"As politicians and experts from every facet of the political spectrum told Maclean's, the history of corruption is sufficiently long and deep in Québec that it has bred a culture of mistrust of the political class."
Who are these politicians and experts?... a professor of ethics in Toronto, Amir Khadir from the left-wing, Éric Duhaime from right-wing circles and a Liberal MP. There!... we're covered!
Of course, other provinces have had their share of scandals, e.g. three premiers of British Columbia left under a cloud of criminal allegations, if not outright accusations. No country in the world is immune from corruption, but you see... in Québec, it runs deeper. It's somewhat in the collective psyche. And Maclean's most recent cover story is not to prove what everybody knows. It's to submit a sociological explanation. Why are the Québécois as they are?
Well... it's because of nationalism... while the Québécois constantly debate on the place of their province in Canada, no one follows-up on the schemers. That's that!... plain... simple and to the point. Everyone knows that Maurice Duplessis, was extremely nationalist. Say what?... one of the cleanest governments in Canada was run by René Lévesque from 1976 to 1985?... this government voted one of the most severe laws on political parties financing?... it inspired Jean Chrétien to do the same in Ottawa?... the exception that proves the rule, I gather.
But wait! That's not all!... Québec media are also allergic to constructive self-criticism. Even worst... they see any flaws exposed nationally as Québec bashing. Say what again?... Québec media were the ones to expose the collusion in the construction industry?... another exception that proves the rule, I suppose.
Ok... I admit it... it's possible that corruption's more prevalent in Québec. But shouldn't the authors of this story display a minimum of journalistic rigor? Such an assessment must rely on solid data, not just a collection of headlines.
Has a Québec publication ever exposed Canadian scandals in a similar manner? What would be the Canadian reaction to a report stating that Toronto's regulatory organizations are the worst in the world because of Bre-X, Nortel and Conrad Black? A report stating that, according to a Chicoutimi historian, the English-Canadian psyche has such propensity for greed that it conveniently turns a blind eye and lets billions vanish from the stock market? Such a report could then quote the late Robert Cliche, who chaired a Royal Commission investigating corruption in Québec's construction industry in the 70s: "Below $20,000, it's a fraud, above this amount, it's high finance."
Even punchier!... what would be the Canadian reaction to a report, citing Pickton and Olson, stating that, according to a psychologist from Trois-Rivières, British Columbia is the land of Canadian serial killers because of its annual rainfalls?
Where on Earth is Maclean's heading? Don't they know a recent Léger poll suggests that the Québécois aren't satisfied with the Bastarache inquiry [Google translation]? 78% of the province's population actually believes a full fledge inquiry on the construction industry should take place.
Isn't this a blatant example of not letting facts get in the way of a perfectly good story? The real story here, I'm afraid, is that, like all struggling printed media, Maclean's is simply fighting for its share of the market at the newsstand.
This being written, and on behalf of the sovereigntists who feel that pitting the two solitudes against one another serves their cause, I would like to thank "Canada's only national weekly current affairs magazine" for their contribution.
Adapted from a column by Yves Boisvert, "Le Bonhomme Carnaval enfin expliqué" [Google translation] published in La Presse, September 27th, 2010.