“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
– Mark Twain
This week, the politicians of la belle province/People’s Republic of Quebec/land of distinctly distinct distinctness, embodied true courage, by fearlessly denouncing some dumb article in Macleans’ that said Quebec may have problems. The piece in question, written by former director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, Andrew Potter, was titled “How a snowstorm exposed Quebec’s real problem: social malaise.”
Sure, the connection being made is about as sound as Jean Chrétien’s philosophy of proof. Potter states a car pileup during a recent snowstorm exposed “underlying cracks of the body politic.” The pileup became something of a scandal, with the premier and mayor of Montreal demanding answers as to how 300 motorists were trapped on a highway overnight.
Potter calls Quebec an “almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society” when compared to the rest of Canada. It’s true. Quebec is a distinct society. Right? Right. He then goes on to cite various studies that show Quebecers are slow to trust, don’t volunteer, and have no friends. The central theme, however, is Quebec’s lack of solidarity.
Determined to prove Potter wrong, politicians from all sides united under a common banner, to denounce the heretical decree. The brave Bloc Quebecois MP Xavier Barsalou-Duval shared the utter distress and hardship the article caused him, saying he felt ill by the “intellectual fraud” that occurred. Barsalou-Duval won his riding handily in 2015, leaving his Liberal opponent in the dust with a 0.36% greater share of the popular vote.
After universal condemnation from both Quebec politicians and McGill University, a bastion of academic freedom, Andrew Potter resigned. He wanted to “protect the integrity of the institution.”
Listen, buddy. You can say we need a Charter of Values to make sure newcomers don’t wear funny hats in our province. We’ll support you. You can wear blackface on the Francophone branch of our public broadcaster. We’ll let it slide. You can even run for office and praise a low-resolution image of a topless Heidi Klum giving Islam the middle finger. Go right ahead.
But damnit, don’t you dare imply that Quebec has deeply-rooted, complex problems. That’s too far.