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  1. I have an idea...lets keep the status quo. By Nicolas Van Praet Montreal • Forget Newfoundland, derided for decades as the fish-dependent fiscal laughingstock of Canada. Another province is swiftly climbing the ranks of the penniless: Quebec. Quebecers will displace their fellow countrymen as the poorest Canadians if current income and purchasing power trends continue, according to a new study released Tuesday by Montreal’s HEC business school. The stark outlook underscores the urgency for Canada’s second-largest province to fix its structural problems and lends weight to arguments that its untapped natural resources should be developed. Related “Compared to the rest of the country, Quebec has a real revenue problem,” says Martin Coiteux, an economist who wrote the study for the HEC’s Centre for Productivity and Prosperity. Unless the province begins an honest, nothing-off-limits self-examination, “it runs the risk of finding itself last among Canadian provinces with respect to income and standard of living.” It’s the trend lines that should be worrying Quebecers, Mr. Coiteux said. The income gap is widening between Quebec and Canada’s richest provinces while it is shrinking with the poorest. Over a 31-year period from 1978 to 2009, every region of Canada gained on income against Quebec, according to the study. Buoyed by revenues from offshore oil, Newfoundland has bridged the income gap with Quebec to within $3,127 per adult as of 2009. Ontario’s income was $9,853 higher per adult that year while Alberta’s was $17,947 higher. That in itself is problematic for Quebec. But the HEC research also shows that one of the key things that made living in Quebec so attractive, namely the lower cost of living compared with other big provinces, is also rapidly changing. While it remains cheaper to buy consumer goods like food, gasoline and haircuts in Quebec than most other provinces (9% cheaper in Quebec than Alberta in 2009 for Statistics Canada’s standard Consumer Price Index basket of goods, for example), the difference is narrowing. And that makes the purchase power equation even worse for the French-speaking province. What explains this income nightmare? Mr. Coiteux summed it up thus: “Proportionately, fewer Quebecers work [than other Canadians]. They work fewer hours on average. And they earn an hourly pay that’s lower than that of most other Canadians.” The relative poverty of Quebec means that its residents pay less in federal income tax and receive more transfers than those living in richer provinces, which reduces the income gap with Ontario, Alberta and B.C. But that situation also represents “a form of dependency,” Mr. Coiteux noted. Provincial wealth in Canada is increasingly split along the lines of those who have natural resource wealth and those who do not. In addition to a bounty of hydroelectric power and aluminum production, Quebec also has known shale natural gas and oil deposits on its territory. The Liberal government of Jean Charest has signalled it is eager to tap its forestry and mining wealth, most notably with its plan to develop a vast portion of its northern territory twice the size of Texas. It has put oil and gas commercialization on the back burner in the face of public opposition and a continuing ocean boundary spat with Newfoundland. But even the northern development plan isn’t generating unanimity. Quebecers have proven to be tremendously shy in using their resources to generate wealth, says Youri Chassin, economist at the Montreal Economic Institute, a conservative think-tank. “We are kind of afraid of the consequences. And it might be good to have public debate about this. But [in that debate], we have to take into account that we are getting poorer.”
  2. Montreal to host conference on reducing growth BY MICHELLE LALONDE, GAZETTE ENVIRONMENT REPORTER http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Montreal+host+conference+degrowth/6600947/story.html MONTREAL - Just as events are forcing Quebecers to debate some fundamental questions about our economy and our future, five Montreal universities happen to be hosting a weeklong conference on “degrowth” – a movement that questions whether economic growth should be our society’s primary goal. “Degrowth is an attempt to force us out of this lock-step way of thinking that growth is always good,” said Peter Brown, a professor at McGill University’s School of Environment and one of the conference’s organizers. Brown said the conference – which starts Sunday and ends Saturday, May 19 – has been in the works for years and is modelled on similar conferences in Paris in 2008 and Barcelona in 2010, and is leading up to a global conference on the issue next fall in Venice. But he admits the timing is serendipitous. The Occupy movement, the recent record-breaking Earth Day march in Montreal, concerns over the push to develop northern Quebec and the continuing student strikes are all signs that many Quebecers are questioning the “business-as-usual” approach to economic development. Brown says all of these movements may find common ground in the notion that a narrow focus on growing the economy at any cost, while discounting effects on the environment and human well-being have led mankind to commit some catastrophic errors. Gross domestic product should not be used as the key measure of a country’s well being, because it ignores the cost of creating wealth (for some), such as environmental degradation and human suffering, say proponents of degrowth. Errors like runaway global warming, habitat destruction and a widening wage gap between rich and poor will lead to calamity for future generations, and a forced, unplanned “degrowth” period that will be painful, they warn. “Any healthy civilization looks after future generations ... we just don’t do that,” Brown told The Gazette on Thursday. The conference will feature panels and lectures by academics and activists prominent in the North American degrowth movement. The big draw will be a public lecture by ecologist David Suzuki called Humanity in Collision with the Biosphere: Is it Too Late? on Friday at 11 a.m. at UQÀM. (Admission to Suzuki’s talk is free, but registration is required). The conference, titled Less is More; Degrowth in the Americas, runs from May 13 to 19. Registration costs $200 per day, or $390 for all seven days, with reduced fees offered to students or members of “grassroots Montreal-based organizations.” Talks will be recorded and posted on the conference website (montreal.degrowth.org). [email protected] Twitter: @mrlalonde © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette ********************************************************************************************************************* Québec - Forward Never, Backwards Ever
