Monday, April 16, 2018

Quebec Government Fails Families Dealing with Autism

As the grandfather of a sweet and lovable four-year-old who just happens to be autistic, I read with profound disappointment and sadness of the ongoing crisis in the autism community whereby a group of parents announced that they are reluctantly planning to sue the government of Quebec in an effort to get funding for much-needed services.

First let me say that these parents already have their hands full caring for their autistic children, trying their darnedest to cope with the challenges of everyday life and the special needs of a child on the spectrum. The proposed lawsuit is not frivolous, but a necessary step to somehow get the government to live up to its responsibility.
At a press conference on Sunday, parents were at wit’s end and left with no other choice but to take legal action.
They now plan to file multiple civil rights complaints to the Commission of Human Rights.
“We want respect, we want that their rights for education, for living, for dignity are respected,” Taboada said, “and we’re going to go all the way. All the way.”
The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) believes the province’s failure to provide proper services and education is a clear display of discrimination based on disability — and that violates children’s rights.
Together, the parents and the centre are also looking to launch a class action lawsuit against school boards. Global News
There is a special strain that parents of autistic children endure and while the situation of every child on the spectrum may be different, some things are shared among all.
First is the pain and guilt of having an autistic child and the overwhelming frustration. Then there is the constant humiliation that parents endure when their child is asked to leave a restaurant or another parent in the playground tells you to do a better job bringing up your bratty child because of an outburst. 
I myself witnessed a bitter old bag sipping her free McDonald's coffee in the Cavendish mall food court, chastise my daughter for my grandson's outburst, telling her to be a better parent and control her child. 
People can be cruel.

Some children on the spectrum can't deal with crowds or noise or bright lights. Some can't talk and expression is difficult. Some have difficulty showing affection and perhaps some don't have affection, every case is different.
Some autistic children on the high end of the scale do well and with therapy can attend regular schools. Some cannot and need a special school and intense behavioural therapy. 

But autistic children, whatever their situation, need therapy and they need therapy as early in life as possible.

It is here that our Quebec government fails horrifically. Our politicians are indifferent to the financial plight of these families because they are hitherto easy to ignore.
The aid provided is laughable. The government only offers a minimum of services between the ages of five and twenty-one. 
What happens before and after?
Therapy must begin as soon as autism is diagnosed, usually at two or three years old
Last year the government announced with great fanfare an investment of a paltry $29 million dollars of which none of the autistic families have seen a penny as of yet. 
In order to get some financial aid of up to $3,000 families must fill out form after form and do hoops to get aid with most families rejected.
As for those limited services and resources that the government does provide, funding is so restrictive that children in need are forced onto waiting lists where they can linger for years without getting any treatment. Families are faced with the burden of funding these treatments that can cost hundreds of dollars a week, or paying for private schools with tuitions upwards of $25,000 a year.
How many Quebec families can realistically sustain that kind of financial burden?
In the meantime, foreign trespassers who breach our border illegally are welcomed with open arms and are immediately provided with a $600 a month stipend until their case is heard, which of course may be years.

How out of touch are politicians?
They spend our money mindlessly on fantasy and vanity projects like lighting up the Jacques Cartier bridge for $40 million dollars or car races that nobody wants to see that cost $30 million dollars.
What taxpayer in their right mind would choose to fund these idiot projects instead of helping families with real problems?

My grandson is doing fine because he has loving parents, grandparents and family who work tirelessly as a team to make sure he gets the treatment he deserves and the daily support he requires.
Our situation is different in that we can afford the tuition to his special needs school and therapists on the weekend.
It is an expense that the vast majority of parents can't afford and I can only imagine the desperation families endure when money or the lack thereof hinders treatment.

Although autism is what this article is about, I have the same concerns for parents dealing with children with severe physical handicaps or illness.
Last year my son-in-law and I drove to a stable in the Laurentians that provided therapeutic interaction with horses for special needs children. 
Some children had difficulty controlling their muscles, some children had difficulty with autism and some were wheelchair bound.
What they all had in common were parents who were trying to give them the best life they could, parents who could use a little help from their friends.

Instead of embracing its responsibility to help these families, the government of Quebec is looking to get away cheap. It's shameful.
If anything the proposed lawsuit will embarrass the government into paying up. 
It should never have come to this.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rampant Discrimination Alive & Well in 'Modern' Quebec

Only in Quebec can politicians and journalists unload unashamedly with impunity on religious minorities with vicious and vitriolic outbursts that boggles the mind. This week reminds us once again as to how exactly many franco-Quebecers feel about minorities who don't look or act as they are supposed to in the eyes of the great unwashed.

