He told you so - Macleans.ca

He told you so


Taste the chin, Montreal

Lucien Bouchard recently referred to the Parti Québécois, a party he once led, as a “radicalist niche” bent on exploiting Quebecers’ collective language fears for electoral gain. The PQ reaction was to a) largely ignore these specific sentiments and instead concentrate on Lucien’s bit about how sovereignty ain’t gonna happen, allowing the party to label him a sellout, as it has done before with this guy and, to a certain extent, this guy; and b) largely shrug off Lucien’s bon mots as the babblings of a bitter old man who can’t keep his anger in check. After all, they breed ’em big and angry up in the Saguenay.

But, as usual, Lu-lu’s sense was canny. A week later, this: the PQ, leader Pauline Marois says, will focus her party’s attention on “defense of the French language” and “affirmation of national identity” (it actually sounds creepier in English) in the upcoming parliamentary session.Translation: she’s doing exactly as Lu-lu said she would. And for one very good (and terribly cynical) reason: demographics.

Buried in today’s interesting Le Devoir story about how Canada is becoming less and less white is the following bit:

Quebec City and Trois-Rivières are two of Quebec’s largest cities that have the least number of visible minorities. [By 2031] visible minorities will constitute five percent of Quebec City’s population and four percent of Trois-Rivières, compared to two percent in 2006

The city of Saguenay will be the least number of visible immigrants in all of Canada by 2031, with at most two percent of the population. Still, this number is double what it is today.

In Montreal, meanwhile, one in three people will be a visible minority by 2031. The PQ base, not coincidentally, is fast eroding in Montreal (the results of 2008’s election are telling enough) and growing in les régions. Translation: Montreal is fast becoming a convenient, readily exploitable multi-coloured boogie man.

Good call, Lucien.

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He told you so

  1. Lucien Bouchard is much more credible than the likes of Pauline Marois. Unlike so many of the souverainistes who now despise him, Bouchard seems like an honest guy.

    • With a credibly honest history of joining a leadership trio that foisted an honest, clear and unambiguous referendum question on the population. Oh wait…

      …and whose side he was on in said referendum made absolutely sure not to egregiously disenfranchise the voters of overwhelmingly federalist polling stations. Oh wait…

  2. MP, you forgot a rather important "guy" among "sellouts" the PQ has condemned. I'll give you a hint, initials RL. Maybe this will jog your memory: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beau_risque

    • Very true, though his bona fides have since been resurrected. Let's see: he was the PQ's champion, then they stabbed him in the back, only to remove the knife… once he was dead.

      • They needed to remove the knife, they needed it to stab other people in the back.

      • NB. Worth pointing out that Marois was one of those that stabbed RL.

        • Meh. Stick around in the PQ long enough, everybody gets a chance to have a turn stabbing everybody else.

  3. You can blame the "disenfranchising" stuff on Parizeau and his cronies, not Bouchard. I'm not sure who takes the blame for the referendum question.

    • Oh? Was he not one of the three treasonous-but-cough-democratically-so amigos?

      • I guess I'm trying to say that he's relatively honest, compared to most current and former souverainiste politicians.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995_referendum

          On October 27, Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard's office sent a press release to all military bases in Quebec, calling for creation of a Quebec military and the beginning of a new defence staff in the event of Quebec's independence. Bouchard declared that Quebec would take possession of Canadian air force jet fighters based in the province.

          (two references removed)

          • Oh yes that one bothered me immensely…thanks so much for bringing up something I thought I had forgotten. That being said I think Bouchard is honest….I dont know if he has really written about the referendum, I wonder if he has his dubts now and feels if he was perhaps with a bad crowd. Parizeau is absolutely Nixonian in his plotting and scheming. Bouchard was a clip on to the campaign Parizeau ran and designed, including the fraud. Bouchard has evolved, the PQ and its base have not.

          • Y'see, I find Parizeau to be the most honest of the bunch. You knew what he wanted. He's the guy who couldn't help but blurt out the "lobster-trap" scenario, and you just know his frontal lobes truly believed the money-and-ethnic thing. And still do.

            Dumont? Whippersnapper trying to fake his own relevance, and figured the "OUI" side was the way to go.

            Bouchard? I STILL don't know what the dude stands for. Great line from some wag years ago: "Bouchard is no more a separatist than Bourassa was a federalist." Deliberate hiding of one's true agenda and strategy does not an honest politician make.

          • I see your point. Parizeau couldnt help himself, although he kept trying to deny things. The Lobster comment was a moment of weakness, all his actions were about executing that. Lulling and manouvering Quebecers into starting the irreversible process. Of course they can keep their passports, of course they will still have seats on the Bank of Canada, of course they will still use the dollar…..so, he couldnt hide his desire, he would try.

            Bouchard I agree has seemed to shift, but he has always been mercurial. I think he is honest, but I think he is flighty.

          • But what does he have to gain, these days, by keying the PQ's car?

          • Love the image.

            There is no way Lu lu wants to go back to elected politics. But he may be offended by the path, it may be a legitimate view. He may care about about Quebec society, and not want to see it pick a losing fight. He may just be settling old scores and setting up conditions for someone more of his mindset to take over. But somehow I think Bouchard is unattached currently within the Quebec political party scene. He may be simply have been defending his brother.

          • Maybe his wife would like to feel less like a social pariah in Québec, and he is finally standing up for her.