  3. World poutine-eating contest to be held in Toronto. Yes, that's right. T.O. By Andy Blatchford (CP) – 20 minutes ago MONTREAL — One of Quebec's cultural symbols has been called everything from disgusting, to heart-attack inducing, to delectable. But can the increasingly popular Quebecois dish known as poutine -that messy mix of french fries, sauce and cheese curds -now be considered a gooey source of Canada-wide pride? When a gang of professional "eaters" from the United States and a handful of Canadian amateurs battle for the world poutine-eating championship, it won't go down in Montreal, Quebec City, or anywhere else in la belle province. It will be held in, of all places, Toronto. And due to provincial contest rules, Quebecers hoping to eat their way to the title won't be allowed to even take part. No longer seen as just working-class grub from small-town Quebec, poutine now has fans across Canada and beyond. The concoction has been integrated into haute cuisine and has secured niches under the bright lights of the Big Apple and Los Angeles. "I think it shows that poutine has become a national meal," Charles-Alexandre Theoret, author of the 2007 book "Maudite poutine!" ("Damned poutine!") said of the upcoming all-you-can-eat showdown on May 22 at BMO Field in Toronto. "It was once a Quebec meal, but now it's everywhere." A dozen stars of Major League Eating, a circuit best known for its stomach-turning, rapid-fire hot dog eating contests, will have 10 minutes to wolf down as much poutine as they can. "You must use a fork, so there's going to be certainly some skill involved," said Mike Antolini, a spokesman for the International Federation of Competitive Eating. "It's going to test their capacity, but also their hand speed and technique." The champ wins a modest sum of $750 and bragging rights. Antolini said organizers considered poutine-serving joints in Montreal to serve the fare, but eventually chose Smoke's Poutinerie, a Toronto-based chain. "I know that Montreal maybe feels like poutine is theirs, but we are going to be crowning a champion in Canada, and I think that's the most important thing because poutine certainly is Canadian first and foremost," he said. Of course, that hasn't always been the case. For years, the towns of Warwick and Drummondville have duelled over the true birthplace of poutine, but one thing has never been questioned: it's from Quebec. Warwick claims the dish was invented by local restaurant owner Fernand LaChance in 1957, while Drummondville insists that restaurateur Jean-Paul Roy blended the first poutine in 1964. To help cement its claim, Drummondville started holding an annual poutine festival in 2008. Regardless of its exact origins, poutine has long had a complicated bond with Quebecers, many of whom have looked down their noses at what some have called a culinary abomination. "It's a love-hate relationship, there are younger generations who feel fine with it, and almost make it a cool icon," said Theoret, whose book takes a historical look at poutine. "But older generations didn't grow (up) with it and think that it's low class, low life. They're really ashamed about it." For the poutine-eating contest, three Canadians will be selected through a sweepstakes to join the race. In an ironic twist, Quebec laws don't allow its residents to apply. "I don't argue with lawyers," said Smoke's Poutinerie owner Ryan Smolkin, who has five restaurants and one mobile kitchen in his growing poutine empire. All of them are in Toronto, but he's expanding to other parts of Ontario and plans to eventually open up shops across the country and around the world. The Ottawa native imports cheese curds from Quebec's Eastern Townships and tops his poutines with authentic chicken-based sauce. But he said he's never tried to pretend he's a Quebecer. "I know where the roots are, I know what it's all about and I'm trying to maintain that heritage for sure, and the Quebec influence," said Smolkin, who opened his first restaurant 15 months ago. "I respect and want to take that heritage and culture into my brand and help spread that across the world." With poutine's popularity spreading in the United States, he wanted to make sure the dish was "Canadianized" before an American restaurant tried to claim it. "It's been too isolated to Quebec," he said. "Nobody's just tried to take it big outside Quebec, so I'm trying to do that."
  4. A new survey of Quebecers' attitudes on education shows that two out of three prefer to have the right to send their children to any school in the province they choose, public or private. The poll, conducted for The Gazette by Léger Marketing, asked whether students other than those now allowed, including franco-phones, should have access to English-language schools if they wish. A total of 66 per cent of a representative sample of Quebecers agreed that they should - including a 61-per-cent clear majority of francophones. Non-francophones were even more overwhelmingly in favour, at 87 per cent. Women, at 71 per cent, were significantly more so than the 66 per cent of men who agreed. Overall, 30 per cent disagreed - that is, 35 per cent of francophones and 11 per cent of non-francophones. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Most+back+allowing+choice+schooling/3011261/story.html#ixzz0newGaF9e
