Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Quebec in Wonderland #1 ...Have a Laugh!

I haven't written one of these summaries in a while and instead of concentrating on language, I will focus on the bizarre, unbelievable and downright stupid.
I don't for a moment believe that Quebec is more inept than other provinces, in fact according to Conrad Black, Quebec is the best-run province fiscally and compared to the stupidity in Ontario, Canada's largest province which is run by an incompetent government led by an idiot Premier, we actually look pretty good.
But that being said, let me update you with some stories that you may have missed with the goal of getting to shake your head in disbelief and/or elicit a chuckle......

Tony Accurso fraud trial turns comical

 It's hard to believe that the one-time king of the Quebec construction industry and poster boy for the corruption that reigned in Quebec forever is finally on trial for his alleged misdeeds.
Accurso has so far put on an anemic fight, perhaps resigned to his fate. His defence is in essence that he was too big to get involved in petty corruption and it was his underlings that were responsible.

Channelling 'Sergeant Shultz,' Accurso claimed that he knew nothing and saw nothing.....
This led to his hilarious exchange between him and prosecutors while giving testimony on the stand.
"Are in agreement that Mr. Molluso betrayed your confidence during all these years? asked the crown prosecutor.
"Yes" responded Mr.Accurso.
"And I understand that Mr. Molluso is actually still working for you in your office."
"And you are still paying this guy?"

In summation, Accurso's lawyer said that there was little proof Accurso knew of the kickbacks, despite testimony from a Vaiilancourt henchman that Accurso directly handed him $200,000 in cash.

My prediction on the trial's outcome.....
Guilty as charged.
Sentence: 6 years in an 'Earl Jones' type country club prison with day passes after 6 months and parole after 18 months, when Accurso can pick up his life of opulence, sailing on his luxurious yacht in the Caribbean financed by idiot taxpayers.

And I can just picture him living the good life in 'jail.'

More incredible Stories of Corruption

As Casey Kasem used to say..."The hits just keep coming!"
A side benefit of the Accurso trial is the testimony by corrupt fundraisers as to the extent of the corruption that existed (or perhaps still does) in just about every town in Quebec.

Marc Gendron et Roger Desbois, two slimy 'fundraisers' testified that not only were payoffs par for the course in Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt's Laval but all over towns north of Montreal.
While some of this was revealed in the Charbonneau Commission, the witnesses elaborated on the exact payoffs they made in Blainville,  Lachute, Boisbriand, Saint-Therese and St Jerome, where the witness described an incredible $500,000 payoff on a contract of $69 million.
When reporters questioned UPAC (the anti-corruption police) as to whether these allegations are being pursued the standard "No Comment" was all that was to be had.

Anti-corruption police accused of guessed it...CORRUPTION!

Oh my, oh my!....Can it be??????
You might remember the arrest of a Quebec member of the National Assembly over alleged leaks concerning the activities of UPAC (the anti-corruption police,) an organization which incidentally is, in fact, responsible to no one.
Now it may be that the said MNA, Guy Ouellette, an ex-cop who has a spotless record of honesty was himself looking into allegations that UPAC itself is corrupt.

I won't bore you with the sordid details but here is as brief a synopsis as best I can describe.
It seems that Ouellet was informed by a close 'associate' (girlfriend??) whistleblower Annie Trudel of an alleged scheme involving UPAC, the AMF (the regulatory body of the Quebec financial markets) and a certain consulting firm.
Trudel was the person who was charged with investigating corruption at the Ministry of Transport and submitted a report to the National Assembly which WAS ACTUALLY DOCTORED surreptitiously by employees of the Ministry before its submission, to remove the damaging accusations. This led to the Deputy Minster being removed, but in true Quebec tradition, she landed on her feet, right in Premier Couillard's office....but I digress.
Now as a new anti-corruption measure, firms bidding for government contracts have to go through a vetting process run by the AMF. Trudel and Ouellet allege that UPAC, along with the AMF conspired with a consulting firm (which was used to steer companies through the process,) to bilk companies out of hundreds of thousands in excessive fees. One company paid around $600,000 to the consulting firm and accusations that a high ranking member of UPAC along with other UPAC members held shares in that company!!!!
Perhaps now we can understand the famous arrest Guy Ouellet (without charges ever being laid) as an intimidation effort by UPAC also meant to discredit him.
What is less known is that the same day Ouellet was arrested, Trudel was stopped on the street by UPAC investigators who demanded that she cooperate or face arrest as well. When she called their bluff and told them to f*ck off, the investigators called their superiors for instructions and were promptly told to let her go.
Does that sound professional to you?

Quebec's Auditor-General hit with accusations of ..... dishonesty

Oh, oh....
Quebec's auditor general has been cited in the press for alleged dubious business practices as owner of a company that received a $5 million government contract without tenders before she became auditor-general.
Guylaine Leclerc is alleged to have offered an AMF employee a free trip (AMF again????) to Laguna Beach, for  Women in Business Leadership Forum. The offer was politely refused.
 Robert Poëti, the Liberal government MNA in charge of overseeing the AMF invited the auditor-general to explain herself.      sigh.....

Montreal's New Taxi livery created by Idiots

 Okay, I understand that Montreal's taxis' were never required to distinguish themselves as such and generally looked like the dog's breakfast in contrast to for example, New York's famous yellow taxi livery.
But Montreal's new scheme for taxis was created by somebody who was a little too creative and had too much time on their hands. The new livery has the word "BONJOUR" painted on the side of the car instead of the more practical "TAXI" leading to certain confusion for foreigners visiting our city.

Instead of this more practicable version. that I Photoshopped...

