When Quebec Premiere Francois Legault ran for the top political job in 2018, he
did a tour of his hometown, Sainte Anne-de-Bellevue, where he did a long photo
op walking around the village with his mother and his wife.
He touted the wonderful town and its bilingual nature. But during the last election
campaign, he steered clear of where he lived with his mother (until the age of 30).
Instead, he made a reference to the fact that his dear mom was forced to speak
English while working at John Abbott College.
What was the change of heart? Simple. Quebec politicians know that when things
go bad in the province, the easiest solution is to blame English speakers, and by
default, immigrants. Jacques Parizeau made the infamous quote the night of the
1995 referendum about how “money and immigrants” sunk independence. And
yes, he had been drinking prior to that outburst.
Fast forward a few decades, Pierre Karl Peledeau, the owner of Journal de
Montreal and TVA, who was also the brief head of the PQ, had his minion writers
publish an article about how a reporter randomly visited a few businesses in the
city of Montreal and were not properly served in French.
Thus began a campaign of anti-anglophone articles under the guise of protecting
the French language. Montreal became the target. If you dare to speak English
as your mother tongue, watch out.
Instead of embracing the Anglo and Franco and new Canadian cultures, it has
become a point of division.
During Legault’s throne speech, he doubled down on the priority of speaking
French predominantly in the province. Instead, while our ERs are well over
capacity, schools are falling apart and there seems to be lip service paid to dealing
with the environment as well as crippling inflation, those pertinent issues get cast
Why? Because governing for all of the people of the province is too difficult.
Having an unseen enemy is so much for effective to rally people around a problem
that does not deserved all of the attention it has received.
“My infant son had to wait 18 hours to be seen by a doctor.”
“Inflation is preventing us from eating three meals a day.”
“My special needs daughter is on a waiting list to get help in her school.”
Those are just some of the woes I have heard from parents recently. French and
English speaking Quebecers alike, concerned about the quality of life for their
children and families.
But what is the solution? Blame the Anglos and immigrants. Easy to write about
and freak out about it. This way, a common enemy can be found and Legault can
rally his base over an issue that, while important, should not be taking center
stage time and time again.
There are real, serious problems in this province and alienating a decent slice of
the population pie will never bring everyone together. But of course, that seems to
be the point.
Why deal with tough, very hard challenges when you can pick the low lying, and
quite frankly, rotten fruit.