A White Elephant…


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Composite Elephant, 17th century, India (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

It’s a day at a time.

I have been working on Despotism. Peter I (the Great & 6 ft 8 [203 cm]) wanted access to seas. He defeated the Swedish Empire and founded the Russian Empire in 1721.


In August 2017, my brother Jean-Pierre, nephew François and his wife, Josée, helped me move from a large apartment to a smaller one. I had too many books. After transporting something to my locker, my brother said: “I won’t sleep for three nights.”

What had I heard? I told François that his father could not help me anymore. He needed to be treated.

In the meantime, my brother’s urine grew into a mixture of urine, blood and an unidentified white substance. He saw a doctor who prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics! We are now in the spring of 2018 (not August 2017). My brother saw a second doctor who diagnosed cancer.

I pity men who are treated for a cancer of the bladder. Jean-Pierre’s urethra was so damaged that he nearly went into shock and died, when a tube was inserted through the urethra, to fill his bladder with a chemical and then remove the chemical. The pain was excruciating, and they said they could not give him an anaesthetic or freeze the affected area. I nearly jumped out of my skin. More of these treatments had been scheduled.

Between treatments, my brother was not prescribed a painkiller. I tried to help by offering a few tablets of codeine that had been prescribed for stubborn migraines several years ago. I doubted these tablets could still relieve pain. Besides, medication should be prescribed by one’s own doctor. My brother did not take the codeine.

You know the rest…

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Portrait of the Elephant ‘Alam Guman, 1640, India (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

A lunch in Ottawa

A few years ago, Mr MacEachen invited me to share a lunch with him in Ottawa. We were joined by Pearl, Mr MacEachen’s finest secretary, and Craig, who helped Mr MacEachen. Allan J. asked me about medicine in Quebec. I told him that I had not been able to find a doctor, so a secretary at the Medical School had referred me to an intern and that I now had a good doctor. He worked in a public clinic supervising interns.

In other words, I told Mr MacEachen that, in Quebec, one could not find a doctor. He answered that the system would break down. He was right. Allan J. MacEachean built Canada’s first social programmes, under Lester B. Pearson, and had studied economics in an ivy league university.

I have since learned that those who despair seek the services of a private doctor, which is extremely expensive. These doctors have rich patients and treat celebrities.

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Painting attributed to Bichitr (active ca. 1610–60)

The Syndicates

  • the priest-ridden province
  • the syndicate-ridden province

It appears that, in Quebec, doctors are protected by powerful syndicates. Before the Révolution tranquille, Quebec was considered a ‘priest-ridden’ province. Many priests had been sent to the Seminary in Quebec City because England did not know what to do with the French priests who had emigrated to Britain during the French Revolution. They then remembered that they had a French, and Catholic, colony. A second wave of priests and religious orders emigrated to Quebec in 1905, when the French passed the Law on the Separation of the Churches and the Statela loi du 9 décembre 1905.

Quebec may have been a priest-ridden province but it would appear it is now run by syndicates. (See Révolution tranquille, Wiki2.org.) A cousin of mine could not believe that my pension did not allow me to spend part of the winter, if not all, in Florida. “You didn’t have a very good syndicate,” she said. Truth be told, we did not have a syndicate.

An Emergency

I just read my email. A friend who lives close to Sherbrooke and suffers from Ménière’s disease (vertigo and deafness) wrote to say that he had been on a waiting-list to see his specialist for two years. He asked that his appointment be moved up but he was told to wait. My hearing is normal, so it’s easy for me to make phone calls. I called.


If a province chases away good taxpayers, a welfare state is a white elephant, particularly when doctors, university teachers, lawyers, and everyone else, are syndicated. I dare not say more.

We lowly creatures…

Love to everyone  💕

Camille Saint-Saëns “The Elephant” from the Carnival of Animals,
played by Zoltán Bíró
Budapest, 29 November 2008

© Micheline Walker
19/20 October 2018

We, Quebec doctors…


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Ozias Leduc, Église de Saint-Hilaire, détail (Encyclopédie de l’Agora)

« L’art enseigne, renseigne. Il révèle l’âme. Nul doute qu’il a le pouvoir d’ordonner en un cosmos le chaos de l’inconscient. D’un désordre, d’une souffrance et d’un déséquilibre, il conduit à la stabilité, à l’harmonie et à la joie. »
(Ozias Leduc, tiré d’une lettre à Paul-Émile Borduas, 1943)

[Art teaches, informs. It reveals the soul. It has, no doubt, the power of ordering into a cosmos the chaos of the unconscious. From disorder, pain, and imbalance, it leads to stability, harmony and joy.]

