A day in the life

We're already well into winter. I like it when it snows. It gives the city a different feel, a different sound. When the wind is down and the sky is filled with fluffy snowflakes, everything is quieter. It's relaxing.

Daylight is getting longer, but there are still a few weeks of cold temperature ahead of us. Every time we hit those minus 20s, I think of the first settlers who got here in the 16th century and probably started wondering as early as December when this cold season would be over. I also have a thought for immigrants experiencing their first winter. Watching Haitians getting off the plane on the runway with military blankets and sandals as their only footwear is an enduring image. It's no wonder some can't deal with our climate and simply move to warmer parts of the country.

This winter's been generally mild, but we've had some cold nights. A few weeks back, I was rushing outside the sport complex to get back home for the kids to get a decent night sleep when I bumped into a lady with jumper cables in her hands. "Do you know how to do this?" she asked. "Well... uh... yes." I mumbled begrudgingly. She stood there, looking at me as if she hadn't noticed my lack of enthusiasm. I watched over her shoulder and saw her car with its door open. I went on... "you simply need to clip the two positive poles together and do the same with the negative poles." "Can you do it?..." she asked. "I'm afraid of this stuff." Ok... let's do this quickly, I thought.

While a second lady approached her mini-van, she unlocked the hood of her Volvo. I tried to pop it open, but couldn't find the latch. She called her husband; the latch was in the radiator grill. We found it and opened the hood. I looked at the battery; all I could see was gunk, no plus and minus signs. I asked the second lady to unlock her hood. Now, she's the one getting instructions over the phone. "My husband says you got to clip to the frame for the ground."

This was getting a bit more complicated than I expected... I was standing with a jumper cable clip in each hand, looking at the lady in distress, trying to reconcile advices from people who weren't even there. Both my kids were running around with impatience and I wasn't sure which one of the plus or the minus is the ground... help!

Salman is a sporting fellow; he's from Northern Africa. He saw me, as he got out of the sport center, started running and yelled "I've got a boosting unit in my car... it's the safest way to do this... hold on!" In the meantime, Abdul, with whom I also do sports, walked up to me, grabbed the cables, connected the whole thing and asked the lady to start the car. When Salman returned with his boosting unit, everything was settled. Yep... I was all set to go home and put the kids to sleep.

New-stock Québécois beats Pure Laine 2-0.


adski said...

A New-stock Québécois?

Nice upgrade to "le vote ethnique".

Michel Bolduc said...

I see you're still hurting from the speech Parizeau did 15 years ago. I remember you mentioning that you're of Polish origin. Perhaps you should know that he was married to Alicja Poznańska. May I suggest you read Parizeau is racist to know more and 1995 revisited for a different take on what might have happen that infamous night?

adski said...


Regarding your post on Parizeau:

1.I’m aware that his wife was a Polish Canadianne/Quebecoise (the comment to that post also says that she was the one that pushed Parizeau into the arms of Quebec’s nationalist movement). It always boggled my mind and baffled me. Being a member of the Polish Montreal community, I can tell you that my community is 99.9% federalist (one of the 0.1% being the folk singer Bernard Adamus), and on top of that anglophilic (Michel Brûlé in his book Anglaid went as far as to call Poland "un pays colonisé", which of course is a huge stretch, but he was right to the extent that English is everywhere in Poland and that the kids are taught English from an early age, the government’s goal being to achieve the same level of English fluency as that in Sweden / Norway / Finland / Denmark / Holland)
2. Alicja Parizeau passed away in 1990. I am curious as to what her reaction would have been if she was around in 1995 to hear her husband’s speech. We will never know.
3. I don’t know or care whether Parizeau is racist. I am not perfect myself. In a multiethnic, multicultural society, it is impossible to be 100% tolerant. However, a political leader with presidential aspirations should not make these types of comments. In any other western country, it would have meant political suicide. No more books, no more speeches, no more appearances at celebrity galas, no more offering of expert advice. Just gone with the wind.
4. I can understand Parizeau’s frustration. He was inches away from realizing his biggest dream – becoming a president of a country. Being a provincial premier didn’t satisfy his enormous ambitions.
5. Ironically, Parizeau’s speech in 1995 helped me quite a bit. Until then, I was very confused as to my identity in terms of Poland-Quebec-Canada. After that, it became a bit clearer. One of the 3 got dropped. Less confusion.
6. In Poland we have a nationalist/ separatist movement too (we joined the EU in 2004). They do not get more than 5% of public support.
7. In your post, you say "During the last US presidential campaign, political analysts used the expression "ethnic vote" to explain different demographic patterns". I follow American politics more closely than Canadian or Quebecois, and I have never heard or seen the term "ethnic vote" used in any of mainstream media (tv and paper), not even on the ridiculous Fox News. I certainly never heard a major politician invoke this phrase (although Bush senior is quoted to have said "the little brown ones" once when referring to Mexican children, but he did it off the record, so he can always claim hearsay). Can you cite your sources for that?

