One issue that has been largely absent from the campaign is the province's high levels of government debt. This omission is curious given that the Quebec government's debt is the largest in the country when presented as a share of the economy and is now consuming a significant share of tax dollars in the form of interest payments. If Quebec voters are concerned about their government's level of indebtedness, they should insist that the political parties set out clear plans to get it under control. The problem can no longer be ignored.
For the naysayers or eye-rollers out there, there is nothing wrong with removing my hijab or other article of clothing for a doctor if it is necessary for the sake of the medical examination. In this instance, it was not. It was the equivalent of asking a woman to fully remove her top and undergarment in order to examine her lungs. The changes in the environment in Quebec are subtle but ever present. I have felt the chill in the air. From the racial slur while at the movies with my kids to reading passive aggressive comments on social media. Our joie de vivre, pride in diversity and bilingualism has been replaced with political unease, targeted discrimination of visibly religious minorities and linguistic force.
The Quebec election campaign became a bit more interesting this week with Pierre Karl Péladeau's decision to run for the Parti Québécois. Péladeau brings a unique and coveted background to the PQ, having for decades dined on the earnings of tabloid agitprop and rabble-rousing emotionalism. Just as Marois shrugs off recent and bad economic news, Péladeau thrusts his fist into the air and chants inspirational slogans. And somehow, in combination, these are intended to add up to the sum of economic credibility. His business acumen and his knack for rube exploitation are simply the latest assets to be nationalized by a now desperate campaign.
Early this morning, Premier Pauline Marois visited and asked Lt. Governor Pierre Duchesne to dissolve the legislature and issue an election for April 7. This would be a 33-day campaign that the separatist Premier, with a minority government earned a mere 18 months ago, is the front-runner. I am rooting for her defeat.
Tuesday's sentencing of anaesthesiologist George Doodnaught -- to a decade in jail for sexually assaulting 21 women under his care during surgery -- should have been good news. But I read this comment from the presiding judge: "There are no reported Canadian cases in which an anaesthesiologist sexually assaulted sedated patients in an operating room during surgery." This has happened before, and in my home town.
This is precisely what happened in Canada in the early 1990s. Indeed, following a steep increase in duties and taxes applicable to tobacco products by the federal government and the provinces, a vast illegal trade in cigarettes sprang up. Contraband's share in the Canadian tobacco market jumped from 1 per cent in 1987 to approximately 31 per cent by the end of 1993.
Let's call Bill 60 what it truly is: a bill that encourages intolerance, divides the population and makes visible and religious minorities into second class citizens in their own home. It is time for the opposition to step up and stop this nonsense. Until then I remain Canadian, Quebecker, a visibly practicing Muslim and proud.
What on Earth drove me to sleep at a hotel made entirely of ice? I first heard about Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel) while visiting Montreal, Canada for work. Sleeping at an ice hotel is not for the faint hearted. It is not a scary adventure either. It is cold, but marvellous experience that I will cherish forever.
When Marc Lépine went to the École Polytechnique 23 years ago today, he entered the school with the intention of killing feminists. Feminists, he said in his suicide note, had ruined his life. I was seven years old when École Polytechnique Massacre happened. I want to think that the world has changed since then, but really, has it? Women are still the butt of the joke. Women are still lacking in positions of power. Women are still being told that they need to compete against each other. There is still a persistent bias against women in the worlds of math and science. If there's anything that can be learned from the latest American election, it's that there are still men who hate women. A lot of men. Powerful men.
Quebec's Muslim women have been threatened -- violence against veiled women has increased dramatically since the Charter debate was introduced. In Quebec, the issue of choice and self-determination around the veil is critical. It would seem, then, that in matters of fashion, religion, and secularism, Montreal's Muslim women are being held to a higher standard by their provincial government. Montreal's young Hijabistas -- and those who support them -- told us what the veil means to them.
The Marois government's double-speak must be denounced, and its objective understood: getting the Superior Court to validate Bill 99 on the grounds that the Bill does not stipulate a right to secede unilaterally, and then triumphantly trumpeting everywhere that the Court's validation of Bill 99 confirms such a right.
The PQ should focus on using education to preserve its culture and language. Almost 80 per cent of Quebecers identify themselves as Francophone. Thus, it's a failure of education when someone who was born, raised and educated in Montreal tells you that he moved to Toronto because it's impossible to find a job in Montreal. The issue should not be that French was required of them but that, over the course of their educational career, they were not properly taught the language and its value -- economic and cultural. The new Ontarians will not phrase it this way, of course.
The question 'would you live by a gas well' is designed to be a 'gotcha' question. The presumption that oil and gas people who obviously understand their own industry best, would therefore never live by an oil and gas well. It is another example of the gross misunderstanding our industry has allowed to perpetuate in Quebec and elsewhere.
I learned French in 30 days. Well not really. It's probably fairer to say I'm still trying to perfect my English. Over two years ago I embarked on a tour of Quebec to give translated presentations on our industry to what was then quite a hostile population. Unexpectedly these presentations, while emotionally draining, were surprisingly effective.