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September 05, 2012


What a heartbreaking story. May the Source of Peace bring comfort to the families of the victims, along with all who mourn.

My sympathies. But I can't bring myself to see Canada as a safe shelter, at least based on the corner of it I know, British Columbia. There is an explosive combination of racism, cultural chauvinism and anti-immigration sentiment simmering just below the surface of daily life. It is not as overt as it is in the U.S. of course, but I have talked to some very polite racists there.
I hope things will calm down for you, because living with all this dissension is so wearing.

i perhaps have not been following quebec politics as well as i should, being perhaps too much thinking about vermont politics.

my full understanding of current climate notwithstanding, i have an opinion.

we have in this region of north america a shared heritage and quebec finds itself in the difficult position of being the last bastion of the francophone portion of that rich cultural heritage.

canada as a country ought to be vigorously preserving its francophone citizens and their heritage.

moreover, anglophones are part of the rich cultural history of quebec. quebec as a province ought to be vigorously protecting its anglophone citizens and their cultural heritage.

anglo quebeckers are not just more anglos that are an inconvenience to french life; they are a part of the history of the province. they are are a minority people of some importance and quite frankly quebec ought to understand that on a fundamental level better than most political entities.

here in the us we have wiped out nearly all of our francophone heritage. in the 1930s the state of vermont engaged in systematic eugenics to purge francophones from the population. here in vermont and new hampshire and maine we lost something good and important.

so i don't know what the answers are, but what i know is that it is a shame to lose the precious enclaves of minority culture whether that's the larger group of francophones in canada or the smaller group of anglos in quebec or any other group for that matter.

let's everybody play nice, ok?

After the shooting i began to read all i could about the shooting and what "they" were saying that led up to this. The first thought that went through my head was, how very sad on so many levels and i hope they are not becoming like us here in the u.s.a.

I have been to montreal twice and was treated so poorly for attempting french and the berating was so uncomfortable I vowed to never return to that beautiful city. I understand wanting to preserve ones culture but can't it be done while accepting others?

I hope this all works out in a peaceful middle ground that all can live with and thrive.

The tension of recent weeks, Beth, is as nothing compared to that during the sovereignty referendum of 1995, when we had the estimable J. Parizeau. The line between affirming one's cultural identity and appearing xenophobic is a thin one, and it often gets crossed in Quebec. There is a strong streak of provincialism and insularity here, born of isolation. Though not an attractive mindset, it's part of the history you allude to above, and you may as well get used to it. (Incidentally, I think Quebec's "siege culture" has much in common with that of the Protestant Loyalists of Northern Ireland -- not that Madame Marois would enjoy being told that). As for the cultural particularity of Quebec, I have long felt it to be exaggerated. For example, once you move away from the culturally diverse parts of Montreal, such as the Plateau, and out into the aesthetically-challenged suburbs and small towns, you'll find consumption patterns and tastes to be indistinguishable from those of suburban middle America: white bread, bad coffee, processed food, big cars, a dream of Florida -- all far removed from the immigrant cultural communities that energize Montreal, and eons away from continental Europe. As for the monotonous agricultural landscape, it is as North American as one gets, shaped by Monsanto and affiliates, and legislation skewed in favour of large farmers. The main difference with Quebec is that life here is conducted in French, which, at first blush, and especially in the eyes of monoglot visitors from elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada, tends to lend a certain exoticism to things that, on closer scrutiny, don't quite deserve it. French-speakers from France and elsewhere, immediately see francophone Quebecers as North American -- in their lifestyle and way of thinking, and in their language, the vocabulary and very structure of which have been irreparably inflected by English. Local realization of this adds further to the sense of insecurity -- "Les maudits Francais! -- thereby perpetuating the feelings of insularity and resentment required by the Mme. Marois's of this world.

Apologies for the length of these musings, Beth, and welcome to the life of the immigrant in the Alabama-of-the-Nor -- oops! did I say that? -- the oh-so-belle province :-)

I'm sorry the PQ won and more sorry to hear about the shooting. There are many points in the comments that I'd agree with, having grown up in Montreal. I love Quebecois culture, but I always felt like a foreigner, and believed I'd always be no matter how good my French became.

Sorry to hear. We in America think of Canadians as being so much more civilized than your neighbors to the south. But I would have to say, even in America, the average citizen is getting tired of the rhetoric, the vitriol designed to separate people and set them at each others throats. I stand back in wonderment and confusion, watching people justify not only the freedom to live by their own beliefs (which I would support), but to force everyone else to live by their beliefs (which seems to contradict their argument). There is an "English only" movement here that seems to forget America is a melting pot. Seems the human race is going backwards lately in its spiritual evolution. I will spend the next few months trying to rein in Facebook friends who seem to forget they have friends on both sides, that civility and respect for our differences goes a long way in finding a long-term solution to cultural/religious/political problems. And to remind everyone that a few unbalanced extremists do not represent everyone on that side of the political discussion. Somehow that seems insignificant in today's culture.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.