In a very recent post, entitled Comforting Thoughts, I inserted a link to an article published by the BBC. I am quoting, first, a paragraph from my post, and, second, the article published by the BBC. Nurses are overworked and there are families who do not, or cannot, for lack of money, or time, participate in the care given a mother, a father, a brother, and other members of their family.

In Comforting Thoughts, I wrote that

“[w]e stayed with him [my brother] the entire afternoon and the little group returned to the hospital in the evening. I stayed home. I don’t want to know how much we paid in parking fees, but if members of his family did not help my brother, he would require the services of at least one professional twenty-four hours a day. A nurse came in to give him morphine and she obviously kept an eye on us, but he wasn’t alone.”

Researching Health Care, I found this article published by the BBC (UK). Home news from abroad. Doctors in Quebec earn approximately three times, perhaps more, the salary of a University teacher in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and they enjoy a lifestyle most of us can only dream of.

When I moved to Quebec, I could not find a doctor. I phoned and phoned and phoned. I was put on several waiting lists, to no avail. The doctors whose office I called always had “more patients than he or she could handle.” I ended up contacting the University of Sherbrooke’s Medical School. A secretary made an appointment for me at a CLSC, Fr / En, a public clinic. I would see an intern. No problem! My intern was a fine doctor and he was supervised. When his internship was over, he asked his supervisor to take me as a patient.

And I am not the only person facing this problem. Last week, I met a young woman who had waited 4 years to find a doctor and was sitting in the waiting area of a public clinic, or a CLSC (Centre local de services communautaires). She would see an intern. I reassured her. She had come to the right place.

An Aristocracy

As I wrote in my post, doctors were becoming an aristocracy. They work from 9 to 5 (9 to 17 hours) or less, and they may be on call. Some doctors ask that medicine not be discussed in their presence outside working hours: it would be too stressful. They need their rest and a private life.

Of course, but should people go untreated and nurses be so burdened that patient care is neglected. Nurses are leaving their chosen profession.


Ozias Leduc (Google)

Let us now go to the BBC.

Home News from Abroad: the BBC (UK)


“Doctors from the Canadian province of Quebec have shocked the world by turning down a pay rise.

Why would anyone turn down a pay rise?

For doctors from Quebec, the answer is simple: patient care.

An eight-year, retroactive deal struck in February would see about 20,000 of the province’s medical specialists and general practitioners receive an annual salary increase ranging from about 1.4% to 1.8% each year [bold characters are mine].

That would mean that the province, which subsidises the bulk of doctors’ salaries, would be on the hook for an additional C$1.5bn ($1.2bn, £840m) by 2023.

It is a fair agreement, according to the unions representing Quebec doctors, who pushed for the deal with the province.

But not all physicians are on board – more than 700 physicians, both GPs and specialists, have signed a petition from Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public [Quebec Doctors for the Public System] saying they do not want the rise, and they would rather have the extra money go to patient care and services. The group represents doctors in the province who strongly support public access to healthcare.


Their cry for fairer distribution of government funding comes at a time when the healthcare system is under intense scrutiny.

On Wednesday, an independent report commissioned by Quebec’s Health and Welfare Commissioner found that physician salaries had doubled between 2005-15, while the hours doctors spent with patients declined.

Meanwhile, the province’s nurses are fighting for better working conditions and salaries. A picture of a bleary-eyed nurse posted on Facebook went viral and was shared more than 50,000 times in January.

“I’m so stressed that I have back troubles, enough to keep me from sleeping. I don’t want to go to work because I dread the workload that awaits me,” wrote Émilie Ricard, who said she alone was in charge of caring for 70 patients in one shift. “I come home and I’m crying with fatigue.”

We, Quebec doctors…

“We, Quebec doctors, are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be cancelled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the healthcare workers and to provide health services worthy [of] the people of Quebec,” read the letter.

This sentiment has struck a chord with people across Canada and abroad.

The letter was described as “utterly Canadian” by Washington Post reporter Amy B Wang.

In Kenya, the doctors’ letter was greeted with shock, especially since last year Kenyan doctors went on a three-month strike for higher wages.

“It is almost unheard of that a worker would complain of a high salary from their employer,” wrote an article in the Kenya paper The Standard.

At home, the Quebec doctors have been praised by officials, but some of their colleagues have kept mum.

“If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table. I guarantee you I can make good use of it,” said the province’s health minister Gaétan Barrette.

Quebec’s physician unions have not commented publicly about the call for less than the agreed-upon pay rise.

In Canada, healthcare is public and run by the provinces, not the federal government, which means that salaries can vary quite a lot from province to province.

The average salary for a physician nationwide was $339,000, according to the most recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

In Ontario, Canada’s largest province by population, the average specialist made C$403,500; in Quebec, they made C$367,000.

Conversely, family physicians in Quebec made C$255,000, while in Ontario they made C$311,000.

