November 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Last semester’s student uprisings were a pretty big deal. I think everybody can agree on that. At the head of the this big deal, the representatives of the student movement were put under the media’s spotlight, and extensive coverage of student union-initiated activities were presented at every news outlet. The camera is something powerful: it adds 20 pounds, it never forgets, but most importantly it fortifies one’s hubris. If the ensnaring glare of the lens caught Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (GND), the CLASSE’s ex-spokesman, only he will truely ever know. However, some of his wacky declarations certainly point to the fact that he did succumb, most notably his repeated calls to disobeying court orders. Since then, he has been bitchslapped by the long arm of the law: accused of contempt of court, found guilty. Recently, he has announced that he will go against this verdict in superior instances on accounts of the fundamental right to freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and freedoms.
I’d like to reiterate a couple of key points before I get to the point:
- His first attempt to legitimize his call to disrespecting the law was built on the idea that it went against the student’s right to union activity, picketing and all. In fact, there legally never was such a right, the law on student unions not explicitly recognizing any such right. These principles were cheaply copied over from legal works recognizing worker’s unions, which are a whole different ball game. None of this seems to matter to supporters of the student movement, because once an organisation dons the name of union, it’s natural rights, ie: every single legal concession ever made to union since the beginning of the history, must be recognized by the state. At least according to them. Why? Because anarcho-syndicalism is why: no state can have a say on the righteous acts of a naturally formed union. This apparent desire for the loosening of the legal definition of a union is in itself a lack of respect for the law and the institutions which enforce it.
- By nature, solidarity is strong between union movements. So strong in fact that GND has received funding from unions to pay for his defence. I was unable to find either the amounts that this funding represents, whether or not members of the FEC-CSQ even voted on funding such a legal endeavour, and if they did, how many of them did. Transparency isn’t exactly a value highly held in this kind of organisation anyways.
- All of last spring brought to light, by accident most likely than not, a very old debate: that of the legitimacy of civil disobedience. In fact, the word came to be used so often in so many contexts that I boycotted it, and replaced it with shit-disturbing, partly for fun, and partly to promptly let it be known in discussions that I wasn’t very pro-student. MP Amir Khadir came VERY close to also getting charges for comtempt of court, when he claimed the legitimacy of civil disobedience in the case of injust laws, specifically Bill 78, according to the principles applied by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr in their respective struggles for fair treatment. Directly, this was an absurd attempt at drawing parallels between completely different contexts. Indirectly, it was both enormous praise to the student leaders, and the perfect theoretical justifications for the continuing of shit-disturbing.
Coincidentally with the release of GND’s verdict, one of my university teachers distributed a complementary reading on the contemporary successors of Saint Thomas d’Aquin, in the form of Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmham Jail”. He did it mostly as a tip of the hat to American political thinkers,our class taking place on the day of the presidential elections, but I think that most of us immediately made the link to last spring’s events. From that handout, here is a short exert on the legitimate use of civil disobedience:
In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with the willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over it’s injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
I find in this passage wisdom which I have not witnessed in the declarations of student leaders, who were much more revolutionary in their aims. This is another reason why Khadir’s likening of the students to MLK is completely ridiculous: the intentions of the latter obviously wanted to use anarchy to their advantage, while to the former this is definitely not the case. MLK shows, in a self-sacrificial way, his utmost respect for the law and the institutions that enforce it, by willingly accepting his sentence as a catalyst to the enlightenment of his peers, an action necessary to the attainment of the greater good. The only likeliness between the students and MLK are the concepts of enlightenment and greater good, which were central to the student movement’s rhetoric.
At the light of this, here is my challenge to GND: suck it up. You spearheaded a movement which in it’s methods and aims was revolutionary, so of course repression from the existing legal framework was inevitable. Going into higher instances won’t work out: your actions, if left unpunished, open up a gigantic precedent that makes obedience to court orders mandatory. No judge will ever let you get away with that. So you have two choices.
- Fight till the end to ultimately lose, syphoning union funding left and right as you go. This solution is arguably not the best in terms of greater good: much could have been done with the money you have wasted in procedures, amounts that are in the end paid by the union workers through their contributions to the CSQ, and the public at large through their taxes.
- Quit being such a little bitch and go to jail like a man. Every revolution needs it’s martyr, and if you think highly enough of your cause, you’d do like MLK did and be that martyr by submitting to legal authority. The greater good, remember? Take one for the team. If you want to put on a show, ditching your lawyer asking for maximum jail time would surely cause a stir, but there’s no need to go through all that. Just get to the courtroom, state off the bat that you will be resorting to your right to silence, and STFU for the entire hearing. Serve your sentence, and enjoy your new-found status of martyred syndicalist, the Michel Chartrand of our generation. Surely your future employers will appreciated this credibility anyways. And hey, if it worked for ending segregation, it’ll probably work for obtaining free university-level education, right?
