At any rate, here we go....
"May you live in interesting times."
Although the above aphorism is attributed to the ancient Chinese, the origin, as well the meaning, is probably not what we have come to understand.
Today we use the phrase to wish upon the beneficiary some positive excitement or new and happy experiences, but in reality, the phrase means quite the opposite...
"May you experience much disorder and trouble in your life." Link
And so, 2012 was certainly a year where Quebecers 'lived in interesting times' and not in the good sense. For old-timers like myself it's hard to remember so disastrous a year for our dear province.
As I search for the right words to describe last year, I have come up with but one that succinctly sums it all up ..."Bizarre!"
It was a year that challenged our deepest faith and convictions about who and what our society really is.
The public revelations of shocking and pervasive corruption of too many public and elected officials rocked our world and had us collectively confronting issues of trust. The number of public miscreants and delinquents rose to a level where we now wonder, not which officials are dirty, but which few are actually clean.
The middle of the year was dominated by an incredibly naive and patently stupid and disruptive student revolt over rising tuition fees, which ironically remains the cheapest in Canada.
The decision by students to put their school year at risk over a couple of hundred dollars, baffled ordinary Quebecers and for good reason. When push came to shove, the student radicals opted to lose their year of school, demonstrating that they essentially placed no value on their time.
When classes resumed on an accelerated basis, meant to perhaps save the semester, many students chose to forgo the onerous effort and opted to repeat the year, demonstrating no particular rush to get on with their lives.
Strangely, for these students who lost a year over the proposed tuition hikes, a lost year meant a repeated round of tuition fees, the irony of which went unnoticed by most.
Then there was the election of the PQ, which because of vote-splitting by federalists, backed into a minority government and proved within a few short months to be a group of utter incompetents and fools, unable and incapable to govern responsibly, looking like the rank amateurs that they are.
And so both separatists and federalists are faced with the worst case scenario, for the separatists, a government which won't promote or attempt to move the sovereignty file forward because of the lack of real support.
And for federalists a government incapable of dealing with the financial complexities of a province strapped for cash and unable to pay for its election promises.
Not much of this and not much of that, a veritable pig's breakfast.
As I think of the disappointing year we experienced, I'm reminded of the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, an American baseball icon who was exposed as one of the crooked team members of the Chicago "White Sox" who collectively fixed the 1919 World Series for gamblers.
"Legend has it that as Jackson was leaving the courthouse during the trial, a young boy begged of him, "Say it ain't so, Joe,..." Wikipedia
In regards to the revelations emanating out of the Charbonneau crime commission, I too found myself muttering that same phrase, 'Say it ain't so,' because so shocking were the allegations being bandied about, that for the sake of our society, I honestly wished that the witnesses were lying or embellishing for effect.
But as the year rolled by, most Quebecers also came to feel this same sense of betrayal, the daily reports of malfeasance and corruption exposed at the Charbonneau commission, made it seem that the mob run city of Chicago of the '20s and '30s was a prim and proper Mormon town, in comparison to us.
This year I was captivated by two television mini-series, both with the subject of public corruption as its centrepiece. One is called "Boardwalk Empire," detailing the criminal goings on in a prohibition era Atlantic City and the other entitled "The Boss" starring Kelsey Grammer as a modern-day mostly corrupt Chicago mayor.
Compared to the corrupt goings on in our province, these two shows seemed mild in comparison!
It all started just over a year ago when Maclean's magazine wrote a story labelling Quebec as the most corrupt province in Canada, which understandably raised indignant howls of protestation at the perceived Quebec-bashing in the local media. Link
The powers that be in the media were so outraged at the article that Quebec's Press Council unanimously reprimanded the magazine for poor reporting;
"......Mr. Patriquin displayed a lack of journalistic rigour.When events over the next year proved that if anything, Maclean's understated the length and breadth of Quebec corruption, one might have expected the Press Council to rescind that reprimand and apologize to the two wronged journalists, but alas this is Quebec, where covering one's own ass always trumps doing the right thing.
"We are forced to conclude that they (the comments) reveal prejudice and are all the more condemnable under the circumstances as they carry prejudices against all Quebecers," the council wrote.
That lack of rigour was also attributed to a column by Mr. Coyne." Link
When my old friend Jacques Duchesneau, Quebec's newest version of Elliot Ness announced that 70% of political financing is illegal and that the mob had infiltrated the construction industry, the press and the public chalked it up as exaggeration, too impossible to believe, likely a case of hyperbolic politicking.
"Duchesneau detailed what he called “an entrenched, clandestine universe of an unheard-of size that is harmful to society in terms of security and the economy, as well as justice and democracy.” His report described how a tiny group of construction and engineering firms—“an oligarchy,” .....
.....Transport Québec has become the cash-generating and laundering outfit of choice for Quebec’s formidable organized crime network. “There are groups of general contractors who work as cartels, organizing to collude the tenders process to protect their members, eliminate competition and to get contracts at the price they want. Though they are legal themselves, some of these firms have silent partners, thus increasing organized crime’s presence in the legal economy.” Link
It is almost impossible for an honest citizen to make sense of it, or yet come to terms with the depths and depravity of the betrayal of corruption that was so deeply entrenched and undeclared, for so many years, with nary a peep from a single whistle blower.
The discovery of this corruption beast living within the body politic of our society is as shocking and painful as having your doctor tell you that a pernicious tapeworm has made a home within your intestines and has lived there for years and years, slowly eating your guts from the inside out, with the most debilitating and disastrous health implications now manifesting overtly.
And so our collective societal panic is understandable, where the one and only maddening obsession is to kill and remove the accursed beast.
I wish I could predict a better year for us all, but in truth I cannot. We haved lived through a vertible Annus horribilis, with 2013 auguring no better.
Unfortunately, the corruption scandal has not yet reached it zenith, we've got a lot more crooks to uncover and politicians to chase from power.
Police are slowly getting through dozens and dozens of investigations and my most flamboyant prediction is that some of these crooks will flee the jurisdiction à la Arthur Porter.
There are a least five high-profile trials coming up this year and at least a dozen in 2014.
The economy, already on shaky ground will likely deteriorate as America comes to grip with its huge debt with another recession possibly around the bend.
The PQ will continue to fiddle while the province's finances melt down. When the next budget is to be tabled the phoney revenue predictions that we were fed this year, will come back to haunt the PQ, resulting in a three to eight billion dollar shortfall, even after all the tax increases.
And this time they won't be able to blame anyone but themselves.
And so, the PQ will raise the language debate to distract the masses from the financial disaster. I am sadly afraid that the big bad anglo devil will be trotted out once again,(as was the case during the September election) in another desperate attempt of ad captandum vulgus or if you like, the more familiar panem et circenses
I apologize for my decidedly negative assessment, it is just the way I see it, I wish I could be more upbeat.
The one and only thing to hope for is that with a little luck, the Liberal Party will choose a leader who inspires the people just enough to cause the PQ government to fall, leading to a minority Liberal government.
It is just about the best we can hope for.
My New Year's Resolution....... to remain a thorn in side of the militant French language movement and to denounce their many lies, distortions and overt racism.
For your information, I haven't gotten around yet to reading the comments regarding the possible re-formation of the Equality Party and promise to do so this weekend, with a blog piece concerning the subject soon after.By the way that blog piece resulted in over 600 comments and over 65,000 words!
PS....If you haven't had enough Latin for a day, I will leave you with my favourite quote concerning gun control ...enjoy!
Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt