It has been a difficult week. As you know, I no longer have a complete WordPress. I’m being helped but, until now, unsuccessfully. Fortunately, my fingers know where to go.
Quebec’s Lac-Mégantic Tragedy
On July 6th, a train transporting crude oil derailed and exploded devastating a little town of 6,000 inhabitants: Lac-Mégantic. Nearly every family in town lost a loved-one. One body, that of Éliane Parenteau Bélanger, a grandmother, has been identified. DNA samples are required because the bodies of the victims are charred and cannot otherwise be identified. Some bodies may never be found: from ashes to ashes.
Newspapers have been covering the event extensively. Every morning, the front page of my humble Tribune, Sherbrooke’s newspaper, has shown apocalyptic scenes. In fact, the bulk of the newspaper, six pages this morning, is a chronicle of the tragedy. Today it featured the worst: grief. The front page showed people hugging one another. I was about to write “ordinary people,” but that would be inappropriate. No one is “ordinary.”
Canada‘s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was on the scene shortly after the tragedy. It helped. As for Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, she was in Lac-Mégantic yesterday. This also helped. However, the very first persons to arrive in Lac-Mégantic were people carrying supplies: food, clothing, bedding. At the moment, thirty-five psychologists and social workers are in Lac-Mégantic helping the survivors, some of whom had to be hospitalized. They collapsed.
Imagine the conductor, Mr Tom Harding. He was spending the night in Lac-Mégantic and was awakened by an explosion. Ironically, the noise he heard came from his train. It had exploded. Mr Harding had stopped the train for the night and left it on a hill. It seems the brake failed. Mr Harding has already been relieved of his duties by the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Company. This could be too hasty and insensitive a decision on the part of the Company. Mr Harding is among the victims of that tragedy.
Mr Edward Burkhardt, the Chairman of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Company, has now travelled to Lac-Mégantic. People have hurled insults at him. That was a rather ugly scene.
So far, the charred remains of twenty-four victims have been found, but individuals are still missing and a few persons who were presumed dead, are alive. It would appear fifty persons died.
Sir Henry Wood’s ‘Suite No. 6’ is a set of six Bach transcriptions, arranged from various sources, that includes this heartfelt ‘Lament.’ It is the ‘Adagio’ from Bach’s ‘Capriccio on the Departure of His Most Beloved Brother’ in B-flat major, BWV 992. (YouTube video)
I had a cataract removed this week. The operation was successful, but I haven’t been able to post blogs for a few days and must limit the number of hours I spend in front of a computer. However, I will attempt to post a revised blog. In the meantime, I thought I should send a little update on Quebec.
I have news to relay. Madame Marois, Quebec’s premier, has lost considerable support because she has imposed further taxation on Québécois: $300.00, whatever one’s financial status. She is also planning to send back to work people who are disabled or live on welfare. Obtaining financial help from the Quebec government is very difficult, despite the taxes Quebec residents have to pay to “two levels of government.” See Pauline Marois’ Offensive. Individuals receiving benefits have to prove they cannot work to the extent that people who should be receiving disability benefits do not. Besides, where would they find employment? Is anyone interested in investing in a Quebec led by Madame Marois’ Parti Québécois? Moreover, people are leaving the province.
a new leader for Quebec’s Liberal Party
More importantly, the Liberal Party in Quebec has chosen a new leader, Dr Philippe Couillard. It was not a huge victory, but Monsieur Couillard seems a good choice as leader of Quebec’s federalist Liberal Party. Moreover, if an election were called, which could be the case, the Parti Québécois would not get sufficient votes. This would help the Liberals. Madame Marois leads a minority government.
In brief conversations with persons I met during my trips to the hospital, I heard many express considerable disappointment with Madame Marois’ government. They know she obtained votes by giving students the impression that, as Quebec’s Premier, she would not increase tuition fees and that students may in fact receive a tuition-free education, including those who are impervious to instruction. I hope they also know that if tuition fees will rise by a mere $70.00 annually, it is, to a large extent, at an unacceptable cost to the elderly and to the needy.
Philippe Couillard would Sign the patriated constitution
The truly good news is that, if elected to the Premiership of Quebec, Monsieur Couillard would probably sign the Patriated Constitution, honouring the contract Quebec entered into when Canada became a confederation: the British North America Act, 1867. For Quebeckers, the priority is employment. It is unfortunate that they should be unable to see that the creation of jobs depends, to a very large extent, on Quebec’s place among Canada’s ten provinces. There has to be stability in Quebec.
I was delighted that so many of you read my last post and left a “like.” The tax I wrote about is mostly trivial, but it is a step in the wrong direction. Moreover, in an article posted below, Madame Marois claims that separation from Canada is an emergency, which is another step in the wrong direction. She bemoans the fact Quebecers have “two levels of government” and states that the solution is independence from Canada. Allow me to quote Madame Marois:
“Marois told a weekend meeting of Parti Quebecois delegates that it is “very important to explain” the benefits of making Quebec a country, which include the province making its own decisions and ending the duplication of two levels of government.” (Feb. 11, 2013)
To my knowledge, it happened the other way around. Quebec, not Canada, created a government within a government (i.e. a factious government). For instance, Quebec failed to sign the patriated constitution (1982). That gesture alone can serve as proof that the government of Quebec had initiated a separation from Canada and had done so without first obtaining from the people of Quebec a mandate allowing it to start negotiating the terms of a new relationship with Ottawa. There had been a referendum, but indépendantistes had not obtained sufficient votes. So, in 1982, the government of Quebec acted as if Quebec had separated from Canada, when such was not the case.
