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Why Quebec Isn’t Interested in Anglo Lectures About Cultural Appropriation

What does Quebec want? It’s a question that has haunted the rest of Canada for decades—beginning with the birth of modern Québécois nationalism in the 1960s. The country’s English-speaking population has long endeavoured to understand Quebec’s “distinct society,” to solve the mystery of those peculiar Francophones who didn’t want to be relegated to the status of mere Canadiens Français.

More than a half century later, the context has changed completely. The sovereigntist political project has been put on hold. Constitutional challenges have disappeared from the headlines. And Quebec’s National Assembly is controlled by a federalist (i.e. against separation) government, and confronted by a federalist official opposition. The separatist Parti québécois, meanwhile, which gave the province its two separation referenda in 1980 and 1995, has been relegated to a more minor role.

And yet, Quebec continues to loudly tout its differences, even if this does not take place in the realm of politics. It could even be said that certain current discussions are bringing out Quebec’s truly distinct character even more forcefully—particularly the debate around the concept of cultural appropriation.

* * *

On the evening of December 31, during the final hours of 2018, Canadians were celebrating the imminent arrival of the new year in their own ways. In every corner of the country, there was the usual party music, dancing and singing of Auld Lang Syne—except in Quebec. Because at that moment, most of the province was quietly seated in front of a television. In fact, every year for half a century, Quebecers have marked year’s end by watching a humorous annual recap that enjoys the status of cultural institution: Bye Bye.

This is Quebec’s Super Bowl. It’s the time of the year when the population (or most of it, anyway) drops everything it’s doing in order to view the same TV event. For the past 50 years, the year-ending program aired on Radio-Canada (the French version of CBC) has been watched live by millions of viewers. This year, the viewership was 3.3-million. Add in the following day’s rebroadcast, and the figure exceeds 4.4-million—more than 50% of the province’s population of 8.4-million.

The first few days of January are traditionally full of critiques from television commentators as well as viewers, discussing the latest Bye Bye. Then a controversy normally erupts that lasts for a number of weeks. But for the latest Bye Bye, there was nothing of the sort: no arguments, no bickering, no controversy—except in English Canada.

That’s right: A show in French, seen and appreciated only by those who speak the language and are immersed in Québécois culture, sparked a controversy among English Canadians—both in Quebec (where mother-tongue Anglophones comprise less than 10% of the population) and in the Anglo-majority “ROC” (the Rest of Canada, as the expression goes). “Radio-Canada is facing a backlash,” one newspaper wrote. “The French arm of the CBC is on the defensive after a barrage of online criticism,” noted another.

To be specific: English-speaking members of Canada’s Indo-Canadian community found a sketch parodying Justin Trudeau’s (hilariously) disastrous 2018 trip to India hard to swallow. In that two-minute segment, an actor portraying the Canadian Prime Minister is shown smoking a joint (which is now legal in Canada) and drifting away to a psychedelic world full of clichés about India. He first turns into a Bollywood dancer and then into a snake charmer—with the reptiles in question turning out to be fuel nozzles (a reference to the ongoing controversy over pipeline construction in Western Canada).

Quebecers had a good laugh, just like they’d joined Anglo Canadians in poking fun at Mr. Trudeau’s real trip to India back in February. What Quebec viewers saw was a sketch that ridiculed how the prime minister had gone overboard in his embrace of traditional Indian clothing and dance. The joke was on the PM, not on India, on Indians or or Indo-Canadians. Yet that was not how some Anglophones saw it.

“This video is completely disrespectful to our cultures,” declared the founder and director of the Indian cultural troupe Bollywood Blast, Ina Bhowmick. “I won’t say that in itself it’s racism, but doesn’t it come from a racist way of thinking? Yes,” opined Rahul Varma, artistic director at the Teesri Duniya Theatre (my translation from the original French). “I’ve never in my life been as offended as I am after watching this video,” added another representative of the Indian community, Maaha Khan. “Congratulations, Radio-Canada, for creating the most disgusting video of all time.”

These two diametrically opposite interpretations of the same sketch present a modern take on the “Two Solitudes”—that famous metaphor of the English/French Canadian divide, embedded in the title of Hugh MacLennan’s famous 1945 book of the same name.

* * *

Were there clichés and stereotypes in the Bye Bye sketch that turned Justin Trudeau into a Bollywood actor? Of course. The point of satire is to caricature a person or situation. And in Quebec, political parody (a subcategory of satire) is part of our own preciously preserved cultural traditions. This remains so even in 2019, a time in which the cultural-appropriation debate is curbing comedians just about everywhere in the Western world.

The producers of Bye Bye thus did not hesitate to festoon Indo-Canadian extras with golden jewelry and brightly-colored clothing—over-the-top details that are meant to satirize Trudeau’s own apparently Bollywood-influenced understanding of Indian culture. During a similar bit earlier in the show, Trudeau’s character had crooned that he “always sports the right attire when he travels abroad,” all the while wearing a Mao jacket and coolie hat, and then a poncho and a sombrero.

Francophone Quebecers, with few exceptions, didn’t bat an eye. What they saw was a send-up of a trip to India that had been mocked for many months—whereas outraged Anglos saw a lack of respect for an ethnic community, and even blatant “racism.” And while the number of legitimately outraged observers may have been small, the Anglo media seemed only too happy to amplify their voices.

This is a wonderful illustration of the culture gap separating French and English Canada—and even Francophone and Anglo Quebec. Since shedding their observant Catholicism during the so-called Quiet Revolution of the mid-20th Century, French Canadians generally have been more socially liberal and permissive. They are, culturally, more tolerant. It was in Quebec, for example, that the first homosexual civil union was celebrated. It also was in Quebec that the debate on medically assisted death began.

Similarly, it’s in Quebec that freedom of expression is most jealously guarded against the encroachments of political correctness.

One reason for this is that Quebec does not have the same historical relationship with domination, including cultural domination, as do the British descendants who populated the rest of Canada—since Quebecers historically have been the victims of such domination more than being its perpetrators. No matter how much French Quebecers assert themselves in their role as the majority population of Quebec, they still know themselves to be a small cultural and linguistic minority within the continent as a whole.