  5. Launch of a love affair Ratings for Lévesque’s TV program sometimes hit an amazing 100 per cent by Daniel Poliquin on Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:20am - 0 Comments macleans.ca By the mid-1950s, Quebecers, like most other Canadians, had fallen in love with television. So overwhelming was the coup de foudre that although in some regions near the U.S. border only American broadcasts would come in, unilingual French Quebecers lapped it up anyway. Kids could be seen in the streets of small towns re-enacting their favourite show, The Adventures of Kit Carson, speaking in a made-up mumbo-jumbo language they believed was English. That was how it sounded to them anyway. Four out of five households in the province had a television set. And when the French-speaking people of Canada were all able to view locally made, francophone productions, they became a tight-knit virtual family, discussing at length the ending of the last sitcom or drama millions of others had watched, adopting as their own actors and actresses they had grown fond of, or, conversely, expressing unanimous hate for TV villains like Séraphin, the miser in the seemingly endless Les Belles Histoires des Pays d’En-Haut, which everybody watched. For good reason, too: there was only one French-language TV station; Radio-Canada’s monopoly ensured that all, and I mean all, francophones growing up in Quebec in the 1950s and 1960s shared a single TV culture. Lévesque was a regular commentator on current events programs, but he was mainly heard on the radio—until someone at Radio-Canada had the good sense to give him his own television show in October 1957. Here begins the legend of René Lévesque. The show was called Point de mire (Focal Point) and it was a 30-minute live broadcast first airing on Sundays at 11:15 p.m., and later, due to the show’s growing popularity, on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. For many, it was another coup de foudre. Here was this little man with the funny voice, equipped with a blackboard, a pointer, and maps, explaining the outside world to French-speaking Canadians, talking very fast but using only intelligible words. Let me paraphrase him: “Good evening. Thank you for joining me. Tonight, we are off to the Suez. It’s in Egypt, the land of the pharaohs that became mummies, you know, the land of the pyramids and the Sphinx. Here on the map is a canal, called Suez, built by French and British engineers in the last century. You can see here that it links up the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. So a very important route for international trade, because, thanks to the canal, ships stopped having to go all around the African continent to take their goods to the Orient, or the other way around. See?” (He would circle Africa with his pointer.) “Without Suez, the cup of tea from India you just had would cost you more because it would have to travel much farther. You follow me? Now, the Egyptians no longer have pharaohs. Egypt is now a republic, led by a man they call the Raïs—which means ‘president’ in Arabic—a man by the name of Nasser. So . . .” And on he would go. For many Quebecers with little schooling, Point de mire became their first window on the world. Not everybody watched, but those who did were enthralled, especially news junkies and all those hungry for knowledge. And in Duplessis’ Quebec, there were a lot of them. Thanks to the Radio-Canada monopoly, Lévesque’s ratings sometimes reached 100 per cent: a dream for any broadcaster and now an impossible feat, even on a day such as Sept. 11, 2001. To take the helm of Point de mire, Lévesque had had to give up his comfortable job as a broadcaster, with the guaranteed income, pension, and other benefits. But he was now earning $20,000 a year—more than any cabinet minister, provincial or federal. The real payoff, however, was instant celebrity. René Lévesque was now the star journalist who could explain the school desegregation in Little Rock, Ark.; the violent decolonization of Algeria; or the partition of Berlin and Cyprus. He could not walk the streets of Quebec without being accosted by adoring fans who would stop him to shake his hand and thank him. And he was more than loved; he was respected. In the words of novelist and social commentator Jacques Godbout, Lévesque was Quebec’s “first lay teacher.” Of course, the viewers did not see the man who never read his fan mail and never returned phone calls. Undisciplined but hard-working, incessantly feasting on magazines and newspapers in his smoke-filled office or at McGill’s nearby library to prepare for his weekly rendezvous with live television. Stressed out, as we would say today, but always focused. The badly dressed and unsuspected Lothario with doubtful hygiene who ate, talked, and smoked all at once, leaving a mess behind him all the time, driving like a madman in the streets in Montreal. Famous for his all-night poker playing, his chain-smoking; fond of sleeping late and seldom on time for appointments. Never at home, never where he was supposed to be. It was as though he was living three lives at the same time. During those years that he met Pierre Trudeau. The meeting took place in the Radio-Canada cafeteria, where artists and journalists congregated between assignments to talk and reshape the world in keeping with the fantasies and ideals in vogue. Trudeau was then a law professor and sometime TV commentator known for his scathing wit and erudition. He was well travelled, one of the few men in Canada who had visited China and reported on it. His Cité Libre was one of the very rare publications that dared to criticize Duplessis and public policy. Its circulation was of confidential proportions, but it was influential within the small, thinking elite of the era. The person who introduced them was journalist Gérard Pelletier, who was a friend of both Trudeau and Lévesque. For once, as Pelletier said later, Lévesque was not running, slowed down by the overflowing cup of coffee in his one hand and the stack of newspapers under his other arm. Pelletier motioned to him to come and sit down with him and the slightly balding man with the piercing blue eyes. He had wanted the two to meet for a long time. For the occasion, Trudeau put on his best snotty-nosed behaviour, complete with the French mid-Atlantic accent he had acquired at Montreal’s Jesuit-run Brébeuf College. Lévesque played the nonchalant TV star. This is how Pelletier remembers their conversation. I’ve added what I imagine must have been their internal dialogue in square brackets. Trudeau: Ah, the famous René Lévesque! How do you do? [Your Point de mire celebrity does not impress me at all, you should know that.] You speak well, sir, very well, but tell me something: can you write, too? Lévesque: Yes, but you know, writing takes time . . . [Don’t even think for a minute I would waste a second reading your Cité Libre . . .] Trudeau: Yes, you are right. You need time, and you also need to have ideas of your own, things to say, you know . . . [Watch out, buddy, I bite too.] The two were chalk and cheese from the get-go. They would meet again. From Extraordinary Canadians: René Lévesque by Daniel Poliquin. Copyright © Daniel Poliquin, 2009. Reprinted with permission of Penguin Group (Canada).
