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The term Quebec bashing is used in the French-language media to refer to what is perceived and depicted by Quebec nationalists as defamatory anti-Quebec coverage, in the English-language media, of French-Canadians and French-Canadian society inside Quebec. The term is most widely used within Quebec, especially in the French-language media where this English-language phrase has been adopted. Examples are found in the English Canadian- media, but occasionally in coverage from other countries, often based on Canadian sources. These examples can range from hostile racism to minor slights or legitimate criticism.
There is a perception among the French language media in Quebec that an unfavourable depiction of Quebec by the media became especially prevalent in the years following the 1995 Quebec referendum on Quebec independence, although there is no study or statistical evidence provided to back this assertion.
The scope or the level at which the expression of extreme or virulent anti-Quebec opinion represents an opinion held in English Canada has been debated by moderate federalist elements in the French-speaking media. Some allegations of Quebec-bashing prompt a response of over-reaction.
- 1 Themes
- 2 Examples
- 3 Context
- 4 Reaction to Anti-Quebec Criticism and Quebec Bashing
- 5 Debate
- 6 Other depictions
- 7 Further reading
- 8 References
- 9 See also
One of the themes of criticism of Quebec is the attribution to Québécois of racism and of discrimination against Anglo-Quebecers, (including the Jewish community), aboriginals and other minorities. The expression "pure laine" ("pure wool"), used to denote Quebecers of French descent, has often been cited as a manifestation of discriminatory attitudes. It has been portrayed as a common contemporary way of seeing race in Quebec, while counter-critics deem the term obsolete.
Another theme of anti-Quebec critics is the unbalanced composition of the Quebec public service. While some efforts have been made to increase the percentage of minorities (i.e. Montreal Police Force), the public service of Quebec (SAAQ, MSSS, etc.) is largely white and francophone.
Controversy has arisen over attempts to criticize, or to discredit and denigrate, members of the Québécois political elite.Among pro-independence leaders, while René Lévesque has sometimes been spared (but not always, notably not by Mordecai Richler , who expressed guarded admiration for the man but also strongly criticized him), Lucien Bouchard and Jacques Parizeau have been the subject of strong attacks.. Some writers have described members of this elite as criminals and compared to people such as Pol Pot or the Devil. The administration of the Government of Quebec itself has been described as corrupt, sometimes with the derogatory term of "banana republic". They have portrayed the Quebec nationalist and independence movements, and the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) in a highly unfavourable light.
Language laws in Quebec that promote the use of French and restrict the use of English are another area of Quebec government policy that reflects nationalist goals designed to preserve and strengthen the French language within Quebec and that is subject to harsh criticism. The body that enforces the Charter, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), has often been called the "language police" and been criticized for enforcing sign laws requiring that French wording dominate English and other languages on commercial signs. English-speaking Quebecers vastly oppose these sign laws. The public servants of the OQLF have sometimes been compared to the Gestapo or "brown shirts",.
Some apparently unrelated topics have been linked to the nationalist and independence movements and the language laws, such as the departure of the Expos baseball club from Montreal, and suicide rates in Quebec. However, most of them remain opinions.
Template:Example farm Allegations of Quebec-bashing have been made not only against English-Canadian publications but against publications from around the world, often respected publications that take their sources in English-speaking Canada. Within Canada, people such as former radio personality Howard Galganov and journalist Diane Francis have gained a reputation for anti-Quebec depictions. Author Mordecai Richler wrote a number of articles, published in the United States and Great Britain, which many Québécois considered offensive. From outside the English-speaking world, three articles harshly critical of Quebec were published in German newspapers during the 1990s: "A Quebec as antisemite as 50 years ago" in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Empty shop windows, barricaded doors and hate graffitis" in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and "Hello Montreal, and goodbye forever!" in Die Welt, three of the largest largest newspapers in Germany.
Unfavourable depictions of Quebec have also been provided by books such as Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow, as well as political cartoons. One other example of Quebec bashing is found in pop culture. Don Cherry, a sports commentator on the CBC, has occasionally been accused of Quebec bashing. A couple of American comedians[who?] have sometimes been accused of Quebec bashing, although they appear to have confused Quebec with France. In 2006, articles labeled as "Quebec bashing" sparked notorious controversies: Barbara Kay's August 9 "The rise of Quebecistan" in The National Post and Jan Wong's September 16 "Get under the desk" in The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail and The National Post are Canada's two national newspapers and both are Toronto-based publications.
Robert Guy Scully
On Sunday, April 17, 1977, five months after the first accession of the Parti Québécois to power under René Lévesque, journalist Robert Guy Scully wrote an article in the "Outlook" section of The Washington Post called "What It Means To Be French In Canada". Page A2 of the paper summarized the article, which presented the historical disenfranchisement of French Canadians experienced at the hands of English Canada: "French Quebec is a culturally deprived, insecure community whose existence is an accident of history, one which shouldn't have happened, says a French-Canadian writer. Page C1." Two columns of the front page of the section and an entire inside page were devoted to the article. In it, Scully called the French Québécois society incurably "sick". He decried the economic poverty found in the French-speaking eastern part of Montreal: "No one would want to live there who doesn't have to," he wrote. "There isn't a single material or spiritual advantage to it which can't be had, in an even better form, on the English side of Montreal."
This article was featured in former Parti Québécois referendum strategist Jean-François Lisée's In the Eye of the Eagle, an extensive study of American interest in Quebec and its independence movement, where it was portrayed as anti-Quebec. In the chapter "A Voiceless Quebec", Lisée advances the view that if such prominence were given to such "singular and unrepresentative a view of Quebec society", it was partly caused by "the perfect absence of a Quebec voice in North America's news services, and the frightening degree of ignorance in the American press on the subject of Quebec." Lisée points out that these ideas were also presented by the editor-in-chief of the section, Al Horne, in a speech at a Washington symposium.
Esther Delisle, a French-Canadian PhD student at Université Laval wrote a thesis that discussed the "fascist" and anti-semitic writings and beliefs of Lionel Groulx, an important figure in the history of French-Canadian nationalism. Groulx is a revered figure to many French Quebecers who see him as one of the fathers of Quebec nationalism, although his actual writings are little read today. A station on the Montreal Metro as well as schools, streets, lakes, and a chain of mountains in Quebec are named for him. In order to separate his political and literary activities from his academic work, Groulx wrote journalism and novels under numerous pseudonyms. In her book, Delisle claimed that Groulx, under the pseudonym Jacques Brassier, had written in 1933 in L'Action nationale: "Within six months or a year, the Jewish problem could be resolved, not only in Montreal but from one end of the province of Quebec to the other. There would be no more Jews here other than those who could survive by living off one another." Delisle's thesis expressed the opinion that the objectionable views of Groulx and other Quebec intellectuals in the nineteen-thirties and forties were not necessarily shared by the general French-Canadian population at that time.
Quebec Premier, Jacques Parizeau, and numerous other commentators, labelled the book as "Quebec bashing", although her thesis received more sympathetic treatment from other Quebec journalists. In addition to the criticism of the content of Delisle's thesis, critics questioned some of her methodology. Issues of methodology had been raised initially by some of the professors evaluating Ms. Delisle's thesis, and two of these professors remained of the view that the problems had not been corrected. Subsequent criticisms included assertions of several dozen errors including incorrect citations and references that could not be found in cited source material by Professor Gérard Bouchard of the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and claims that the text of the thesis revealed that the author had not directly consulted some of the sources.
In a March 1, 1997 cover story titled Le mythe du Québec fasciste (The Myth of a Fascist Quebec), L'Actualité revisited the controversy around Delisle's doctoral thesis. A profile of Groulx also appeared in the same issue; both articles acknowledged Groulx's antisemitism and the general favourable attitude of the Roman Catholic church towards fascist doctrine during the 1930s. Pierre Lemieux, an economist and author wrote: "The magazine's attack is much weakened by Claude Ryan, editor of Le Devoir in the 1970s, declaring that he has changed his mind and come close to Delisle's interpretation after reading her book."