Think I'm nitpicking?
Would you recognize these as a taxis in a foreign land?

Olympic Stadium delivers more pain

The government announced that it will spend $200 million dollars to replace the Olympic stadium roof.
The stadium is over forty years old, long past the average lifespan of these type of stadiums.
The Houston Astrodome was declared obsolete after 35 years and after years of disuse was taken down in 2008.
Now we all know that the $200 million price tag will balloon exponentially and the question remains...
The stadium is North America's most expensive white elephant, one that Montrealers have been paying for in blood and dollars for decades. It remains a sad testament to Mayor Drapeau and architect Roger Taillibert's excessive overreach and hubris.
The stadium has exactly three events scheduled for the next year. Yup, three....

By the way;

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that if Montreal is going to be a major league city again, there needs to be a plan in place for a new ballpark. "We're not going to play in Olympic Stadium," he told reporters.
....Oh well, it's just another $200 million down the drain...

Quebec Justice marches a snail's pace

It's hard to keep track of all the corruption scandals that have rocked Quebec over these last years, but the one that involved the late Arthur Porter is one that sticks out particularly.
Porter, in a position of trust, oversaw the building of the new $1.4 billion English super-hospital and was charged with orchestrating a $22 million dollar bribe, allegedly paid by SNC-Lavalin with the alleged complicity of one Yoni Elbaz who was charged with corruption OVER FOUR YEARS AGO.
And still no trial.
Today Elbaz is appealing to the court to dismiss the case based on the Jordan decision that requires a trial within 30 months.
It seems like a slam dunk for the defendant, but it remains to be seen what the crown will come up with, as an excuse.
Now Elbaz has been in a particularly cruel limbo over these past years as nobody but nobody is interested in doing business with him or hiring the alleged crook.
Somehow I don't feel sympathetic even though had he been convicted, he'd be long out of prison by now.
I'm interested to see how this pans out.

And speaking of the wheels of Quebec justice, its been 10 months already since the Quebec City mosque shooting and the alleged perpetrator Alexandre Bissonnette has still not had a trial with none scheduled.
Now the accused remains in detention, but what on Earth can be taking so long. The case is another no-brainer, with the facts not in dispute and the only question remaining being whether he is sane or not. Surely this should have been adjudicated already!

Montreal's bus caught in 'flagrante delicto'

 A television news story about a cyclist killed by an idiot tourist making an illegal U-turn caught a Montreal city bus blowing through a cross-walk on that same road at some 20 kilometres per hour over the speed limit....

This'n that

A defeated municipal politician Ani Samson will collect a record departure payment of some $280,000, money designed to make the transition into private sector a bit easier... Ya think??

The new mayor of Montreal wants the power to impose a surcharge on foreigners buying homes in Quebec, especially in Montreal where prices remain incidentally among the cheapest in large cities in Canada. Meant to protect new home buyers, the mayor fails to understand that the homes and condos targeted by foreign buyers are among the most expensive properties in Montreal, not exactly fodder for new home buyers.

That a celebrity Quebec chef, Giovanni Apollo who was outed as lying about his background (his real first name Jean-Paul and he was not born in Italy) is nothing particularly newsworthy,  it was his response that was memorable.
"A La Presse investigation published today that raised questions about his past, including his identity, his qualifications and even his place of birth."
His response is priceless.
“It may be that some parts of my personal life might have been romanticized or some statements about me could have been nuanced, but by in no case will I accept we transform this into ridicule or lies 34 years of learning, varied experiences and meetings in the kitchen.” Apollo wrote on Facebook. 
Quebec judge OKs class-action lawsuit after major Montreal snowstorm last March 
Now the 1500 people stuck on the highway overnight are now claiming a paltry $3,000 for their ordeal. Given that the Quebec government hasn't a legal leg to stand on, you'd figure that settling would be prudent.
Even if the litigants get all they claim, it would mean a payout of just $4.5 million and with a little bargaining that could be knocked down to perhaps just three million. Considering that a trial would be humiliating and cost a fortune and that the government would inevitably lose, one would think discretion would be the better part of valour.
You might recall that the ranking police officer in charge of operations that night was goldbricking and absent from his desk, busy completing a private real estate transaction at a notary's office, for his moonlighting job.
Will the government do the right thing? Dunno....
 As Quebecers champion the anti-pipeline position based on environmental concerns they blithely ignore the fact that Quebec is the champion of the archaic pollution engine that are the wood-burning stoves used for home heating, even in urban Montreal.
“As the colder weather sets in across southern Quebec, wood heating is being blamed for a smog warning in the Greater Montreal area and parts of the Laurentians, Montérégie, Lanaudière, Mauricie and Quebec City regions”.
How's that for hypocrisy!

And speaking of environmentalism, Quebec is facing a crisis because China will no longer accept Quebec's recyclables.
Over 60% of the garbage recyclables we place in the recycling bin was sent to China for processing but the Chinese have deemed the exercise no longer economically viable.  One major reason for the ban was that garbage was too often mixed in with the recyclable imports.
And so 60% of what we re-cycle is destined for the dump. Ha!Ha!
Congratulations Quebecers!!!!

Former Parti Québécois leader André Boisclair has confirmed he was arrested in Quebec City early Thursday morning after crashing his vehicle into a lamppost.
"I was indeed arrested last night for having driven my car while being under the influence of alcohol," said a post on Boisclair's Facebook page, which was published Thursday evening.
I made a big mistake and I am deeply sorry and I will now have to face the consequences," the post went on in French.”.
Think Boisclair is really all that remorseful????
“Police say the suspect refused to take a breathalyzer test and tried to intimidate officers.”.
Is it deja-vu all over again? This from 2005;
The question about André Boisclair's cocaine use was put point-blank to him yesterday after he spent days avoiding answering queries about the subject.

