Monday, January 28, 2008

Erreur d'inattention québécoise

On ne compte plus le nombre d’intervenants ayant dit que les immigrants devraient apprendre le français. Après tout, on est au Québec, quoi! Par contre, notre langue n’est pas si bien parlée qu’on le croit dans toutes les couches de notre «société distincte». Avant de donner des leçons aux immigrants, il faudrait plutôt se regarder soi-même.

D’entrée de jeu, depuis la Révolution Tranquille, l’usage de notre langue est beaucoup plus répandu. Effectivement, plus de 60% des Anglo-Québécois maîtrisent le français et nos médias parlent des «enfants de la loi 101». En plus, la majorité des Québécois l’écrivent et la parlent mieux.

Ajoutons aussi que contrairement aux Français, nous avons majoritairement compris que l’usage d’anglicismes devrait être relégué à la sphère privée (tout comme le joual, d’ailleurs). Derrière nous se trouve l’époque où un curé avait déploré qu’un élève du primaire utilise le terme «ceval» (sic) pour désigner un cheval dans l’écriture, qui plus est!

Cependant, malgré les efforts indiscutables que nous avons faits, des petites erreurs d’inattention échappent à la majorité d’entre nous. En voulez-vous des exemples? Non? Eh bien, en voici un: nous aimons utiliser le mot «origine» dans toutes les circonstances et ce, même si on ne sait pas comment l’utiliser adéquatement!

Effectivement, combien d’entre vous savez que le mot «origine» a, en réalité, deux sens, c’est-à-dire un sens ethnique et territorial? Ceux dont le français est la langue maternelle devraient savoir qu’aucun dictionnaire français ne dit que le sens ethnique domine le sens territorial, et vice-versa. En regardant les médias québécois, on a l’impression qu’une telle subtilité de la langue française n’est pas sue.

Par exemple, partons de la prémisse (aucunement nuancée) que l’humoriste Rachid Badouri et l’ancien athlète Bruny Surin sont respectivement «d’origine» marocaine et haïtienne. Considérant que le mot «origine» a deux sens, comment fait-on pour savoir lequel de ces hommes est né au Québec? En faisant une recherche? Sérieusement, ne donnez-vous pas une, mais plutôt mille gifles si c’était votre réponse.

Ce qui est en cause, c’est l’un des défauts de la langue française que bon nombre d’entre nous ne voyons pas. En effet, la morale de cette question est que dans notre langue, lorsqu’on utilise le mot «origine», il n’y a parfois aucun moyen de savoir quel est son sens contextuel. Cela demeure vrai, à moins que votre interlocuteur vous apporte des précisions et des nuances.

En guise d’exemple, revoyons des notions élémentaires d’anglais: la première phrase dit que «Bob made a trade» (un échange) et la deuxième, que «Bob learned a trade» (un métier). En ouvrant un dictionnaire bilingue, on remarquera que le sens du mot «trade» varie et cela se voit, car la précision contextuelle réside dans le verbe placé à côté du mot «trade». Par contre, un tel exemple n’est pas applicable au mot «origine».

Donc, revenons à Rachid Badouri et Bruny Surin. Je débute en vous disant que «les deux hommes sont respectivement d’origine marocaine et haïtienne.» Point à la ligne. Toutefois, si je ne vous précisais pas que Badouri est né au Québec, il est fort probable que vous penseriez que son lieu de naissance est le Maroc! Avouez que le mot «origine» porte énormément à la confusion, hein?

Finalement, ce qui me déconcerte, c’est que la majorité des Québécois ne savent pas que le mot «origine» a deux sens et non un. Inutile de vous dire que cela doit être su depuis le primaire. Conséquemment, la dernière phrase utilisée en guise d’exemple n’aurait-elle pas été meilleure (et mieux nuancée) si j’avais écrit que «Rachid Badouri est de descendance marocaine alors que Bruny Surin est d’origine haïtienne»? Avouez que ma nuance est aussi limpide qu’une coulée de bière, hein?

________________________
Ce texte a été publié dans la première édition de la session d'hiver 2008 du journal Le Sablier, le journal de l'Association des Étudiants d'Histoire de l'Université de Montréal (AEHUM).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Durban Conference Is A Waste of Time

For the United Nations (UN), combating racism and intolerance with a conference looks like a good idea. However, it's a waste of time, because some invited countries are not mature enough to understand anti-racism.

This is why Jason Kenney, Canada's state secretary for multiculturalism and Canadian identity, made a good move by announcing that Canada will not attend to the Durban II conference next year. By trying to organize Durban II, the UN has just sullied its reputation as a defender of universal values.

Moreover, because of some Arabic and other Muslim countries' presence, don't expect to see anything new. Indeed, it's obvious that they're going to gang up in order to build their anti-Israel rhetoric. Of course, rationally criticizing Israel's foreign policy is one thing. However, insulting people just because they're Jews is another thing. Attending to Durban II will be like watching a political freak show, because nothing tells us that the representative of Libya (the chair of the gathering) will dare to call out countries that are openly racist.