The Quebec doctors’ rebuff of a pay rise has put them at odds with many of their colleagues in other provinces.

The Ontario Medical Association has been fighting for higher wages with the province for years.

The province has cut fees twice in three years and the association still has not negotiated a contract with the province.”

End of quotation.


Why should medical doctors be paid three to four times a university teacher’s salary. I suspect that many doctors, those who are doctors mostly for the money, were disgruntled when the Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public refused a rise in salary. They may have been motivated to vote Dr Couillard out of office. As for nurses who had to look after 70 patients, they may have believed that the premier was at fault. Not quite!

In Quebec, future doctors enter Medical School after grade 11 + 2 years in a CEGEP  (General and Vocational College). They can start earning money earlier than doctors living elsewhere. They are also protected by powerful syndicates. But so few doctors are available that when one retires, his or her patients are devastated. Yet, between 2005-15, a physician’s salary doubled while nurses looked after 70 patients.

What about the wages of an overworked nurse, old-age pensions, and disability benefits? A nurse’s salary does not double in ten years. As for disability benefits, they never go up. The amount is 60% of the salary one earns the last year one works. After 15 years, one’s financial security is endangered. At age 73, now 74, I had to take a mortgage to buy a one-bedroom apartment. But I’m not complaining.


I thank the doctors, the Médecins québécois pour le Régime public, who turned down a rise in salary and I am glad that the working conditions of nurses have been brought to the attention of the world.

Taking care of Jean-Pierre was a full-time occupation, and the nurse assigned to him was looking after other patients. She was a fine nurse, but she was probably relieved to see that members of Jean-Pierre’s family were taking care of him. She did not want to neglect a patient. She told us about the little beds available to family and friends who preferred not to leave a dying relative. We were happy to learn that there were little beds for the family.

Jean-Pierre died graciously. He thanked the staff for the fine care he had received. He thanked the priest who administered the Last Rites and he told all of us that he had simply reached his expiry date: sa date d’expiration, which is a date all of us have to face.


Love to everyone 💕

Tomás Luis de Victoria

O Magnum Mysterium -The Sixteen Christophers


Judith, Ozias Leduc, c 1914 (Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec)

© Micheline Walker
16 October 2018

A ministering angel thou!




The Archangel Raphael (Photo credit: Aleteia)

When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!

Sir Walter Scott
Marmion (1808)

Jean-Pierre died this morning.

Last night, the hospital provided little beds so his wife and my niece Marie-France could be with him.

I have now lost 16 siblings. Most died in infancy or early childhood of a congenital blood disease. Yet, we had a happy childhood. My mother was very proud of us. She entered Jean-Pierre in a contest. He won the most beautiful baby of the year award.

Our Belgian friend, Mariette Proumen, and my mother designed and sewed beautiful clothes for us. Mariette had been the wardrobe mistress of the Brussels Opera. Her husband, Henri Proumen, a jeweller, and my father invented a perpetual clock. They were as close as brothers. We learned Belgian French, but we were also students of madame Leclair, the best diction and drama teacher in the province of Quebec.

Life in the red-brick house was the best. We could see forever.

Raphael is the healer among Archangels. He rescued my brother whose death was truly merciful.

I thank all of you for being with me and with Jean-Pierre as he entered eternity.

Love to everyone  💕



Raphael (Google)

© Micheline Walker
13 Octobre 2018


Comforting Thoughts…


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Colour Sketch for the Decoration of the Chapel of the Bishop’s Palace, Sherbrooke: “The Annunciation,” Ozias Leduc, 1922. (Musée des beaux-arts du Canada/National Galery of Canada)

Yesterday, my nephew François took me to see my brother Jean-Pierre. He is hospitalized in the very large building I showed in an earlier post.

When we arrived, a priest was giving him the Last Rites. The priest invited all of us to kiss him and leave him a message. No one knows how long he will live, but he is in a room for the dying.

My brother is very weak. He can barely lift his head from the pillow and he cannot sit in bed without the help of three persons, one for each arm and a person who rearranges his pillow.

We stayed with him the entire afternoon and the little group returned to the hospital in the evening. I stayed home. I don’t want to know how much we paid in parking fees, but if members of his family did not help my brother, he would require the services of at least one professional twenty-four hours a day. A nurse came in to give him morphine and she obviously kept an eye on us, but he wasn’t alone.

Good News

I have good news. Quebec doctors were becoming an aristocracy:

“On Wednesday, an independent report commissioned by Quebec’s Health and Welfare Commissioner found that physician salaries had doubled between 2005-15, while the hours doctors spent with patients declined.”

Why Quebec doctors have rejected a pay rise

By Robin Levinson-King, BBC News, Toronto
8 March 2018


However, here is what doctors themselves did in late February 2018.

