Friday, December 29, 2006

A truth hidden in the nature


“All is not well.”
- Hamlet, in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet

It’s extremely easy to naively believe that hydroelectricity is not a source of pollution. Moreover, that conviction is reinforced by the fact that water – which probably looks as inoffensive as a hair spray – is at the centre of the production of electricity. As a matter of fact, hydroelectricity is totally far from being as green as the leprechaun’s flashy clothes.

For instance, in the 1980s, 2500 km2 of the Amazonian forest were flooded in order to make sure that the day is pleasantly the day and the night is clearly the night in the Brazilian city of Manaus. Although a great area of trees was wiped off from the map, many members of the Brazilian government thought that, in the end, hydroelectricity will benefit to their citizens. Nowadays, hydraulic plants produce more than 80% of Brazil’s electricity.

Unfortunately, the flooding of natural areas, which is the result of diversion of rivers, can quickly become an invisible source of pollution according to recent scientific discoveries. Furthermore, these discoveries reveal us that hydropower “can emit more greenhouse gases per kilowatt-hour than fossil fuels, including the dirtiest coal plants” (Patrick McCully, 2006), even though many scientists disagree on that point, but let’s talk about hydroelectricity.

British journalist Jim Giles stated that the problem rather lies in “the biomass contained in the artificial lakes”. In fact, Giles supports his argument by saying that when some areas are flooded, “great quantities of organic matters are wedged under the water”. Furthermore, the vegetation and soils that are “wedged under the water” release carbon dioxide, methane and, in some cases, nitrous oxide according to Patrick McCully, the director of the International Rivers Network (IRN).

During the first years, the emission of these gases might be particularly high after a reservoir is created. Unfortunately, the director of the IRN straightforwardly upholds that the “river that feeds the reservoir, [along with] the plants and planktons that grow in [the river], will continue to provide more organic matters to fuel [the natural] greenhouse gas production”.

Given this situation, let’s comprehend that the rest of the pollution occurs at the dam itself. When the water, that contains tons of methane, jets out from turbines and spillways, it releases in the air most of its methane just like the fizz from a newly opened bottle of soda. In addition to that, Danny Cullenward, an expert in energy policies of the Stanford University, estimated that between 95 million and 122 million tons of methane are released in the air in one year.

Obviously, if a nuance had to be brought, let it be said that speaking about greenhouse gases emissions, a dam in the tropics (ex: Brazil) is technically more polluting than one that is located in an ordinary climatic zone (ex: somewhere in Quebec). Again, it’s not because Quebec or other Canadian provinces are less polluting than Brazil that we have to belittle the Brazilians. As strange as it might look, Hydro-Quebec, the public company that supplies people “provincewide” in Quebec, knew this shocking truth about hydroelectricity.

In fact, this company has also cut funding to scientists whose works came to a harsh conclusion that could have potentially damage its interests. Besides, you should also know that in November, Hydro-Quebec also fiercely exhorted the scientific journal Lakes and Reservoirs: Research and Management not to publish an article written by these same scientists, according to one of them.

Does our society need a debate on the legitimacy of hydroelectricity? Indubitably. In my opinion, this blog entry’s issue opens a very interesting debate. Our federal and provincial politicians must remain tough on each square centimetre of this battlefield called “Global Warming”. Nonetheless, the concerned Canadian provincial Environment ministers must not dither to find a way to make sure that hydroelectricity is “climate-friendly”, as the director of the IRN Patrick McCully said it, but this will rather be difficult.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond

Cast and crew:
USA (2006)
Length: 126 minutes
Genre: Adventure thriller and drama
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Screenplay: Charles Leavitt
Producers: Gillian Gorfil, Marshall Herskovitz, Graham King, Darrell Roodt, Paula Weinstein and Edward Zwick
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, Kagiso Kuypers, Arnold Vosloo and Benu Mabhena

Synopsis:
While he's in a prison in Sierra Leone, an African country, Danny Archer, a diamond smuggler, meets Solman Vandy. Solman is a farmer who got captured by soldiers of the government of Sierra Leone while he was forced against his will by a group of rebels from the Revolutionary United Africa to collect diamonds that will finance a coup d'État. Archer learns that Vandy has hidden a big and rare diamond somewhere before he got arrested. After both of them got out of prison, Danny Archer will drag Solman Vandy into a quest for the diamond that Solman Vandy has hidden.

Review:
During the holydays, our dear Southern neighbours probably keep invading us with all kinds of movies meant for entertainment. However, don’t be surprised if you see a movie in the likes of Blood Diamond appearing on the market these days, because whether you like it or not, Hollywood is gradually preparing itself for the Oscar. As a movie about African politics and conflict diamonds, Blood Diamond went beyond my general expectations. For a rare moment in my life, I was watching a Hollywood movie that aims to deliver a moral message.

Despite the quality and exhaustive nature of Blood Diamond’s script, it is easy to come to the conclusion that what slightly mares the potential of movie director Edward Zwick’s latest flick is the small – oh yes, you heard me – presence of stereotypes that are deeply – and perhaps historically – rooted into the Westerners’ collective mentality. Hopefully, despite that little flaw, the actors who form the well chosen cast of Blood Diamond succeeds into amazing us with their unsullied and impeccable thespian abilities.

As Danny Archer, a South African Afrikaner “businessman”, Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic ; Gangs of New York) holds a nice role, albeit a little bit stereotyped, that commands respect. Di Caprio’s character, in the beginning, embodies what Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor refers to as the “instrumental reason”. Anybody can sense Danny Archer’s desire to make profits without paying attention to the moral aspect of his deeds. In fact, it will take time before Archer notices that his smuggling activities spread havoc not just in Sierra Leone, but also in Africa (i.e. people who are savagely being killed by warlords who use diamonds to buy weapons) thanks to Maddy Bowen, a charming and intelligent journalist who is played by none other than Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind).

However, if we go back to the exploration of Danny Archer’s “instrumental reason” (Charles Taylor), one must know that there’s actually a hint of a subtle racism towards black people that was born from the European colonialism. Throughout the existential conflicts that often tear the relation between David Archer and Solman Vandy (the black African who helps Archer in his quest for profits), the perception that Archer has towards Vandy (and by extension towards black people) will change gradually at the point that he will come to stop regarding Soman Vandy as an inferior being.

Even though Blood Diamond doesn’t explicitly show the racism of Afrikaners towards black Africans, it is certainly Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, of all the Afrikaner characters, who gets all the necessary development. The other Afrikaners in the movie are a little bit artificial when you look at the way they act. Unfortunately, Charles Leavitt, the scriptwriter, didn’t take the time to develop these characters and bring more nuances into their psychological morphology. That explains why viewers are – how to say that politely – bounded to watch living and also horrifying caricatures of Afrikaners smugglers who remorselessly intimidate and kill black Africans in order to gain their ends. Nonetheless, these supporting characters are very well played by real competent actors such as Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy), as colonel Coetzee.

While showing up as Solman Vandy, Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator), of all the supporting members of the cast, is definitely the one who defends the most demanding role. In fact, even though Hounsou’s character looks like so many other characters in other movies, he still manages to depict the obvious complex of inferiority and the pathetic innocence that Solman Vandy, as an African, has while he sees white people. Furthermore, that complex of inferiority is the result of the European colonialism. However, what makes this character very interesting, it’s rather the fact that his stubbornness seldom gives to the storyline many unpredictable twists that brilliantly show the depth of Hounsou’s character.

In this movie that is not likely to make you fall asleep, you will not only be forced to buckled up your seat belt before the ride begins, but you will also learn a few things about conflict diamonds. Even though Blood Diamond might not necessarily satisfy your thirst and curiosity about conflict diamonds, this complex political issue that the media don’t always talk about, it is a movie that successfully show you four different perspective of the story through the eyes of: white smugglers (ex: David Archer), ordinary Westerners (ex: Maddy Bowen), an average African (ex: Solman Vandy) and a kid-soldier (ex: Solman’s son). As a result of that, we get to see at the same time a very touching movie about the complexity of human nature and also a movie brimming with rough, harsh, brutal and violent scenes that illustrate what many Africans have lived because of conflict diamonds.

