Last week’s motion in the House of Commons rebuking Maclean’s for its cover story arguing that Quebec is the “most corrupt province” did not angrily demand the correction of any particular mistake or call for the magazine to apologize for a specified insult.
Doing either of those things would have amounted to the House engaging in a debate with journalists. Instead, the motion, tabled by Bloc Québécois MP Pierre Paquette and approved by all parties, adopted a loftier tone by expressing “profound sadness at the prejudice displayed and the stereotypes employed by Maclean’s magazine to denigrate the Quebec nation.”
Credit for that rather pontifical phrasing has been claimed by the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, his party’s lone MP from Quebec. In a speech at the NDP’s federal council on Saturday, Mulcair explained that he worked with the Bloc in drafting the motion, and that its key wording came out of a private conversation in which his wife asked him how the offending Maclean’s cover made him feel.
“I said, ‘Oh, I’m sad, the whole thing makes me so sad’,” Mulcair said. “She said, ‘Well, use the word sad. It’s not up to politicians to condemn, it’s not your role. But you can say it makes you sad.’ So that’s the word we used. Some say the motion condemns. No. The motion expresses profound sadness that there were such prejudices and that sterotypes were used.”