"What I can tell you is that I made mistakes. I did things I now regret. Yes I happen to have used. I can't be any clearer than that," Mr. Boisclair reluctantly said yesterday, refusing to use the word cocaine despite pointed questions by reporters.
Quebec radiologists are routinely billing the provincial health insurance agency for analyzing coronary angiograms, sometimes years after the procedures were carried out, Radio-Canada's Enquête has learned.
The interpretation of coronary angiograms was long ago made unnecessary by technological advances...” Link

Let's Finish with something feel-good

The Canadiens were recently in Chicago for a game with the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center where resident anthem singer Jim Cornelison treated fans to a stirring rendition of O Canada in both French and English.
Cornelison is the very best at his trade in the NHL and perhaps the Habs could invite him to Montreal to show off his pipes.
Who says French Quebecois don't get any respect in the USA?

OQLF- Quebec Language Cop's Slimy Incoherence

I've tackled this subject before but after channel surfing and coming across a BELL FIBE how-to video in French concerning the operation of the skinny remote control, I couldn't help but shrug my shoulders and wonder as to the utter incoherence of Quebec's infamous language police, the OQLF (l'Office québécois de la langue française.)

The thing I noticed was that the labels on the device were unilingually English, something I never thought about because I assumed that Bell sent me an English version because of my language preference.
Not so, I discovered to my surprise, all the remote controls have English only labelling.
Now why the OQLF does not force Bell to provide French labelling is mystifying, after all, Bell may have bought the devices in the USA, but they seem to have been able to add their BELL logo at the bottom of the device with no problem, so why not add French labels to the actual control buttons?

It is this type of incoherence that is maddening.

The OQLF seems dogged in attacking English only websites of mom and pop businesses that operate in Quebec, in order to shut them down or have them provide a French version.
It is hard to understand the rationale whereby the big players get a pass and the little players are screwed.
As they say in Quebec, Deux poids et deux mesures (Two weights..two measures.)  One set of rules for the rich and powerful companies and one for the schnooks.

It remains almost comical that vehicles in Quebec are allowed to be sold with dashboard labels exclusively in English but toy cars require French lettering.

Now I'm not going to return to the discussion about whether the OQLF serves a purpose and whether the defense of the French language at the expense of English is justified.
The whole subject of the place of English in Quebec is riddled with paradoxes and counter-intuitive opinions on the French side.
Polled as to the necessity of Bill 101, Francophone Quebecers are overwhelmingly in favour of the law, yet privately wish to send their kids to English school.

It seems to me that the OQLF has adopted a policy of doing what it can to reasonably implement aspects of the law while accepting that in certain instances, it cannot realistically impose its will.
That in and of itself seems logical, my father taught me as a young lad that if it's impossible to obtain the whole loaf of bread, take half.

The OQLF offers waivers to tech companies to operate in English, something they'd never allow small businesses to do.
While cars sold in many foreign countries have local language dashboards, North America has been deemed an 'Engish' market by car makers and so labels are exclusively in pictograms and English. (That being said, all computer generated instructions on smart screens are available in French in Canada.) But car makers have rejected the notion of bilingual or trilingual dashboards in North America because including Spanish and French would make the dashboards too cluttered and aesthetically displeasing. Not to mention the outrage that Americans would heap onto car makers for including 'foreign' languages, undermining the American principle of the 'melting pot.'
But to change the dashboards for Quebec cars to include French-language labels would be expensive, a cost that purchasers of said vehicles would have to bear, something the OQLF could not abide.
An overriding principle of the OQLF is that Francophone Quebecers should never be forced to pay the additional cost of adding French to a product.
Imagine the outrage if movies that were dubbed in French for Quebec francophone audiences included a surcharge to defray the cost, resulting in Quebec theatres charging more for the French version showing in Screen 1 in the multiplex, than the English version showing in Screen 2.
And so the OQLF demands that moviegoers across Canada share equally in the additional cost of French dubbing, having the effect that such cost is borne by the 75% majority of English-speaking movie-goers.
Perhaps separatists should consider this specific subsidy as an example of the hidden cost of sovereignty that would pervade the entire consumer market in an independent state... But I digress.

While all consumer products are required to have French labels and instructions, the OQLF turns a blind eye where vital products, produced outside Canada don't or won't provide such labelling. A good example is the tiny football helmet market where the few producers are all based in the USA and won't go through the expensive translation process for what is, in fact, less than 1% of their customers. And so university teams such as the vaunted Rouge et Or of Quebec suit up in equipment that has English only instructions, as the OQLF stands by without comment.
And of course there is the elephant in the room, the fact that the OQLF ignores the sale of English books and magazines without translated versions because to demand their translation into French would be impossible and to ban them unacceptable with the ensuing charges of state book-banning a humiliating result.
But that being said, toys and video games are subject to the law because the OQLF deems that exposure to English by children is a dangerous element of bilingualism, the bane of the organization.

And so, the OQLF seems to have put a bit of water in its wine, doing what it can, ignoring what it cannot. That in and of itself isn't inconsistent or incoherent, but where the operation of the OQLF is fraught with incoherence, is in the decidedly cruel enforcement of the rules on small English businesses imposed in a spiteful and vengeful manner, meant to inflict pain, perhaps out of frustration that the big players get away Scott-free.
I imagine that those who work at the OQLF are dedicated Anglo-bashers, it takes a certain hater to suffer the slings and arrows of abuse, especially the actual inspectors who relish their role in coming down hard on small anglo 'offenders.'
It is here where I charge the OQLF with incoherence, imposing rules on some and not others.

