Quebec's glorious fantasy world


Le grand cirque ordinaire des illusions « Canadian »

Stephen Harper saw defeat snatched from the jaws of victory when
sovereigntist leaders gleefully parlayed his foolish pre-election
announcement of relatively trivial arts cuts into a majority-blocking
culture card. “When our culture is attacked,” swooned PQ leader Pauline
Marois, “it is all of Quebec that is attacked.”
Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe fleshed out Marois’ utterly false and
incendiary statement with the words “there is a clash of two visions, that
of Quebec and that of Harper.”
In Duceppe’s revealing province-person parallel, he posits Quebec as that
utopian Marxist construct -- the “people” -- whose ideological commitment
endows them with a single voice and will.
Both politicians tap into the same manichean myth that virtually all
Quebec political, union and intellectual elites are keen to perpetuate: The
unruly capitalistic world beyond Quebec is insecure and ruthless; but
state-nannied Quebec is a successful, contentedly secure, culturally
enlightened monolith.
Collectivist dogma has always ruled in Quebec: For three centuries, it was
top-down religion; since the Quiet Revolution, it has been the top-down
“Quebec Model,” worshipped by Quebecers as the revealed truth. This “truth”
insists that Quebec’s oligarchical state-cum-union dirigisme has produced
social equality at no discernible price.
In fact, ruinously profligate social programs like cheap universal daycare
and frozen low tuition fees mostly benefit the wealthy (higher-income
families produce almost 70% of Quebec university students). They are paid
for by federal equalization payments or debt assigned to future
Quebec is an economic flop, but most Quebecers don’t know it. In 2003, out
of 60 American states and Canadian provinces, only the Maritimes, Manitoba,
West Virginia and Mississippi ranked lower in per capita Gross Domestic
Product than Quebec, making it among the poorest industrialized regions of
North America. Quebec is a sharing society, all right -- except in other
provinces like Alberta and Ontario they share the wealth, not the poverty.
So uniform is the mainstream media’s loyalty to the Quebec Model, facts
like these rarely filter down to individual Québécois. But in 2007, a
modest vehicle for truth, a crisply mounted documentary film, [L’Illusion
Tranquille (“The Quiet Illusion,” a play on “The Quiet Revolution”)->rub354] made
its way into a few Quebec art cinemas.
Researched, produced and self-financed by two Quebec City film amateurs,
computer scientist Joanne Marcotte and her financial-advisor husband Denis
Julien, the French-language film was viewed by perhaps 5,000 curious
The viewing numbers will pick up dramatically with the newly-released
voice-over English version, produced with the help of the Fraser Institute
and which enjoyed a successful Ottawa debut on Oct. 11.
If Quebec’s political choices irritate and baffle you -- or if you
erroneously believe Quebec delivers its oft-vaunted “social justice” at no
hidden cost -- see this revelatory DVD (on sale at
See it to be informed, but if for no other reason, see it to penetrate the
wall of silence used by the mainstream francophone media to shield their
audiences against criticism of the “sacrosanct” Quebec Model.
The wall of silence ensured that press reaction to the French-language
version of the film was, predictably, to shoot the messenger rather than
acknowledge the message. A typical savaging came from a La Presse film
critic, piqued because “the documentary asserts that Quebec shows no more
solidarity and is no more egalitarian than its neighbours.”
Heresy! It is retrograde, false consciousness, anti-Québécois to assert
that Quebec citizens are no better off than les autres!
Reverence for the Quebec Model depends on what anthropologists would call
“magical thinking.” Quebecers have been taught that money is something you
get from the feds or the wealthy, not something you make. A CROP poll in
2007 found that 57% of respondents agreed that Quebec’s social programs
“should be as generous as possible, even at the risk of indebting future
No Québécois is exempt from ex-communication for apostasy. Even the
once-sainted former separatist Lucien Bouchard was vilified as right-wing
(the most invidious insult you can level at anyone in Quebec) when he and
other realistic businessmen -- “les lucides” -- wrote a 2005 manifesto to
“wake up” Quebecers from their trance of denial.
The most encouraging element of The Quiet Illusion was the good sense
emanating from a circle of conservative young Québécois student
interviewees, who confidently and articulately disassociated themselves
from the paralyzing strictures of Quebec Model dogmas. If these are the
future political leaders of Quebec -- one can only pray they are -- there
may be some light, even hope, at the end of the dark and airless Quebec
Model tunnel we’re trapped in.

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