Strange words, Mr. Mulcair -

Strange words, Mr. Mulcair


Outremont NDP MP Thomas Mulcair was just on CBC’s Power and Politics in a rollicking good spar with Andrew Coyne.  Mr. Mulcair, you’ll recall, helped draft the Bloc Québécois motion expressing  ”profound sadness at the prejudice” of Maclean’s recent cover story on Quebec. During the course of the debate, Mr. Mulcair made two very odd pronouncements.

1) that the article I wrote only quoted one person, historian Samuel Huntington.

This is demonstrably false. As anyone with eyes and the ability to read can surmise, I quote from a number of sources whom I interviewed. To wit: Business ethics professor Andrew Stark, Réseau Liberté-Québec’s Éric Duhaime, Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir and Liberal MNA Geoff Kelley–with whom Mulcair served when he was in Jean Charest’s government.

The article further quoted, with attribution to the sources, the testimony of Marc Bellemare, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser, The Cliche Commission report, Gazette political writer  Hubert Bauch, author and Conservative insider L. Ian Macdonald, Le Devoir’s Jean Dion and Conservative MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

2) that during the course of a recent phone call with me, I informed him of the magazine’s intentions to write what he referred to as a “hatchet job” on Quebec.

Quite simply, this conversation never occurred. The last time I spoke with Mr. Mulcair was on March 4, 2010, for a piece I wrote on Anglophone rights. I sent him an email on April 16, 2010 asking for comment on the Quebec budget. He didn’t respond. It was the last time I attempted to talk to him.

How bizarre.

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Strange words, Mr. Mulcair

  1. I meant to write "very flimsy grounds" in that last part! Oops!

  2. Actually, I thought listing all the examples of corruption in Quebec and pointing out that no lists of equal length exist with respect to other provinces is plenty of "support"…

  3. My favourite part of the interview is watching Mulcair accuse Coyne of "an overwrought reaction".

  4. and politicians wonder why they garner little respect from the general public. I saw the program, and have read the article. Andrew, you are spot on and I commend you for writing and saying what needs to be said. As for Mulcair, it must be an election year and he definitely is a panderer!

  5. Coyne won the debate, hands down. Mulcair came across as a slick weasel, throwing up one blatant distortion after another. His "anti-Catholic" charge was particularly asinine.

    It's troubling that Mulcair seems to have lied about Patriquin's phone call. I find it hard to believe that Patriquin called Mulcair about the corruption article six months before it was published. It also seems unlikely that Patriquin told Mulcair he was going to write a "hatchet job" or a "hit piece".

    • Indeed, I think a lot of us wanted Mulcair to be a solid individual (even if we are not big NDP supporters). Certainly I personally think it is great when a "unique" MP shows up in the House, in his case a Quebec dipper. Personally, I want all of the MP's to be solid. I don't view solid as an especially high standard i.e. when you lie on National TV, don't make it blatant, so that us naive types can maintain our belief in our elected officials.

      • Let us be charitable and say Mulcair misspoke. Nonetheless Coyne won the debate 9-2, pulling away. Mulcair was offensive, sleazy, and he lied–oops, misspoke.

      • There's nothing "unique" about a pathological liar in the ranks of the NDP.

  6. I don't think Coyne likes to dish it out but can't take it. Mulclair clearly destabilised him. Is Coyne serious when he says the people of Quebec are behind Macleans? Perhaps if the survey question was:
    'Do you think the Macleans article portrayed Quebec society in a fair light?' he'd get a better sense of how well they represent Quebec.

    • Except that the article is about politicians in Quebec, not the people. The only people in Quebec who should take the article personally are the politicians.

      • The article is in theory about politicians, but if you read it through carefully there are reference to the culture – for example that passage about religion. The implication that Quebec's dominant religion may be one of the reasonsfor corruption refers to Quebec culture, not to the exclusive domain of politicians. Coyne's defence is that it's only a few words out of a thousand, so we should ignore it!! That was rich (is the number of words a new metric for quality of journalism?!)

      • I wish that was the case. I think if that was really what Coyne's commentary was about there wouldn't be so much resentment in Quebec, But when he ponders whether Quebec's dominant religion may be the cause, then he's attributing fault with the culture. His defense? It was only a few words out of a thousand. An interesting way to evaluate quality of journalism by the way…

        • sorry for double entry -my initial reply had dissapeared for a few minutes

        • Big Bertha… fairness to Coyne he did say what you said but he also added that it was mentioned but then dismissed as a cause in his articile. Unfortunately I did not read the article so I am taking him at his word.
          However, Mulcair comes across, like in the House, a pompous ass. He wanted to shout Coyne down when the debate first started and finally settled into letting him speak. I thought the exchange was a good one.
          While I don't like parliament sticking their noses into what a magazine writes I do like to see the media challenged for some of the crap they write about. Perhaps if the politicos challenged some of the things said in the media then the media may be a little more careful about what they say. Some of the stuff is outrageous and not based on any reality.

