If Mario Dumont wants to know what his Action democratique du Quebec party is in for from the national media, he should read [John Ibbitson's column in Tuesday's Globe->5482].
Typically, Ibbitson is my second read out of Ottawa after Sun Media's Greg Weston, because he's usually a thoughtful indicator of the "small-l" liberal view of Canada, with gusts up to "Big-L," that dominates the thinking of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
But on Tuesday, Ibbitson seemed beside himself over the very idea that rural, francophone Quebecers would dare to elect the ADQ, or as he called them, "a party of intolerance," to the official Opposition.
He said it proves "intolerance remains a force in Canadian politics" and that "to their everlasting disgrace, too many urban intellectuals have chosen to reinforce it."
Headlined "Of rednecks and the rural-urban solitudes," Ibbitson proclaimed Dumont's breakthrough showed "Canada's rural regions continue to harbour obnoxious attitudes" and "although (Dumont) is not half so objectionable as Jean-Marie Le Pen, the Action democratique du Quebec is tapping the same vein of intolerance in Quebec that the National Front courts in France." Whew!
While Ibbitson briefly cited intolerance in "English Canada" including "the very best salons of Toronto and Vancouver" -- he argued people like urban feminists have recklessly made common cause with rural bigots because they detest the views of orthodox Muslims toward women -- most of his contempt was reserved for rural francophones who voted ADQ.
To me, why they did is obvious. They're understandably worried that Quebec's policy of "reasonable accommodation" of minorities has become too reasonable. Or rather, for them, unreasonable. They fear it threatens their culture, language, way of life.
Ibbitson doesn't understand. He piously lectures: "So, to all the ADQ backbenchers and small-town mayors who disparage the latest batch of new arrivals, this message: Go ahead. You and your prejudices will fade away, and your towns will disappear, unless you can find a way to attract the very people you love to denigrate. And to the urban feminist who echoes their sentiments ... woman, look who you're consorting with."
Uh, "woman?" Yikes!
For me, Ibbitson's diatribe was a typical, self-righteous rant from our white-bread national media, stuck in their politically correct little town of Ottawa. So allow me to lecture him.
John, why do you and so many of your colleagues have your heads stuck up your butts about the real stresses immigration puts on a society? Why are you so quick to shout "intolerance!" when Canadians anywhere express understandable frustrations about half-baked policies they don't understand, developed by insulated mandarins and opportunistic politicians who, rather than rationally defend them, scream "intolerance!" at anyone who voices unease? Maybe they don't always say it well. Maybe they're not as worldly as you. Tough. Are there some racists in the ADQ? Duh. There's racists in every party. What's your point?
I started by saying if Dumont wants to know what the ADQ is in for from the national media, to read Ibbitson's columm. It suggests a wider, sneering attitude about the ADQ, similar to what they used to think about the Alberta-based Reform party. Mr. Dumont, tell your backbenchers in the Quebec National Assembly not to answer any "hypothetical" media questions about immigration. Because there's nothing as scary as a scrum of parliamentary journalists who imagine themselves to be on a crusade exposing the bigotry of others.
Intolerance is where you find it
Par Lorrie Goldstein