I’ve written so much stuff about American political craziness (more to come, I’m sure), I feel that I’ve been neglecting my home and native land. So this week, let us turn our gaze inward.
First, let’s go to Quebec, the Florida of Canada, the province that passed a law earlier this year that denied basic government services to anyone wearing a face covering (so that would be Muslim women and … bank robbers?). This week, the Quebec legislature (or, as they grandly like to call it, the ‘national assembly’) unanimously passed a resolution that “all merchants and their employees who have contact with local and international clients to warmly greet them with the word ‘Bonjour.’ “‘
Whaaa? Why would they need a resolution to encourage retail people to be polite? I know the French are notoriously rude, but I thought that was only in France.
Well, in Montreal – Canada’s most effortlessly bilingual city – stores and restaurants routinely welcome visitors with “Bonjour-Hi”. If the person responds with ‘bonjour’, the speak French; if they get a ‘hi’ they speak English. Nice compromise, right? Very courteous, and very Canadian. Not to the Quebec ‘national assembly’. PQ Leader Jean Francois Lisée called it an “irritant and example of galloping bilingualism.”, as if bilingualism was a bad thing. The first I heard about this was in an online story from The New York Times, so it’s got international traction. The BBC also picked up the story. There will be plenty of people around the world, potential tourists, who will hear the story as “In Quebec, they’re not even allowed to say ‘hi’ to you. I’m sure as hell not visiting there.” Au revoir-goodbye, Quebec.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa …
A minister is in hot water (OK, maybe tepid water). Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr was meeting with a woman, Jennifer McCrea, who is part of a group of women suing the government over allegations they were denied benefits while on maternity leave. McCrea said she specifically asked Hehr why Ottawa is continuing to fight sick women, to which he replied ‘Well, Ms. McCrea, that is the old question, like asking … ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’ ” Ms. McCrea said he couldn’t reply, because her jaw hit the ground. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appeared taken aback by the remark. “He can’t be talking about violence against women like that,” he said. “We need our leaders to be denouncing violence against women and in no way making light of it.” Seriously, Jaggy? Have you never heard that expression? And you’re in politics?
Hehr has, of course, apologized for the comment. But I don’t see much to reason to be sorry. The ‘beating your wife’ line is an old one, a way of indicating that you’ve been asked a loaded question that you can’t answer without looking bad. It’s fairly common, particularly in political circles. I can see how Mr. McCrea might not have been familiar with that expression, but surely Singh knows (or should know) that it has nothing to do with violence against women.
Man, I would hate to be in politics today.
Conrad Brooks, 85, an American film actor whose filmography includes some of the “best” of Ed Wood, including Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Among his other films were (ready?) Jalopy, Bride of the Monster, Night of the Ghouls, The Mad Magician, The Sinister Urge, The Atomic Monster: The Beast of Yucca Flats, A Polish Vampire in Burbank, and F.A.R.T. The Movie … Fil Fraser, 85, longtime Alberta broadcaster … Christine Keeler, 75, the central female figure in the notorious Profumo Affair scandal in Britain in the 1960s.