However, the same newsmagazine made a claim, never substantiated, that Delisle had been subsidized by Jewish organizations, and the claim was repeated on television by former Parti Québécois cabinet minister Claude Charron while introducing a 2002 broadcast on Canal D of Je me souviens, the Eric R. Scott documentary about Delisle's book. Outraged at what both Scott and Delisle called an absolute falsehood, they asked Canal D to rebroadcast the documentary because it was introduced in a way they considered to be defamatory and inaccurate.
Referring to Groulx and the Le Devoir newspaper, Francine Dubé wrote in the National Post on April 24, 2002 that "the evidence Delisle has unearthed seems to leave no doubt that both were anti-Semitic and racist." And, also in 2002, the Montreal Gazette referred to "anti-Semitism and pro-fascist sympathies that were common among this province's (Quebec) French-speaking elite in the 1930s." Further support for Delisle's writings come from a variety of sources.
Well-known Montreal author Mordecai Richler made numerous assertions decrying what he perceived as racism, tribalism, provincialism, and anti-semitism among nationalist politicians in French-speaking Quebec, notably in a 1991 article in The New Yorker and his 1992 book Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!, but also in various other articles and interviews. His negative portrayal of some Quebec government policies got international coverage in the United States and Great Britain, where the voice given to French-speaking Quebecers was considerably less than that of English Canadians. His views were strongly criticized in Quebec and to some degree among anglophone Canadians.
He notably compared some Quebec nationalist writers in the newspaper Le Devoir in the 1930s to Nazi propagandists in Der Stürmer and criticized René Lévesque before an American audience. Richler was also critical of fellow Jews, Zionists, English Canadian nationalists, intellectuals, and Israel and in fact nationalists of any sort. He was also prone to hyperbole and negativity in his commentary, and was known as something of "curmudgeon" in literary circles. Some commentators, inside and outside Quebec, think that the reaction to Richler was excessive, and sometimes bordered on the racist itself. For example, a passage saying that the Catholic Church treated French Canadian women like "sows" was depicted by Quebec sovereignists as Richler calling Quebec women "sows."  Other Quebecers acclaimed Richler for his courage and for attacking the orthodoxies of Quebec society, and he has been described as "the most prominent defender of the rights of Quebec's anglophones."
Don Cherry, a longtime commentator on Hockey Night in Canada has made a few comments interpreted by many as Quebec bashing. For example, in 1993 he said the Anglo residents of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario "speak the good language"; during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games he called Quebec sovereigntists "whiners", after Bloc MPs had complained that there were too many Canadian flags in the Olympic village, he went on to say that Jean-Luc Brassard shouldn't be the flag bearer because he was "a French guy, some skier that nobody knows about"; in 2003, after fans in Montreal booed the American national anthem he went on an American talk show and said "true Canadians do not feel the way they do in Quebec there"; in 2004 while criticizing visors he said, "most of the guys that wear them are Europeans or French guys ..."
Politicians of all sorts, French advocacy groups, and media commentators from across Canada criticised Cherry and CBC Television on numerous occasions after these statements. In 2004 the CBC put Cherry's segment, Coach's Corner on a 7 second tape delay to avoid future incidents. He has also praised numerous French-speaking Quebec hockey players for their play.
In a 1993 financial analysis bulletin sent to 275 people, broker Richard Lafferty compared the then leader of the Bloc Québécois, Lucien Bouchard, and the then leader of the Parti Québécois, Jacques Parizeau, to Adolf Hitler, and their tactics and his tactics. Parizeau was said to have been especially affected, being the widower of Polish author Alice Poznanska, who saw the horrors of the Third Reich first hand. The two politicians sued Lafferty for defamation, demanding $150,000 in reparation.
In March 2000, Lafferty was found guilty by the Superior Court of Quebec and sentenced to give $20,000 to both men (also reported as $40,000). Lafferty appealed, but died in 2003. In October 2004 the Superior Court of Quebec maintained the guilty verdict but raised the amount to $200,000 (also reported as $100,000). In 2005, before the case was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, the politicians and Richard Lafferty's estate reached an out-of-court agreement. As commonly seen in such cases, the details of the agreement remained confidential. As they promised at the beginning of the proceedings, Bouchard and Parizeau donated the money to charity.