Ironically, in the 1960s, at the time the Quiet Revolution took place, Quebecers were lulled into thinking they would inhabit a welfare state, but they are now paying taxes to “two levels of government” because its own government put the cart before the horse. It acted prematurely. Moreover, because Quebec did not sign the patriated Constitution, there are limitations on the validity of Quebec’s health-insurance card. When I lived outside Quebec, my health-insurance card was valid from coast to coast.
“The latest outbreak of separatist grievance-mongering comes in the form of a new PQ-funded report that claims Ottawa is allowing Anglophone provinces to commit “soft ethnocide” on French speakers around the country. “We’re reminding people of the evolution of Canada when we systematically eliminated French at the start of the 20th century,” said the lead author this week.” (Feb. 5, 2013)
Regarding the “soft ethnocide” Madame Marois is imputing to Ottawa, need I remind Quebec’s Premier that, traditionally, it has been difficult for French-speaking Canadians to separate language from religion. They had been taught that language and religion were inextricably linked. So the reason why French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec could not receive an education in French has little to do with resistance on the part of English-speaking Canadians and Ottawa. It has to do with the fact that provincial governments do not fund denominational schools. Such schools are private schools.
I saw my very own father rebuked and labelled a “communist,” because it was acceptable to him to separate language and religion, or faith and state. Fortunately, matters changed when Pierre Elliott Trudeau became Prime Minister. It is now possible for French-speaking Canadians to be educated in French outside Quebec and English-speaking students are eager to enter French-immersion programs. In other words, there is no “soft ethnocide” of French-speaking Canadians residing outside Quebec, at least not yet. But there may be an ethnocide if Quebec continues to act recklessly.
Let me address this matter once again. In Quebec, beginning with the Quiet Revolution, the government wanted to give students whose parents had not attended a university a chance to do so. Students were therefore spared a measure of screening. It is relatively easy for Quebec students to enter university. Besides, their tuition fees are half the amount Canadian students pay outside Quebec. The Quebec government cannot afford what the Parti Québécois peddled so Madame Marois would defeat Jean Charest’s federalist government. If a referendum were called in the near future, students would not support indépendance. As for other Québécois and Quebeckers, especially the elderly, they would remember that they are footing the bill so fees paid by students would not rise. Someone has to foot the bill and, among those who do, too many are living below the poverty line.
The Quiet Revolution took place fifty years ago. May I suggest therefore that the time may have come for Quebec universities to put into place more selective entrance requirements. May I also suggest that it is entirely possible for intelligent and hard-working students to obtain a university degree even if their parents have not attended a university.
My father is an intellectual, but my parents did not attend university. Yet, on the basis of an entrance examination, I earned myself a free education. Furthermore, when I entered graduate school, I did so at the doctoral level and by invitation. In my opinion, if a student’s performance warrants financial help, financial help should be available, as it was for me.
About Quebec universities
I took courses in musicology at a Quebec English-language university. The department of music had three full-time professors and twenty-two chargés de cours (part-time teachers). It needed part-time teachers because students were learning to play different instruments, but three vs twenty-two seemed too wide a discrepancy. Besides, other departments also hired more part-time teachers than full-time teachers. As a result, many Quebec university teachers have left Quebec and teach in other provinces. That is a loss for Quebec. In fact that is not-so-soft ethnocide perpetrated by the Quebec government.
It seems to me that in the interest of peace, growth, and the pursuit of happiness, Madame Marois and her Parti Québécois, should revisit their decision to separate from Canada. In particularly, they should assign members of the Office québécois de la languefrançaise, OQLF to more positive tasks. The time has come for a more significant number of Québécois to speak their language correctly. Québécois do have a territory and that territory is their culture. Asking restaurant owners to replace WC by toilettes on the door to a restaurant’s facilities is petty in the utmost and it threatens French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec.
For forty years, I lived in complete harmony with my English-speaking neighbours as well as my English-speaking colleagues. Yes, I was overworked, which put a premature end to my career as a university teacher, but no one ever forced me to speak English or got upset if I used French words. On the contrary!
Moreover, the time has also come for Québécois to be taught the history of their country. They need to know that French-speaking Canadians were not harmed by Britain. In 1763, France could no longer afford New France so it chose to retain Guadeloupe as a colony rather than New France. However, under the new régime, French-speaking Canadians kept their farms, seigneuries, religion and their language. Moreover, in 1774, the Quebec Act put French-speaking Canadians on the same footing as English-speaking Canadians.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with living in a bilingual or trilingual country. But it is very wrong to foment dissent and unnecessary conflicts. Madame Marois is calling for an offensive, but I am calling for all Canadians to respect one another. I am calling for peace, growth and the pursuit of happiness.
A friend is doing my income tax report. In a telephone conversation, he told me that Madame Marois, Quebec‘s Premier, was demanding that tax payers provide her government with a new tax for medical care and medication. Such a tax did not exist in Quebec a year ago and it does not exist outside Quebec. To my knowledge, no one was told about this new tax. In my case, it will amount to a minimum of $300.00.
