, 06.23.2021 10:01 AM

My latest: Quebec’s Pandora’s Box

Nobody knows a lot about Martin Niemöller, probably, but they certainly know about the Lutheran pastor’s most famous statement.

You know it, too.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Niemöller’s truism goes back to 1946, and was about the cowardice of German clergy and academics as the conflagration of the Holocaust grew and grew, consuming millions of innocent lives.

But his words have been applied to many other injustices in the intervening years.

Because there have been too many other instances of repression and bigotry.

One such case of repression and bigotry is underway, right now, right here, in the province of Quebec.

In Quebec, two pieces of legislation have been conjured up by that province’s crypto-separatist regime, like a witches’ unholy spell.

One, Bill 21, targets what minorities wear.

The other, Bill 96, targets the language that minorities speak.

They’re like demonic twins, Bill 21 and Bill 96 are.

Using the bland Kafkaesque prose of government apparatchiks, the first one expresses hatred for Muslim women, mainly, and tells them what they can wear.

Using the same sort of bloodless idiom, the second one expresses hatred for English-speaking people.

It’s no surprise that Quebec’s intolerant government disgorged these two bills during the pandemic, when they knew the majority would be distracted by its own problems.

What is a surprise is that the son of Pierre Trudeau — and the leader of the party once led by the likes of Jean Chretien and Mike Pearson — would go along with Quebec’s evisceration of human rights in Canada.

Quoting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to Quebeckers is a bit of a waste of time.

But their own Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms — which actually predates Canada’s, by almost a decade — is very important in Quebec. It’s a matter of pride.

And those two bills, 21 and 96, violate the Quebec Charter in 38 separate ways.

This week, this writer had the great honour of being on a panel with Clifford Lincoln, a former Quebec MNA and a fierce fighter for Canada.

No longer as young as he used to be, the intensity of Lincoln’s passion for human rights — and Canada — were undimmed.

Speaking to the Quebec Community Groups Network conference, Lincoln noted that no less than Nelson Mandela said that the majority always owe a debt to the minority. And that the strong owe a debt to those who are not as strong.

Where, then, are those who would defend minorities in Quebec? Where are the rest of us? Why are not more Canadians speaking up?

There is plenty of reason to do so. Bill 96 actually gives the French language police the power to seize and break into people’s personal phones – to see if they are speaking enough French. And Bill 21 actually goes after Muslim women who wear a simple veil – or Jews who wear a Star of David – when they work in government.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Canada is being unravelled, quietly, right now in the province of Quebec.

Our “leaders” in Ottawa are silent. They’re eunuchs.

But where are the rest of us? Why aren’t other Canadians also raising their voices in protest?

Because history shows one unvarnished truth:

When they come for me, they may someday also come for thee.

— Warren Kinsella was special assistant to Jean Chretien.

32 Comments

  1. Peter Williams says:

    And bill C10 will allow the government to restrict and even censor all criticism of the government.

  2. Westguy says:

    Trudeau will be remembered as the most divisive PM in Canadian history.
    What I find most frustrating is that Harper – love him or hate him – proved you could form a majority government without Quebec. That appears to be a lost lesson. All the major party leaders are falling over themselves to ignore the shit the province is doing. None of them have any credibility anymore.

    • irreversible road map to freedom says:

      Justin will be remembered as a PM in name only, a result of Parliamentary technicalities… In the same way Petain is remembered as a General.

    • Phil in London says:

      Two Unrelated topics come together and go along way to explaining the story. First The minister of indigenous affairs it’s so fucking stupid that on the same day that another 700 bodies are announced found in unmarked graves at residential schools and she takes this opportunity two get into a personal pissing match with her former colleague about pensions to deflect a criticism of the boss? Of course her colleague is the highest ranking indigenous person to ever hold a cabinet post but resigned on principle yes THAT Colleague.