A notable example is Loto-Quebec casinos operating in various locations across the province.
Here the casinos offer slot machines obviously purchased in the USA and which remain exclusively English. All with the blessing of the OQLF which has either provided a waiver or turned a blind eye.

Now before apologists point out that it is just the name of the game that is in English, let me point out that the words on the spinning tumblers are also exclusively in English.
This is nothing short of dereliction of duty because if any organization can afford to translate the artwork into French it is the printing press that is the casinos. Ignoring the casinos English-only transgressions while demanding that mom and pop stores provide French labels for English board games is the height of hypocrisy, but then the very nature of the OQLF is hypocrisy because its raison-d'etre has always been not only to promote and protect the French language but to punish anglophones for using English.

That is why the OQLF goes after small home businesses with ridiculous demands that those who don't even sell their products in Quebec bilingualize their websites at additional cost, without consideration of the added burden.
"When contacted by The Montreal Gazette, the OQLF said that even if items are not sold in Quebec through the website, it must still be in French because it advertises a business operating in the province." Link
It has always been the goal of the OQLF to reduce English however it could, with the operative word 'could.'
Quebec municipalities wishing to communicate with citizens in English must prove that 50% of the residents are English, an absurd situation where the English community has to be in the majority to be considered a legitimate minority.
This rule is the hallmark of petty vindictiveness and is utterly inexcusable.
And how is this for pettiness....
"A restaurant owner has a warning for other restaurateurs in Montreal: if you get a good review from Trip Advisor, don't advertise it.
The latest complaint filed with the OQLF is for a tiny sticker placed on the front window of The Burgundy Lion, a pub in Little Burgundy.
The language police have no problem with the name of the establishment -- that is protected by language laws. The sticker reads, in letters less than one centimetre high, "Recommended on," and is accompanied by a large logo of an owl.
However the agency says a small sticker, smaller than the palm of your hand and located about knee level in the pub's front window, is in violation of Quebec's laws regarding signage.
The sticker reads, in letters less than one centimetre high, "Recommended on," and is accompanied by a large logo of an owl." Link
Getting back to toys, especially those 'talking' types like the infamous Buzz Lightyear, the OQLF has not only banned those toys from being sold in Quebec stores but also online.
That has the result that an English Quebecer cannot order an educational toy for her child no matter what, even online. Is that really the mandate of the OQLF?
"A board game cafe in Montreal, Chez Geeks, received their third complaint last week from the Office Quebecoise de la Langue Française (OQLF) about selling English board games.

The OQLF is targeting a recent English-only ad for a new board game release at the store. They told shop owner, Giancarlo Caltabiano, that in order to sell the English version of the game he needs a French one." Link
We all understand that many products have just too small a production run and in many cases are produced by small businesses who cannot afford translation for the minuscule Quebec francophone audience.
The OQLF position is that if we can't have it neither can you.

Let me finish with what I believe is the most telling story of OQLF over-reach, its attempt to get retailers to abandon the infamous 'Boxing Day Sale' a tradition in Commonwealth countries. For this reason, the OQLF wants the holiday to be renamed.
Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas and is a tradition whereby the home is purged of the Christmas mess including boxes and wrapping.
"Quebec's language watchdog is encouraging retailers to do away with the term “Boxing Day” when describing the sales that usually begin Dec. 26.
The OQLF wants retailers and consumers to use "Les soldes de l’après-Noël," which translates to "After Christmas sales” instead.
 And so the OQLF doesn't want a French-language name for the holiday, it wants to eliminate it because it is an English tradition, an offensive travesty akin to demanding that Halloween be renamed  "Nuit de costume et de bonbons."
Come to think of it, considering Quebec's new obsession with separating religion from public life, the OQLF should have suggested that Boxing Day be renamed Les soldes d'après le 25 decembre.'

For these reasons the OQLF has shamed itself and the political masters who continue to indulge its excesses. Having learned from past gaffes that have humiliated Quebec across the globe, the OQLF is mindful but unrepentant, they remain a frustrated band of anglo-bashers looking to inflict pain on the English as a delightful fringe-benefit of their work.

That being said, I am less opposed to the work of the OQLF than most other anglos. I feel that government does have a role in protecting the French language, but when limiting the rights of one group in favour of another it is important to do so in as kind and as gentle manner as possible, something the OQLF ignores.
The OQLF has always viewed its role differently from what we are officially told, inspired by the nasty father of Bill 101, the hateful Camille Laurin who wanted to drum the English out of Quebec by hook or by crook.
It is sad that the OQLF has adopted its underhanded and mean-spirited methods, instead of working to make French respected and implemented in a thoughtful, respectful and coherent manner.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Quebec's Most Shameful Month Ever

Humiliating revelations for Montreal police chief Philippe Pichet
October has not been kind to Quebec, with the province on a wild roller coaster ride, lurching from one crisis and humiliating revelation to another.

It's had to keep up with the players and events without a program and for most of us, the accusations of malfeasance, corruption, sexual assaults and all manner of criminality related to the police, politicians and show business personalities is perhaps too much to absorb, given the number of revelations landing one on top of another.