Finally, the other surprising thing with Blood Diamond is the simplicity of the action scenes. When you watch them, you do have the odd feeling that you’re in the movie. In fact, the constant movements of the camera gives you the feeling that the movie is not far from being a documentary even though the story is, without a doubt, fictitious in a certain manner. All in all, Blood Diamond, despite a few lack of common sense here and there (i.e. African rebel militias that listen to Afro-American rap?!?!) simultaneously combines the quality of a documentary and also an adventure movie that you’re not going to forget.

Rating: 4.5 / 5


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A poll on religious beliefs in the West

This might sound really shocking to read, but as opposed to a civilization that I don’t need to name, we Westerners understood that the fight against religious corruption was a step towards democracy. While the attraction of religious faith is becoming strangely stronger in the Muslim civilization, the USA gives the strange feeling to us that it is culturally taking its distance with the Western civilization.

Obviously, this is due to the pathetic importance of religion (definitely one of the worst inventions in History, in my opinion) in this puritan country called the United States of America. Even though most Western countries put aside religion, this century is certainly not just the century that illustrates the rise of religious attachment in the Muslim civilization.

A recently published survey conducted on adults by Harris Interactive and the Financial Times magazine reveals us that “people in the U.S. [are] more likely to believe in God or any kind of Supreme Being than those in five European countries (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain)”. The percentage of religious believers in the USA reached 73%.

Of all the countries, France wins the award of the most “unreligious” country. In fact, only 27% of the French believe in “God or any Supreme Being”. Does this percentage surprise you, actually, the French, throughout their History, endured the coercion of the church for a very long time…

This FT/Harris Poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive® among a total of 12,507 adults (aged 16 and over), within France (2,134); Germany (2,127); Great Britain (2,090); Spain (1,991); the United States (2,078), and Italy (2,087), aged 18 and over, between 30th November and 15th December 2006.

Anyway, I’ll leave to you some questions that were asked in this survey and have fun reading the stats.

Question 1:"Thinking now about religion, would you say that you are a…?"


Great Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

USA

%

Believer in any form of God or any type of supreme being

35

27

62

48

41

73

Agnostic (one who is sceptical about the existence of God but not an
atheist)

35

32

20

30

25

14

Atheist (one who denies the existence of God)

17

32

7

11

20

4

Would prefer not to say

6

6

8

8

10

6

Not sure

743343


Question 2:"Do you feel that children should be allowed to wear a religious sign or article of clothing at school which is representative of their beliefs (such as crucifixes, headscarves)?"

Great BritainFranceItalySpainGermanyUSA
%
Yes481061444077
No368329435114
Not sure1571013108

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mixed healthcare system

The leader of the Action Démocratique du Québec Mario Dumont advocated the adoption of a mixed public and private healthcare system in Quebec. Some ideas of Mario Dumont might not necessarily please to everybody, but when it comes to talking about a “double-speed healthcare system”, he certainly gets it right. In general, Canada has nothing to lose by replacing its Medicare law by a mixed public and private healthcare system.

No effect on public finances

Such a reform wouldn’t make the governmental funding for the development of the public system wane. The development of private clinics or hospitals is often a matter of entrepreneurship. In fact, when the Supreme Court declared the Chaoulli judgement, a few private clinics were built in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British-Columbia without the help of any level of government. Obviously, if Canada adopted a mixed public and private healthcare system, no money of your taxes – in general – would fund the construction of more private clinics or hospitals, mind you.

Lessening congestions

To reduce the waiting lines in hospitals and clinics, our government should adopt a mixed public and private healthcare system. Canada, as one of the few countries of the Western civilization that has a great monopoly on its national healthcare system, managed to create a very equalitarian project. However, this equalitarian project also has a dark side.

For instance, one of the most perverse effects of this public monopoly of the Canadian government on the healthcare system can be seen in Quebec. As a matter of fact, did you know that in Quebec, the waiting time for a surgery went from 7.3 weeks to 17.5 weeks in twelve years? Despite the new complicated way used by Quebec’s government to calculate the waiting time, at least 35,000 patients are actually waiting to get the service they need.

Respect of economic freedom

A public healthcare system provides a service to everyone, regardless of their financial condition, via the taxpayers’ money. Unfortunately, it’s because of the monopoly of our government on the healthcare system that some people don’t receive medical help in time. With only one choice (i.e. the public healthcare system), you can expect that all people who need medical help will be converging towards the public healthcare system.

There’s definitely a problem if the Canadian government can’t see the congestion in the public healthcare system… By making a half-opening to a private healthcare system, the government Canada is practicing coercion. If some people can afford to pay for private services, the government must not prevent them to do it. After all, our government is totally in contradiction with its discourse on freedom. By dithering to adopt a mixed public and private healthcare system, our government is not respecting economic and medical freedom by imposing one choice for citizens.

Americanization of what?

Many political critics in Canada uphold that the adoption of a mixed public and private healthcare system is a process of “Americanization” of Canada’s healthcare system. Oh, really? Since the USA defines itself as a neo-liberal economy, it is easy to say that there’s only a private healthcare system. Therefore, there’s no public health sector in the USA. This is why in the USA, not every Americans can receive the medical services they need because these services are too expensive.

The adoption of a mixed public and private healthcare system is rather an idea that comes from European social-democrat countries such as France, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries, mind you. The point here is not to copy the American healthcare system. If Canada copies European countries, it will, at the same time, preserve the notion of equal chances through the use of a public system and allow people to converge towards the private healthcare system if they feel that they’re waiting too much. All in all, by trying to impose the notion of equal chances with a public healthcare system, the government of Canada has also created inequality of chances by accidentally preventing some people to get the services that they need because of the long waiting lines.

The French bipolar system

In France, the media never talks about congestion in the French healthcare system, because there’s no such thing like this! The World Health Organization considers France’s mixed public and private healthcare system as the best one in the world. A French doctor can work in the public and private sector. Obviously, some measures were taken in order to protect the public sector. An experience in the public healthcare system is required for a job in the private sector.

While simple services can be given in the private and public sector, it’s in the latter that surgeries, researches and academic teaching (to medicine students) are made. All French citizens are also covered by both a state insurance and a private one, which is quite affordable. It is because of a co-existence of two healthcare systems in France that everybody can be treated very quickly.

Dark future for Canada

The healthcare system that Canada has is actually too expensive for the state. Furthermore, as the population gets older, our country is facing a loss of taxpayers that is inherently related in the growth of the national unemployment rate. If an adoption of a mixed public and private healthcare system is not adopted, the Canadian government, in a few years, will have to spend more money to take care of its population. Some economic reports also mention that in a few years, half of the national budget might possibly be dedicated to our public healthcare system if the government doesn’t make the public and private sector co-exist harmoniously in the domain of healthcare.

Finally, allow me to gladly wish you a merry Christmas, shared with your friends and your family, full of love and joy, and a happy New Year that will allow you to live your dreams. Moreover, let’s hope that this New Year will help you to start a new chapter brilliantly without going to a hospital or a clinic (joke)!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bernard Landry's animal farm

As a Finances minister of Quebec, Bernard Landry certainly didn’t imagine that his “accomplishments” would turn out to be extremely decried to death. In fact, a report made by Renaud Lachance, the Auditor general of Quebec, reveals us that by trying to save the industry of horse racing through the creation of the Société nationale du cheval de course (SONACC), Landry inadvertently created an uncontrollable animal farm.

In his wild days of being Quebec’s Finances minister, Bernard Landry was not closely involved in the deplorable embezzlements done by the administrators he appointed. However, Landry’s reputation is now terribly sullied, because even though the SONACC was apparently under governmental control, it really was managed like a private company. In addition to that, let it also be said that the SONACC wasn’t held by concrete governmental control mechanism and this explains why so many mismanagement occurred.

The SONACC actually received many funds from the government of Quebec, but unfortunately, this money wasn’t well used. The report of Renaud Lachance contains horror stories that reveal us that:


  • Many administrators of the SONACC unjustifiably spent more than $15 million on extravagant activities.

  • An administrator who earned $100,000 per year received a severance pay of $82,500 just before he immediately got hired back as an advisor with a contract of $350,000 for two years.

  • While the SONACC’s administrators were having fun, they constantly begged for a governmental help from the Ministry of Finances and $40 million was granted to the SONACC in 2001 and 2002.

  • A head of the SONACC was refunded for his replacement and representation fees at an amount of $93,000.