      Up next the minister of national defence is somehow claiming to not be involved in the hiring of someone from his own unit from his army days as one of his top advisers. That on it’s own would be bad enough except the same person was suspended from his policing job for sexual misconduct… Has anyone ever heard of a vetting process? I mean it’s not like the military has a scandal of a sexual misconduct nature…. Oh they do? Well we better do nothing about that!
      How you may ask does this have anything to do with Quebec? Very simple you have two fairly high ranking ministers who can’t display judgement on matters that would be obvious to a five year old, and they are only the most recent ministers of such poor judgement, the PM isn’t screaming for resignations but he and the rest of parliament (except JWR) see no problem with pandering to Quebec separatists to gain votes.

  3. Innocent III says:

    Trudeau the Lesser’s life in politics is driven by one unshakeable principle: win Quebec and win the election. Even the tragic killing in London, Ontario was insufficient to rouse the man to action against Bill 21. As Jack Worthing says in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest” in answer to Lady Bracknell’s question regarding his ‘politics’: ‘I have no politics. I am a Liberal …’.

  4. This is just the latest example of what a crappy and phoney federation we’ve built in this country — everybody is in it provided they can have Canada on their own terms. For English Canada generally that means without accommodating Quebec on the constitutional front while individual provinces want Canada reformed to better reflect their own visions of what Canada should be. You see, it’s like Burger King: by all means, have it your way or walk and that’s what coming both for Quebec and at minimum, Alberta.

    English Canada planted those seeds and Quebec is gladly doing it now. It’s the great Canadian version of States Rights and we all know how flawed that is.

    Federal parties care only about votes and a majority. Provinces care only about themselves and their sovereign powers to legislate in any manner they see fit, while the only voice speaking for Canada is called Ontario, mainly because it has successfully forced its vision of Canada on the rest of us…

    So this country will die from a thousand cuts — all of them self-inflicted — either through direct action, benign neglect or total indifference. That’s Canada in 2021, if nothing else, worth pitying.

  5. Bill 96 will survive court challenges so long as it does not infringe on anglophone education rights in their own language or legislative and court business in the English language. IMHO, Section 33 of the CCRF cannot be used successfully by government in these instances. But Legault can legislate until the cows come home on internal provincial jurisdiction such as declaring French as the sole official language and the courts will defer to the legislative authority that’s for damned sure. Ditto for Quebec being declared a nation: that one only gets tricky if Quebec tries to legislate in areas of sole federal jurisdiction. There’s no way that would stand before the Quebec courts or the SCOC.

    In bygone days, the federal government could, at least theoretically, disallow or reserve provincial legislation. Those days are over. No appellate court would ever take seriously any legal arguments made in support of those lapsed powers.

    In short, the political situation is what it is.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren already knows why I absolutely refused to vote CAQ last time while some of my anglophone friends did. I could see the master leopard who in no way had changed his spots. And better than that, I saw back in 1982 that adoption of The Constitution Act 1982 would ultimately kill federalism and now it finally has because we now have in power in Quebec a sovereignist weight lifter who greatly outclasses all current and potential federalist leaders. He’s playing Canada and will do so right up to the moment where Canada will be no more. We did it to ourselves and now he’s finishing us off.

  7. Nick M. says:

    Our leaders are silent because they think they’ll lose in Quebec if they speak up.

    Except Jagmeet Singh who has nothing to lose in Quebec, and a lot to gain in ROC. By speaking up for human rights Jagmeet can win over new voters in English Canada, while creating a wedge between him an Trudeau.

    A wedge issue that pits you on the side of human rights should be a no brainer. Why is Jagmeet not exploiting this issue?

    • Doug says:

      Singh is as disingenuous as Trudeau:
      -the supposed champion of the working class and underprivileged wears high-end suits worth thousands of dollars
      -the supposed champion of public services attended an elite private school in Michigan
      -the supposed environmentalist drives a gas guzzling BMW, which staged photo ops with bikes does not mitigate
      -the supposed champion of ethnic minorities has no issues with blatantly discriminatory Quebec legislation

  8. Phil in London says:

    A shout out to Ron who in three posts says much. I’m old enough to remember how anyone who opposed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it was created were most kindly treated as stupid.
    Many others opposed the idea of repatriation without all provinces signing on. The reasoning was once the PQ faded some Quebec premier would actually locate a pen and sign the dammed thing.