In times where you lose, the only difference between being a man and a coward is accepting full responsibility for your actions. Grow some balls and end this honourably Here in the land of no-fault, it would be fun to see somebody take responsibility, for a change.
May 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In this battle against tuition rise, the students have many things going against them, and right after the government itself, the second biggest shit disturber is without a doubt the inside resistance from certain students. Those students, whether ideologically opposed to the whole concept of this “Revolution Erable” or just simply fed up with not being able to study, have been turning to the courts since the Laurent Proulx case. Indeed, since the legislation surrounding the formation of students unions does not recognize the right to strike or the right to picket lines, many court orders have been issued to order the schools to resume dispensing class. It’s one thing to get a court order, but as the media reports, it’s a whole other thing to get that order carried out and respected. So far, some schools have remained shut down due to illegal picket lines carried on despite the order, and some ballsy teachers have went as far as to dispense their students of class out of their own initiative in support of the movement. This blatant disrespect of the law is a problem, a major one at that , with two causes: on one side the students, and on the other the teaching staff.
The problem with the student movement is that that their complaints on disrespect of syndicalism (and by their logic democracy at large) on the government’s part are based on the fact that they believe themselves to be a full fledge union, with all that this includes. To them, who seem to think that all the aspects of syndicalism are inherently applicable to any organisation that claims to be a union, there is no difference between a trade union and a student union. A strike is always legitimate if it was voted upon favourably by it’s members, picket lines are the natural byproduct of a legitimate strike and must therefor be respected, and anybody defying the strike, within or outside of the organisation is a scab. Unfortunately for them, in a legally constituted state such as ours, this anarcho-syndicalist vision of things is not only invalid, but illegal. As grown-ups, I am sure that militants from the student unions understand that they only need to be nice and obey the law when they want to; what I WISH they would understand is that choosing to disobey the law inevitably brings consequences: namely fines, imprisonment, and all that unpleasant stuff. This is my main critique of the movement as of now: their inability to accept the consequences of being self-proclaimed revolutionaries with an agenda based on civil disobedience. If your cause is important enough to warrant throwing bricks at the defenders of public peace, shouldn’t it be important enough for you to sacrifice a couple of ribs to a policeman’s baton?
Teachers are the ones that get it real easy in all of this. Many of them are members of the same big-shot unions to whom many student groups are affiliated, and consequently share the same vues on the whole issue of legitimacy of the student boycott. From my own experience with CEGEP teachers, most of them seem to have grown very fond of the Quebecois societal model of which they are now part of. Who can blame them for that, really?; biting the hand that feeds you is not a very intelligent behaviour. My gripe with the teachers isn’t so much on their manifestation of political allegiance , but rather the cozy conditions under which they have the leisure of doing it, in absence of any potential consequences for supporting the student movement. They have been known for cancelling class for phony concerns of security, respecting picket lines that have no legal value, and on several occasions have even using class time to fill the ranks of the student protesters; all this while receiving their pay in full, something guaranteed to them through generous labour agreements. In this series of events, teachers are inside men, mercenaries hypocritically bleeding the government from it’s very entrails while their student counterparts call out of the poor financial management of our network of public universities. Common sense says that if they aren’t in the classroom teaching, then they shouldn’t be paid; it’s as simple as that. But sadly, in this province, common sense does not seem to apply.
All in all, the most dangerous part of all this disrespect of our judicial system is the chance that we might be setting precedents. Public demonstrations are, within reason, legal and legitimate, but all that surrounds them and that is not must not be taken lightly. I’m talking about the illegal picketing lines and blocking off of schools to students in right to receive their education, and the disrespect of court orders by students, teachers and management staff. I’m no expert on the matter, but I’ve been told that in court-room practice, law is based on both written legislation and case law. I believe that the same thing type of two-sided conception of the law occurs in peoples minds: it’s one thing to understand textual law, but it’s a whole other to know the intricacies of it’s application. By not swiftly enforcing the law and court orders, the authorities are allowing a distortion of the population’s idea of the application of the law, a devaluation of our legitimate means to justice. If we set precedents now, what is to become of it with in other instances of the manifestation of popular concern? I’m all too afraid that if we give an inch, they’ll take a mile, and for that reason, police forces push on in ensuring that the law is observed.