Why was such a big amount of money injected in a dead industry (i.e. horse racing)? Bernard Landry is certainly a smart economist without a doubt, but his ludicrous leaning towards state intervention in economic sectors doesn’t necessarily fit with reality. In fact, Landry often proudly upholds that the state can succeed where the market fails. Really? This theory might have a convincing resonance in certain domain, but not for the horse racing industry in Quebec.

Despite the efforts of the government of Quebec to keep the horse racing industry alive, this industry, at this very moment, is still as unpopular, pathetic and useless as it was just before the SONACC was created. In fact, most Quebeckers are not interested to bet on horses and hence, the low demand of tickets for racing events. It is not economic intervention from the government that will bring people to see horse racing. Furthermore, according to the golden rule of interventionism, the state should intervene in an economic sector only if this sector is viable and profitable.

The heritage of Bernard Landry, as a Finances minister who granted $260 million to the SONACC, attached the government of Quebec with a provincial debt of $12,8 million related to the SONACC. Furthermore, the SONACC also borrowed $15,7 million from the Banque Nationale and $10 million from the CIBC bank. So, in general, the provincial debt that is related to the horse racing industry is officially at $38,5 million and that excludes the stolen sum of money…

Bernard Landry, since he got out of politics last year, enjoys commenting on the dynamics of Canadian and Quebecker politics, if you look at the way he grinds his axe in order to rhetorically chop André Boisclair, the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), in the media. It looks like Landry wants to be back in the ranks of the PQ. Nonetheless, the scandal of the SONACC is a major reason that should keep Landry at home.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Cast and crew:
Germany (2005)
Length: 117 minutes
Genre: Historical drama
Original German name: Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage
Directed by: Marc Rothemund
Producers: Fred Breinersdorfer, Sven Burgemeister, Christoph Müller and Marc Rothemund
Screenwriter: Fred Breinersdorfer
Starring: Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Gerald Alexander Held and Florian Stetter

Synopsis:
Munich, Germany. 1942. During the Second World War, Germany, which is led by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi supporters, is attempting to make a breakthrough on its Eastern front by trying to invade Russia. While German soldiers are fighting against Russian soldiers, a group of students of the University of Munich, who are members of an anti-Nazi group called the White Rose, are distributing leaflets to convince people to stop supporting Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, Sophie and Hans Scholl will be the first members of the White Rose to be arrested by the Gestapo, Germany's state police. This is the story of the last days that Sophie Scholl spent.


Review:
With the new generation of German moviemakers who don’t seem to have the Nazi era deeply rooted in their mentality, one is certainly not supposed to be surprised to see all these movies about the Second World War (seen through the eyes of Germans) being released worldwide. Oliver Hirschbiegel’s The Downfall, a movie about the final days of Adolf Hitler, gloriously topple people’s expectations and was praised. Now, on the other side of the curtain, this excellent movie delivers to most of us an unknown part of the German History: the White Rose, an anti-Nazi group constituted of young students.

This unforgettable movie about resistance against the Nazi regime in Germany, which was the German official entry at the 2005 Oscar ceremony, is the story of German students who found the courage to oppose themselves to the internal and foreign policies of Adolf Hitler, the chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, in 1942. Despite being a little bit unpredictable for most people, the storyline is logically and brilliantly constructed. Nonetheless, despite the high calibre that defines Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, it’s still easy to find a flaw in this movie that I consider as one of the best European movies ever.

In fact, while the movie seems very exciting and interesting because of the way how the story creates our subjective fascination for what the main characters are doing in the beginning to introduce us to their contempt for Hitler’s internal and foreign policies, it is very saddening to see that the pace of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is getting annoyingly slow in the middle when she’s in prison under the control of the Gestapo. Still, some nuances must be applied into the previous comment. The time that Sophie spends into her cell doesn’t often allows us to learn things about what really defines her through her conversation with her cellmate. This means that some parts of their conversation could have been cut for the well being of the viewers.

While the movie is sadly being slowed down by the scenes in Sophie’s cell, in the middle of the movie, things still get very interesting when she’s being interrogated by Inspector Mohr, a state officer. These scenes succeed into displaying all the motives that were not really concealed in the mind of Sophie. In my opinion, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days starts to be rather interesting when viewers get past the movie’s middle. The third part of the movie is a pack of moving scenes that either touches us or impresses us by the courage of the main protagonists. Some people might say that the characters in this movie are a little bit artificial and one-dimensional in the third part. Unfortunately, this statement, in my opinion, is totally false. Although the feelings of the characters experience few changes in this part of the movie, this part, in my opinion, reveals what the characters are truly made of, psychologically speaking.

Even though certain flaws in the script could have been taken out by some cuts of useless scenes in the middle of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, Julia Jentsch (The Edukators), as Sophie Magdalena Scholl, along with the rest of the cast, convinces us about the credibility of this historically accurate movie. Her excellent performance filled with nuances perfectly shows the real human strength that really gives life to Sophie Scholl. Sometimes, Jetsch uses her eyes to express her character’s feelings, but unfortunately, her skills with mastering her eyes-work, in a manner of speaking, is a little bit flawed, because in some scenes, the feelings often hardly come out. Anyway, I’m sure that Julia Jentsch is a young talent that will soon get international recognition for her work done with passion.

Finally, this dramatization of the last days spent by Sophie Scholl might give the feelings to viewers that the end of the movie leaves out other interesting historical things that could have been enlightened, but Sophie Scholl: The Final Days must be considered for what it is: a historical movie that illustrates another point of view from the German perspective. In fact, even though the movie might certainly not pleases to some Hollywood producers who regard the world as a black and white board, I deeply hope that it will appeal to people, just like me, who enjoy learning things in History. By the way, this is not an action movie.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Elsie Lefebvre and restricted nationalism



Here's a very good video that you should be watching if you want to see how the Parti Québécois (PQ) transform itself into a daycare centre! Thanks to David for the link.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pakistan's backyard

According to an article of the newspaper Le Monde, since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, the international community didn't succeed to get over the Taliban problem. A few days ago, the respective head of state of Pakistan and Afghanistan met each other at the White House with American president George W. Bush. Unfortunately, Pakistan and Afghanistan couldn't find an agreement.

That meeting was meant to help Pakistan and Afghanistan to find a way to stall the growing influence of the Taliban near the Afghan-Pakistani borders. In fact, during a previous meeting at Kabul, the Pakistani Foreign Affairs minister Khurshid Kasuri couldn't bring forward a coherent common jirga (tribal assembly) to develop a plan to stop the Taliban.

Furthermore, Kasuri admitted that many Talibans are crossing the borders of Pakistan although many soldiers of this country are keeping an eye on the borders. This disagreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan is obviously rooted into History.

As the Globe and Mail's columnist Jeffrey Simpson once said it, many Western countries are ignoring the fact that Pakistan (even though it doesn't always admit it) never seem to be preoccupied by the influence of the Taliban, because it always wanted to find ways to weaken Afghanistan, given the ethnic divisions in the latter.

Simpson also says that Pakistan always considered Afghanistan as its backyard, because if - and I say "if" - India invaded Pakistan, this country's troops planned to withdraw in Afghanistan and violate the sovereignty of its weak neighbour. This fact single-handedly shows us that Pakistan hasn't always been pro-Westerners.

Instead of always organizing meetings between the two presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the international community must get a better knowledge of Afghanistan's History and also force the Pakistani government to leave behind, once and for all, its imperialistic treatment towards Afghanistan and co-operate in the hunt of the Taliban.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Nothing wrong with the Clarity Act

The election of Stéphane Dion as the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) certainly left me with a frosty feeling not because I disagree with most of his political point of view. On the contrary, Stéphane Dion, as a politician, possesses great management skills, but unfortunately, he’s not endowed with the character of a leader. After all, let’s grant him the benefit of doubt. Now, many Quebeckers see Stéphane Dion as the creator of the Clarity Act, but whether you like to hear it or not, most people are uselessly making a fuss over it.

Many public separatist figures in Quebec, such as Jean Dorion (the president of the Société Saint-Jean Baptiste of Montreal) said that the delegates of the LPC elected the candidate who is the most “intransigent towards the national aspirations of Quebec”. How true is this statement, eh? Stéphane Dion is highly attached to Canada, but nonetheless, Dorion is confusing for no reason the interests of Quebec’s separatists and those of the entire population.

