Monday, March 14, 2011

Are Quebeckers Being Brainwashed?- Part One

In doing some research over the weekend in support of the next couple of posts, I turned up a rather amazing document which I must admit, I had never seen before.

My theme for the next couple of posts is the contention that Quebeckers are subject to a relentless and ongoing process of separatist brainwashing through the historically tried and true methods of disinformation coupled by the repetition of a big lie. I also wanted to explore Quebeckers propensity to distort or ignore facts that don't fit neatly into the separatist narrative..

Poo-Pooing unpleasant facts while distorting the truth has been a hallmark of the sovereignty movement for forty years. Repetitively drilled into the public, are doomsday scenarios of assimilation coupled with a Shangri-la description of a sovereign Quebec. Of late, this brainwashing has become more and more overwhelming and pervasive.The dirty little secret is, that sovereignists continue to use dubious and dishonest methods to manipulate what people hold as true, in a desperate effort to 'subvert'  public opinion.

My first stop was to go way back to the 1995 referendum where the Parti Quebecois refused to acknowledge some unflattering reports that they themselves had commissioned.
Richard Le Hir, a PQ minister was the godfather of these reports and ultimately became a patsy when those reports showed exactly the opposite of what he had set out to prove.
Rather than painting a rosy picture,  the results showed that Quebec would suffer financially under sovereignty. The PQ government decided not to publish the results once the contents were known and Mr. Le Hir was forced to defend the government's decision, something later in life, he seems to regret.
You can listen to a radio interview where Le Hir defends that decision rather clumsily and gets raked over the coals by an interviewer. LISTEN HERE{FR}

When Lucien Bouchard took over the faltering referendum campaign, his first act was to banish any mention of the so-called Le Hir reports and refused to answer any question about them. Curiously reporters seemed to let the whole thing go, even anglos.

And so, poof, they were gone, just like that!
This cynical manoeuvre was my first taste of how the sovereignist public relations machine works to manipulate public perception, a policy that the official and semi-official sovereignty movement continues to maintain today.

Ten years after the referendum Le Hir wrote a shockingly frank and honest assessment of his role in the referendum and provided a candid inside view of the the Parti Quebecois' preparations for the referendum.

While my research in the Le Hir affair was just a small preface to what I wanted to write about, the following translation of the article that Mr. Le Hir wrote, ten years after the referendum, bowled me over.
I had never seen the article before, nor an English translation. I haven't heard or read of any journalist discussing the bombshell implications that he described. 

In the article, Le Hir accuses the PQ government of planning to literally brainwash the Quebec population. The entire article which contains other starling revelations can be found here. LINK{FR}


I have endeavored to translate the article as best I could and modified language to make it more readable in English, without in any way changing the authors meaning. My translation is an abridged version.
Mr. Le Hir
In the footsteps of Goebbels by Richard Le Hir
"A few weeks after the swearing in of the new Government, I received a call from the Office of the Prime Minister. Mr. Parizeau wanted me to meet him forthwith to give me a special mission.......
The solemn and concerned, PM pointed me towards two
thick volumes lying on his table. It was, according to his explanation, a study that the PQ had commissioned in 1985 on a strong recommendation from Jean-Pierre Charbonneau, a few months before being defeated in the general election by the Liberals. I was to make quick study of the report and get back to him within two weeks with my recommendations.
..... I returned to my office,
eager to immerse myself into these two tomes. It took a while to understand what it in fact they were. The PQ had undertaken a study with a well-known Laval University professor (his name escapes me) who was known for his expertise in psychoanalysis. He was commissioned to discover what was the basis of the fears that a large proportion of Quebecers held toward sovereignty.
In conducting his study, the professor had used a degree of subterfuge. He established control groups according to people's origins, old stock francophones, anglophones, allophones, and indigenous, etc..

He presented himself as a film director working on a project on the history of Canada, who needed input from a number of different Canadians to write his script.
In very detailed interviews he used his expertise in psychoanalysis, to get the respondents to reveal their deepest innermost feelings in regard to Québec, Canada, and what inspired their views of a possible sovereign Quebec.
As I continued my reading, a feeling of
uneasiness grew over me. From my experience in the private sector, I was very familiar with the process that market research firms use to understand the motivations of consumers. But in this case, it went far beyond what private industry would be permitted to do, and worse we were doing it for political ends, which immediately raised some very serious ethical issues. The future of a people is something completely different than the selection of a new car.
I finished reading the first volume late at night, worried by the implications and already wondering what
recommendation I was going to be able to make.