So it’s no accident that two of the biggest debates that shook Quebec in 2018 originated primarily within the Anglophone community. These involved the plays SLĀV by Betty Bonifassi and Kanata by Robert Lepage, whose themes were centred on African-American and Indigenous history, respectively. Most of the critics and demonstrators who decried the alleged cultural appropriation were English speakers (though some Francophones did join in the chorus).

Personally, I thought it was senseless for Bonifassi to present a play about black slavery that featured white singers—in the same way that Lepage’ piece on Indigenous history made me uncomfortable because it was created with no substantive input from Indigenous people. But I think that artists have every right to do that, as I have the right to criticize them in turn. And it should not have escaped the attention of anyone involved in the debate that many of the anti-SLĀV demonstrators’ signs that appeared in front of Théâtre du Nouveau Monde were written…in English.

* * *

One key to understanding Canada’s “two solitudes” lies in the different way that each community approaches and views diversity. Quebec opted to invent its own model of integration, which deviates from both Canadian multiculturalism on one hand, and the European French model of pure assimilation or the American-style melting pot on the other.

While Canada rejects the very idea of a single, predominant Canadian culture throughout the country that puts all minority groups on equal footing, Quebec emphasizes a “founding culture” and common language that are important to preserve. It’s what is called interculturalisme, a policy or model that doesn’t necessarily seek to abolish differences, but does promote a common identity that converges toward a shared cultural experience based on language, behaviours, social codes, institutions and, yes, even rules governing humour.

Therein lies Quebec’s distinctive character—an original, unique blend of Canadian, French and broader North American influences. Quebecers may be more similar to English Canadians than they like to admit. But they also have their own distinctive attitudes, sensitivities, debates and beliefs, particularly on the topic of diversity. The campaign against cultural appropriation (or even what some perceive as racism) in a comedy sketch is rooted in a model of integration and diversity that is alien to Quebec, and which has been rejected by Quebecers during past controversies of this type.

So what does Quebec want? It wants to be able to continue expressing its distinctive character—whether it be in the legislature, on the stage or on television. For it is principally when they are prevented from expressing their unique character that some Quebecers may be inclined to say “bye-bye” to the rest of Canada.


François Cardinal is Chief Editorial Writer for La Presse. Follow him on Twitter at @F_Cardinal.





  1. Constantin says

    I object to all Anglo-Canada being subsumed within the worldview of noisy SJW-s. I do not think it is fair. We don’t like Trudeau either and did not lose our sense of humor. ( I admit, however, that I an absolutely dying to see the Bye Bye satirical sketch on Trudeau)

  2. The concept of cultural appropriation is ridiculous and if it is less of a concern in Quebec that is a good thing but I do wonder about the authors impartiality. The critics of the bollywood sketch were, when I looked them up located within Quebec and at least one was francophone.

    Generally the impression is of an author fixated on an anglophone bad, francophone good world view desperately seeking a story to hang it on. Promoting a system that even has rules for humour sounds even worse than a culture in which a minority complains about cultural appropriation.

    • TarsTarkas says

      What I got from the author of this piece was ‘hey, ROC, just calm the f**k down and laugh at something that’s supposed to be funny!’ The SJW’s are destroying humor and happiness, making everybody look over their shoulder whenever they open their mouths, make a gesture, or even raise an eyebrow. These totally intolerant Cultural Tyrants won’t be satisfied until everybody is participating lustily and gleefully in their hourly Two Minute Hate and then some.

      • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says


        It almost time for the Two Minutes Hate (brought to you by the Ministry of Love), isn’t it? Substituting The Patriarchy for Goldstein, of course.

  3. The protestors’ sign are in English all around the world because of cameras. Don’t ask them to be reasonable. I think the author is hoping that the extremists will relent and be more tolerant of Quebec because it has been more tolerant and has been a victim herself. That will not happen.

  4. Farris says

    Not being Canadian, I do not know but have to ask: Are the complainers truly Anglophones or Trudeau supporters? In the U.S. whenever anyone skewers Hillary Clinton there is allegedly a sexist tinge to it.

    • M Barclay says

      As an Anglo-Canadian I think what might help to strengthen his argument is that CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corp) in the English speaking part is notoriously a voice for the SJW community in so far that anything that may be deemed insensitive would never make it to air or TV. That Radio-Canada was able to keep that skit in shows that the French part of Canada is at the very least, able to distinguish between humour/satire and racism.
      I’m very certain most English Canadians can understand the satire but our version of the CBC is in bed with the SJW’s so our news vilifies this sort of satire.

      • O. MacD says

        I have to speak up because Non-Canadians may not understand your invective. The CBC is a public broadcaster, so it has to be something for everyone. This means it’s rather fangless and ‘lowest common denominator’ for better or worse. Apart from some radio programs, I’m not a great fan, but the CBC are not in bed with SJWs (a pejorative term, after all) just because you disagree with their middle of the road stance. Frankly, they are pretty neutral. Where they are more (small l) liberal-leaning is more a reflection of journalists themselves tending to be more liberal. Your comment probably says more about your political stance than theirs.

        Otherwise, I generally agree with the author. Personally, I don’t know anyone who was offended (I know lots of lifelong Canadians who still aren’t aware of what Bye Bye even is). I see it as obvious satire, and typical Canadian political satire at that. Anyone who’s watched This Hour or Air Farce will know what I mean. This may be a touch funnier, a touch edgier. Calling this racist is being unable to see the forest for the trees.

      • Samuel says

        CBC and Radio-Canada are in the same buildings. What they do on CBC, they do it on Radio-Canada and verse-versa. they often come of as “sjw” in french also and they often chat to their CBC colleagues on lunch time. So I don’t feel that they are a really different entity. Even their programmation is really similar.

  5. I agree with the writer that the criticism of this Bye Bye skit is extreme and unnecessary. However, the critics claiming cultural appropriation were not “Anglos”. The skit had no humour about Anglo culture.

    I would expect that if this skit was presented in the rest of Canada (“ROC”) with subtitles it would be well received by most Anglos as great humour. However, if played in ROC, the skit is likely to provoke the same criticism by the same non-Anglos who have criticised its play by Radio Canada.

    The word “Anglo” is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:

    “A white English-speaking person of British or northern European origin, in particular (in the US) as distinct from a Hispanic American or (in Canada) as distinct from a French-speaker.”

    The people who complained appear to be Quebec residents of Indian origin, not Anglos in the ROC. This is not surprising, as it is Indian culture, not Anglo culture (whatever that might be) that they were complaining had been appropriated and mocked.

