As all of Canada knows and maybe 6 Americans, we are in the midst of a decent-sized corruption scandal at the leve of the federal government here. The Liberal Party, whose politicians have been running the country for a long time now, gave away a couple hundred million dollars to Quebec advertising and PR firms, a chunk of which was funnelled back to the party so that it would have funds to run it's election. Pretty sleazy, infuriating stuff, without a doubt.
Everybody is angry about it, because it's basically taxpayers money that went to the two of the worst places you'd ever want your money to go, advertising executives and political parties (though now that I think about it, the places where I don't want my money to go make up a very long list and most of my money seems to go there, but that's another topic altogether).
What has surprised me, though, is how quickly the media have started pushing this idea that this sponsorship scandal is now going to ignite another, and this time possibly successful, separatist movement. Every day in the news, it's about how this is the last straw for Quebeckers, how they are so sick of the federal government that this time they are definitely going to vote for separation. Yesterday, Alfonso Galliano, the straight-up lying, sleaziest-mafia-thug-wannabe, who actually was the one handing out the money put forth this notion. And the CBC ran it as their headline! The story was crafted around Galliano's quote (who, by the way, should be in jail in about a year or two) and then all the politicians reactions to it. Every separatist politician responded neutrally, basically implying that anything Galliano said wasn't worth listening to.
I listen almost entirely to the CBC. Watching or listening to any commercial news outlet is not conducive to domestic tranquility chez moi. However, even the CBC is pissing me off these days with this bullshit. They portray Quebeckers as these imbeciles with hair-temper reactions, as if they were all tranquilly happy being part of Canada until all of a sudden! the sponsorship scandal has made them all decide to change their mind! No wonder the rest of Canada considers them to be such a bunch of babies.
I can't speak about the rest of Quebec, but here in Montreal, the reaction is exactly the same as it is in B.C. and I'm sure in the rest of the country. People are disgusted by the corruption, but not surprised. They want good stuff done with their money and they want politicians to address them honestly and directly. I'm sure the die-hard separatists are using this to spur their movement, but I really doubt it's changed anyone's mind.
One of the reasons I left the U.S. was because of the power and pervasiveness of the media and how its citizens clung to their teats, sucking desperately for their daily opinions and personalities. I don't consider Canada to be that much better, but I had hoped at least for some distance and not the kind of fear-mongering and yellow journalism that keeps CNN et al. rich. I grow discouraged.
There is a certain class of Canadians who just keep the CBC on all day. I'm one of those. My friend Ken, also of that class, pointed out when he came to visit how you forget that it's on, until it just becomes a dull buzz in the back of your head. After our third bottle of wine that night, I realized that the radio was on and it was getting in the way of the conversation. I turned it off and Ken reminded me of what he'd pointed out earlier. "What is that noise?" he said, hitting his forehead with the heel of his hand. And then when it's off, "ah yes, quiet. Now we can talk."