Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Is Quebec Racist?

Nothing but nothing gets the dander up of Quebec francophones faster than being called out in the English press outside Quebec and even worst of all in the American press.

Quebec anglophones bleating about language or racism in the Gazette or on CJAD are roundly ignored, the rationale being that nobody is listening anyways, but when the criticism leaks out over the border it is as if all Hell breaks loose.

Back in 1992 Montreal's most un-favourite author Mordecai Richler wrote "Oh Canada! Oh Quebec" a scathing account of Quebec society dripping with sarcasm and venom, portraying Quebec society in the most painful light.
Now Richler hadn't treated Quebec society any differently than he did his own community.
His warts and all accounts of the Montreal Anglo-Jewish community and individual characters was comedic, but painfully sarcastic. Many of his Jewish brethren held him in disdain for his unflattering stereotypical and perhaps burlesque characterizations.
So the francophone community wasn't prepared for the 'Richler' treatment and the criticism stung particularly hard, with many commentators believing Richler to be a racist.
The book may have passed unnoticed but a related article in the Atlantic, (an American magazine) where Richler described Quebec society as racist and antisemitic set off the howls of indignity across Quebec media.
The French media, unfamiliar with Richler saw the attack as a smear and went ape-shit over the book and the article. Some went so far as to demanding the book be banned and some called for his prosecution as a hate-monger.

The real hurt was that Richler was washing the dirty laundry outside Quebec, something that the Quebec francophone media could not abide, that is, having Quebec reputation's tarnished internationally.

It fell to Louise Beaudoin, a Quebec minister to do a little damage control in a segment on Sixty Minutes (an American television news magazine) which served only to exacerbate the  problem. A sarcastic Morley Safer embarrassed the minister over the language issue in a openly mocking manner. A modern media consultant would likely have told Beaudoin not to do the interview, but the rage in Quebec over Richler's accusations needed to be rebutted, not matter what.

This phenomenon was repeated when Jan Wong wrote an unfaltering article in the Globe and Mail blaming a racist Quebec society for the spate of school shootings. The article caused another uproar in the French media as did a series of articles by Barbara Kay entitled Kebecistan,  another slam which described Quebec as antisemitic.

But the francophone media and Quebec nationalists remain steadfast in their belief that Quebec is not racist, or at least no more racist than those outside the province, but English Canada and Quebec anglophones and minorities are not so sure.

And so the questions remains.... IS QUEBEC RACIST?

The issue has once again bubbled up to the surface in light of the Quebec mosque shooting despite the media's attempt to characterize the shooting as terrorism.
The description of the shooting as terrorism is rather convenient, as if the attack was something that the entire world suffers regularly and nothing out of the ordinary and certainly something Quebec society could not be held accountable for.
I am flabbergasted that nobody in the media attempted to challenge this outright lie and fiction, because the shooting had nothing to do with terrorism at all and everything to do with being a hate crime.

Now you might recall the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C. in 2015, where one Dylan Roof entered a Black Methodist church and callously killed nine people while injuring others. Roof wasn't a terrorist and was never described as one, he was a white supremacist and racist murderer and as such was charged and found guilty of 33 counts of a hate crime.

It is the exact same crime that Alexandre Bissonnette committed in the Quebec city mosque... a hate crime.
Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Philippe Couillard calling the Bissonnette shooting an act of terrorism, he was not charged with terrorism because it wasn't.
It is an important distinction, because it leads us to no other conclusion that Bissonnette was a Quebec version of Dylan Roof, a Quebecois de Souche supremacist, a racist murderer quite possibly a product of a certain segment of Quebec society.
Now just because everybody in the media hides this fact or denies it outright because it is too painful to admit, doesn't mean it isn't true. Once again Quebec refuses to face the truth.

Remember the wild outrage at the Maclean's article by Patrick Patriquin  entitled  Quebec: The most corrupt province.  The entire French media went crazy at the insinuation with the Quebec Press council going so far as to unanimously blame the publication for  "a lack of journalistic rigour." Even Thomas Mulcair called the article a "contemptible smear" and shades of "Quebec Bashing" were raised all over the political and journalistic fields.

But as you know, the charges turned out to be quite true as was revealed in testimony at the Charbonneau Crime Commission which laid bare a shocking and widespread organized system of corruption that cut across all political lines.

So just because Quebec media rises in unison to deny and condemn any talk of Quebec racism, it doesn't mean it isn't true.

Now in the light of the Quebec mosque shooting another op-ed piece is causing much angst in Quebec, that because it was published in  the Washington post, outside of Quebec
Why does ‘progressive’ Quebec have so many massacres?  provoked so much ire and hand-ringing  even the Montreal Gazette felt a need to rebut its claims.
Mario Beaulieu Bloq Quebecois MP and snivelling cry-baby put forward a Parliamentary motion in Ottawa condemning the so-called Quebec-bashing in the article, but of course it got nowhere since it required unanimous consent. Mr Beaulieu is so roundly hated in Parliament that if he put forward a motion congratulating the Queen on her 65th anniversary of her reign, it wouldn't pass either...but I digress.

But the question that Quebec refuses to debate is whether Quebec obsession with language and culture is a breeding ground for racism and because the media within refuses to debate the issue it is hard to come to valid conclusions and so it falls to those outside Quebec to comment, much to the disapproval of Quebec.

