Posted in Montreal, Opinion, Radio

Louise … umm …. uhh … umm … how you say … Harel

It was a train wreck, but we all knew it would be.

A few days after declining to participate in an English-language debate hosted by CTV, Louise Harel willingly subjected herself to a one-hour interview on CJAD on Saturday afternoon.

CJAD hasn’t posted audio of it online, but I recorded it and compiled the best of its unquotable moments. You can listen to it here: Louise Harel on CJAD (edited, MP3)

Her English wasn’t just bad, it was atrocious. During the 30 minutes of interview, I counted a total of 19 times that host Anne Lagacé-Dowson suggested words that Harel was struggling to find. (In one case, it was the word “expensive”.) At one point, Harel gave up entirely and gave an answer in French for the host to translate.

Perhaps Harel and her handlers never listened to the station, but I can think of no worse platform for a unilingual francophone ex-PQ minister and municipal merger advocate than the last great bastion of angryphonism.

It’s noteworthy that Harel chose to come on the Saturday afternoon show of Lagacé-Dowson, the former CBC radio host who left the Corp to unsuccessfully bid for a seat in the House of Commons for the NDP. (She’s now the permanent host 1-4pm on Saturdays.) Normally, high-profile guests sit with Tommy Schnurmacher on weekday mornings or Ric Peterson during the drive-home hours.

Stories about Harel’s genuine but failed attempt to reach out to anglos appear in The Gazette and on CJAD’s website. CTV’s cameras were also in the studio. French media seems to have ignored the gesture entirely. The Gazette has some fun at Harel’s expense, but even that is downright laudatory compared to some of the comments made by CJAD listeners who called in. One said she “exemplified hatred for the English-speaking community” and was “trying to destroy our community,” while another used the word “racist” in describing PQ language policy. No wonder Harel said she was “afraid to speak in English” for fear of committing a major political faux pas and being branded something worse than a green-skinned witch.

All three stories about the discussion also mention the fact that she was 25 minutes late to the interview. (Her explanation was that she was giving another interview to a community radio station and couldn’t get to the studio on time.) It was 1:21pm by my watch when she got in the studio, and she was at the microphone a minute later. She missed about 11 minutes of actual talk time, during which Lagacé-Dowson filled otherwise dead air with a biography of the Vision Montreal leader and took a couple of calls. Cutting out the ads, traffic and news breaks, Lagacé-Dowson and Harel talked for 30 minutes after she finally arrived.

Why bother?

I’m not quite sure why Harel decided to be interviewed on CJAD. Perhaps it was to prove a point that she doesn’t hate anglophones. Perhaps it was just to get it over with. Or perhaps she lost a bet.

But listening to the interview, it becomes clear why Harel chose not to participate in an anglo television debate. She has literally nothing to gain from such an embarrassment. Her approval among anglophones according to the latest La Presse poll is an astonishingly low 6%, way below Gérald Tremblay and Richard Bergeron. I think George W. Bush has better support from anglo Montrealers. Stumbling through severe language difficulties to give un-nuanced explanations of why she supports policies that anglophones are most opposed to is an exercise in futility. “For Harel to try to debate in a language she doesn’t really speak would have been an excruciating waste of time for both her and any listener who isn’t a masochist,” says Gazette columnist Don Macpherson.

CTV offered simultaneous translation, which would have given us something similar to what we had in the 1997 French leaders’ debate where Preston Manning spoke in English to a French audience. That might have been easier for everyone involved, but it’s easier still to simply write off a segment of the population you have no chance of winning anyway. The BQ and PQ don’t campaign for anglo votes, so why should Harel?

Irrelevant? I think not

I don’t think that mastery of the English language should be a requirement for being mayor of Montreal. The city has had mayors in the past whose English skills have been sorely lacking, and so far no civil wars have erupted. Richard Bergeron’s English isn’t all that much better.

But there’s this talking point circulating among Harel supporters (and militant sovereignists) that the ability to speak English is completely irrelevant to the job of mayor.

Sorry, but it’s not. No matter what the law or the city’s constitution says, Montreal is a bilingual city. The national anthem at Canadiens games is sung in two languages, we pay for our shish taouk with bilingual money, and panhandlers start off their begging with “anglais/français?”

Harel herself is the first to admit that this lack of skill is a strike against her. The job of mayor isn’t simply about creating legislation and voting in city hall meetings, it’s about being a leader, about representing Montreal on the national and international stage, and (for better or for worse) about giving speeches, cutting ribbons and writing those letters you see on Page 2 of municipal newsletters and festival programs. And like it or not, these things require the use of English.

This same irrelevance argument is made about Harel’s views on Quebec sovereignty. Even asking the question is considered “totally out of line.” Since when is someone’s political views irrelevant to politics? Sure, Montreal’s mayor doesn’t have the power to make a unilateral declaration of independence, but identity politics have defined political discourse here for decades, and there are plenty of related issues (language, for example) that do have an impact at the municipal level. Playing this not-my-jurisdiction game seems ludicrous to me. If Stephen Harper were asked a question about his views on health care or education during a campaign, would those too be considered “totally out of line” because those things are provincial jurisdiction? Of course not.

No platform

I get the point: We know she’s a sovereignist, we know she can’t speak English very well, and we know she brought in those forced municipal mergers (which, despite the stereotype, didn’t just piss off anglophones in Montreal). We should be debating the “issues” instead. Looking forward, you know.

But we can’t. Because over a week into the campaign, Vision Montreal hasn’t released its platform yet. Neither has Tremblay’s Union Montreal, although one can extrapolate their policies from the past eight years of governance.

And because Vision Montreal is a shell of a party that really has nothing to define itself by other than its revolving-door leadership post, we have to wait until a platfom is released to debate the issues. (Though apparently Harel and Trembaly don’t – they already had a debate, with Jean-Luc Mongrain on LCN, before releasing any platforms.)

If Harel wants to move on and keep the momentum she’s built up, and maybe even attract a few anglo votes on the issues that really matter, that platform needs to be released soon. And it better have some good ideas.

93 thoughts on “Louise … umm …. uhh … umm … how you say … Harel

    1. Jean Naimard

      “No matter what the law or the city’s constitution says, Montreal is a bilingual city.” Absolutely.

      So it is said because the tiny minority of english (what? 8%? – no, the immigrants are NOT english, thanks to law 101) don’t want to be bothered by french.
      But your phantasms/wet dreams are not reality.

      Reply
      1. Jeannie girl

        Such an an angry negative hater is definitively not what Montreal needs. Monmtreal doesn’t need hateful negative racist people like you and Louise Harel always making problems and fighting with the Feds. Get a job, get off welfare and you separatists will feel alot better about yourselves I promise. Working not fighting is what you need to do asap.

        Reply
        1. Marc

          Get a job, get off welfare and you separatists will feel alot better about yourselves I promise.

          Jeannie girl: So every separatist is unemployed and on welfare? Where’s your evidence for that total BS claim?

          Reply
    2. Gilles

      Montreal is diverse and definitely multi-cultural.

      Actually to set the record straight- Montreal (city) has a population of about 1.6 million people. About one in three in Montreal (city) are either Anglophone or Allophone (totaling roughly about a half million people in the city itself). About one quarter million Montrealers in the city itself speak English as their mother tongue – about one in six Montrealers living in the city itself. These proportions differ if we look at the east and west side of city itself (the western side having a much higher proportion of English speaking Montrealers. (please note that I am not including the 300,000 people who live in towns and cities adjacent to the city on the island of Montreal). Overall, more than half the island of Montreal is not Francophone.

      I think it would be essential for any mayoral candidate to at least understand the bulk of her constituents. More importantly we must ask ourselves; is this candidate simply going to look at and divide Montrealers through the prism of ethnic background? It seems that Madame Harel has (I would argue despite her denials) a somewhat tribal view of the city and this province.

      Reply
      1. qatzelok

        “It seems that Madame Harel has (I would argue despite her denials) a somewhat tribal view of the city and this province.”

        What could be more tribal than Montreal’s old-school anglos criticizing a candidate because she doesn’t speak their sacred language. Is it really impossible for anglos to vote for unilingual francophones? Doesn’t her competency count for anything, or is tribal affiliation all that matters to the Mtl Anglo (who voted 90% against independence, 90% for the provincial Liberals…)

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Is it really impossible for anglos to vote for unilingual francophones? Doesn’t her competency count for anything…

          The point of the matter is that many anglos consider the ability to speak English a part of her competency, or lack thereof. You might not consider the ability to speak English important in the job of mayor, but others do.

          Reply
        2. Jean Naimard

          “It seems that Madame Harel has (I would argue despite her denials) a somewhat tribal view of the city and this province.”
          What could be more tribal than Montreal’s old-school anglos criticizing a candidate because she doesn’t speak their sacred language. Is it really impossible for anglos to vote for unilingual francophones? Doesn’t her competency count for anything, or is tribal affiliation all that matters to the Mtl Anglo (who voted 90% against independence, 90% for the provincial Liberals…)

          There is a term for this: it’s "ethnic votes" (and money, too – but no one makes a big deal of this one; after all, money has always worked against the interest of the majority of people)…

          Reply
        3. Becks

          I think that most Anglos’ problem with Harel are her separatist leanings and her arrogant pushing through of the undemocratic forced mergers…I think her language skills or lack thereof would be the lesser issue for most anglophones.

          Reply
          1. Jean Naimard

            I think that most Anglos’ problem

            You "think"??? Are you an english, or an immigrant that has been anglicized?

            with Harel are her separatist leanings

            "Leaning"? She is not "leaning", but sitting right on top of it.

            and her arrogant pushing through of the undemocratic forced mergers…

            It was democratic: her goverment was elected by a majority of the people.

            I think her language skills or lack thereof would be the lesser issue for most anglophones.

            Just an excuse, eh?

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              “and her arrogant pushing through of the undemocratic forced mergers… ” It was democratic: her goverment was elected by a majority of the people.

              The government was democratic. The mergers were not. Nobody voted for them.

              Reply
              1. Jean Naimard

                The government was democratic. The mergers were not. Nobody voted for them.

                Many boroughs did not vote for demerging.
                A politician is someone who will do what the people want. A states(wo)man is someone who will do what has to be done.
                The forced mergers were 40 years overdue.
                And, yes, within 10 years, the west-island ghettoes will be reincorporated back into Montréal, but this time there will be no goodies like borough. Everything will be thoroughly centralized. The bottom-line will demand it and people will wonder why so much money was wasted demerging them in the first place.

      2. Jean Naimard

        Montreal is diverse and definitely multi-cultural.

        It’s french first and foremost, then there are some minorities that enhance it.

        Actually to set the record straight- Montreal (city) has a population of about 1.6 million people. About one in three in Montreal (city) are either Anglophone or Allophone

        Er, slow down coyboy. Do not expect those who are neither french nor english to be english. They immigrated to Québec so they are to assimilate to the french, no matter what the federal immigration judge bullshited to them. And no, the grandiose talk about north america yadda yadda yadda does not cut the mustard either. For this, you just go to Toronto. It’s easy: 401 or 101.

        (totaling roughly about a half million people in the city itself). About one quarter million Montrealers in the city itself speak English as their mother tongue – about one in six Montrealers living in the city itself.

        Er, no. Most of those english live in the demerged ghettoes, so they don’t live in the city proper.

        These proportions differ if we look at the east and west side of city itself (the western side having a much higher proportion of English speaking Montrealers.

        Yes, soon we are going to erect a wall on St-Laurent, because people throw Coke bottles in one way, and Pepsi bottles the other way.

        (please note that I am not including the 300,000 people who live in towns and cities adjacent to the city on the island of Montreal). Overall, more than half the island of Montreal is not Francophone.

        In your dreams. It’s over the time when the immigrants became english. Now, thanks to law 101, they become french.

        I think it would be essential for any mayoral candidate to at least understand the bulk of her constituents. More importantly we must ask ourselves; is this candidate simply going to look at and divide Montrealers through the prism of ethnic background?

        You’re the one who does the dividing here by insisting that an insignificant minority shall command an attention way bigger than it’s relevance by insisting that the mayor speaks white. The immigrants certainly don’t need the conflicting signal that they can expect to live in Montréal without knowing english.

        It seems that Madame Harel has (I would argue despite her denials) a somewhat tribal view of the city and this province.

        There goes Mordechai Richler again. One of the many reasons why we want to separate is to be able to be really open to the world, without being constained by the neurotic anglo-saxon foreign policy that governs Canada.

        Reply
        1. Dario

          ‘Speak white'; ‘Ango-saxon oppressors’

          Groan! Round and round we go, regurgitating the same old separatist rhetoric. You learned your lessons well. Your arguments are tired, and your truth is an inexhaustible lie that knows no limits.

          Reply
          1. Jean Naimard

            Groan! Round and round we go, regurgitating the same old separatist rhetoric. You learned your lessons well. Your arguments are tired, and your truth is an inexhaustible lie that knows no limits.

            You are welcome to refute my arguments. I will, of course, not hold my breath over it, given my past experience at seeing the inability of your ilk to do so.

            Reply
    3. Gilles

      One more interesting statistic (I forgot) to add. On the Island of Montreal there are about 1.8 million people and over one half million are Anglophone (about 30 percent).

