Monday, June 14, 2010

Lack of Representation Nothing New for Anglo Quebeckers

In light of recent events surrounding Bill 103, (the Quebec Liberal party's reaction to the rejection by the Supreme court of Bill 104, a law enacted by the separatist Parti Quebecois back in 2002 to ostensibly close a loophole where ineligible students could gain entry into English schools,) a lot of readers have fulminated (well a few, anyway) in the comment section over the sad fact that Anglophone Quebeckers, have virtually no influence in the Liberal  party and that perhaps its time to give rebirth to an Anglo rights party again similar to the Equality Party of way back when.
The handful of Liberal MNAs who are English or Ethnic and who represent predominantly Anglo ridings appear to be co-opted to parrot the anti-English line that the Liberals, as well as all the other parties in the National Assembly adhere to. It's particularly galling to see them forced to bite their tongues on language issues like Bill 103 in order to keep their jobs.

Before I discuss the idea of a English rights party, lets review our Anglo and Ethnic talent in the National Assembly.
At first glance, it appears that Quebec is the only place in North America where not only bees, but WASPS are also endangered species, at least in Quebec's National Assembly.

By my count there is only one male and one female that can qualify as White, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant, a situation that vastly under represents the 400,0000 Quebec citizens that can be classified as such.

Dividing Quebec's population by the 125 Parliamentary seats available yields approximately 70,000 people per constituency, notwithstanding that  urban ridings contain more voters than suburban ones (this is how the PQ gets disproportionately more seats  than votes.)
These numbers would indicate that in a perfect world Anglos would hold about 12 seats and Ethnics the same.

When it comes to overall representation it's clear that Anglos and ethnics are underrepresented across the board. With twenty percent of the population one would hope that Anglos and Ethnics would hold about 25 Parliamentary seats. Here's a rundown of the twelve that they do occupy. As it stands, Anglos hold just two seats and Ethnics ten. It can be argued that there is some crossover, but the basic facts remain.

It appears that when the Liberals designate someone to run in a safe English riding, the candidate is chosen using a formula whereby two birds can be killed with one stone. These 'safe' Anglo ridings are vehicles whereby ethnics who can double as Anglos are chosen.
An important element to Anglo/Ethnics Liberal representation in Parliament is the distinct lack of 'weight' that they bring. Only Sam Hadad can be said to exercise any real influence. The two Anglos rookies who were inserted into cabinet were unfortunately, mere tokens (and I hate to use the term) and represent nothing more than Jean Charest proxies, chosen for their docility and willingness to obey their master. Behind the scene, it's Jean Charest runs the Justice and Immigration departments using Yolande James and Kathleen Weil like a Charlie McCarthy marionette. As for Laurence Bergman, the designated Jew of the Assembly, it seems that with all that talent in Hebrew community, the Liberal opted for the nebbish. Perhaps Russel Copeman, one of the few competent Liberal Anglo politicians of late, read the writing on the wall and left politics.

It's painfully clear that when it comes to  representing Anglos, no party is really interested and protecting Anglo rights is actually perceived as a drawback by all.

Even the conservative ADQ is publicly against any accommodation that would allow English schools any device that would allow them to pinch non-eligible students.

Tym Machine in his blog reminds us that Mario Dumont favours a mixed health care system, one where a private option augments the public health system.
Yet Dumont expresses outrage at the idea that several hundred families can 'buy' their children an English education.
Apparently it's fine to jump the queue and purchase a hip replacement operation, but buying an English education is an affront to every Quebecker.

So it isn't surprising that none of our political parties are at all interested in protecting or boosting access to English schools. It's just bad politics, so many frustrated Anglos are suggesting a return to the days of the Equality Party, where Anglos forgoe voting the traditional Liberal way and elect English rights activists.

I remember the last time this happened, back in 1989 when the Equality Party manged to get almost 5% of the Provincial vote and elected four members to the National Assembly. At that time Anglos were furious over the provisions of Bill 101. I guess nothing has changed....