    Following the very narrow defeat of the 1995 Quebec referendum, then Premier Jacques Parizeau made the famous comment: “It is true, it is true that we were beaten, but in the end, by what? By money and ethnic votes, essentially.” He was referring to Anglo money and the votes of ethnic communities in Quebec that were neither Anglo nor Francophone. To appropriate Parizeau’s lexicon, the criticism of Bye Bye was by the ethnics, not the Anglos. I suggest changing the title of this post to the more neutral: “Why Quebec Isn’t Interested in Lectures About Cultural Appropriation”.

      • Who is the “we” you purport to represent? Is that the 17% of Quebec voters who voted PQ in the last election? Perhaps you should replace the “we” with “I”.

    • No, those Indian-Canadians mentioned in the article are definitely “Anglos”. By that term, we mean anyone who uses English as their main language at home and work. It’s not limited to WASPs and Irish-Canadians. Just because you teach traditional Indian dance doesn’t mean you haven’t been anglicized through (mainly American) mass media, Anglo institutions such as McGill and Concordia universities, and interaction with other Anglos. There are some exceptions, that is people who are equally “Anglo” and “Franco” (such as myself) but they are rare. In my experience, the vast majority of Indian immigrants integrate into the Anglo community.

      • @AVB

        FWIW, the dictionaries I consulted differentiated between the words “Anglophone” and “Anglo”. An Anglophone is someone who speaks English in their daily activities. An Anglo is a white English-speaking person of British or northern European origin, in particular (in the US) as distinct from a Hispanic American or (in Canada) as distinct from a French-speaker. Therefore it is inaccurate to use “Anglo” as a short form of “Anglophone”. In any event, and semantics aside, it is missing a lot to consider Canada as divided between Francophones as one culture and Anglos/Anglophones as the other.

        It is incorrect to view everyone in Canada outside Quebec as having homogeneous and typical “Anglo” attitudes towards Quebec (if there are such attitudes). In the Toronto area, as in Vancouver, there are large parts of the cities and suburbs that have a high percentage of certain immigrant populations. Indian immigrants have their areas of high concentration, with their own food and clothing stores, restaurants, travel agencies and temples. So do Chinese, Philippine and other immigrant. So when you say the vast majority of Indian immigrants integrate into the Anglo community, I would agree that they speak English, but as to cultural sensitivities, I doubt that anyone without an Indian ethnic origin would complain of cultural appropriation of Indian culture for the Trudeau Indian costume skit.

        The reason why I made my original comment and this response is that it seems to me that Mr. Cardinal has painted his picture of Anglo intolerance against Quebecers with too broad a brush. His article would have been trivial, boring and maybe unpublishable, if he had just said that a small minority of the Indian community within Quebec disliked the skit and complained of cultural appropriation. These complainants are in no way representatives of or proxies for most “Anglos”.

        Mr. Cardinal presented his provocative parting shot: “For it is principally when they are prevented from expressing their unique character that some Quebecers may be inclined to say “bye-bye” to the rest of Canada.”

        This would have been a great line if Quebecers were actually being prevented by “les maudits Anglos” in ROC from expressing their unique character. But that’s not happening in reality. That’s not where these complaints came from, and they were only about ONE skit in ONE program.

        These complaints have not had the effect of preventing Quebecers from expressing their unique character. Indeed, Mr. Cardinal was given an opportunity to express his view of that unique character, right here on Quillette. If you consider highly successful Quebec comedy shows like “Just for Laughs” and the international comedy festival with the same name you can see that Quebec humour is more robust and less threatened than Mr. Cardinal suggests. The same can be said of Quebec’s movies and musicians. If more than a small minority of Quebecers ever want the Province to secede from Canada it will not be because of these complaints about the Trudeau Indian skit.

        • Just Me says

          Andrew –

          Depends on context. In Quebec, “anglo” is commonly used as shorthand for anglophones, including allophones who have integrated into the anglophone community, and “les anglais” or “les Anglo-Saxons” for the ethnically British.

          As for the protesters, this kind of protest comes from mostly anglophone activists, often with ties to anglo universities’ “grievance studies” departments and intellectuals, who get lots of support from anglo journalists and media, and the kind of rhetoric used is the kind that is prevalent now in anglo intellectual circles, not from francophone immigrants , intellectuals or journalists, that is why it is seen as anglo.

          And this article is only about one skit in one programme, but there have recently been a slew of similar hot-button issues, like SLAV, blackface, etc.

        • Hugo Laplante says

          Thought I’d drop by just to say that the “Anglo” attitude is very much alive, at least for some degenerates, as I experienced myself very recently during a trip in the ROC (Ontario mostly). Granted, there was some debates recently on francophones vs anglophones recently over there and I was not openly insulted by everyone, so it is most likely marginalized, but it still very much still exist.

          • MacD. says

            Hugo, unfortunately, it seems to go both ways… There is long-held belief that Quebecois (who Franco-Ontarians are often taken for, depending on the region) don’t like Anglos. Many of us have negative memories, so it’s a kind of tit-for-tat hostility. Sadly this doesn’t make thing better! Individuals are not spokesmen their “categories”. I can certainly tell you that my school French classes involved a lot of berating (I can still hear M. Bernard’s refrain of “stupide anglo!” whenever anyone made a mistake), and barely hidden disdain for us, their charges. I’ve had mostly good experiences in Montreal and other parts of Quebec, trying to use French and being respectful and patient.

            Anyway, it’s sad to hear you experienced something negative. Had I met you, I probably would have tried to use my rusty French.

  6. Darwin T of BC Humanists says

    Québec as a whole is essential to helping take the sting out of PC identity politics. Vive un Québec drôle!!! Their Ying to ROC Yang. Without Québec the Rest of Canada would indeed be poorer in spirit and practice. Whether it is anticlericalism or pro-humourous, Québec punches above its weight.

  7. Barney Doran says

    Cultural appropriation: Now there is a doozy of a concept that so typifies the Victim Era. So what are we to do? Comb through every cultural artifact and expression on earth, put fences around those for we can somehow find origination, and proscribe any border crossing or fence jumping that seemly constitutes appropriation? Well, so much for inclusive diversity. Oh, and by the way, non-Europeans and non-North Americans better start cleaning out their closets, homes, communities, cities, and countries because the Appropriation Police are not going to like what they find there.

