And so the rift widens - Take 2

I've always thought that a Harper majority government would contribute to the feeling of exclusion in Québec and would thus fuel the sovereignty movement. In yesterday's Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson put my thoughts into words.


Federalists are clueless

In the words of Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: "The Bloc Québécois exists only because the other three parties are clueless."

Click here [Google translation] to read the whole story.


And so the rift widens

I've always thought that a Harper majority government would contribute to the feeling of exclusion in Québec and would thus fuel the sovereignty movement. In today's Globe and Mail, Rhéal Séguin puts my thoughts into words.


Different views on a coalition

Harper was in Brampton Ontario this weekend. Both Toronto's the Globe and Mail and Montréal's La Presse covered the event.

The Globe and mail points out that a coalition would sow instability in the country. La Presse stresses [Google translation] that Harper wasn't clear on his position on a possible cooperation with the NPD and the Bloc in 2004. According to the reporter, Harper's team had a hard time handling that particular topic during Q & A.

It's no wonder the two solitudes don't understand each other. They read different news.


Duceppe says Harper lying

It's election time again!... and Harper says a coalition isn't a good idea. Time flies. Things change. And back in 2004, the "would be" prime minister thought a coalition against the Liberals was a good idea.
September 9, 2004
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1


As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government's program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.


Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Québécois
Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party
Duceppe isn't the only one who says Harper is lying.


A sovereigntist and a gentleman

Pierre Falardeau passed away in September of 2009. Director of Elvis Gratton and many other films, he was a staunch defender of the Québec sovereignty movement.

He also was a very intelligent and generous man who was respected by his neighbors, some of whom had very different political opinions.

Click here [Google translation] to know more about this tribute to a fascinating man.


Mon pays, ce n’est pas Vancouver! - Take 2

In the words of Pample the Moose: "I had to shake my head in amused bewilderment in reading Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong's whining in his memoirs about how the issue of French in the Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies was criticized by people like Graham Fraser and James Moore..."

In his recent book, the head of last year's Winter Olympics also complains about how he was treated by La Presse's journalist Réjean Tremblay [Google translation] at a conference press. According to Mr. Furlong, the journalist tried forcing him to speak French. Mr. Tremblay sheds a different light on the anecdote.
"John Furlong spoke exclusively English for about seven minutes presenting the province's Premier. Jean Charest made an interesting 10-minute speech exclusively in French during which Mr. Furlong didn't wear his translation headset. Did he understand what was being said?

French and English are the official languages of Canada. French and English are the official languages of the Olympic Movement. This was Québec Day at the Games. Was Mr. Furlong being contemptuous? I felt compelled to clear it out.

I was the first when the Q & A session began and asked Mr. Furlong what he thought of Mr. Charest's words. I invited him to answer in English if it was easier for him. He had no clue what the Premier talked about and looked like a complete fool. Mr. Charest's grin was unequivocal."
There are two sides to a coin.


I want to pogne

The American hegemony on the pop music scene is indisputable. And many talent hunters from the United States are exploring other regions of the globe in search for new ideas and artists to carry them. Scouting for new talents, Gene Simmons was at the Metropolis last November for the M pour Montréal music event. His presence obviously didn't go unnoticed.

In its report on the event, ChartAttack.com deemed it worthwhile to mention that Mr. Simmons told a room packed with local media (i.e. mostly French) that "any self-respecting band interested in making money has to sing in English. The Scorpions could barely speak two words of English and managed just fine."

Happily unmarried with Canadian model Shannon Tweed since 1985, the Kiss front man knew exactly where he was heading with the local press. Of course, he's right about singing in English being a better route for making money; the list of best selling music artists is packed with English-language singers. But what appears to be close-mindedness to the average North American may simply be curiosity for things other than English.

It's kinda cool to highlight these differences in cultural curiosity. The Who, for example, was a popular band with album sales in the 100 million vicinity. Despite a successful tour in 2006-2007, ticket sales weren't strong enough in Montréal to justify a stop in the city.

On the other hand, Rammstein, a band from Germany singing almost exclusively in German, was a hit in Québec City last summer. When they embarked on their world tour last fall, Montréal was one of only two cities in North America and tickets sold like hotcakes. They will be back this spring (three times in less than a year) and sales are doing fine; Montrealers in search for good tickets this coming May should consider Toronto.

Still, Mr. Simmons missed the mark by using The Scorpions to illustrate his point. Céline Dion is a much better example. She sold twice the albums Mr. Simmons did with his band and, unlike The Scorpions, has a very descent répertoire of songs in her mother tongue.

Perhaps, Rock et Belles Oreilles said it best in 1989 when they released "I want to pogne", a Frenglish phrase for "I want to be famous".

Don't get me wrong. Singing in English is great. And Québec's music scene is jumping on the bandwagon along with others at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Need I say I wish them good luck?

If there's one thing that should stand above all... it's that... well... there's stuff going on outside the English-speaking world.