The appointment of David Levine
In 1998 David Levine, a former candidate for the Parti Québécois, was appointed as head of the newly amalgamated Ottawa Hospital. The appointment was opposed in English Canada not because of Levine's previous performance as a hospital administrator but because he had been a sovereignist. An editorial in the Ottawa Citizen opposing Levine's appointment argued that he should not be appointed because as a separatist he allegedly wanted to destroy Canada. The newspaper also repeatedly compared sovereignists to Nazis. The premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, observed that he would even have preferred the appointment of a foreigner to the position, as long as the person appointed believed that Quebec should remain in Canada. The mayor of Gloucester, Ontario asserted that Levine would be unable to refrain from letting his belief that Canada should be destroyed affecting his decisions as a hospital administrator. The controversy ended once the hospital board refused to back down, and a speech by prime minister Jean Chrétien defending freedom of thought in a democratic society, a speech whose message was reinforced by union support, the support of the Quebec Liberal Party, and a resolution of the National Assembly of Quebec.
In 1997 Lawrence Martin published The Antagonist: Lucien Bouchard and the Politics of Delusion. In it he painted a speculative psychological portrait of Lucien Bouchard, then premier of Quebec. Bouchard was described as "mystical", and his culture as "most uncanadian". Martin based his book on the psychological analysis, itself disputed, of Bouchard made by Dr. Vivian Rakoff. Rakoff never met the subject of his "analysis". Martin's book called Bouchard "Lucien, Lucifer of our land"; this was repeated by Lawrence Martin in 1997, on the pages of The Globe and Mail. Maryse Potvin, a sociologist who specializes in racism-related issues, asserted in a study of anti-Quebec media representation that this type of demonization is a known and documented process of racism. Although this statement does not logically imply that Martin's book was necessarily racist, the book was at the very least subjective and unsubstantiated.
Des bouts de chiffon rouge
Template:Disputed Template:Unbalanced In 2001, during the Parti Québécois leadership race, Bernard Landry criticized the federal government's policy of prominently displaying the maple leaf on federal government buildings and programs by stating that "Quebec is not for sale for a piece of red rag" (""Le Québec ne ferait pas le trottoir pour un bout de chiffon rouge."; rag is the usual translation of chiffon)
The phrase chiffon rouge can mean "red flag" in the sense of earmarking something as suspicious, and thus can be understood as an allusion to the slowly emerging sponsorship scandal; it can also mean the red cape that a matador waves in the sport of bullfighting, is usually understoodas a claim that the government's only real purpose in using the flag was to irritate, annoy and provoke Quebec sovereignists.[Need quotation to verify][unreliable source?]
Canadian Press, however, translated chiffon rouge as "red rag" in the usual meaning, leading to extensive criticism of Landry across Canada for insulting the Canadian flag. Landry subsequently apologized for his choice of words, but denied that his intention had been to call the Canadian flag a rag. Other Quebecers, however, notably his political opponents Pierre Pettigrew and Stéphane Dion, were sceptical, with Dion declaring that there was no question that Landry had intended to be insulting, and that an unqualified apology was called for.
On August 6, 2006, Parti Québécois (PQ) leader André Boisclair, Bloc Québécois (BQ) leader Gilles Duceppe, Québec solidaire (QS) spokesperson Amir Khadir and Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament (MP) Denis Coderre participated in a rally in support of Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. The rally was billed as being for "justice and peace," but instead was, according to Kay, "virulently anti-Israel," including the desecration of a Jewish prayer shawl, and called for a "cease-fire," and not peace. On the following August 9, 2006, Kay published "The rise of Quebecistan" in the neoconservative broadsheet the National Post, claiming that the politicians (three of whom, Boisclair, Duceppe and Khadir, are pro-independence) as having supported terrorism, Hezbollah, and antisemitism for votes from Canadians of convenience.