  8. Charles White says

    “Similarly, it’s in Quebec that freedom of expression is most jealously guarded against the encroachments of political correctness.”

    Considering what is happening to the Quebec comedian, Mike Ward, for his satirical joke of several years ago, I think Mr. Cardinal is himself attempting to make a joke with this statement.

    • Louis Poirier says

      Even tough I do not agree with Mike Ward,s attitude -even today since he doesn’t want to back down and admit he was a bully and a major one I might add- I recognise him the right to be one. But it comes with a price and he’s paying it.

    • Jean-Marc Laurin says

      Mike ward isn’t particularly funny and personally attacked a person’s physical disabilities on stage as content. It wasn’t satire, it wasn’t even a joke. He literally asked this person to do humanity a favour and kill himself. He’s got every right to do it, but it stills makes him an asshole and a cheap comedic personality.

      • Bruno Forcier says

        I don’t agree with you on the fact that he ‘has the right’. I don’t remember seeing anywhere in the Charter that you’re allowed to disparage an individual.

        I remember very well my citizenship classes while in the Air Force Cadets.

        ‘The rights of 1 person end where the right of another start’

    • Just Me says

      What is happening to Ward is the result of the existence of extremist Human Rights tribunals, not cultural consensus.

      Interestingly, he is being defended by a lawyer known for his work in Human Rights. The latter obviously doesn’t agree with the Tribunal’s conception of Human Rights, and is defending his clients’ right to freedom of speech.

      We shall see what the Quebec Court of Appeal thinks.

    • Inverness says

      A bit odd that the province with strict language laws can claim they defend freedom of expression.

      • Bruno Forcier says

        A bit odd that a country officially BILINGUAL through its CONSTITUTION can claim all French Canadians are treated equally.

        How many 100% French universities in Ontario? 1. How many English ones in Qc? 3.
        How many 100% French hospitals in Ontatio? 1. How many English ones in Qc? At least 5 in Montreal alone.

        Enough said or care to compare more?

    • Bruno Forcier says

      I’m sorry but laughing about and targeting an individual (Le Petit Gabriel) is abuse of Liberty of Expression.

      If you don’t understand that, you need to go back to school.

  9. Charles White says

    “So what does Quebec want? It wants to be able to continue expressing its distinctive character—whether it be in the legislature, on the stage or on television. For it is principally when they are prevented from expressing their unique character that some Quebecers may be inclined to say “bye-bye” to the rest of Canada.”

    That is always the question that gets asked followed with the usual threat, and typical of mainstream Quebec media like la Presse. It would be nice for a change if Quebec instead asked, “What can it contribute?”

    To be fair, Quebec did contribute poutine to the Canadian fabric, which does show it has a sense of humour.

    • What this have to do with Anglo lecturing about Quebec media? What has English Canada contributed to Quebec, other than spending billions to stop us from forming an independent French-speaking republic in North America?

    • Charles White: what you don’t seem to understand is that Cardinal writes for a uber-federalist newspaper… he doesn’t want to threaten the ROC, he wants to warn it: “stop your shenanigans, you’re helping the separatists!”
      As for “contributing” to the Canadian fabric, Quebec is, simply put, not interested. As you may know, the Quebec-Canada relationship is nothing more than a (forced) marriage of convenience.

    • Quebec will ask “what can I do to contribute” when the ROC starts learning our language. Until then, you will only make us feel like we’re forcing your hand to keep us in a country you don’t want us in.

      • Just Me says


        It just isn’t realistic to expect the ROC to learn French. That’s a pipe dream. There are just not enough francophones in the ROC to make that viable. If you can’t use it, you lose it, and that is what happens to those who do manage to learn it in school.

        The deal is that francophones can get federal government services in French just about anywhere, and there is already enough resentment that you have to have decent French to get a job in the federal government, thus resulting in those jobs being monopolized by native francophones, expecting you should get served in French in restaurants in the ROC is just plain silly, and it does nothing anyway to maintain the culture, which is the important part.

        The other part of the deal is that Quebec can have the French Charter and has a lot of autonomy. A pretty good deal.

        • Bruno Forcier says

          I’m sorry but your statement about availability of French service by federal officials anywhere in Canada does not stand the test of proof. I’ve been denied service in French in RoC’s federal services and companies mandated by law to offer me service in French that I don’t keep as tally anymore.

          Not even talking about private corporations.

          Why do I have to suffer a ‘Bonjour Hi’ at a Tim Hortons in Montreal when I can’t even suffer it in Toronto or Calgary?

          Start treating us as equals and then tell us about having a good deal.

          Nerd I remind you that Ontario is now under the ‘Ford Nation’ otherwise know as the MAGA clique in Qc?

          Or that NB, an official BILINGUAL province is now governed by a coalition government formed by a unilingual prime minister plus an alt right party? As If the prime minister’s party is not already to the right of center enough…

    • Jean-Marc Laurin says

      We gave you a damn flag an anthem a patronym a charter of rights and a cultural border with the USA when you wanted neither. If you can’t appreciate that give them all back. We’ll be on our happy little way.

      • Just Me says

        Jean-Marc –

        Um, you’ve had more than enough time to make your case to your fellow Quebecois, but you couldn’t convince enough of them.

        Time to accept reality, and move on.

    • Just Me says

      Being handed over by one King to another in a colonial swap isn’t a good way to start a political collaboration, and unfortunately some proportion of the population still has not made their peace with that.

      Asking “what can I contribute” is a way off I’m afraid. It’s still “let’s make the best of a bad situation” for many.

      • Just Me says

        Hint – it’s still referred to as The Conquest, the great historical trauma.

  10. I think Anglos themselves aren’t interested in Anglo Lectures About Cultural Appropriation.

  11. Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

    Some say that it was the capitulation of TROC to Quebec that was the first example of a Western nation granting Official Victimhood to an Identity Group. As Victims they naturally had the first and best of everything and they became elevated above the standard obligation of the Settlers (non-French white Canadians) to apologize to everyone for everything. In other words, the Quebecois are allowed to actively and openly defend their culture and their identity. TROC envies this but cannot aspire to it, we belong to a lower caste.