We, Quebec doctors, are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be cancelled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the healthcare workers and to provide health services worthy to the people of Quebec, the letter posted on 26 February states



L’Heure mauve, Ozias Leduc, 1921 (Virtual Museum of Canada)

L’Esprit : une expression de la transcendance

Ozias Leduc L’heure mauve, 1921 huile sur papier, monté sur toile 92,4 x 76,8 cm Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal Don de Madame Samuel Bronfman en l’honneur du soixante-dixième anniversaire de son mari © Succession Ozias Leduc / SODRAC (Montréal) 2003
Love to everyone  💕

A. VIVALDI: «Filiae maestae Jerusalem» RV 638 [II.Sileant Zephyri], Ph.Jaroussky/Ensemble Artaserse

image (3)

Ozias Leduc, L’Archange saint Michel, fusain [charcoal] sur papier, 1894, 43 x 35 cm, collection Huguette Leblanc et Guy Gagnon

© Micheline Walker
12 October 2018

Quebec’s Elections and Notes on Ozias Leduc


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Le Jeune Élève d’Ozias Leduc, 1894 (Musée des beaux-arts du Canada)


Chasse aux canards par un matin brumeux (Hunting for Ducks on a Foggy Morning), Ozias Leduc (Galerie Michel Bigué)

I added a paragraph to my last post, after it was published. By and large, posts are not read twice. I am therefore publishing what you haven’t read.

One paragraph in Wiki2.org’s entry entitled Official Language Act (Quebec) seems reassuring. Quebec’s Language Laws, Bills 22 and 101, do not take rights away from English-speaking Canadians. Their children may attend an English-language school. But the children of immigrants, are required to attend a French-language school. All signs, such as traffic signs, must be predominantly, if not entirely, in French. I remember mentioning in a post that a Quebec café or restaurant owner was required to remove the letters WC from the door to a public toilet room. WC (water closet) may be used in France, but not in Quebec. Stop signs are called arrêts in Quebec. In short, Quebec insists on looking French. Traffic monitors and advertising displays are in French.

Concerning ‘unilingualism’ in Quebec, it is useful to read the entries entitled Official Language Act (Quebec) (Bill 22) and Charter of the French Language (Bill 101). (Wiki2.org.)

I did not quote the introductory paragraph but quoted the paragaph following it.

That English was an official language in Quebec as well, was declared on July 19, 1974, by McGill University law faculty’s most expert counsellors, disputing Bill 22. The testifiers were Dean Frank R. ScottJohn Peters Humphrey, chief planner of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human RightsIrwin Cotler and four additional legal teachers:

Section 1, which provides that French is ‘the official language of the province of Quebec,’ is misleading in that it suggests that English is not also an official language in Quebec, which it is by virtue of Section 133 of the BNA Act and the federal Official Languages Act. … No legislation in the National Assembly proclaiming French the sole official language in the province can affect these bilingual areas protected by the BNA Act.

(See Official Language Act [Quebec], Wiki2.org.)

Although this paragraph is reassuring, to my knowledge, when Premier Robert Bourassa said that the province of Quebec would be unilingual (French), he meant ‘officially’ unilingual. Given that Canada’s official languages are French and English, why would Premier Bourassa say that Quebec would, henceforth, be a unilingual province, i. e. ‘officially’?

In other words, the rights of English-speaking Canadians are respected under the Official Languages Act of 1969, as per the paragraph I quoted. One difficulty arises for French-speaking Quebecers. After the age of 11, children are unlikely to acquire native fluency in a second language, but there are exceptions. Some individuals speak eighteen languages by the age of 18. They may make mistakes and they may have an accent, but… However, a large number of French-speaking Quebecers find ways of teaching English to their children. English is a North-American reality.

I have two students who mastered French. My star student is Gillian Pink, from Antigonish. Gillian is working at Oxford University.


Candlelight Study, Ozias Leduc, 1893 (Google)

Language Bills, Referendums, and Sovereignty

Let us return to Bill 22 and Bill 101. I have noted that there was an exodus from Quebec when Bill 22 was passed. In my opinion, Bill 22 was seen as a step in the direction of sovereignty. So have Bill 101 and the two referendums (1980 and 1995).

Quebec’s new Premier, François Legault, has stated that there would not be another referendum, but he and members of Coalition avenir Quebec will be seeking greater autonomy for Quebec. What does he mean? Quebec Premier René Lévesque did not sign the Constitution Act of 1982, and none of his successors have done so. The fact remains that I’ve been in the midst of an identity crisis for sixteen years, or since I left Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

My Quebec Health Insurance Card does not cover the cost of appointments with a doctor in provinces other than Canada. Yet, I am a Canadian, but a French-speaking Canadian living in Québec, whose mother tongue is French, who loves French literature, but who speaks English fluently and feels Quebec is safer as a province of Canada, than a country.