Dion did upset Quebec’s separatists, because since he entered politics in 1996 as the deputy of St-Laurent-Cartierville, the PQ was in power at the National Assembly since 1994. Eventually, Jean Charest’s Liberal Party of Quebec (LPQ) will defeat the PQ in 2003. Stéphane Dion didn’t get the Quebecker federalists’ ire completely up (remember the Mulcair affair), because he only had to deal with the LPQ for only three years whereas the separatists had to endure him for nine years. Think about it: nine years of frustration from the separatists.

Speaking about “the national aspirations of Quebec”, the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ) André Boisclair declared that Quebeckers still remember the Clarity Act. Why didn’t Boisclair reveal the things that are to be remembered from this law? The Clarity Act is not a coercive law that aims to forbid Quebec to separate; it’s a governmental document that indicates a set of condition that must be followed if a province wants to separate from Canada.

According to this law, “there is no right, under international law or under the Constitution of Canada, for the National Assembly, legislature or government of Quebec to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally”. Furthermore, in a further paragraph, it is said “that the government of any province of Canada is entitled to consult its population by referendum on any issue and is entitled to formulate the wording of its referendum question”.

Obviously, that consultation must be done with a clear question and be won by a clear majority that truly expresses the willingness of that province’s population. Many Quebecker separatists have so many reasons to be angry! On the 29th of June 2000, the promulgation of the Clarity Act was necessary, because Quebecker separatists tried to lure Quebeckers twice (in the referendum 1980 and then in 1995) with ambiguous questions that were meant to conceal their secessionist objectives. All in all, this law made by Stéphane Dion takes away the PQ’s privilege to decide on its own about the question, the day of the referendum and its condition.

Under the Clarity Act, besides accepting democratically the separation of a province with reluctance, the Parliament of Canada gets the right to fairly decide how a question of referendum will be asked. The Parliament is making sure that there’s only one way to interpret the question and that the question itself is short, concise and precise. In fact, if you look at the respective question of the two previous referendums, you’d see that the question was just uselessly long and it barely talked about separation.

Finally, the Quebecker separatists can certainly sing whatever they want about the Clarity Act, but this law is here just to make sure that they prepare a referendum honestly. Moreover, the separatists should be elated, because there’s no law in Canada that forbids Quebeckers to separate from Canada if they feel like doing it. Unless I’m wrong, Quebecker separatists are still going to be stuck on representatives (i.e. Gilles Duceppe and André Boisclair) who are often ready to tell lies. There’s a difference between facts and lies.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

John Bolton's resignation

John Bolton, the very fiery and "blunt-spoken" ambassador of the USA at the United Nations (UN), resigned. Even though he didn't take it very well, American president George W. Bush still accepted it. Apparently, George W. Bush will be going through a bereavement, if you know what I mean... In fact, John Bolton is no longer at the UN to preach George W. Bush's will to the international community. Besides, John Bolton always hated the UN if you look at his critiques about it.

Some newspapers in Canada suggest that the Democrats, whether they're in the Congress or in the Senate, are looking for a candidate that can reach both the Republican and the Democrat Party. All right, this is true, but can we have the whole truth, please! Today, the New York Times is saying that the eyes are starting to turn on Zalmay Khalizad, the actual US ambassador in Iraq.

If all eyes are on Khalizad, let's hope that he won't be "at odds with the multilateral approach at the United Nations [just like John Bolton]." (Helene Cooper, 2006) Guess what? The UN sent out a press communiquée by saying that it will make "no comment" about the resignation of John Bolton... What do you guys in the USA are thinking about the resignation of John Bolton. Please leave a comment just to let me know your thoughts.

Thanks



Related links:
1. Votes in Doubt, Bolton Resigns as Ambassador

2. The War at Home, by Sarah Wheaton

Monday, December 4, 2006

Competence or incompetence?

Things might appear to be very strange for Canadians, but Stéphane Dion got elected as the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) by of 54.7% of its 4,605 delegates who were present in Montreal after four rounds. As for Michael Ignatieff, the only remaining candidate in the final round, he collected 45.3% of the votes (2084). This leadership race might look very strange, but it is, above all, "the triumph of competence" (Stéphane Dion) against incompetence (Michael Ignatieff), as political columnist André Pratte said it.

Stéphane Dion drawn by caricaturist Serge Chapleau

The author of this text is definitely not a supporter of the LPC, but at least let's recognize that unlike what so many people think, Stéphane Dion, as a former professor of political science at the University of Montréal, knows federalism more than any Quebecker separatists out there. When certain Quebecker separatists used sophistic statements to smear his reputation, Dion always knew how to smartly reply by bringing arguments about federalism without boiling his feelings.

However, as time goes by, Stéphane Dion must not leave aside his intellectual skills; he should also learn, by himself, how to leave some rooms for a little bit of character. Indeed, what he does lack is charisma if you look at his thickly accented English and wooden speeches.

Despite his patent lack of charisma, Stéphane Dion is probably of one the bests debaters in the History of Canadian politics as many English-speaking Canadian political columnists observed it. At the next election, Canadians will be seeing a debate between two leaders, which means Stephen Harper and Stéphane Dion, who are both cold, who were both former academics.

For the moment, the public opinion didn't seem to change in Quebec. The day is still the day and the night is still the night. Many people believe that Stéphane Dion might not be able to get some seats in Quebec. In fact, it might not be wrong to think that the Bloc Québécois (BQ) still has a solid grip on most of Quebec's ridings, but who knows? After all, Stéphane Dion has always been underestimated in his political career and he always brought us so many surprises...

Friday, December 1, 2006

Scrap Quebec's Opening Hours Act!

It was about time that Quebec’s Economic Development minister Raymond Bachand lays a new version of the Opening Hours Act despite the opposition of trade unions and merchants. Nonetheless, Quebecker consumers and particularly job seekers will evidently complain in spite of the slight difference between the original act that came into effect in 1992 and its new version, because it hardly corresponds to the reality of nowadays.

In its original version, a specific set of articles of the Opening Hours Act imposed a limit of four “employees” (pharmacists don’t count) to food stores and pharmacies after five pm on Saturday and Sunday. On the other hand, the new bill project that will be submitted to the weak expertise of Quebec’s deputies at the National Assembly aims to impose a limit of four employees in food stores and pharmacies after eight pm on the same days.

Economic Development minister Raymond Bachand certainly tried to listen to Quebec’s population, but nudging the time of restriction of employees in food stores and pharmacies at eight o’clock in the evening wouldn’t make any difference. Not only people will complain, but it’s also, at the same time a restriction of economic freedom. Not bad for a government that tries to protect fundamental freedoms!

Instead, a bill project that fully “liberalizes” (economically speaking) the notion of the usage of employees in food stores and pharmacies must be introduced in order to fit with reality. Many people will say that average workers normally end their day at five pm and then they could just go to their local food stores or pharmacies. Unfortunately, most parents have the difficulty to harmoniously align their personal schedule with that of their children. As a matter of fact, that explains why most parents decide to go to food stores and pharmacies during the weekend.

However, a few economic studies conducted in Quebec shows us that food stores, in particular, are heavily jam-packed in the evening of Saturday and Sunday. The liberalization of the usage of employees in food stores and pharmacies will give to merchants a margin of manoeuvre in terms of service. In fact, instead of juggling with four employees after the “usual opening hours ”, merchants can use as much as employees as they need to serve the throng of customers.

Obviously, having more employees makes it possible to occupy all the cash desk, for instance, in order to effectively reduce the lines of customers who are waiting to pay. In fact, many Quebecker consumers and merchants have been complaining about the fact that the lines were so big because some food stores were only using two (or even one) cashiers. Raymond Bachand should know that as a result of that pathetic law, many customers had to wait at least twenty minutes before they could pay for their merchandises!

It should also be said that a restriction of employees also overloads them with tasks, which makes it very hard to serve customers who will only be frustrated by a food store employee’s lack of concentration. Furthermore, this law doesn’t help the employees to concentrate on one specific assignment at a given time and it often force them to take into their hands an amount of tasks that doesn’t fit with their competence. As far as we know, human beings are not machines…

The liberalization of the usage of employees in Quebec’s food stores and pharmacies will certainly satisfy job seekers. The Opening Hours Act contributes, in a certain way, into creating unemployment among young students. Since some students can’t work during the week, the disengagement of Quebec’s government towards food stores and pharmacies will allow many motivated young students to find a job more easily in order to pay for their studies and build their financial autonomy. In short, the abolition of the Opening Hours Act will somewhat diminish Quebec’s unemployment rate, because whether we like it or not, the government can’t force students to stay at home!

