Parizeau on the CBC

Jacques Parizeau was interviewed by the CBC this week to promote the recent English release of his book, "An Independent Quebec, The Past, the Present and the Future". His main point is that there's room in the global economy for small nations as long as they're part of a bigger economic ensemble.

Click here to listen to it.


The world would love to be Canadian

According to a recent international survey commissioned by the Historica-Dominion Institute, 53 per cent of adults in the world's 24 leading economies said they would immigrate to Canada. It's always nice to read these things.

Still, I couldn't help thinking about an anecdote while visiting France in my early twenties. Those were the days when the Canadian passport had a mystical aura (Harper put a few dents in it since his arrival) and I was hitchhiking my way around with a Canadian flag. At one point, I was picked up by an old French couple who told me that when they saw the Canadian flag they instantly knew I could only be a good person. I candidly told them that we also had thugs in Canada; they simply wouldn't believe it.

More recently, I was chatting with a colleague who moved from France in the early 90s, during the biker war in Montréal. He, like the old couple, had an idealized vision of Canada and was shocked to discover thugs also existed on this side of the Atlantic.

With his usual caustic humor, La Presse's Pierre Foglia pens down a delightful column this morning. He makes a blatant point at how lame these surveys can be.

Click here [Google translation] to read it.


A constitution for unity

In the words of Benoît Pelletier (former Liberal minister of the Charest government): "In most countries, the Constitution is a source of unity. Here, it's a source of divisions."

Click here for the full story.


Patron saints aren't equal

Saint Patrick is the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. Celebrations for Saint Patrick's Day began as a purely Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 1600s. It has gradually become a secular celebration of Ireland's culture. The longest-running Saint Patrick's Day parade in Canada occurs each year in Montréal, the flag of which has a shamrock in one of its corners. The parades have been held in continuity since 1824.

In 1834, inspired by the celebrations in Montréal, several attending Patriotes got the idea of organizing something similar for all the Canadiens and their friends. By the late 1800s, the idea had spread to French speaking communities across North America and they started gathering to mark June 24 as an important holiday. In 1908, Pope Pius X officially designated St. John the Baptist as the patron saint of all French Canadians across the country.

St. Patrick's Day was March 17. To mark the event, Google.ca had one of its customized logos; both The Globe and Mail and The National Post printed a story about the origins of the holiday.

St. John the Baptist Day is today. Celebrations have started last night on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City and continue today at Parc de Maisonneuve in Montréal and across the province. The concerts in Québec City and Montréal commonly draw more people than Canada Day usually does one week later in other major cities of the country. Still, the holiday is a non event for the majority of Canadians. Google.ca, The Globe and Mail and The National Post are silent about it.

June 24 was made into the Fête nationale du Québec in 1977 by the PQ government to encompass all residents of the province. In the minds of many, St. John the Baptist Day has become intricately associated with Québec's sovereignty movement. Yet, the St. Jean Baptiste Society is behind the Canadian Maple Leaf and our country's National Anthem, symbols that Canadians of all stripes embrace as their own.

I wish French Canadians from across the country a very good St. John the Baptist Day and Québécois of all origins a very good Fête nationale du Québec.


Constitutional and PQ ambivalence

Jean Charest believes Marois should clarify the PQ's stance [Google translation] on the next referendum. Parizeau believes the PQ should have a clearer agenda on the next referendum.

Mr. Parizeau points to a public-opinion poll conducted last month by the Bloc Québécois showing that while the vast majority of Québécois (more than 70 per cent) want a new political arrangement with the rest of Canada, an equal number in the rest of the country refuse to bow to Québec's wishes. "This poll is a bombshell," Mr. Parizeau said. "The door is shut. Reforming federalism is gone."

Québec is like an unhappy employee with a decent job who's too scared to start his own business with all its pros and cons. Canada is like the employer of this unhappy employee. He recognizes the value of his contribution. He acknowledges this employee's particular need, when in private, but he's afraid to make them official because of what other employees might say.

Until one or the other makes a move, the bickering will continue.


Northern Fox

Thirty years ago today, Ted Turner flipped a switch and the face of news was never the same again. Struggling with its ratings, the network can now say the same about the audience. "People are drawn to the echo chamber, and they want to have their opinions validated more often than they want to have their opinions challenged," says Campbell Brown. "And trying to present an unbiased perspective is simply harder."

Today, Quebecor announced its intent to launch a 24-hour right-leaning "à la Fox" news channel on Jan. 1, 2011. Additional news channels are a good thing, but what's wrong with this picture? Is the only way to sell goods and services to cater to the consumer?

In their continuous quest to sell more goods, marketers have been exploiting preconceived ideas and have succeeded in comforting consumers into thinking they are always right. Now, news network must follow that path to be commercially viable. Objective information is losing ground.