I believe that all Canadians are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the Constitution Act of 1982 enshrines the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is entrenched in the Constitution Act of 1982, which Quebec has not signed. Usually, Ottawa, the federal government, rescues Quebecers. It may have found a niche for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the Charter may exist separately. The BNA Act may be more permanent legislation.

However, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires all provinces to provide primary and secondary education to their official-language minorities at public expense.

(See French Language in Canada, Wiki2.org.)


Would that Quebecers had not elected a party advocating greater autonomy for Quebec. Quebecers have to protect their language, but greater autonomy for Quebec suggests distancing Quebec from other Canadian provinces.

May all Canadians live in peace and harmony. Culturally, I am French. But home is also Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where I owned a lovely blue house, across the street from the campus of St Francis Xavier University and St Ninian’s Cathedral.

Ozias Leduc

Ozias Leduc (8 October 1864 – 16 June 1955) is my featured artist. His subject matter is often religious. But his art is nevertheless diverse and still lifes seem a favourite subject. Well-known artist Paul-Émile Borduas was one of his students. I am embedding a video. It is a French-language video with a lyrical ambiance. A couple is getting on a raft that will take them to Ozias Leduc’s house. It may be the smaller house.


St Ninians’ Cathedral, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Closer to me, is St Ninian’s Cathedral, in Antigonish. Paintings in our Cathedral were the work of Ozias Leduc. I was in Antigonish when they were restored.

Love to everyone 💕

St. Ninian’s Cathedral, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Leduc’s Boy with Bread, 1892-99, National Gallery of Canada (Wiki2.org.)

© Micheline Walker
10 October 2018

Quebec’s General Election: Reason took a Leave


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SAINT-SIMÉON, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, 1938 (Google)

Country vs Province

The Official Languages Act: 9 September 1969 (Liberals)

Quebec is a Canadian unilingual (French) province located in an officially bilingual (French and English) country. Consequently, Quebec does not comply with the Official Languages Act of 1969. The Official Languages Act put French and English on an equal footing in every province of Canada, regardless of demographics. In 1969, the citizens of 9 out of 10 provinces were predominantly English-speaking Canadians. When the Official Languages Act was passed, French-speaking Canadians could, at long last, be educated in French outside Quebec.

To Francophones living outside Quebec, the Official Languages Act seemed a miracle. Until then French-speaking Canadians, Catholics predominantly, could not attend a public French school. Typically, if financially possible, French-speaking Canadians enrolled in English-language Catholic private schools. My parents enrolled me at St Ann’s Academy, an all-girls Catholic private school in Victoria, British Columbia.

However, in 1974, five years after a “dream come true,” Quebec, under the leadership of Premier Robert Bourassa‘s Quebec’s Liberal Party[1] declared itself a unilingual province. It passed Bill 22. There was an exodus of English-speaking Canadians from Montreal, not to mention head offices or headquarters.

Bill 101: 1977 (Parti québécois)

In 1977, when Quebec elected the Parti québécois, under the leadership of its founder René Lévesque, the province passed Bill 101, which enshrines the Charter of the French Language.

Education being provincial legislation, under Bills 22 and 101, immigrants to Quebec were required to enroll their children in French-language schools. They were not invited to do so, but compelled, in an officially unilingual province located in an officially bilingual Canada. The birth rate had declined in mostly French-speaking Quebec. So, immigrants would give Quebec French-speaking children. In fact, as soon as they arrive(d) in Quebec, immigrants (young adults and adults) who did/do not speak French, took and still take, French courses. Matters remain as they were in the 1970s. Demographics have not been kind to Quebecers.

English being the global lingua franca, there was resistance to educating children in French, exclusively. Consequently, French-speaking immigrants, such as North Africans, settle(d) in Quebec.

Despite unilingualism, children born to English-speaking Canadians living in Quebec can study in English-language school.


Horace imagined by Anton von Werner (Wiki2.org.)

“The aim of the poet is to inform and delight.”

Quebec’s Referendums

Do not remove this video. The CBC is a public service.

At no point, have Quebecers given their province a clear mandate to separate from Canada. Quebec has sought sovereignty through two referendums. The first took place in 1980, when René Lévesque was Premier of Quebec. The second was held in 1995. A little less than half of Quebec’s citizens said ‘no’ to sovereignty, and a province’s sovereignty is too important a matter to be decided in a 50/50 referendum. Canada passed its Clarity Act (Bill C-20). Quebec is not a country. It is a province.

The Constitution Act of 1982

Not only is Quebec an officially unilingual province, but René Lévesque did not sign the Constitution Act of 1982, nor have subsequent Quebec Premiers. Yet, Quebec, led by George-Étienne Cartier, was one of the four original signatories of the Constitution Act of 1867. Once again, at no point have Quebecers given their province a clear mandate to negotiate sovereignty.