    Every leader since Mulroney’s failed Meech has been afraid to finish the job.

    We remain united as a nation of can kickers. “Send that constitution thing down the road for someone else to deal with. “

    Canada is either a country of many unique nations or we are a loose and maybe even fractured confederacy.

    Federalist premiers in Quebec have been as inept at finding that damned pen to sign as nationalists have been unwilling to even seek out a pen.

    Fact – Quebec has clearly stated it wants a loose association with The Rest of Canada. Many in TROC feel they’ve lived in an open marriage while Quebec has had ample time to decide if they want out or in. Many of these people want to move on and would like to end the marriage so they can begin rebuilding a new relationship.

    It should not be be that we are here, but failures by conservative parties to compete everywhere and failures by liberals to accommodate those that did not vote for them has us in a awful spot.

    Singh is not an answer if he can’t win and the NDP CANT WIN. It’s not him, let’s call it “green light”. They have as many mixed nuts in their packaging as the Elizabeth May cult has.

    I’m one whose opinion is not much will change in my lifetime but if I get to watch this one from behind the pearly gates, I’m going to be watching with interest how it plays out.

  9. The Doctor says:

    The thing that kills me is this: why did the Liberal Party and all of their supporters in the Canadian intelligentsia and media (most notably one Pierre Trudeau) spend so much energy shitting all over Mulroney and Meech Lake etc. — and killing it — when what Trudeau Jr. is doing here is basically Meech Lake in drag?

    • Phil in London says:

      answer VOTES in QUEBEC

      Mulroney was wrong but he was conservative
      Trudeau is wrong but he is liberal

      What are you not getting? (tongue firmly in cheek)

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Phil,

        To us Progressive Conservatives, there will always be a difference as regards our CPC brethren. LOL. I will die a PC.

        • Phil in London says:

          Ron, I grew up in a double liberalholic family. I and my siblings are all liberalholics but I am the only one in recovery. I can proudly say that in November it will be 28 years since I last drank the liberal kool-aid.

          I have voted for 6 different parties in every election I’ve been of age to vote.

          I appreciate that you feel a strong adhesion to the PC brand I just want to say the progressive field is crowded these days every major political party outside the Bloc are tripping over themselves to be progressive.

          I don’t say you should vote conservative, but if you want to elect a government you are either going to hold your nose and vote conservative or hold your nose and vote liberal.

          My struggle is whether I can even find someone to vote for.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:

            Phil,

            I voted against the merger with the Alliance because I did not like Harper and his view of Canada was not my own. Then it happened. Stuck it out in the CPC until 2010, then decamped to the Liberals for a decade. Broke with Trudeau over SNC and JWR. Rejoined the CPC when that special someone in the PMO encouraged the breakup of a private citizen’s marriage and company structure. It worked and she left. And for me that meant an immediate scorched earth war to destroy the Trudeau Liberals. It’s ongoing.

    • Doug says:

      Still think Trudeau Senior broke national unity so that he could be the hero to save national unity

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Doc,

      Remember when Brian said that you go to the dance with them what brung you? Looks like this Prime Minister didn’t get the memo…Trudeau quite literally had over three years to do a deal with Couillard and he said fuck ’em. Now the deal is with the dyed-in-the-wool separatist and that means as Warren said so well elsewhere: Bye-bye. [Canada]

      • Phil in London says:

        Did Brian also not once say they is no whore like an old whore? Not sure how but surely it fits in with the current crowd in Ottawa.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Liberals are all and only about keeping political power. Meech Lake, Charlottetown, even the Trudeau proposed Victoria Charter (rejected by Bourassa) constituted a threat to centralism, symmetrical federalism, Canadian nationalism and a Liberal hold on power.