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  13. Defenstrator says

    I must object to the assertion that the objection came from Anglos. Normal Canadians understand satire just fine. It is the hyper sensitive left that has an issue. They are not us.

    • Eric A says

      Agreed, it’s the very little few that makes the whole group look bad. But until CBC stops giving them so much power, the Anglos will all be associated with that little voice.

  14. sam57l0 says

    The Quebecois are more French than the French, and we all are aware of how the French are.

  15. Wow, what a load of bollocks. I don’t even know where to start?

    -Google “appropriation culturelle” and “lapresse” and you will find countless articles about cultural appropriation in Quebec and some written by Mr. Cardinal himself. So not only is it a big preoccupation but the Quebec’s national papers are more than happy to fuel the fire in order to get clicks.

    -I am your typical caucasian French ancestry guy raised in Quebec City, and then spent 12 years in Montreal. I worked as a waiter in various restaurants for 5 of those years. Needless to say, I met a LOT of people and right now I can recall maybe less than half a dozen interracial couples. They stood out like sore thumbs, hence why I remember them. Whereas here in Toronto, I may just go to the grocery store and see five interracial couples in that one outing. So please Mr. Cardinal, keep your lessons about multiculturalism/interculturalism to yourself.

    Quebec’s PC culture stems from a different source but believe me both theirs and ours are as bad.

    -It is true that cultural appropriation came on board later in Quebec whereas in the ROC it’s more part of its foundation but it’s been gaining a lot of ground fast. When people agree with the sentiment that serving poutine outside of Quebec is cultural appropriation then I am sorry to say, but your are part of the problem too

    -Quebec is a matriarchal society and this is not bad in and of itself but it gave rise to something really nasty back in the late 90’s onward. It started with commercials where one out of three suddenly revolved around the fact that the man in it was utterly stupid. Then it quickly spread and suddenly it was everywhere. Feminists revelled in their so-called victory and if you were a man and if you had something to say about it then you became an anti-women antiquated misogynist. The term “toxic masculinity” hadn’t been invented then and I am surprised they didn’t invent it. That too now is part of the PC culture

    -Lastly, because of Quebec Catholic heritage, people have a problem with you if you have or make a lot of money. Somehow you are probably doing something bad or evil and that’s how you became rich. It’s not a meritocracy. I left in 2013 and that unconscious sentiment could still be felt everywhere and so I that Quebec has evolved on that front

    • Use your brain says

      Didn’t it ever occur to you that interracial couples are rare in Québec because of the language barrier?! No of course it hasn’t. That would require actual thinking instead of engaging in self-flagellation because you think it elevates you above other “qwebs”.

      The problem with poutine isn’t that it’s served outside Québec, it’s that for years the ROC has ridiculed Québec for it and tried to distance themselves for it. For years the ROC has mocked Québec for calling such “trash” their national dish. But then as soon as outsiders started thinking that it was great, suddenly the ROC being the bunch oh hypocrites that they are, started calling it THEIRS. It is literal APPROPRIATION in the real sense of the word. And it is the most disgusting kind since there is very recent history of hating the thing they appropriated for xenophobic reasons.

      Clearly you aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

      • Inverness says

        But many immigrants to Quebec are francophone, from countries like Haiti, the Ivory Coast, and Maroco. Furthermore, claiming victim status over “the appropriation of poutine,” is a bit much, no? It is tasty, but not haute cuisine. Add that much fat and cheese to french fries, and you have glorified fast food. It’s delicious, the same way that low-brow food is tasty and comforting.

    • Just Me says

      Philippe Gosselin –

      Re. interracial couples. Funny, I see many and know several myself.

      But Toronto has 51% visible minorities, Montreal has only 34%, so of course, just statistically, there will be fewer interracial couples.

      However, Quebec has the highest number of international adoptions in Canada with 42% of all international adoptions carried out in the province…that should tell you something too?

  16. Last time I checked, Quebec was part of Canada. Yet, again, we have a Quebec journalist writing about “Quebec” and “Canada” as two different things. Multiculturalism is enshrined in the Canadian constitution, and Quebec, despite what its intellectual class would like to fantasize, is still part of Canada. The author knows very little of the “rest of Canada”. It’s been a long time since Britishness defined any part of Canada, or that Canada outside Quebec was not a mix of European (including British) people, Indigenous people, and people with roots in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

    • And when I travel in Quebec, one of the first things I notice is how all advertising features white people. The message is pretty clear: A Quebecois is a white Francophone descendant of people who arrived before 1759. Everyone else is, at best, a guest.

      • And when I travel in the ROC, one of the first things I notice is how all road signs, labels and publicity are almost exclusively in English. Every Quebecois traveling in the ROC is also, at best, a guest. But Canada proclaims itself as a bilingual country, yea right.

        • Inverness says

          In Quebec, the signs are only in French. So, it is also implied that Anglophones are guests in Quebec, no?

      • Just Me says


        Toronto has 51% visible minorities, Montreal only 34%, and there are very few outside Montreal.

        So the social reality is that while the typical Torontonian is now racially non-white, non-whites are still not typical of Montreal, let alone Quebec.

        Of course marketing in Toronto should reflect that, but marketing in Montreal and Quebec should reflect its reality.

        I wonder what advertising in Newfoundland reflects?

    • Use your brain says

      You profess about multiculturalism except when it comes to Québecois culture then suddenly it doesn’t have the right to exist as something different than the rest of Canada.

      Did you even read the hypocritical trash you posted before you posted it?

      Québec has a different culture than the rest of Canada. Canada being multicultural should accept Québec’s culture and their expression of it. That should be the end of it but because you’re a bunch of hypocrites, it’s not.

    • Yes, the author’s article displays very little knowledge about the ROC, although I suspect he actually knows more than his intentionally provocative article would suggest. The “Two Solitudes book he mentions was published in 1945, at which time it was probably a reasonable reflection of what Hugh McLennan saw then.

      2019 is not 1945. And the male Anglos/Anglophones of that time no longer dominate Quebec or Canadian business or politics. Look at the composition of Justin Trudeau’s cabinet as but one example. French immersion schools in cities across Canada have since then been teaching young children in the ROC to become bilingual and somewhat bicultural. Look at the electoral results of federal and provincial separatist political parties in Quebec in the last decade. The ethnic mix and political climate of Canada is quite different today.