      This figure when added to the number of Allophones (on the island) consititutes just over half of the islands population.

      Reply
      1. Olivier

        Well, that turned into a whale of a discussion, eh?

        I’d just like to underline a point about what Gilles just said about the Anglo/Allo/Franco split on the island and in the city; those splits are nowhere near what we have seen in the latest polls, where they use a 66/27/7 Franco/Anglo/Allo split, based it seems on the respondents affirmation of the language used at home. I insist on this because, at this point I don’t know why they use a split that is so wholly out of whack with what we think is the normal repartition of spoken language.

        Anybody has a clue/hint?

        Reply
    4. Gilles

      What I find really funny is when those who embrace a nationalist platform in the province yell and scream about how the (at least) 30 percent of Montrealers on the island who do speak English at home are somehow (as well as those allophones who come from speak English at home) are somehow an insignificant bunch…. hilarious no?

      I personally love our diversity here. And I love our distinct region. I love the idea that I can hear both French and English spoken here on our streets as well as other languages and cultures. Montreal has always been this way and those who choose to try to wipe away its cultural fabric should perhaps move to Lac St Jean (where they wont have to worry about hearing more than one language being spoken).

      Reply
      1. Jean Naimard

         

        What I find really funny is when those who embrace a nationalist platform in the province yell and scream about how the (at least) 30 percent of Montrealers on the island who do speak English at home are somehow (as well as those allophones who come from speak English at home) are somehow an insignificant bunch…. hilarious no?

        Speaking english does not an english makes. I speak english, yet I am as far from the english as can be conceived. It is finished the time where you could take the immigrants for granted; we killed that with law 101. The immigrants are ours, now. They are no longer yours for you to minorize us with. We have far more respect for immigrants than you ever had; we do not use them as tools like you did.
        Do not take your wishes for reality. The time where a handful of rhodesians ran the show is over. Definitely over. The fact is that Montréal **IS** french, and there is nothing you can do to change that. You are a minority in a french country, and like all minorities in the world, you just sit very still, do not make waves, and you do not anger the majority. If you are nice, we will not drive you out or try to assimilate or exterminate you; we’ll just give you what you deserve. Nothing more, nothing less. Being nice is not trying to minorize us or subvert our society.
        Just like it happens in every other country in the world.
        You are not special. Rhodesians are not special. Your tribe is just an insignificant little minority we tolerate because to us, crumpets look exotic (we haven’t got to taste them, though). You are just window dressing to demonstrate how us, the french, are tolerant and open-minded by letting our arch-ennemy live in our midst by granting them full political rights. Now your tribe plays nice to us, the majority, and we’ll be nice to your tribe. Do not try to get more than you deserve and everything will be fine.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          It’s interesting you use the term “Rhodesians”. I had this vision South Africa, where white people were worried about being “minorized” by the black majority and all the black people in neighbouring countries. So they gave the black population there “what you deserve, nothing more, nothing less”

          That didn’t work out so well.

          Reply
          1. Jean Naimard

            “Rhodesia” is not South-Africa. White rhodesians view themselves as above the black majority, just like the english here view themselves above the french majority.

            Reply
  1. Marc

    Shame on CFCF’s Jed Kahane for canceling the debate. Just because one of the three candidates chose not to show up is their own problem and no reason to cancel it.

    Reply
  2. corinthian rick

    Um, ok, I like that you did the MP3 thing …but you could have edited your own text down to about 8 words, ie: “Harel = 6% approval rating among anglos.”

    Reply
  3. Singlestar

    “I think George W. Bush has better support from anglo Montrealers.”
    Well, the Gazette is a co-sponsor of this war criminal’s speaking tourin montreal.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Fagstein blogs about Louise Harel

  5. Pierre-E. Paradis

    La ville de Montréal est une ville bilingue, oui, mais à prépondérance francophone. Comme Bruxelles, ou Kinshasa. Depuis quand parler français est-il une tare?

    Mme Harel a 63 ans, et son unilinguisme ne fait que refléter la pauvreté du système d’éducation public au Québec avant la Révolution tranquille. Il y a beaucoup de bonnes raisons de ne pas voter pour Harel et Vision Montréal, mais son manque de maîtrise de l’anglais n’en est pas une.

    I’m sad to see Fagstein has become a mouthpiece for The Gazette’s smear campaign… although the “No Platform” paragraph is spot-on! Can’t wait to vote for Richard Bergeron & Projet Montréal.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Depuis quand parler français est-il une tare?

      J’ai entendu personne dire ça.

      Mme Harel a 63 ans, et son unilinguisme ne fait que refléter la pauvreté du système d’éducation public au Québec avant la Révolution tranquille.

      J’ignore si ce que vous dites est vrai. Mme Harel semble avoir une éducation forte dans les autres domaines. Mais c’est exactement mon argument que la manque de maitrise de l’anglais est une manque de compétence. C’est aux électeurs de balancer ce désavantage contre les avantages de Mme Harel et les autres candidats.

      Il y a beaucoup de bonnes raisons de ne pas voter pour Harel et Vision Montréal, mais son manque de maîtrise de l’anglais n’en est pas une.

      Pourquoi pas? On a pas le droit de juger les candidats contre ses compétences? Sinon, comment les juger? Leur taille? Leurs cheveux?

      I’m sad to see Fagstein has become a mouthpiece for The Gazette’s smear campaign

      Yes, it’s all The Gazette. Even though the paper has been putting exclusive coverage of the water meter scandal on Page 1 every chance it can get, this is actually part of a giant secret conspiracy to get Tremblay re-elected. In fact, Harel speaks perfect English. But together with CTV and CJAD (which The Gazette also secretly owns), it’s smearing her by saying she doesn’t, and is using its vast government network of operatives to ensure that nobody ever finds the truth.

      Either that or the paper reflects the views of the anglophone community and other anglophone media that the mayor of the most bilingual city in Canada should have at least a basic grasp of both languages.

      Of those options, clearly the first must be true.

      Reply
      1. Jean Naimard

        Why do Québec politicians **HAVE** to speak a foreign language, whereas politicians in Ontario don’t?
        No one finds strange that the POTUS does not speak a foreign language, nor that the Président de la République Française doesn’t either (well, actually, the last two speak english, and De Gaulle was fluent in german); 40 years ago, no one found strange that the prime minister of Canada did not speak french either; but when someone wants to be the mayor of the second largest french city in the world, he has to speak a foreign language???
        That the english approve her only to the tune of 6% clearly show that the english expect special treatment.
        * * *
        Now, to your article.
         

        Perhaps Harel and her handlers never listened to the station, but I can think of no worse platform for a unilingual francophone ex-PQ minister and municipal merger advocate than the last great bastion of angryphonism.

