Friday, April 16, 2010

Michel Chartrand's Revisionist Image

I've never understood the convention of news reporting that holds that when reporting on the death of a public personality, the policy of speaking little or no ill of the dead be respected.

In private life we've all gone to funerals where the deceased is eulogized by a member of the clergy or by a family member and painted in the most positive and saintly light, only to have someone sitting near us mutter under his or her breath that the deceased was a right sonuvabitch, roundly despised by all. 

Perhaps it's OK in private life to fudge the truth, but when the media glosses over the bad and leave a distorted impression of the truth, it behoves others to set the record straight. That is perhaps the greatest contribution that independent bloggers can provide and no, I'm not talking about myself.

I just read one of the best pieces on the death of Quebec labour leader Michel Chartrand written by blogger Martin Masse entitled Michel Chartrand, vieux communiste, vieux fasciste (longtime communist, longtime fascist) on the libertarian site Quebecois Libre.
If you read French and are interested in an honest and not so flattering view of the life of Michel Chartrand, read the article.

Michel Chartrand, a longtime Quebec union leader died this week and has been cast in almost all editorials and obituaries as a kooky firebrand that stood up for the little guy and fought the good fight.
Even the Montreal Gazette, after quoting his virulent antisemitism;  "We don't want them(Jews) to pollute the atmosphere of this country, anymore" said;
"Extremes aside, however, Chartrand's passion for socialism and justice was genuine and unwavering." Montreal Gazette
"Extremes Aside"? Ugh!!!

Who can summarize a person's lifework, without considering his extreme views and pronouncements?

Chartrand was a rabid fascist in his youth who matured into a dogmatic left-wing Marxist communist, somebody who agitated for the overthrow of our democratic system.
"The capitalist system is based on violence and it leads inevitably to violence. Currently, the government creates more violence against the unemployed, welfare recipients, people living in slums, youth, then all the guys who plant bombs can do against the property of the bourgeoisie. " -Michel Chartrand
After spending a month in Castro's newly minted communist republic he waxed rhapsodic over what he described as paradise. He once gave a lecture in a Quebec City university extolling the virtues of Europe's most successful and desirable place to live- Albania.

He was an avid admirer of the terrorist FLQ and considered their methods justified;   
"We are going to win because there are more boys ready to shoot Members of Parliament than there are policemen." -Michel Chartrand
The only thing that remained constant in his life was his love for his wife, his devotion to the Catholic Church and his hatred of Jews and Anglos. He was married to his wife by Quebec's most famous anti-Semite Abbé Lionel Groulx and contributed articles to fascist publications. He was a member of the entourage of Canada's number one fascist, Adrien Arcand who advocated publicly to isolate all the Jews in Hudson's Bay and who advocated to model Canada under the precepts of National Socialism. (Nazism)

After giving up his fascist views, Chartrand did a 180 degree turn and became a virulent Marxist-communist, who along with other Quebec labour leaders made a serious attempt to usurp power from the elected authority in the late sixties and seventies.

He was jailed in relation to union activity during a strike in Abitibi and during the October Crisis in 1970 he was imprisoned under the provisions of the War Measures Act. He was likely one of the few jailed under the Act that actually met the criteria for internment, after a seditious speech at a rally supporting the FLQ.
He stayed in jail for a full four months, longer than any other of the internees, the government fearful that he would use the crisis to take a clear run at the elected authority.

As pointed out in the piece by Mr. Masse, these facts are conveniently left out of the puff pieces that present Mr Chartrand in a positive light and replace the truth with a convenient and revisionist version of history.

I'm sure that when the time to write Jacques Parizeau's obituary, nobody will forget to include his famous faux pas in blaming "Money and the ethnic vote" for the defeat of the sovereignty referendum. History has already judged Parizeau harshly for his isolated gaffe. Compared to Chartrand, Parizeau is a model democrat.

Mr. Chartrand is getting a free pass from the press and his place in history is being sculpted in the great tradition of Lionel Groulx.

Perhaps we'll have a Metro station named after him.


  1. Actually Parizeau was quite correct in saying money and the ethnic vote cost the Quebecois their independence in 1995. The statement was factually true. I also feel the war measures act was an clear injustice. A tremendous over-reaction on the part of Trudeau and company. A bad precedent was established in Canadian history by it.

  2. "I also feel the war measures act was an clear injustice"

    Yeah, really. What's the big deal anyway? A few bombs in the right neighbourhoods, political representatives being kidnapped, murder? All acceptable forms of expression in a democratic society. The Quebecois nature of democracy is increasingly looking like 'democracy for us, but make sure the helots are kept in place'.

  3. "Actually Parizeau was quite correct"

    Parizeau's comments were inflammatory and unnecessary. Certainly not worthy of a politican whose ambition was to become el presidente of a new country.

    It was also misleading and manipulative, as it put the blame squarely on a demographic group that had no reason to vote "yes" (and it was known from the get-go that it was going to vote "no"), while deflecting from a more telling fact - that 40% of Parizeau's own people, whom the new country was being formed for, said "no" as well.

  4. Reply to Anon: The murder you deplore happened AFTER and possibly as a consequence of Trudeau's war measures act. It was an over-reaction and precisely the wrong way to go in dealing with the problem. The British made the same mistake in Northern Ireland in the 60's and 70's, greatly benefitting the IRA. America made the same mistake after 9/11, greatly benefitting Islamic terrorists. Trudeau's action saw hundreds of innocent people imprisoned. How many of these people were ever charged? How many of them were ever convicted? A very bad precedent was established in Canada.

