Canada: Macpherson: What Legault says when he thinks non-francophones aren't listening - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada Macpherson: What Legault says when he thinks non-francophones aren't listening

23:22  04 october  2019
23:22  04 october  2019 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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François Legault wearing a suit and tie: The election of his CAQ government allowed the historic French-speaking majority to “take back the place it should have always had,” the nationalist Québecor dailies quoted Premier François Legault as telling them.© LUDOVIC MARIN The election of his CAQ government allowed the historic French-speaking majority to “take back the place it should have always had,” the nationalist Québecor dailies quoted Premier François Legault as telling them.

Justin Trudeau isn’t the only current political leader who has had a “brownface” incident in his past come to light two decades later. Quebec Premier François Legault has had one of his own. Only his didn’t involve makeup, it apparently wasn’t a joke, and it occurred after he had entered politics.

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In accepting his nomination as a Parti Québécois candidate in 1998, Legault told his PQ riding association that he had been raised in Montreal’s West Island among the English, “and I hate them as much as you do.”

When that story was published two months before last year’s general election in Policy Magazine, Legault, by then leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec party, denied it .

But the source of the story is unimpeachable: Graham Fraser, a widely respected former journalist who wrote that he heard Legault make his “ugly revelation.”

Like Trudeau and the rest of us, Legault has evolved over the years, and is not the person he was two decades ago.

Even in 2019, after two decades in and out of politics, however, Quebec’s premier apparently still believes he can get away with saying things that won’t get back to non-francophones if he says them in French.

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In the past week, Legault gave interviews to the Quebec media (well, some of them, anyway) on the occasion of the first anniversary of the general election that brought him to power.

The election of his CAQ government allowed the historic French-speaking majority to “take back the place it should have always had,” the nationalist Québecor dailies quoted Legault as telling them.

“The historic French-speaking majority” is a phrase popularized by Legault’s new cultural-nationalism intellectual inspiration, Québecor commentator Mathieu Bock-Côté , meaning ethnic French-Canadians, and others they have assimilated.

Legault said his government has restored Quebecers’ “pride.” Referring to its immigration policies, including a temporary, one-year, 20-per-cent reduction in the number of immigrants accepted by Quebec, he said , “I think people are telling themselves, ‘there’s somebody protecting our nation.’”

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If immigrants are perceived as a threat to Legault’s nation, however, they’re not the only one.

In an extended interview with Québecor’s TVA network, Legault said “French will always be in danger in Montreal,” where the province’s non-francophones are concentrated.

So, he said, there is a need for new measures to “francize” immigrants and protect French in the workplace, including small businesses.

And, he was against the public use of English in the form of the “bonjour-hi” greeting.

“We have to be careful in our commercial establishments, you know, bonjour-hi. In Quebec, it’s bonjour, period. And we always have to be vigilant, because we’re surrounded by a sea (of anglophones).”

He said the government had to set the example. When he learned from the Québecor media that bonjour-hi was being used in some of the government’s SAQ liquor stores, “we had to make a little phone call to them to tell them, from now on, spread the word, it’s bonjour at the SAQ, and set an example.”

And on the subject of his nationalism, he was pleased that his assertive tag line in a French-language video released last spring after his government introduced its anti-hijab Bill 21 has caught on with Quebecers.

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“What people liked in Bill 21 is that I said, ‘we’re going to forbid religious symbols for persons in positions of authority because (raising his voice) that’s how we live in Quebec!’ It’s as simple as that.”

Recently, the English-language Quebec Community Groups Network released results of a Léger poll it had commissioned suggesting that nearly 70 per cent of anglophones don’t trust his government.

Legault, in an English-language interview this week with Global News Montreal, said that’s primarily because some anglos suspect he’s still a sovereignist, “which is not the case.”

But, as the poll suggests, it’s not only because of what Legault used to be. It’s also because of what he and his government are now.

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Twitter: DMacpGaz

Leaders try to head off surging Bloc Québécois in final French-language debate .
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau appealed to francophones concerned about climate change to elect a Liberal government “full of Quebecers” and defeat the Conservatives during the final debate of the election campaign, in an attempt to beat back a surging Bloc Québécois that could threaten a Liberal majority. The debate, which took place in Gatineau, Que., on Thursday evening, was the second French-language debate of the campaign. The only English-language debate featuring Trudeau took place on Monday. Thursday’s debate was a far cry from Monday’s, which was dominated by personal attacks and crosstalk.

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