  6. Québecers believe now is a good time to buy property. http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/the-montreal-housing-market-exceeded-forecasts-in-2015-565111581.html
  7. Gun registry favoured only by Quebecers: poll Last Updated: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | 4:06 PM ET CBC News A poll suggests Quebecers are alone in wanting to save the long-gun registry, with most Canadians outside the province appearing content to abolish it. The findings in the latest survey by The Canadian Press/Harris-Decima come a week after the House of Commons gave approval in principle to a private member's bill aimed at killing the controversial registry. In Quebec, a majority of respondents say they're opposed to abolishing the registry, which was created after 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. Fifty-six per cent of Quebecers polled said they oppose abolishing the registry, in contrast to the majority of people questioned in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba-Saskatchewan, who support cancelling the registry. Residents in Ontario who participated in the poll were split on the issue, according to Harris-Decima's results. Quebecers also held distinctive views about the registry's role in public security, with more than half of respondents believing it has helped fight and prevent crime. That's about 19 per cent more respondents than the national average of the other provinces. The poll comes as the debate over the long-gun registry slowly inches forward in the House of Commons. Last week a key vote was held on a private member's bill that would wipe out the registry. Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner tabled the bill on the contentious registry. The Bloc Québécois caucus voted against it, while 12 NDP and eight Liberal MPs backed the Conservative caucus in voting for the bill. On the same day as the vote, Quebec's legislature, the national assembly, unanimously adopted a motion reiterating Quebecers' reliance and belief in the registry. The Conservative government has wanted to abolish the registry on the basis that it is expensive and inefficient. The Harris-Decima poll surveyed about 1,000 Canadians by telephone between Nov. 5 and 8. The poll's margin of error is 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
  8. (Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette. Article by SUSAN SEMENAK)
  9. Smart licences now available for border-hopping Quebecers Last Updated: Monday, March 16, 2009 | 6:04 PM ET CBC News New driver's licence will be accepted instead of passport at land crossings. Quebec Premier Jean Charest showed off his "smart" driver's licence near the Canada-U.S. border on Monday as his province became the first in the country to issue the new border-friendly licences. Quebec Premier Jean Charest holds up his new, high-tech driver's licence near the Lacolle border crossing on Monday.Quebec Premier Jean Charest holds up his new, high-tech driver's licence near the Lacolle border crossing on Monday. (CBC) Quebecers who sign up for the enhanced licences will be able to use them instead of their passports at land and water crossings when the U.S. government brings in more strict security measures in June. "It doesn't solve all of the problems, but it goes a long way in making the lives of a number of our citizens simpler," said Charest at a news conference near the Lacolle border crossing south of Montreal. Charest said he wanted to set the example by becoming the first Quebecer to get the new licence, known as PC Plus. He said the licence will be especially handy for people who cross the border often. "Not everybody carries a passport with them everyday of their lives," said the premier. He also hopes the new licences, which are also being developed by states such as New York, will make it easier for Americans to travel to Quebec. "If there are five people, five kids and two parents, if they had to all pay for a passport it would be an expensive requirement for them to come here," said Charest. Charest aware of privacy concerns The new licence contains an electronic chip that when scanned gives border guards a special code. The guard can then punch the code into a computer to search a database for information about the cardholder. The information will include the same details contained on a passport such as address, birth date and name. Charest said the fact the card contains a code, instead of personal details, will help protect the privacy of individuals who sign up for the licence. The database will also be located on the Canadian side of the border. "[Privacy] is a serious issue. We believe we need to do what has to be done to protect the privacy of individuals," said Charest. The card will cost $40 on top of the standard government licence fees. It will be good for four years. A passport will still be required for air travel. Five Canadian provinces including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario are already testing the technology or have licences in development. Saskatchewan has temporarily put its project on hold pending a review of potential privacy issues.
  10. Time for Quebecers to be more open: report Shake off angst. Get used to living in globalized society, Bouchard-Taylor report urges JEFF HEINRICH The Gazette Saturday, May 17, 2008 Learn more English, be nicer to Muslims, get better informed. Those are just some of the ways the unhappy French-Canadian majority in Quebec can shake off its angst about minorities and help build a truly open society in a globalized world, say the authors of a much-anticipated report for the Liberal government on the "reasonable accommodation" of minorities. In several chapters of the final draft obtained by The Gazette, Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor argue the "discontent of a large part of the population" over demands by Muslims, Jews and other religious minorities "seems to us the result of partial information and false perceptions." The chairpersons of the $5-million commission address a number of what they call "unfounded objections" to the role of religion in Quebec society, mostly voiced by old-stock francophones during three months of highly publicized hearings last fall. Rebutting those objections, Bouchard, a prominent Chicoutimi sociologist and historian, and Taylor, a world-renowned Montreal philosopher, lay out their vision of a new Quebec coming to terms with kirpans, hijabs, kosher food and other expressions of non-Christian cultures. In Quebec, they say, everyone should feel welcome and the majority should no longer feel under threat by newcomers. "We think it is possible to re-concile Quebecers - franco-phones and others - with practices of harmonization, once it has been shown that: a) these practices respect our society's fundamental values, notably the equality of men and women. b) they don't aim to create privileges but, rather, equality that is well understood and that respects everyone's rights. c) they encourage integration and not marginalization. d) they're framed by guidelines and protected against spiralling out of control. e) they're founded on the principle of reciprocity. f) they don't play the game of fundamentalism. g) they don't compromise the gains of the Quiet Revolution." The final draft is dated March 19, two weeks before the commission announced on its website that the writing of the report was finished and that, after adding a series of recommendations, proofreading the document and translating it into English, it would be sent to the printers. The official report is now in the hands of Premier Jean Charest, who is to present it to cabinet on Wednesday. After a budget-style "lock-up" behind closed doors for journalists Friday morning, the commissioners will hold a news conference to discuss their findings. Broken down into half-a-dozen parts, the voluminous report has more than a dozen chapters and almost as many annexes consisting of a series of research reports, independently produced under special order by the commission. Their subjects relate to the accommodation debate, including media coverage, ethnic ghettos and French-language training for immigrants. In