How will persons living on welfare pay this amount of money? Their monthly income is $600.00 and barely pays the rent. As well, how will the disabled survive, particularly men? If a man is disabled but was married at some point in his life, his former wife receives half of his disability benefits. So, he must live on $300.00 a month. This decision was one of Madame Marois’ victories. She was then courting the feminists. Finally, what about the elderly many of whom are working well into their seventies and early eighties, if they can find employment.
The Economy: 2008 & its aftermath
In fact, what about me? My pension fund suffered because of George W. Bush’s totally useless wars and it is not growing, not in this economy. So my current income is a combination of Old Age Security benefits and what little money I withdraw from my pension fund. I can let it grow until I am seventy-one, which is what I must do if it is to provide me with a decent living when I am older. Fortunately, I own my apartment and have accumulated good furniture, pots and pans, dishes, kitchen gadgets, books. My income is therefore adequate, but…
From House to House
As you probably know, I have suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, since February 1976 when I had a flu which took away much of my energy. I could teach despite this illness, provided I was assigned a reasonable workload. However, the Chair of my department worked me out of my position by asking me to teach a new course: Animals in Literature, i.e. World Literature. I wish I could have said ‘no,’ but I couldn’t. He had lost his temper before causing me to faint and I was afraid it would happen again. Later, when I started feeling extremely tired, he would not allow me to leave the classroom and the results were catastrophic. I told that story in a post entitled From House to House, but I am trying not to remember.
Back to Madame Marois
To my knowledge the above changes were not announced. Everything was done behind closed doors. But I have now learned how Madame Marois will not increase tuition fees. Quebecers pay higher taxes than other Canadians, 15% instead of 10% of their income, and, beginning now, they must pay an extra tax.
The poor in Quebec are not the students who get a nearly free education compared to Canadians living in provinces other than Quebec. Besides, the students have a future. The poor in Quebec are the elderly, those who were not members of a powerful syndicate and those who did not have a position that provided fringe benefits, such as a pension plan. Among the elderly, some find jobs, but indépendantisme has taken its toll. Quebec could be a very rich province, but who wants to invest in a province that threatens to separate from the rest of Canada.
At any rate, the students are now paying $25.00 more than they did last year or will pay, next year, $25.00 more than they do at the moment. The money will be taken from tax payers and, among them, needy persons and the elderly.
The truth is as follows. I wondered why Quebec’s mighty unions, les syndicats, had not supported the students in their last bid for a tuition-free education. The reason is that the Unions needed the students to get rid of veteran political figure Jean Charest‘s Liberal and federalist government. This goal was attained on 4 September 2012, when Madame Marois was elected to the premiership of Quebec.
My dear readers, I wish I could write more today. We have one more bestiary to look at and there are so many fascinating subjects to discuss, but everything has to wait until tomorrow.
To Those Who Live in the Present Moment, Chantale Jean, 2012
Courtesy of La Galerie Klinkhoff, Montreal
I apologize for not writing a blog for nearly four days.
I will return to the subject we were discussing, medieval Bestiaries, but the next Bestiary differs from the Aberdeen and Ashmole Bestiaries. It is a Bestiaire d’amour and is associated with chivalry and courtly love.
However, I wanted to speak a little about events in the province of Quebec.
Last Spring’s Quebec Student Protests
You may remember that last spring students went on strike and started demonstrating because Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government planned to increase tuition fees from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017 ($1,625 over five years = $325.00 a year). To my knowledge, Quebec students were then paying less than half the tuition fees students pay in other Canadian provinces. The increase was therefore reasonable.
Student demonstrations began and events became disorderly. In particular, students who wanted to complete their academic year were treated like strike breakers or “scabs.” Consequently, on 18 May 2012, former Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government passed a bill into Law, Bill 78.[i] The new law, an emergency law, was An Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend (L.Q., 2012, c. 12 / Laws of Quebec, 2012, chapter 12). (See Bill 78, Wikipedia.)
Suddenly, as demonstrations raged, Madame Pauline Marois, the leader of the Parti Québécois, an indépendantiste party, started supporting the students whose demands grew bolder. At first, the students were protesting the increase in their tuition fees proposed by Monsieur Charest’s Liberal government, but matters changed. After Madame Marois stepped in and during the months that preceded the Summit, the students were asking for a tuition-free education.
It would be my opinion that Madame Marois knew very well that the increase Monsieur Charest’ Liberal government proposed was altogether acceptable, not to say insufficient. However, Pauline Marois needed votes and got votes. On 4 September 2012, she was elected Premier of the Province of Quebec.
It was not an overwhelming victory. Pauline Marois leads a minority government, but the students provided enough votes for her to be elected. She seemed their fairy godmother and when she took office, the students’ planned tuition increases were repealed by a decree from Madame Marois’ Parti Québécois government. Without the support of Quebec’ students, I doubt Madame Marois would have defeated Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government.
The Summit on Education
But now, at the conclusion of an expensive Summit on Education, a mere show, Madame Marois has announced that tuition fees would rise by 3 per cent annually. This increase is almost identical to former Quebec Premier Charest’s proposed increase. Therefore, it turns out that Madame Marois misled students into thinking she would protect their interests.
So allow me to bemoan, once again, the behaviour of Quebec PremierPauline Marois. She manipulated the students into thinking she would be an ally, and they believed her. I should think there are more honourable ways of being elected to the premiership of the province of Quebec.