Yesterday the Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police, raided the headquarters of the Montreal police in a stunning, unprecedented and humiliating occurrence. At first, it was thought that it was in relation to an ongoing investigation of the Internal Affairs department, which has more or less been disbanded after an investigation was launched over allegations that the department manufactured evidence to drum out at least four department whistle blowers.
Costas Labos, suspended head of Internal Affairs
Those revelations led to the suspension of Costa Labos, the former head of the internal affairs department who is alleged to have run the department not to weed out crooked cops, but rather to protect them.  Labos had previously been accused of lying to a judge but kept his job anyways. Internal affairs files of the Montreal police are now being handled by the Sûreté du Québec, which means that the department is in fact under defacto trusteeship. Link
At any rate, this raid had nothing to do with that investigation and was conducted in relation to new allegations that the right-hand man of police chief Philippe Pichet is alleged to have illegally taken sums of overtime salary and bonus' that he was not eligible for. The allegations were made by senior whistle blowers within the Montreal police disgusted with the goings-on. Link

And talking about whistle-blowers, the raid happened one day after Guy Ouellette the Liberal Member of the National Assembly for Chomedey was arrested for allegedly leaking information about an investigation by UPAC, the special agency created to combat Quebec corruption. The leaked information was embarrassing to ex-Quebec Premier Jean Charest and chief Liberal party fundraiser and multi-millionaire Marc Bibeau which revealed that they were both actually tailed by UPAC investigators for a time in 2016. Bibeau is alleged to have demanded money on behalf of the party from businesses in a cash-for-access scheme as well as allegedly using his influence to get government agencies to rent offices in his real estate holdings.
The leak infuriated UPAC boss Robert Lafrenière, and he spent enormous UPAC resources tracking down what he termed "the bandit" who leaked the information.

Now this story is complicated, so bear with me.
The arrested MNA, Guy Ouellette and UPAC boss Robert Lafrenière are not friends and in fact, sworn enemies, to say the least. Ouellet has militated for Lafrenière's ouster. Ouellet is an ex-cop himself who has accused UPAC of dragging its feet in pursuing Bibeau and Charest. Apparently, other investigators in UPAC agreed and leaked damaging information, allegedly through Ouellet, in order to spur UPAC to hurry up its investigation.
The arrest of Ouellette comes after UPAC raided the home of one of its ex-investigators alleged to be the leaker. During the raid, the cell phone of the target of the raid, Richard Despatie, was confiscated and searched, revealing the MNA's phone number. In a cloak and dagger operation, UPAC then texted the MNA on Despatie's phone and told him to meet Despatie (which was a ruse) at a restaurant to receive more leaked info. When Ouellet showed up he was greeted by UPAC detectives and arrested.
Now the arrest is highly dubious, because of the way the MNA was entrapped. The police certainly had a right to search Despatie's phone for evidence in relation to the search, but probably didn't have the legal right to use Depatie's phone as an investigative weapon.
Perhaps for this reason, the MNA's name was never publicized by UPAC, who released the MNA without charges. On the surface, there is no legal case to be made, short of a confession, but the damage to the MNA's reputation is devastating even though it really isn't clear who is the bad guy in all this.
Is Lafrenière settling a political score with his political enemy?
What were the motives of the MNA's leak, which actually hurt his own Liberal party? Dunno????
At any rate, whistle-blowers are usually revered, but in this case dragged through the mud and treated like a lowly criminal. I want to stress that Guy Ouellette has a stellar reputation and even opposition MNAs are rallying to his defence. It is all very strange.

And before we leave the Montreal police, we recently learned that the always racist Montreal police issued a ticket to a man for singing in his car.
On Sept. 27, Taoufik Moalla (a visible ethnic) was on his way to buy a bottle of water, happily singing along to C+C Music Factory’s 1990 song “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” when he says he heard a police siren blaring behind him.
“I was thinking they wanted to pass, but they called on the speaker, ‘Please go to the right side,’” Moalla told CTV Montreal. “I stopped and four police came, two on each side, and checked the inside of the car. Then they asked me if I screamed. I said, ‘No, I was just singing.’”

Now on to the sex scandals that are rocking Quebec to its foundations. 
After the Weinstein affair, the floodgates have opened with women across North America emboldened to out their sexual assaulters.
Several high profile Quebecers have seen revelations destroy their professional and I daresay their personal lives.
Rozon & Salvail.. Birds of a Feather
First was Gilbert Rozon, the head of the Just for Laughs organization, outed as an alleged sexual predator by several high profile accusers including Julie Snyder (big time TV personality/producer,)  who is by the way, the ex-wife of Pierre-Karl Péladeau. A similar complaint was lodged by another TV show host, Penelope McQuaid. Link
Rozon was quite the big shot in Quebec media circles but following the accusations, he was quickly fed to the sharks with other media organizations announcing that he was being blacklisted, leading him to resign his position and him putting his shares up for sale.
Then another bombshell landed on another powerful Quebec TV personality who  was also revealed to have allegedly sexually-targeted women. 
If Rozon is the Weinstein of comedy, assuming the allegations are true, Salvail could be called Quebec's Jian Ghomeshi – except that Salvail had a much bigger presence in his broadcast market, on both TV and radio. He had also parlayed his personal brand into a company that had 11 original programs in its production stable. Like Rozon, Salvail has greatly benefited from Quebec's robust star system, which can make household names of entertainment figures unknown outside the province. Salvail's shows, like several competing talk programs, were also engines of that home-grown star system, which has no equivalent in the rest of Canada. After reports were published last week of 11 mostly anonymous complaints against him, Salvail vanished from the airwaves and announced he was taking "a pause" from his public career. Link
But the hits just kept coming as yet another Quebec personality is accused of sexual impropriety. This week a young Quebec author/journalist revealed that when she was just seventeen years old and working for her idol, she was sexually assaulted by her boss.
Léa Clermont-Dion accused Michel Venne of sexual misconduct when she was working for him one summer at the Institut du Nouveau Monde, a lefty type think tank. In a lengthy and thoroughly coherent piece on her Facebook page, Clermont-Dion accused the Quebec media star of shattering her illusions by sexually assaulting her.
She didn't report the assault but told friends about it and quickly rumours spread, outing the perpetrator.
Lise Payette..Pedo and Sex Abuser enabler
Then Lise Payette, a friend of Venne got in touch with Clermont-Dion and met her in an effort to get her to recant her story and the marathon two-hour meeting culminated with Payette applying pressure for her to sign a letter disavowing the incident, because as Payette described, it was hurting Venne and his family and was threatening his chances at becoming an editor at Le Devoir.
Clermont-Dion tells how her illusions about another one of her idols was shattered by the bullying of Payette.
You might recall Payette as the PQ feminist minister who accused Quebec women of being "Yvettes"  a reference for docile and obedient housewives who would meekly vote NO in the upcoming referendum. That ploy backfired rather badly as opponents proudly donned the label of 'Yvette'.
At any rate, Payette defended her actions in the affair by telling the media that she was acting in Clermont-Dion's best interests as any accusation against the powerful Venne would, according to Payette, result in a painful backlash against the accuser. ....Yah sure.
Payette's nose stretcher excuse didn't fly and she has been thoroughly roasted for her seemingly betrayal of victims of sexual assault. She was denounced in the Journal du Montreal as a "fake feminist' by Sophie Durocher who reminded readers that Payette had previously defended Claude Jutra, the famous film-maker and homosexual pedophile in a bizarre article entitled "Claude Jutra était mon ami" ('Claude Jutra was my friend') where she stated that she doubted the word of the victims.
Payette is 85 years old and there is a certain satisfaction in knowing  that she will go to her grave disgraced.