their report, Bouchard and Taylor - but mainly Bouchard, who did the bulk of the writing, insiders say- argue that the responsibility for open-mindedness and desire for change lie mainly with one people: the French Canadians themselves. "It's principally from this milieu that the crisis arose," the commissioners write, adding that many French Canadians "have a strong feeling of insecurity for the survival of their culture." They fear losing their "values, language, tradition and customs" and of eventually "disappearing" entirely as a French-speaking minority in North America. Self-doubt and "the fear of the Other" - are "the two great hindrances from the French-Canadian past," the commissioners write. "In the past, the threat came mainly from the anglophone. Before that, it was the lifestyle brought on by industrialization. Today, for many, it's the immigrant." What Quebec now faces is not the traditional "deux solitudes" of French and English, but rather "deux inquiètudes" - the twin anxieties of the majority and the new minorities, the commissioners say. The "members of a strong ethnocultural majority fear being submerged by minorities who themselves are fragile and worried about the future, especially immigrants trying to find their feet in their adoptive society," write the scholars, who in footnotes liberally quote from oral testimony as well as written briefs presented at the hearings last fall. Bouchard and Taylor also compare Quebec's immigration situation with that of other provinces, noting that Quebec has far fewer immigrants (11.5 per cent per capita, compared with 28 per cent in Ontario and British Columbia, and 16 per cent in Alberta) and far fewer ethnocultural minorities generally (21 per cent in metropolitan Montreal vs. 46 per cent in Toronto and 40 per cent in Vancouver). Quebec's accommodation crisis dates to March 2006, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of a Montreal Sikh teenager who wanted to keep wearing his kirpan, the traditional ceremonial dagger of baptized orthodox Sikh men, to school. A series of media-fuelled controversies over demands for accommodation by religious minorities followed. For example: The Association of Maritime Employers agreed to re-examine its workplace rules after orthodox Sikh truck drivers objected to wearing safety helmets instead of their turbans at the Port of Montreal. A Montreal YMCA frosted the windows of an exercise room so that ultraorthodox Jewish neighbours wouldn't have to watch women exercising. And Montreal policewomen were advised in a training brochure to let their male colleagues take charge when visiting Hasidic neighborhoods. The "scandals" came to a head in January 2007 with the publication of a "code of life" by the village council of Hérouxville in the Mauricie region, in which foreigners were advised that public stonings and female circumcision were not allowed in the community. Faced with the polemic over that declaration and fearing unrest over immigrants and religious minorities on the eve of a provincial election campaign, Charest quickly announced the formation of a special commission to look into accommodations and defuse the crisis: the Bouchard-Taylor commission. In their report, the commissioners say that in hindsight the accommodation crisis was largely a media phenomenon - but, they add, it was no invention. "The media didn't create the crisis over accommodations, but their message fell on fertile ground." Elsewhere, they call on the media to show more "self-discipline" and rigour in reporting on ethnic communities and their representatives, some of whom - like deported Tunisian imam Saïd Jaziri - got wide coverage despite having little or no credibility. Although "what has happened in Quebec sometimes gives the impression of being a showdown between two groups of minorities (French Canadians and the ethnic minorities), each of whom wants the other to accommodate it," there are many ways to avoid a fatal confrontation, the commissioners say. People should get used to the idea that "Quebec is made up of diverse ethnic groups, each of which, as is its right and in its own way, cultivates its own memory" - in other words, none is more valuable than the other. The two commissioners - who each collected a salary of $380,000 for their work - also: Declare themselves in favour of more funding for community groups that try to bring cultures together. Argue against race-based projects that segregate people from mainstream society (such as a proposed all-black school). Lament the "wasted careers" of foreign professionals who can't find work here because their credentials aren't recognized. Deplore that only three per cent of Quebec public-service jobs are held by immigrants, "one of the worst situations in North America." Blame the Quebec media for being generally "very 'old-stock,' very 'white' (and) by consequence, they broadcast an often biased image of a (multicultural) reality that a lot of people don't know well enough." But Bouchard and Taylor also - surprisingly - come to the defence of Hérouxville, which made headlines around the world. "In a very awkward and excessive way, the Hérouxville text expressed a tension, an ambivalence many French-Canadian Quebecers have," the commissioners write. Finally, they make a plea for better understanding of Quebec's Muslims, "who only make up two per cent of the Quebec population, about 130,000 people," who are "massively francophone and highly educated," who are "among the least devoutly religious of all immigrants," and who are "the least ghettoized" geographically in Montreal. "The way to overcome Islamophobia is to get closer to Muslims, not to run away from them," the commissioners state. "Mistrust breeds mistrust. Just like fear, it winds up feeding on itself." [email protected] thegazette.canwest.com SOUNDOFF! How has reasonable accommodation affected your life? What do you think of the Bouchard-Taylor findings? Do they go far enough in addressing concerns about the state of minorities in Quebec? What other issues do you think should have been addressed? Share your views and catch up on stories and testimonials from the hearings at montrealgazette.com © The Gazette (Montreal) 2008
  11. We Win We Win!! #1! It can never be said enough, apparently: Quebecers continue to pay some of the highest taxes in North America, according to a new study released today by Canadian public-policy think-tank the Fraser Institute. The study, Quebec’s Tax Competitiveness: A Barrier to Prosperity, compares Quebec’s personal, corporate, and payroll tax rates to other Canadian provinces and American states in 2014, and examines the effect on Quebec’s economic performance over the past 10 years. “Across the income scale, Quebecers pay more in taxes than virtually anyone else in Canada and the United States,” said Sean Speer, study co-author and associate director of the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Fiscal Studies. For example, Quebecers making $50,000 a year pay 16.37 per cent in provincial income taxes, the highest rate among all Canadian provinces and U.S. states, while Quebecers making $150,000 pay 20.97 per cent, the second highest rate for that income category. Quebec also has a higher corporate tax rate (11.9 per cent) than Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Quebec’s lack of tax competitiveness, particularly for individuals, has contributed to a relatively poor economic performance over the past decade, the study says. When taxes are high, individuals save less money, fewer new businesses spring up, and established businesses hire less people and curb their investments, the study says. “There’s no doubt taxes play a vital role in society, but to improve Quebec’s economic prospects and competitiveness in North America, Quebecers and the Quebec businesses need a lighter tax burden,” Speer said. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  12. How Pepsi won the Quebec Cola Wars By René Bruemmer, The GazetteJuly 11, 2009 MONTREAL - Pepsi had a major problem. More specifically, Pepsi had a major Quebec problem. After decades of protracted Cola Wars, the perennial challenger was finally making some headway on Coke in 1984, which outsold Pepsi four-to-one in Canada in the early ’70s. Waves of successful marketing campaigns, including the long-running “Take the Pepsi Challenge” taste test, helped bring Pepsi up to parity with Coke in English food stores in Canada by 1980. Except in Quebec, which was jarring because the province had long been associated with a fondness for Pepsi – so much so the corporation’s first bottling plant outside of the U.S. opened in Montreal in 1934. Yet the corporation’s latest rebranding campaign, “The Choice of a New Generation,” backed by global superstars Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Madonna, was falling flat in Quebec. In 1984, according to a report compiled by the Canadian Congress of Advertising, Pepsi had stalled at 87 per cent of Coca-Cola’s share in a province that imbibed 25 to 30 per cent of all the soft drinks in Canada. Marketers decided to embark on a risky, expensive and unorthodox scheme: abandon Michael Jackson and develop an advertising strategy that would reflect the distinct society’s cultural differences, sensibilities and sense of humour. Riskier still because while Pepsi had been adopted as a self-effacing term by some Quebecers, it was also a derogatory slur used by non-francophones to describe them. If the marketing plan was seen as offensive, Pepsi could become a pariah. Being No. 2 had its advantages, however, noted University of Ottawa marketing professor Luc Dupont. “As the constant David, Pepsi was condemned to take risks, which made it more inventive, forced it to rely more on its intelligence,” he said. Pepsi would stake its multimillion-dollar offensive on a local comedian and his coterie of bizarre characters. In exchange, Quebec would become, and remain, one of the few places in the world where Pepsi has conquered the king of pop. *** Pepsi is celebrating its 75th anniversary in Quebec this year, in conjunction with the opening of the Montreal plant in 1934. It’s rolling out a new logo and ad campaign, one of more than a dozen branding changes over a history that dates back to 1898. It’s also putting $40 million into its Montreal bottling facilities, one of several plants in the province employing a total of 1,200 people. That investment, along with large amounts of money spent sponsoring sports and culture (among them the Colisée Pepsi arena in Quebec City, and the Pepsi Forum in Montreal) is another key to its success, says Éric Blais of Toronto-based Headspace Marketing, which advises companies on how to reach the Quebec market. “They have become part of the cultural landscape, both through marketing and direct involvement in the province,” Blais said. Despite the fact it was created only 12 years after Coke, Pepsi remained a constant second, staking its market share largely on the fact it was distributed in larger, reused beer bottles and offered more fizz for the buck (actually a nickel for a 12-ounce bottle in the Depression era). But being the underdog allowed it to take chances. In the 1940s it became one of the first corporations to use a realistic black family in its ads (as opposed to Aunt Jemima), and hired a black manager for all-black sales teams that would target the huge niche market of African Americans, despite virulent opposition from within and outside of the company, including the Ku Klux Klan. But in the 1980s the New Generation offensive – meant to lure young drinkers who would make Pepsi their habit – was tanking here. Standard marketing practice would have been to tweak the campaign by translating it into French and using some of Quebec’s many popular rock stars. Instead, the J. Walter Thompson company relied on qualitative research and decided go with a different selling point – comedy. “Young Quebecers in the 1980s ... were crowning their own celebrities and creating their own made-in-Quebec lifestyle,” wrote the J. Walter Thompson company in a submission to the Cassies, the Canadian Advertising Awards. “Research revealed an inner confidence among Quebec target groups. ... “Since Quebec was culturally unique, it had developed its own entertainment system complete with its own stars,” especially in the comedy milieu. “It was a style of comedy that used typical Quebecois stereotypes to redefine the emerging new ‘street-smart’ culture of young, urban Quebecers.” Claude Meunier, famous for his absurdist humour on Ding et Dong television skits, was chosen. The theme of Meunier’s ads remained an intractable joie de vivre and an undying love of Pepsi. His brief, 30-second spots debuting in 1985 and featuring a variety of characters and a humour only Quebecers could appreciate became an instant hit. Pepsi came almost neck and neck with Coke the same year. By 1986, David had surpassed Goliath and continued to thrive, despite the fact Coke fought back, outspending Pepsi two-to-one on six media campaigns between 1985 and 1993. “Quebecers had the sentiment that a multinational corporation finally took the trouble to try and understand them, using the same language, with the same accents,” Dupont said. A nation moored in a sea of English could empathize with company fighting for purchase in an ocean of Coke. “Subconsciously, Quebecers identify with products that are No. 2,” Dupont said. “In addition to the absurd humour and joy of life, they like to say, ‘We’re different here. We changed things.’ ” The Meunier campaign would last 18 years, aided by the fact Meunier became the star of La Petite Vie, an early ’90s Quebec sitcom watched by 4 million out of a possible 6 million viewers every Monday night. The Meunier Pepsi campaign won the 1993 CASSIE Best of Show advertising award. *** Today, Coke dominates the global market with 51 per cent of the total sales compared with Pepsi’s 22 per cent, according to John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. But in Quebec, the Pepsi stable of soft drinks owns 61 per cent of the market to Coke’s 20, said Manon Lavallée, market development manager for PepsiCo Canada. It’s a dominance unseen anywhere else in North America, although Pepsi does nudge out Coke by a slight margin in the Atlantic provinces and a few states. (Coke officials told The Globe and Mail recently the gap is not that large in Quebec when restaurant, hotel and sporting events sales are factored in, but did not give specific numbers.) Twenty-five years after Meunier started with Pepsi, he’s still there, although in a lesser role, shifting to Diet Pepsi. Pepsi opted for a new campaign to speak to a new, multicultural generation of Quebecers in 2003, featuring five young men extolling the unique elements of Quebec (poutine, potholes, moving day and here we say “icitte," not “ici”) under the banner “Ici, c’est Pepsi.” In the rest of the world, it’s Coke. Which is remarkably similar to Molson Canadian’s I Am Canadian ad campaign that focused on Canada’s uniqueness vis-a-vis the U.S. “Pepsi’s ad campaign allowed us to feed that image of ourselves as different," Dupont said. “Even though in fact, we are not so different.” The Pepsi Meunier campaign is taught in textbooks now, Dupont said, a lesson in how to adapt to your market, and change with the time. In its submission for a Cassie award, members of the BBDO Canada marketing firm responsible for the Ici campaign wrote: “The driving force behind Pepsi’s Quebec success was Claude (Meunier’s) unique ability to show that Pepsi is a natural companion to Quebecers.” For the Ici c’est Pepsi campaign, consumers in test market groups “told us Pepsi is part of the fabric of Quebec life and they should be damn proud of it.” The Ici spots, said Chris Hamilton of Pepsi in Strategy Magazine, tested in the top two per cent of all ads ever tested in Quebec. The campaign won a 2005 Cassie. “The ads gave a sense of belonging, the pride in being distinctive,” Blais said. “They tapped into that sentiment of being proud of being the only place in the world where Pepsi is No. 1. “It said ‘We stand on our own, we are distinct.’ ” [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  13. (Courtesy of the Financial Post) Reason I put it in culture, it seems more of a Quebec culture to be more laid back and no really care about material wealth, but that is my own point of view.
