Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thanks for the Memories....

For over four years I've written this blog in an effort to fulfill an inner desire to share some of my thoughts and experiences with you.

From a tiny following, the blog has blossomed, giving a small voice to a not so insignificant segment of Quebec Anglo society that the mainstream media doesn't seem to address. It has been, to say the least, entirely rewarding and I've kept going far beyond where I first thought I'd go solely because of the readership.

But all things come to an end.

With the election of the Liberals and the prospect of the PQ dim for the short and immediate term, there is less of an impetus for me to continue.

Can we as Anglos and Ethnics claim victory over sovereigntist forces?

Perhaps yes, but the real problem was never sovereignty, but rather the treatment of Anglos and Ethnics by all  Quebec governments.
It is sad to see that we continue to be viewed as interlopers, a people to be controlled not appreciated, an alien nation within the legitimate body politic of French Quebec.

Too harsh?
Nope, I don't think so. I continue to believe that if Quebec chooses to remain in Canada, it is simply an economic decision, the alternative of an independent and truly French Quebec a dream too costly and unrealistic for a generation whose real values include Facebook and Nintendo.

I remain convinced that if Quebec had the wealth of Alberta's oil sands, this province would have overwhelmingly voted for independence years ago.
It's really just about the money and when Quebecers finally realized how much money Canada lavishes upon them, the independence movement withered.

Such is the reality of our Quebec society, locked into a loveless marriage of convenience, forever unhappy and unfulfilled but financially comfortable, a difficult trade off to make.

As for myself, I look forward to the summer, sipping margaritas by the backyard pool, leaving the bitching and moaning to others, God knows, I've done my share.

To those who have been faithful readers and contributors I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your interest, friendship and lively conversation.

I would never have come this far without you.

and so I fade to black....

I'll leave the comments section open for a while and the blog itself open for research purposes.

Thank you all once again.....
PHILIP BERLACH

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Brent Tyler the Right Person for EMSB Chair

(Fair Disclosure: Brent Tyler is a good friend, whose campaign I am happy to support )
For too many years Brent Tyler has been the last Anglo manning the barricades, defending our community against the relentless English language oppression of successive Quebec governments, (both separatist and federalist) which all believed and continue to believe that the French language in Quebec can only be advanced and protected by the humiliation and repression of all things English.

That repression has taken its toll on the English Montreal School Board which along with other English school boards have seen a disastrous drop in enrollment, due not only to demographics, but the constraints over eligibility since the introduction of Bill 101.

Most of us know of Brent Tyler for his relentless defense of all things English in the courts, many of his cases going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and many of those cases resulting in victories, although unfortunately, some Phyrric in nature.

For some in the English community Brent's long battle to defend English rights is a losing strategy and many among us would rather see our community grovel, content in  throwing ourselves on the mercy of an unsympathetic government, begging for crumbs, like Moses impelling Pharaoh to let his people go.
But like Moses, at a certain point discussion becomes moot and action required.

Tyler's court battles have borne fruit and more importantly his tireless battles over Bill 101 reminds me of the sports metaphor which paraphrased translates as, 'keeping the government honest' or wary and hesitant of over-reaching in the face of the inevitable Tyler lawsuit.

Permit me a hockey metaphor where coaches teach and expect their players to 'finish their check', that is, to follow through with a crunching bodycheck even after the opposing players has released the puck. The message sent is that there is no 'free pass' and that the opposing player would be best to keep his head up and refrain from taking liberties, perhaps considering acting less aggressively in consideration of the coming hit.

Brent has been doing just that for decades, and I can only imagine the scene around several cabinet tables where oppressive language measures are considered and where the specter of Tyler hauling them into court, a real consideration.

As for the current Chairperson, Angela Mansini, she has been on the job too long, a tenure that has seen the board threatened with trusteeship by the government because of the utter dysfunction.
I have spent dozens of hours watching past EMSB board meetings which are available online and it is evident to this observer that things need to change.