With a sinking feeling, I couldn't resist jumping into the second volume immediately. At dawn, I realized with horror that I had been sucked into a very dirty business.
Basically, the second volume contained the recommendations of the analyst to "treat" these fears that Quebecers harboured towards sovereignty. We were to deliver nothing less than a collective dose of psychotherapy over a period of five years by organizing, across Quebec, "sensibility sessions," that would externalize and tame these fears gradually through exposure to those who were not afraid and foresaw independence with confidence.
I was appalled. I couldn't believe that I belonged to a Government that might for a moment consider using such methods, or even use of such data. I decided to give myself a few days of reflection, after all, my reaction was perhaps excessive. So I took the initiative to ask the Office of the PM to meet with the expert who wrote the study. I heard he was suffering from terminal cancer and was bedridden. He nevertheless agreed to receive me at the same time he would meet with  Jean-François
Lisée.
After an hour of discussion with the Professor in question, I knew that his analysis made sense, but it only served to make more acute the question of whether to use this information for political purposes, and especially the idea to use a group therapy. I needed a professional opinion. I therefore resolved to call Dr. Denis Lazure, psychiatrist, who had just been re-elected in Laprairie..... Explaining briefly what it was, I asked him if he would consider the study and tell me what he thought and he kindly accepted to do so.
As he was late in coming back to me with his response, I decided to reach out.
His comments were rather evasive and so I asked him very directly what he thought of using such methods in a political context. He replied that indeed it was perhaps not entirely appropriate. And so I had the confirmation that I needed to confront the Prime Minister.
I got my appointment quickly and briefed Mr Parizeau as to my discomfort. If I could somehow accept the conclusions of the first part of the study, even though I disapproved of the use of such methods in politics, I found the second part totally unacceptable. "This is Goebbels" I said, not mincing words. My message was not having a positive effect on Mr Parizeau and as I advanced my remarks, I saw his face take on
a gradual and increasing shade of crimson.
From that moment on, the PQ was aware of the deep attachment that Quebecers held towards Canada and their commitment to what is still their country, it became impossible to claim, as it still does today, that sovereignty would be a  smooth departure. And that, they've  known since 1985.

Wow. At the highest levels of the PQ it was understood that if Quebec was to achieve sovereignty, the population would need to undergo a five year program of thought re-engineering!

Reading the article I could only think of those sexual re-orientation clinics that purport to teach young gays how to become heterosexuals at the behest of their parents, who want them 'changed'.

I don't think the PQ government ever acted on the reports and undertook any direct campaign of brainwashing, the referendum loss left the party licking some rather deep wounds. But the implications were there, many read the report and understood it's meaning.

Clearly sovereignty had plateaued and could not advance without  convincing a lot of francophones who had voted NO , to vote YES.

Today, there remains little economic benefits to sovereignty. Nobody in the PQ will say any different, at least in private. As long as Canada sends Quebec billions and billions in equalization payments, its hard to cut the purse strings.

And so sovereignists have set out on a new plan, one where they will sell a new and improved version of the necessity of sovereignty based on a two-pronged narrative.
The first part is to constantly remind Quebeckers that they are victims, conquered in the past, continually screwed in the present by a continuing English plot. The second part of the narrative is of course the language issue and the contention by separatists that French in Quebec is disappearing and that Francophone culture is on the way to extinction.

Both these themes have been hammered home over the last decade with uncertain results. Support for sovereignty has actually decreased.

That being said, efforts continue to attempt to fool Quebeckers into believing that the sky is falling.

I'll have more to say about all that tomorrow.

13 comments:

  1. Part 1

    Actually, editor, it's enough said, but don't let that stop you from telling us the sky is blue and the grass is green and the sun will rise tomorrow and tomorrow after that.

    As Reed Scowen wrote in his two editions of Time to Say Goodbye, the federalist forces, when they "sold" Canada to Quebec, they didn't focus on how wonderful Canada is, i.e., the intrinsic and emotional positives, they focused on the negatives, i.e., what separation could and would cost them financially.

    Camille Laurin, the Muhammed, the Budda, the Moses of the charter of charters, the Holy Grail of "Quebeckism", was also a psychiatrist (who needed to get HIS head examined) that, as Scowen put it, put all of Quebec on the couch, especially the English speaking collectivity.

    This hideous, heinous, vitriolic and racist propaganda has been going on since the Quiet Revolution. It's really nothing all that new. The sovereignists, separatists, fascists, whatever you want to call them, have been at it for the last 50+ years, a full half a century!

    It took about 15 years to germinate into fruition with the election of the PQ on Nov 15/76. Actually, it took longer with the writings and sermons of Lionel Groulx and others like him, and people, like Claude Ryan, revered him, so really it was closer to 50 years.