Obviously, the presence of some Eastern countries will just be a mockery to what this conference is supposed to promote, which is tolerance. After all, when I look at my parents (who are Vietnamese immigrants), I find it sad that in Eastern countries, people are taught that it is okay to be a racist and an ethnic nationalist.

Whoops, isn't it incorrect to say that Eastern countries are twice as racist as most of us, Westerners, actually are? Political correctness, here I come!

The moral of this story is that, we Westerners are just making fools of ourselves by expecting countries from the East to change. Maybe, it's about time that we stop being complacent with them. As opposed to Eastern countries, we've been trying, since the 1960s, to promote anti-racism.

And what were some Eastern countries doing while we kept our arms opened to international immigration? They were, for instance, equipping themselves with a persecution policy against their ethnic minorities or treating them like second-class citizens. Without trivializing some acts of hatred that we see in Western countries, a quick research in the archives of Human Right Watch or Amnesty International reveals us that most acts of racism come from the East.

Unfortunately, many Eastern countries just don't want to admit that they have serious problem of racism. Therefore, don't even expect them to change after their attendance to the Durban Conference. Moreover, many Eastern countries should feel ashamed that Serbia, Turkey along with Bosnia & Herzegovina decided to boycott the Durban conference!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

American Maturity

"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."
-Winston Churchill

Forty-two years after the abolition of racial segregation in the USA, who would have thought that a black (Barack Obama) will be a candidate in the primary elections of a country where 80.1% of the population is white? Obama's presence indicates that the USA is willing to turn a new leaf.


With our eyes on the states of Nevada and South Carolina, many of us, Canadians, still believe that most American WASPs are not willing to vote for Barack Obama (photo) just because he's a black. Yes, there are still some racists in the USA, a land where people are defined by the colour of their skin.

However, most of our neighbours are more mature than we believe.

Indeed, most Canadians don't know that Obama, as a senator, got elected in Illinois, a state where 79.3% of the population are white persons.

Besides, although the primaries are not finished and that Obama withdrew his candidacy from the state of Michigan, the USA no longer resembles to what it was many decades ago. The most surprising thing is that Obama beat his closet rival, who is John Edwards (29.7%), with 37.6% of the votes in Iowa, a state where White persons form 94.6% of the local population.

In addition to that, he also tailed Hillary Clinton (39.1%) very closely in New Hampshire primaries with 36.5% of the votes. As matter of fact, 95.8% of New Hampshire's population are white persons.

Without a doubt, most of you are going to say that these are only results coming from the USA's northern states, that is, states that we depict as being close to our values to a certain extent.

After all, don't the Southern's states represent backwardness? Not anymore, in a broad perspective. The truth is that we hear less and less about tensions between blacks and whites in the USA. As for the final results in the Southern states' primaries, changes of mentality will certainly be seen straight ahead.

Therefore, even though we like to caricature the USA, this country continues to surprise us. In fact, since the 1960s, the American melting pot has become more inclusive for blacks and also people of Asian heritage. Hopefully, gone is the time when only Whites could define themselves as being TRUE Americans.

Nonetheless, whether Obama becomes the next leader of the Democrats or not, he'll make history for sure, to some hardline blacks' (i.e. "Black Power") great displeasure. He may be a mulatto, but one thing is sure: Obama cares for Blacks. Thus, this makes the USA the first Western country to have a presidential (or governmental in other case) candidate coming from "visible minorities".

So much things that we can learn! Unfortunately, since Canada is still a country defined by soft tribalism, let's wonder when will Canada have a political candidate who comes from "visible minorities" and also one who defines him/herself only as a Canadian? Well, let's hope that we'll all see this dream come true before we become too old.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mr. Orchard's Place: The NDP

Some Liberals are infuriated, because Stéphane Dion parachuted Joan Beatty in the empty riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River. While some Liberals would like to see David Orchard (photo) in this riding, Orchard's place is certainly not in the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC).


A liberal militant from Saskatchewan like Jimmy Durocher can say that hand-picking Joan Betty wasn't democratic. In fact, choosing a riding candidate is usually the responsibility of a party's local organization. However, let's put aside Joan Beatty in our debate to focus on David Orchard.

Some will say that Orchard deserved to be a candidate for the LPC. Indeed, he played a great role in Stéphane Dion's victory in the leadership race of the LPC last year by delivering more than 130 delegates.

Secondly, like Dion, Orchard cares a lot about environment. In fact, Orchard is known for upholding that the environment, Canadian heritage sites, water, food, air and wild life must be protected. Besides, he's also known for being a practicioner of organic agriculture.

Overall, Orchard has affinity with Dion in environment and also foreign policy, because he said that our troops' mission in Afghanistan is meant to please the U.S. government. However, his place is in the New Democratic Party (NDP).

As a matter of fact, we don't see how Orchard would manage to live with a leader that has diverging viewpoints on the economy.

In fact, while the LPC's current leader favours free trade with some nuances, Orchard, on the other hand, is openly against it. Moreover, after he was elected as the new leader of the LPC, Dion declared that the NDP doesn't understand anything to market economy while the Tories don't understand something about social justice!