Michel Bolduc said...

Follow the link... With ethnic vote so crucial, usual rules don't apply.

When I talk to people who were raised abroad, I often hear them refer to their country of origin as "chez nous". There's a little bit of that in your writing: "In Poland we have a nationalist/ separatist movement too."

I'm not suggesting that immigrants should renounce their origin; I'm simply pointing out how long a process integration can be. I have the utmost respect for people who made the decision of moving around the world to improve their life, a sacrifice and an experience I can't even begin to understand. And no... I'm not preaching.

Michel Bolduc said...

P.S.: Assuming you believe there's no room for people of different origins in the sovereignty movement, may I suggest Sovereigntist tokenism?

adski said...


Regarding the non-Francophone participation in Quebec’s independence movement, I always found it peculiar. Say you’re an immigrant, you get your papers from the Canadian embassy, arrive in Canada (not just any country but one of the best in the world), get Canadian citizenship, make well for yourself economically (the standard of living you could only have dreamed of in your country of origin), become an active participant in the country’s democratic politics (something that might have been denied to you in your country of origin), no longer have to worry about anything but harsh winters, and...get involved with the movement whose main goal is to break up the country that have taken you in and given you so much. Especially that the movement’s reason for separation is based on ethnic identity, something that you, the immigrant, are NOT part of, nor identify with.

It doesn’t make any sense. And therefore the support of Quebec allophones for Quebec’s souverenity is minimal. People like Barbot, Kotto, Nunez, Mourani, and a few others are not a proof that something is changing, they are rather an exception that proves the general rule. Most immigrants will not say: “look, the BQ fielded an allophone in this riding, so something must be changing”, they will rather say: “what is this allophone doing with the separatists? Has he lost his mind?”. In my experience, any separatist that wants to underline how open his movement is, names these names and ONLY these names. 6 or 7 people. That’s it. Because there aren't that many more.

And I don’t have to invoke any anecdotes from my personal life. Election results speak for themselves. In the last municipal election, Harel’s party fielded more visible minority candidates than Tremblay’s team. All the allophones voted for Tremblay the crook en masse, rather than for someone who is associated with the separatist movement. Referendum 1995 – “le vote ethnique” kills it for the separatists, any BQ/PQ rally – all the faces in the crowd are those of white pure laine Francophones (any minority face stands out like a sore thumb), provincial elections – allophones vote PLQ even if the Liberals field a donkey, federal elections – where does the BQ get his votes? - in the regions and Montreal Est.

Why? It is explained in the first paragraph. Who wants separation?

My biggest problem with Quebec’s nationalist movement is not that they’re fighting for the rights of French Canadians (it’s normal that each group will fight for advantages and power) or Parizeau’s choice of words in 1995, or Duceppe's spastic face, or late Falardeau’s controversial rants. It is rather that the most prominent point on their agenda is the dissolution of my adoptive country.

Michel Bolduc said...

Opposing Canada's existence to Québec's independence is rather simplistic. There's more to this country than a single province. It must be terrible to believe otherwise.

You point to Tremblay's success to illustrate how allophones are against sovereignty. Yet, Harel's candidacy wasn't about that.

Why the majority of immigrants doesn't support Québec's independence is very easy to understand. I'm simply pointing out that the sovereignty movement isn't the monster of intolerance so many would like them to believe.