        Ah. The FFM dirty word. Of course, the english in Lachine, Rockbottom, St-Laurent did not stomach being incorporated in a big french city. The very fact that you mention that clearly shows that, deep down in the english psyche, the english view themselves as something different, unfit for not running the show.

        The BQ and PQ don’t campaign for anglo votes, so why should Harel?

        She does; otherwise, she wouldn’t have gone to CJAD. It’s just the english hivemind that prevent them for voting for her, because she is ex PQ, and PQ = separation = bad, never mind that voting for the PQ (and even more so the Bloc) is NOT voting for the separation. One votes for the separation in a referendum. So the english are a captive audience for whoever they vote for (liberals). Even the poor english vote liberal, even though it means less social policies to benefit them! Talk about ethnic voting!!!
         

        Sorry, but it’s not. No matter what the law or the city’s constitution says, Montreal is a bilingual city. The national anthem at Canadiens games is sung in two languages, we pay for our shish taouk with bilingual money, and panhandlers start off their begging with “anglais/français?”

        The FEDERAL (Canada is not A nation) anthem is sung in bilingual because the Canadien Hokey Club is a for-profit enterprise, and not singing it in english would piss-off the english who would feel rejected and stop being suckers for hokey. And the "separatists" who are dumb enough to be taken by hokey are so insignificant to make any bitching about the Ô Canada in either language irrelevant.
         

        The job of mayor isn’t simply about creating legislation and voting in city hall meetings, it’s about being a leader, about representing Montreal on the national and international stage

        And like it or not, these things require the use of English.

        Awcomeon, do you really want me to say that the english are too stupid to learn french???
        No one in the USA would be surprised that the mayor of Paris doesn’t speak english, nor no one in Germany would be surprised if the mayor of Washington doesn’t speak german.
        Why do the english seem to think that the whole world should learn their language???

        This same irrelevance argument is made about Harel’s views on Quebec sovereignty. Even asking the question is considered “totally out of line.”

        Why bring it in the first place? To make even more sure that the english do not vote for her, but for Gérald "deer in the headlights" Tremblay??? After all, Tremblay = liberal = good…

         
        If Harel wants to move on and keep the momentum she’s built up, and maybe even attract a few anglo votes on the issues that really matter, that platform needs to be released soon. And it better have some good ideas.
         

        If the ethn^h^h^h^h english vote does not look at profound motives, but instead at superficial (pq = bad) ones, why bother?
        Are the english THAT stupid? As much as I seem to want it, I hope they are not.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Why do Québec politicians **HAVE** to speak a foreign language, whereas politicians in Ontario don’t?

          As I said, I’m not calling for some law to force politicians to speak both languages, but don’t be surprised when people decide not to vote for you because of this obvious deficiency. And I don’t consider English to be a “foreign” language.

          deep down in the english psyche, the english view themselves as something different, unfit for not running the show.

          I have no idea what your point is here, and I suspect you don’t either. Opposing forced municipal mergers doesn’t mean anglos want to take over Quebec.

          voting for the PQ (and even more so the Bloc) is NOT voting for the separation

          It’s funny. The PQ and BQ always say that before an election. Then when the vote comes in, they always say it’s a huge mandate for sovereignty. A vote for the PQ isn’t a vote for sovereignty, but it is a vote for a sovereignty referendum.

          Even the poor english vote liberal, even though it means less social policies to benefit them! Talk about ethnic voting!

          I’d love nothing better than for Quebecers to be able to vote for parties that represent all their interests and political views. Unfortunately, elections over the past 30 years have become mini-referendums, and sovereignty has been the major issue.

          No one in the USA would be surprised that the mayor of Paris doesn’t speak english

          I would, considering the high levels of bilingualism and trilingualism in that part of Europe.

          Why do the english seem to think that the whole world should learn their language?

          First of all, “the english” don’t all have the same opinion. Second, I’m not saying that the whole world should learn English. Just the mayor of Montreal.

          Reply
          1. Jean Naimard

            As I said, I’m not calling for some law to force politicians to speak both languages, but don’t be surprised when people decide not to vote for you because of this obvious deficiency.

            As someone said below, It’s not a deficiency for the mayor of Ottawa.
            Why?

            And I don’t consider English to be a “foreign” language.

            Are you a foreigner or a québécois?

            deep down in the english psyche, the english view themselves as something different, unfit for not running the show.
            I have no idea what your point is here, and I suspect you don’t either. Opposing forced municipal mergers doesn’t mean anglos want to take over Quebec.

            Oh, they long for the good old times where everyone of importance "spoke white" and that the french knew their place. That comes with being the most imperialist people who had the biggest empire in History.

            A vote for the PQ isn’t a vote for sovereignty, but it is a vote for a sovereignty referendum.

            Yeah, I notice how the english shit in their pants whenever they are confronted to direct democracy. A best example is the Parti-Québécois and the Bloc Québécois have **ALL** members vote directly for the party leader, whereas the english parties (liberal party of Canada and it’s Québec branch-office) have delegates who can slither in slimy backdoor deals during the conventions…
            The anglo-saxon bourgeois are accustomed to backdoor dealings more akin to ­"a dollar, a vote"; a century ago, only landowners and landlords could vote. Until about 45 years ago, in Montréal, landlords elected their own class of city councillors who – surprise! – had more power than those elected by the tenants (who were the majority of the population).

            I’d love nothing better than for Quebecers to be able to vote for parties that represent all their interests and political views. Unfortunately, elections over the past 30 years have become mini-referendums, and sovereignty has been the major issue.

            No. Sovereignty is only the major issue for the english: at the last election, it certainly wasn’t, as Patapouf got re-elected. The english are so scared shitless that the french would totally get in power that they lose all sense of perspective. They think that once we get our sovereignty, they gonna be rounded-up in extermination camps, because that’s what they have been trying to do to us for the last quarter millenium, and they cannot think beyond their imperialist mindset.
            The french don’t despise the english like the english despise the french (if it were so, we would have thrown you back in the sea 250 years ago). We just find you funny and make jokes about you.

            First of all, “the english” don’t all have the same opinion.

            So why do they vote as if they did? 95% for the liberal party. Talk about ethnic votes!!!!

            Second, I’m not saying that the whole world should learn English. Just the mayor of Montreal.

            Why? To cater to an ungrateful minority that dreams of the imperialist domination days of yesteryear?

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              Oh, they long for the good old times where everyone of importance “spoke white” and that the french knew their place. That comes with being the most imperialist people who had the biggest empire in History.

              I don’t know where your source is for this paranoia, but I’m not imperialist. I don’t have an empire. Nor do I go to meetings where we discuss how to destroy the French. And I do not long for inequality or racism.