But the sad reality was that the party was marginally competent, sadly dysfunctional and grossly ineffective.
I've known Robert Libman (the leader of the party) professionally and as a friend for many years and have nothing but the highest respect for his abilities, competence and honesty. That being said, the other members of the party could only be described as accidental politicians.
The late Gordon Atkinson was also a great friend of mine and a mentor and teacher. He was honourable and  as refined  a gentleman as you could find. As soldier by training, he viewed issues in black and white and as you can guess was ill-suited to politics. He never fit in at the National Assembly and quickly lost interest in the whole political thing.

Neil Cameron was a well meaning academic, but was also not prepared for life in the political fast lane. He also turned out to be a disappointing bust, his background made him wholly unsuitable for the rough and tumble world of politics.
As for the last member of the quartet, Richard Holden was the joker in the deck. Clearly unbalanced when elected, he was soon kicked out of the party and spited his former colleagues by crossing the floor and sitting as a member of the Parti Quebecois, something that sent his Westmount constituents into a state of apoplexy. After his defeat in the next election, he was rewarded with a patronage job by his separatist masters but remained seriously unbalanced and committed suicide by jumping out of his Atwater condo.

After the Equality party imploded, it was a signal to the Anglo community that the 'independent' experiment was a bust.
Like the Bloc Quebecois of today, the influence of the Equality party was negligible and in fact made it easier for mainstream Quebeckers to ignore the constituency.

Sometimes there are no good options and sadly Anglos face the sad truth that they will never be adequately represented, no matter which route they pick.

For those wishing for an independent Anglo representation, it will never happen again and perhaps the only role of our Anglo and Ethnic members of the Liberal caucus is to remain, their presence a reminder that we persevere.

Sad....I know.....


  1. Here are some ideas for the Nationalists now that Anglos and Ethnics don’t count in Quebec: Since they’re already responsible for the “No” vote in the last referendum, why not blame them for the economic slow down? After that has been pinned on them and they’ve been excluded from the Fete St. Jean, a PQ-led National Assembly can maybe pass a law banning Anglo/Ethnics from marrying “Pur Laine” Quebecers in order to prevent further dilution of “Real” Quebecers. The next step would be to require all foreign-born Ethnics to leave the province with what they could carry and the provincial government could seize the rest of their possessions to help pay for the economic slowdown that they helped cause. Any protest from the A/Es would provide an excellent reason to close down their newspapers and radio/television stations and shutter all non-French language educational institutions. Perhaps after a convenient playoff series win by the Habs, the ensuing riot could be directed at the businesses, home and cars of the A/Es and they could maybe call it Cristal Nuit. Just add a yellow “A” to the Anglos sleeves (after all, some of them look like Pur Laine) and they’re good to go.
    All the Pequistes need is to find a charismatic psychopath for a leader and they could build a French nation that would last a thousand years.

  2. A sad state of affairs indeed...

  3. 1 of 3:


    Your analogy is not far off from where I see Quebec going, and where I saw it going when Bill 22 was legislated back in 1974. From August 1, 1974, the day after that fascist piece of legislation became law, my goal was clearly to walk out of Quebec after completing my cheap university education at Concordia.

    Thursday, June 10, 1982 was a beautiful warm, sunny day, and at about 10:30am, my goal came to fruition when just meters from the Ontario border sign on Highway 40/417, I had my mother take the wheel of our car, drive past the sign, and I walked out of Quebec. The feeling of exuberance and triumph cannot be described in words! It took eight years to achieve that goal, and it was worth it!

    I had an uneasy but vivid and distinct (pardon the pun) feeling the socio-political mystery would unfold the way it has up to this point. Too many older Anglophones figured the government is not acting in sync with the population in general. THEY WERE WRONG! The Quebec government, whether they call themselves federalist (oh, and how few they are in numbers) or separatist, or those two-faced sons of bitches who play both sides of the ledger depending on their convenience, are doing what they are doing because the majority of the population wants it that way. Governments are a composite of people, not machines, although sometimes it is hard to remember that fact!