And let's not forget Michel Brulé renowned anglo hater who wrote a book with the theme that English was an ugly language who is also accused by several ex-employees of being a filthy sexual assaulter. Brulé has withdrawn his candidacy from the race for Plateau-Mont-Royal borough mayor even while denying it all.

Accurso looking glum
On the criminal front, the trial of the former construction czar Tony Accurso finally got underway in Laval, with turncoat witnesses lining up to testify about the entrenched system of corruption in the awarding of construction contracts. The testimony by the admitted co-conspirators, both politicians, players in the construction industry and within the corrupt engineering firms is still a little hard to take
According to the Crown, Vaillancourt would decide which engineering firm would get a contract, then rig the bids accordingly before the call for tenders was issued. In exchange, Accurso and others would pay Vaillancourt a percentage in cash handed over in brown. envelopes. Link
In another legal story that has me questioning whether it is really 2017 in Quebec. A judge humiliated a girl with comments out of the 1950's. It was during a case where a taxi driver was accused of a sexual assault;
"She's a young girl, 17. Maybe she's a little overweight but she has a pretty face, no?" the judge said in recordings first unearthed by the Journal de Montréal.
Speaking French, the judge went on to describe the young woman as a "fleur bleue" (sentimental or romantic.) "She was a bit flattered," the judge continued. "Maybe it was the first time he showed interest in her." Link
And let us not forget the disastrous start to the season by the Montreal Canadiens who appear to be on course for the worst season in Habs history, sporting a 2-7-1 won/lost/overtime win record, being outscored 38-10 in the process.
In a whistling in the dark eulogy, Marc Bergevin warned the players that there'd be no help from management vis-a-vis trades and that they'd have to suck it up.
Bergevin had been the incompetent author of the off-season loss of veteran blue-liner Andre Markov and the popular Alexander Radulov.
I don't think I'm alone in believing that the Bergevin death-watch is on, the only thing missing is a qualified francophone to replace him. It probably won't make a difference. Iacta ālea est.

In the business world, another disaster as Bombardier moved to save the furniture by handing over the C-Series project to Airbus for free. The company rightly concluded that a reduced ownership share of something successful is better than 100% ownership of a money-losing venture. The big loser in all this are the taxpayers who have collectively shelled out hundreds of millions in subsidies which Airbus will not reimburse.
And Ericsson, the telecom giant is closing its giant facility in Vaudreuil-Dorion less than a year after it opened. The company benefitted from a $30 million gift from the PQ when it pitched the facility to Quebec.

This month saw Quebec pass its controversial anti niqab and burqa law much to the consternation of Liberal politicians across Canada. Underlying the issue is the very real reality of coercion of Muslim women into wearing either a veil or scarf.
“A Quebec man has been charged with allegedly assaulting his teenage daughter over a year in what police are calling "honour-based" violence.  Gatineau police say the level of violence escalated once the man discovered the girl was removing her hijab when she was away from the family home. She decided to file a police complaint, which culminated in an arrest Wednesday.” Link
Quebec fur company fined $22,500 for trafficking in polar bear skins

Quebec radiologists billing $3M annually for obsolete task 
71 puppies up for adoption after rescue from suspected Quebec puppy mill

And so, it's been quite an eventful month indeed and we've still got a few days to go!

Permit me readers to finish on a positive note.

With a grandson on the autism spectrum, I personally know too well how traumatic haircuts are.
Let me salute this Val D'Or barber who went the extra mile to make a difficult procedure  better.

 “A Quebec barber who got down on the floor to trim the hair of a young client with autism was applauded in Canada’s Senate chamber Wednesday, several weeks after a photo of him garnered worldwide attention.
Francis “Franz” Jacob was invited to Ottawa by Sen. Marie-Francoise Megie for the Senate’s autism awareness day.” Link
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Niqab Ban and Fake News

Small demonstration and overblown coverage by the media
We all pretty much understand what 'fake news' is, the promotion of stories and articles in the mainstream media that is knowingly  false and misleading.

