Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17: The blog I hoped.........

....I would never have to write. It's about a major story that did not appear in The Moncton Times and Transcript. In fact, no major story appeared anywhere in this most trivial and vapid edition of a newspaper I have even seen. The only item of any note is a photo in Section B, p. 1, of Harper showing pride in his pregnancy.

It won't change any reactions to what I'm going to say - but I'll tell this, anyway.

I grew up and lived a member of a minority. Because I was a member of a minority, I was beaten be gangs, denied police protection, denied jobs. I grew up in a hysteria of bigotry, hatred, ignorance, abuse, much of it supported by the politicians, by the education system, and by the Roman Catholic church.

Others, such as Blacks, Chinese, Jews, had it worse - and had it worse from both French and English. Quebec always has been and still is a thoroughly bigoted and racist province in English, in French, and in both official languages. In the 1930s, it had thriving fascist and Nazi movements. The fascist headquarters, Casa d'Italia, was just a few blocks from my home. (Years later, I would drop into the coffee shop owned by the local Il Duce to get matchbooks with a picture of him and Mussolini on the cover.) The Nazi party's Deputy Fuehrer was a  relative of mine. (Check it in google. Dr. Noel Decarie.)

For a dozen years or more, I was on the provincial executive of Alliance Quebec, the anglo rights group, the last several of them as Vice-President and Chairman. I've gone through interviews with a deliberately lying and hate-mongering French press, through riots, through arson of our offices - all of it to the indifference of the Montreal police. It was a province it which it was virtually impossible for an anglo to get a civil service job - not even as a garbageman. Nor would becoming bilingual help. You had to be pur laine - a native born Quebecois of French stock.

If you are the latter in Quebec, you have the right to a job as, say, nurse in an English school - even if  you cannot speak a word of English. I have spoken at a provincial conference of teachers who teach English at  French schools. Many, very many could not carry on a simple conversation in English. At the other extreme, I knew a woman, French born, raised with French as her first language, fluent in English, trained in it, hired to teach English in a French school - then fired because it was discovered she had gone to an English high school. No more pur laine for her.

I grew up as a "honglish pig". Oh, I had the right blood, that of one of the founding families of Montreal. The godfather of the first Decarie born in the new world was Paul de Maisonneuve, the founder of the city. The godmother was Jeanne Mance, a towering figure in Quebec history.

But Quebec nationalism has always been a thoroughly racist movement. It still is. I left Quebec as soon as I retired. All that lingers is a hatred of racisim - and a contempt for the Canada that deserted us.

I should add that I had also come to understand that Quebec nationalism is a combination of ignorance, bigotry - and hypocrisy. The French working class got nothing from it. The ones who did get something - a lot - were the wealthy French. And that's what the nationalist movement was all about in the first place.

I came to New Brunswick because - I liked it. The people are universally polite; the cities are a handy size; and the wilderness is next door. It's true that some of the English are dreadful bigots - and there's an undercurrent of that bigotry that I find bothersome - but those English have nothing like the influence of Quebec's nationalists.

I like the Acadians. Hell, as a member of a minority I know what it's like to be in a minority. And I remember well the intolerance and the bullying by the English in Moncton of forty years ago. As well, I get the impression that Acadians are more intellectually active and involved  and progressive than anglos are.)

So what got me on to this rant? It began with the news story (one of many) that is not in the TandT. The Parti Quebecois has announced a policy of banning religious symbols in the work place. Significantly, all the religious symbols mentioned are non-Christian ones, the moslem head scarf, the Sikh turban, the Jewish yarmulke. (Of course. I mean, who could object to a cross with a dead Jesus on it?)

It's against the Charter of Rights. But that's no problem. The PQ will just use the notwithstanding clause - as it did with the English. It's purpose? Obvious. It's to stir up a sort of race hatred in the name of protecting a culture, while really further enriching a wealthy elite class of Quebecois. The PQ is as intellectually and morally corrupt as Jean Charest's Liberals.

So why should I care? Because I have noticed that the language of political discussion among Acadians is often the language of Quebec nationalism. I guess that's not surprising, given the influence of Quebec media, as well as Quebec professors and students at l'U de M.

It's a language that encourages hatreds and extremism. It's language that makes our case a struggle of language when it is really a struggle of majority and minority. That's not the same (though it would take another unreadable blog to explain that.) The situation in NB would be the same if the majority spoke a Mongolian dialect, and the minority spoke Fiji.

When you say the problem is French against English, then you necessarily typecast the French and victims and the English. (What you typecast them as depends on which side you're on.) Ultimately, that makes the debate personal, ugly, and damned stupid, with the morons on each side the only possible winners.)

I hear "The English in Quebec are the best treated minority in Canada." That is very much a statement from Quebec - and it is disgusting nonsense from people who can't even name all the minorities in Canada, and have no idea of how they are treated.

New Brunswick has a way to go, it's true. But it is leagues ahead of Quebec in its treatment of minorities. New Brunswick can have a French premier. Quebec has NEVER had an English premier (and only one, Protestant one). Moncton has a French Mayor. Montreal, despite its large English population, has not had an English mayor in over a century. And you would have to go back almost a century to find an anglo police chief. And if you want to see an anglo or a Black or a Jew or a moslem or a Sikh don't waste your time searching through the ranks of the Quebec provincial police.

Then I hear babble about preserving a culture. There is no such thing a preserving a culture. In fact, no culture has ever been defined, not even in Quebec. And, whatever it may be, no two people on earth share exactly the same culture.

What bothers me is that this influence is damaging to Acadians. It sends them out on false trails. It pushes them into losing fights. Worse - it sets them up to be used by the Parti Quebecois and its rich friends as they are also trying to use franco-Ontarians.

I know. Both sides will hate me for this. Well, it's try.


  1. Whine, whine, whine! How pathetic!

  2. « ...a native born Quebecois of French stock.»

    These accusations of racism would be more credible if the author himself didn't believe in the existence of a so-called French "stock" which has never existed.

    No one was ever born French-Canadian, of course. No one was ever born English-Canadian. Nor both. No one was ever born a Zulu. Human diversity is cultural, i.e.acquired. It is something you become after your arrival in the world, not something you already are at birth. There is only one common origin to all mankind. If I am a (mostly) French-Canadian, it is of course because I BECAME French-Canadian due to the influence of French-Canadian culture over me.

    The notions of "stock", "descent", "ancestry", "bloodlines", "lineage" are all euphemisms of race, i.e. biological supersititions.

    Benedetto Croce: "As an historian, I realize how arbitrary, fantastic and improbable are theories of race."

  3. Oh, I don't believe in "stock" in any racial sense. Some of my ancestors were French. Some were Scottish. And, like most French and Scottish, some of my ancestors were Vikings, Huns, Danes and way, way back - almost certainly Africans. And before that - something that resembled monkeys.

    And the only one I resemble in any racial sense is the last one I listed.