  14. More Quebecers see immigrants as threat: poll By Marian Scott, The GazetteMay 22, 2009 6:59 Protesters demonstrate outside Palais des congrès during the Bouchard-Taylor hearings on reasonable accommodation in November 2007. Protesters demonstrate outside Palais des congrès during the Bouchard-Taylor hearings on reasonable accommodation in November 2007. Photograph by: John Kenney, Gazette file photo One year after a provincial report on the accommodation of cultural minorities, a majority of Quebecers still say newcomers should give up their cultural traditions and become more like everybody else, according to a new poll. Quebecers’ attitudes toward immigrants have hardened slightly since 2007, when the Bouchard-Taylor commission started hearings across Quebec on the “reasonable accommodation” of cultural communities. The survey by Léger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies found that 40 per cent of francophones view non-Christian immigrants as a threat to Quebec society, compared with 32 per cent in 2007. Thirty-two per cent of non-francophones said non-Christian immigrants threaten Quebec society, compared with 34 per cent in 2007. “If you look at opinions at the start of the Bouchard-Taylor commission and 18 months later, basically, they haven’t changed,” said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the non-profit research institute. “If the hearings were designed to change attitudes, that has not occurred,” he added. Headed by sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor, the $3.7-million commission held hearings across Quebec on how far society should go to accommodate religious and cultural minorities. It received 900 briefs and heard from 3,423 participants in 22 regional forums. Its report, made public one year ago Friday, made 37 recommendations, including abolishing prayers at municipal council meetings; increasing funding for community organizations that work with immigrants and initiatives to promote tolerance; providing language interpreters in health care; encouraging employers to allow time off for religious holidays; studying how to hire more minorities in the public service; and attracting immigrants to remote regions. Rachad Antonius, a professor of sociology at the Université du Québec à Montréal, said it’s no surprise the commission failed to change Quebecers’ attitudes toward minorities. “Focusing on cultural differences is the wrong approach,” Antonius said. Cultural communities need to achieve economic equality by having access to education, social services and job opportunities, he said. “If there is greater economic integration, that is what is going to change things,” he said. The poll reveals persistent differences between younger and older Quebecers and between francophones and non-francophones on cultural and religious diversity. For example, 56 per cent of respondents age 18 to 24 said Muslim girls should be allowed to wear hijabs in public schools, while only 30 per cent of those 55 and over approved of head scarves in school. Sixty-three per cent of non-francophones said head scarves should be permitted in school compared with 32 per cent of French-speaking respondents. Only 25 per cent of francophones said Quebec society should try harder to accept minority groups’ customs and traditions while 74 per cent of non-francophones said it should make more of an effort to do so. The poll also found Quebecers split on an ethics and religion course introduced last year in schools across the province. A coalition of parents and Loyola High School, a private Catholic institution, are challenging the nondenominational course, which they say infringes parents’ rights to instill religious values in their children. Half of francophones said the course was a good thing while 78 per cent of non-francophones gave it a thumbs up. When asked their opinion of different religious groups, 88 per cent of French-speakers viewed Catholics favourably, 60 per cent viewed Jews favourably – down 12 percentage points from 2007 – and 40 per cent had a favourable opinion of Muslims (compared with 57 per cent in 2007). Among non-francophones, 92 per cent viewed Catholics with favour, 77 per cent had a positive opinion of Jews and 65 a good opinion of Muslims. A national poll published this month by Maclean’s Magazine also revealed that many Canadians are biased against religious minorities, particularly in Quebec. The survey by Angus Reid Strategies reported that 68 per cent of Quebecers view Islam negatively while 52 per cent of Canadians as a whole have a low opinion of the religion. It found that 36 per cent of Quebecers view Judaism unfavourably, compared with 59 per cent of Ontarians. The Léger Marketing survey of 1,003 Quebecers was conducted by online questionnaire May 13-16. Results are considered accurate within 3.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  15. Suddenly, we're not looking so green By MONIQUE BEAUDIN December 10, 2008 Statscan study humbles Quebecers. Many of us recycle, but few are composting Quebecers like to think they're more environmentally conscious than other Canadians, but we have some work to do when it comes to simple changes like switching to low-energy light bulbs, Statistics Canada says. A new study looked at six environmentally active behaviours: recycling, composting, using a low-flow showerhead, using reduced-volume toilet, using compact fluorescent light bulbs and lowering the temperature on programmable thermostats when members of the household are asleep. Just over half of Quebecers said they have done two or three of those six, but only 35 per cent of us have done most or all of them. Quebecers lagged far behind on composting - only 14 per cent of us do it, compared with 31 per cent in British Columbia and 92 per cent in Prince Edward Island, where composting is mandatory. About one-third of us use reduced-volume toilets, and not even half of Quebecers use the more energy-efficient light bulbs - compared with 65 per cent of people in B.C. and Ontario. On the plus side, 95 per cent of Quebecers with access to a recycling program actually recycled (still the second-lowest result for all of Canada) and 59 per cent use low-flow showerheads, which puts us in second place in that category. For a province dubbed the "conscience of Canada" on climate change by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, and praised by David Suzuki for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for three years running, yesterday's results aren't exactly good news. "At first glance, it is a little bit depressing," said Marie-Ève Roy, a spokesperson for the environmental group