Sunday, October 23, 2016

Jean-François Lisée and the Big Lie

"If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself."

European immigrants are the best

"One candidate for the top job [Jean-François Lisée] defines “perfect immigration” as European" 
Konrad Yakabuski, The Globe and Mail, Oct. 3, 2016
"He [Jean-François Lisée] has also sketched out a vision of “perfect” immigration. Surprise, it hails from primarily white European cities." 
Globe and Mail editorial, Oct. 05, 2016 
"He [Jean-François Lisée] warns about the dangers of immigration and says “perfect immigration” involves bringing in French-speaking Europeans"
Toronto Star editorial, Oct. 16, 2016 

These claims are based on comments made by Jean-François Lisée during an interview with Philippe Teisceira-Lessard of La Presse on September 26, 2016. This is my translation of what he actually said during that interview:
"JFL: I have two proposals. 
The best immigration possible is what we are doing right now with Quebec International and its Quebec days. Employers from Quebec, who are experiencing a shortage of labour, travel to France, Belgium and Barcelona, ​​they have kiosks, receive CVs and meet people who can exactly meet the demands for the job. 
Then, they hire this person and bring them here, they find housing for them, schools for their children... these people are immediately integrated. It is the perfect immigration that responds perfectly to the needs of Quebec's economy and ensures the success of the neo-Quebecer.
This concerns me greatly. If we bring people here, it must be in a welcoming environment. It must lead to their success. 
The second thing that I propose: the immigration of graduates. This is to ensure that we attract to Quebec, in our CEGEPs, our universities, our technical schools, francophone students from around the world and welcome them, integrate them, and graduate them with degrees from here. 
So there will be no debate about whether their credentials are good or not, they are our credentials. It's in this way that we will retain the majority them. 
That is immigration that is win-win. It's win for our economy, and it's a win for neo-Quebecers that are immediately on a path of success. 
Q: So the best immigration is the European immigration? 
JFL: Not necessarily, I'm saying francophones from around the world. That means Senegalese francophones and francophones who have French as a second language but who can study in French. So anyone from Shanghai to Santiago who can study in French is welcome. 
Q: So we need to better choose our immigration? 
JFL: Sure. We must not only choose the best, but create paths to the success of every neo-Quebecers. For me an engineers who drives a taxi, or a specialized technician who serves tables... immigrants with shattered dreams, that does not interest me.
I don't want this to happen anymore. So the more we target, the more we will foster success ... and as I say in my program on foreign students, a young Haitian student who is very good, but is penniless, he must be helped to success.
I am willing to not only pay his scholarship, but also his living expenses, so that francophones from around the world will know that Quebec is a center of excellence, and it is a place where they can succeed in life."

How do we get from these words to the claim that Jean-François Lisée believes that the perfect immigration is white and European? It's obvious that Lisée was using the activities of Quebec International with its Quebec days as an example of an immigration that perfectly fits the needs of the host country and perfectly takes care of the needs of the immigrant. It is therefore the perfect immigration which is a success for everyone. Lisée seems to think that all immigration should be more like this. What a monster!

To be fair to the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, it was the alleged journalist, Philippe Teisceira-Lessard, of the fanatically federalist La Presse who got the propaganda ball rolling by omitting important details of what Lisée said and reporting his comments as: "The 'best immigration possible' it is the workers that Quebec employers recruit in 'Paris, Brussels and Barcelona' who correspond 'exactly to the labor needs' and who are immediately hired and 'immediately integrated'." But you would think that the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star could have managed to get their hands on an actual reporter to check up on a claim before printing it as truth. You would think that but you'd be wrong. Any opportunity to delegitimize Quebec sovereignists by labeling them as intolerant is jumped upon, not questioned.


Lisée: far-right, bad for humanity


While the "European immigrants are the best" claim was completely made up, other attacks against Lisée are at least based on actual facts. For example, it is true that Lisée wrote an article asking whether we should ban the burka in Quebec. In this article, he claimed that it is also a question of security as terrorists have used the burka to hide weapons in Africa. The Star found this argument bizarre: "He has mused about forbidding women to wear burkas and niqabs in public, using the bizarre argument that they’ve been used by terrorists in Africa to conceal AK-47s"

Again, it's a shame that the Toronto Star doesn't seem to have any reporters on hand to check these things out. In fact, all that they would really need is an internet connection and a search engine to find out that both Chad and Cameroon have banned the burka following terrorist incidents where the perpetrator had used a burka to conceal his weapon, and Senegal seems to be considering doing the same.

While few people in the west would agree that women should cover themselves up from head to toe, it is perfectly legitimate to criticize a burka ban on the grounds that it infringes on individual liberty or the freedom of religion. However, people often criticize the idea because they say that excluding veiled women from the public space is marginalizing them and so preventing them from being exposed to the idea of equality between men and women. To this Lisée replied that "if our society tolerates the overt manifestation of the oppression of women in the public space, it validates the idea that this oppression is acceptable and accepted in our society." So what is really the more liberal view? It's up for debate.