          • Bouchard worried me most because he was smarter and seemed more reasonable, while Parizeau and Landry were clearly outright racists who could not keep it to themselves. Marois is in the same boat. I've never disliked Bouchard the way I dislike those others.

  4. It would seem Mrs. Marois is pulling the "Race" i.e. the real Quebecbers against the not so real Quebecers card. Nothing new or distinct about that as the like of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin have made good politics with their "Real Americans" campaign. It is the same thing.

  5. This would be a bit frightening if it weren't for the fact that, in Quebec, ethnic nationalism is a ticket to oblivion. Exhibit A: the ADQ. It works like this: first you alienate all the civilised people, and next thing you know your caucus is full of complete morons and you're correspondingly unelectable. In the ROC, by contrast, we have no problem voting for a slate of complete morons.

    • Yes, it's unfortunate that in the ROC we've elected those moronic Liberals so often. It could be worse, we've still not elected the NDP (federally, anyway).

  6. Clarification: I don't mean Pratte and other good guys agree philosophically with previous links, I mean that by the time it gets to them, they accept the political landscape as it is, and counsel PLQ to accede to ethno-linguistic agenda, as a way of killing off even worse possibilities. But how many times can you tactically retreat until you've no territory to defend anymore, or none worth defending? When & where do QC liberals (in philosophic sense, incl. genuine social-democrats) stand and fight? Over what issue?

    • Brilliant and enlightening comments, as ever, EFL. I agree with everything you say, though I think there is not a chance in hell of Jean Charest taking one for world liberalism. But you are right that the Humpty Dumpty effect is real. I fear that the Quiet Revolution generation might like one more malicious kick at the sovereigntist can before they head out, even as young people, even in les régions, grow disenchanted with ethnic nationalism. I can't remember seeing a single young person blathering about les autres in front of Bouchard-Taylor, for instance.

      Meanwhile, practically, the ADQ still exists, right? So every vote (10%?) for them is a vote not landed by the PQ, and I can't imagine such votes would ever go Liberal: the ADQ siphons off PQ votes. I'm not familiar with the electoral map like you and Olivier (below) are, but he seems to think the PQ has thus maxed out. If the ADQ disappeared, however, that might provoke scenario you describe?

      As to where enlightened opinion will stand and fight, I think they have to stand against Marois' exclusionary Quebec constitution idea. I don't believe Pratte, for instance, would ever accept that as a fait accompli of the horserace; neither would a lot of PQ moderates (if any remain); ditto many voters, no? That's just crossing a line, and crossing it forever. The difficulty with this sort of brinkmanship, as with that of Palin and Liz Cheney down south, is that in a democracy the other guys eventually win, and if they've worked themselves into a frothing rage of ethnic nationalism (in QC) or fascism (in the USA), they may well go bananas when they eventually take office. Call it Humpty Dumpty's Revenge.

      • Well, the trick with the PQ is, they don't exactly play the ethnic card. They play the Identity card, which in turn is a proxy for three cards: culture, language, values. The whole "values" thing has been put on the map by the ADQ, and both the PQ and the PLQ has since played it with an enthusiasm I find sordid, but I disgress (see the PLQ's recent fit of niqab busting; textbook scapegoating).

        The big difference on the identity front is that Charest's interventions are far, far more precise and calibrated than Marois's. While Pauline always has to steer those question in a way that is non-irritating to her base, Charest always play those cards to cater to a given electorate; his forays in outer 418 and 819 in 2008 are in no small part attributable to his enthusiastic, abundant and well-timed use of "Nous" and "Nos valeurs" and "ce qui fait qu'on est uniques, nous les québécois" and whatnot. You wont catch him very often saying that kind of stuff in english or in Montréal, tough.

        So EFL is right in saying the PQ is trying to kill off the ADQ, but so is the PLQ. And I'd say what remains of the ADQ, if the party is to fold, will mostly go the PLQ way. There is a pretty darn hostile sentiment toward the PQ in todays ADQ, and the PLQ's mix of crypto-nationalism, trade agreements internationalism and well-timed "nos valeurs"-toting (I almost wrote niqab busting again) is a very, very enabling mixture to them. I mean, the PQ can gat some of the ADQ's vote, but the totality of the 5% or so Québec Solidaire (a leftist party) carves in the electorate (all in the french electorate I might add) is taken from the PQ and might actually have cost them a seat or two last election.

        So I guess my poiny is: It's easier to understand the way things go in Québec if you substitute the nationalism card for a stack of 4 cards: Values, Identity, Culture and Language. I also think it's important to see that every single party is playing with that deck.

  7. They should've seen Wells. He keeps passing out steak knives around here…

  8. In what world are you living in, the PQ would never use steak knives from an English Canadian.

  9. Funny. PQ governments have been using English Canadian transfer payments since they started their little racket. I can't imagine they'd freeze up at the sight of a blade or two. Of course, Paul would have to hand them over en français, c'est parfaitement normal, vous comprenez.

  10. Thanks indeed for these comments, Olivier and EFL. Gad, the stakes are higher than I thought! Funny how this all seems to have blown in from nowhere! I will do as Olivier says and try to see things in terms of the Four Cards; and follow EFL's lead in hoping Charest and his confederates can pull off a tour de force campaign. That the sanity of Quebec, and potentially the future of Canada, should continuously depend on the man I still think of as Mulroney's minister of Sport only adds to the unreality of it all.

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