Now I have a question for those in the media in Quebec.
Why are we not seeing any hard data on racism in Quebec? Why no discussion on so important an issue?
Is it because we fear the results?

One of the few polls on the subject of tolerance was taken ten years ago in 2007 where a Léger Marketing survey on tolerance showed that 59% of Quebecers were mildly or moderately racist. This methodology of survey was immediately attacked by the usual suspects and even by the then Premier Jean Charest who pooh-poohed the results.  Link

In a more recent survey in 2015, Léger found that 20% of Quebecers were racist and that more than half had a negative view of Muslims and Sikhs, while 37% had a poor opinion of Jews and 27% had a poor opinion of Blacks  . Link

Now in light of the Quebec mosque shooting a lot has been said of "Radio Poubelle" (Trash Radio) a group of Quebec city radio commentators that are accused of fomenting racism and hate, this from no less than Premier Couillard.
But the question we all must ask is why are these radio shows that promote racism and hate so darn popular?


  1. before trashing Quebec city Radio, one should listen,, to say it's islamophobic or racist is unfair... You can describe them as Right wing, conservative, libertarian, populist, yes, they are not responsible for this lunatic any more than Maudit Anglais responible for Richard Bain

  2. We need to form a book club so the wondrous writings will not be lost. Where could we meet without hiring security guards? Anyone want to help me with a list? Time to say Goodbye by Reed Scowen, A Canadian Myth by William Johnson, The First Step by Maurice King, The Gaullist Plot, author unknown.

  3. As an immigrant to Quebec, I experienced condescension from both anglophone and francophone people. The Quebecois, as many Canadians, are probably more supremacist and condescending than racist per se. The feeling of supremacy and the collective narcissism in both cases come from the culture.

    What may single out the Quebecois as more condescending than others is the fact that Quebec institutions, media and the government ceaselessly promote this idea of Quebec being this progressive, forward-thinking, sensitive, and spiritually and morally advanced place. I was recently driving and listening to radio station 98.5 (it might have been Dutrizac interviewing someone) where the guest without any irony stated that now after the election of Trump in the US, it is Quebec's duty to carry the torch of civilization.

    This delusional and inflated view contrasts with the everyday life and against this self-serving backdrop of perfection, the covert-aggressive and passive-aggressive nature of many Quebecois becomes very pronounced. To some degree this is also true of Canadians as this entire country carries this self-ascribed "progressive" label.

  4. Quebec is racist because its laws are racist: the language of education provisions of Bill 101 classify all Quebcers into two separate and distinct civil rights categories. This discrimination is determined by descent which, according to the U.N., falls under the defintion of racism.

    1. Besides the letter of the law as in prohibiting this and forcing that, there's also a cultural impact of such laws, as in fueling collective narcissism by officially sanctioning the "primacy" of some group over all others. I think that in that sense such laws are especially destructive.

  5. "But the question we all must ask is why are these radio shows that promote racism and hate so darn popular?"

    This is a question that applies globally. It's well beyond just Quebec.

    The problem of Quebec specifically is that it markets itself as an especially enlightened and progressive place. Against this carefully crafted and tirelessly maintained backdrop of sainthood, aggression becomes more striking than it would otherwise.

    But it must be said, overt aggression in Quebec is rather rare. It is covert aggression that is common and with plausible deniability that it affords, the facade of a welcoming population can be maintained.

  6. I do not know whether this can be classified as racism or not, but the nature of Quebec francophone feeling of being in a French corner in the ocean of anglophone which they must survive from creates 'us vs them' mentality. Almost every French Quebecer I know, federalist or separatist, acknowledges that French Quebecers are a group of 'special' people in need of special consideration because of their precarious position. That thought inevitably lead to the feeling of need to protect Quebec culture which may translate to the protection of French Quebecer people in the expense of other communities.

    1. When a person or a group of people demand consideration as special, you know that it is time to run (as you did, and many other immigrants too). Or in the least, go "no contact" with the individual or the group.

      Excuses, like precarious situation, will fly right and left, but your gut is telling you that all this self-promotion is an end in itself (because it makes us feel good), rather than a means to some end (because without it we wouldn't be able to overcome the precarious situation). And you should always listen to your gut.

  7. You make some fair points, but they are undermined by some sloppy errors. Mordecai Richler published his article in The New Yorker, not The Atlantic, and it's *Martin* Patriquin, not Patrick Patriquin.

    1. Good stuff CoN! You beat me to the fact the original article was in the New Yorker, and I know because a book store across the street from where I lived then got a few back copies of that issue, and I bought two, one for myself, one for a friend.

      As for all the above comments, simply put, their brethren in France rabidly hate the Muslims and this is why the Muslims are especially aggressive in France as opposed to other European countries.

      One fellow who landed in Toronto from Morocco told me during a tenure in Paris, if you have a phone job and you don't speak French the way they do, they hang up the phone on you. I handle calls in French along with other colleagues on my bilingual team, and I've heard many Québécois criticizing their French (colleagues from French speaking African countries and Haiti) while my colleagues have forgotten more French than they'll ever know. People should not teach birds how to fly and fish how to swim.

      Mr. Sauga