When I was a teenager of 17 or 18, I went for a walk with my father at his invitation. He did a walk-around-the-blocks most evenings after supper. Sometimes one or other of the four boys was invited along.
On one occasion, I said something to Papa. Exactly what I don’t recall. I do recall his response to the very words and cadence: “Québec is a fundamentally racist society.” It was startling not so much for its objective content as for his matter-of-fact delivery. He made the observation the way one might assert that it was day or night.
He wasn’t talking about the person we met on our walk or any other particular individual. He was talking about something foundational, something elemental, something of the very fabric (“pure laine”, of course) of our world. His use of the word “fundamentally” has meant that throughout my life, when I hear that word, it triggers a memory of our walk together.
The consensus from those who have pored over the entrails of Monday’s leaders’ debate is that it was awful. Yes, it was. The format was terrible and reminiscent of a cage match with a great many contestants some of whom were “leaders” and some of whom were “moderators” and none of whom proved particularly edifying.
Words like rude, incoherent, phony, deny, delay, bad, shouting, talking points, talking over, publicly, privately, I pray to God (four words) have resonated in my head. Some are theirs, some mine. To my mind, it was, indeed, awful. Mr. Sheer and Mr. Trudeau behaved like schoolyard bullies and the rest, well, for the most part, meh.
I was most impressed positively by Mr. Singh. Even if his reference to Messrs. Deny and Delay was canned, it was still a good line and endeared him to me. My one take-away is that Mr. Singh is likeable, appealing and may have found his stride, probably at the expense of the Greens and Reds.
So… It sickened me that none of the four–Red, Blue, Green or Orange–was able to denounce Québec’s Bill 21 without resorting to weasel words or other contortions. The bill is, in my view, racist. Its proponents, therefore, are racist or badly informed. One hopes for the latter but suspects the former in the manner of Mr. Sheer’s private thoughts. (That was also a good line. Mr. Trudeau on Mr. Bernier: “… says publicly what Sheer thinks privately.”)
Bill 21 represents a racist attack on Jews who wear a kippah, Muslims who wear a hijab, and Sikhs who wear a turban. Am I missing something? This is not rocket science. It’s racism. Of course it’s racism.
The lowest of the manifold low moments in Monday’s debate was that of Mr. Trudeau attacking Mr. Singh for not being as clear as the weasely Reds on the question. This moment was astonishing in so many ways, utterly vomitous and puke-worthy. And awful.
I hope that the leaders reconsider and find their mettle.
The Norwegian Poling Gnomes tell me that that is unlikely. They know about such things. Their reading of the entrails? It still is the Liberals’ to lose but they are now courting minority status rather than majority. They would likely have a choice of non-Red supporters depending on the issues. Oh, sigh.
André Lavergne — writing from a settler-descendant’s home on the traditional lands of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples on the Haldimand Tract (1784).