Kay later noted: "A more aggressive writer, novelist and polemicist Maurice Dantec, wrote an article for Egards, 'Bienvenue au Quebeckistan,' weeks before 'The Rise of Quebecistan' appeared in the Post. In it, he warns Quebec against becoming another 'Frankistan':
"When your cities are invaded by the same mobs as those who are burning 200 cars a day in France even as I speak, when Hezbollah militias, quite legally (ah, this Charter of Rights of the Bedouin and of the Liberties of the Terrorist!) are authorized to patrol [the streets] with your police forces, when your writers (if any remain) get assassinated in the street—as in the Netherlands—when ... the Cross on Mount Royal must be withdrawn from the view of decent Montreal Muslims so as not to 'shock' their sensibility, when Israel has disappeared in a huge festive movement uniting Communist scum with fascistoidal pseudo-nationalist cretins, capitulating dyed-in-the-wool liberals, sovereigntists without a sovereign, and the post-leftists feeding on Noam Chomsky's dog food or the animated cartoons of Michael Moore, then you will find yourself absolutely alone." (my translation)
On March 4, 2007, the Quebec Press Council released a decision condemning the chronicle of Barbara Key for "undue provocation" and "generalizations suitable to perpetuate prejudices":
"The Council noted throughout the chronicle of Mrs. Kay a lack of rigour in the presentation of the context surrounding the walk for peace of August 2006, which tends to encourage the reader to lend intentions to public personalities without providing concrete facts to support these intentions. On several occasions in the chronicle, the journalist deformed facts, to present only a part of the situation, aiming only at supporting her point of view that the leaders of independent Quebec would withdraw the Hezbollah of the list of the terrorist movements and that this new country would become a harbour for them. The Council points out that, if the chroniclers can denounce with strength the ideas and the actions which they reject and carry judgements with complete freedom, nothing however authorizes them to deteriorate facts to justify interpretation that they draw. Deontology of the Council Press clearly established that the media and the professionals of information must avoid cultivating or to maintain the prejudices. They must imperatively avoid using, at the place of the people or the groups, the representations or the terms which tend to raise the contempt, to run up against the dignity of a person or a category of people because of a discriminatory reason. The Council estimated that the remarks of the journalist were equivalent to an undue provocation, in addition to establishing generalizations suitable to perpetuate the prejudices rather than to dissipate them."
A shooting at Dawson College in Westmount, Quebec, on September 13, 2006, resulted in the murder-suicide of a student in addition to several other injuries. Three days later, the national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, published a front-page article by Jan Wong titled, “Get under the desk”. In the article, all three school shooting tragedies of the last decades in Montreal — including the 1989 massacre at the École Polytechnique and the 1992 shootings at Concordia University — were linked to the purported alienation brought about by “the decades-long linguistic struggle.”
A number of Quebec journalists denounced Wong's article. French-born journalist Michel Vastel, in his blog for the news magazine L'actualité, called the article "deceitful racism" and the interpretation "repugnant". Wong's article was condemned by La Presse editorialist André Pratte (in a letter to the Globe and a La Presse editorial), journalists Michel C. Auger of Le Journal de Montréal, Michel David and Michel Venne (sovereigntist) of Le Devoir, Alain Dubuc (federalist), Vincent Marissal, Yves Boisvert and Stéphane Laporte of La Presse, Josée Legault (sovereigntist) of The Gazette, Jean-Jacques Samson of Le Soleil, sovereigntist militant and author Patrick Bourgeois of Le Québécois, Gérald Leblanc, retired journalist of La Presse and Joseph Facal, Journal de Montréal columnist and former Parti Québécois minister.
On September 21, 2006, The Globe and Mail published an editorial on the affair. Calling the controversy a "small uproar", it defended the right of the journalist to question such phenomena, the "need to ask hard questions and explore uncomfortable avenues", saying that it "merely wondered" whether the marginalization and alienation of the three shooters could be associated with the murders.
The Quebec Context
Quebec is a Canadian province with a French-speaking majority (81% cite French alone as their mother tongue while 95% are either fluent in French or have a working knowledge of French as a second or third language); in contrast the rest of Canada has a majority of English speakers (75% cite English alone as their mother tongue while 98% have a working knowledge in the last census) compared to only 11% who have a working knowledge of French.