              Yeah, I notice how the english shit in their pants whenever they are confronted to direct democracy. A best example is the Parti-Québécois and the Bloc Québécois have **ALL** members vote directly for the party leader, whereas the english parties (liberal party of Canada and it’s Québec branch-office) have delegates who can slither in slimy backdoor deals during the conventions…

              Are you on crack? Do you think regular people know, much less care, about internal party politics when they go to the polls? The reason anglos don’t vote for the PQ and BQ isn’t because of the way they elect their leaders, it’s because they fundamentally disagree with item #1 on their party platforms.

              The anglo-saxon bourgeois are accustomed to backdoor dealings more akin to ­”a dollar, a vote”; a century ago, only landowners and landlords could vote. Until about 45 years ago, in Montréal, landlords elected their own class of city councillors who – surprise! – had more power than those elected by the tenants (who were the majority of the population).

              I realize you hate anglos and think they embody everything evil, but political corruption isn’t tied to language.

              The english are so scared shitless that the french would totally get in power that they lose all sense of perspective. They think that once we get our sovereignty, they gonna be rounded-up in extermination camps, because that’s what they have been trying to do to us for the last quarter millenium, and they cannot think beyond their imperialist mindset.

              I’m sorry, did I miss the extermination camps? Did my history teacher gloss over that part of Quebec history? And considering your attitude toward anglos, and the PQ/BQ’s tendency to overcompensate for the perceived threat to the French language, I think it’s understandable that without the Canadian charter’s guarantee of education in English, an independent Quebec might simply shut down the entire English education system and slowly sweep away anglo culture in Quebec.

              The french don’t despise the english like the english despise the french (if it were so, we would have thrown you back in the sea 250 years ago).

              I think both sides of the linguistic divide here have exaggerated impressions of how much the other side is out to get them.

              “I’m not saying that the whole world should learn English. Just the mayor of Montreal.” Why? To cater to an ungrateful minority that dreams of the imperialist domination days of yesteryear?

              Yes.

              Reply
              1. Jean Naimard

                I don’t know where your source is for this paranoia, but I’m not imperialist. I don’t have an empire. Nor do I go to meetings where we discuss how to destroy the French. And I do not long for inequality or racism.

                Of course you don’t. But what the english did during the last 250 years is nothing but attempts to minorize and dominate the french. The source of my paranoia is History.

                Yeah, I notice how the english shit in their pants whenever they are confronted to direct democracy. A best example is the Parti-Québécois and the Bloc Québécois have **ALL** members vote directly for the party leader, whereas the english parties (liberal party of Canada and it’s Québec branch-office) have delegates who can slither in slimy backdoor deals during the conventions…
                Are you on crack? Do you think regular people know, much less care, about internal party politics when they go to the polls?

                I notice you fail to address my point, which is that the anglo-saxon political parties do not have internal democracy, but rather are governed by influence peddling and backdoor dealings.

                The reason anglos don’t vote for the PQ and BQ isn’t because of the way they elect their leaders, it’s because they fundamentally disagree with item #1 on their party platforms.

                Irrelevant, given that "item #1" is governed by a totally separate referendum.

                The anglo-saxon bourgeois are accustomed to backdoor dealings more akin to ­”a dollar, a vote”; a century ago, only landowners and landlords could vote. Until about 45 years ago, in Montréal, landlords elected their own class of city councillors who – surprise! – had more power than those elected by the tenants (who were the majority of the population).
                I realize you hate anglos and think they embody everything evil, but political corruption isn’t tied to language.

                You fail to address the point. This is not policital corruption per se, but the two tier (well, it was actually three tiers) system that give different power whether you are rich or poor. And although you can construe that I hate the english for denouncing a situation they implemented, I do not hate them, I just find them funny.

                The english are so scared shitless that the french would totally get in power that they lose all sense of perspective. They think that once we get our sovereignty, they gonna be rounded-up in extermination camps, because that’s what they have been trying to do to us for the last quarter millenium, and they cannot think beyond their imperialist mindset.
                I’m sorry, did I miss the extermination camps?

                You certainly missed the forced relocation of acadians, yes.
                Or the closing of Manitoba french schools. And the closing of Ontario french schools.

                Did my history teacher gloss over that part of Quebec history? And considering your attitude toward anglos, and the PQ/BQ’s tendency to overcompensate for the perceived threat to the French language,

                The threat is very real, in the form of the english trying to get the immigrants becoming english to minorize the french. Read other comments in this thread to find out more examples of this.

                I think it’s understandable that without the Canadian charter’s guarantee of education in English, an independent Quebec might simply shut down the entire English education system and slowly sweep away anglo culture in Quebec.

                So? They did that in Ontario and Manitoba. If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander, no?

                I think both sides of the linguistic divide here have exaggerated impressions of how much the other side is out to get them.

                The fact is that there are a whole lot of extremely well-documented attempts by the english to reduce the number of french people. We are not those who are exaggerating.

                 Yes.

                No.

              2. Fagstein Post author

                I notice you fail to address my point, which is that the anglo-saxon political parties do not have internal democracy, but rather are governed by influence peddling and backdoor dealings.

                I’m not going to defend the policies of undemocratic political parties, but it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re “anglo-saxon”. There are undemocratic parties with French speakers and democratic parties with English speakers.

                Or the closing of Manitoba french schools. And the closing of Ontario french schools.

                Pretty sure closing a school, no matter the political implications, is not on par with mass genocide.

                So? They did that in Ontario and Manitoba. If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander, no?

                So you’re saying Quebec should shut down its English-language education system?

              3. Jean Naimard

                So you’re saying Quebec should shut down its English-language education system?

                It will eventually come to that point sometime in the future, when Québec gets it’s sovereignty (after a referendum triggered by the usual federalist smugness that usually ensues after a federal liberal government gets elected after spending some time in the purgatory) and many english leave.
                As it happens, there is no justification for it right now than there is justification for german schools in the Jura in Switzerland (or vice-versa). The only reason why we have an english school system is that we are a colony and cannot do all we want; shutting down the english schools would have the army re-open them in mere hours. Right now, the english school system is a point of discord; some immigrants want to go there, but they can’t. And do the children of the english need to go to school in english? With 300 million english around them, they are in no danger of losing their culture. And if they lose it, they will have gained a non-insignificant culture, one we deem superior  because we clang to it desperately despite all the trouble and poverty the english have thrown at us for doing so (don’t give me that crap that "we decided to be poor by being scatholics" – you’re smarter than that – I think).

              4. Fagstein Post author

                And if they lose it, they will have gained a non-insignificant culture, one we deem superior

                Are you seriously going to trot out an our-people-are-superior-to-yours argument? How do I not answer that with a Nazi comparison?