Toronto Star journalist Chantal Hébert has stated that “[i]n the wake of Marois’ victory, the student leadership had cause to believe that it would secure a coveted tuition freeze. The recurrent 3 per cent annual increase that the premier has now resolved to implement does not live up to those expectations.” I believe Madame Hébert is absolutely right. The students did believe that, if elected into the office of Premier of Quebec, Madame Marois would be their salvation.
Pierre Duchesne and Jacques Parizeau
During the months and weeks preceding the Summit, Monsieur Pierre Duchesne, Quebec’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, made it very clear that a tuition-free education was not in the works, which should have deterred students. In fact, he made himself so clear that many Québécois and Quebecers wondered why the Summit was taking place. It seemed an exercise in futility at a huge expense, which it was.
But, as mentioned above, the students believed Madame Marois. Moreover, as Pierre Duchesne was stating that a tuition-free education was out of the question, former Parti Québécois leader and Premier of Quebec Jacques Parizeau was expressing the view that “free tuition [was] a realistic option.” (See the report of Montreal Gazette‘s Quebec Bureau Chief Kevin Dougherty.)
Students were, of course, bitterly disappointed when news came that the Marois government would implement an increase in tuition fee, even if it is lower than the increase Premier Charest’s government had proposed. This year, the 3 per cent increase will be $65.04. Some protested and a few paid the price. On 25 February, there was one arrest (see cbcnews) and on February 26th, there were ten (see presstv.com). Madame Marois had made false promises and the Summit on Education was yet another political ploy: a turquerie[ii]. Madame Marois was trying to bow out gracefully, but did she?
I hope the students will remember that Madame Marois used them to get votes and that, consequently, they will be less likely to support her and her Parti Québécois (PQ) in a future bid for re-election. I also hope they will be less likely to support separation from Canada in a referendum.
Madame Marois has not announced a referendum, but a referendum usually follows the election to the premiership of Quebec of an indépendantiste leader and Party. At any rate, a referendum is very much on the mind of former Parti Québécois Premier Jacques Parizeau. (See Montreal Gazette & Montreal Gazette)
In closing, I wish to reassure you that despite a 3 per cent annual increase to my knowledge, the students of Quebec will still be paying the lowest tuition fees in Canada. I hope they realize how fortunate they are and that they have learned not to break the law
______________________________[i]Bill 78 “Article 16 of the bill furthermore declares illegal any demonstration of more than 50 people, at any location in Quebec, unless the dates, times, starting point, and routes of those locations and also the duration of the venue and the means of transportation that will be used by participants, if applicable, have been submitted to and approved by Quebec police.” (Bill 78, Wikipedia.)
[ii] A “turquerie” is the play-within-a-play used in Molière‘s Bourgeois gentilhomme(Would-be Gentleman) to fool Monsieur Jourdain, who wants to be an aristocrat, into thinking his daughter is marrying a Sultan of Turkey. (For other definitions, see Turqueries, Wikipedia.)
composer: Jules Massenet (12 May 1842 – 13 August 1912)
piece: Méditation, Thaïs (opera)
violinist: Itzhak Perlman (born 31 August 1945)
(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)
It seems the human brain works 24/7. At any rate, mine does. So, yesterday morning, when I woke up, I was still tired but Madame Marois’ visit to Switzerland, London and Scotland, in particular, no longer seemed a complete “failure.”
Quebec is open for business
In the short-term, it may seem a failure. She did not receive the support of a higher political figure, but in her London meeting with businessmen, she played down sovereignty. There may not be a referendum during her years as Premier of Quebec, as Québécois and Quebecers will vote when they “are ready,” she says.
Madame Marois holds an MBA (Masters of Business Administration). Consequently, the person who addressed a crowd of businessmen (the term includes women) was credible. In fact, she was a colleague and she speaks English.[i] She could understand the persons she addressed and they could understand her. Quebec was open for business.
Secession: when Quebecers are ready
Madame Marois did not dismiss the Québécois’ “right” to disagree and secede. She said:
‘This, of course, is an internal debate and a decision regarding Quebec independence will be made only when Quebecers are ready.’” (See The Globe and Mail.)
Moreover, our London businessmen were not reading a newspaper. They were hearing a real person and a person with whom one can speak. Not only is Quebec open for business, but business is a subject matter Madame Marois is familiar with. The political party representing Quebec in Ottawa, a party now inactive, is the Bloc Québécois. What if it changed its name? The word “bloc” suggests solidarity, but it also suggests systematic opposition. Such is not the case.
I am certain members of the Bloc Québécois would not like to be compared to American Tea Party naysayers or Republican extremists now in Congress in the United States. Monsieur Gilles Duceppe (born July 22, 1947) having lost the last Federal election in his own riding (circonscription) the Bloc Québécois has a new leader: Daniel Paillé (born April 1, 1950). I am not suggesting that Monsieur Duceppe was a poor leader. I am simply noting that the Bloc has a new leader and that, usually, new leaders bring changes, however small.
Back Courtyard, Cabbies, Montreal, by Paul Caron, c. 1920
Lowering the voting age: maybe one day
As for lowering the voting age, Madame Marois gave the impression that she was postponing such a decision. For one thing, it is unlikely that members of Quebec’s Assemblée nationale(The National Assembly) would vote in favour of this motion. It has already voiced disapproval.