There remains in Quebec a serious conundrum, a situation whereby immigrants are needed to shore up the population because of the anemic birth rate amongst Quebec francophones.
These immigrants are selected first and foremost on their ability to speak French and so many of those chosen are Muslims from the former French-speaking colonies of the Maghreb.

But most of these above-mentioned immigrants are observant and many of the women wear the hijab, something that is an anathema to franco-Quebecers who are not only largely areligious, but virulently anti-religion as well.
The hijab is seen as a symbol of enslavement, an anti-feminist sign that women are either forced to wear by their dominant male or foolishly embrace on their own.

But the hijab is also a symbol that those who wear it will never embrace the current political anti-religiosity of mainstream Quebec, something that is unforgivable in the present political climate.

Last week, the Jewish member of the Quebec National Assembly David Birnbaum, wore a kippa on the day Jews choose to commemorate the Holacaust. Birnbaum doesn't wear the kippa regularly but decided to pay tribute, a symbolic gesture, perhaps like those of you who put out a hockey stick at your front door to commemorate the victims of the Humboldt tragedy.

But for the PQ leader Jean-François Lisée, it was a provocation too good to pass up, the sight of the cursed kippa in the hallowed halls of the National Assembly. Deciding to make political hay out of the religious symbol it was an opportunity to rail over the unfairness of it all. Lisée complained loudly that if Birnbaum wore the kippa in the National Assembly as a symbol then he too should be permitted to wear a PQ lapel pin, something he was asked to remove by the speaker because of the rule against partisan symbols in the National Assembly.
He complained to the Press that he wasn't against the kippa, but rather the fact that he could not wear his PQ pin, an argument without equivalency.
But Lisée does not see himself as a racist, or at least an overt one, he is like many franco-Quebecers who see complaining about minorities as fair, with the reality being that they continue to hold onto the idea that until minorities like Jews and Muslims give up their faith, they cannot be 'good' Quebecers.
Mr. Lisée's comparison of the Holacaust to a PQ lapel pin was petty and stupid but unfortunately might play well in 'Hérouxville' where the so-called foreign barbarians at the gate are perceived as a clear and present danger to the ethnic purity of Quebec. While Lisée cleverly said that he was in favour of the kippa, he was in fact knowingly sowing the seeds of fear and hate.
He has done so before in the nasty Bonjour/Hi debate where he crowed that he had sprung a trap for the government that precipitated a pathetic nasty linguistic debate over how merchants greet customers.

The second nasty incident was over one ambitious seventeen-year-old Muslim named Sondos Lamrhari, who is studying towards her goal of becoming a police officer.
The problem being of course that she wears a hijab.
Sensitive to the political climate around her and determined to avoid confrontation, Lamrhani (as you can see in the photo) trimmed the Hijab as best she could, in order to be less 'offensive.'
How very sad...

You would think by the vicious outcries against her by the media and politicians that she was an Islamic terrorist. The idea that a police officer might be allowed to wear a turban or hijab evinced an outpouring of hate by journalists and politicians.
Francois Legault, leader of the FAQ wants to make the seventeen-year-old teen an election issue.
People will have a choice on October 1st. If they want authority figures like the police to be allowed to wear religious symbols, they should vote for the Liberals. If they are against, they can vote for Coalition avenir Québec !
Agnes Maltais-- Not on Quebec!
Then there is Agnes Maltais, a PQ stalwart who is incidentally a lesbian and at 61 years old, someone who likely lived through a homophobic period of time in her life, no doubt suffering the slings and arrows of discrimination.
You'd think that someone like her would be sensitive to discrimination against those who are different, but alas it just seems to have sharpened the venomous attack and utter contempt she directed towards the student.
She told reporters nastily that the student had no place in a Quebec police force and should consider a job in the RCMP because unlike Canada, Quebec doesn't accept multi-culturalism. Yikes!

This very morning I read a disgusting story in the Journal du Montreal written by an ex-employee of a temp agency who was told by his boss that for a certain job posting for several employees, the employer stipulated that no Blacks were to be considered because the unionized shop didn't want any.  Really?....

I remain haunted by the statuesque Black African immigrant who told the Bouchard-Taylor commision in perfect, but differently accented French that to be accepted in Quebec she is being forced to eat poutine and maple syrup, a wonderful metaphor for the reality that new Quebecers face.

