Some Anglo-Quebeckers may be villains, but most are simply victims

May 16 1977

Some Anglo-Quebeckers may be villains, but most are simply victims

May 16 1977

Some Anglo-Quebeckers may be villains, but most are simply victims


English-speaking Quebeckers—rich, arrogant, isolated from their French-speaking neighbors. This image of a minority pretending they are the majority has been a common perception among many Canadians. In this melodrama, we wear the black hats and are assumed by some to be the underlying cause of the present Confederation crisis. One had hoped that in light of Bill 22 and the Parti Québécois’ victory that Maclean ’s could see us in a true perspective. Then I read Peter C. Newman’s column: What’s So Surprising

About Quebec’s Anglo Exodus? They’re Just Following Their Money (April 4). Apparently we are still regarded by some as the “ugly anglophones,” still wearing the black hats.

But not all English Quebeckers are members of the Canadian establishment. We are not a monolithic elite living in the châteausof Canada’s fabled Xanadu (pronounced Upper Westmount). Granted there are some who are very rich and do live in that area of Montreal, but the vast majority are middle and lower class. What good does it do these people to know that the Molsons and the McConnells are also Quebec anglophones? Can we use their names as collateral for a bank loan oras a down-payment for a house? Claude Ryan, editor of Le Devoir, stated recently on Radio-Canada that 70% of Quebec’s anglophone population earn the average provincial income or below.

The reason for a threat of an exodus is possibly the fact that since the quiet revolution but especially since the election of the PQ government and their recent publication of a language white paper—the Charter of the French Language—English

Quebeckers have realized that their presence is no longer welcome. Despite the slick public relations’ platitudes of the white paper to preserve anglophone culture and heritage, the government’s policy is obviously aimed at either driving the English out or assimilating us into the majority. Even if one were to ignore that the charter calls for the replacement of English geographical names and that all business signs, billboards and road signs must be in French only, the fact that all immigrants to Quebec, no matter what language they speak, will eventually be funneled into the French sector spells the inevitable doom for the anglophone minority.

Do we deserve to be run out of the province? It is true that in the past many English Quebeckers were unilingual but this was due more to historical accommodation than arrogance. Following the depression, but especially since the quiet revolution, the “barriers” that separated the colonies have been pulled down and the English, cognizant of the time, have changed and have taken positive steps to adapt to the new situation. The English have been in Quebec for almost 175 years. There are more English-speaking people in this province than in six of the other nine provinces in Canada. We did not come here to fleece the local natives and run, moneybags in hand, at the first sign of trouble.


It seems that virtually every article that appears in your “national” magazine on the subject of Quebec emphasizes the economic costs of separation ( What Price Separation? March 7) or suggests that Quebec is on the verge of economic collapse be-

cause the anglophones are retreating to the Province of Ontario, where they can continue to exploit the workers in peace, in fact, with the blessing of the Ontario government, (What’s So Surprising About Quebec’s Anglo Exodus? . . . and Quebec’s English: A Vanishing Minority, April 4).

The desire for cultural and political sovereignty in Quebec has been a major force in the rise of the Parti Québécois. At the same time, however, the need for an economic order to complement and strengthen the cultural sovereignty has been a major theme in the party’s program. When the anglophones complain about feeling like second-class citizens, they are finally getting a taste of their own medicine. Before a new economic order can be created, the old one must be destroyed. Instead of feeling pessimistic about Quebec’s future, I feel that now that the repressive Anglo infrastructure is crumbling, a great potential exists for the creation of an indigenous economic system that reflects the needs of the Québécois and is responsive to human variables, instead of some Anglo-American idea of “progress.”


May hair grow on Big Brother’s hands

Thank you for your enlightening article Thou Shalt Not Read (April 18). It infuriated me more than any article I have ever had to read. I subscribe to Penthouse and I was wondering why my May issue had not come. I’m 26 years old and about as corrupt and perverted as I’ll ever be, I guess. What right do these people—John Merner et al—have to decide for me what I can look at or read, if and when I choose? When will the government realize that we are mature

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enough to read or see a normal act which many of us carry out in the privacy of our homes? If people find such prose illicit or perverse, then they should refrain from purchasing this material. If they are so religious as not to indulge in a little fantasy now and then, they too should be refused the purchase of such material. But the 700,000 who buy Penthouse should have their rights upheld. Why is the magazine prohibited by old fogies? Don’t they remember being young? Why do they try to put sex on a pedestal? We, the younger people, know it is a natural part of life and are not ashamed of it.


I read with some amusement (and bewilderment) John Merner’s comment that: “(Canadian) public opinion was anti oral sex.” Presumably the statement was intended as a justification for his office seizing the May issue of Penthouse at the Canadian border. My bewilderment came as a result of my attempt to understand just how Merner stumbled upon this rather curious piece of information. Has his office been running a survey—discreetly— these last few months? One wonders.