Ms. Mancini runs the board autocratically, unwilling or unable to suffer perceived fools, she railroads her decisions through a combination of arrogance and bulldozing.

Ms. Mancini works in concert with the vice-chair, Sylvia Lo Bianco,  the chairman's lap dog, a chihuahua who yips and barks at her master's beck and call, when not licking her boots.
It isn't pretty and plainly an embarrassment to the entire Anglo community.

Not all the problems can be laid at the chairperson and the vice-chair, the 23 elected members are too many, with many wasting time grandstanding and posturing. The cliques and alliances have hampered progress, but ultimately responsibility for the quagmire belongs to Ms. Mancini, who has been unable or unwilling to build bridges or create a consensus.
It was another demonstration of the political infighting that has dogged the school board since its inception in 1998.
This particular meeting ended abruptly, with many commissioners walking out.
The tension that night presumably didn't go unnoticed by the lawyer named by the Quebec government in February to help break the political logjam at the EMSB.
Tommaso Nanci's original mandate was from February to the end of April, but has since been extended more than once, most recently beyond a Dec. 8 end date.
These latest clashes raise questions about how much progress has been made at the EMSB's Council of Commissioners since he was appointed....
.... The council consists of 23 elected commissioners and two parent commissioners.......
.....The political infighting has come at a cost to taxpayers. As of July, the government had spent $100,200 for Nanci's services.
The board has also paid about $35,000 to its external ethics commissioner, a position school boards are required to have, since she was named in May 2007.....
.....Bernie Praw, a former teacher and principal who has been a commissioner since 1998, said he is disheartened by the board's dysfunction. Link
In the board’s early days, secrecy helped avoid unflattering media attention by cloaking unseemly “screaming matches and backstabbing” (Gazette, Nov. 16, 2003), but when secrecy returned after the 2007 elections (violating the council’s own internal rules), it backfired, producing a steady drumbeat of embarrassing headlines such as: “School board just doesn’t get it” (Gazette, Mar. 28, 2009), “School board’s secrecy cuts it off from the public” (Gazette: Feb. 16, 2008), “Culture of EMSB has to change; Bloc voting, secrecy and partisanship abound” (Feb 23, 2008) and “EMSB split on transparency issue” (Mar 24, 2008).
A mature group of candidates, once elected and duly sworn in, should simply operate without controversy. Commissioners should willingly step into the glare of public scrutiny and conduct business in a transparent fashion, as do other elected officials.
Commissioners unable to do so should follow The Gazette’s prescription of resigning en masse to let more reasonable and able citizens stand for election. Link
Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 11:00 am, Bent Tyler will be holding an event on the steps  of the EMSB school board office at 6000 Fielding (angle Cote St. Luc Road) to announce his candidacy.  

I hope our community shows support and if you can turn out it would lend a certain gravitas to the event.
If anyone would like to help with the campaign, I'm sure Brent can use all the help he can get and so you can contact him through the FACEBOOK PAGE set up for the campaign.

Returning the EMSB back to its past days of glory is well nigh impossible, but it is important to preserve and protect our proud Anglo heritage and part of that obligation is supporting and nurturing our English school system.

I can't think of a better person to fight for that goal than Brent Tyler.

Friday, June 13, 2014

World Cup is a Colossal Bore

Soccer is the fine art of diving.....
As the hockey season winds down, I am reminded why soccer is such a colossal bore and while billions and billions of people all over the world are fans, over here in Canada and the USA, most native born cannot stomach the sport, with good reason.

Yes we mere mortals are told that we do not properly understand the sport, that it is a game of anticipation and it is that anticipation that is to be celebrated.
Really?
The Chinese Water Torture is also about anticipation.
 
What's not to understand about a sport where the object is to put the ball in the opponents net, something that happens barely often enough.

So here is my top ten reasons to hate soccer and skip the World Cup in Brazil altogether.

10. Low scoring.  Just too few exciting plays around the goal and way too few  goals.

09. Lack of complexity. How come all those fancy backward/forward, inside/outside soccer moves that we see players strut in practice are NEVER seen in a real game.