      Had any of those become law we would have ended up with a decentralized, asymmetrical and far looser federation. Not a confederation but closer than is the case today. And that plays to regional and provincial nationalism: translation, far greater chances of PCs being in power in Ottawa, until the merger with the Alliance and more nationalist governments in Quebec. So the death of the above “saved” Canada, or more accurately, the Liberal divine right of kings to rule this country almost uninterrupted, courtesy of the English-Canadian ballot box. THAT was PET’s real mindset.

    • irreversible road map to freedom says:

      The media and the Liberals didn’t like Mulroney meddling with something they thought was hard earned, imperfect yet reasonable. Mulroney was basically trying to capitalize on residual anti Trudeau / anti English Sentiment in Quebec. He was fiddling with a trembling house of cards and the cards didn’t like being played around with.

      Justin is known to be a prolific quitter on every issue under the sun. He surrenders so quickly, you don’t even know he was in the room. That’s his style. Quebec knows they can push him around and he’ll give up before the fight has even started.

  10. Doug says:

    Harper was absolutely subversive. His government busted many myths:
    1) the path to victory need not run through Quebec
    2) Federal spending isn’t all that vital to the economy. It can be taken to record lows without breaking anything
    3) ignoring various regions’ calls for special consideration tends to supress call for special consideration
    4) ignroring various interest groups’ calls for special consideration tends to supress call for special consideration
    5) a stimulus program need not create permanenet new spending

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Doug,

      If 1) wasn’t a one-time MAJORITY fluke, why are all parties kissing Legault’s ass??? LOL. To ask the question, is to answer it.

      • Doug says:

        A few reasons:
        1) Legault is the most skilled politician in the country. He is now the puppet master.

        2) Political Parties are lazy and focused on the immediate. They want to land the Quebec whale through superficial initiatives without understanding the implications. The Quebec electorate’s histories of voting as a herd, and rewarding transactional policies is too tempting

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:

          Doug,

          I would argue that Jack’s Orange Crush was the last electoral example of a monolith. Going forward, IMHO, it’s likely to be a roughly 60-40 thing between the Liberals and the Bloc. If Quebec is sick of Trudeau, the equation should reverse itself in the next election with the Bloc coming out on top.

  11. Pedant says:

    Warren,

    Any thoughts on Bill C-36? Law proposes house arrest and $70K fines for internet publishers, bloggers, Facebook & Twitter users.

    The situation with this government is becoming not just serious, but outright dangerous.

    https://omny.fm/shows/on-point-with-alex-pierson/blacklocks-reporter-check-in-1

  12. Robert White says:

    Prime Minister Trudeau & NDP leader Singh are Canadian retail political aristocrats that play that game for Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, & Vancouver elites & status quo media.

    The grass roots of politics knows they are completely disingenuous in the extreme, and we also know they are BIG Box retail politics not unlike WalMart or Zellers of the corporate sector whereby they are merely selling cheap goods manufactured via third world labour.

    Impression management at that tier is rather suspect for all IMHO. MP Singh is a highly intelligent lawyer that has said many things I agree with so that he stands apart from his peers in Parliament. I agree he is also a weasel of Parliament with the same tailor as our PM.

    Aristocracy screwed them for life unfortunately.

    RW

  13. Nicola Timmerman says:

    Trudeau didn’t want Mulroney to succeed where he had failed so he and the lawyer ex Trudeau girlfriend who advised the premier of Newfoundland fought against Meech Lake.

    • The Doctor says:

      Yes, forgot about Deborah Coyne. Her Constitutional Law class at U of T Law School at the time should have been re-named “Why Meech Lake Will Destroy Canada, Curve Your Spine and Grow Hair on Your Palms.”

  14. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Nicola,

    At least Elijah Harper killed it in Manitoba on fundamental principles, which quite frankly Charlottetown should have addressed: recognizing all First Nations, Métis and other Aboriginal peoples as at least one Nation in this country.

    As for Wells and Coyne, they were only too happy to do P-E-T’s [#*%!&] work for him…

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