    Patrick Watson, a former hot-shot reporter for the CBC narrated a ten-part CBC documentary called "The Struggle for Democracy". Prior to its airing, I heard Watson on a local radio station in Toronto promoting it. He pointed out that if we as Canadians become too complacent of our government, we will end up with the democracy we deserve. Sadly, voter apathy has been on the rise, so Watson was not far off in heeding the warning he did...over 20 years ago!

    Despite the editor's praise for Robert Libman, I have heard about as many things against him, mostly as a city counselor. I guess that makes him the consummate politician. The problem with Gordon Atkinson was he was 75 years old when he got elected, lacked proficiency in French to understand the debates in the Assembly, and had most of his life behind him. At least he drew a good salary for that four years. Richard Holden was a kook--pure and simple and jumping out a window proved it. Too bad Keith Henderson couldn't take the baton and run where Libman handed it off.

  4. 3 of 3:

    I believe it's high time a federal political party is formed to reflect the values of the majority--the CANADIAN majority. Its goal is not specifically to get Quebec out of the confederation, but to ensure that Quebec gets its fair share of federal funding, no more, no less.

    Now, if such a party gets elected and Quebec ends up in its own apoplexy, that's Quebec's problem. If they want to play the separatist card, so be it, but it should be made abundantly clear to Quebecers that separation means exactly that--good-bye! They will be free to live as they choose afterward, and they will have to create their own currency. We as Canadians cannot FORCE them not to use our currency, but I doubt as a sovereign nation they will want their monetary policy dictated by a foreign power. When the Czech Republic and Slovakia separated in the mid-1990s, they agreed on a common currency, and that only lasted 39 days. So much for that issue.

    It should also be made clear to Quebec that they will not be welcome as a NAFTA partner by Canada unless and until they assume every cent of their fair portion of the federal debt. Of course, this means Quebec will be one of the most indebted countries in the world, but there is a price to pay for achieving freedom. Ask anybody who goes through divorce! Imagine what Canada will save in Equalization payments!!!

    In terms of jobs, think of all the federal government jobs in Quebec that will become redundant. Oh, and half the dairy industry will be dead in one fell swoop, unless the rest of Canada is willing to maintain the other half. With farmers outside Quebec who would be licking their chops to sell more milk to the rest of Canada for cheese, yogurt, butter, etc., unless Quebec can offer a MUCH better price, it doesn't bode well for Quebec dairy farmers!

  5. 2 of 3:

    Admittedly, the only time I really saw Keith Henderson on TV was on "60 Minutes" in February 1998 when Morley Safer reported on the language struggles mostly with I'm sure a dear, close personal friend in the name of Mortechai Richler. Most of the piece was with Richler, the très cochon fasciste Louise Beaudoin, with cameo appearances by Keith Henderson, foot soldier bureaucrat Fernand Bernier, his immediate boss, Gérard Paquet (who is probably the only one in the OQLF who speaks fluent English) and for five seconds doing his former radio broadcast, none other than Howard Galganov.

    When it comes to Anglophones in Quebec, Patrick Watson hit the nail right on the head. Voter apathy is largely responsible for that community's downfall. Plenty of people talked a good fight, but it took over 12 years from the election of the PQ to finally start another party, and in the interim, the people who should have been in the fight left in droves. By the time Galganov started , it was too little too late.

    Actually, what I'd like to see is a federal party outside Quebec that would cater to "the rest of us", i.e., those outside Quebec who are fed up with Quebec getting its way far too often. Unlike the Bloc Québécois where constituencies outside Quebec are not feasible, there are a number of seats inside Quebec that would be feasible under this concept, mostly the West Island, Chomedey in Laval, St-Lambert/Greenfield Park on the South Shore, maybe a riding or two in the Eastern Townships, and a few ridings in Central and East-Central Montreal.

    French Quebec values are not compatible with those who are not of their ilk. Claude Ryan's thoughtful exposé/manifesto entitled "Liberal Values in Contemporary Quebec", published in 2004 by the PLQ not long before he died proves it.