08. Diving players. It's just pathetic to see these so-called 'talented' athletes pretend they've been fouled by an exaggerated dive. It's even more pathetic that referees who are standing too far away fall for these antics more often than not. Cheating defines soccer.
07. Refereeing. The field is gigantic and the two referees have no chance to accurately call the game. Considering the rampant diving, it's ridiculous that every big game is contested by the losing team complaining about poor refereeing. And how about no video review for goals. What century is soccer in?
06. The field is too big. It takes forever to get from one end to the other and so most of the action is in the utterly boring mid-field.

 05. Penalties. They play too large a role in the game. It's hard enough to score in soccer but ridiculously easy to score on a penalty kick awarded near the goal. The free kick  is just too large an advantage when the success rate is 87%. Considering that most penalties in soccer occur after a dive, it somehow doesn't seem fair.

04. Game-fixing. The Sport is rife with cheating on and off the field and any sport you can't bet on with confidence is no fun at all.

03. The time clock. First problem is that the clock counts up not down, a senseless state of affairs, when the only thing that counts is how much time is left to play. Then there is the fact that soccer hasn't learned how to stop the game clock at an appropriate time as in the case of a player being carted off the field. Instead the game is extended by the referee after time runs out, but nobody knows for how long until the end of regulation time. Confused? Yup......

02. FIFA. The organizing body makes the International Olympic Committee look like choir boys. The governing body of soccer known by the acronym of FIFA the shadiest international sports body in the world. Bribes are alleged to be in the millions otherwise how on Earth can you explain awarding the 2022 World Cup to QATAR,  a tiny middle eastern oil with no soccer stadiums or even soccer teams, a country that regularly hits 50 degrees Celsius in the summer when the tournament is scheduled to be held.

01. Hooliganism. The sport attracts the very worst elements of society and this across the continents. From skinheads to Nazis, antisemites and various other racists. A large proportion of soccer fans are a drunken band of brawling misfits who tear up cities and towns across the world.
And here's a bonus reason ... The annual soccer stadium disaster that invariably happens somewhere in the world, caused by a deadly grandstand collapse, fire, or just general overcrowding and poor safety measures, resulting in dozens, if not hundreds of deaths.

Yay, soccer!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Marois Leaves the Stage With One More Lie

It's finally summer here in Quebec and most of us can be forgiven for wanting to make the best of the sun without thinking about the perils of politics, corruption, deficits or the merits of federalism versus sovereignty.

Perhaps we are more inclined to consider the weighty choice between beer or wine, hot dogs or burgers and in truth,  whatever our political beliefs we all share the common desire to get the most out of our skimpy summer, whether it's a trip to Old Orchard beach or a picnic in the local park.
From the already completed Grand Prix to the upcoming festivals, Montrealers will take to the streets and parks with reckless abandon, adopting minimalist garb, both men and women, sometimes a people watcher's delight, sometimes not so much...
It is of course, our famous 'terrace' season, where sipping a libation during the afternoon in a restaurant, al fresco, an experience only topped by doing the same at night beneath the stars sky.

So I'll try to keep this light, a commentary on the very sad and humiliating exit of Pauline Marois from the Quebec political stage and do so in quoting the famous bard, in the spirit of...  "A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.."

It is the Canadian and indeed Quebec way to give an outgoing politician a break, a merciful  and unchallenged exit with few in the media prepared to kick the hapless sap delivering their swan song.

In this respect, the media reminds me of a pack of vicious dogs that attack and savage an animal, but who give up after a thorough mauling, leaving the victim badly injured and barely alive, as if the fun lasts only as long as the victim resists.

And so Pauline gave her final speech before an audience of pequists in Drummondville, perhaps unawares or deliberately innocent of the fact that almost everyone in the room blame her for the debacle of the last election that saw the PQ not only removed from power, but decimated as well.

Pauline has taken the PQ from a legitimate political force in Quebec, to a laughingstock, rejected by just about everyone except its political core, down to third place at 20% in the polls, a disaster that few could have predicted or even fathomed just two months ago.