For my own safety, I would not visit with members of my family living on the west coast without first taking a private insurance. Yet I am a Canadian and, as a Canadian, my Health Insurance Card should be valid everywhere in Canada: banana leaves and wet ceramic floors!


Premier Couillard’s Quebec Liberal Party erased Quebec’s deficit and Quebecers are employed. There has to be a reason to defeat a leader and a reason to elect a leader. There was no reason to defeat Dr Couillard and no reason to elect François Legault. Under monsieur Legault’s Coalition avenir Québec (Coalition for the Future of Quebec), the province will remain unilingual. Quebecers whose French is impoverished will blame others: les Anglais. The Constitution Act of 1982 will not be signed. While monsieur Legault prospers, Quebec’s social programmes will be endangered: “austerity,” he says. More autonomy for Quebec is an objective, and a door will be slammed to curb immigration. (See Coalition avenir Québec, Wiki2.org.) Just who was behind this “victory?” On October 1st, 2018, reason took a leave in Quebec, or so it appears.

As a university teacher, I taught French as a second language and French literature to English-speaking Canadians. Concerning ‘unilingualism’ in Quebec, it is useful to read Wikipedia’s entries entitled Official Language Act and Charter of the French Language.

Section 1, which provides that French is ‘the official language of the province of Quebec,’ is misleading in that it suggests that English is not also an official language in Quebec, which it is by virtue of Section 133 of the BNA Act and the federal Official Languages Act. … No legislation in the National Assembly proclaiming French the sole official language in the province can affect these bilingual areas protected by the BNA Act.

(See Official Language Act, Wiki2.org.)


Love to everyone 💕
[1] Quebec’s Liberal Party has been independent of Canada’s Liberal Party since 1955.

LAFRESNIÈRE, PREMIÈRES NEIGES, Marl-Aurèle Fortin, c. 1923-1928 (Galerie Klinkhoff)

© Micheline Walker
8 October 2018


Premier Legault’s Caquiste Quebec


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François Legault (Photo credit: Le Devoir)

“The door to sovereingty remains opened.”


There are several political parties in Quebec, but I am told that in this part of Quebec, the Eastern Townships, most Quebecers support sovereignty for the Province of Quebec. Monsieur Legault is a former member of the Parti québécois. The PQ has been home to Quebecers seeking sovereignty: les Péquistes. As the statement above indicates, les Caquistes, members of Coalition avenir Québecsupport increased sovereignty. So does Québec solidaire and other parties. You may remember that, when Pauline Marois was elected Premier of Quebec, someone tried to shoot her. The person who jumped forward to stop the gunman was killed. (See 2012 Montreal Shooting, Wikipedia.) The shooter was an Anglophone.

Quebec problems

Quebec has language laws, which, enforced rigidly, are stifling. More importantly, these language laws cannot fully protect French-speaking Quebecers. They may, in fact, lull French-speaking Quebecers into thinking their language is protected. Well, their language, my mother tongue, isn’t and cannot be protected unless there is sufficient emphasis on learning to speak and write French correctly in Quebec schools and in Quebec homes.

Moreover, I wonder if Quebecers are taught Canadian history. If so, it seems lessons prepare students to believe that we, “poor French-speaking Canadians,” have been persecuted by English Canadians.

Yes, Orangemen prevented French-speaking and Catholic Canadians from going to Western Canada and being educated in their language. They killed Louis Riel, and, after his death, French Canadians living west of Quebec had to enroll their children in English-language schools. But a few French-speaking communities survived, and, in September 1969, the Official Languages Act came into effect. Matters have been corrected.

It is not true, at least not altogether, that the Rebellions of 1837-38 opposed the English and the French. The Rebellions took place in both Lower and Upper Canada. Lower Canada’s Louis-Joseph Papineau and Upper Canada’s William Lyon Mackenzie did not want Britain to help itself to their money. Responsible government is what both Canadas, Upper and Lower (down the St. Lawrence river) wanted. Again, matters have been corrected.

However, the arrival in Lower Canada of United Empire Loyalists, people who fled the recently independent United States, was perturbing for the French-speaking citizens of Lower Canada. They had viewed Lower Canada as their Canada. A party was born, le Parti canadien, and its members, not all, referred to themselves as patriotes. Welcoming United Empire Loyalists was not a ploy aimed at hurting French-speaking Canadians. It was history unfolding and a change in demographics that did not benefit French-speaking Canadians.

We must differentiate the two events: the Rebellions and the arrival of United Empire Loyalists.