I should think that supporting the students earned Madame Marois many votes. But onlookers who knew that Quebec could not afford free tuition were not impressed. Many sensed that their leader was not respectful of the students and other voters. She, in fact, cultivated “entitlement.” The students are about to learn the truth. How will they react?
It would be my opinion that, in last year’s kerfuffle, Madame Marois hurt herself, her party and the students. For members of her cabinet, Pierre Duchesne especially, the Quebec Government’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology,[iii] last summer’s events are an albatross. However, in London,
“[w]hen asked whether she would like to drop the age for a referendum on sovereignty, [Madame Marois] replied: “Until now that is not the case, but maybe one day.” (See The Globe and Mail.)
Scotland is not Quebec
Madame Marois also stated that Scotland was not Quebec. It’s not. Yet, First Minister Alex Salmond saw a smiling face and a well-dressed, articulate, flesh and bloodQuébécoise. If the gift is what I think it is, an Inuit sculpture, Mr Salmond is no doubt very happy. Madame Marois may not have been in his agenda, but Quebec can no longer be an abstraction to him.
Travel broadens the mind
Moreover, “les voyages forment la jeunesse” (Michel de Montaigne [February 28, 1533 – September 13, 1592]).[i]Travel broadens the mind. Madame Marois has now been abroad as the Premier of one of Canada’s ten provinces. This is not trivial. I would like to presume that she has become a more cosmopolitan figure, if only to a modest degree. The image she projected was not one of rigidity.
Michel de Montaigne was of the opinion that minds had to be brushed one against the other (frotter et limer notre cervelle [brain] contre celle d’autrui) and he wrote that the first step in educating children was to take them to neighbouring countries where other languages were spoken.
What I wrote on 30 January 2013 remains valid. Madame Marois was not listed in Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond‘s diary. He saw her between two scheduled events. Everyone knows. But he saw her and spoke with her.
La Symphonie du Marais
In the short-term, Madame Marois’ visit to Edinburgh may seem a failure. She would like to lower the voting age, but failed to enlist support from a greater leader. However, in the long-term, her traveling to Davos, London and Edinburgh may prove a beneficial endeavour. The leader of Québec’s Parti Québécois, an indépendantiste party, traveled to the United Kingdom.
The manner in which Premier Marois used students during the spring and summer of 2012 leaves to be desired and her wish to lower the voting age reveals fear and is criticized. Yet, in London, she spoke in a conciliatory manner: “but maybe one day.” It could be, therefore, that she has mellowed. Such would be my hope.
However, Marois is facing a moment of truth on Quebec soil. One cannot give what one does not possess and run up a police bill one’s government can ill afford. Will Pierre Duchesne, an accomplished politician and journalist, be able to contain the damage or are we about to face more disorderly demonstrations and/ or another General Election?
In 2012, voters survived seven months of shenanigans, thinking, perhaps, as did the students, that Madame Marois was telling the truth. This time, I doubt very much that Quebec’s National Assembly would allow seven months of disorderly and, as of 11 May 2012, the day Bill 78 was passed, unlawful conduct.
I should also mention that the Clarity Act, passed in 2000, is currently in the news, eliciting memorable phrases: one cannot be “half pregnant,” says Justin Trudeau. The ClarityAct protects Canadian unity and it makes sense. Secession should be negotiated. For instance, one does not simply walk out on a spouse or “conjoint-e.” There exist separation and divorce laws. The same is now true of Confederation. It seems English-speaking Canadians do not want to lose their French-speaking population. How very nice!
In Canada, many high schools (secondary education) and universities have debating societies and enter into debating contests. I have often been a “judge” in debating contests. They are very exciting. A group of people has to support views it opposes as well as views it supports and one has to respect rules of conduct. There are two judges. I remember one debate that started deteriorating. Both judges stood up at the same time and called off the debate. A group of debaters was clearly unruly.
I am not surprised, why would the First Minister of Scotland get entangled with Pauline Marois‘ effort to break Quebec’s ties with Canada? Mr Salmond has nothing to gain from such an involvement. (See The Globe and Mail.) He is seeking independence for Scotland and United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to a referendum to be held in 2014.
In fact, so uneventful was Mr Salmond’s meeting with Madame Marois that it took place between two planned events, listed in his diary for 29 January 2014. He had not made room to see her. I doubt very much that he even had the time to “refuse” to help Madame Marois. (See The Globe and Mail.)
In short, although he received a lovely gift from Madame Marois and spoke with her briefly behind closed doors, Madame Marois’ visit to Scotland was not the high political drama the bevy of journalists who were following her expected.
Under the terms of the Clarity Act (Bill C-20), passed in 2000, there cannot be a “unilateral declaration of independence” on the part of Quebec. For instance, should an indépendantiste or sovereignist party win approval to secede as a result of a referendum, the Federal Government of Canada reserves the right to enter into further negotiations concerning the relationship between Quebec and the rest of what is now Canada.
In other words, should 52% of Québécois and Quebeckers vote in favour of secession from Canada in a referendum, and did so by a narrow margin (52% for; 48% against = 2%), Canada would not consider the results a clear willingness on the part of Quebec citizens to secede from Canada. In fact, whatever the results of a referendum, “secession” can occur only through constitutional reform, not a simple vote. (See The Globe and Mail.) This view is not shared by Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats. (See The National Post.)
So, sovereignty is under scrutiny not in Europe, but right here in Canada, and feathers are flying.