Before 1763, most of the land that is currently the Province of Quebec was part of New France, an area of North America colonized by France. After the defeat of France, subsequent political changes saw this land become first a British colony and province, later a region united with the future province of Ontario, and finally a province of Canada in 1867. An early Quebec nationalist movement emerged in the 1820s under the Parti Patriote, arguing for greater autonomy for itself within the British Empire and at times flirting with the idea of independence. It led to the Patriote Rebellion, which was put down by the British Army, at roughly the same time as the failure of a similar rebellion among the English-speaking people of what is now Ontario. After the suppression of the rebellion, Quebec gradually became a more conservative society, one in which the Catholic Church occupied a more dominant position. Major players in the Quebec media opposed Canadian participation in World War I and World War II. Later, in the late 1950s and 1960s, a tremendous social change, known as the Quiet Revolution, took place; during this time French-Canadian society became rapidly more secular, and economically marginalised French-speaking Quebecers slowly and peacefully took control of Quebec's economy. It was then that a second independence movement took root. During this time a terrorist organization called the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) arose, as did the peaceful Parti Québécois, a provincial political party with the stated aims of independence and social democracy. Over time, the terrorist organisations vanished, while the PQ flourished.
While French is the majority language in Quebec, it is a small minority in most of the rest of Canada, and historically had faced demographic and economic pressures. Assimilation was feared and the French language was even discriminated against in parts of Quebec. This led the Quebec government of Liberal Party leader Premier Robert Bourassa to pass the Official Language Act (Bill 22) in 1974, abolishing English as an official language and making French the sole official language of Quebec. The Liberals were replaced by the Parti Québécois in the 1976 with René Lévesque, a major figure of the Quiet Revolution, becoming Premier of Quebec. One of the first actions of the PQ was enacting the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101). Many of the French Language Charter's provisions expanded on the 1974 Official Language Act. The protective language law outlawed the public display of English, making French signs obligatory, regulations that would later be overturned in the course of court challenges. A first referendum on sovereignty was held in 1980 (under the leadership of Lévesque the YES side lost with 40.44% of the votes) and a second in 1995 (with Lucien Bouchard, Jacques Parizeau and Mario Dumont as leaders the YES campaign, narrowly lost at 49.44%).
Historian and sociologist Gérard Bouchard, co-chair of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, has suggested that the francophones of Quebec or French Canadian descent continue to consider themselves a fragile and colonized minority, despite forming the majority of the population of Quebec, and thus have found it difficult to accept other ethnic groups as also being Quebecers. He sees this as showing the need for an independent Quebec with a "founding myth" based upon "un acte fondateur" which would give the Québécois the confidence to act more generously to incorporate all willing ethnic communities in Quebec into a unified whole.
Although the modern nationalist and independence movements have been criticized by English-speaking Quebecers, ethnic minorities, and First nations, and by English Canadians outside Quebec, as has Bill 101, which has been successfully challenged in courts, according to a Léger Marketing survey of January 2007, 86% of Quebecers of ethnic origins other than English or French have a good opinion of the ethnically French majority. .
The English Canadian Context
In English Canada suspicion and hostility toward the French-speaking population has played an ongoing role in public discourse. George Brown, a prominent Canada West politician, Father of Confederation and founder of the Globe newspaper could fulminate even before Confederation: "What has French-Canadianism been denied? Nothing. It bars all it dislikes--it extorts all its demands--and it grows insolent over its victories." While Quebec has journeyed along the path of pursuing a distinctive national identity, implementing legislative responses and societal projects to support that endeavour, English Canada was led to believe by Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada during much of the period from 1968 until 1984 and a French Canadian who seemed until the early 1980s to have some degree of support among the Quebec people, that the correct approach to issues of national unity and cultural identity was the abandonment of the "two nations" theory in favour of multiculturalism and to insist on treating all provinces as inherently equal to one another, denying the possibility of according a constitutional veto or distinct society status to Quebec. In English Canada it has been asserted by Professor Kenneth McRoberts, John P. Robarts Professor of Canadian Studies at York University, that part of the Trudeau legacy is a fundamental lack of understanding of Quebec nationalism in the "Rest of Canada," resulting in resentment or anger among English Canadians toward the Federal and Quebec governments in relation to issues of language, culture and national identity. McRoberts argued in a lecture delivered in March 1991 at York University that the effect of Trudeau's policies of official bilingualism, multiculturalism, and the entrenchment of a Charter of Rights, coupled with provincial language laws in Quebec establishing "the preeminence of French within its own territory," created an appearance of Quebec having acted "in bad faith," in violation of "a contract which it had made with English Canada whereby official bilingualism would be the rule throughout the country."
