Ex-PQ premier calls English media 'pathetic'
QUEBEC - A former Parti Quebecois premier is very angry with the unfair treatment he believes his party is getting from English-Canadian media these days.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Bernard Landry says there has been a "pathetic," "pitiful," response from English Canada to the PQ government's minorities plan.
The ex-premier says he can't accept that people would call Quebec xenophobic â€” when most Quebecois have aboriginal roots; when the province has had six premiers of Irish ancestry; and the province currently has an African-born cabinet minister.
Landry makes a prediction: that the rest of Canada will one day regret having embraced the doctrine of multiculturalism.
He says it leads to a lack of integration that harms social cohesion and, pointing to Europe, he says that ultimately risks feeding right-wing extremist politics over time.
The PQ says it will put forward its Charter of Quebec Values within several weeks and seek to get it through the legislature.
Critics have called the plan unconstitutional, or worse.
A leaked version of the plan says the government would bar public employees from wearing religious clothing â€” such as turbans, kippas, hijabs and visible crucifixes.
The plan may have enough support to be adopted in the legislature. The opposition Coalition Avenir Quebec says it would support parts of the plan, although it would apply the rules to far fewer public-sector workers.
The idea has majority public support in Quebec, according to polls, but it's far from clear that such support would translate into more votes for the PQ.
Landry, 76, was briefly premier after he replaced the retiring Lucien Bouchard in 2001. He lost the 2003 provincial election.
A Jesuit-trained former lawyer, economist, civil servant, university professor and cabinet minister, Landry was best known in politics for a sharp tongue that once compared the Canadian flag to "bits of red rag."
He wasn't the only Pequiste to take a swipe at the Anglo-Canadian media today.
The province's Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier, who is also the minister of "sovereigntist governance," used Twitter to take a swipe at pieces in the Calgary Herald and National Post.
"Being called a xenophobe by the Calgary Herald," he said, in remarks he repeated about the other newspaper. "Once again, a lack of perspective and understanding from the ROC."
It's not only Anglo pundits blasting the idea, though.
Although the editorial-writers in French have been less unanimous than their Anglo counterparts on the subject, numerous columns have denounced the PQ plan â€” a minority in the Journal de Montreal, but especially in Montreal La Presse.
One today in La Presse, by the newspaper's chief editorial writer, called it an extreme measure that smacks of intolerance. He compared it to Maurice Duplessis' persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in a piece titled, "The Tyranny of the Majority."
Another in the same newspaper called it a manufactured crisis by the PQ, and urged respect for minority rights.
A column in the same newspaper last week compared the PQ approach to McCarthyism and, using the crude eight-letter English term for bovine droppings, pointed out the government's inconsistency in preaching state secularism while keeping the crucifix in the legislature.