    Reply to Adski; It was the TRUTH! The ethnic vote was the KEY factor in defeating the 95' referendum. Why try to fudge this? Look at how the federal government flew in citizenship judges from other provinces to have as many ethnics on the voter rolls as possible. Maybe the mass ethnic 'NO' vote was justified? Maybe not? Maybe it was for the best? Maybe not? (Personally I think Canada would be better off without Quebec). But why deny it? As for his comments being inflammatory - the truth is an absolute defense.

  5. I think there's a lot of people unhappy here, when i'm not happy, i just leave to go where i feeling better ! I you stay, you're masochistic or maybe just a nuisance ! Maybe you should read some Richler's books ( it's suppose to be the best ''Québécois'' writer) A frustrated guy that REFUSE to speak French ! What a open mind, i'll do same in TO or Ottawa !

  6. "when i'm not happy, i just leave to go where i feeling better "

    In France you can live and work exclusively in French so, bon voyage.

  7. "The ethnic vote was the KEY factor in defeating the 95' referendum"

    This constant reference to the 'ethnic vote' implies an 'otherness' to a large and diverse group within Quebec society as something that does not belong. Worse still, this group is being set up and presented as a minority that thwarts the democratic will of the majority. It's a racial and linguistic delineation that completely ignores the fact that plenty of federalist Franophones also voted against cessation. In a non racialized political forum, which seems like an impossibility in a province where ballots are expressions of xenophobia and cultural prejudice, the ethnic voters would simply be referred to as Canadians and not identified as a group that is seperate from the whole.

  8. Reply to Anon at 11:38 AM;

    Your right. As Peter Brimelow noted, once Francophones in Quebec started calling themselves Quebecois all non-Francophones were immediately reduced to the status of ethnic anomalies and absurdities. On the other hand Anglos and Allos (you guys need better names) tend to oppose independence because as only 20% of Quebecs' population they would be a minority in the new state. But the Quebecois are also about 20% of Canada, so the same logic in Anglos opposing independence is also logic for Francos to support it.

  9. "It was the TRUTH!"

    Now that you capitalized the word "truth", I guess I should revise my statements...but on second thought, the "vote ethnique" comprising only 10% of the total vote being the key factor is a bit off the wall. If only the "vote ethnique", which I am a part of, was so powerful, aberrations like bill 101 would no longer apply. We would simply use our voting powers to do away with them.

    But unfortunately, we are not so powerful, and the "yes" victory was not decided by us, but by 40% of Francophones who showed the middle finger to Jacques-the-king-wanna-be. We, “le vote ethnique”, were the contributing factor, but certainly not the deciding one.

  10. ''when i'm not happy, i just leave to go where i feeling better "

    In France you can live and work exclusively in French so, bon voyage.''

    I'm at home here sorry to exist !

  11. True, Richler says he didn't speak French well. But if you read "Oh, Canada! Oh, Quebec!" he himself finds this "deeply embarrassing".

    Still, he claimed to read it well enough to follow the nationalist excesses.

  12. "I'm at home here"

    So are we. I might be surrounded by bigots like you that wish to deny me my existence and home in the province I was born in, but I do allright despite 101 and take special pleasure in every subversive action I can take, including never communicating in French any longer, posting English only signs, and I'll even admit to the occasional midnight spray paint run to give our stop signs a little equilibrium.

  13. Nobody denied you the right to speach the language you want ! But if you don't understand, there's a common language in the interaction between people here that is French, i suggest you revised YOU're bigots mindways ! Sincerely yours !

  14. "there's a common language in the interaction between people here that is French"

    Canada has two official languages. Like a true Quebecer, I chose to only speak one of them, just not the one you would have me use. If that makes me a bigot to you, imagine what the rest of this province looks like when they send the olf around with a tape measure.
    In Montreal, unlike the rest of this province, most of us can communicate in either official language so I assure you that I get along just fine. If I roll into a store and the clerk can't serve me in English, I just complain incessantly until someone who does speak English shows up.
    After spending most of my life in this province accomondating a group that denies me my rights under the charter of rights and freedoms, that endorses fines to restrict my use of a language, and that refers to me as someone who does not belong here, I've decided to return the favour and be just like you, but in English.

  15. "there's a common language in the interaction between people here that is French,"

    I never mind to oblige to speak French, if the Francophone I'm talking to cannot speak English or is unwilling to do so. Whatever, I just roll with it.

    Where I draw the line is when I get political bullshit of the type: "this is Quebec, you should speak French here". This doesn't work on me. That's when I not only refuse to speak French, but refuse to deal with whoever is giving me this nonsense.

    Where I also draw the line is when I'm talking to someone in English (whether Anglo, Allo, or Franco), and a third party butts into the conversation to inform us that maybe we should speak French, since it's the "offical" language. That doesn't work on me either.

  16. "Like a true Quebecer, I chose to only speak one of them" LOL
    Not everybody in Quebec is as ideological as people on this blog appear to be!

  17. "Not everybody in Quebec is as ideological as people on this blog appear to be!"

    You think so? Try suggesting that 101 is abolished and you're bound to bring out the hidden brownshirt in the most unassuming of Quebekers from one end of the province to the other.

  18. law 101 is barely enforced, old flq terrorist have to enforce it. don't you get that the reason french is the only official language is that english is always slowly gaining ground. you can always get someone who speaks english, please. don't feed me this bullshit how you are reacting like we are, most quebecers are pissed when they don't speak english and go to ontario and wonder why they would stay in canada if there is no respect for their language.

    that said i can easily imagine quebecers and anglophones being dicks at having their language represented thus causing hatred and distrust leading to independance, so you being a dick just helps us really. keep on. though no, i don't think i should encourage you to be stupid, because stupid is stupid