If this is modern Quebec, it looks pretty much like the old racist and xenophobic Quebec of yore.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Why Anglos Should Welcome CAQ Victory

For most of us in the Anglo community, English rights and the issue of sovereignty was the overriding and ultimate issue driving our voting choice over the last forty years.
Truth be told, if the Mafia led a federalist party that promised unlimited English rights, but as a trade-off mob style corruption, we would have voted for them in droves.

Come to think of it, we did!

But the war over English language rights and Quebec sovereignty is over, both suffering an ignominious and lasting defeat, raising the question as to whether we should continue to support the aging Liberals or bolt to the CAQ.

So let's take stock of where we are.

It seems to me, that vis-a-vis Anglo rights, we have sunk as low as we can go.
No party is willing to increase those rights and none, even the PQ is looking to further erode our community. It is a question of kicking the proverbial dead horse when it's down, and where retribution against the Anglo community for real or imagined slights is no longer a driving voter issue.
In fact, gratuitously picking on the Anglo community is probably viewed by the majority of francophone voters as a bit mean-spirited and certainly uncalled for given the circumstances, and like a dominant sports team pummelling the opposition, running up the score is viewed as poor sportsmanship.

Sadly for us, Anglos no longer matter in Quebec, neutralized as a political or economic force over the last forty years that saw Anglo companies and Anglo children driven out of the province to the point where we are today, like the PQ, an irrelevant and spent political force.

If as a voter you are asking yourself which party will better represent Anglo interests, don't bother.
Even the dead-in-the-water PQ represent no further threat to English language rights and even if the party theoretically came to power, it's policy about the French language would probably target the francophone community where the last fight that the PQ can mount would be an effort to limit Francophones learning English.  Just about the only idea left to the moribund PQ is perhaps extending Bill 101 to English cegeps, restricting francophone access, which honestly would just open up places for Anglophones who don't have the astronomical marks needed to gain entrance as today's heightened standards are directly related to the pressure of French enrolment.

But paradoxically, accepting the reality of our Anglo situation in Quebec, that is, that the present situation is as good as it gets, can be liberating.
We can choose to leave or choose to stay in Quebec under these conditions, but if we stay we'll be free to look at other issues when choosing between the CAQ or the Liberals.

So the following critique is sadly devoid of any discussion of the different party's position on Anglo rights because they are essentially the same.

It is hard to fault the Couillard Liberals over good government, but nonetheless, they are doomed to lose the next election.
The overriding job off the government is to manage the public purse as responsibly as possible and on this account the Liberals have done a pretty good job, in fact, better than any other provincial government, eliminating the deficit and making a dent in Quebec's massive debt.
I know it's an unpopular concept for voters who don't see the benefits of austerity, but nonetheless, those tangible benefits are real.
Balancing the budget and reducing debt has a twofold effect which we should all understand and consider.
First is that when government balances the budget, the interest on the debt over time becomes less onerous.
Let me explain by way of example.
Consider a family who twenty-five years ago bought a home for $250,000 with a $50,000 down and a mortgage of $200,000 with fixed monthly payment of say $1,3000 a month. Over the years, the mortgage payment is fixed, but the family income perhaps doubles, making the mortgage payment half as painful as when first assumed.
It is the same for government debt.
If we can just freeze the amount of debt, inflation will reduce the impact of carrying that debt over the years.
Now paying government debt is an added bonus, somewhat like making an extra payment on your mortgage which some banks allow, which has the effect of paying off the debt sooner.

In the case of governments paying off debt, one can assume that every billion dollars paid down, represents an annual interest saving of about $50 million dollars, money that can be redirected into government spending programs.
Over the last two budgets, Quebec has paid off $7 billion in debt, freeing up an additional $350 million in money that it saves on interest, money that can be spent otherwise. According to projections, the Quebec government will pay off another $14 billion in debt over the next four years, freeing up another $700 million in recovered money that would otherwise be spent on interest.
While it isn't sexy, it is what good government is about and on this account, full marks for the Liberals.
“S&P Global last week raised Quebec’s rating to AA-minus from A-plus, citing “strong budget surpluses and declining debt burden.” That put Quebec’s S&P rating above Ontario’s, which is Canada’s most populous province, for the first time since 2006.”  Link
Austerity is controversial because it reduces government services across the board and so it's biggest opponents are those who are penalized, those who pay little or no tax, but receive benefits. For them, the free ride on the back of real taxpayers is a gravy train that they don't want to see pulling out of the station. Although most of the pain of austerity has been borne by middle-class public employees who have seen their contracts rolled back, it is the vocal non-payers who bellyache the loudest.

