For those Canadians who don’t parler, it can be daunting to try to understand the politics of Francophone Canada. So, here is a quick rundown of the recent French language debate from your amigos at MJPS.
Last week the leaders of qualifying parties met in Gatineau, Quebec, a city whose name is best translated as “incredibly forgettable”, to debate the issues most important to Quebeckers and all Franco-Canadians, en francais.
And debate they did. Moderator Patrice Roy of Radio-Canada led the other questioning reporters (whose names were too difficult for me to spell) and candidates through an effective and genuinely elucidating 120 minutes of debating.
While candidates ducked and dodged questions as always, we did end up getting some firm answers on the issues most important to Canadians. These issues include such riveting topics as the candidates’ likes and dislikes, the time of day, and their favourite colours. Candidates also discussed how many siblings they had and how long they had been learning French for.
There were some unusually strong showings from smaller parties during the debate. For example, when asked “comment tu t’appelles” by a viewer from Moncton, Yves-Francois Blanchet of the Bloc Quebecois managed to impress Quebec voters by pronouncing his own name correctly.
Jaghmeet Singh of the NDP surprised many by not taking a position on a motion in Quebec to introduce a 21 dollar bill, assuring viewers that although he wears a turban, he shares their values on Canadian minting policy.
Pundits say this may help his previously lacklustre performance in Quebec polls. The Liberal incumbent, Justin Trudeau, was spitroasted about his involvement in an “SNC Laver” scandal by other candidates seemingly obsessed with his bathwater.
If any viewers have photographs or information relating to this affair, they are encouraged to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just text them to me. No reason, I’m just interested. We will also accept dramatic reinterpretations or fan art.
But undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the night was the appearance of two Conservative candidates. Andrew Scheer, the leader of the party, was joined in an odd twist by a graying, decrepit, and mildly insane-looking man: Creed from The Office.
He mostly parroted Scheer’s positions, but sporadically interjected with cryptic remarks and mirthful gibberish in much needed comic relief. This was a bold move, but if the younger voters of Quebec can see a “Jim” in Scheer, he will be able to tap into the only genuine cultural tie between millennial Anglo-Canadians and their Quebecois counterparts: American television.
Scheer tried to showcase his socially liberal side by promising to “ram his pipe[line] down Quebec’s throat,” which is a total dom move. And kinky. Either way, that is something which would probably not fly in Scheer’s home region of the Prairies, where many voters are still uncomfortable with a candidate who is sexually attracted to a geographical designation.
This was a crucial debate at this point in the election, and hopefully this humble exercise in translation, both linguistic and cultural, has helped all our Anglophone viewers better understand the fascinating world of French politics in Canada.
This piece is part of the MJPS Satire section. Although potentially based on true events, it is not intended to accurately portray reality. Opinions expressed through this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the position of the McGill Journal of Political Studies or the Political Science Students’ Association.
Featured image by Lauren Hill