          • Seriously, don't you think you should read the article at hand before you pontificate on it? Just out of respect, if not for gaining knowledge?

          • Seriously, he doesn't, been over this ground before.

          • Hollinm –
            I don't recall Coyne saying he dismissed this as a cause – but if he did, I invite you to read the article. You will see that this assertion is less than factual. I wouldn't let your antipathy for Muclair deter you from judging Coyne for his action. Throughout the interview it sounded to me he didn't want to be judged for what he wrote, which seems like an outreageous expectation from a journalist.

            Here is the paragraph. He goes on to list other reasons after, but does not dismiss this one:

            'What explains Quebec's unusual susceptibility to money politics? Deeply entrenched deference to authority? A worldly Catholic tolerance of official vice? There is no grand unified theory: at different times and in different situations, different forces have come into play. Nevertheless, a few broad factors emerge:'

            And here is the link for the entire article

  7. Not surprising. AC is getting more and more multi-media exposure, so he's a political target. Kinda naive in a way to agree to the "debate".

    That said, I seem to recall Mulcair, in the last election while campaigning in the streets of wherever he is elected, was confronted about some blatant falsities he was claiming about one of his political opponents, and argued something to the effect that "this is how you do politics". I can't be bothered to source the reference.

    • I can't be bothered to source the reference.

      So, when did you stop beating your wife?

      • When her screams were curdled.

        The fact that I can't be bothered is because he deserves no less.

        • Mmmmm….. curdled screams.

          • Dave….the screams must have gone sour.

  8. Coyne, given an opportunity to scratch two of his favourite itches … Quebec and the NDP ( he has others) …
    let the froth bubble over. Mulcair held his own. But , like most TV "debates" it was more of a food fight than
    anything … and,like the article itself, should be given the attention it deserves.

  9. Canada is in a lot of trouble when Parliaments have to comment on magazine articles that point out facts. Is Parliament that afraid of separation that it feels it has to take sides on an article?? Talk about telling the Bloc that we are scared. The cost of keeping Quebec in Canada keeps rising every year. One year it will simply be too much to bear.

  10. The best part of the debate was when Coyne said I know that you are in trouble in your riding and need Bloc votes. Very true.

    • At which time I was thinkin Macleans needs readers so let's start a controversy!

    • It will be the first time I cheer for the Bloq when I see them beat Mulcair in his riding.

      • Oh, but maybe it will once again be a Liberal riding. Will you still cheer?

        • Yes. In fact, I've cheered for Liberals in Montreal ridings plenty of times, so it wouldn't be a first time. At the same time, I'd love to see the Conservatives make inroads on the island of Montreal.

  11. Mulcair said he resigned from Quebecs Provincial cabinet because of corruption . Was he talking about corruption in Saskatchewan ?

  12. Mulcair claims to have lived and worked in every province.


    • No. He claimed to live in every province, but only worked in some. A small point, but if you're gonna criticize, at least get it right.

      • Even better. It's a lot easier to work in a bunch of provinces than to live in them.

  13. Mr. Mulcair came off as a smug fool, I thought.

    • I missed the piece, but I am glad to hear he just acted himself.

    • I agree. I have trouble deciding whether Mulcair or Coderre is the biggest smug fool.

      • It's a tie!

        • Since we have a rep from the Libs and the NDP`s, let`s add the Con man.
          My vote is with Baird

          • Well, he's not in the Bloq, but the smuggest fool that's a separatist is Bernard Landry, with Parizeau a close second.

      • You're right, they're in a race to the bottom.

  14. We'll have the news making the news and journalists interviewing journalists before we have a serious discussion about corruption in politics in Canada.

  15. Coyne has, can and will continue to take pot-shots at Quebec, the NDP and now Mulcair personally. He should have had more smarts than to fight Mulcair on Mulcair's turf.
    When Coyne gets criticized for something he's written he's normally got time to digest before he retorts. The guy who throws tomatoes at the wrestler from the nose-bleeds has got time to run and hide. Coyne got into the ring with a proverbial two-ton gorilla and got sat on.
    Stick to what you're good at Andrew, the CBC isn't rated for that much blood.