              5. Stephan

                I dunno Steve.
                At this point listening to M. Naimard it just seems like ‘Epic Troll is Epic’

                unless you are having fun, in which case lay on!

              6. Jean Naimard

                Of course I’m having fun. Are you?

                Anyways, thanks for proving my point by not refuting it with logical arguments.

                Cheers!!!

              7. Jean Naimard

                Yay! A Godwin point!
                If you read me properly, I said "one we deem superior  because we clang to it desperately despite all the trouble and poverty the english have thrown at us for doing so".
                There is nothing "nazi" there; the english certainly do deem their culture superior to ours, yet we do not call you guys "nazis".
                Since the "nazi" card doesn’t work for me (it’s pretty stupid to overuse that term, it does dilute the meaning of the word), I will wait for me to answer the question I asked (and also because I’m such a nice guy and I owe you for passing the geography quizz I suggested you).

              8. Jean Naimard

                The insistence they have in shoving down english down our throats, while insisting that “it’s good for us” (whilst they certainly don’t bend over backwards learning french, implying it’s not good for them).

              9. Westerner

                “The insistence they have in shoving down english down our throats”

                Really Jean, are there any laws to disciminate against the french language in Canada. We actually have the OLA and sponsored french language programs across Canada. Now, where is there a law that elevates one language above another?? Pick one you will be right. BTW- Was M. Lauren, (as I understand a relative of yours) a very devout catholic, which from what I understand you refer to as “scatholics”. Have some respect.

              10. Fagstein Post author

                Now, where is there a law that elevates one language above another?

                I believe that’s what you’re calling for, suggesting that the rest of Canada be officially declared English-only.

              11. Westerner

                Not really, I was simply stating a what if scenario that another poster had suggested. The basic question here is
                where is there a language law that elevates one language above the other. Actually we have one federal
                set of regulation which keeps two languages on even basis and of course there is the other law in Canada.
                Why ask where this is as all of us know the answer.

              12. Jean Naimard

                Really Jean, are there any laws to disciminate against the french language in Canada.

                Sure there is: all the unwritten laws that insure that someone who only speaks french will never be hired by any business west of the Outaouais (I spell it in french, because the english spelling evokes so much boredom).

                Was M. Lauren, (as I understand a relative of yours) a very devout catholic, which from what I understand you refer to as “scatholics”. Have some respect.

                The utter abomination that scatholicism is deserves no respect, but to be shoved as hard as possible in the garbage heap of History.
                It’s not for nothing that England had very strict anti-scatholic laws!!!

              13. Westerner

                “Sure there is: all the unwritten laws……)

                Unwritten laws are of no consequence as they are not laws.

                “It’s not for nothing that England had very strict anti-scatholic laws!!!”

                My goodness, you are agreeing with the english…that’s a first.

                You didn’t answer the question about M. Laurin.

              14. Mama Fagstein

                S.v.p. Si vous trouver les opinions sur ce site dérangeant allé sur un autre site. Je suis née une Québécoise pur laine et moi j’ai soufferte de me faire parler juste en anglais dans Eaton et Morgan’s. Vous n’avez rien à m’apprendre sur le sujet. Le sujet était Mme. Harel et ses compétences, pouvons nous discuter de son entrevue.

          2. Anonymous

            Spoiler alert: French is as much a foreign language as English. Last time I checked, there were a variety of languages spoken here before Europeans stole the land.

            Stop pretending like there was no one here before the French, Jean Naimard.

            Reply
          3. Jean Naimard

            Spoiler alert: French is as much a foreign language as English. Last time I checked, there were a variety of languages spoken here before Europeans stole the land.
            Stop pretending like there was no one here before the French, Jean Naimard.

            I never did. Each time I look at myself in the mirror, I am reminded of my indian blood (and I wish I had more).
            Law 101 also protects indian languages as much as french; go to any reserve in Québec, and you’ll see road signs in the nation’s language.
            And Québec teaches natives in their language; for them, french is a second language. The result is that 80% of native speak their language, as opposed to 20% in Canada.
            Do not try to patronize me about the natives, mister anonymous (coward as they say on Slashdot), because the french have a consistent and provable track record of treating the natives far much more betteringly than the english ever did.
            It’s not a good idea to play the native card, because it’s going to bit you in the arse real bad and show how, as an anglo-saxon, you are utterly clueless.

            Reply
  6. Olivier

    Heh, let’s rant:

    She had to do it, and you said why: she has *nothing* to loose doing it, and doing so she forces her opponents to expend some capital (be it time, brainwaves, airwaves or money) countering her doing it. Capital they would otherwise spend gnawing at her 57% of support amongst franco. If the PQ and BQ had half a brain, they’d do the same thing by the way. And if, by whatever mean, she ends up going from 6% to 15 or 20%, well it was more than worth it. Another point: when you look at the numbers, the pollsters divided the sample thusly: 66.4% franco, 26.4% anglo and 7.2% allophone, trough the question “Q17. Quelle langue parlez-vous le plus souvent à la maison?”. An interesting split, no?

    “Sorry, but it’s not. No matter what the law or the city’s constitution says, Montreal is a bilingual city. The national anthem at Canadiens games is sung in two languages, we pay for our shish taouk with bilingual money, and panhandlers start off their begging with “anglais/français?””

    Well, on my side of the town, the panhandler speaks french. Just sayin’.

    But I thnk I see the point. My take on this is: a part of the montréal population is ferociously anti-separatist and will never, ever go nearby anything remotely associated with that movement. This part of the population is also predominantly english speaking. Then you have the exact opposite, a part of the population, ferociously indépendantiste, and predominantly french speaking. And you have the vast center, mostly pragmatic but again massively francophone. Harel is, of course and like her opponents, playing for that center. Harel bets on the fact that this center buys the notion that municipal politics is out of the dividing lines of provincial and federal politics and that a too strong opposition to her english speaking abilities denotes a form of unsuitable radicalism. She may be wrong, but that’s what she’s obviously angling for. And laboring trough an interview in english is part of that, because I don’t think there are 25+% of the population who are ferocious anti separatist anglos.

    That’s why I find it regrettable we don’t have access to the whole interview. It’s hard to make his own mind about the whole mess when all you have is 1:30 min of ohh ahh uhmm…

    Reply
  7. Christine

    Totally with you on the No Platform issue. I’m completely offended that these politicians have audacity to appear publicly without having bothered to release a platform. Just shows the general lack of respect for voters.

    That MP3, however, while extremely well edited, seems a tad mean-spirited and unnecessary.

    Reply
  8. Maria Gatti

    Ottawa is also a bilingual city, and Mayor O’Brian doesn’t speak a word of French. Now, I certainly think speaking as many languages as one can learn is a benefit for many reasons, but I don’t think it should be a qualification for this job, unless anglophone Montrealers are somehow more important than francophone Ottawans, or the many people in Gatineau opposite Ottawa that the OC government has to consult with on many National Capital Region matters.

