Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21: Wow! Beer sales are up....

...and they even tell you on p. 1 which Moncton bars  are expanding their range - and how Pump House has reached a milestone and, oh, just everything.And the story covers almost half a page. Boy, nothing escapes the fearless reporters of The Moncton Times and Transcript.

There are, by accident, I'm sure, a couple of stories in Section A that are worth thinking about.

The first is how a huge turnout at city hall monopolized the meeting at council. It was a protest over the Codiac Transpo lockout.Three points occurred to me.

1. Has it occurred to those who think drivers should get only $10 an hour that almost all of a bus driver's salary gets spent in Moncton? (Unlike the millions we hand out in tax breaks and gifts to corporations?) Are there really people who think we can make Moncton richer by making its people poorer?
2. What happened to the rest of the meeting?  It was supposed to discuss a motion to ban fracking in the Moncton region. There is no mention of that in the Tand T, though it promised long ago to keep us up to date on the fracking issue.
3, Ward Two councillor Merrill Henderson had to chair the meeting in the absence of the mayor. I guess that explains why he's been too busy for the last month to answer my questions about the pollutants that lie under Highfield Square - you know, the ones under the supermarket.

Page D2 was a story about a meeting in Dieppe concerning French language and culture. Most of it was eminently reasonable. But, as always, the dreadful word culture came up as one speaker said bilingualism is not a culture; a language is.


Culture is one of those words that is emotional - but one whose meaning is generally unknown. No language is a culture - not English, not French, not Chiac, not Chinese - though any or all can be part of a culture.

A language debate is not a good place to use emotional buzz words that nobody understands.

The editorial page has a solid column by Alec Bruce, a harmless one by Norbert, and a silly one by the editorial writer. (St. George is a nice street for certain kinds of shopping - just like similar streets in any city I have even seen. But to shower words on it like 'visionary' and 'trend-setting' is just unspeakably silly.)

Op Ed has the usual 'Geewhizgolly' drivel by a staff writer. (Be prepared in case it should rain at The Boss concert. Bring an umbrella or raincoat.)   Below that, though, is a much more interesting column by Louise Gilbert.

I mentioned yesterday we should be paying close attention to the Quebec election. Here's why.

The Parti Quebecois is running on a platform of pure hate and zenophobia. It has to.

Whenever a government is out of policies - or has policies that it doesn't want to talk about - it stirs up fear, paranoia and hatred of "the others". (The US always has to have a hated enemy - communism, Islam - to cover its wars of aggression). Every government plays that game.

The PQ originally ran on plans to separate, of course, and to improve the position of the working class. and to provide upward mobility for francophones. On the latter two points, it has not improved the position of the working class; it has improved the position only of the wealthier francophones -which is what the PQ was always about in the first place. And the upward mobility for francophones in general has changed little.

Upward mobility in French Quebec has depended for centuries on fluency in both French and English. That fluency can be obtained only in the private schools - which are the schools of the richer member of Quebec society. The Francophone public system has always been designed for the working class - and pretty much designed to keep them working class. The Quiet Revolution of the 1950s and 60s made some improvement in that - but not nearly enough.

Result? The Bombardiers and the SNC-Lavalins of Quebec have made enormous wealth. So have their lower compatriots in the professions and in the corridors of big business. But the PQ feels, and rightly so, that its promises of help to the working class no long carry much weight.

So it needs hatred and paranoia to win. Thus the recent promise to ban religious garb (like scarves) for workers in the public service. (But crucifixes will be okay, of course.) That's a major plank in their platform.
(and just guess what the chances are of a Moslem getting a job in the Quebec civil service, anyway.)

Thus the pumping up of fear that French is disappearing in Quebec, and the promises to tighten the language laws even more. (In fact, the bigger danger to the language is the use of English in major Quebec corporations. They have made it clear that they will not tolerate any interference in their importation of unilingual anglos. SNC-Lavalin has just hired a unilingual American as president. When the PQ told Bombardier it would have to hire French-speaking engineers, Bombardier told it to get stuffed.

So the PQ has to run on hysteria and hatred of "the others". And that may well win because Quebec has a rich tradition of both.

And that may well mean another referendum. I was closely involved with the last one - and the level of fraud was massive. Record numbers of ballots were disallowed - in anglo polling districts. There were separatist districts in which the number of 'yes' votes actually exceeded the total number of voters. All demands for recount were refused and, just to make sure, all the ballots were destroyed.

That was the referendum in which the separatists reputedly came close. And that will happen again.

At best, it's a tough choice for voters. Charest runs a hopelessly corrupt government. The fact hat it is been hopelessly corrupt for decades, including the PQ years, doesn't matter. Charest is the one on the block now. Many will vote PQ on that alone.

We may well face another referendum. If we do, it will certainly be rigged like the first two.

This is dangerous to all of Canada. The other provinces will not tolerate further antics, especially with Quebec getting so much of their tax money. And the idea of a bare majority walking off with a whole province is absurd. Indeed, since any such majority would also not be a real one, the chances for violence in Quebec would be very high, indeed.

A federal P.M. of any wisdom would insist on federal supervision of any such referendum, and would ensure that any separation would be limited by the size of the vote.

Alas! We have Harper.

Oh - Mitt Romney conducted two, foreign fund-raising tours for his presidential election campaign. One was a reception in London for which invitations were a minimum of $2500 per person. The other was in Israel, where he raised a million from 20 to 30 "guests".

I have heard of only two American candidates who have ever done this - Bush and Romney. I have never heard of any other  leadership candidate in any country who has gone to a foreign country to campaign for funds. How could any news medium fail to comment on this?

US elections are now (and have been for some time) so expensive that only billionaires can afford to pay for them. And you cannot win - or even  come second - unless you are the choice of billionaires.

So much for democracy. So much for the idea that all men are created equal.

1 comment:

  1. Harper's image doesn't play well in Quebec either. Not at any rate as a federal leader who inspires anything.

    He's a global warming denier, which is typical of neo-fascist Christians (or at least he purports to be one, something many in Quebec wish they could get away from and become a secular society), and he numerously trashes democracy every chance he gets.

    If this is the future course for Canada, then this may be the other big reason aside from Charest for a reinvigorated PQ with a voter base to seek their own nation.