Les P’tits Canadas

Several of these United Empire Loyalists settled in the Eastern Townships. In the villages of the Eastern Townships, such as Cookshire, where my father was raised, French-speaking Canadians lived in p’tits Canadas. For a long time, they called themselves Canadiens, as in the “Canadiens” hockey club. Those who spoke English were les Anglais. Beginning with the Révolution tranquille, the 1960s, French-speaking Quebecers, started referring to themselves as Québécois/Québécoises.

Canadians & Quebecers/Québécois

But what is very frustrating is dealing with a double identity. Quebec is a Canadian province. No referendum has granted Quebec a mandate to separate from Canada. But it is doing so, bit by bit. Quebec has not signed the Constitution Act of 1982.

So, the health-card used by Quebecers is not valid outside Quebec. It does cover the cost of a stay in a hospital. However, if one needs to be treated by a specialist, during a stay in hospital, he or she will send you his or her bill. I realize that Education and Health are provincial legislation, but to what extent, may I ask. Moreover, I pay taxes to both the Federal Government and Revenue Quebec. I am a Canadian whether I live in Quebec or in Nova Scotia. Unilingualism may be a way of promoting autonomy for Quebec, but it may also chase people away from Quebec.

The notwithstanding clause

  • anti-immigration
  • secularism

But it gets worse. I now live in an anti-immigration province. Marine Le Pen is happy that Quebecers have elected an anti-immigration Premier. When Marine endorsed monsieur Legault, Premier Legault dissociated himself immediately from Marine Le Pen. The fact remains that, for the next four years, the government of Quebec will be an anti-immigration government.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the notwithstanding clause ‘should only be used in exceptional cases.’ (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)



Then comes secularism, or laïcité. There is, of course, laïcité and laïcité. Under its new Caquiste government, laïcité in Quebec will not allow the wearing of clothes and jewellery that reveal one’s faith: no little cross worn as a pendant. No veil. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly stated that women had the right to dress as they pleased. But Premier Legault plans to use the notwithstanding clause.

Quebec’s immigrants cannot break the law. The mutilation of female genitalia is forbidden in Canada, which includes Quebec. But forcing first generation immigrants from the Middle East to take off their veil may be imprudent. One must realize that first-generation immigrants are vulnerable. They have lost their country. Should they also feel unwanted? Canada has its first nations, its two founding nations, but people from all over the world live in this country and all of us must build the road to the future together, which means respecting differences. If we start building walls, we are lost.


I suspect that, during Premier Legault’s tenure, the parking fee will be higher. I also suspect the poor will be poorer and the rich, richer. We know that Monsieur Legault plans to give further autonomy to Quebec, which means, as mentioned above, that Quebec’s new Premier is unlikely to sign the Constitution Act of 1982, nor, for that matter, care for French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. He and his team will invest time and energy in providing greater autonomy for Quebec, which may lead to an exodus from Quebec. Quebec needs its immigrants and its taxpayers, but I dare not speak further…

Dr Couillard has resigned


New Quebec premier, Philippe Couillard, an intellectual and unabashed federalist

Quebec had an excellent Premier, Dr Philippe Couillard. In no way did he and members of his cabinet deserve this slap in the face. Former Premier, Dr Couillard, will no longer lead Quebec’s Liberals.

Love to everyone 💕

I made some changes to my post. In an earlier version, I repeated myself (the Constitutional Act). Moreover I want to investigate Quebec’s unilingualism further. I don’t like it. It’s a danger to car drivers, it may be vindictive as well as impolite and petty. Yet, I am a former President of the Canadian Association of University and College Teachers of French: l’APFUCC (l’Association des professeurs de français des universités et collèges canadiens). 

Léo Delibes: Lakmé – Duo des fleurs (Flower Duet), Sabine Devieilhe & Marianne Crebassa

Picasso Peace Dove Canvas Print

© Micheline Walker
5 October 2018
updated 5 October 2018



François Legault, Premier of Quebec


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Image result for francois legault photos

François Legault, Premier Ministre du Québec (Photo credit: La Presse)

Yes, Quebecers voted, and it was a landslide victory, 74 out of 125 seats, for François Legault the leader of a party named Coalition avenir Québec. “Avenir” means future. The moment I entered the voting room, I was told by a young couple that we had no choice. We had to elect François Legault, they said. I was voting for the Liberal candidate.

In other words, Dr Couillard was ousted. I have long supported the Liberal Party. Voting for the Liberals means opposing separatist Parti Québécois and supporting our precious social programmes. A Parti Québécois victory could mean division in Canada. Having lived in every part of this country, I want Canada to stretch from coast to coast: A Mari usque ad Mare.  Coalition avenir Québec has ties with the Parti Québécois, but it is not planning to leave the Canadian Confederation. Is this something I should believe?


I’m sad to see Dr Couillard leave us. I agree that changes are needed. We have an example: the parking fee at hospitals, hospices, and CLSCsCentre local de services communautaires or public clinics. Will they go up or will they be abolished? They may go up.

