All Quebec, all the time, alas

As ugly and inflammatory as the current sociopolitical situation is in Quebec, as much as it tears at the heart of the non-French minority and makes them think about pulling up stakes and moving out of the province, it sure is a great time to be a satirist.

Being a Quebec humorist is like being an American humorist and having George W. Bush for president, except with no term limits. This nonsense just never, ever ends.

Miley Marois, by Aislin, Montreal Gazette

Miley Marois, by Aislin, Montreal Gazette

The material simply writes itself. Witness this caricature of Quebec’s premier, Pauline Marois, by one of Canada’s finest editorial cartoonists, Terry Mosher, AKA Aislin. This, ladies and gentlemen, is beautiful (although, to enjoy the full impact of the satire, it did have the unfortunate side-effect of finally forcing me to watch that video by that girl doing that thing with the hammer, and the swinging and the Bbbb-bbb-bbb-WHA?!?)

As for me, of course I can’t resist. I’ve got two pieces this week, one over at Life in Quebec about how life for anglophones these days is part paranoid, part denial. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s Fine. Everything’s Fine!

When you’ve moved to Quebec like I have – willingly, not on a dare – all the turbulence and frustrations you live day to day become worthwhile when your parents come to visit and you dazzle them with your French.

You may have the comprehension of a springer Spaniel from Dubuque, but your parents, if they have no French of their own (and if they’re from eight out of ten provinces, that’s highly probable), they will be astounded.

“You’re French is so good!” they will gush. And you won’t say anything, just smile and shrug. “C’est rien,” you might say. You could even say, “Je crois la moufette,” and they will still be impressed.

Because, if you come to Quebec from away – of your own free will, not court-ordered – your loved ones tend to worry about you. They worry about your mental state, yes, but they also worry that you and your anglo kind are on the verge of being goose-stepped off to some kind of gulag or, worse, Beaconsfield.

You can read the rest over at

On my CBC Radio segment this week, I explain that modern Quebec and the nationalist movement grew out of the Quiet Revolution in the early 1960s, which means that Quebec isn’t going through a political crisis; it’s going through a mid-life crisis.

And, well, Quebec is a little worried that it can no longer perform… you know, politically.  It used to be the nationalist movement could have secessionist talks two, three times a decade. But now, looking at that flabby support, there’s no sure bet of even getting an election.

You can listen over at CBC or click the handy Grooveshark widget below. (Update: I’ve posted a text version here.)

Incidentally, the Bernard Drainville mentioned in the piece is the Minister of Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship — as Orwellian a name as there could possibly be. He’s also this guy:

See? I told you this stuff just writes itself.

Back to non-Quebec content soon. God, I hope so!

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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35 Responses to All Quebec, all the time, alas

  1. Le Clown says:

    Well said… I mean, where else could you get this much material for your satires, beside Texas, France, England, Twitterland, and so on… Rumours are that Miley Cyrus will take all of her vacations in Quebec where she will blend in the background and disappear behind the idiocies of the PQ.
    Le Clown

  2. J’aime les sandwiches de jambon avec le fromage?

    How’s that? I don’t get what’s going on up there since I don’t follow anything Canadian, but my guess is that the lack of a hockey team isn’t helping the situation, n’est pas?

  3. After reading about your restaurant experience, I just want to go to a restaurant in Quebec and make the wait staff stand there for an excruciating amount of time while I pull out a huge English-French dictionary and proceed to butcher the language mercilessly.

  4. peachyteachy says:

    My bizarre fascination for Canada continues. Some Yanks like Americana. I dig Canadana. Or something.

  5. ksbeth says:

    love the french canadians – went to a bar with my irish canadian ex-boyfriend once and after a couple of beers my college french came back with a vengeance! who knows what folly i spewed to the locals, but i felt like i was communicating in a very french way, and that was what mattered after all. great post ross )

  6. Elyse says:

    It is so lovely when someone is making fun of his own country and it doesn’t happen to be my country. Such a delightful novelty. Thanks, Ross!

  7. El Guapo says:

    I thought Quebec was just sompelace non-french speaking Canadian parents threatened to send misbehaving children for summer cam…

  8. franhunne4u says:

    Please, calm down – in Switzerland people have three main languages – and none of them is English. It’s totally possible, to speak more than one language fluently. Nobody has to go back as far as the 16th century, where Queen Elizabeth (yes, she is that long in reign, striking, isn’t it) spoke 6 languages. (Cannot vouch that there was not a little bit of English among that, though).
    And it’s good French tradition to force feed the world their idiom – as ridiculous as their numbers are.
    (Four twenty sixteen for ninety-six? I beg your pardon?)
    Yes, sometimes the work for humorists does write itself. Probably that is why Germans have a problem with humour we are immune to it, as we live in a real satire day by day …

    • rossmurray1 says:

      My first address in Montreal was 8424 Clermont, and I used to love the sing-song of telling a taxi driver: “Quatre-vingt-quatre vingt-quatre.”

      You are the second-funniest German I know. And the first-funniest? I don’t quite understand his humour but I’m pretty sure he’s hilarious.

      • franhunne4u says:

        hm – you know two germans all in all, it seems. I am not funny. I am 100 % serious – after all I am working in public administration and first job qualification is to have no trace of humour in you.
        I have even heard of plans that instead of forbidding some foreign languages here (like they do in France or Q.) or forbidding advertising homosexual behaviour (like they do in Russia) the German voters can vote this Sunday on a ban of any kind of public humour – but the well organized carnival – as that is “humour” in uniforms and with marches played, that is the one kind they will always love over here.

      • franhunne4u says:

        and yes, love that house number in french, too!

  9. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Unrest in Quebec? Better get that wall up between Canada and US, cuz we wouldn’t want any of that intolerance to infect us down south. When do they start handing out the uniforms there?

  10. My 92-year-old father-in-law was born and raised and still lives in Montreal. He says intolerance is the norm, but this is worse than it’s been in a while.

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