    I’m not voting for Harel either, but her language skills have nothing to do with it.

    Wouldn’t the “most bilingual city in Canada” probably be somewhere in New Brunswick, perhaps Moncton?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Montreal, Gatineau and Moncton have the highest numbers of English-French bilingual people in the country, at more than 50%. It would probably be more fair to say that Montreal has the highest number of bilingual speakers in Canada, in terms of absolute numbers.

      Reply
      1. Maria Gatti

        We have the highest number of townspeople who are trilingual or more, probably the hightest number in North America. (Harel’s husband is certainly among this number; he speaks at least three languages fluently).

        I don’t know whether Obama speaks French, but I’d be surprised indeed if he doesn’t speak a second language. Think Delanoë speaks English, and probably at least another European language.

        I’ve taught ESL and FSL (and Italian) and can say that adult learners vary greatly in their capacity to master a second language – it can be very very hard for people middle-aged or older. I’m really leery of making this ability a requirement for office – if people required me to be good at math, I’d be lost. That is why mayors have aides: writers, interpreters and translators, accountants and other number-crunchers.

        Reply
    2. Fagstein Post author

      Ottawa is also a bilingual city, and Mayor O’Brien doesn’t speak a word of French

      That’s unfortunate, and I think it should be as much of a disadvantage for him, as it would be for a mayor of Gatineau or Moncton to not know both languages. Unfortunately, I suspect people in Ottawa don’t hold their elected officials to account enough for that. Ottawa isn’t as bilingual as it thinks it is.

      Reply
      1. Jean Naimard

        It really must piss the english to no end that the street signs there all begin by “rue” (or “avenue” or “allée” or whatever)…

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I don’t know who to check with to get the opinion of “the english”, but it certainly doesn’t piss me off. It would be nice if the signs were bilingual in predominantly anglophone areas, but I wouldn’t want the French removed from any sign in Quebec.

          Reply
          1. Chris

            Growing up in New Brunswick, I lived in a town that was about 99% anglophone. The sign at the end of my street said “Sop” and below that “Arrêt”. I never even noticed it until I moved to Quebec then went back to New Brunswick to visit family.

            Reply
        2. Michael Dunkelman

          Where do you come up with this stuff? I don’t know anyone who cares that street names are in French. I actually prefer them in a single language. In some of the demerged suburbs the signs are bilingual such as chemin fleet road. I think this just adds confusion to people who are not used to the area.

          Reply
          1. Jean Naimard

            I am just theorizing; given that a lot of people hate the french to guts, it would not be surprising that the bilingual street signs in Ottawa really annoys some people…

            Reply
    3. Marc

      Wouldn’t the “most bilingual city in Canada” probably be somewhere in New Brunswick, perhaps Moncton?

      Maybe superficially, but the truth is it’s practically impossible to get French service there.

      Reply
    4. Jean Naimard

      Ottawa is also a bilingual city, and Mayor O’Brian doesn’t speak a word of French. Now, I certainly think speaking as many languages as one can learn is a benefit for many reasons, but I don’t think it should be a qualification for this job, unless anglophone Montrealers are somehow more important than francophone Ottawans,

      French ottawans are nothing. They certainly know their place because they speak white. That’s why scumbags such as O’Brien can get elected; not speaking french is not an impediment to become mayor, au contraire!!!
      As I said elsewhere, my cousin is a higher officer in the canadian army (and an ardent "separatist" – like about 30% of the armed farces). Whenever he is in ottawa, he never is able to get service in french whenever he wears civvies. But when he goes back the next day wearing his uniform, every place scrambles to find someone who can serve him in french!!! Of course, as a frenchman exposed to the legendary english hypocrisy, this comes as no surprise at all.

      or the many people in Gatineau opposite Ottawa that the OC government has to consult with on many National Capital Region matters.

      It’s not the "national" capital, but the ***FEDERAL*** (emphasis mine) capital. The national capitals are Québec (city) and London (UK – that’s where the head of state is) and, of course, the largest communities of the various first nations.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        It’s not the “national” capital, but the ***FEDERAL*** (emphasis mine) capital.

        I realize you have a bug up your butt about Canada not being a nation, but it’s called the National Capital Region, whether you like it or not.

        Reply
        1. Jean Naimard

          Ottawa is the place where her majesty’s federal government of the dominion of Canada is and where the federal parliament sits (if it walks and quacks…) so it may not be THE federal capital, but nevertheless, it’s a federal capital.

          Reply
      2. Westerner

        “Of course, as a frenchman exposed to the legendary english hypocrisy, this comes as no surprise at all.”

        I didn’t know that you were from France?? Do you have dual citizenship or are you just an imitation?

        Reply
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  13. Pier-André Bouchard

    Hi,
    let me say first that I haven’t read the comments, so if I repeat someone else’s comment, tell me to shut the hell up. Second, let me say that I’m a french Québécois (apologies for the bad english), I don’t know that much of the english/french cleavage except for what I read in the papers, and I also believe that a fully bilingual mayor would be better than an unilingual one, although I think Montréal is and should be a primarly french city.

    I also recognise that I pay whatever I buy with my “bilingual” money (money has no language but money, in my sense, but that is another story) and that so far, there are not many issues to debate about, so on and so forth.

    That being said, I really don’t think all of this matters. In fact, I think it could matter in another election, but not this one. Perhaps I’m naive, but I think this election is about nothing but corruption. That is, how Mayor Tremblay spend of our money in an inefficient and illegal way.

    That is the ball game. If I were an anglophone, I would prefer Harel (with a translator) to Tremblay (with handcuffs).

    This is what puzzles me the most. I mean, come on, 6% ? Is this what’s worth of how our money is spent ? I would agree that a sovereignist mayor would help the cause, but I don’t think it would change that much. And what I know for sure is that this is not what is at stake right now. Morover, I do not agree that voting for Mr Bergeron is a vote against Tremblay. Everybody can do the electoral math : splitting the vote helps Tremblay.

    Perhaps I’m naïve. Maybe Harel will be as corrupted as Tremblay. But “maybe” is the keyword here. With Tremblay, we know for sure.

    So maybe we should go ahead and talk about issues. I also hope for electoral platforms. But I also hope that these amounts of our money are worth more that a tiny 6% of the english community. On this, my only hope is that we are brothers in arms.