So it's a little strange that nobody has called her out on her improbable ramblings and musing over the events of that spectacular fall, topped off by her claim in that speech in Drummondville that she had "no regrets."
Stealing a line from Edith Piaf, "Je ne regrette rien" I sat in stunned disbelief when I read the line, aghast by her incredible ability to lie straight-faced, but I guess we should be used to it.

So really.. no regrets?
All I can say is that if she has no regrets she's an idiot, and if she does, as she should, then she is a liar in saying that she has none.

The election fiasco is highlighted by the entire PQ party regretting their actions and admitting as much in public. One Pequist after another offered up their take on the errors and miscalculations that they made and voiced unabashedly the very real regrets they felt over the mistakes in the runnup and especially during the election campaign.
I bet every single member of the PQ regrets very badly....
  • calling an election when one was not necessary.
  • acting as a majority government whilst a minority.
  • refusing to compromise on the Charter of Values
  • reacting badly in the face of PKP's separatist fist salute.
  • responding to the Liberal party attacks on the referendum.....etc.etc.
  • vaunting the benefits of an independence during the campaign.
Nope, Pauline has many regrets, of that I'm sure, but offers an alternate reality, perhaps in order to ease her conscious, an exercise in self-delusion, constructed to alter reality and avoid responsibility for being the political fool.

Her delusion or dishonesty did not end with her claim that she had 'no regrets,' in an interview with LE DEVOIR she continued to blame others for the PQ meltdown, including the Globe and Mail, for publishing an unflattering photo of her and for taking a harsh stance against her and her party. Evoking the bogeyman of the big bad Anglos from Toronto, she remained unchallenged by the interviewer who never asked the obvious question as to how much an English article in a Toronto newspaper could possibly affect the outcome of the election, considering that the article was never even referred to in the French press.
" La réaction a été « virulente du côté des anglophones de Toronto », se remémore-t-elle, pointant une « photo [d’elle] grande comme ça qui n’était pas très belle à voir » à la une du Globe and Mail." Link{fr}
In that article Pauline did however reveal some truths, the fact that she was demolished by the defeat and the fact that in her mind she never considered that she and the PQ could lose the election, at worst being returned as a minority.
Calling the defeat a brutal shock, its a bit hard to accept her statement that she had no regrets.

She went on to attribute the election loss to a clever and underhanded Liberal party strategy wherein they evoked the spectre of a referendum, an unfair election ploy in her opinion, because she promised Quebecers a referendum only under 'winning conditions'.
Hmmm.
She then went on to explain that the PQ needs to better explain sovereignty, a line offered by all desperate sovereigntists, as if the PQ hasn't explained sovereignty over the last forty years. And so she parrots the latest PQ stratagem to add a ribbon and slap some lipstick on the pig that sovereignty has become.

Not everyone gave Pauline a free ride, it fell to longtime sovereigntist Josée Legault in Le Journal de Montreal to point out the surreal world that Marois paints for herself and the PQ.
I give Legault credit for remaining consistent and true to heart. She has in the past attacked Marois and the PQ throughout the Charter of Values debate, offering an alternate sovereigntist perspective, one shared by ex-PQ leaders, an opinion roundly ignored by the PQ and Marois. Those opinions should have set off alarm bells in the PQ that perhaps the party was flirting with disaster and when that disaster hit, I guess Legault had every right to gloat. Link{fr}

For those who question why Pauline and the PQ went to an election, it  wasn't just the fact that the party was doing okay in the polls, it was the fear within the party itself of being found out as frauds.

It is the same reason Jean Charest called the election in 2012 a year ahead of schedule. It was his fear that the Liberals would be later exposed as corrupt at the Charbonneau inquiry, a fear which I imagine was magnified by the inner knowledge that it was true.
Interestingly, the subsequent revelations at the commission weren't near as bad for the Liberals as they feared and the election and the defeat could be chalked up to a guilty conscious as well.