Even though the Opening Hour Acts was meant to provide a fair playing field to convenience stores against food stores and pharmacies, all facts of life tend to demonstrate the irrelevance of this law that came into effect in 1992. According to one of La Presse’s columnists Nathalie Collard, this explains why some merchants prefer to bend the law and expose themselves to a fine of $1500 (it’s $3000 if it’s a subsequent offence), because the Quebecker government doesn’t send enough inspectors.

If the objective of a government is to defend freedom, its members must understand that the first power’s disengagement towards the amount of employees that is used in food stores and pharmacies will be a sign of respect towards people’s willingness to contribute to the economic development. Motivation can only be here if the government finds a balanced way to encourage the “workfare”, as American economist Milton Friedman said it. In short, the Opening Hours Act is only a ridiculous policy that discourages people from working.

What are our elected deputies in Quebec are waiting for to demolish the Opening Hours Act once and for all? Well, we’re still left in front of a mystery for the moment. The demolition of this act should be made if owners of food stores and pharmacies find some compromises that can be made. Up to now, the puck, as we say it in hockey, is visibly on Quebec’s Economic Development minister Raymond Bachand’s side.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

André Boisclair's ludicrous chorus

If you understand French, just look at this video that will show you why André Boisclair is definitely not made for politics, but rather for entertainment. I really wonder where on earth André Boisclair learned how to make a goddamned speech. Even a politician from a Third-World country speaks better than that as far as I know.


Aboriginals are not nations

We can learn in today's edition of the newspaper Le Devoir that a commission about the Aboriginals within the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) adopted a resolution that recognizes the Aboriginals as nations within the Canadian nation. Furthermore, we can also learn that the Aboriginals want their so-called "government" to be recognized equally with the federal and provincial government.

Now, I don't want to sound really rude, but even though Aboriginals are involved in the foundation of Canada, a part of their identity has actually crafted the Canadian cultural identity. That leads me to my central point. Do I recognize Aboriginals as "nations within the Canadian nation"? Obviously, the answer is a clearly no. There are certainly different ways to embrace their cultural (and ethnic) difference without looking like a clown.

It's so pathetic how Canadian politicians don't even dare to put their pants and stop using great words that are only meant to seduce some categories of voters that I don't need to name... Don't Quebeckers and Aboriginals see that they're being manipulated? I really doubt so.

A recognition of a civil group doesn't have to be made in a way that recognizes them as "nations within Canada", because no matter what we say, in a text of law, it's quite hard to take out the sense of any given word. As Norman Specter said it, an English dictionnary only contains one defition for the word "nation", while a French dictionnary has two: the translation of the English definition and an ambiguous sociological definition.

If a debate about the recognition of the Aboriginals, along with the "Québécois" (as Stephen Harper said it), "as nations within Canada", is totally a pure waste of time, what should be done? Well, many people might not agree with what it is being said in this column, but let's start with the Aboriginals.

A way to politely cuddle their cultural (and ethnic) difference might probably consists into inserting exclusive laws for the Aboriginals into our civil code. Evidently, these laws must aim to respect Aboriginals as they are. This means that even though Aboriginals are, above all, Canadian citizens, they can benefit from the right to live in their land with the way of life that they cherish.

In my opinion, the Aboriginals don't have access to enough resources for their living. More schools should be built in order to instruct them and the government probably needs to invest more money in order to give access to the Aboriginals to more access to federal and provincial services. Their education can certainly be made in English or French, but these languages must taught as second languages given the fact that Aboriginals have the right to preserve their culture. Furthermore, the almost-complete evacuation of Canadian's racism towards Aboriginals also makes it useless to recognize the Aboriginals as nation. Anyway, I'll eventually talk about why it's pointless to recognize Quebec as a nation in another column.

André Boisclair: A machine of idiocy

André Boisclair, the leader of the Parti Québécois.
Since about two days, all people in Quebec, if not in Canada from coast to coast, learned that the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ) André Boisclair accepted to appear in a short spoof of Brokeback Mountain that will be aired on the MusiMax channel. This publicity stunt by André Boisclair doesn't reveal us that he has the guts to be a head of a government, but rather a machine of idiocy.

Normally, a politician is not supposed to make these kind of ludicrous things. André Boisclair shouldn't wonder why people will be scoffing at him after his sullied performance in this spoof that nobody would like to watch. As far as we know, a politician is supposed to be more serious than that and by doing such an odd thing, Boisclair is casting the opprobrium not only on himself, but also on those who are supporthing him and the Quebecker population.

Besides, it appears that Boisclair has so much difficulty to take a walk out of the 514 area (i.e. Montréal), just because he's gay. No wonder why Mario Dumont made a sharp joke about Boisclair's lack of knowledge about Quebec's regions! All in all, the leader of the PQ gave to himself a forum through the mainstream media in order to get a value in the public opinion. Speaking about Mario Dumont, he's one of the few politicians who dared to say that Boisclair has a lack of judgement.

André Boisclair should definitely think about looking for another job. As time goes by, we can clearly see that he's not going to win the next provincial election. As MisterP pointed it out, did André Boisclair have to accept to do anything just to show us that he's cool?

It really makes me laugh when I hear André Boisclair saying that he already sees himself as Quebec's next Premier and also the first president of the "Republic of Quebec". If there will be a leadership race in the PQ, I hope that a vast majority of its supporters will think twice before they massively choose a new leader...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Defending Michael Chong

The author of this column is certainly not a warm supporter of the Conservative Party of Canada led by Stephen Harper. Nonetheless, in the House of Commons, when 266 votes vs 16 approved the motion that recognizes "Québécois" as a nation "within an united Canada", Michael Chong, the former Intergovernmental Affairs minister, did the right thing by repudiating this weird motion that wouldn't make Quebeckers' house more beautiful.

Michael Chong, who is now replaced by Peter Van Loan, is certainly one of the rare MPs who gave his opinion. Is he right when he says that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motion about Quebec is an "ethnic recognition"? The answer is yes. However, what many people don't know is that Stephen Harper, although he says that he's not racist, has a "nativism" (an expression that belongs to Larry Zolf) that is rooted deeply into his individual mentality.

Besides, Chong is probably one of the few MPs on the Parliament Hill who saw that this useless semantic debate started by the Bloc Québécois (BQ) is just a pure manipulation of Quebecker voters. In fact, as far as Chong probably knows, the BQ didn't dare to use the word "country" in its orginal motion. In fact, a nation, in its modern sense, is a political unit of citizens who, besides sharing a common culture and history, inhabits in a country that is controlled by a sovereign central government that maintains the law and order. Is Quebec a nation? If Quebeckers want Quebec to be a nation, they just have to separate.

Therefore, Chong definitely knows that a nation is the community of people who inhabits in a country. Furthermore, Stephen Harper, who is now playing the separatists' game, probably used the term "Québécois" to subtlely trap the BQ and the separatists. In English, the word "Québécois" is normally used by English-speaking Canadians to refer to the French Canadians living in Quebec.

After all, a little bit of historical education can make us learn that in the 1960s, French-speaking Quebeckers gradually stopped to refer to themselves by using the word French Canadians. However, one can really wonder why the BQ, the Quebecker separatist federal party, and the Parti Québécois (PQ), one of Quebec's provincial party, both supported this motion, albeit with reluctance...

Now, let's get back to the Quebec nation thing. As opposed to the BQ and the Quebecker separatists, Michael Chong also saw that the motion doesn't define what on earth a Quebecker, or rather a "Québécois", is. Chong also added that ethnic-based nationalism is something that shouldn't be tolerated. Hats off to Michael Chong! Canada finally has a MP who dares to talk openly about ethnic-based nationalism.

However, what many people don't know is that ethnic-based nationalism is well tolerated in Canada. Very strange, indeed for a country that pretends to be so open-minded in an immigration brochure that can be found in Canadian ambassies... Obviously, ethnic-based nationalism is being talked about in the Canadian mainstream media since a few years ago. This column aims to defend a MP who took his courage with both of his hands and exposed two taboos: recognizing "Québécois" as a nation "within an united Canada" (even though Quebeckers don't have a central government!) and ethnic-based nationalism. Two thumbs up for Chong!