The Parking Fee

As you know, the citizens of Sherbrooke must pay a substantial parking fee if they go to a hospital or to a CLSC. You may remember that I cried as I stood in one of several queues of people who had to pay parking fees using machines they could not operate. It was a terrible day.

Let me give you an update.

A few weeks ago, I read that elderly patients living in hospitals or hospices were not being looked after properly. A little later, I read that members of the staff of Sherbrooke’s hospitals and hospices were leaving their position at an unexpectedly rapid rate. So, I thought, could it be the parking fee?

When my mother went into an institution, my father and other members of the family helped her eat her dinner, the noon meal. For my part, I visited after 3 pm (15 hours). We talked, and I helped her eat an early supper and then helped get her ready for the night.

There was a lot to do. She had to be suspended in a net hanging from the ceiling while the bed was changed. I used to tell her that she was lucky to be in an airplane. “Is that an airplane?” she would ask. “Of course, mother. You are in mid-air, like a bird, while the rest of us have to stand on the ground.” She was then put into a fresh gown. “Would you believe mother that I have to get dressed all by myself?”

Maman, je t’aime…

Given the current parking fees, are families helping mothers, fathers and their sick relatives who are in an institution? If the staff is quitting, I suspect that families no longer visit once or twice a day. They probably visit once or twice a week, perhaps less. Many Quebecers and Canadians are poor. They cannot afford to spend several hundred dollars a month in parking fees.

My brother will be going back and forth from a hospital bed to his home. Members of my family will therefore be feeding those machines a significant amount of money and our contribution to the “Foundation” will not be tax-deductible. But think about the mothers, fathers, the disabled and other patients who will seldom see their family because of the parking fee.

Shame on those societies that have allowed the cost of living to rise to a point where one can say that life is literally “unaffordable.” Are we being told no longer to have children? The large red-brick house of my childhood did not have hot water, and we had to feed an old furnace. But the house belonged to my father’s employers, it came with the position, and we did not have to pay rent. We were secure.

I know very little about monsieur Legault, but I hope he realizes that the humble among us need help and that the sick and the elderly who are confined to a bed for years require the support of their family. We saw my mother twice a day, seven days a week for the three years she spent in an institution hoping she could go home. The day she died, her lips had to be kept moist. I told the staff that I could do this and that I would not leave until she died. She was going home.

Will mothers die alone?

A Threat?

According to Alexandre Taillefer of the Huffington Post, monsieur Legault is a threat to social peace: “une menace à la paix sociale.”


Monsieur Legault’s House

I have also looked at pictures of monsieur Legault former house.  It was on the market in 2015. I think his house is the first house we are shown.






Artist Robert Savignac

To keep us close to the ground, I have inserted art by Robert Savignac. My niece Marie-France and Robert’s brother are a couple. They have four children, now young adults. Robert paints happy and sunny environments.


Love to everyone 💕

Image result for robert savignac artiste peintre

Image result for robert savignac artiste peintre

Robert Savignac

© Micheline Walker
2 October 2018






About my Brother.2


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Bouquet of Flowers, by Eugène Delacroix

Bouquet of Flowers by Eugène Delacroix (Photo credit: Wikipaintings)

I told you that my brother Jean-Pierre was about to undergo another course of chemotherapy. He will not. Nothing can be done to save his life. It would have to be a miracle.


Jean-Pierre, lower right

In the background, left to right, we have Thérèse (who may be stroking one of our black cats), my great grandmother Philomène, mémère Pomerleau, in her nineties, and my sister Diane. In the foreground, sitting next to me, is my brother Jean-Pierre, blue-eyed, blond, and wearing glasses. We lived in an old and very large brick house. We did not have hot water. Grand-maman Philomène, my father’s maternal grandmother, would take us into the forest to gather herbs she used to make medications. She was of French descent. We never met my father’s Irish grandmother, but Jean-Pierre was with me when we went to Massachusetts to meet my father’s father and Nanny, the woman whose house and farm he had bought and where he invited her to stay for the rest of her life. My grandmother would not move to the United States. I believe she divorced my grandfather. My father, his brother, and two sisters were brought up by their mother and Philomène, who earned their living as a midwife and pharmacist. She was an assistant to the village doctor. Their house sat between a railway and a river. The train left a supply of wood and coal, that my father would pick up. I never asked where the family got their water. The house is still there, but I don’t think a train runs by, just the river. I can’t believe that nothing can be done to save my brother. He’s lost about sixty pounds (27.2 kilos) and he is still losing weight. A few months ago, he was prescribed antibiotics. My brother has a beautiful rich voice: bass-baritone.


  Love to everyone 💕

Marie-Nicole Lemieux chante Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix Camille Saint-Saëns