This is why I am very critical of the proposed “special law” proposed by the government as a solution to the current crisis. Such legislation is not only totally unnecessary as the students have no legal backing, but would be quickly picked up by protesters as an overly authoritative, anti-syndicalist action by a government who is at wit’s end. Past laws like these applied to regular employer-vs-employee strikes have always seemed morally wrong even to my essentially anti-syndicate self, never mind to those who actually believe in the concept of unions. If anything, this law would add fuel to an already very lively fire.
My position on this situation as a whole is very simple: deep down, this whole debate boils down to a cleavage between each group’s fundamental conception of democratic institutions, responsibilities of governance and state involvement. With these matters, the status quo can only be broken by one thing. Elections. Hold on to your horses, they’re coming soon enough.
April 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Ten weeks later, the province-wide conflict between students and government over the rise of tuition is still raging on. In the beginning, it was strictly about tuition, because students unions are OBVIOUSLY not politically affiliated with any political movement, party, or trade union. But now, funny enough, the debate seems to have opened up to much wider questions of governance… or at the very least, some people seem to be very eager to make it so.
The almost-daily protests are quickly transforming into what they were doomed to become, an all-out revolution-themed shit-show, with abstract concepts like democracy, liberty, equality, and justice as a theme, but without any forethought to what those words actually mean. Many protests organized by student unions not only aim for accessible education, but are also calling for a “struggle for social justice” at large. Others have even had the arrogance to come up with the term “Quebecois Spring”, an outright disrespectful reference to the events in which Arab populations fought REAL opression. Of course, all this revolutionary talk wouldn’t be complete without dusting off our old complexes on our collective identity. An event has been organised in Montreal to discuss themes like our existence as a unique and distinct nation, an intelligent, resourceful people, how much capitalism sucks and how we are worth better; because you know, there hasn’t been enough of those in the past 50 years.
I find it ironic, and frankly a bit sad that we are repeating the same behaviours that got us in this situation in the first place. All these events that we were told in school to consider as capital turning points of our existence, those of the Quiet revolution, are repeating themselves. Exaggerated enthusiasm for “progressivism” (I hate that word, more on that later), the worship of our providence state as if it were some sort of god, the demand for free this, universal that, state-monopolies here, oppressive regulation there; from what I’m getting, this is what theses protests are going for. It didn’t work the first time around, what makes you think that it’ll work this time?
So, who is backing this up? The usual suspects, the left-leaning and nationalist intelligentsia. Because it’s awfully convenient. In a province of emotive electors and political incults, what better way to give your project some appeal than backing it up with a tale of epic struggle against the evils of the Canadian governement and the free market? The amorphous mass, the 5 o’clock news watchers, what better way to stir them into voting radically than to show them a televised revolution? This, to me, a disgusting attempt at transforming the inertia of legitimate popular concern into political capital of sympathy.
At first, I wrote this long, angry article about this situation, but I scrapped it. Because frankly, in the end, all of this agitation isn’t going anywhere. The socialists and nationalists are feeding the fire of protest with old junk they found buried in the back yard, our constitutional failures, our pathetic referendums, our angst and discomfort with our identity as North-Americans. That might work for a while but eventually, they’re going to choke the fire out. Despite our gaudy pretensions, our firm belief that we are worth better, we just don’t have the balls for a real social change, let alone a revolution. In the end, we are but backyard revolutionaries.
February 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It’s been in the air for a while now, and nobody ever really took it seriously, but yesterday it got real: as of next April (approximate date), the Liberal government of Quebec is tightening up the Code de la Route to remove young adult’s right to drive a vehicle with under 0.08 mg/L blood alcohol content (BAC), and will be enforcing a strict zero tolerance policy on alcohol for all drivers under 21. The media and those favorable to the mesure recommended by the Table québécoise de la sécurité routière are calling it an honest attempt a reducing mortality amongst the youth in road accidents, and a catch-up on what is being done in other provinces. I’m calling it yet another undue interference by the government and a perfect example of how the nanny state is restricting our freedoms and killing off the concept of personal responsibility.
I am not of the those libertarian, border-line anarchists a la Ron Paul who condemns every single attempt at regulation with one hand on the flag and the other on the heart, screaming for liberty. I am however, or so I like to think, a logical thinker, and to me, removing the rights to 0.08 BAC to what is legally considered adults here in Quebec is totally illogical. What becomes of young adults aged 18-21? Are they no longer true adults in the eyes of the law? I was raised to believed that a privilege always has a counterbalance of responsibility ; we are stripped of a privilege, what responsibility are you also taking away to compensate? From the time I turned 18, I was asked to jump through the hoops that every other adults has had to jump through, file my income taxes, pay my dues and contort through the maze of bureaucratic procedures relative to school and healthcare, why in hell would I not be considered like a lesser adult?