As for Madame Marois, although she succeeded in being elected Premier of the Province of Quebec, it would appear that some members of her Parti Québécois beg to differ with her with respect to certain policies. (See The Globe and Mail.)
Seasoned Globe and Mail journalist Paul Waldie has been following Madame Marois’ European journey and, in an article dated 28 January 2013, he suggests equivocation, or ambiguity in Madame Marois’ statements to a group of approximately 200 business people in London. According to Mr Waldie, Madame Marois
“has played down Quebec independence, telling a business crowd in London on Monday that there is no referendum in sight and that the province is open for business.” = no referendum
She is also reported not to have mentioned Mr Salmond in her speech to British businessmen. Paul Waldie writes that
“[i]nstead, she only briefly mentioned sovereignty, saying that she hopes that one day Quebec ‘will be a part of the concert of nations.’”
“But she added: ‘This, of course, is an internal debate and a decision regarding Quebec independence will be made only when Quebeckers are ready.’” (See The Globe and Mail.)
As for lowering the voting age for a referendum on sovereignty, Mr Waldie reports that,
“[w]hen asked whether she would like to drop the age for a referendum on sovereignty, she replied: “Until now that is not the case, but maybe one day.” (See The Globe and Mail.) = not now
“[t]he Quebec Liberals as well as the Coalition Avenir Québec party have refused to embrace the idea of lowering the voting age.” (See The Globe and Mail.)
Mr Waldie’s also reports that Madame Marois’ Parti Québécois faces opposition on the part of Canada’s Federal Government, which takes us back to the Clarity Act:
“The Clarity Act, passed by the Canadian Parliament in 2000, makes a similar deal difficult to strike. The legislation says secession can occur only through constitutional reform, not a simple vote. It also puts restrictions on the question that can be asked in a referendum and how large a majority is required for a Yes vote.” (See The Globe and Mail.)
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron (born 9 October 1966) has agreed to a Scottish referendum, which puts Mr Salmond in a more advantageous position than Madame Marois.
Moreover, as noted above, there seems to be dissent within the ranks of the Parti Québécois. We know that Pierre Duchesne, the Quebec Government’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, will not entertain the idea of free tuition during his great Summit.
Given his position regarding free tuition, Pierre Duchesne is making Madame Marois’ promises to students seem less than realistic and more clearly manipulative, which takes us back to lowering the voting age.
I believe that Madame Marois’ European journey may have been an attempt to justify the manner in which she won the Quebec General Election on 4 September 2012. Had Mr Salmond agreed to help her, albeit in one respect only: lowering the voting age, she would have come back to Quebec standing taller. She would have had the support of a greater leader.
Quebec had its revanche des berceaux (revenge of the cradle). Until 1960, its high birthrate kept Quebec’s population growing. As good Catholics, Quebec women did not use contraceptives. However, seeking a “yes” vote from sixteen-year-olds and seventeen-year-olds shows fear of losing a possible referendum and it tends to confirm suspicions that Madame Marois manipulated students during the events, a long and disruptive strike, that led to her electoral victory.
It is as though Madame Marois were admitting that students elected her to the Premiership of Quebec, which is not altogether “honourable” (for want of a better word), no more than her current attempt to lower the voting age. Pauline Marois’ bid to lower the voting age may hurt her. For that matter, lowering the voting age could also harm Mr Salmond. (See News BBC.UK.)
In short, Madame Marois reassured Europeans. Quebec is open for business. However, she now seems a lesser Premier. As for Mr Salmond, he received a lovely gift from Madame Marois.
Sitting in Parliament are Stephen Harper (Conservative), Thomas Mulcair (born October 24, 1954; NDP) and the Liberal Party, whose members are in the process of choosing a new leader. Michael Ignatieff, its former leader, was defeated in his own riding during the last election, as was Gilles Duceppe. Thomas Mulcair is replacing deceased New Democrat leader Jack Layton (July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011).
Madame Pauline Marois (born March 29, 1949) would like to lower the voting age to 16 years old, as would Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Madame Marois was in London yesterday, but, after attending Davos (World Economic Forum(WEF), she will be traveling to Scotland to discuss this matter (sixteen-year-olds voting) with her homologue (counterpart) Alex Salmond (born 31 December 1954).
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has been described as an “opportunist.” (See Related Articles). We can now add that she will travel to great lengths to achieve her goals and reveal, by trying to justify her behavior, the manner in which votes may have been obtained in the September 2012 Quebec General Election.
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Pauline Marois with Students: Announcing Flag Day (January 21, 2013)
2)Pierre Duchesne: Monsieur Duchesne says “no,” for the moment, to the idea of tuition-free education for Québécois and Quebecers
Pierre Duchesne: Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology
“Pour la première fois aujourd’hui, le ministre Pierre Duchesne a opposé une fin de non-recevoir aux partisans de la gratuité scolaire, dans le cadre des discussions qui précèdent son grand Sommet sur l’éducation.”
Below, please find a correct, but general, rather than literal, translation, I moved a clause, of the above statement. My quotation was taken from the 27 January 2013 issue of the French-language newspaper La Presse.
“For the first time today, as part of the discussions preceding his great Summit on Education, Pierre Duchesne, [Quebec’s] Minister of Higher Education, told advocates of free tuition that the idea of free tuition would not be contemplated [during the Summit].”
It’s a dead-end.
