless, it will cost a fortune because it has to be of a certain height for passing ships.

Next to the Champlain Bridge there is a much lower and unnoticed two-lane bridge, the Estacade du pont Champlain, which is a great deal less expensive. Let’s say that constructing a similar bridge, with six lanes, as is planned for the new Champlain Bridge, would be more in the ballpark of $1.5 billion. That being said, since the $1.5 billion would cover the needs of the average Montréal commuter, wouldn’t it be fair to say that the $3.5 billion difference ought to be paid through tolls of the passing ships? That’s not what our dear federalist friends tell us though. Oh no. They say that we are going to pay for it all! However, we don’t need a bridge that high. The ships do. And they pass through our territory free of charge!

I am not saying to shut down the Saint Lawrence Seaway, but tolls, taxes or whatever else on English Canada to move their products is what should be paying the enormous difference in price for that bridge, not us. And that us includes our fellow anglophone citizens from the West Island as well.

An independent Québec will be able to control the strategic geographic position of the Saint Lawrence as well as having the right to impose or to not impose a toll to cross through our territory as is done in every other country, such as the Suez or Panama canals. In 2013, the Suez Canal generated $5.5 billion. Currently, the Saint Lawrence Seaway has less activity because of the deindustrialization in the Great Lakes region (except of course the paradox that is Toronto—where wealth is arbitrarily concentrated in the Golden Horseshoe for political reasons, certainly not because of its geography).

Landlocked territories, without access to the ocean are generally poorer. Look at Laos, Bolivia, Mali, Mongolia… even in Canada, Alberta has its tar sands, but Vancouver is the one always cited as having the best quality of life on tons of lists. Montréal has a navigable access to the ocean, but is poorer than Toronto. And no, it’s not because of sovereignty movement or the French language, as the distributers of the federalist kool-aid love to say. It’s because Canada has made a political decision that Toronto will be its metropolis and Montréal will become a satellite city of that metropolis, like all the other Canadian cities.

Political and economic sovereignty, however, would transform Montréal into a financial metropolis on an international level, with large multinationals headquartered there again (and the huge salaries that go with it). Montreal’s airport would be an international hub instead of having to go to Toronto for everything. Quebec City would greatly benefit from becoming an international capital—imagine the 30-40 embassies that would spring up and the wealth it would generate. For a city with such an inferiority complex with Montréal, vote OUI and watch Quebec City renovate itself into a capital on an international scale.

No country has ever regretted attaining its sovereignty.

It’s becoming clear that the old victim discourse (the historic betrayals of English Canada that are usually the backbone of independence arguments) isn’t reaching Québec’s youth anymore. The younger generation has pretty much moved on from the victim phase and they want to hear a positive message about how independence would benefit them by defending their values and economic interests. It’s things like having a population that is 50 times superior to that of, say, Prince Edward Island, but having more or less the same amount of political power as that tiny island that seem ridiculous.

Furthermore, independence would eventually bring back those $150,000 salaries from Toronto to Montréal, because Montréal would once again become the great financial metropolis of an independent country instead of an outpost of Toronto—Canada’s chosen metropolis. Montréal will regain its Stock Exchange, as it was moved/merged with Toronto’s purely for political reasons, despite what our federalist friends will tell you when they blame nationalism.

Look at cities like Oslo. Norway has a population of about 4.5 million and they have a stock exchange. So do the other Scandinavian countries. Imagine if the three Scandinavian countries were one united country, since their languages are 90% similar and they share a common history, do you think Oslo would have the same importance that it now has as an international capital?

Canada is a very long and narrow east-west strip where 85% of the population resides. For political unity, to make this costly arrangement work they try to push economic trade in and east-west direction, instead of the more natural north-south axis, as 70% of Québec’s exports are to the United States. When counting trade with the rest of the world, that doesn’t leave much activity for the ROC east-west thing. Hydro-Québec was probably created with the north-south axis in mind, as it sells a good part of its electricity to the New England region.

What about the deplorable state of our roads? The Maritimes move the product by truck, and a truck can do as much damage as 10,000 automobiles on our roads—and they pass through our territory free of charge! The enormous wear and tear of truck transport coupled with our Québec winters means that the cost of our road maintenance will always be high. However, we in Québec rarely traipse around the Maritimes or Manitoba; we don’t need to pass through their territory. But they do in ours. Could that be one of the big reasons why our roads are worse off than theirs? Why are we letting this go on?

What about the whole Equalization payment comedy? They portray it as if Canada gives poor Québec a gift of around $9-10 billion every year. They call Québec a have not. If we were really such a heavy burden for Canada, wouldn’t they be happy to get rid of us? Yes, Québec receives a sum around those figures, but it isn’t as if Québec doesn’t pay equalization payments too. The federal government admits that Québec pays 18% of it. With that, the “gift” gets reduced to around $6-7 billion. It’s also organized as if there were only ten provinces, without counting the northern territories, in the Territorial Financing Formula (TTF). That’s another huge sum to subtract. There are also three times more Amerindians in English Canada than in Québec, many more millions that we pay and from which we benefit nothing. Québec’s 8 million population is the second largest in Canada, and the amount in equalization payments per person in 2014-15 was around $915 as opposed to Prince Edward Island’s $2,320 per person. The federal “gift” is enormously less than they are claiming in the media, especially considering the many millions we forego by not managing our own affairs. Is their “gift” worth it? The Saint Lawrence Valley currently generates little wealth for us, when it ought to be producing a lot more given the traffic going through it. The mirage of equalization makes people in Québec think they are receiving handouts. The reality is that Canada is organized in such a way as to take what is ours. They don’t give us anything.

What about the environment in all this? Look at it this way: Alberta produces expensively extracted oil from the tar sands. Alberta has no access to the ocean. British Colombia refused a pipeline. For political reasons, they are obliged to pass through the Saint Lawrence Valley. Not only should Québec impose a passage toll, as is done everywhere else on earth, the wealth generated could, for example, finance our existing electrical transportation network. The big picture is that Québec produces cleaner hydroelectricity, which currently equalizes dirtier petrol based energies coming from other provinces. Québec makes Canada look good environmentally. Without Québec, Canada would be seen more as a polluter and would perhaps even be pressured by the international community to pay carbon credits to Québec—the UN initiative currently acting on a local level that gets big polluters to pay money to smaller polluters. Whether or not it’s a scam of the “New World Order” approach, it’s an interesting way to look at ways Québec could benefit.

What about the “dreaded” 3rd referendum? Well, is democracy good or bad? If you believe democracy good, referendums are a much better way to measure what a given population wants about a specific thing, rather than some election on vague and unimportant stupidities like the candidate’s hair. As a superior form of democracy, referendums win with 50% +1 on a specific issue, instead of something like 30-40% of the voting population with an election. When federalists say that they don’t want another referendum, what they are really saying is that democracy is harmful—so we should just eliminate elections all together because the separatists are crazy! Rather than convincing the population that federalism is superior, federalists have decided to destroy their own patrie with massive immigration that is already preventing them from demographically defending themselves. They even put forth the idiocy that the Syrians coming to Montréal should be allowed access to English language schools with the idea that they have already suffered so much that it would be cruel to impose French upon them. Studying in French is a form of torture, you know.

In any case, I think I’m going to have to do a part II to this article. For now, let me close with this: some say that we need to reinforce the Québec state before concerning ourselves with independence. Just the opposite is true! By using the enormous benefits of independence, we could finally address the problems that are currently plaguing us. The polls show that the majority of Québec youth consider themselves Quebecers first. Younger and older, whatever language, we just need to realize that independence really pays.

It’s not radical, nor extreme. It’s just moral.