Sunday, March 15, 2009

Louise Harel Shoots Herself in the Foot

If Louise Harel is thinking about making a run for the Montreal mayoralty job this fall, she can forget about it now, after making some injudicious remarks about the city's minorities.

“If we go from 19 to 10 boroughs, but these boroughs remain quasi-municipalities as they are now, we will end up in the worst of situations because we’ll have cities … an Italian city, a Haitian city, an anglophone city, an Arab city - Ville St. Laurent, a Jewish city, etc. We will no longer have this sense of one big city with boroughs that speaks with one voice.”
-Lousie Harel
I'm going to give her credit for not being a racist, because an experienced racist would probably be more tactful. But the statement, like it or not, comes off racist and even if she didn't mean it to be so, she's stuck with the result.

Had she chosen her words more carefully and said something along the lines that she would like to see the city develop in a way whereby members of all communities live together as one, rather than being ghettoized, nobody would have said a peep. It's a legitimate position that some may agree with and some may not.

Describing an 'Arab city,' 'Haitian city' or 'Jewish city' as something undesirable is bound to elicit a negative reaction. She should have known it.

When majorities talk about minorities, they have to be very careful. Context is everything.

A friend of mine once told me that he was insulted by a comment made by a politician as they shook hands upon being introduced.
What did the politician say?" I asked.

"Ah, you Italians are wonderful cooks." he replied.

"Doesn't sound insulting to me. What was the matter?"

"I didn't like the term 'You Italians' " hmm...
And so unfortunately for Madame Harel, she is stigmatized. In certain minority communities, the racist label won't wash off and if she's foolish enough to run for mayor, she'll get trounced. She probably has the same chance of winning the mayor's job of Montreal as does Dave Ahenakew, of winning the top job in Cote-St.Luc.

Our beloved Mayor Tremblay is crossing his fingers, hoping that she'll run, so that he can remind the 50% of Montrealers who's mother tongue is other than French of her true 'racist nature.'

Yes, Louise, stick a fork in you, you're done.
Better get yourself a nice safe government job in Quebec city where these types of statements are not only tolerated but encouraged.

And to you Mr. Angry French Guy blogger, stop crying over spilt milk. Stop blaming Anglos and the Gazette for her problems. Of course the newspapers, particularly the English ones are having a field day with the story, but the truth is that this mortal wound is self-inflicted.


  1. As you know, she really meant that ghettoization of the city would not be a good thing.

    Now, as usual, some anglos use what she said to describe her as a racist. This is pathetic.

    I'm really getting pissed with that. Anytime a french-canadian says something that might be interpreted intolerant, some anglophones (and some media) jump on it. French-canadians are no worse than anglophones regarding racism. The worse racists comments I heard were from some Montreal anglophones and from some albertans. Anglophones should start examining their own instead constantly scapegoating french-canadians.

  2. Enkidu -- Sure there are a lot of racists in Quebec's anglophone community and in the rest of Canada, but they need to be careful not to make any racist comments if they hope to get elected in a community that has a lot of minorities. It's possible, although difficult, to be elected premier of Quebec without appealing to anglophones and minorities, but it's impossible to become mayor of Montreal if you alienate them.

  3. @ Anonymous

    I agree with you. But knowing Mme Harel, I do not think she was expressing any racist or xenophobic views. Granted, she did put her foot in her mouth by saying what she said, she really did not choose her words well.

    Anyway. Given Montreal diverse background, and large anglophone community, I have a hard time believing that she would have a shot in an municipal election. And wasn't she the one calling the shots for the infamous municipal mergers?

  4. I think the french are a minority on the island of Montreal, not in laval or the south shore, but on the island itself yes. So saying this and that about the majority makes no sense to me, because the french are NOT the majority here.

    I think everyone should stop being such bigots, and start loving their neighbour...NO MATTER WHERE THEY COME FROM OR WHAT LANGUAGE THEY SPEAK.