    In Chapter 4, Ryan pointed out individual freedoms in Quebec come within the confines of the collectivity, and it is the collectivity that prevails over the individual. To me, THAT is not freedom. It may be democracy, but it is not freedom. I believe outside Quebec the philosophy is the opposite hence Quebec and the rest of Canada are in conflict.

  6. Diogenes: "All the Pequistes need is to find a charismatic psychopath for a leader and they could build a French nation that would last a thousand years."

    No need to look far. The PQ already has a major psychopath in its ranks. He goes by the name of Pierre Curzi.

  7. I have never understood why the Anglophone community in Quebec are such sheep. At all levels of government they simply vote for the Liberal party which has done very little for them and is openly contemptuous of them. Other ethnic groups have developed their own political parties and maintained them. The German speaking population of northern Italy is a good example. There is really a great deal to be said for this. You don't feel like you are wasting your vote or choosing between the lesser of two evils. The failure to develop political institutions or acquire a political expression on the part of Quebec Anglos has been a major factor in their decline.

    One other thing to the anonymous poster I don't see why an independent Quebec couldn't use the Canadian dollar. The Republic of Ireland used the British pound until 1972. I think what people really mean by this is that Quebec could have no say in how the bank of Canada regulates the supply of Canadian currency or sets interest rates. This idea that Quebec "can't use our currency" seems to be an emotional reaction rather then anything else. The Toronto guy.

  8. Just for laugh.

    The famous member of, the good M. Jacques Noël actually thinks that after independence Quebec should adopt U.S. Dollar. Why adopting U.S. is better than adopting Canadian I have no idea.

    However, the kicker is that he wants that the USD that Quebec adopts has the images of Quebec heroes on its face.

  9. Toronto Guy:

    You obviously didn't read my three entries properly. I DID say nobody can stop Quebec from using the Canadian or American dollar, the Euro or Japanese Yen. Trouble is, would an independent Quebec want monetary policy (definition: controlling the money supply and interest rates) determined by a foreign country? Do you honestly think the Americans or Japanese will add French to the currency to make it especially readable for Francophones? DR-REAM ON! If it worked so wonderfully in Ireland, why did Ireland go off the British pound in 1972? That's now 38 years ago! The closest example I can come up with is the Bahamas. They have their own currency, but it's fully pegged to the U.S. dollar at par. It has been this way for decades, but the Bahamian dollar is still their own. Holding the Canadian dollar may be feasible in Quebec for a while, but when the Bank of Canada comes up with a policy that would not bode well for Quebec's economy, a new currency would be issued in the blink of an eye.

  10. Amir Khadir was born in Iran. He is a Persian not an Arab.

  11. In response to Diogenes:

    This one is not for laugh. One prolific member of proposes somewhat similar measure as you wrote. He proposes that the right to vote is limited ONLY to Francophones.

  12. There are essentially two ways for the anglo community to participate actively in Quebec politics. Either, you try to get involved in current parties (ADQ or PLQ essentially) or you form your own party such as in the days of the Equality Party (Alliance Quebec).

    I met one guy once who tried to do exactly that (Allen Nutik, a nice friendly jew with whom I had a few chats) however, faced with apathy, quizlings and more following by enemies such as RRQ and JPQ than anglos themselves, he quited, resigned and I never heard of him since then. His project was called Affiliation Quebec.

    However, saying that it's too late is never a good option. Failure is never an option. It may sound over-optimistic but it's your place as much as mine therefore you might as well want to say: "C'est chez nous, je reste ici." rather than always leaving which only postpone away the real problem.

  13. Reply to anon:

    Why would I think Japan or America would add French to their paper currency? That is ludicrous. Ireland used the British pound for fifty years, a reasonable length of time I would think. It finally adopted its own currency in 1972 when it felt it was more advantageous to have direct control over its money supply.