One of its most laughable examples is the case of Donald Trump's then press secretary, Sean Spicer who brazenly told a news conference that the crowds attending Trump's inauguration ceremony were the largest ever. This bit of hyperbole was easily disproved with photographic evidence presented by news organizations disproving the statement rather handily. It was a bit comical, but nonetheless somewhat disconcerting to see the President's office lying over something that was so trivial.

Fake news is a real and a dangerous reality, whether advanced by Russia planting dubious and untrue stories in Facebook about Hillary Clinton, or by unscrupulous politicians slandering their opponents unfairly with scurrilous and untrue allegations. An insidious offshoot of the 'Fake News' phenomenon is the denial of real stories and facts reported by the media, by politicians wishing to taint legitimate reporting that is unfavourable.
But the one aspect of false reporting that is never discussed or mentioned is the very real practice of the media in shaping the political discussion by featuring and reporting stories that are more favourable to one side of the political discussion. These stories aren't false in the traditional sense of 'fake news,' but by featuring overwhelming one-sided coverage of an issue, the mainstream media shapes or attempts to shape public opinion.
This gentle reader, is fake news at its most dangerous iteration.

Given the mainstream media coverage, you wouldn't be faulted in believing that Quebec's Bill 62, limiting the right of Muslims to wear a face-veil when receiving public services is roundly opposed by Quebecers and Canadian as well.
The reality is that the opposite is true, a pesky fact trivialized or ignored by the mainstream media.
The March 2015 telephone survey by Léger Marketing found 82 per cent of Canadians favoured the policy somewhat or strongly, with just 15 per cent opposed. Support was widespread, but especially strong in Quebec, where 93 per cent were in favour of the requirement. Link
Another more recent poll returned pretty much the same results.
 Eighty-seven per cent of Quebec respondents surveyed by the Angus Reid Institute in September said they support the bill, while six out of 10 Quebecers "strongly support" it. Link
In fact, I cannot think of one other political issue where the public is so much attuned to one position, it is in fact quite astonishing and the fact that the media glosses over this fact is stunning.

The overwhelming weight of negative stories and opinion pieces in addition to widespread coverage of the one minuscule demonstration opposing the ban in the mainstream media can only be construed as a dangerous and insidious iteration of fake news
You'd think that if the opposition to the bill is as pronounced as the media tell us, then more than just the one small demonstration against the face-covering ban would have occurred. In fact, the real story is not about that one small demonstration in Montreal where a dozen protesters stood at a bus stop in masks, but rather how puny and insignificant that demonstration was.
The real story should be the widespread support the Quebec law has.

This over-emphasis on a slanted view of the debate in the media has a very real and tangible effect in shaping public opinion. A good example of this is a story by the Journal de Montreal's Lise Ravary, a journalist with outstanding credentials.
She penned an article entitled "Dear Canadian Friends" in which  she took English Canada to task for "raining down accusations of racism in relation to Bill 62."
I can understand her consternation because politicians across the country did indeed rain down scorn on Quebec in relation to the ban;
Premier Kathleen Wynne was among those speaking out against Quebec's controversial religious neutrality law at Queen's Park on Thursday morning.
This is the kind of action that drives wedges in communities," said Wynne.
The law, which would effectively force Muslim women who wear a niqab or burka to uncover their faces to use public services, will push women already at the margins "further into isolation, Wynne continued. Link
Premier Rachel Notley blasted Quebec's Bill 62 ... I think it smacks of Islamophobia. .

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told the Star that he unequivocally opposes Quebec's Bill 62, and predicted that, ....  “We need to oppose Islamophobia,

But the reality is that those sanctimonious politicians DO NOT represent the attitudes and positions of the vast majority of their English Canadian constituents, something that is lost in the media bias. Not one of the articles quoting these politicians expose the dichotomy that over 80% of English Canadians agree with the ban.
And so because of media bias, it appears that English Canada opposes the ban when in fact the opposite is overwhelmingly true. If a seasoned journalist like Ravary can be misled by the media about English Canadian attitudes over the ban, where does that the less sophisticated?
While politicians in English Canada react with indignity and horror at Quebec's burqa and niqab restrictions, they remain sadly out of touch with the sentiments of the vast majority of Canadians, something the media is loathe to report.

Liberal media bias is a form of fake news that is insidious and we should all be aware when the truth is manipulated in an effort to reshape public opinion.

I'll leave you with something those outside French Quebec will never be exposed to, an interview with Fatima Houda-Pepin on a Quebec Sunday night talk show, the widely successful Tout le Monde en Parle. Madame Houda-Pepin is a Muslim ex-Quebec Liberal party member of the National Assembly who left the party because she supported measures to limit religious involvement in public life.

I lifted this translation from a comments section and give full credit for the translation and the publication to  Bernard Payeur who works at Boreal Books

"Fatima Houda-Pepin during an Interview on Tout le Monde en Parle, Quebec's most watched variety and current affairs program (my translation):

I am from Morocco, a country open [to the world] and tolerant. When I was growing up, I had Jewish, Christians and Muslim playmates; we went to school together we celebrated each other's [religious] holidays. I bear no grudges, having lived Islam in harmony. I only got to know what fundamentalist Islam was when I came to Canada. It is here that I got to know the most intolerant, the best organized, the most structured and the best financed groups, with means and worldwide connections. It was quite a shock.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of Muslims try hard to integrate; their children do well in school, they have a future. This is not well-known because the fundamentalists have the upper-hand (control the message) and have the ear of the media. They (the fundamentalists) have become the tree which hides the forest.