Pushed further, it becomes clear that the logic behind the Table’s recommendations for the measure makes strictly no sense. De Konick defends this initiative by presenting statistics on automobile accidents saying that young people are more likely to cause fatality won the roads, in a way which doesn’t directly correlate accidents in which young adults are involved and the presence of BAC less than 0.08. He says that since young drivers are more likely to get in an accident, young drivers under the influence of alcohol, even if minimal, is twice as dangerous. Nowhere does he mention that youth are more frequent offenders with regards to drunk driving. De Konick is adding 2 and 2 and getting 8. If young males are more at risk of getting in a fight, and if bars are statistically more violent places, does it make sense to restrict legal age for going out to 21, but for boys only? This asymmetry in the concept of adulthood is unacceptable, and I fear that giving in to such incongruent practices might set a precedent that would open the door for other such pieces of legislation.
I find it particularly funny that this measure is announced right after the Parti Quebecois has positioned itself in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 years old. Everybody has had this reflection: why is it that a teen can give his life to his country at 16 years of age in the US but can’t purchase alcohol? “Stupidity is not exclusive to the youth,” said Stephane Bergeron defend his party’s orientation. I wholly agree… I’ve seen 40-some year old man-childs rake up DUI’s just as much as I’ve seen friends take the wheel after a couple of drinks. Obey the law or go to jail if you get caught with solid proof, it should be that simple. In the end, the message that the adoption of this new legislation is sending out is that 18-21 year olds aren’t responsible enough to be entrusted with things like the assessment of their capacity to drive. What other things aren’t we responsible enough for? All this goes a long way in showing how Quebec’s socialising tendencies are getting out of control. When your government starts putting more value in statistics and modelized analysis of risk factors for car accidents than in responsibilization of the youth, you know something has gone wrong.
Now that it has been announced, there pretty much is no going back, unless an election comes around very soon and aborts the adoption of the measure, which I hope it will. In the meanwhile, enjoy the times when you can still have a beer or two before going somewhere with your vehicle… because it’ll most likely be gone to never come back.
January 27, 2012 § 1 Comment
I’m currently reading a book, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy by Robert Michels. It’s first part deals with the paradox between the idea of democracy and the necessity for hierarchical organisation, then goes on to describe the psychological predispositions of human beings that permits the formation of a ruling class amongst political parties and entities. In his treatise of leadership, Michels talks lengthily of the necessity of a leader to be a great orator and communicator.
Jean-Marie Aussant is the provincial MP for Nicolet-Yamaska. He used to be part of the Parti Quebecois, but left a while ago in the gigantic gaggle-fuck of resignations that hit the party over Pauline Marois’ leadership. He has now start his own party, which according to what I understand seeks to consolidate the motivated separatists so that we can have ANOTHER referendum. The horrible video you saw up top is an official video for his new party.
Nearly 100 years after the initial publication of Political Parties, the requirement of being a good orator has largely transformed into having the capacity to communicate effectively over different media. On this point, Aussant has failed… the collection of poorly edited hand-held video clips that he presents to us as official material speaks for itself. Lens flare from dirty optics, totally unmastered audio along with cheesy poses and soundtrack all make the video so tragically bad it almost becomes funny.
I don’t believe that this guy knows what he’s undertaking… with funds and party adhesion a thousand time his, after 2 failed referendums and countless times in power over 40 years of existence, his former employer the Parti Quebecois has still not been able to get a referendum to pass. And this guy expects to win with THIS?
It’s no secret that nationalists are losing a lot of ground these days, so if Aussant REALLY wants to venture in this rocky terrain, he better come well equipped. As of right now, with a platform that reeks of PQ’s leftovers, no (good) promo material, and no big names rallied to his cause means that he’s not going to succeed in a political arena filled with experience players. Especially not with the elections coming up at such a short notice.
Something tells me the upcoming provincial elections are going to be VERY interesting.
January 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
A couple of days ago, a friend of mine posted a video on Facebook relating to Chiac, a marvelous mash-up of english and old french that is spoken in New Brunswick and some parts of the surrounding provinces.
Obviously, the video is a parody. There is no such thing as Malroney’s secret plan for nation-wide convergence to chiac, and the Institut nationale du Chiac. Radio-Canada ISN’T pushing for more chiac; in fact, any french-speaking Canadian knows that our public broadcaster has a soft spot for sanitized, text-book french, mostly stripped of local linguistic particularities.