All this good news must be tempered by the fact that other Canadians are subsidizing this new found fiscal responsibility.
Good as the Liberal effort is in paying down the debt and balancing the budget, the elephant in the room remains the equalization payment made to Quebec by Ottawa on behalf of Canadian taxpayers. Out of the annual $11 billion equalization gift from Ottawa, other Canadian taxpayers pay $8.7 billion of that amount (the other part is paid by Quebec taxpayers.)  This gift from other Canadians represents about 10% of the Quebec budget, something nobody in Quebec is willing to admit.

Nobody except Francois Legault, leader of the CAQ who said this;
 “What I want to tell Quebecers is that a CAQ government will aim for zero equalization. A CAQ government will eliminate the wealth gap with the rest of Canada. A CAQ government will have ambition, will aim high for Quebec.”
Them's fighting words!

With the language war over, it is perhaps time to get down to sound, responsible government and working towards prosperity that will provide the government with the funds needed to help those who need help the most.

A new government, unburdened by responsibility for policies created in the past can look at each problem with fresh eyes, unencumbered by history... a veritable fresh start.

There are many things that could be changed, that should be changed.
  • The antiquated and failed CEGEP system.
  • A bureaucratic and overburdened health care system.
  • A bloated and inefficient public service, which also goes for the school board system.
  • A new approach to protection and expansion of French in Quebec without placing the burden of change on the Anglophone community.
  • A new approach towards entrepreneurship and business.
  • Abandoning 'grand' schemes and costly white elephant programs
  • A realistic approach to costly 'green' energy projects that waste billions.  
A CAQ government won't be any worse for the Anglos, perhaps better, with a deeper respect towards our community than the phony Liberals pretended to have.

Given the conservative roots of the CAQ and the abandonment of nationalist policies, I'm ready to give them their shot.

And so Canada's two largest provinces, making up more than half of Canada's population are turning towards conservative governments and it remains to be seen what they will accomplish.

But one thing I know for sure is that if I were Justin, I'd be very anxious.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bloc Quebecois Faithful, Like Flat-Earthers, Demonstrate Blissful Ignorance

As the Bloc Quebecois leadership fiasco unfolds, it is becoming increasing clear that the die-hards, led by leader Martine Ouellet, remain steadfastly faithful to the ideological goal of Quebec sovereignty, supposedly achievable in our time, the discredited and defeated notion which like those who believe that the Earth is flat, proves that for some, reality remains a step too far.

There are many good people who believe that Quebec sovereignty is a noble and justifiable goal, but who realize that in the context of today's political and social reality, it just isn't going to happen.

Then there are those that refuse to accept reality, the Bloc Quebecois militants led by idealogue Martine Ouellet who believe that everything can be achieved if only one dreams hard enough.
We've seen this attitude amongst cultists and anti-vaxers where science and reality are irrelevant and where dogma and blind faith supplant truth.
Such is the case of the faithful adherents and members of the Bloc Quebecois who overwhelmingly support Martine Ouellet's fantasy that keeping the faith and working towards the goal of Quebec sovereignty is a noble, justifiable and realizable goal, fantasists who also must believe that pedaling on a stationary exercise bike is a likely conveyance to propel them to the promised land.

Then there are those seven members (out of ten) caucus members of the Bloc Quebecois members of Parliament who know different and who bolted the caucus not only because they believed that right now, given the diminished support for sovereignty, that the role that he party must  undertake in Ottawa is one where it stands up and protects 'Quebec interests.'
This realistic conclusion is one that the 'Dear Leader' of the Bloc cannot and will not accept along with the backing of most of the Bloc membership who also support the 'sovereignty or death' choice.

And so the two factions seem unable to heal the rift which has exploded into an irreconcilable schism. The fact that Martine Ouellet is also bat-shit crazy, something almost everyone who has worked for her admits, doesn't auger well for reconciliation.

As for myself and most readers of this blog, the only word to describe the imminent collapse of the Bloc Quebecois is not English nor French, but rather German.
That word is 'schadenfreude,'  the pleasure derived from another's misfortune.
The topping on this sundae is the hope that the death spiral of the Bloq will be exceedingly long and painful, wiping the idiot smile off Mario Beaulieu's face and breaking the spirit of Martine Ouellet.

Let the seven members of the Bloq who bolted the caucus sit as independents until they take their leave come next election.
Or better still, let them run and split the remaining Bloq vote, insuring an election wipeout that will seal the deal and consign the Bloq Quebecois to the history books along with the Union Nationale or the Ralliement créditiste.

Good Riddance!