Added to the limited comprehension of Quebec among English Canadians have been a series of events in Quebec that continue to draw criticism from journalists and English Canadians and questions about the attitudes of Québécois towards the Anglophone, Jewish and other ethnic minorities in Quebec (some of which are discussed above). The concession speech of Jacque Parizeau following the 1995 Referendum, in which he blamed the defeat on "money and the ethnic vote", was interpreted by some as a tacit reference to traditional stereotypes of the Jews, and created a controversy that sparked disapproval from both sides and an apology from Parizeau himself the following day. In 2000, a further storm of criticism erupted as a result of remarks made about Jews, by Yves Michaud, a prominent Quebec nationalist public figure, that were interpreted by some as being anti-Semitic. The remarks were the subject of a swift denunciatory resolution of the Quebec National Assembly. However, support for M. Michaud's remarks from many other prominent sovereignists prompted the resignation of Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard who had been attempting to build a more broadly inclusive approach to Quebec nationalism. A recent controversial resolution of the municipal council of Hérouxville, regarding standards of conduct and dress considered "appropriate" for the small community have been cited as further evidence of xenophobia in Quebec and prompted a Quebec government inquiry (the Bouchard-Taylor Commission) into the issue of reasonable accommodation of ethnic minority cultural differences.
Reaction to Anti-Quebec Criticism and Quebec Bashing
Reaction by Quebec Media and Public Figures
Quebec-bashing has been denounced as dishonest, false, defamatory and sometimes prejudiced, racist, colonialist, or hate speech by many people of all origins and political colours in Quebec. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented in strident terms in December 2008 on the possibility of the "separatist" Bloc Québécois lending support to a Liberal-New Democratic Party coalition that might have replaced his Conservative government, the former premier of Quebec, Pierre Marc Johnson warned him of potential long term consequences of depicting all Quebeckers as separatists.
Reaction by English Canadian Media and Public Figures
Just as the francophone media is capable of responding to tenuous allegations of Quebec-bashing, the mainstream media in English Canada have taken issue with virulent attacks on Quebec and the Québécois. The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, was particularly critical about the Jan Wong article that linked the Dawson College shooting incident to allegations of racist attitudes on the part of Québécois. Critics of "Quebec bashing" argue that Quebec is essentially a tolerant and inclusive society. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper's comments about the unsuitability of the Bloc Québécois involvement in the proposed Liberal-NDP coalition in late 2008 were characterized by professor C.E.S. Franks of Queen's University, Kingston, as "inflammatory and tendentious rhetoric' in a Globe & Mail article in March 2009. the Montreal Gazette responded to the allegation pointing out that immediately after Mr. Harper's remarks the Montreal newspaper La Presse had dismissed accusations that the remarks were anti-Quebec. English Canadian journalist Ray Conlogue has denounced the anti-Quebec press.
Allegations of English Canadian Racism
In response to Quebec's history of antisemitism, Quebec nationalists assert that English-speaking Canada was equally as antisemitic as French speaking Quebecers. Jews, who as a national minority, faced persecution across Canada, were subject to quotas at institutions such as McGill University, as well as French Catholic institutions. The federal government notoriously refused entry to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and seeking to dock in Quebec City, despite the fact that it was at the behest of French Quebec. As a French Roman Catholic ethnic and religious minority in the British Empire, Lower Canada was first in the British Empire to grant Jews full civil and political rights in the Act of June 5, 1832, after the debate over Jewish Trois-Rivières resident Ezekiel Hart. The English Canadian media are, however, more willing to acknowledge Canada's history of antisemitism, and incidents such as the Christie Pits riots in Toronto or the prejudice faced in Toronto legal circles by later Supreme Court Justice Bora Laskin have been repeatedly documented by historians and journalists.
