March/03/2018,Times Of Lion
Justin Trudeau’s Not-So-Excellent India Adventure has finally put Canada back in the world news, after a long absence — even if it wasn’t good news for Trudeau
His Bollywood-style masquerade costumes and other India trip blunders took a huge beating in the world press — where for the moment, he’s gone from hot to not, from cool to near-fool.
What’s next in his travels, ask snarky world journalists: Japan in a kimono, Spain in a flamenco outfit?
Yet all these international beat-up stories about Canada’s prime minister reminded me how rarely we see Canada in world headlines anymore.
Part of the reason is that Mad King Donald sucks up half the world news every day, with his latest bleats and tweets — on arming teachers, or his “genius IQ”, or NO COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA!”
There’s barely space left for other countries, unless they really up their game.
Yet the other reason Canada has vanished from the news is because our country’s traditional newsmaking capital has resigned its post — and dropped out of world headlines completely.
For much of my life, we Quebecers were a one-province news-manufacturing machine that was electrifying and exhausting.
In the late ’60s, we hosted illegal teacher strikes, firefighter strikes and police strikes that enabled the Murray Hill Riots. In the ’70s, we delivered the October Crisis and the War Measures Act, followed by the PQ’s election.
During the ’80s and ’90s, we produced two earth-shaking referendums, starring Oscar-worthy political actors like René Lévesque, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, who all shone in world headlines
By the 2000s, this had dimmed into on-and-off language law battles like Pastagate that still made the World Silly News.
But in recent years we’ve almost dropped off the radar, taking Canada with us. Nowadays, if you want separatist fervour you have to go someplace more revolutionary, edgy and wacky — like England. Or Spain.
The only times our separatist parties make news anymore, even in Canada, is when they frequently separate from their leaders.
Since the Quebec student strikes of 2012, we’ve also become a labour calm spot. For action, go to France, where everyone always seems to be on strike.
For terrorism news, read stories about almost anywhere in Europe, or the Middle East.
For absurd language law battles turn to China, where wannabe Leader-For-Life Xi Jinping’s government just censored a whole batch of words and expressions people can use online.
Among things they’ve tried banning is the English letter N — because it can somehow symbolize opposition to Xi’s power grab.
Government ce*sors have also banned the books Wi**ie The Pooh and A*imal Farm. (Ho*est).
Quebec rarely even makes it into major Canadian news anymore — we aren’t quirky enough. If you want to follow zany Canada politics nowadays, you have to read about … Ontario.
First they had four years of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who was an early Canadian prototype for Donald Trump. Now they have the Ontario Tory Party scandals — where leader Patrick Brown was forced to resign over sexual misconduct allegations.
Party President Rick Dykstra also quit after accusations of sexual assault.
Now, Rob’s brother Doug Ford could take over the party, and eventually even the province. That would guarantee Ontario many more years of dominating Canadian news.
Even the province’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne, is way more interesting than ours — she’s an openly, proudly gay woman and almost no one makes a fuss about it.
Ontarians don’t read about us anymore, we read about them.
Sure we have our own thrilling made-in-Quebec controversies. Our endless hospital cutbacks, construction woes and the royal battle over Mount Royal’s road are huge issues here, as were ex-Mayor Coderre’s granite tree stumps and Formula E disgrace.
But no one has paid the slightest attention outside our borders.
We used to be Canada’s bank robbery capital, murder capital and unemployment capital. Now we’re known as the daycare capital — and the best model for pharmacare.
We have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, along with B.C. — and the lowest provincial homicide rate in Canada.
We haven’t even had a good construction scandal for almost five years — what gives?
Of course, all this bad news about bad news could be construed as good news. If we do continue to live in news-free uninteresting times, the Chinese would consider it a blessing.
But who can guess the future? One of the very few New York Times mentions of Quebec in the last six months was the paper’s announcement that they’ve posted a correspondent in Montreal for the first time in decades.
Maybe they know something we don’t.
On another subject: Projet-Montreal’s Luc Ferrandez just announced he may borrow my column idea last week and charge a $3 congestion fee to drive over Mount Royal — but boost it to a champagne-style $10 one.
At least he’s apparently listening. So Mr. Ferrandez, how about a simple rush-hour ban on through-traffic (or a $1,000 rush hour fee?)