We should be able to see some humor behind all this nonsense, however. Think of the next federal election, for example. Candidates will be forced to publicly de-

clare themselves as being either pro or anti oral sex (I don’t think there’s any room for compromise) and voters will be able to make a clear choice. This kind of thing could completely revolutionize the whole concept of Canadian democracy. Candidates will be denounced by their opponents for being “soft” on oral sex and public debates will sweep the country. Actually the whole scenario isn’t all that unbelievable. Canadians have long debated the merits of bilingualism and multilingualism, why not “cunnilingualism?”


I don’t know how comforting it really is, but it seems that Canadians will not be perverted by the latest issue of Penthouse. How thoughtful of John Merner to spare the innocent citizens of Canada the degradation of being forced to buy the May issue. I guess we’re just too immature to handle such hot stuff. Merner’s reason for the seizure'of the magazine—“that public opinion is anti oral sex”—seems humorous. When was the last John Merner oral sex poll taken? When are we going to learn censorship is not the answer? If fewer things were banned, the public would soon tire of a magazine and it would quickly fold. In a so-called free society, we are facing arbitrary dictatorship. We can smoke our lungs cancerous and drink our liver to death but we can’t read a simple magazine in the privacy of our own homes.


The May issue of Penthouse is now on newsstands across Canada—but with the offensive 14pages missing. Six were clippedfrom the photo feature, The Lady And The Stableboy, and the entire Couples section was taken out.

Not what the simple folk do

Camelot West (April 18) only managed to reduce to print the eastern impression of life in Alberta. The references to “his and hers” bathtubs, houses with eight or nine bathrooms, etc., are examples of journalistic exaggeration, something that should not be present in a national magazine. Certainly there are a few Bill Herons around, but the majority of Albertans have as much in common with these persons as easterners. Perhaps it is interesting to note that the piece on bathroom fixtures occupied approximately three times more space in the article than the reference to the darker side of life in Alberta caused by increased wealth and population.


While this may sound like another Albertan cherishing “the fierce certainty that nobody understands how it really is” with us, Suzanne Zwarun’s look at Camelot West wildly overestimates the generosity of both Alberta’s productive establishment and its government. Her scattered hints that all Albertans are not rolling happily in royalties were certainly not responsibly dealt

with by the statement that “ .. . almost all [Albertans] are in on a piece of the action, gloriously entangled in a wildcat kind of shopping spree.” Alberta, like every region in Canada, is a place where some people have a great deal of money and its accompanying power, and most people have very little or none of either.

Nowhere is this better seen than in Premier Lougheed’s government’s treatment of students. His “master plan,” while providing for the creation of an Albertan “think tank,” does not include a responsible financial commitment to Alberta’s universities. This year’s approximately 25% increase, the students are told, will be

the rule for the future rather than the exception. Alberta’s affluence, which Zwarun depicted as universal, can be more realistically seen as the wealth of a few supported by the efforts of many and the (happy?) circumstance of valuable natural resources.


Does he know what it means to suffer?

Dr. Selye’s code of life—“have a strong sense of self-worth and a goal in life and be necessary and useful to your fellow man”— may sound like a great theory but The Only Way To Live (April 4) fails to mention whether or not Selye is married, has had

children or is so strung out on avoiding stress he either left a family or never had any. If either situation is the case, Dr. Selye is in no position to talk about how to avoid stress. Until I know all the facts on Dr. Selye, this is just another piece of medical folklore in 1977.


Dr. Selye has been married twice (the first marriage was annulled). As the father offive children, it’s likely he’s had some personal experiences with stress.

You’re as old as you feel

In India Could Find It Harder Living Without Gandhi Than Living With Her (April 4) on India’s new Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, you say that he is 20 years old, while he claims to be only 19. If he was born on February 29, 1896, then he is indeed 19 years old. The year 1900 was not a leap year—only those century years divisible by 400 are leap years.'


Splendid isolation

Some of the points raised in The Halls Of Anger (March 21) were quite valid. However, among the less justified comments was the blanket attack on solitary confinement. To begin with, isolation in itself is not an “instrument of human degradation,” although degrading things can happen to prisoners in solitary confinement just as they can happen to anyone else. Large numbers of prisoners are segregated for their own protection, since they would be attacked by other inmates were they to be kept in the general population; and whatever the reason for their being isolated, it is not unusual for prisoners to report that being out of the population for a while is a relaxing and beneficial experience. In fact, a study by Dr. Philip Zimbardo (which you quoted as a part of the attack on solitary confinement) reported that several subjects deliberately broke the regulations of the simulated prison precisely in order to be put into solitary and be removed from the demands and harassment of the regular routine. To say that more than three days of solitary leads to personality disintegration is ludicrous, and is certainly not based on any reasonable evidence. While three days of solitary can have adverse effects on some people (just as any experience can have adverse effects on some people), there is certainly an abundance of evidence both from the experimental literature and, more relevantly, from studies and autobiographical accounts of prisoners in a variety of settings, that this is by no means a universal occurrence. In fact, prisoners have been known to use isolation as an opportunity to strengthen and expand their interests.