But to some, questioning Canada's state religion of multiculturalism makes you a heretic particualry if you are a Quebec sovereignist. Philippe Couillard used Lisée's article to claim that he was akin to unnamed far-right political parties in Europe. If Couillard truly believed that wanting to ban the burka makes one a fascist then he missed a golden opportunity to call out French Prime Minister Manuel Valls during his recent visit to Quebec since France is one of many countries that have banned this type of clothing. In fact, there are even Canadian Muslims who are in favor of banning the burka. 

Couillard's reaction is really the knee-jerk reaction of a brainwashed lapdog. He is just parroting the line that Quebec nationalism is ethnocentric but Canadian nationalism is universal, which is itself a form of racism. Canadian multiculturalism is irreproachable and the only opinion that you can have on immigration is that you want more. Any other opinion on the matter makes you racist, xenophobic, inward looking and negative for humanity


Conclusion


Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate ideas, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. Since Quebec sovereignists reject the Canadian “national idea” and refuse assimilation into Canadian universalism, the impulse among Canadians is to reduce Quebec sovereignists, with their competing nationalism and their own concepts of universalism, to an ethnic group with racist designs. Quebecers are depicted as a minority community incapable or unwilling of defending individual rights or of claiming universalism. This view is routinely presented in the Canadian media. It is sometimes based on exaggerations or outright fabrications, as seen with the "European immigration" claim. All that matters is the overarching narrative of Canadian moral superiority over Quebec. 

But behind this resentment against Quebec nationalism is a tacit recognition that the continued existence of a Quebec nation with its own national identity is a direct challenge to the Canadian imperial system. For it is clear to anyone who knows anything about Canadian history that Canada itself is the product of imperial conquest, and that Quebec is, in many ways, Canada's colony. Anything that has the slightest whiff of self-determination on Quebec's part is seen as a threat to the legitimacy of the Canadian state. Hence the hair-trigger accusations of racism, the hypocrisy, the double standards and the outright slander...


6 comments:

  1. This is a really well thought out and well written critique.

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  2. Until Quebec politicians accept its entire current population as being legitimate Quebeckers then the independence movement will fail. How can a new nation be formed based on an abstract notion of who is real and who is not?

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    1. Quebec politicians do accept Quebec's entire current population as being legitimate Quebecers, they always have. Rene Levesque's definition of who is a Quebecer was "someone who lives in Quebec", period.

      But it's also a fact that, like Latvia which has a substantial Russian population who identify more with Russia than Latvia, there is an English-speaking population in Quebec who identify more with English Canada than they do with Quebec.

      This is nothing new. When Lord Durham was sent to British North America in 1838 as governor-general specifically to investigate the circumstances of the rebellions what he said he had found was not, as he had expected, a struggle of a people against its government but "two nations warring in the bosom of a single state."

      There's still a lot of truth to that statement today but it goes both ways. It's not hard to find Quebec anglophones who feel that people like Amir Kharir or Maka Kotto are traitors to Canada who should be deported because of their political beliefs (They're not legitimate enough to have those opinions). And so, you can cherry-pick comments to build any narrative you want.

      I know of no Quebec politician who speaks of legitimate and illegitimate Quebecers, so I reject your claim as being false. It's undoubtedly just the result of media bias.

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  3. Quebec should consider the Franco-Americans of New England as a potential source of immigrants. This seems counter-intuitive since one generally does not consider the USA as a source for immigrants but rather as a destination for them. As a Franco-American from New England myself I speak from a position of familiarity with our people and their attitudes and interests. I know many Franco-Americans who would consider very seriously moving to Quebec if the laws were altered to make that easier for them. Many do not speak French fluently, but a recent (2012) study of Franco-Americans in Maine conducted under the auspices of the Maine State Legislature revealed much greater knowledge of the language among the Franco-American population than anyone expected and there were many different levels of fluency from perfectly fluent to those who could understand but not speak it. Those who do not know the language at all would be most eager to learn French and this is in stark contrast to what I read about other immigrants to Quebec, those who speak neither French nor English, who tend to gravitate toward English. And the pool of potential Franco-American immigrants in question is not small. The same study found that about one-quarter of Mainers identified as "Franco-American," "French-Canadian" or a similar term. (That is only those who *identified* as such and not those who actually have Quebec ancestry, which is a larger percentage.) Further, the Franco-Americans would have a deep appreciation for the history and culture of Quebec. They would feel attached to the land and the people in a way that no other immigrant group, be they French, Belgian or what-have-you, possibly could. They are North Americans, after all, and only generations removed from the heart of Quebec. Their children would become "Québécois de souche" quite quickly. The issues one might have in enculturating someone from Senegal or Mali would not be an issue. Since 2001, the atmosphere in the USA has changed notably. If there were a good opportunity to emigrate some would take it. One of the small pro-independence parties of Quebec has proposed legislation to make it easier for Franco-Americans and Francophones from the ROC to come to live in Quebec. It is a good idea, especially with respect to the Franco-Americans. My idea may sound crazy at first, but good ideas often sound crazy in the beginning.

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    1. I love that idea and I will try to talk about it to people in position of leadership in the Province of Quebec. Seriously, that's an awesome idea.

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