Journalist Normand Lester wrote three polemic volumes of The Black Book of English Canada in which "Quebec bashing" is denounced and acts of discrimination, racism and intolerance. towards people who were not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are itemized. The books have been criticized for their lack of proper source references, and for their tendency to treat as revelations incidents and facts that although not extensively written about in French are actually well-known and acknowledged in English Canada. In the books Lester noted "It is one of the characteristics of racist discourse to demonize the group that is condemned, all the while giving oneself all virtues, to pretend representing universalism while the group targeted by hateful discourse is denounced as petty, and its demands, without value, anti-democratic and intolerant". The book offered a counter-point by chronicling the racist and anti-semitic history of English Canada. The author argued that Quebec was never more anti-semitic than English Canada. Most notably, it underlined the fervent federalist opinions of fascist Adrien Arcand and revealed for the first time that his former fascist National Social Christian Party was funded by Prime Minister of Canada R. B. Bennett and his Conservative Party (see R. B. Bennett, 1st Viscount Bennett#Controversy). He argued that the fascist party was so marginal that it would never have been viable, had it not been for the funding. Lester was suspended from his job at Société Radio-Canada for publishing this book, an organization often accused of Quebec nationalist bias; he subsequently resigned.
Complaints by Quebecers to International Forums
Organizations, such as the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society (SSJB) often lodge formal complaints about perceived misrepresentation. In 1999 Guy Bouthillier, then president of the SSJB, lamenting the phenomenon, pointed out that the "right to good reputation" was a recognized right in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, inspired by the international human rights declations of the post-war era. In 1998, under the leadership of Gilles Rhéaume (a former SSJB president), the Mouvement souverainiste du Québec filed a memorandum to the International Federation of Human Rights in Paris that mentioned anti-Quebec press articles. In 2000, Rhéaume filed a memorandum to the United Nations regarding "violations by Canada of the political rights of Quebecers", including media defamation. He also founded the Ligue Québécoise contre la francophobie canadienne ("Quebec league against Canadian Francophobia") explicitly to defend against "Quebec bashing". All complaints were eventually rejected.
While examples of anti-Quebec coverage in English Canada are recognized by a number of French-speaking people in Quebec, whether this represents a wide phenomenon and an opinion held by many people in English Canada is subject to debate. Certainly the print examples cited here constitute only a tiny portion of English-Canadian print journalism during the period covered. Chantal Hébert noted that commentators such as Graham Fraser, Jeffrey Simpson and Paul Wells, who are more positive about Quebec, were often called upon by the Canadian media since the 1995 referendum. She also mentioned Edward Greenspon, who, however, as editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail, ended up defending an alleged instance of Quebec bashing in 2006, Globe and Mail columnist Jan Wong's "Get under the desk".
Graham Fraser, an English Canadian journalist noted for his sympathy for Quebec, has tempered both sides. "This phenomenon (of English Canadian Francophobia) exists, I do not doubt it; I have read enough of Alberta Report to know that there are people that think bilingualism is a conspiracy against English Canadians to guarantee jobs for Quebecers — who are all bilingual, anyway.", he wrote. "I have heard enough call-in radio shows to know that these sentiments of fear and rage are not confined to the Canadian west. But, I do not think these anti-francophone prejudices dominate the Canadian culture." Fraser, in fact, was himself named as Canada's new Official Languages Commissioner in September 2006.
Maryse Potvin has attributed the debate over Quebec-bashing to "the obsession with national identity which, on the one side, is articulated around the reinforcement of the federal state, the Charter, and a mythified version of the Canadian multicultural project, and which, on the other side, is based on a logic of ideological victimization and crystallization of the political project." She called on intellectuals, politicians, and the media to emphasize the common values of the two national visions.
Other English-speaking journalists have earned a notable reputation for a much fairer and sympathetic view of Quebec, in sovereigntist and federalist circles alike, such as Ray Conlogue, Peter Scowen or Graham Fraser.
|40x40px||Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Quebec bashing|
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- "I Am Not Canadian"
- Speak white
- Le Livre noir du Canada anglais
- Quebec federalism
- Quebec sovereignty