When in Quebec, do as the Québécois do

There is no question but that English Canadians in Quebec find themselves in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation with their traditional autonomy challenged by francophone Quebeckers as you point out in Quebec’s English: A Vanishing Minority (April 4). But this situation is neither novel nor unique. Has any thought been given to the position of French Canadians living outside of Quebec? We have never questioned the need to learn English in order to survive in English Canada. Why should not English Canadians living in Quebec, similarly, and as willingly, bend to the culture of the majority? It is an adaptation that must be made in any cultural area, be it Mexico, Italy, Germany, or English Canada. Why this difference of attitude toward Quebec?

There is an underlying hysteria in the attitude of English Canadians toward the present Situationen Quebec, even though what is being asked of them is not unreasonable. It is an accommodation that francophones living away from French Canada are having to make all the time. The exodus of English Canadians from Quebec, if such it becomes, underlines a basic unwillingness to cooperate in Quebec’s cultural self-assertion, an unwillingness that was one of the primary driving forces behind the development of separation in the first place.


Once again Canada’s Newsmagazine has reacted in typical English-Canadian fashion. Doubtful we will ever come across a Maclean’s cover depicting the “agony of the French-speaking Albertan, the agony of the French-speaking Saskatchewaner, the agony of the French-speaking Manitoban, the agony of the French-speaking Ontarian, or the agony of the French-speaking New Brunswicker.” English Quebeckers have been agonizing since November 15, 1976. We non-Quebec French Canadians have agonized since July 1, 1867.


Though not a coverstory, we did take a look at the plight of French-speaking Canadians in Manitoba in Endangered Species (April 18).

It profiteth a man not...

Anyone who makes an absurd comment like “greed is what makes the world tick, baby,” and assumes it fits all of us, should be consigned to a lifetime of rolling his press clippings up and down Bay Street. Fast Johnny Turner can make such statements as he did in The Turner Campaign (March 21) and still be considered a prime contender for the leadership of this country. Fast Johnny’s Gospel also includes another dazzler: “I doubt that we can change men’s motives,” he says, “including the drive for material benefit.” So there you have it folks—the “nature-nurture” argu-

ment is solved: man is unalterable and driven by greed and alas he will not change.

Turner’s babble might fit the handful of his cronies who hold power in this country: greed, indeed, motivates them, and it’s in their best interests to reinforce nonsense about humanity’s basic rush to profit. But I doubt very much whether Fast Johnny speaks for the people who work to exist or pay mortgages, or those who spin in the relentless revolving door of poverty (about 30% of Canadians), or those multitudes of people who are unemployed from coast to coast. It is one of the great absurdities of our times: why do we keep electing politi-

cos like Fast Johnny Turner when it is patently obvious they do not represent the interests of the vast majority of Canadians— say, about 90% of us?


Also recommended by vampire hunters

It gets very wearying to read of the whining and accusations of invasion of privacy leveled by the seekers of the spotlight at the peripheral focusers of the spotlight, namely the media. The latest to complain of this has been Margaret Trudeau (March 21). However, a ray of hope has appeared in The Only Way To Live (April 4) in which Dr. Hans Selye states that munching garlic

is a very effective deterrent to admiring strangers. Who knows? Perhaps the world is ready for garlic-flavored bubble gum! Candy coated and in three strengths, no doubt.


Woes do not a downfall make

Barbara Amiel’s The Collapse Of Britain (April 4) has a scarcely disguised tone of the immigrant glad to discover that, don’t worry, folks, the old country’s had it, so let’s return to Canada and count our blessings. As an immigrant from Britain I am well aware that a periodic comparison of the old and new countries goes with the status of landed immigrant. I object, however, to Amiel’s simply lumping together some eye-catching vignettes that prove the thesis she was clearly prepared to document any way she could—that Britain has had it. Instead of a thoughtful analysis, we have a catalogue of woes.


I have not exactly been a fan of Maclean ’s, but Barbara Amiel’s article on Britain has caused me to change my mind. This very lucid and thoughtful description of a major problem for Britain, which has great significance for Canada, should be required reading for every business, government and labor leader as well as all Canadians who wish to be well-informed. I commend Amiel and Maclean’s for this outstanding achievement.


As one who spent his childhood and adolescence in England, I was interested in The Collapse Of Britain. I have attempted to remain familiar with events and changes that have taken place since I left and I find myself increasingly disconcerted by the rather smug tone of articles in the North American press on Britain’s decline. Britain is indeed in dire straits. She is a small country with the third densest population in the world. She is only able to produce food to feed half her population and, North Sea oil notwithstanding, is rapidly running short of resources. Barbara Amiel chronicles Britain’s many ills with depressing thoroughness.

She mentions continental Europe’s reference to the “British Disease.” It may be that, like a flu strain, this disease is named after the location of its first outbreak. If Amiel were to closely examine societies like Japan and Switzerland, that she holds up as examples, or indeed any of the industrialized nations of the world, she could undoubtedly spot the same symptoms in varying degrees. If may be a blessing in disguise for Britain and the world that all the symptoms have erupted together on her beleaguered shores. The warning can still be heeded and the disease cured while there are resources and time left.