PS: Did you know that Transportation minister Lawrence Cannon contradicted himself by accusing the members of the BQ of being ethnic nationalists after he said that ethnic minorities and anglophones are not Quebeckers? Cannon is not better than some separatists as far as we know...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gilles Duceppe's imaginary nation

Is the recognition of Quebec as a nation within Canada useful? The fact is that many French-speaking Quebeckers are just getting excited over a piece of paper that wouldn't make their house more beautiful. However, Gilles Duceppe and his separatist followers are just so used to receive a negative answer from the federal government that they just got trapped by Stephen Harper's move. This move in question said that "Quebec is not a nation", but rather something like the "Québécois are forming a nation within an united Canada".

In their first motion, the Bloc Québécois (BQ) asked the Canadian government to recognize Quebec as a nation. However, even though both the BQ's original motion and that of Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper are just so useless, the advantage of Harper's move is that it clearly divided the separatists from the BQ and the Parti Québécois (PQ). No wonder why the leader of the PQ André Boisclair didn't like the motion. That tells you how pathetic the BQ is to the Parliament...

Besides the fact that the BQ is just a party that is meant to block the function of the Canadian Parliament, in a manner of speaking, we can also see, with his original motion, that Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the BQ, exactly knows what is the real definition of the word nation whether it's in English or in French. Moreover, Gilles Duceppe and André Boisclair don't want to admit that they've been manipulating Quebeckers by altering the definition of the word "nation".

French-speaking Quebecker social scientists can say whatever they want about the definition of the word nation. This week, we saw that Boisclair and Duceppe are aware that a nation is a civil community of people who, besides sharing a common culture and history, inhabits in a country that is defined by borders and controlled by a central government that affirms its sovereignty by making on its own the laws.

Such an odd move from Gilles Duceppe illustrate such a bad intention. Gilles Duceppe said that as long as he's alive, he wants to advocate democracy. However, is it democratic to propose a motion in the House of Commons that recognizes "Quebec as a nation"? Asking the question is like answering to it. It's like asking the permission to the Canadian government to separate without making any referendum! Gilles Duceppe should know that a majority of Quebeckers refused to separate from Canada twice.

The only way for him to know if Quebeckers want to separate from Canada is to organize a referendum, because that should give him an idea how much people like separatism. Besides, Duceppe should know that most members of ethnic minorities don't have any emotional belonging to Quebec. Only 8% of New Quebeckers want separation.

One day, Gilles Duceppe said that Quebec is a nation. The other day, he clumsily conceals his refusal to vote for Stephen Harper's motion that says that "Quebeckers are forming a nation within Canada". A few minutes later, he says that he'll support this motion, because apparently, Duceppe and the separatists don't want to lose their face.

This is so ludicrous...

Now, let's call a cat a cat. If Gilles Duceppe and the separatists want Quebec to become a nation, all they have to do is to make a referendum and separate. However, I doubt that they'll manage to convince a clear majority of Quebeckers...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hats off to Mario Dumont!

Five days ago, the leader of the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) Mario Dumont declared that some accommodation granted to religious minorities lack a “big common sense”. While the Parti Québécois’s (PQ) leader André Boisclair clumsily demolished Dumont, Quebec’s premier Jean Charest, and leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec (LPQ), said that we must take the time to think about this very not-so-complex debate. Thanks to his intellectual sincerity, Mario Dumont proved one thing: Jean Charest and André Boisclair are both unable to bring forward questions that matter to us.

Boisclair dared to say that Dumont is “bold” enough to defend Quebec’s identity. Furthermore, when his concerns were voiced, the PQ’s leader also stated that Mario Dumont released his point of view about “reasonable accommodation” to make some “easy political gains”. Really? If Mario Dumont is “worser than the oldest American conservative Republican”, how should André Boisclair label himself? As a smart diplomat? Nothing came from André Boisclair although he voiced an empty opinion, as usual.

After his laughable and dim proposal to “dust the Quebecker Charter of Rights and Freedoms”, the leader of the PQ asked Jean Charest to hold a debate at the National Assembly. With such an evasive and insignificant answer to the events that all Quebec is facing, it’s easy to see that André Boisclair is not only distorting the gist of Dumont’s remark, but he’s also trying to make some pathetic political gains among “ethnic votes”. Is it in the interest of Boisclair to talk thoroughly about religious accommodation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Nonetheless, just like any soft and weak-minded politicians, André Boisclair wants to stay in the politically correct zone (just like Jean Charest) and some remarks about religious accommodation will obviously tarnish the PQ’s image. Why? Well, the PQ, a party that wants the separation of Quebec from Canada, is still dragging the image of an ethnic political party because of Jacques Parizeau... Moreover, many members of ethnic communities would have mindlessly interpreted any remarks about religious accommodation from Boisclair as sheer racism.

However, it becomes very easy to tell that at the next election, the PQ might inevitably lose ridings that are viewed as Quebec’s regions, which are the PQ’s ground base. Attempts are made by Boisclair to open his party to ethnic minorities. However there’s one big problem for the PQ. This problem can be explained like this: it’s almost impossible for André Boisclair to juggle simultaneously with the desire to defend the ethnic communities and the willingness to defend the political values that most French-speaking Quebeckers living outside Montreal care about.

As for the LPQ, it has always taken for granted ethnic votes. Not only, will a remark about religious accommodation by Jean Charest be perceived as an act of racism, but this fear goes further: Charest doesn’t want to alienate influential voters and ethnic votes always gave a chance for the LPQ to seize a parliamentary majority at the National Assembly. For Quebeckers, the message was quite clear: the LPQ and the PQ both wants power. This probably explains why Charest and Boisclair are so irrelevant and that they can’t handle a question that Quebeckers presently see as the centre of public attention.

By robotically omitting to authoritatively deal with the issue of religious accommodation, not only do Charest and Boisclair ludicrously think about the next provincial election, but they’re also forgetting that as politicians, they must do their best to take in consideration all the opinions that shape the ideologically pluralistic political landscape of Quebec. As for Jean Charest, the leader of the LPQ, by refusing to talk about religious accommodation, he looks like a soft leader who is walking on a minefield!

This week allowed us to see that as opposed to Jean Charest and André Boisclair, Mario Dumont is able to tackle tough questions like a real head of state without saying anything racist at all. Whether Jean Charest and André Boisclair appreciates it or not, since the opinion of the ADQ’s leader was thrown in Quebec’s political sphere, it will become hard for them to ridiculously reject most Quebeckers’ opinion about this issue that involves a handful of people who wants to defend secularism and those who advocate religious accommodation.

Even though I don’t always agree with Mario Dumont, this time, I take my hat off to him, because he really showed us what Charest and Boisclair are: soft opportunists who want power without thinking about the biggest social interests of Quebec’s population. If Mario Dumont was repudiated by Quebecker voters because of the program that he presented in 2003, the next election will certainly give him the chance to show us that he really represent the ordinary Quebeckers, but it would be so much better if Dumont favours a secular law that is inspired from the French.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Multiculturalism Act's backlash

It appears that for the eulogists of the Multiculturalism Act, which came into effect in 1971, criticizing the Canadian doctrine of multiculturalism rationally with nuances is something racist. Really? Did you know that racism is actually a theory of hatred that advocates the superiority of an ethnic group or a nation? To be very honest with you, the Multiculturalism Act has a backlash on the Canadian society, because it depends on stereotypes and “[it ensures] that ethnic groups will preserve their distinctiveness in a gentle and insidious form of cultural apartheid”, according to Canadian writer Neil Bissoondath. This man also adds that multiculturalism leads “an already divided society down the path to further social divisiveness.”

My doubts about the Multiculturalism Act started to grow when I started to keep both of my eyes on what’s going on in Canadian politics in high school. Unfortunately, the size of my doubts about multiculturalism doubled because of the behaviour of most New Canadians that I know, the 17 terrorists who were arrested in Toronto and most of all, the so-called “reasonable accommodation”. Honestly, I never needed the Multiculturalism Act to learn how to be a proud and committed Canadian. Even though I’d like to live in a Canadian melting pot, I really doubt that the New Canadians of my generation would like to do it.