But despite the humurous tone, to me, Chiac maybe is the solution, or at least part of it. The solution to Quebec’s torments on it’s identity, the problem it has with setting forth what is it’s culture and defining it’s essence.
The debate on cultural identity obviously has a lot of things to do with language; it’s usually the primary characteristic that is noted when explaining the schism between Quebec and the ROC to outsiders. Essentially, it is a symbolic difference that, according to me,helps perpetuate the idea that Quebecers and Canadians are intrinsically different and irremediably incompatible. Most in favor of the protection of the french language carry the message that the French language is an important part of our heritage, and therefor must be protected by all means necessary. How does enforcing the perpetuation of a language given to use just under 400 years ago contribute to defining our collective identity?
What I see in this is nothing else than obstinate conservatism, refusal to accept change and the fluid nature of both collective and individual identity. I find it quite ironic that the proponents of french, delved so deep in this conservatism, are unable to understand the aspirations of their english counterparts. Likewise, these people are eager to perpetuate certain aspects of their heritage: the presence of symbols of the monarchy within our federal establishments is the first example that comes to mind. The difference between the two cases being that I haven’t seen any english people talking about the need for legislation to safeguard their heritage… it just perpetuates naturally, waning to more distant symbolism as time passes.
That said, I believe that the solution to Quebec’s torments on identity is fundamentally the acceptance of change, perpetuated by both our artistic elite and legislation like Bill 101. In this sense, chiac is a beautiful example of how cultural baggage combines with time to create something truely unique, something that truely defines one’s identity; while chiac can clearly be identified as the language of the people of the maritimes, the same thing can not be done with Quebec’s french. The struggle to keep alive certain aspects of our identity has ruined our opportunity to become something else.
The truth is, unlike what kids are still being told in schools across the province, you can’t kill a culture just by exposing it to others and allowing it to integrate certain aspects. The beautiful thing about cultural heritage is that it lives on no matter what… culture doesn’t die, it transforms. It is my opinion that if anything is going to kill off french and the Quebecois culture, it’s an implosion, a result of the amassed frustration of years of being forced into the state-defined mold; cultural change comparable in scale only with the Revolution Tranquille. If Quiet Revolution brought on a flurry of nationalist tendencies and a providence state which still plagues us, what will a second cultural revolution bring with it? Far-right neo-nationalists? Far-left revolutionaries? I see our habit of cultural protectionism not only as something that is unwanted, but also potentially dangerous.
December 19, 2011 § 3 Comments
La semaine derniere, M. Paul Arcand, ministre de l’environment du gouvernement libéral, a déposé pour une première lecture en chambre le projet de loi 48, Loi concernant l’inspection environnementale des véhicules automobiles. Baptisé projet de loi sur les “minounes” par les médias, le projet de loi est encore flou, voir carrément vide de modalités précises, comme l’est souvent un projet de loi a la première lecture. Ce qui se discute est un programme en deux, peut-etre trois phases: un inspection obligatoire à la revente d’un véhicule de plus de 8 ans dans un premier temps, et puis plus tard une inspection annuelle requise pour immatriculer tout véhicule plus vieux que 8 ans. À partir de là, les dispositions futures sont plutôt floues… appliquer les mêmes dispositions aux véhicules agés de 6 ans et plus, et potentiellement une inspection mécanique complète sont des hypothèses qui ont étés avancées par les médias.
Au premier coup d’oeil, ce projet de loi est une disposition tout à fait sensée qui permettera de réduire les emissions du parc automobile Quebecois. Cepedant, en regardant le programme similaire qu’on en place les Ontariens depuis maintenant plusieurs années, et en considérant tout les cotés de la medaille, on se rend bien compte que cette loi est vouée a l’échec.
Regardons d’abord l’example Ontarien. Depuis 1999, le program Drive Clean impose au propriétaires de tous les véhicules personnels non-commerciaux agées de 7 ans ou plus des inspections bi-annuelles qui sont obligatoires pour l’obtention de l’immatriculation. Le test en lui-même est une courte inspection visuelle, suivi d’un test sur dynamometre accompagné d’un “sniff test”, une analyse des émissions polluantes du véhicule. Si le véhicule semble conforme et satisfait au normes d’émanation des divers polluants selon les spécifications originales du véhicule plus une marge d’usure, l’inspection est réussi. Grosso modo, le cas Ontarien est un example dans ce qui se fait a travers l’Amérique du Nord; plusieurs états américains ont un système similaire en place.