      Only a small minority of people in Quebec under the age of 40 are interested in referendums and separatism. I think it is accurate to say today that in Quebec, bye bye has gone bye bye.

      • Inverness says

        Andrew, thank you! Seriously…separating over a presumed disagreement over some satire? A ridiculous notion.

      • Bruno Forcier says

        Why do you think?

        Maybe because we’re slowly being assimilated?

    • Just Me says

      Quebec is part of Canada, and Montreal is part of Quebec, yet many anglos like to threaten to take Montreal out of quebec if Quebec separates, because Montreal, quebec, and Canada are distinct entities, culturally, so it makes sense to speak of them as distinct.

      And everything is relative, for very young people it may have been ” a long time” since official multiculturalism was enshrined, for people who were adults then, it isn’t so long ago, and Quebec has an older population than the ROC.

      And Toronto has 51% visible minorities, Montreal only 34%, so the reality is that while Toronto is indeed now culturally more multicultural than not, and visible minorities are now the face of Toronto, it is much less so in Montreal. They are still just that, only a minority, a third of the population, and not much visible outside Montreal.

      Francophones are 81% of the population of Quebec, and the reality is that Quebec is overwhelmingly francophone and white, very different from the ROC and particularly Toronto and Vancouver.

      • Just Me says

        Another interesting tidbit that explains why Quebec is different:

        “Quebec has one of the world’s most important founder populations, the Quebec Founder Population, which is important to medical genetic research. This population arose from an influx of people into Quebec from France during the 17th to mid-18th century. About 7 million Canadians are descended from these original 2,600 colonists.”

        That makes for a very cohesive founding culture, unlike the already existing multiculturalism of the English, Scottish, Irish, and American Loyalist originating Anglo peoples.

  17. The open, inclusive paradise that M. Cardinal presents is a figment of his imagination. Quebec has long had its own distinct brand of political correctness, focused on language and culture. Noises about “inclusion” have proved to be nothing but virtue signalling. Quebec nationalism is ethnic and tribal: the interests of the old-stock francophones take precedence. Successive provincial governments have used their legislative power to restrict, forbid and compel. The anglophone community has acquiesced to the restrictions on their rights, mainly out of political correctness and guilt. As for us “ethnics,” nobody really gives a damn about what we think and wishes we would just stop voting.

    The Quebec political class has lived in an echo chamber for decades – I’m astonished that M. Cardinal should have tottered out of it long enough to notice any such thing as Quillette.
    To him and his ilk, Quebec is a paradise, as long as you speak French, do not post signs in English and do not wear any “ostentatious” religious identification – no kippas, no hijabs, no turbans, etc. – but a tasteful Catholic crucifix is perfectly all right.
    Yes, Quebec governments have proposed laws that would make Quebec officially secular, but hold off on jumping for joy. Emboldened by the mere proposal of such a law, some Quebecers took to harassing – even assaulting – religious minorities. Muslim women particularly have taken the brunt of this. It is then no surprise that ethnic communities across Canada would be wary of what issues from Quebec.

    Quebec’s attitude is particularly galling when it has historically insisted on the protection of minority rights – its own vis a vis the rest of Canada. But for minorities living in Quebec, they must cede their interests to the needeeds of the majority, who, you know, have been historically victimized. An aggrieved minority and a sanctimonious majority at the same time. Neat trick!
    For the most part, minorities grumbled but accepted the fact of language laws here. It might have been different if we thought about identity politics then as we do now.

    Cardinal trots out the usual tropes about Quebec, including it being open, progressive and tolerant. His smug assertion that Quebecers are unacquainted with “domination,” is especially funny. Maybe he’s never spoken with an indigenous person.
    (And if what francophones have had to live with over most of the past century qualifies as “oppression”, well, I can think of a lot of places around the world where they’d love a piece of that “oppression.”)

    To many immigrants, Quebec remains a “closed shop.” Even if they grew up here, spoke French with the local accent, painted their cheeks with fleurs de lys for the Fête National, or embraced the Parti Quebecois and sovereignty, they know they will never be included when Quebecers speak of “nous” – “us”. Even those who moved here from France will acknowledge that there’s a line that they cannot cross.

    In many ways, Quebec remains parochial and inward looking. It neither knows nor cares what goes on in the rest of the country, or the rest of the continent for that matter. An example: a few years ago, there was much ado about a theatrical revue wherein a popular hockey player for the Montreal Canadiens, P.K. Subban, was portrayed by a white actor in blackface. How can anyone living in this hemisphere not have gotten the memo that a portrayal in blackface just might provoke a wee bit of controversy? The theatre director’s stunningly condescending response to criticism didn’t help matters. While most fans adored Subban (and still bitterly resent his being traded away) it seemed that some people, even in the well-educated political class, had a problem with the face of this storied franchise being a black one.

    Every once in a while, some poor soul runs afoul of the language laws. If there is news coverage in the local media, the political class doesn’t much care. But if it becomes an item in the American news media, then it’s all hands on deck! It won’t do to have our southern neighbours look askance at us.

    So, even though poll after poll shows that there is no decline in French usage and its usage in the workplace continued to increase over the past two decades, the pundits will claim victim’s rights: these laws remain necessary to protect the French character of Quebec. It’s all for the greater good. And if a francophone couple thinks it might serve their child well to attend an anglophone school and get a leg up, seeing that English – damned, damned English – is still held in some regard on the rest of the planet, they will quickly find that they have no legal right to do so. For the greater good, of course. And a matter of respect.

    In that vein, it is dismaying, though not at all surprising, that Cardinal’s final paragraph evokes the spirit of Quebec’s “gun to the head” strategy in its dealings with the federal government. As the political class here taps it foot impatiently waiting for Ottawa to swoop in with new offers of devolved powers and money (gotta love those equalization payments), I dare say some Canadians might start asking themselves, ”Just what the hell are we getting out of this?”

    • MLB, your ignorance about actual life in Quebec is so staggering that I’m thinking you must be a troll. It is a hodgepodge of fallacious clichés, outright fabrication, and malicious misrepresentation of Quebec’s political and social culture.

      I guess fake progressives such as yourselves revel at the chance to display intolerance, as long as it targets Quebec. Instead of being part of the problem, you should actually try to learn how things are in the province.

      The only one pushing tropes here is you, not Cardinal.