    What accelerated the process was a political party that was dedicated to separation, and once that party was given a mandate to govern, it enabled its belief system to become the gospel, and racism against minorities through rhetoric and law fortified its influence.

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  2. Part 2

    These two huge volumes presented to Richard Le Hir were the result of nine years of governance, the first time the PQ was given a mandate to govern, its first era, that ended with the retirement and withdrawal from political life of René Lévesque.

    The PQ was sent to the opposition benches for the next nine years to rebuild. Meanwhile, it's not as if English came back like the Sunami the Péquistes were trying to sell their most gullible citizens. Bourassa made promises to the English speaking population that would align the Civil Service with more Anglophones seeking employment and ease the language laws for signs and schools. All promises made in that regard were forgotten the day after the Dec. 2/85 election.

    During THAT mandate, Bourassa proved he could screw the Anglophone population 100% twice, i.e., Bill 22 + 178 = 200, i.e., screwed 100% x 2, all in the name of "linguistic peace". So THAT was the first post-PQ era of the Liberals.

    Then there was the next nine years, the Second Coming of the PQ, under Parasite and Bouchard. Parasite was the one-trick racist pony that "had to win" the Second Referendum, the cornerstone of the Second Coming, or die, and die he did! Parasite named HIS scapegoats for his referendum defeat à la Adolf Hitler named HIS scapegoats for Germany's woes in the 1920s and 30s.

    It should be mentioned here that at one point, Richard Le Hir proposed a strategy of "never-endums" i.e., keep holding referendums in waves until they get to "yes". Inundate the population until they finally submit. You can only imagine what THAT would have cost, at about $300 million a pop! Anyway, even Bouchard finally stepped away and Bernard Landry was the closer for the Second Coming. Two mandates later, time for a change again.

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  3. Part 3

    John James "Goldilocks" Charest and the second post-PQ Era. Now what? As hard as I've found it to distinguish the blur betwen the two governing parties when Bourassa and Lévesque were the combattants, there is even more of a blur now. John James "Goldilocks" Charest seems to have thrown all his federalist beliefs out the window since 2003.

    In 1995, he was "Captain Canada", the #1 advocate for federalism in the Referendum of the Second Coming for lack of a better term. Seems all that went right out the window when he finally took the mantle of Premier.

    "I won't change so much as a comma [of Bill 101]". He fortified Bill 104 with Bill 103, Bill 115, Bill on a Duck, whateverthehell you want to call it. Kathleen Weil, Geoffrey Kelley, and other non «pur laine» MNAs screwed their own constituents to the wall and acted like absolute Quislings, sheepishly and blindly obeying their leader, the Great John James "Goldilocks" Charest...or else.

    The last "Real Men of Courage" in the National Assembly voted their way out of the Assembly without stabbing their constituents in the back: Richard French, Herbert Marx, and Clifford Lincoln. They honorably resigned, not abandoning the wishes and beliefs of their constituents over Bill 178. In just one day, Robert Bourassa lost three truly good men. John Ciaccia, the lone Quisling, stabbed the constituents of Mount Royal, including dear friends and relatives of mine living within that constituency right in their backs, à la Mark Anthony to Julius Caesar!

    So what's left today? As far as I'm concerned, the results of that huge two-volume study. I think the Anglophones of the day should have fought much harder for their rights, but they didn't. Too many shot off their mouths, but still sat with their thumbs up their rectums taking ZERO action to fight. I saw this coming with Bill 22, and it was about then I knew I'd leave Quebec after finishing my education. True to my word, I left the day after my convocation to set up home in Ontario. My late mother came with me to help, I had her take the wheel just before the Ontario sign and I walked out of Quebec, just as I promised myself I would do when the day come. I did it, and I've never looked back--NEVER!

    Editor, congrats again on bringing this little piece of infamy to light, but it's really no surprise such a study exists. It fortifies my case for a federal political party that puts the Real Canada first and Quebec in back of the line--salut to equalization payments--salut bien!

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  4. I just read the entire Le Hir article in its original French, and recommend a complete read-through to anyone who reads your post (even a translation).

    It is telling and definitely of immense value, even if many (myself included) might feel justified leveling ad hominem attacks on him for being something of a loose cannon, or for his writings, positions, and varying loyalties, be they separatist or federalist, or before or since 1995. In the interest of providing a semblance of balance, I sincerely hope your next installments discuss how the various strategists in both camps sought to sway public opinion in the lead-up to the 1995 referendum, if not manipulate the election machine itself. Sending union shock troops? Processing record numbers of naturalizations? All’s fair in love and war – or so they say…

    Sadistic cynicism being one part of my outlook, I agree with what I understand to be your main premise, even though I think I am disturbed by different aspects of it. The idea that partisan strategy would study our psychological fears to then manipulate the data and message to suit some preconceived pitch doesn’t disturb me as much as it might have in my salad days. Politics is to governing just as fast food is to nutrition, or, if you prefer, opinion to fact.