So to was the PQ mindset in calling the election, the leadership fearful that its mismanagement of the economy and the dire straights of government finances would surely sink it later on.
So like Jean Charest before her, the PQ rolled the dice with disastrous results.

Pauline leaves the PQ in shambles, discredited as incompetents, but worse, branded as liars.

In true form, Pauline in defeat and retirement reveals her true self and that of her husband.
Like a super-villain disguised as a friend, when found out, she rips her mask off in defiance, revealing her true evil inner-self.

Gone will be the shack that she has maintained in her God-forsaken riding in the boonies, a contrived symbol of her attachment to the region, as fictional as Mike Duffy pretending that he is a resident of Prince Edward Island.
No more pretending that she and her oily husband are modest, if not financially but in practice and taste.
Claude Blanchet's purchase of a shiny new red Ferrari is a not so subtle signal to Quebecers that the couple will survive just fine, no longer bound by the fiction of modesty and anxious to throw off the constraints of the fictional charade they have led during her political rise to the premiership.

Marois will perhaps go gentle into the night, but pride will preclude the quiet life. The couple will splash around their hitherto closeted money to validate their new existence, so don't be surprised to see a new 'chateau' in the near future.

One thing that Marois cannot do with her money or influence is to re-write the reality of her fall from grace and her responsibility of steering the party into uncharted and dangerous waters.

Her legacy will be of failure and greed, an ambitious and selfish politician willing to sow social discord for personal gain, a woman so obsessed with self that she was blinded to the harm she sowed.

She has nobody to blame but herself, she was warned by friend and enemy.

And so we gladly bid her adieu, the common opinion shared by both sovereigntists and federalists... good riddance! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quebec Sovereignty's Risk to Reward

I've waited a long time to write this piece, probably because I didn't quite know how to frame the argument.
But I came across a television show where a daredevil explained the concept of risk to reward so well, that it inspired me to write this piece which endeavours to explore the potential positive elements of Quebec sovereignty, versus the potential negative effects.

Now please watch this three minute video clip as an expert explains the concept.
The clip is from the National Geographic Channel's television show called "The Number's Game"  hosted by Jake Porway and is an utterly fascinating look into the world of statistics, probabilities and little known human traits.
I highly encourage you to view the show and consider a subscription to the National Geographic Channel, it will amaze you.
At any rate, I hope this little blurb for the NGC, will convince them to let me use this tiny clip about Jeb Corliss and how efficiently he analyses the risk to reward, in relation to any given stunt.

video

Humans are magnificent risk evaluators and while we all have different ideas about what is acceptable or not, we all do have a threshold beyond where we will not take a certain risk because the chance and consequences of failure is determined to be unacceptable.

Perhaps it's most simple to explain by a hypothetical challenge whereby you are asked to walk across a footbridge over a thousand foot gorge and where there is a possibility that the bridge may give, plunging you to your death, but where on the other side of the gorge is a satchel with a million dollars with your name on it.

Would you walk across the bridge if the chances were one in a million that it would collapse?
......I would.

But, what if the chance was 1/100,000, 1/10,000, or 1/1,000,  1/10 or 1/3?
Those are the types of decisions we all make every day when we get behind the wheel of our car or take an airplane flight, go bungee jumping or play dominos. Some people have a higher level of risk-taking than others, but in the end we all have a limit.

So here I'd like to discuss with devoted sovereigntists the concept of risk/reward of Quebec independence.

Has anybody ever really made a legitimate risk to reward analysis?
So let us consider...........

THE REWARD....
If you are a sovereigntist, the benefits of independence is clear. Bye-bye Canada, hello to Quebec the country.
How will Quebec be different?
Well, obviously the entire purpose of sovereignty is to make Quebec a French nation and that will certainly occur.
There won't be any chance that immigrants assimilate on the English side of the language equation because English will be phased out, there's no other reasonable expectation.
Public English services and education will be phased out and English will generally disappear, perhaps slowly, but ultimately completely.
For most sovereigntists, this is the ideal outcome, the ultimate safeguarding of a French future for Quebec by the elimination of English from all manner of Quebec life.
Additionally Quebec will be freed to explore its own version of society and those differences and compromises that it was forced to make in the past (like the gun registry) with Ottawa.