Ce type d’inspection présente plusieurs problèmes. Le premier, le plus apparent, est qu’il ratisse trop large pour retirer trop peu de véhicules pollueurs de la route; selon George Iny, de l’Association pour la protection des automobilistes, 6000$ en inspection sont requis pour retirer un seul véhicule fautif de la route (7:40). Ceci pénalise ainsi plusieurs automobilistes, la grande majorité, qui sont en règle et qui n’auront jamais à faire face à un échec. Les plus touchés seront nécessairement les moins nantis, qui aurait sans doutte bien envi de consacrer cet argent dépenser en inspection et en réparations à l’achat d’un voiture plus récente, et donc plus propre sur le plan environmental. Personne n’a envi de rouler en minoune.
Deuxiemement, la démarche du ministre ne semble aucunement tenir compte du cout en carbon que représente la fabrication d’une automobile. Une étude suggère que certain véhicules aurait une empreinte environnementale à la fabrication aussi sinon plus élevée que ce qu’elle générera en gazes polluants a rouler. Une question se pose alors: est-il vraiment plus raisonnable de changer son véhicule plus fréquemment pour un modèle plus éconénergetique? Entre Gaston qui a le pieds lourd qui change son gros Cadillac loué aux 3 ans et Mme Bergeron qui conduit sa petite Tercel entre l’église et l’épicerie du coins depuis 1995, qui a participé le plus aux changements climatiques? Et pourtant, on sait très bien qui payera dans l’éventualité de la mise en vigeure de la loi 48.
Troisièmement, les plus grand pollueurs ne sont pas pour autant éliminés, du fait qu’il est pratiquement impossible de pleinement inspecté tout les systemes anti-pollution du véhicule sans dépenser une fortune. Les véhicules a grande cylindrée, peut importe leur émanations de gazes a effets de serre, ont automatiquement un passe-droit: ils on été conçus pour consommer plus de carburant, et sont évalués comme tel. De plus, la tricherie a prouvé être beaucoup trop facile et largement répendu dans le program Ontarien. N’importe quel amateur de voitures avec un peu de volonté et de savoir-faire peut actuellement passer avec aise le e-test Ontarien avec AUCUN équipement antipollution sinon qu’un catalyseur (dans certains cas, même sans celui-ci!). Dans les véhicules plus modernes, on peut facilement retrouver 4 systèmes anti-pollution ou plus, qui sont plus souvent qu’autrement invisibles pendant une inspection rapide en dessous du capot… pensé qu’un mécanicien payé a l’heure et cherchant a rentabilisé une inspection a taux fixe prendra le temps de vérifier la présence de tout ces systèmes si le “Check engine” n’est pas allumer, c’est surestimé le zêle des mécaniciens.
Autre problème: le projet de loi pue le lobbyisme. Dans le cadre d’un dossier monté par Argent, la chaine affaire de Canoe, les représentants de l’industrie ne cachent pas avoir mit des pressions considérables sur le gouvernement pour la mise en place d’une telle mesure; La Corporation des concessionnaires d’automobiles du Québec et l’Association des recycleurs de pièces d’autos et de camions se sont clairement positionnés. En tant que lobbyistes, l’environnement n’est pas leur priorité: ils savent très bien que ce projet de loi sera un occasion en or, tant pour les détaillants que les garage indépendants. Le ministre lui-même a dit vouloir crée une “étanchilité entre la personne qui inspecte et les gens qui vont faire les réparations” (6:00), ce qui pourrait permettre a l’organisme mandaté pour les inspections de mettre le couteau à la gorge du consommateur quand vient le temps d’un inspection.
Concrètement, que seront les résultats de l’application de ce projet de loi? Les moins nantis se verront privés de leur moyen de transport. Les amateurs d’automobile qui ont un minimum de genie contourneront sans problème l’inspection. Mme Bergeron, qui se fait deja arnaqué chaque fois qu’elle se rend au garage avec son Tercel pour faire changer son huile aura une chance de plus de se faire avoir par un bandit en chienne bleue. Pendant ce temps, le gouvernement dépensera de votre argent pour faire appliquer se programme a grand frais, et en plus de refiler une facture au consommateur. C’est une triple sur-taxe qui a mon sens est totalement inutile et injustifié, qui affectera les propriétaires de plus de 1.6 millions d’automobiles.