  14. I got on here by accident ... a very insightful accident ... I'm an anglophone, originally from Ontario, married to a Beauceron 'pur laine' ... who I ment in Ontario ... and we have been living in his hometown in the Beauce, with our bilingual children, for the past 7 years. Actually this is the 2nd time I've lived here. I was here from 1982 - 1990 as well. WHAT a difference 13 years made ... I could write a book ... they should provide a warning or a manual or something to prepare someone like me for the shock ...

    I still cannot believe that the sort of blatant racism and discrimination I have faced is even tolerated in Canada ... much less promoted here as a matter of cultural protection ... and I must make the distinction that the abuse and psychological injury I have suffered is NOT at the hands of the ordinary citizen, who for the most part is as outraged by the corruption and intervention as I, but by those elected officials who use their public mandates to promote their personal agendas of ethnic cleansing as a matter of cultural pride.

    Harsh assessment on my part ... perhaps to anyone not living this reality ... but absolutely accurate and not at all alarming to anyone here, be they 'pur laine' or 'otherwise' ... who see it as 'the way things are' ... and not necessarily 'the way things should be' ... yet everyone seems to agree that there is little anyone can do about it.

    And on that point we differ ... my 'pur laine' in-laws and I ... because I come from a place where civil disobedience is not only allowed ... it is encouraged ... a place where the downtrodden not only speakp ... they stand up collectively - across this country - to shine a light on the ugly truths vibrating in the shadows of our great democracy ... and in so doing make the politically unchallenged here a viable and honorable target ...

    I would like to find the proper channel to outline my experience, share similiar stories and broadcast the abuse outside of Quebec so that my fellow Canadians (french and english) can speak loudly and in significant numbers to let the powers that be ... those we have 'hired' ... I mean 'elected' ... that abusing one Canadian - diminishes us all ... and there can be no political capital extended to the proud, fierce, radical and for the time being - powerful - offenders among us ...

    Their power is derived from our ignorance and inaction ... it seems a simple thing to come together ad tell them 'no more' ... especially with the internet ... look what BC did to the HST ...

    It is not acceptable to be an oppressed Canadian in any part of Canada ... where are the civil rights leaders of our time ...

  15. Dear Beauceron,

    No reason why you can't share your story on this blog. I've shared mine. If you'll notice, my comments are rather wordy. More often than not, I have to break down my commentaries, and I label them 1 of 2, 2 of 3, etc.

    Another blogger who has divested his forays to only occasionally on the Quebec political scene is Howard Galganov ( Of late, he has gone on a tirade against U.S. president Barak Obummer. Galganov has decided freedoms in Canada are much more limited than in the U.S. It seems you can't say anything in Canada now without the threat of a libel suit or possibly being accused of a hate crime by someone. Are we a democracy or not?

  16. Remember Allan and Affiliation Quebec well, had
    a link trying to spread the word in the last
    election (click my name to see it).

    It's not just voter apathy, the Montreal Gazette
    marginalizes ANY party subscribing to individual
    rights (as opposed to majority rights) as an
    English rights party (electoral kiss of death
    in French Quebec)

  17. The English media in Montreal ignored the Affiliation Quebec party. If they had promoted it, and they had managed to get 5 or 6 seats, the Liberal Party would not be ignoring the Anglophone & Allophones of Quebec now. The Liberals would probably be in a minority government position, and would have to work with Affiliation Quebec to get things done. Now, they just don't care, and there Anglo and Allophone tokens just vote for any stupid thing that the Liberals want.

    We need another Anglo/Ethnic party and fast. And one of it's main projects apart from language rights should be a re-balancing of electoral seats in Quebec. The current seats are against even Quebec law. And both the PQ and the Liberals are breaking the very laws they claim to uphold.

  18. "We need another Anglo/Ethnic party and fast."

    What we really need is a referendum that will give Montrealers the option to become a part of Ontario. Quebec will always be the racist, ignorant, fascist backwater of this country where Anglophones and Allophones are scapegoated, targeted and branded as the 'others' who don't belong.