    • What show were you watching? The only two-ton gorilla was whatever created the holes in Mulcair's logic.

    • Jeez Mulcair, at least post with your own name.

  16. Given the demeanour and the accusations levelled by Mulcair I thought Coyne did well to control his temper.

  17. This debate and it's supposed outcomes is even more polarizing than the LGR. For me personally, even though I personally rooted for Mulcair I feel that it was indeed a draw. It wasn't even as a result of both individuals making strong arguments; it was Coyne being unprepared and sloppy and Mulcair being dragged down to his level.

    The real root of the issue tough, aside from the hugely entertaining debauchery we all witnessed, is that Mulcair has a rational, personal reason for taking the position he does. I'm not talking about facts, I'm talking about personal motivation. His very heritage is under fire, and when a fundamental core of your character comes under attack then by god you defend the hell out of it. For Coyne and Maclean's, the bottom-line is to cause controversy. Whether Québec is really the most corrupt Canadian province or not has never been the real goal of this magazine, and that's why that thesis is so poorly defended in the published articles. I have no doubt that Maclean's editors are smart. They knew the whirlwind that this issue would create. And when one considers how a simple peace of punctuation could have negated all of this, the only logical conclusion one can arrive at is that this entire issue, the supposed journalism, the writing, the research, the publication, the debates, all have been coldly calculated to only serve the newspaper's financial bottom line.

    Coyne vs. Mulcair battle came to a draw. But Maclean's is losing this war – badly.

    • "His very heritage is under fire"

      So you're saying corruption is his heritage? I don't agree with that at all.

      • No, Mark. I'm saying that Maclean's articles attacked not just corruption, but the concept of corruption that is, at least in the minds of this magazine's editors, integrated into Québec society and culture. This is a point that's been quite firmly established, and it crosses the boundaries of journalism. Maclean's has gone far out of their jurisdiction as a provocative but thought-provoking publication and has instead become a fine case of sensationalist media that is fundamentally irresponsible and, quite frankly, un-welcome in Canadian society.

  18. At issue, a must watch tonight…

  19. My favourite part was Mulcair thinking he was making a scandalous accusation by telling Andrew he was using provocative words to sell Magazines or something to that effect. I suppose it's better than NOT trying to sell magazines. As for the article itself, I was pretty indifferent to it. Wasn't insulted, nor was I particularly impressed. I was livid the House got involved at all.

    Although, I wonder whether they copied the motion they introduced last month when another media outlet mused about torpedoing a boat of Tamils…………oh wait………..

    Sad, sad pandering to a non-existent entity.

  20. Mulcair is a self-righteous prig. He tells lies. He has a totally miscalcutated opinion of himself. His main interest in this issue is the self-preservation of his own sorry a$$ in the next election and any candidate from any Party would do us all a favour by whupping said sorry a$$.

    The " bury your head in the sand " attitude put forth by Mulcair will ensure the continued use of corruption as a staple of Quebec political society.

    Coyne and Patriquin should be commended.
    Also Andrew, don`t let Chantelle bully you tonight—-you`re on the correct side of this issue.

  21. I think, Martin, that you are enjoying yourself a little too much

  22. It is curious that neither you nor Coyne bothered to point out that the claim that Quebec politics (and politicians) are the most corrupt is demonstrably false. All of the corruption that you list involves Federalist politicians and excludes the PQ and the Bloc (i.e. half of Quebec politics). The common denominator of your list is not "Quebec politicians" but rather "Federalist politicians" : provincial LIberals, Federal Liberals, Federal (Mulrony) Conservatives. This leads to an obvious explanation for such corruption that your article – and Coyne's – don't even bother to consider.
    I guess it sells more copy in English Canada if you blame "Quebec" politics than "Federalis" politics. This deception on your part saddens me since I am a federalist Quebecer.

    • One addition to your good point … corruption requires a buyer and a seller. So, in the interest of
      accuracy I think all such instances should be described as government/business corruption.

  23. Mulcair bested him without a doubt. Politicians should be made to account for their words and it was great see a writer that attempts to shape public debate rather than report it account for his words as well. Coyne was visibly shaken by the exchange and his contempt for accountability was written all over his face.

  24. The only thing Mulcair didn't do was froth at the mouth.

  25. My issue with the article is the connection between the leadership race of the Conservative Party, and the claim that Quebec is the most corrupt province in the federation. How does signing up dead people to support a leadership campaign make the actual machine of government corrupt? Maybe you should write a better article, "__________, the most corrupt political party in Canada". That would be a good read.