    Cordialement,

    Pier-André Bouchard St-Amant

    P.S. : The “name” box in the comment form does not allow for names with more than 20 characters. As my very french name has 26, I demand justice. :P

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I think anglos’ dislike of Harel is probably more instinctual than rational, but it’s not just based on her inability to speak English. It’s partly based on her apparent dismissal of the anglo population (whether that perception is real or not), her militant support for sovereignty and the forced municipal mergers she instituted as municipal affairs minister. These are the only things anglos know about her, and all three are pretty bad.

      As for Tremblay, his administration is buried fairly deeply in scandal, but other than some perhaps questionable minor expenses he billed his party, Tremblay himself has not been caught in any serious trouble. Until that happens, some may hold their noses and vote for him, seeing Harel as undesirable and Bergeron and the others as politically immature.

      Reply
      1. Jean Naimard

        I think anglos’ dislike of Harel is probably more instinctual than rational, but it’s not just based on her inability to speak English. It’s partly based on her apparent dismissal of the anglo population (whether that perception is real or not), her militant support for sovereignty and the forced municipal mergers she instituted as municipal affairs minister. These are the only things anglos know about her, and all three are pretty bad.

        What is bad about sovereignty (of course, dismissing the english isn’t 100% good)? It’s a mean for the majority of the population in Québec to be governed by a government that has Québec’s specific interests at heart, something that the current federal government is unable to address, either because they conflict with Ontario’s, Alberta’s interests, or simply would not be politically acceptable for the english.
        Then what is wrong with the forced municipal mergers? This was a way to streamline municipal government by eliminating all the duplication of administrative services and the deadwood within (including the politicians), as well as eliminating the tax ghettoes where the rich would not pay their fair share of taxes by enjoying lower tax rates, all the while externalizing the negative aspect of their lifestyle (an example is Hampstead refusal to have any retail store, forcing people to go out of the city just to go to the dépanneur, and imposing wear and tear on the roads and pollution – because you can bet your arse that most Hampstead residents sure ain’t gonna walk).

        As for Tremblay, his administration is buried fairly deeply in scandal, but other than some perhaps questionable minor expenses he billed his party, Tremblay himself has not been caught in any serious trouble. Until that happens, some may hold their noses and vote for him, seeing Harel as undesirable and Bergeron and the others as politically immature.

        Tremblay appears honest at first sight; nothing has been able to stick to him, and he may be sincere. But he has been surrounded by pretty questionable individuals.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          What is bad about sovereignty?

          That’s not the question. The question is: Why should Quebec separate from Canada and go at it alone? Sovereignty is good, but so is national unity. Quebec’s government already acts in the interests of Quebecers, but more importantly it acts in the interest of its politicians and their agendas, as does the federal government.

          You might think that Alberta is holding Quebec back by getting concessions out of Ottawa, but it’s also giving Quebec a lot of money through equalization payments.

          Then what is wrong with the forced municipal mergers? This was a way to streamline municipal government by eliminating all the duplication of administrative services and the deadwood within (including the politicians)

          Have you taken a look at the giant bureaucratic nightmare that is the city of Montreal? I would hardly call that streamlined.

          Besides, people prefer local government because it’s more human. If you have a complaint, you can bring it to your city council meeting without having to go through a lottery. You can see the mayor at a weekend party without having to get through security. You can get approval for a special event without having to fill out dozens of legal documents.

          Some people want this even if it means paying higher taxes.

          Reply
          1. Jean Naimard

            Why should Quebec separate from Canada and go at it alone? Sovereignty is good, but so is national unity.

            Canada is not a single nation. Perhaps you mean federal unity?

            Quebec’s government already acts in the interests of Quebecers, but more importantly it acts in the interest of its politicians and their agendas, as does the federal government. You might think that Alberta is holding Quebec back by getting concessions out of Ottawa, but it’s also giving Quebec a lot of money through equalization payments.

            We still are governed by people who do not work for our interests. We have to go through a foreign policy that does not represent our values and interests. We would rather do it our way and collect our own tax dollars (what goes to Ottawa is more than we get in equalization anyways); Alberta will soon need them more than we do, given it’s unsustainable economy.

            Then what is wrong with the forced municipal mergers? This was a way to streamline municipal government by eliminating all the duplication of administrative services and the deadwood within (including the politicians) Have you taken a look at the giant bureaucratic nightmare that is the city of Montreal? I would hardly call that streamlined.

            Well, a city that has a million people cannot be managed like a city with 50,000 people. So, yes, the bureaucracy can be more involved.

            Besides, people prefer local government because it’s more human.

            Perhaps, but balkanization is not suitable for a large urban area. Balkanized fiefdoms will not work for the general good; a good example is the West-Island where traffic is channelled through unbearably congested throughfares, thanks to the navelistic NIMBY policy of not having connecting streets from municipality to municipality. No, neighbourhood peace and quiet is not a justification; in Montréal, all the street connects.

            If you have a complaint, you can bring it to your city council meeting without having to go through a lottery. You can see the mayor at a weekend party without having to get through security. You can get approval for a special event without having to fill out dozens of legal documents. Some people want this even if it means paying higher taxes.

            Small government is a thing of the past. There are tremenduous challenges facing us with global warming, pollution (thousands of deaths every year are directly linked to pulmonary ailments), those issues need to be addressed now, and little balkanized municipalities are the biggest impediment to this. The welfare of everyone is far more important than the peace and quiet of some selfish bourgeois.
            Why have an extra layer of government on top of little balkanized municipalities that will do all they can to hinder the work of that extra-layer when you can have a single layer that will not be hindered by vested interests?

            Reply
    1. Jean Naimard

      Actually, Kinshasa is the 2nd largest french-speaking city in the world.

      As they say in Wikipédia, "[citation needed]"…

      Reply
        1. Jean Naimard

          Oh well. Win some, lose most of them.

          But it’s good to have a city of 10 million of black people speaking french. This gives our language a good foothold in Africa. And they’re such nice people over there.

          Reply
  14. Malstain

    If I may pull back from this escalating smackdown, I think underneath M. Naimard’s provocations is a legitimate and interesting question: why do Montreal anglos expect to be served in English?

    The answer seems to me pretty clear:
    – Quebec is a part of Canada (leaving aside whether it should or always will be)
    – Many or most English Canadians are brought up with the idea that Canada is a bilingual country (again, leaving aside the legitimacy of that claim or its underlying ideas) and that they are entitled to be served in their language.

    One of M. Naimard’s broader points is inarguably true, if hard to swallow – English-speaking people in general tend not to acknowledge our colonial history and its lasting effect on other cultures, and to get our backs up and assume a victimized position when this is brought up.

    However, I would submit that the way to greater understanding is somewhere other than in gross generalizations (all anglos think X or do always do Y), vitriolic language (addressing people as “the enemy”) and asserting that any culture is “superior” to another…

    Reply
  15. Pingback: Louise Harel: the English interviews – Fagstein

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