Monday, March 5, 2018

NAFTA Will Finally Destroy Justin Trudeau

The Prime Minister's latest fiasco, an unsuccessful and laughable adventure in India underscores Justin Trudeau's obsession with form over substance.

But the India trip has had some real impact on Liberal support and one has to ask whether Justin has peaked and is on the way down.
Even the Indians cringed at the Bollywood style outfights that our first family decked themselves out in and questions are starting to be asked, even among supporters, just how stable our PM is.
His cringe-worthy outfits, costing tens of thousands of dollars belies that fact that the Indian government think poorly of him and has shunned him badly on the trip
"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada was the subject of global ridicule for his Bollywood-worthy outfits during a weeklong trip to India.
His elaborate dress was called “too Indian even for an Indian.” Above, Mr. Trudeau and his family with the movie star Shah Rukh Khan." New York Times
All this after the "humankind' fiasco where our intrepid PM hectored a questioner at a town hall meeting advising her that 'mankind' was no longer acceptable in his eyes. The backlash was particularly vicious and humiliating, prompting Trudeau to tell the media clumsily that it was all a joke.
Not many of us, even the faithful believed that.
It may very well be that the "humankind"
gaffe may have sent Justin 'jumping the shark.' the exact point at which we can say he turned from a modern new-age feminist superstar to bumbling dolt.

At any rate, the Liberals and Justin personally suffered real damage after the Canadian diplomatic reception in India that offered an invitation to a Canadian man connected with Sikh terrorism.  The invite was quickly rescinded, but the damage was done.
To make matters worse, those speaking for the Prime Minister intimated that it was elements in the Indian government who made the invitation in an effort to discredit Trudeau.
This assertion set the Indian government into a rage and in a sharply and undiplomatic rebuke, told the Canadian government that India had nothing to do with the invite and in a diplomatic note  said that; "Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable.”

And so the latest poll shows Trudeau and his Liberals falling behind the Conservatives and the only thing surprising is why it took so long.
For the longest time, Trudeau's support was rock solid despite his many gaffes, missteps and reckless overspending, but cracks in his feminist/new world armour appeared when he started to be mocked in the media, especially the foreign media.
It isn't policy that is hurting the Liberals, it is Trudeau's personality, which is what propelled the Liberals into power back in 2015 and which is sinking the party now.

Like young teen girl giddy over the latest iteration of a popular boy band, when the crush is over, it is over, and near impossible to get back on the bandwagon.

As for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, we've not heard or seen much of him, which is a good thing because when your opponent is driving towards a cliff, it's bad form to yell.... Faster! Faster!

But sensing trouble, Trudeau will fight for his political future tooth and nail and damn the consequences for the country. He's already demonstrated his selfish propensities by running up the debt for no good reason except to keep him and his party in power, a selfish decision that demonstrates his utter contempt for taxpayers and future taxpayers.

And so we all sit here and hope that the NAFTA negotiations are successful and conclude without inflicting too much damage on us, pain that we are already factoring in, in order to placate Donald Trump's ego.
But let's be clear, any NAFTA is better than no NAFTA.

And so Justin finds himself between a rock and a hard place, deciding between a bad deal in NAFTA or no deal at all.

Now Trump has gone all in, by making an exemption for Canada from the soon to be imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum conditional on a successfully re-negotiated NAFTA.
It seems that Trump, sensing that Canada is on course to reject the NAFTA deal and damn the consequences, is terrified that failure to 'win' a new favourable deal for the USA would destroy his image as the great negotiator, something we all know he is loathe to allow.

If the deal is scrapped, the full weight of the disaster on the economy will take a year to be felt and another year to send unemployment skyrocketing and the economy tanking and since the Liberals are running a huge deficit already, there's no way to ease the pain through spending.
All this in the runup to the next federal election.

Even if Justin somehow makes a deal, the political pain from the moaners who lose out because of Canadian concessions made will be harsh.
Since it is inconceivable that Justin will allow the dairy cartel to be dismantled or the duties on cross-border online shopping, it probably falls on the auto sector to be given up, a disaster for Ontario.

Make a deal and face a political disaster or make no deal and face a political disaster, a veritable 'Sophie's Choice.

It is lights out for the Liberals and there's no new age blather that can talk Justin and the Liberals out of this one.
Facing diminishing polls, ridicule and difficult decisions ahead, I think we're going a different Justin, a nasty sort who will bare his teeth and viciously attack opponents, blaming others for all his woes.

In other words, just another cheap politician.

And here is another fearless prediction.
You won't see another photo of Justin in costume anymore, not even for Halloween!
And I'll bet he's also ditching the goofy socks too.