All this must be weighed against;

THE RISK...
To my mind the biggest risk is the amount of Quebec citizens and companies that will leave Quebec in favour of Canada. There's little doubt that there will be movement, but the question is how much.
The more that leave, the shakier the Quebec economy gets and if too many leave it could trigger a social and economic disaster.

Now to many sovereigntists  getting rid of Anglos who choose not to live in Quebec may seem as a reward but at a certain point, the exodus could make Quebec's situation untenable.

So is that number of people leaving Quebec 10,000 or a million? What say you?

Then there is the question of businesses leaving.
Like the head offices that stampeded out of Quebec during the 1970's, Quebec independence would force companies to make a decision of whether to stay or leave/
Having a Bombardier or CGI, or any of the large employers leave would be a staggering loss, having dozens or hundred or thousands of companies leave would be a disaster.

People and companies will move, but how many remains the issue to be considered.

The wild card in all this is whether Canada will make it easy for these people and these companies to move.
Let us remember the United Empire Loyalists who were British subjects enticed to come over the border from the newly created United States with offers of free land.

Let's look at it from Canada's point of view.
Once the dust has settled and Quebec is independent, Canada can make offers to Quebec businesses to jump to Canada for certain advantages, perhaps a ten or twenty year tax holiday.  Many businesses would jump at the opportunity given the uncertainty of an independent Quebec.
The problem for Quebec is that it will have to match the offers, just to keep what it already has.
I  can't really see Quebec in a position to make the same offer to Canadian companies, because frankly, there's the language barrier and also the fact that it's highly unlikely that any company based in Canada would consider moving to Quebec.

What if Canada makes the same re-location offer to average citizens, that is perhaps, a ten year holiday from federal taxes?
Will Quebecers on the fence be enticed with such an offer?

I'll tell you one thing readers, everybody will make a selfish decision based on self-interest.
If Quebec became a country tomorrow, I would rent a tiny apartment in Ottawa and declare myself an Ontarian, keeping my present Quebec residence as a 'second' home. A federal tax break from Ottawa would make the whole thing a no brainer, a win/win situation for me and a lose/lose situation for the Quebec tax department.
Every person  and every company will make a decision about the future and the only question is how much Quebec will bleed.

And I'm not even getting into the discussion of whether Quebec pulls out more money out of Canada then it puts in each year.
Dedicated sovereigntists have been trying to convince Quebecers that such is not the case, usually by some sleight of hand and fanciful cyphering, but lately Quebecers have become more and more skeptical of these claims.

So if you are a sovereigntist you really need to consider these risks against the reward, because the risks are real.
For too long the sovereigntist leadership has kept their heads firmly planted in the ground like an ostrich, never daring to play the 'what if' game.

You will recall that Bernard Drainville never sought legal opinions over the Charter of Values, because clearly he anticipated an unacceptable response.
This has been the sovereigntist position for over forty years.....don't ask/don't tell/don't discuss.

The current drop in support for sovereignty has nothing to do with the drop in nationalism. It is more likely because Quebers have performed their own risk/reward analysis in their own minds and have come to the conclusion that the reward of Quebec sovereignty is not worth the risk, most concluding that Quebec gets too good a deal out of Canada to give it up.

That is what the PQ has to reflect upon.
Is the reward of Quebec sovereignty worth the risk? Until now they've been asking Quebecers to bet the house without knowing the odds and it's clear that Quebecers are no longer prepared to do so.

Until they can show Quebecers a sovereignty plan that considers all the risks, they are dead in the water.
What the PQ must really consider during this period of reflection, is whether it is at all feasible.

I think not....

NOTE TO READERS.....
I will be taking it a little easy over the summer and be posting erratically, but keep checking back, I'll be around..