For the fundamentalists, a woman must not be seen in public, right. If, by chance or by necessity a woman must go out in public, she must be invisible. She must, when going out [in public], wear her prison and that way we don't see her figure, we don't see her beautiful face or her hair because it's [sexually] seductive and so on and so forth …

It is a segregation [of the sexes] that is done in the public space. We in Québec and in Canada went to the United Nations to denounce apartheid regimes, segregation based on race was unacceptable and I would not accept segregation based on sex because that is what it means, the chadors, the burqas and all these imported ways of dressing which are meant, in the name of freedom of religion, to impose values that are alien and from another century.

Freedom of religion, for me, leaves some things to be desired. We will eventually have to confront this reality. I believe that the state's neutrality in religious matters is our best guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion which is why it is so important to define limits that apply equally to all.

Fatima Houda-Pepin is a former Muslim member of the Quebec National Assembly.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We Shouldn't Feel Guilty over Quebec's Burqa Ban

If there is one aspect of Bill 62 that I dislike, it is the absurd hypocrisy in not calling a spade a spade. The law is indeed a ban on the Burqa and niqab and nothing more, with the language used, a ban on 'face coverings,' a sad device meant to deflect charges of religious intolerance and an effort to create a more defensible legal position.

Those outraged by the ban are lining up with howls of religious intolerance and mounted feminist outrage at the egregious attack on religious freedom. It is to be expected by the alt.liberals who believe that personal freedom always trumps society's collective rights.

Those who say that the ban is an attack on religious freedom are probably right, though it isn't clear if the niqab and the burka are religious accoutrements as they aren't directly made mention in the Koran and aren't obligatory for Muslim women, according to Muslim scholars. There is mention in the Koran of women dressing modestly to please Allah, so I guess the argument can be made one way or the other.

But no matter....
A religious requirement or just a social more, the niqab and burqa are de rigueur in shithole misogynist countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, to name a few, where women are treated like chattel and rules for 'modest dress' an overt signal that women are second-class citizens.

As for the religious freedom argument, let us remember that those freedoms, like free speech, are not absolute and unbounded.
You cannot scream "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre without good cause and you cannot make overt unbridled physical threats of any kind. Free speech is constrained by what we consider good sense, as it should be.

The same goes for religion, where the freedom to marry off underage children is barred as well as female circumcision and a variety of mostly misogynistic practices that are unacceptable and illegal in our society.
So let us be clear. In the name of religious freedom, you cannot do whatever you please.

We as a society can and should interfere in religious practices that are deemed unsafe, exploitive, demeaning and offensive.
Because of the fear of offending those who hide their unacceptable religious practices under the cloak of religious freedom and their apologists, we as a society have failed to take action when we should have.

As for religious excess, the fundamentalist Muslims of Quebec don't hold a candle to the ultra-orthodox Jews who make a mockery of our society by engaging in a set of practices that should long ago have been banned. Children are subjected to an ultra-religious 19th-century education that doesn't allow for the time to study government mandated courses, crippling their ability to leave the community as adults and pursue a different life. These religious schools are an affront and represent child abuse as we know it. While coming under prodding by the Quebec education department, the community has grudgingly made some effort, but it is at best lip service.
The outrageous saga of the Lev Tahor cult is another example of authorities fearing to ruffle the feathers of religious nuts because of the fear of being labelled racist.
"It took youth protection officials far too long to intervene in the case of 134 children who were part of the Lev Tahor community living for a decade in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, a report from the Quebec human-rights commission concluded.
In November 2013, about 250 members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect fled the Laurentians town to avoid a hearing in youth court. The group was facing allegations of child abuse and neglect from Quebec’s youth-protection department — such as corporal punishment in school, underage marriage, sexual abuse of minors and squalid living conditions". Mtl Gazette

Nobody can compare the wearing of the burqa and the niqab as the egregious behaviour as the above, but as a society, we have the right to limit symbols that rightly insult and belittle women, regardless of whether the wearer believes it does or does not.
Religious face coverings tell us that men are not worthy of seeing the face of the wearer and that women are offended by being seen by men other than their 'owners,' be it a father or husband.

What university would allow a student the right to come to class wearing a white supremacist or Nazi T-shirt? What business would allow an employee the free speech to wear an antisemitic outfit while serving customers?
Burqas and niqabs aren't benign symbols of faith, they are symbols of female oppression regardless of whether the wearer believes it an instrument of modesty.
It amazes me how liberals and feminists are all for free speech and expression, as long as it doesn't offend their liberal values.
Try going to school with an anti-vaccine t-shirt or a 'Black Lives Don't Matter' pin and see how fast liberals mobilize to remove the offending messages under the guise that the symbolism make them feel unsafe.
Liberals will argue that the head coverings are innocent devices of modesty, a clever ploy which is meant to deflect criticism. I wonder if a woman wearing a T-shirt that says "Property of my Husband" would be given the same consideration if she argued that it is just a symbol of her devotion to her family.

The real underlying message of the niqab and burqa is subjugation and misogyny and for this reason, many other countries, including Muslim-majority countries are now taking a stand.

Let liberals blather on about freedom of choice and religion, they are bullshitters extraordinaire.  They are the first to propose bans on symbols and indeed speech that they find offensive.

Quebec has said that the religious head coverings are a religious practice that its society finds collectively offensive because of its overt message of misogyny.
Don't feel bad about the face-covering ban, feel empowered that we are indeed taking a stand to limit religious oppression of women.