D’autre mesure moins regressistes s’offre a nous si nous voulons véritablement contribuer a réduire les émmanations du parc automobile Quebecois. Les prix du gaz ont déja encourager les ventes de véhicules de moins grande cylindrées et donc généralement moins polluants: la monté en puissance de la popularité du petit moteur turbo-compressés en est une preuve tangible. Dans cette optique, pourquoi ne pas abaissé la taille des moteurs élligibles à une surtaxe à l’immatriculation à 3 litres (plutôt que 4), et stratifié de manière plus aggressive la tarification pour punir les vraies pollueurs, peu importe l’âge de leur véhicules? Pourquoi ne pas adopter les habitudes des européens, et d’encourager l’achat de véhicules au diesel, un carburant généralement beaucoup plus éfficace?
Le projet de loi 48 est à mon sens un example parfait de comment les lobbies et l’industrie peuvent se servir de sujets intouchables pour influencer la législation en leur avantage. L’environnement étant devenu un intouchable au Quebec au même niveau que l’identité et la culture, il faudra être doublement vigilant quand l’on verra des lobbies annoncer en grande pompe leur appui à un projet de loi en prétendant défendre de beaux ideaux. On ne sait jamais quand on tombera sur un complot communist!
April 27, 2011 Comments Off
The current federal campaign surrounding the upcoming elections (in less than a week already!) has been many times labeled as flavourless by many media outlets. The very minute that parlement was suspended and that the government was out of office, everybody was expecting a repeat of the last federal elections: a month of futile of partisan brawl that would eventually result in another Conservative minority. Every party would get it’s usual seats, and life would go on.
The polls published in various newspapers however have brought a new dynamic to the campaign, that many discribed as Jack-mania. This wave of support for the NDP’s leader is causing turmoil all across the country, and especially in Quebec. While the polls are suggesting a Conservative minority with the neodemocrats forming the opposition, I believe that those drastic changes in vote intention over the last election’s results could have much deeper implications in the forming of our next governement. According to me, two scenarios must be considered if we are to try to guess the outcome of the upcoming elections.
First scenario: The support for Jack Layton and his party is impressive on paper, but will yield little to no additional seats for the party in the House of Commons. The NDP, it is was mentionned by many at the beginning of the campaign, has had much less ballots than the polls had predicted it would back in 2008. Why? Probably because of the laziness of their target demographic: it is of public notoriety that those who ideologically support social measures and a left-leaning governement usually participate very little in the elections. I’m looking at you, students and lower-income families. In Quebec, the feeling is that most of the seats that the NDP will steal from the Bloc will be won with votes from Blocist deserters, usually more inclined (I have no evidence to back this up mind you) to get their asses to the polling stations than the NDP folks. In the ridings where the struggle is more intense, specially in places like the Maritimes where the party is also experiencing massive gains in polls, the absence of a disciplined electorat will atomize the vote for Jack’s Party. Lets also not forget that raw votes are nothing if you don’t get the seat in the end… If the NDPs votes concentrate in certain circonscriptions, they have much less chance of becoming the opposition.
Second scenario: Conservative minority, NDP opposition. Betting on the fact that no opposition party has any intention to overthrow the governement over the first presented bill and make the governement even more unstable than it currently is, the Conservatives will present the Flaherty budget without modification for approval by the assembly. This cocky move is nothing that the Conservative Party is incapable of. The opposition, with nothing to lose, will vote against the budget, a choice that is concurrent with the one that threw us in an election in the first place. According to the constitution, the governor general can, in case of governement instability (aka a new executive being voted out within a couple of months of it’s election), choose to use alternative measures to form an executive. Does that sound like 2008 to anyone? Except in this scenario, Ingitieff is positionned strongly against a coalition and the Bloc would be almost absent… leaving only the NDP to form the government.
Woops, NPD is now in power. Is this what Jack means when he says that he is ready to become in Prime Minister? Coming from the smart man that is Mr. Layton, it wouldn’t be surprising, specially not in this period of electoral high very conducive to wishful thinking. Is this a good thing for the country? For supporters of the NDP’s program, apparently geared torwards social utopia, sure. But keep in mind that another minority government, specially one that DIDN’T win elections, will get kicked out rather swiftly by the older parties at the smallest mistake. The NDP’s young and unexperienced staff (which includes blonde bombshell, restaurant manager and Hull resident[!!!] Ruth Ellen Brosseau from my riding) will only catalyze this inevitable expulsion.
I know I’m repeating what everybody in the press has been telling you for the past 3 weeks, but on the 2nd of May, do go out and vote. It’s your DUTY as a citizen to do so, even if it means canceling your ballot. Not to mention that it would be horrible for Canada to be second to the US in terms of participation in the elections.