Multiculturalism, this sacred cow from Liberals, creates a narrow mentality of ghetto into every ethnic layers of the Canadian society. In fact, the problem is that most people from ethnic minorities and immigrants just identify themselves to their ancestral culture. I’m not saying that they don’t have the right to keep their heritage, but as a result of such an obsessive attachment to their ancestral culture, not only do New Canadians exclude themselves, but they also display a sickening disdain towards Canadian mainstream culture and values. New Canadians have the right to be proud of their homeland, but their allegiance towards Canada must be more important.

In a country that gives them the assurance that their own ancestral identity equally takes part to the elaboration of Canada’s identity next to the REAL national identity of Canada, most immigrants and ethnic minorities, because of their huge pride and impression of belonging to their ethnic community, often consider the Canadian culture as one that is inferior to their ancestral culture. Thus, most immigrants and ethnic minorities don’t feel right at home in Canada and above all, they don’t feel accepted by English and French Canadians as brothers and that explains why they staunchly reject the Canadian mainstream culture and values.

The real things got to be said about multiculturalism: this political doctrine conceived by former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau is a real threat to the national unity. How is it possible to mould a coherent unity with an internal policy that excessively insists on ethnic distinction, eh? Here’s how the Canadian society is divided: the English and French Canadians who consider themselves as “real Canadians”, a few member of ethnic minorities who view themselves as “real Canadians”, the rest of the members of ethnic minorities who live apart from the Canadian way of life, the Quebecker separatists and the Aboriginals.

The problem with this ludicrous mosaic of culture is that it divides the society more than we really think. Most English and French Canadians are viscerally convinced that ethnic minorities are not “real Canadians”. Furthermore, multiculturalism just creates a society in which everybody culturally has nothing in common. Besides, the government should worry about our educational system. Is it meant to create citizens (who are loyal to Canada and united with a national culture and values) or just a bunch of polarized ethnic tribes that commonly share a citizenship and a passport? Seriously, I really doubt that Canadian politicians will dare to announce the abolition of the Multiculturalism Act in their platform, because they certainly don’t want to brand themselves as racist and alienate influential voters by poking around in the country's ethnic entrails.

I don’t mean to be rude, but it is not racist to criticize multiculturalism, as an internal policy. Multiculturalism, as an internal policy, has done nothing to give to ethnic minorities “a place in the Canadian sun”, as Larry Zolf said it. It is a concept that encourages immigrants to stay in their psychological ghettoes and it does little to integrate ethnic groups into the Canadian way of life. The fact is that multiculturalism is a myth that pits new comers against the Canadian society. It gives them the odd feeling that they can reproduce their homeland on Canadian soil.

This myth also prevents an effective integration and a progressive assimilation of the second-generation New Canadians. Ethnic minorities, through a real integration and a progressive assimilation into a Canadian melting pot, will find peace for themselves and their children by not feeling marginalized at all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A pathetic poll on multiculturalism

Ok, I'm not supposed to write anything in my blog since I'm on a break, but let me share a very interesting thing with you. It's not the first time that I see an English Canadian newspaper make a poll about Canadians' opinion about multiculturalism. We can see that the majority of Canadians want the "immigrants and ethnic minorities to blend into the Canadian society". However, the problem is that there's lack of nuances in this survey.

If you responded by stating that "immigrants and ethnic minorities [should] blend into the Canadian society", the pollsters will think that you're upholding that immigrants and ethnic minorities don't have the right to keep their ancestral culture. It looks like pollsters nowadays don't even know how to make a poll. Americans want immigrants and ethnic minorities to blend into American society. Does it make Americans racist and oppressive? Definitely not.

Anyway, Friday, I'll write a blog entry about why I'm against the Multiculturalism Act and I'm also going to talk about its backlash on the Canadian society. Leave your comment on my blog on Friday. I just can't wait to have your opinion on the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.



Related link:
Here's the stupid poll that I was talking about

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Just a few words before my break

Hello, I just want to let you know that I am nominated for the "Best Blog" and "Best New Blog" in the Canadian Blog Awards. The votes for the first round will begin on the 15th of November. Be there. Obviously, I'll try to improve my blog as much as I can.

Canadian Blog Awards
By the way, here's a very interesting link about a conference in Montreal held by the Shiite muslim elite of North America. Those who are there are trying to find a way to help Muslim to integrate in the Canadian and US society. Wow, good luck. Now, I'm going back to my work.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembrance Day

November 11, 2006: Remembrance Day...



In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army


IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



Au champ d'honneur
French adaptation of In Flanders Fields by Jean Parizeau


Au champ d'honneur les coquelicots
Sont parsemés de lot en lot
Auprès des croix. Et dans l'espace
Les alouettes devenues lasses
Mêlent leurs chants au sifflement
Des obusiers.
Nous sommes morts
Nous qui songions la veille encore
À nos parents, à nos amis,
C'est nous qui reposons ici
Au champ d'honneur
À vous jeunes désabusés
À vous de porter l'oriflamme
Et de garder au fond de l'âme
Le goût de vivre en liberté
Acceptez le défi, si non
Les coquelicots se faneront
Au champ d'honneur

Friday, November 3, 2006

The myth about Canada's neutrality

Some of those who left a comment on my previous blog entry believed that Canada is a peacekeeping nation. In fact, according to them, going at war is apparently something new for this country. Evidently, Canada is certainly a nation that pursues peacekeeping objectives since the end of the 1950s when Lester B. Pearson, the minister of External Affairs (the former name of the Foreign Affairs Ministry) back then, proposed to reform the United Nations (UN). However, in its short History of foreign policies, Canada often had so much difficulty to conceal its lack of neutrality. In fact, talking about Canada’s neutrality is like talking about a myth.

Everything began in 1931. As a British colony, Canada participated to the First World War (1914-1919) and afterwards, Canada will become a member of the League of Nations, the ancestor of the United Nations (UN). In addition to that, the Statute of Westminster in 1931 is a turning point in the History of Canadian politics: Canada is now a country that can take its own decision in terms of foreign policy. When Canada was a dominion from 1867 to 1931, it was at war as soon as the British declared war to another country.

However, the Statute of Westminster gave an autonomy that Canada needed: this country got a complete control over its domestic and external policy, even though "a procedure to amend the British North America Act in Canada had still to be devised and appeals of Supreme Court decisions to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain continued until 1949", according to Canadian historian Ramsay Cook.

In the turmoil of the Second World War (1939-1945), Canada’s Prime Minister Mackenzie King will see the necessity to mobilize Canadian troops right before Poland was invaded by Germany. On the 1st of September 1939, Canada will fully flex its military muscle. In addition to the full mobilization of Canada’s army, a conscription law will take effect after the fall of France in 1940 and it forces every men who are physically in good shape to serve in the army.

Obviously, Canada wasn’t going in Europe or in Asia to give flowers to the German, the Italian or the Japanese soldiers. The objective of the Canadian involvement in the Second World War was to help the Allies against Adolf Hitler and also to support Great Britain. Moreover, Canada believed that it must stand up for “freedom”. All in all, the Second World War wasn’t a peacekeeping mission, but rather a mission that was meant to deliver some European and Asian countries and restore democracy in European countries by killing enemies and therefore, encountering human resistance during a major conflict that tore the whole world.

The Korean War (1950-1953) is also another example about Canada’s international political partisanship. According to the official discourse, Canada, along with the other members of the UN’s forces, was to secure the 38th parallel which is the dividing borderline between North and South Korea. However, the real objective of this war consisted into repelling North Korean soldiers and Red China’s army out of South Korea to “contain” communism, because Western countries didn’t want this appalling ideology to spread in South Korea. In short, the Korean War is an ideological war because this country wasn’t a “neutral” country like Austria, Switzerland, Egypt or India, but rather a country that was working hand-in-hand with the capitalist countries to counter the Soviets’ threatening political evangelism.

Actually, the last global conflict in which Canada participated was the Gulf War in 1991 and the war in Afghanistan is a combat done by a group of troops. Saying that Canada has always been a peacekeeping nation is a complete joke that is meant to stress to the so-called moral superiority of Canadians. All in all, it’s important to know that even though Canada did peacekeeping mission in Cyprus and Haiti for example, making war is definitely not something new in the short History of Canadian foreign policy. Do you have an opinion about my column? Well, speak up your mind while I’m gladly waiting for your comment. By the way, never am I suggesting in my column that Canada should be an imperialist country. In fact, Canada must only take part to missions that are approved by the UN.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Supporting our soldiers in Afghanistan

For the opportunist leftist people out there, let me remind you that despite the fact that our soldiers are facing dangers, they're nonetheless proud to serve Canada. In addition to this pride, they also feel that their efforts will bring good things to Afghan people. It's deplorable that some Canadians ignore the raison d'être of our country's mission in Afghanistan.

