Thursday, March 30, 2017

Does Social Malaise Grip Quebec?

It was more in sadness than anger that I read about the inevitable forced resignation from McGill university by perceived Quebec-basher Professor Andrew Potter, who wrote a scathing and perhaps disjointed article attacking Quebec society entitled entitled;
How a snowstorm exposed Quebec’s real problem: social malaise.”

Reading the article I couldn't help but sense the profound disdain and anger that the good professor felt for Quebec society, and although the article was mostly accurate, it had the sense of one written by an author in an altered state or someone unloading on his boss before the inevitable firing.

Of course, once published, the writing was on the wall for the good professor at McGill, an institution on a precipitous decline after itself adopting and installing Quebec values, best represented by the French expression; "Nivler par le bas" or as we say in English "leveling down," the process of making the lowest common denominator the academic standard.
McGill is a university led by Quisling-like administrators petrified of giving offense to its government overlords and French language critics. It is quick to change its academic standards so as to accommodate French students in order to scare off the language hounds.
Dr. Saleem Razack, assistant dean of admissions for medicine.... .... says McGill would have kept the MCAT requirement if there was a French equivalent. “But we want to make sure there’s no barrier for a major segment of our population.” According to Razack, the regular med school class from undergraduate programs doesn’t have as many francophones as McGill would like....LINK
McGill University medical school, which lowered admission standards to favour francophones has slid from the best program in Canada, to third, reflecting the sad realty of the effects of affirmative action.
I can only imagine what other 'accommodations' have been made in other faculties.

And so it isn't strange that the good professor was shown the door despite the university denying that it forced the professor out, even in the face of criticism of the apparent assault on academic freedom of expression.
The French press went berserk as is always the case when the Quebec model is attacked, with irrational and unrestrained charges of 'Quebec bashing.'

I wonder if the Quebec Press Council will again censure Macleans magazine for the anti-Quebec article, just as it did over the blockbuster article the magazine ran last year entitled...  "The Most Corrupt Province In Canada ."
On second thought probably not, considering that the last fiasco left the Press Council with egg dripping on its face when the allegations made in the article turned out to be more than accurate.
At any rate Anglo apologists like the Montreal Gazette took up the banner of crushing the messenger  with a sadly amateur opinion piece by editor in chief Lucinda Chodan that was to be kind, unworthy of a high school journalist. The Gazette
In the piece Chodin claimed that criticizing Quebec is fine for Quebecers, but 'Quebec-bashing' when done by mean-spirited out-of-provincers. She went on to excuse Quebecers lack of charity or volunteerism on the demise of the Catholic Church, some 50 years ago, an argument akin to the 'dog ate my homework.'
Most of the attacks over the article were based on two small factual errors which in and of themselves were minor. The author claimed that Quebec ATMs distribute $50 bills to facilitate the underground economy and that restaurants routinely offer discounts for cash.
The attacks based on these small errors reminds me of the lawyerly practice of picking apart the devastating testimony of a witness in court wherein a small discrepancy is blown up out of proportion to discredit the entire testimony.
And by-the way, the practice of cash payment in restaurants was so pervasive in Quebec, that the government installed a draconian system of electronic surveillance of restaurant payments, via government mandated billing machines that connects restaurants directly to the tax department. A small army of vicious tax inspectors prowl restaurants clandestinely buying food to make sure that the billing system is used and that every customer is issued a government receipt.
What other province does this?
And by the way, most  hair salons and barbershops in Quebec are notorious for practicing the art of 'cash' payments,' so much so that the government is contemplating installing the same type of  controlled billing machines. The only caveat is that the attached government inspectors would be obliged to get a haircut or perm to establish the bone fides of the billing system, a prospect not altogether practicable.

As for $50 bills in ATMs, they have recently become rare, with Canada Trust one of the few institutions that provide the bills routinely.
Perhaps the banks are under pressure by the government to no longer provide them. 

At any rate, the ad hominem  attack on the author and the picky argument over the minor errors were nothing more than an attempt to deflect, a concerted effort  to obscure the argument made in the piece, that Quebec suffers from social malaise, a subject worthy of legitimate debate.