    • Use your brain says

      Your whole verbiage would be great if immigrants in Québec when left to their own devices, didn’t overwhelmingly choose to anglicize and become part of the anglophone culture and thus completely invalidate almost all of what you said.

    • Just Me says

      “An aggrieved minority and a sanctimonious majority at the same time. Neat trick!”

      And Quebec anglophones manage a similar trick – an aggrieved minority in Quebec although a politically and culturally dominant majority in the culturally and politically dominant Anglo-American world…

      Yes, there is still a lot of tension about language in Quebec, and some extremists on both sides are nasty and rude, but unlike francos, anglos are in no danger whatsoever of losing their language, identity, or culture.

    • Just Me says


      Where to start.

      What all this forgets is that Canada is the historical result of , if not a Conquest as it is remembered, but of a handing over of a colony to another country, territory and people included. No one asked the inhabitants what they wanted, that was before democracy.

      So it was a forced marriage, not a love match, and we have suffered the consequences ever since, with both sides having to compromise. Little of that history is known or understood in most of the ROC, to them the French were always just an obstacle, and vice-versa. The blip in time when we came close to the ideal of a bicultural, bilingual society was just that, a blip, destroyed by multiculturalism, which made francophones just another minority culture, and the new PCness which made the very desire of any white Europeanp-based peoples to maintain their culture and identity, racist.

      The blackface is another symptom of Anglo-American culture imposing its own interpretation, based on its own history, on others. French-speaking blacks (Haitians, Senegalais, etc.) don’t get what the the fuss is about, they understand the difference between it being used as homage and ridicule.

    • Bruno Forcier says

      Would you happen to be an islamo leftist in disguise by any chance?

  18. Jean-Marc Laurin says

    There’s an old Québec expression that says if you aren’t worth a good laugh, you aren’t worth much at all.

    A county of snow and ice is bound to have special snowflakes, from wherever they are born.

    Get a grip. Have a beer. Or f*** off. Perfectly reasonable choices.

  19. Saw file says

    Spot on summary.

    Quebec revels in it’s self appointed victimhood status as a minority within Canada to such an extent that it has become part of the very fabric of the culture, and it’s become impossible for the average “real Quebecois ” to reflect on the fact that that very culture has created victims of the minorities within the province.
    The idea that Quebec has a ‘national’ culture independent of Canada’s national culture is backwards reasoning. The history of the province its a part of the history of the country as a whole, and therefore a part of Canada’s national culture. The current situation ‘government by culture’ experiment in Quebec is by any measure an abject failure. It only still survives due to a extremely thick paper machete framework composed of Canadians taxpayer dollars. Without the billions upon billions of transfer payment dollars being shoveled into the province every year, this socialist cultural utopia would implode within months.
    The only reason this Provincial leaching is still being allowed to bleed the rest of the country anaemic is the unfair electoral imbalance. It’s simply a federal electoral cash for votes scheme.
    The ”or we say bye bye ” trope isn’t taken seriously by anyone outside of Quebec (and doubtfully many within) for this reason alone.
    Above this reason, is that Canada simply wouldn’t allow it.

    • Use your brain says

      Maybe you’re simply too ignorant or dim to realize that language barriers lead cultures to develop independently and inversely, that the lack of it leads cultures to die to acculturation and assimilation. How’s your assimilation to american culture going? You should thank Québec for preventing american culture from swallowing your identity whole.

    • Just Me says

      Quebec has a national culture partly based on resistance to anglo culture, but also based on passing down of culture and tradition from its French origins, and from renewed ties to France, particularly in the more educated classes.

      And as soon as you travel out of Quebec, you realize you are in a different culture where French is nonexistent except for the lip service paid to it by the federal government. There is no biculturalism except in some Montrealers.

      I understand the frustration of the ROC with the situation, but that’s the product of a history that started off with a shotgun marriage.

  20. Saw file says

    When it comes to rational discussion of the truth, about Québec in Canada, it’s like discussing which layer of the onion skin smells better/worse.
    W some, ‘rational’ exits.
    Example: “use your brain” (sic); “VL”.


  21. poley23 says

    “These two diametrically opposite interpretations of the same sketch present a modern take on the “Two Solitudes”—that famous metaphor of the English/French Canadian divide…”

    I don’t agree with M. Cardinal’s interpretation of the interpretations. As an English speaker (in Qc), I’m not offended by the sketch as he describes it; it’s intent was clearly a dig at the PM, not at the ethnicity involved. Even within the stultifying realm of political correctness, Quebeckers parodying one of their own tribe should pass muster. I doubt I’m alone as an Anglo who’d find the sketch funny – nothing to do with the essential Francophone ‘Quebeckness’ of it’s satirical style. The Two Solitudes image might not have worked it’s way so conveniently into M. Cardinal’s commentary if the stereotypes central to the whole conversation had involved the global Francophonie who, if offended, would’ve protested in French.

    But, yes, it’s too bad this culture of outrage is being fanned at every opportunity. Re CBC: the media are very adept at this (M Cardinal should know) – their ardor increasing these past few years, aided and abetted by social media. Psychology 101: pouring fuel on the flames of offence is not arbitration, and no logical path towards a healthy society. Regardless of its purported good intentions, it’s devolving this place – tho still one of the best in the world to live – into a whole mosaic of ‘solitudes’.

    If M Cardinal wants to other me into an anglo vs franco dichotomy – well, he’s entitled to his perspective. He might say I just don’t understand. But I do. Understand that offence is a relative thing. That people want to be who they want to be. That if he thinks this is about language, he’s not paying attention.

    • Inverness says

      Poley, thank you for this thoughtful response. I agree it is a case of “othering” anglophones, which is just tired tribalism. He could have simply explored the silliness of political correctness, without playing the victim card.