It may be hasty to confirm that Pauline Marois, the Premier of Quebec, made promises she could not and cannot respect. However, her [presumed][i] attempt to enlist the help of Scottish First Minister, or use him as an example, suggests that she is seeking the support of very young students. Her traveling to Scotland also suggests that during the last Quebec General Election, 4 September 2012, students may have been used or manipulated so Pauline Marois could further personal goals.
A third referendum: “to separate” or “not to separate” from Canada, may be held sooner than later. (See CBC News)
Will Scotland’s possible or probable example make it easier for Madame Marois to lower the voting age to 16 years old?
Quebec Premier-elect Pauline Marois and her husband, Claude Blanchet, are among the dignitaries attending the funeral services for Denis Blanchette Monday, September 10, 2012 in Montreal. Richard Bain is charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Blanchette and wounding another man outside the Parti Québécois election night rally. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Ryan Remiorz
This post was written yesterday evening, 27 January 2013, but I could not finish it because my very punctual cat started biting my clothes in an attempt to separate me from my computer? What, a separatist!
“In March, Quebec student groupsdeclared war on a planned tuition hike of roughly $2,000 over five years. By April, students at 11 of Quebec’s 18 universities and 14 of its 48 CEGEPs had declared “strikes” and were skipping classes. There were nightly marches in Montreal that made life miserable for many who lived and worked downtown. Students who dared go to classes, even after judges orders allowing them to return, were stopped by masked protesters. The nightly marches started turning violent and threatened the tourism industry. Something had to be done.” (MacLeans.ca)
Back to the Students’ strike: Bill 78
During the spring of 2012, beginning on 13 February 2012, Quebec’s university and CEGEPs’ students were on strike. The strike lasted until 7 September 2012 when Madame Marois’ newly elected government repealed the proposed hike in tuition fees.
18 May 2012: Bill 78 is enacted
As described in the opening quotation of this post, the strike became disorderly. Moreover, it disrupted students who wanted to finish their university or CEGEP term. Consequently, on 18 May 2012, the National Assembly of Quebec passed Bill 78, an “Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend” (Bill 78, Wikipedia) but an act that restricted the degree to which the students could create a public disturbance.
“The law makes it illegal to deny a person access to any place if that person has a right or duty to be there and further restricts “any form of gathering” that might cause such denial from assembling inside any educational building, on the grounds of such a building, and within 50 meters of the limits of those grounds. Employees of the colleges and universities may strike with accordance to the Labour Code, but they are still required to work their normal scheduled hours and carry out their usual duties” (Bill 78, Wikipedia.)
22 May 2012: a Demonstration
Bill 78(L.Q., 2012, c. 12 / Laws of Quebec, 2012, chapter 12) is a temporary law which expires on 1 July 2013. However, on 22 May 2012, four days after Bill 78 was passed, between 400,000 and 500,000 individuals flooded the streets of Montreal in defiance of the new law. Obviously this was lawlessness, but the students looked upon their limited ability to protest as an infringement on their civil rights. They were therefore breaking the law in protest of the law, and they were not alone.
As I wrote in Thoughts about Quebec, on 28 August 2012, students were again protesting the rise in tuition. Madame Marois had become Premier on 4 September 2012 so, on 7 September 2012, three days after her election and the death, by gun, of Denis Blanchette, she and her Parti Québécoisdecreed to freeze tuition fees.
Quebec Premier-elect Pauline Marois and her husband, Claude Blanchet, are among the dignitaries attending the funeral services for Denis Blanchette Monday, September 10, 2012 in Montreal. Richard Bain is charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Blanchette and wounding another man outside the Parti Quebecois election night rally. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Ryan Remiorz
The students broke the law. One does not break the law.
Moreover, it would be my opinion that Madame Marois used the students to pursue her political goals.
The discrepancy between the increase in tuition fees ($2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017 or $325.00 per year) and the level of protest it generated is such that one could argue that at some point, earlier than later, the increase in tuition fees ceased to be the motive. It seems that the students’ motive was self-entitlement. I could be wrong.
It would be my opinion that those students who tried to prevent classmates from attending class and succeeded in doing so acted irresponsibly.
I do not think Madame Marois will find sufficient money to provide free tuition or continue to freeze tuition fees.
Quebec within Confederation
As for the degree of separation now in place between Quebec and the rest of Canada:
limited validity of a Quebec citizen’s heath-insurance card, to which I will add
No referendum has allowed this degree of sovereignty. Quebec has a differentCivil Code,[ii]which was a condition of Confederation.[iii]However, aCivil Code deals with Private Law. It does not apply to the relationship between the Province of Quebec and Ottawa, the Federal Government. I must ask an expert to tell me, in a wealth of details, to what extent Quebec can act independently. I suspect that by refusing tosign the Patriation of the Constitution (1982), Quebec may have given itself significant elbow room.
I would like my country to remain united. Canadians are privileged. We have social programs and people are usually tolerant of others. We are a bilingual country, except Quebec. Ironically, however, Quebec probably has the largest concentration of bilingual Canadians. French-Canadian students often enroll in English-language CEGEPs and universities.
There is no police brutality. The Mounties are a living legend. The Canadian Armed Forces have their Royal 22nd Regiment (the Van Doos), a mostly French regiment. Finally, at an individual level, there is very little animosity between French-speaking and English-speaking citizens. We don’t bear arms and we pay our taxes.
I hope all of you are well.