Équiterre. "It reminds us that it is a challenge to transform people's interest into concrete action on a daily basis." The information Statistics Canada used is from 2006, and Roy said she expects the next study like this to have much better results. Since 2006, Quebec has announced tough targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, instituted a carbon tax, set the goal of five-per-cent ethanol levels in gasoline by 2012, and announced plans to implement tougher standards for vehicle emissions between 2010 and 2016. In 2006, Hydro-Québec also began offering rebates to people switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs. This year, Hydro-Québec added a rebate program for programmable thermostats. But governments and environmental groups still have a lot of work to do, Roy said, including improving access to public transit, establishing the necessary infrastructure for large-scale kitchen-waste composting, and putting a price on water consumption. "As soon as you put a price on those resources, that helps people understand the impact of each of their behaviours," she said. When people see that turning down the thermostat at night before going to sleep reduces their electricity bill, that helps them understand the effect they can have on the environment, she added. For a link to Hydro-Québec's rebate forms, visit our Green Life blog at http://www.montrealgazette.com/greenlife
  16. Why duel over our dual national holidays? Split our differences and create a third! JOSH FREED, The Gazette Published: 9 hours ago We are entering the annual period of dueling national days, when Quebec's national celebration takes on Canada's in the battle of the fêtes. The action starts Tuesday with Quebec's Fête nationale, the holiday formerly known as St. Jean Baptiste Day. This was originally a holy day celebrated only by French Catholics, but the government removed religion and renamed it the Fête nationale so it would belong to all Quebecers. Our dueling holidays reveal our differences. In a recent poll, most francophones said Canada was founded by the French, while anglos named the British and immigrants said the native peoples. In reality, of course, the native peoples found our country over 10,000 years ago, the French found the natives 500 years ago and the British found the French difficult to manage and granted Canada its independence. Canada's real problem is that we have different histories, so we can't celebrate the same holidays or the same heroes. We'd probably rename Victoria Day tomorrow if we could think of someone to name it after without a national fight. John A. Macdonald is not loved in Quebec or Newfoundland. Pierre Trudeau is hated by half the country, while René Lévesque is hated by the other half. Who else is known from coast to coast - Celine Dion? Terry Fox? Mordecai Richler? Hockey is our most unifying Canadian event. Maybe we could agree on a Rocket Richard/ Wayne Gretzky National Day. But it's easier just to leave it as Queen-Victoria-Vs.-The-Patriotes-Day for another century. The good news is that our dueling holidays are becoming irrelevant relics that aren't that indicative of who we are. In the past few days, there are far more Portuguese, Italian and Turkish flags flying on cars for Euro soccer than there are Fête nationale fleurs-de-lys. Likewise, the Canadiens hockey playoffs brought out more flags than Canada Day will ever see. In fact, there is one common holiday in Montreal when millions of French, English and other nationalities all rush into the streets to celebrate together. It's the Montreal Jazzfest, our city's true "national" day. Why don't we declare a third statutory day off on June 28, halfway between the Fête nationale and Canada Day, when everyone can party together - for National Jazz Day. In fact, with three holidays in eight days, it would become just like Christmas and New Year: We could all take two weeks off. The Fête is correctly marked by waving the fleur-de-lys - France's old royalist flag - and passionately singing Gens du Pays, the sovereignist anthem, which few anglos ever sing except at birthday parties, when they mouth the words. There is also a terrific parade where revelers celebrate June 24 by symbolically drinking a two-four of beer. By contrast, next week's Canada Day is a cooler, kitschier affair marked by Mounties, maple leafs and the traditional carrying of fridges and other heavy furniture for Moving Day. Canada Day is a recently invented holiday. It was known as Dominion Day until 1982, when Ottawa decided to compete with Quebec's new Fête nationale by having a flag-waving federalist day, too. However, it turned out that real Canadians do not passionately wave flags - unless they're part of a sponsorship scandal. Most Canadians won't even sing their national anthem on July 1, because the government has changed the words so often no one has a clue what they are. In fact, O Canada only became the official English anthem in 1980 and many people still know the words to God Save the Queen better. In addition, Canadians are embarrassed by patriotism - and would be more comfortable humming the hockey song. Overall, for Quebecers La Féte is an emotional day to honour their survival. But for Canadians, Canada Day is just our National Day Off Day - a day to be thankful we live in a country so calm we can ignore our national day. St. Jean and Canada Day are not the only divided holidays in our semi-detached national duplex. Just last month, we marked Victoria Day, when Canadians celebrate a British queen who died in 1901 - even though England hasn't for decades. Until the 1980s, anglo Quebecers marked this day by holding an annual riot in Point St. Charles. But the tradition has faded and today Victoria Day is typically marked by The Opening of the Country Cottage - Or Garden. Franco Quebecers never liked the Queen's birthday and set up their own competing holiday back in the 1920s - called Dollard des Ormeaux Day. But the Parti Québécois government obviously found it embarrassing to have a holiday named after a West Island suburb, because in 2004 they renamed it the Journée nationale des patriotes. This ensured no anglo Quebecer would ever celebrate it again. In Quebec, we make war with dates, not battles. This year's big dispute is over the 400th anniversary of Quebec City's founding. French nationalists say the celebration marks the birth of the Quebec nation, but federalists say it marks the founding of Canada - and warring words have been flying over the Plains of Abraham like musket fire. [email protected] http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=8435f7ac-92cd-4790-afbb-f18cdbd40d3b&p=2