  22. J. J. says

    This whole “it’s us vs the anglos” is hilariously shoehorned in. The problem is that a lot of people took the sketch part out of context, because they are too used to seeing the Indian culture mocked and so when they saw the same thing here they assumed it was the same instead of looking at the context and finding out that Trudeau was the butt of the joke for being so stupid to think in such stereotypes.
    As for some of the comments, the whole “husbands/men are idiots” is not a matriarchy thing, it’s a marketing thing (look up the American tv show The Hooneymooners). It started because marketers realized most adult women over half a century ago were stay at home moms and did most of the day time tv watching as well as most of the household shopping.
    Even long after women have gained more possibilities they still are enough of a marjority when it comes to buying household maintenance and cleaning goods for whole households (including for cleaning people see the successful campain ad for Old Spice shower gel and deo from a few years ago) that aiming for the lowest common denominator humor of “men are too dumb to do this themselves” seems to work for selling to women who buy things for men, or are stuck at home during daytime tv. It is pandering to those resentful of being in the position they are, because they buy/watch most of their products. All this even heavily occurring in USA over half a century ago in times when husbands coulf legally could rape their wife – so no, dumb men and their clever beautiful wives isn’t a matriarchy nor patriarchy thing, it is a marketing and capitalist thing.
    Qubecans who think absolutely everything is because they are victims of the Anglos and their culture ironically need to know more about all global cultures and history. Just because some shit happens because of your culture clashes doesn’t mean everything is. And I say this as a non-Anglo European who involuntary through osmosis knows way too much about USA/England/etc for comfort. Anglos might be leaning in on this event to socially extort you because of their cultural bias, but that is not the root of this problem.
    This sketch section being taken out of context is like “A Modest Proposal” being taken out of context and seen as a straight-forward advocacy for cannibalism and subjugation of the lower classes as cattle.

  23. Pierre Pendre says

    Sounds as if Québec has managed to avoid the Anglophone curse of cultural appropriation. So well done there, les mecs. Keep tipping them sombreros.

    I think it was Freud who first asked what does Québec want and came up dry answer-wise.

    Mark Steyn’s theory always was that it wasn’t independence, just all the goodies that came with threatening independence from Anglos who couldn’t imagine life without Hank le trappeur.

    The Québecois were certainly very adroit at voting to fall just short of independence, enabling themselves to cleave to Ottawa’s teat while retaining credibility. Can Peterson explain?

  24. Saw file says

    @ p.p.
    Yah, the
    Mark Steyn
    A man ahead of this times..

  25. Wait. Isn’t ”Trudeau” French? Canada has had two French PM’s? One was “Pierre”! More? I don’t know.

    All I know is Justin’s very cool mom danced at Studio 54 and hung out with Mick Jagger. Hey, it was the 80’s- lots of cocaine. And Justin is a multicultural (he’s French!) PC trust fund baby with an elitist last name. Isn’t that all that really matters to the left, anymore?

    I wonder if he can feel the pain of the yellow jackets? Maybe he can wear one to the office for a photo op?

  26. Winston Smith says

    If the author is attempting to describe people whose primary language is English he should use the term anglophone, not Anglo. Anglo means English. People of Italian or Indian ethnic extraction whose primary language is English are not “Anglos” but they are anglophones.

    • Just Me says

      In Quebec, “anglo” is shorthand for anglophone, as “franco” is for francophone.

      When referring to the ethnic English, “Les Anglais” would be the term most often used.

  27. Regarding PM Trudeau: the sketch was making fun of Trudeau for appropriating and disrespecting Indian culture, while making himself look like a complete moron… But 2nd degree is 1 too many degrees for some people, I guess.

  28. I believe that the Term of Art for Quebeckers of whom their langue natale is anglais is “Angryphones”.

  29. Inverness says

    While I can agree that all of this cultural appropriation nonsense is getting out of hand, the author is fairly disingenuous.. As a journalist with La Presse, (which I read regularly), he is well aware that there are plenty of Quebeckers who push politically correct agendas. Just listen to some of the programming from the francophone Radio-Canada. Their book talk show, “Plus on est de fous…” often shares how “woke” their hosts and guests are, with their valorising of rape culture, and other 3rd wave feminist tropes. They rarely challenge the political correctness orthodoxy.

    So yeah, Quebec’s public radio can be pretty PC, too. So Radio-Canada is not a model for free thinking either, as much as I loved this satirical segment mocking Justin Trudeau.

    Furthermore, it is absurd to claim that Quebec would push to separate, again, because of some Anglophone Social Justice movement. As he well knows, (his own paper published a huge spread on the dying separatist movement) after TWO failed referendums, and a young generation that mostly sees no reason to separate from Canada.

    Oh, and the signs of some protesters were in English? He wrote this article in English, yet he is francophone. He would be more convincing is he dug deeper in his reporting, and considered that English is sensible when you want to attract national or international attention

    • Inverness says

      Should read, “promoting the notion there is a rape culture.”

  30. Well, that degenerated quickly. We are on quillette, a place for open debate and free ideas, yet look how this tread look.

    On the subject of this article, and that subject only, I am willing to say that Quebec differ from Canada on one particular aspect. We are willing to defend our culture and our way of expressing it. Not because of grand moral values, but because unlike many in Canada, we fear losing it.

    Yes, this can be considered as identity politics. And yes it can be divisive, just look at this tread. But in group out group exists in everyone, failing to understand that present even more danger.

    I would like to end by saying that I don’t agree that Canada is a post national country. It have its culture and identity. Maybe Canadian should start cultivate that aspect too.

  31. pete chip says

    Outrage? No you mean feigned outrage. By English Indo-Canadians, no you mean a few Indo-Liberals. The thing that will deflate the moronic worship of PM Zoolander the fastest is mockery, and this TV sketch , had mockery a plenty, thats what the Liberals are outrage about.

  32. Simon says

    “it’s in Quebec that freedom of expression is most jealously guarded”

    Just as long as you do that expressing in French!

  33. mh1969 says

    This individual seems to take a bit of creative licensing with the actual reaction which was really based on the reaction by Indian-Canadians. I personally couldn’t give a shite about making fun of Trudeau, on the contrary I support it. I also believe he’s looking for a fight where none exists. Canada must be more balanced in how we view oursleves, one thing that this writer didn’t mention is the unbalanced financial reality with regards to transfer payments; government support between Quebec and Canada. It sometimes comes across that there is a level of sanctimony, on the part of the Quebec media. I can only hope that the poor me, attitude of those entrenched interests are dislodged and new thinking develops around these kinds of issues.

  34. 101+401=TO says

    As an anglo ex-quebecker I found this commentary enlightening & entertaining. Blend both sides of the political/linguistic fence & you get a fairly accurate picture of the Canadian zeitgeist

    Way back when, we were indeed “les anglais” & we called the pure laines, “the French”. And, as I recall, neither side felt victimized by these appelations.

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