A mari usque ad mare (From Sea to Sea) Canada’s motto
Today, the temperature in Sherbrooke, Quebec is -23°C (-9.4°F). In Victoria, British Columbia the temperature is -1°C (+30.2°F). In Los Angeles, California, the weather is 21.1°C (+70°F). I believe that is the reason why Canadian singer songwriter Joni Mitchell wants to go to California.
singer-songwriter: Joni Mitchell (b. November 7, 1943)
President Obama is devoting so much energy to unite his country. He is fighting what Thomas Hobbes called a “private force” and viewed as “unlawfull.”
As you probably know, in Quebec, sovereignists and indépendantistes, initially called separatists are advocating secession from Canada and have done so since the 1960s. Pauline Marois is the leader of the Parti Québécois, the péquistes (PQ), as they are called, and, on 4 September 2012, she was elected Premier of the Province of Quebec. It was a narrow victory.
“A Quebec election that was too close to call has turned out to be just that: less than one percentage point – about 40,000 votes – separated the Parti Québécois [separatist]and the Liberal party [federalist] in the final ballot last night, with the third party Coalition Avenir Québec close behind.”(ANTONIA MAIONI, The Globe and Mail, Published Wednesday, Sep. 05 2012, 7:56 AM EDT. Last updated Wednesday, Sep. 05 2012, 7:59 AM EDT)
A Man Dies and a second man is critically injured.
Matters worsened. On the evening of 4 September 2012, as Madame Marois was preparing to celebrate her victory, 62-year-old Richard Henry Bain aimed at Madame Marois whose life was saved by 48-eight-year-old Denis Blanchette. However, the shooter killed Denis Blanchette and seriously injured a second man.
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July 22 (left), May 22 (up) and April 15 (center) demonstrations and Victoriaville riots (down). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At this point, I must step backward, as I need to tell about Madame Marois’ campaign.
Quebec students go on strike (February 13, 2012 – September 7, 2012)
In the spring of 2012, students enrolled in Quebec universities and CEGEPS[i] (numerically, Grades 12 & 13) started opposing a small raise in tuition fees (from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017 (Quebec student protests, Wikipedia). At that moment, tuition fees paid by Quebec students were approximately half the fees paid by my former students in Nova Scotia. The students’ demands were therefore unrealistic.
“On June 12, 2012, some protesters were referring to local police authorities as SS and anti-police pamphlets using the swastikas were distributed.” (Quebec student protests, Wikipedia)
Madame Marois (Parti Québécois) steps in
Parti Québécois leader, Pauline Marois, stepped in and “supported” the students’ demands. She wore their symbol, a red square, and she became very visible. This won her a great deal of publicity. It would be my opinion that endorsing the students’ demands benefitted Madame Marois.
The strike was problematical. For instance, it jeopardized the completion of an academic term.
In all likelihood, Madame Marois benefitted by involving the students. She seemed a concerned mother to students who were being abused by the Liberal Party, then in power.
A man died in an attempt to protect Premier-elect Pauline Marois.
Tuition fees. Can Madame Marois make ends meet?
Dissent and Faction
Madame Marois’ Parti Québécois is advocating “sovereignty” or separation from the other provinces of Canada, which means dissent or faction and is not insignificant. On the contrary! But, I wonder whether or not Madame Marois’ Parti Québécois and fellow sovereignists, or indépendantistes are fully aware of the consequences of a separation from Canada.
My Canada & a possible separation scenario
Canada is an officially bilingual country. It protects the French language. That could end for French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. The Federal Government might not agree to remain bilingual and bicultural.
There would be a country separating the Maritime Provinces of Canada from Ontario and the rest of Canada.
French-speaking veterans of World War II, who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, would be very confused. They were serving their country, Canada.
There could be resentment between the two “countries.” Many Québécois would be dissatisfied, and there could be an exodus on the part of Anglophone Quebecers.
If there is an exodus, there would be fewer taxpayers.
And, to quote The Globe and Mail once again, “less than one percentage point – about 40,000 votes – separated the Parti Québécois and the Liberal party.”
But I would go further…
Past referendums have not supported separation from Canada. In other words, the people of Quebec have yet to agree to a separation from the rest of Canada.
Yet, unlike my Nova Scotia health-insurance card, which was valid everywhere in Canada, including Quebec, my Quebec health-insurance card provides limited coverage outside Quebec.
I pay taxes levied by the Quebec government (5%) and taxes levied by the Federal government (10%).
It would appear that the above is the price Québécois and Quebecers pay because Quebec failed to sign the Patriated Constitution of 1982. There is a substantial degree of duplication: a government inside a government. What I would like to know is whether or not Quebec’s government has been mandated to start walking away from Ottawa.
There were deaths in the 1960s and, on 4 September 2012, Denis Blanchette was shot protecting Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois. Human life is fragile and so very precious. I’m certain Denis Blanchette’s life was dear to him and to his family and friends. So none of this is banal.If Quebec does want to secede from the rest of Canada, persons whose integrity and good will are above suspicion will have to negotiate acceptable terms.
However, what remains a mystery in my eyes is just why Quebec has not signed the long Patriated Constitution of Canada (1982). It has been 31 years since it arrived on the North-American side of the Atlantic. A referendum held in May 1980 did not allow Quebec to negotiate a new partnership with Ottawa. The indépendantistes were then named the Mouvement Souveraineté-Association, a “forerunner” of the Parti Québécois.