    Muzzling inconvenient studies or contrary voices is heinous but is neither new nor specific to the PQ, nor to nation-building. Tyrants of all political stripes have throughout history and to varying degrees resorted to a host of carrot-and-stick, inclusionary/exclusionary tactics and emotional appeals, all why relying heavily on populist narratives (axiomatically lean on facts) in a bid to garner support or to neutralize their opponents.

    I won’t bother launching into some tirade about how our bought-and-paid-for media conglomerates have long failed us as citizens on this issue right now. I won’t even bother to criticize the insidious Orwellian language used to soften some rather ugly blows, both pitched and dealt. All’s fair in love and war. Or so I’ve heard it said.

    There’s something sad about feeling forced to vote against something instead of voting in favor of something else. Many federalists who traditionally support the Quebec Liberal party solely on the basis of wishing to stymie the election of a dogmatic separatist government must feel disheartened.

    I submit to your consideration something that I consider to be even more disheartening, and to which Le Hir himself alludes. How sad is it that in the great democratic marketplace of ideas, the self-styled “sovereignists” believe so little in the standalone merits of their project that they are reduced to exploiting the foibles of their opponents to muster support for their own cause?

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  5. Another one of my out of topic comments:

    Editor, my anti virus application keeps telling me that it scans a potential danger from this site. It did not happen before. Can you please check it out?

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  6. "In the interest of providing a semblance of balance, I sincerely hope your next installments discuss how the various strategists in both camps sought to sway public opinion in the lead-up to the 1995 referendum, if not manipulate the election machine itself."

    This is crucial. Credibility skyrockets when you critique both positions fairly.

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  7. Most excellent post, it reminds me that I’m not dreaming or losing my mind. Thank you for that. News like this supports what many of us have instinctively known all along; Quebeckers have been and continue to be subjected to seppie brainwashing. The seppies’ hate filled lies are toxins, which are poisoning and retarding Quebec society.

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  8. Mississauga Guy enequivicollyMonday, March 14, 2011 at 9:00:00 PM EDT

    Apparatchik,

    Welcome to the Third Millennium. Doesn't IT just suck? With over half the scientists who ever lived still alive today, consider anything and everything you see, hear, read and learn to have some kind of science behind it.

    "There’s something sad about feeling forced to vote against something instead of voting in favor of something else."

    There is one word and one word only to describe how things are going to go early in this millennium, and maybe for the whole thousand years (if humanity lasts that long): W-I-N!

    Vince Lombardi's credo has caught on: "Winning isn't everything; it's the ONLY thing!"

    This is the Information Age. He who has the most information, wins! Why do we work harder than ever before? To the point you're living to work instead of working to live. Why is there more information to learn now than the whole last millennium? No info, you won't win.

    The PQ is Machiavellian: The end to winning justifies the means. Is drinking cola fun and gratifying some craving, or is it good for you? Since soda is 98% sugar and water, how much Coke and Pepsi would be sold if it was advertised that way. Soda is associated with partying, fast food and refreshment in their ads. It sells for all the wrong reasons, but we want to be a part of those good times.

    The PQ elite want to win to run a country, including you. They'll be the ones partying if you vote for them, you'll be getting fat with rotten teeth and diabetes, but they must win it their way if they have to break every commandment in the bible to do it. If they can't win cleanly, they'll do it dirty (dirtily?) Bottom line. Case closed.

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  9. Another great article. Too bad only those that visit the site will read it.

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  10. I agree with pretty much all posted above, especially w/ Apparatchik. Also, the silence from the usual contingency from the separatist camp was absolutely deafening in this instance....

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  11. Dites nous ''Bye'' puis fichez nous la paix avec votre Reed Scowen !

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  12. "Dites nous ''Bye'' puis fichez nous la paix avec votre Reed Scowen !"

    Ooooh it's empty demands now. They're evolving....

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  13. Comments on Pauline Marois' facebook page questioning the separatist 'fact' that in the past the poor in Quebec were all francophones, suggesting rather there were anglophone poor people too, are immediately deleted. The suggestion conflicts with the separatist fairy tale of Quebec's past, one completely ignores the first peoples, in which the francophones are the original inhabitants.

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