First of all, Canada doesn't do this mission to serve the imperialistic ambition of the USA. In fact, it's part of Canada's responsibility to put some order in the world when it's really worth it. As opposed to what is being done in Iraq by the Americans, Canada took the wise decision to adopt a step-by-step approach to help the Afghan people. As a result of that, we're now starting to see that the efforts made by Canada's troops is starting to pay off.

In fact, while the order is gradually being established through the training of Afghan soldiers and policemen by Western military officers, we can say that the humanitarian aspect of this mission is not as sombre as it looks. The Western coalition succeeded into building schools and improving Afghan infrastructures although the Talibans attacked a few of them.

Furthermore, since the Talibans were kicked out the Afghan political institutions, women are gradually starting to see the colour of freedom and children can now study. Needless to say that it has been reported that many people feel free despite the flaws reported in the Afghan laws. With a good collaboration with the Afghan government, we Westerners can help Afghanistan to improve its political institutions progressively.

Feel free to say what you want, but Canada, since the beginning of this mission on Afghan soil in 2001, is, and has always been, in war. As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), this country has an oath to respect. In fact, the members of the NATO are to bring stability, order and freedom for the oppressed people with a set of clearly elaborated objectives. Hopefully, things are not being done perfunctorily in Afghanistan when you look at what the Americans are trying to do in Iraq with a very hasty manner.

While I'm supporting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, I can see that some of my fellow compatriots cowardly abandon, in a manner of speaking, our soldiers as if they were a big piece of trash. As opposed to what some people believe, this war against the Taliban is not a war that conceals colonialist objectives; Canada will eventually withdraw from Afghanistan when the mission will be over.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The NATO's role in Afghanistan

In his column published in the Edmonton Sun, Doug Beazley is asking us if the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will abandon its mission in Afghanistan. One might be tempted to say that we can't confirm it for the moment if we look at the International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) key figures.

However, a careful look at the present situation that prevails in the international political sphere probably gives us a hint that some members of the NATO might leave Canada on its own with the Afghan task that is getting more complicated than it were.

According to the latest source from the NATO (5th of October 2006), there are 31,000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan. In my opinion, the number of soldiers is certainly going to diminish. In fact, while Beazley indicated in his column that there are 5,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan, we can guess that this number will go down, because the USA is still stuck with its war in Iraq.

Furthermore, the harder the USA finds it to control the quagmire in Iraq, the more they'll have to deploy troops in this war that can be described as an ideological failure from the Bush Administration.

In addition to the USA's growing concern about Iraq, you can add to that Pakistan's unwillingness to help its "Westerna allies" in Afghanistan. In spite of the look of Pakistani president Pervez Musharaf's boring speeches, we can really have some doubts that Pakistani troops are keeping an eye on their national borders, because some Talibans certainly succeeded into going in Pakistan.

The question is now: if spreading democracy in Iraq doesn't work quite well, will it work for Afghanistan? The Canadian mission in this country is now described as a war in the public opinion, because more Canadian soldiers are dying.

Obviously, the mission in Afghanistan looks good according to Stephen Harper's official discourse on the mission. However, behind every discourses, there are real facts that are often concealed. Canada's Prime minister probably believes that he knows why it is part of Canada's interest to give its word to the Afghan people. Despite that fact, does the public knows why it is part of this country's interest to sacrifice soldiers for a cause that looks worthless for most people in Canada?

Some Canadian columnist probably does a good job by telling their opinion on this war, but it's up to Canada's Prime minister Stephen Harper to tell why our compatriots fight in Afghanistan. Are our fellow Canadians do it to serve the USA's imperialistic ambition or are they doing something that is really worth it? The more Stephen Harper remains silent on the so-called "legitimacy" of the mission in Afghan, the more the public opinion will despise this war.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Stand up for freedom of speech

"I think, therefore I am."
René Descartes (1596-1650)

Today's column was supposed to deal with the potential weakness of Iraqi's federalism, but today is quite a special day. Indeed, as I'm surfing on the net, I can see that Amnesty International is exhorting all bloggers "to stand up for freedom ahead of world meeting on future of Internet". Thus, I'm joining the bloggers who, just like me, believe in the legitimacy of freedom of speech not only on Internet, but also in the world.

As Westerners, we often take for granted that our way of life values individual freedom of speech. However, some countries of our civilization (that I'm not going to name) exert a subtely coercive pressure on their citizens. Is this normal? No. Hopefully, we don't live in China, Vietnam, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Cuba (other countries can be named).

To a certain extent, a government can lay on its population a collective way of life in order to maintain the law in order. Furthermore, the maintenance of the law and order evidently aims to create a civilly coherent society. However, an act that aims to restrict freedom of speech is absolutely condemnable. No government has the right to impose something that it regards as an axiom.

As French philosopher René Descartes said it, a human being is defined by its capacity to think on his/her own. Therefore, it is totally absurd that a government tells to its population how to think, because human beings are just so different. In fact, subjectivity is the core element of our own identity. Every single person on earth has a specific way to judge and criticize things.

Obviously, the notion of freedom of speech implies that no matter what an individual does, says or writes, they're solely responsible of their own opinion. Never am I suggesting that we live in a society in which every agrees with each other. As a matter of fact, even though an opinion can polarize a society, it's clear that our freedom of speech can only be maintained through a civilized dialog between someone who upholds a specific opinion and those who don't concur with this opinion.

The access to freedom of speech is above all a right. Never shall freedom of speech be granted as a privilege. It is something that you fundamentally possess without paying for it. In fact, in comparison with most things that you see, no financial consuming power is required to feel free to express any given opinion. Buying a car and criticizing something are two different things. All in all, the only thing that you need to do to express an opinion is to use your judgement and your own analysis. These are things that come from your desire to express your personal sentiment; not from your wallet, mind you.



Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gravel's religious hypocrisy

On the 27th of November, two by-elections (in the ridings of Repentigny and London North Centre) will be organized to attribute to any political parties two empty seats of Canada's House of Commons. However, at the light of what we saw, we can really wonder why Raymond Gravel will be the candidate in the riding of Repentigny for the Bloc Québécois (BQ) to replace the late Benoît Sauvageau.

Raymond Gravel
Raymond Gravel

Raymond Gravel made a reputation for himself in Quebec for openly displaying his advocacy of same-sex marriages even though he was a priest. However, this priest of Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines declared that once elected, he'll remain loyal to the Catholic Church. This means that he won't approve any bill that doesn't fit into the moral doctrine promoted by the Catholic faith.

What commonly unites Raymond Gravel and the other members of the BQ is his desire to defend the interest of Quebec and also to fuel the Quebecker separatists. However, if Gilles Duceppe knows that his big-shot candidate in the riding of Repentigny wants to be against same-sex marriages, why doesn't Duceppe react?

Gilles Duceppe
Gilles Duceppe

Gravel doesn't understand that the Canadian secular regimes clearly draws a line between the Church and the State. Therefore, Raymond Gravel should know that in the House of Commons, he is most of all a politician and not a priest. In fact, the Canadian laws seek to maintain the law and order in a society that is ethnically and religiously diversified, but Gravel can still be against same-sex marriages if he feels like it. Thus, is it ethically good to remain completely loyal to the Catholic Church as a priest while you're in the House of Commons?

Asking the question is like answering to it. Raymond Gravel is just a liar and most of all a natural born hypocrite. Are the separatists who support Gravel aware that a politician must be loyal to the citizens he's representing? In the media, Raymond Gravel declares that he's supporting the BQ and the opposition parties in their fight against our homophobic Prime minister Stephen Harper.

The other day, he says that he'll adhere to the Catholic doctrine that is defended by the senile and conservative priests of Vatican. If Raymond Gravel really had a little bit of common sense, he must confess to a priest that he definitely lied about his personnal conviction in order to get some media exposure and also to satisfy his so-called political ambition. Either Raymond Gravel advocates the BQ's cause or he stays with the BQ and cast the opprobrium on our dear separatists. After all, the separatists are certainly not fed up to see their comrades say some oddities.

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