With that said, David Orchard's place is rather in the NDP. Without a doubt, he'll be elated to be with people who unanimously understand him, while most members of the LPC are in favour of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Secondly, while all members of the NDP are against Canada's mission in Afghanistan, the LPC remains divided on that issue.

After all, Orchard seems to be exploiting the bipartisan nature of our political regime. He certainly doesn't want to say openly that of all the parties, it's only the LPC and the Conservative Party (CP) that have chances to be elected. So that's why he doesn't want to join the NDP. Talk about standing up for claimed values!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Populist's Block

The Bloc québécois (BQ) intends to vote against the next federal budget in mid-February. However, the BQ can't prove to Quebeckers how wrong Canadian federalism is. We're not talking here about having a writer's block, but rather a populist's block!

On its web site, the BQ keeps affirming that Canadian federalism doesn't work for Quebec. Obviously, Pierre Paquette, the party's parliamentary leader, even said that Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper is as centralistic than the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC).

For Paquette, "despite the beautiful speeches following [Stephen Harper's] election, the Tories are not better than other Canadian parties". Besides, this MP of Joliette also added that while Harper recognizes the "Quebecker nation", he never did anything concrete in the technical practice of our federalism.

In spite of the BQ's usual laments, our current Prime Minister has done more than any other previous PMs to satisfy Quebec's interests. For instance, wasn't it Stephen Harper who proposed in his political platform to give a seat to Quebec next to Canada's at the UNESCO?

With that said, the BQ's leader Gilles Duceppe half-heartedly supported the Harper motion recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within an united Canada". This means that the BQ wasn't willing to support the Harper motion back then!

On another note, Pierre Paquette (and also Gilles Ducceppe) has no proof that the Harper government is as centralistic as the LPC. In fact, Stephen Harper did such a great move by proposing to reform the federal spending power eventually. Should this be done, the federal government can no longer handle on its own the provinces' competences.

Furthermore, unlike previous Liberal governments, Stephen Harper had the common sense to propose a way to closely control the federal spending power in order to respect the division of jurisdictions that defines federalism. Needless to remind the BQ that such an idea is advocated by many federalists nationwide.

After all, as a party that pretends to defend "Quebec's priorities", the BQ didn't even attack the LPC the day after Liberal candidate Bob Rae published an open letter in the Globe and Mail. In his letter, Rae suggested, without any nuances, that the federal spending power must not be closely controlled, because the federal government should always have a word to say in what the provinces do.

Finally, if the BQ prefers to live with the LPC, as a governing party, in Ottawa, it should really make it clear in its next election platform! Indeed, doesn't the LPC represent what the BQ's members abhor so much, that is over-centralization?

All in all, despite his faux pas in the portfolio of environment, Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party, has proposed even more ideas than former PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau to reform our federal regime in order to please Canada's provinces.

So, are the Tories more centralistic than the Liberals? Definitely not.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Beginning a New Year

I know that I'm kind of late to wish you a happy new year. Anyway, never in my life have I had so much expectations for the new year. Besides looking forward to get through my second semester in History at the University of Montreal, there are other things that I'm willing to share with you.

Fictive counter-terrorism

Well, it was about bloody time that a TV series dealing with counter-terrorism is produced in Canada! From what I saw in the previews, the TV series seems extremely different than 24. Well, I gave you the answer about that TV series's name, right?

Those who live in Canada probably heard about a new show called The Border. Apparently, most of the bad guys in the show are extremist Muslim terrorists. However, there are also some Muslim characters on the side of the good guys, just to let you know.

With that said, the story takes place in Toronto in the post-9/11 era. Obviously, the storyline follows agents of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) along with the Immigration and Customs Squad (ICS). Unfortunately, I don't think that we should expect to see politicians among the characters.

Finally, it will premiere on Monday, January 7, at 9 PM. In short, that's definitely a show that I must watch. If it's really good, I'll certainly buy the DVDs.

Another baby?

Sorry, I never meant to say that I'm a father now. Indeed, one of my aunts gave birth to a girl about two months ago. Well, three year ago, I thought that my family will not get larger. Anyway, it's a pleasure to have another cousin, especially when you can take her in your arms to watch the time goes by.

Freaking notebook!

In summer I intend to buy my first laptop. Man, I'm really sick of taking notes in a notebook while I'm in my History classes! At this pace, my right wrist might aches all year long!

Secondly, some of you probably know that I'm a casual computer gamer. Since DirectX 10 is only supported by Windows Vista, I guess that I'm not given much of a choice.

So here comes the natural question: what are the next PC games that I anticipate? Not a lot, to be very honest with you (no particular order) and here's the list:

1) Tomb Raider: Underworld

2) Brother in Arms: Hell's Highway

3) Splinter Cell: Conviction

Anyway, I am not just expecting these games' graphic to be as realistic as possible. To be honest with you, when I started my High school seven years ago, I never thought that it will take us six years to create the "next-gen" graphic stuff that we see nowadays. Let's hope that the gameplay will satisfy me.

Finally, allow me to wish you a happy new year, even though I'm kind of late.

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