So the question remains; is Quebec in a situation of social malaise?
social malaise 
- a feeling of pervasive dissatisfaction and disgruntlement
-problems and difficulties acting together which are causing a bad situation.
-a vague awareness of moral or social decline.
Now let us not mince words;
Quebecers are more dependent on government because that is what they voted for...the nanny state and all that it entails and all that it breeds.
The results;
Quebecers are less generous than Canadians and volunteer less because Quebecers view these responsibilities as the government's.
Quebecers work many less hours than other Canadians because the money is less important than the free time.
Quebecers ship their parents off to senior homes at a rate twice that of Canada because personal and familial responsibility has been bred out of them.
Quebecers save for their childrens' education at a rate half of that of parents in British Columbia and 65% of Quebec parents don't contribute a dime (other than general taxes) to their children's higher education.

I could go on and on, but the question remains... Is this a sign of social malaise?
I think not..
That's just the way Quebecers order their lives and they generally feel right about it, far from the definition of social malaise.
As for Canadians judging them as socially backward...well as the saying goes ...Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And let us remember that like an over-indulgent parent, it is Canadians that help fund these excesses through those naughty equalization payments.
I mean really, if your parents gave you an overly-generous allowance as a teen, would you seek a part-time job at McDonalds?


  1. You voice my thoughts. You voice the negative facts that we have been forced to live with. You voice what everyone I know says sotto voce. You voice the reasons that those who can, leave. I would love to read a treatise on what it is like to be forced to stay due to poverty, poor health, nowhere to go and despondency all of which I suffer from. I need a Conestaga Wagon for the pitiful Gazette to photograph as I betray the Quebec Nation and head west.

  2. It is my understanding that Potter only resigned as Head of the Canada studies dept... and NOT as a professor of the University where he continues to be employed???

  3. Perhaps it is because I read your post first, Philip, and then the linked-to Potter piece, but I found absolutely zero in it that could be construed as controversial. Perhaps reading your piece first provided justification for what was to come.

    And he was pressured to resign as a result of all this. Truly frightening.

    I suppose the old axiom "he who pays the piper calls the tune" applies here as funding for universities is in large part from provincial coffers...and who wants to upset those with the purse strings.

    On another note, the Maclean piece mentions that Quebec's underground economy is only slightly larger as a proportion of GDP than British Columbia's. Living here in B.C. now for 5 years, I speculate that the reason for this is the large Asian population, particularly those from Hong Kong, or their descendents. I suspect it is part of their culture to ask for "cash only" at small businesses. I live in a predominantly Chinese/Filipino neighbourhood in East Vancouver with many small businesses dotting the main streets. When shopping locally, I make sure I have cash on hand because so many businesses do not accept either credit or debit cards. Otherwise, I do everything by credit card.

    And I don't begrudge them for doing it. The prices of goods and services are noticably lower than other outlets in other parts of the city. Any "advantage" small business owners can obtain from cash only/non-declared revenue is something mutually beneficial, as far as I'm concerned. Most of my personal needs purchases are made with my after-tax dollars and are not deductible taxwise, so it makes no difference to me whether or not I get a receipt...and if the purveyor of the goods and services I buy from can put some extra money in his pocket, I say: more power to him.

    What is that statistic for small businesses in Canada? Something like 80% of all employment is created by small businesses. Why work your ass off (small business owners work FAR more than salaried employees!) when the government ends up taking a significantly larger portion of your hard-earned profits. Indeed, I think the government knows all this and there is an unwritten rule of government auditors that gives small business owners a certain leeway in undeclared cash-only transactions. How many small business owners would go to the trouble of starting and running a small business if they had to declare everything? I dare say a significantly smaller number than actually do.

    Small businesses are the motor of the economy and should be allowed to get away with it.

  4. The Quebec intelligentsia loves to repeat the mantra that outsiders to Quebec in other provinces have no right to criticize what goes on in Quebec. Well, the day that Quebec decides NOT to accept its annual $8 billion in equalization payments -- paid for by the taxpayers in other provinces -- is the day that non-Quebecers can legitimately be told to shut up.

    Non-Quebecers pay for the right to criticize what goes on in Quebec.

  5. Nice to see this blog back. Well I feel like we have a bit of a reprieve in quebeckistan since Marois defeat 3 years ago but I expect Lisee to win the next election so we will once again have to listen to the seperatists whine.