March 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Quebec doesn’t have a very big appetite for politics. Being totally bilingual, I get to compare the content from the English Canadian media outlets to their French counterparts, and this lack of interest for politics is something that you get to notice pretty quickly when you have a standard to compare it to. On weeknight TV at stations like CBC, it seems (and I’m going by gut on this one) that much more time is put on actual important issues like local, provincial and national politics, and less on silly human interest stories (hrm hrm, looking at you TVA!). Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but we French Canadians don’t have shows like RMR or 22 Minutes to make politics less dry, and when our stand-up comedians mention the subject, it usually just ends up in politicos bashing using overworked stereotypes.
As a person who enjoys learning about politics on all levels and humanities in general, I am greatly disappointed that my community puts so little interest in the system that makes our nation work. So just imagine what I feel when I see an atrocity like this in the paper:
That’s not journalism, even by the Journal de Montreal/Journal de Quebec’s low, low standards. That’s outright anti-journalism. Dumbing down the masses, polarizing cynicism and encouraging the stagnation of politics in our nation. The “It’s on!” part I can get. But, for sensationalism’s sake, they just HAD to include the “again” part, that perpetuates the idea that elections are unwanted, for reasons that Vincent Marissal did a fine job of underlining in last week’s La Presse. From the very start of the campaign I’ve had to deal with this kind of cynic crap. The complaint on cost is very popular apparently, as I’ve had the “another couple hundred million dollars down the drain” type of talk many times since the campaign started. People, get it straight: a federal election 3 years into a minority government is not something out of the ordinary, and the mechanism surrounding the fall of the government is ESSENTIAL to democracy in that it prevents the undue preservation of power by the executive against the will of the people, via the opposition.
This front page tells loads about the Journal’s prime target audience: cynics, ignorants, people who always want more but never do more, who have an opinon on everything yet have nothing to back it up. I kind of want to hate Quebecor for this (despite the fact that their flamboyant victory over the STIJM made me pretty giddy), but after all, who’s to blame? The population, they’re the ones who chew up that kind of crap; come to think about it, JdM and JdQ reader’s appetite for garbage is the only thing that kept the papers afloat on such a long strike.
You want a government that’ll last five years? Give tories a majority, I guarantee they’ll squeeze out every last drop of their mandate. Just don’t be signing petitions to kick out the PM 3 years from now.
October 3, 2010 § Leave a Comment
MacLean’s dropped a bomb lately: an article boldly entitled Quebec: The Most Corrupt Province. The blast was strong, and swept many Quebecois journalists and the population off it’s feet promptly. Opinions are varied, but what we hear most often on the open lines and editorials is the following ridiculous reponse: “How dare those Anglos call us corrupt?”
As a Quebecois myself (french mothertounge, none the less), I am surprised by this reaction. How is it that we, the survivors of constant English opression (more on this in another article), have such a thin hide? The truth is that Quebec is very succeptible, specially when it comes to recieving criticism from the outside. Sitting is front of TVA news, it’s very easy for a Quebec to bitch and moan about everything; the current state of widespread cynisme regarding politics is proof that Quebecois are either 1) aware of corruption and just don’t care, or 2) living in blissful ignorance, content with the status quo. We can call our own system out, but god forbid that some other group criticize us… that would be Quebec bashing, trampling the french-speaking minority, oppression from the conglomerate of Anglo Federalist provinces. Oh please, give me a break.
People have been going as far as canceling their cell phone subscriptions with Rogers and Fido (Rogers is the owner of both, and also owner of MacLean’s), and our prime minister the Honorable James John Charest has gone as fars as to publish an open letter to the publisher rambling about Quebec’s accomplishments and demanding that the author excuse himself. The letter is meaningless, because as we all known, Jean Charest included, success and accomplishment can coexist with corruption. Furthermore, the open letter is a very bold move for somebody who is currently appearing in a parlimentary comission on corruption in the nomination of provincial court judges (visibly tailored to fit Mr. Charest) and who has repeatedly refused an investigation about more brown-envelope passing in the construction industry. What I’m seeing here is a PM that desperately wants to get support from the public who are ready to kick him out of power with a swift kick to the ass. I won’t even mention the legal threats on the alleged copyright infringement on the intellectual property that is the Bonhomme Carnaval. This whole thing is becoming ridiculous and out of hand.
Besides even if the article were exagerated, journalism and public relations are gentlemen’s sports: you play by the rules, and if you get hit under the belt, you reply with a harder hit that fits within the rules; whining isn’t an option. Sensationalist journalism throws shit in the fan… but you only get dirty if you’re in the room where it happens. You want to make a strong point? Let’s disprove the allegations, sweep it off with the back of our hands… it should be easy, Quebec isn’t corrupt at all, right?