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BILL TIERNEY: What’s in Quebec for our children?

I am out of politics now, but I still get the odd call from the media. Some mayors don’t like dealing with the media, but for many years I used to enjoy the opportunity of trying to come up with sound bites of pertinent information. It’s quite a skill, something I used to try to teach in John Abbott journalism courses.

Some people are brilliant at sound bites. I’m just okay.

I taught journalism for a number of years. In fact, one of my old journalism students ended up orchestrating the coalition that heaved me out of the mayor’s office. I had mixed feelings about his achievement.

I guess I must still be on a few media resource lists. Global News recently called me for help with an item they were filming on one of the bars in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue being ordered to shut early at midnight. The reporter was already in Ste-Anne with his cameraman and couldn’t find anyone to comment. Our mayor has a full-time day job and the councillor for the area who works at the college didn’t want to go on record. The Global reporter was about to lose his story.

To be fair to our local elected people, in an election year you have to be particularly careful with the media. Voters remember the oddest things. And you don’t want to make any enemies. Come November you’ll need all the goodwill you can muster.

Anyway, knowing how frustrated the Global reporter must be feeling, I agreed to a short interview as long as they agreed to come up to my house to do it. I didn’t see the finished product on Global that evening, but I was happy to help the two media people get their story.

CBC French radio called recently asking if I would be interested in occasionally making comments on anglo-related, municipally connected issues. For example, did I have a comment to make on the three candidates for the Liberal leadership after their English debate? (I didn’t. I didn’t attend the debate and I’ve only met one of the candidates, Raymond Bachand, who is a very clever man and crucial in resolving some of the more ridiculous aspects of the agglomeration system set up by the Charest Liberals.)

Again, what did I think of Gérald Tremblay’s fall from grace? (Inevitable.) And then, just as I was writing this column, a very European French voice called from the CBC asking what I thought about Bill 14. In my opinion, would the anti-Bill 14 movement gather serious social momentum?

Well, I started, it has to be a pretty serious bit of news if it has penetrated the calm I am now surrounded by. And people have to be pretty annoyed to go to a rally in minus-15 weather. But will it reach the level of the Hands Off My City rallies of the 1990s? I didn’t think so. But, on the other hand, doesn’t the Parti Québécois just know how to get under our skin! But is this a major crisis in anglo-franco relations?

And then CBC English radio called about a program they were assembling on anglos leaving Quebec because of the election of the PQ. Did I know anyone leaving Quebec for political reasons? I thought about it. No. No one I know is talking about leaving Quebec for political reasons. Did I know anyone leaving Quebec for any reason? I don’t know anyone leaving Quebec.

I contacted Chris Price, co-ordinator of a local Ste-Anne blog who is much more annoyed about the Péquistes than I am, and asked him if he knew anyone leaving Quebec for political reasons. His answer captures the essence of anglo anger:

“Pauline is a big ——– and in reality won the last election because Liberals like (Jean) Charest and (Geoff) Kelley did nothing with what they had. I know I am not going anywhere because thanks to years of being taxed to death, I now realize I should have said goodbye to my family 26 years ago and moved before investing everything I had here … too late now. Maybe when my kids leave (because they got a good and cheap education here) I will follow them.”

There. That’s it. The worst thing is that he sees his children inevitably leaving Quebec. And even if his kids profit elsewhere from a good and cheap education, they won’t be here at home in Quebec. Are you listening, Mr. Lisée?

Bill Tierney is the former mayor of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. billtierney@videotron.ca

3 comments

  1. isn’t that what the PQ wants? All the English to leave Quebec so the French Quebecois can peacefully enjoy their welfare and continue to sully one of the most romantic languages on earth. I thought that was the objective…

  2. As a former English language reporter in Quebec, I can state without hesitation that Bill Tierney always did his best to help us out in T.V. and radio, and was one of the most honorable of municipal politicians on the island. His “sound bites” were not as mediocre as he makes them out to be, and Bill was always approachable, no matter how controversial the subject. I was saddened when he lost his post as mayor, but happy to have him contributing (again) to his community via his Gazette column.

  3. I know people who would leave Quebec if they could, but there’s not enough money. How do you make and KEEP your money when the taxes are so high and when you are sometimes forced to go to private doctors in order to get care? I think Quebec keeps its people down as a method of power. Everything here is about control. I’d leave tomorrow (today, even) if I could. My husband agrees (which always helps;) There’s no future here. We’re planning our escape now so that in a few years we will be able to go.

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