Are we “Too Montreal” for the Conservatives?

“Montréal! Tu n’es qu’une salope
Et tu manipules le jeu”

Xavier Caféine

There was once a legend, concocted deep in the countryside of Quebec and recited to little children to keep them in their beds at night. As the legend would have it, one day the entire Island of Montreal would sink beneath the waters of the Saint-Lawrence River and be gone.  Suspicion of the city ran deep: ours was the realm of decadence and deviance and such sinful liberties that was inevitable that it would be struck down. This story was told at least up until the 1960s. Perhaps it still is.

But lately the stories about Montreal have slipped from the realm of legends to the rhetoric of politicians. The Conservative Party of Canada, perhaps motivated by a “divide and conquer” mentality, seems to be reinforcing – if not re-inventing – tensions between urban and rural voters in Quebec.

The party has been running brutal campaigns against all their opponents, but their TV smear campaign against Bloc Québecois leader Gilles Duceppe hinges on his being “trop Montréalais” – too much of a Montrealer.

I don’t mean to discount the importance of rural areas in maintaining the economy, sustainability, diversity and vitality of Canada, but the tagline “notre région au pouvoir” seems to stray a little from their English slogan,  “we’re all in this together.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Petit, a Conservative MPs elected in the rural Charlboug-Haute-Saint-Charles region, recently pulled a bizarre attack on the Plateau Mont-Royal: «Lutter contre la criminalité et assurer la sécurité de nos enfants dans toutes les régions du Québec est notre priorité. Malheureusement, cette priorité n’est pas celle du Bloc et des gauchistes du Plateau Mont-Royal», he said (reported in La Presse).

The Conservative MP’s brash assertion that children’s safety is not a priority shared by Plateau-dwellers is clearly unfounded. The same week, 400 Plateau parents petitioned to improve safety measures around Laurier elementary school after several children were injured by automobiles. The “leftist” Projet Montréal borough council responded with traffic calming measures.

But even unfounded, this political story-telling is scary. It scares me to realize that the government of my country has so blatantly forsaken the people of my city. It saddens me that this government is willing to play off of deep-set prejudices for their own political gains rather than working to represent all of their citizens. And it disturbs me that discrimination between urban and rural Canadians is still, somehow, politically correct.


  1. The current crop of conservatives are god-loving creepy assholes. Fuck ’em.

  2. Whatever you want to say about the policies of Conservatives in Canada, everyone in Canada should be concerned about this divide and conquer approach, regardless of political background.

    The Conservative Party goes from riding to riding to find local wedge issues that it deems can get voters on their side. This is based on a very sophisticated data mining system.

    Ultimately dividing the country that you purport to govern is a poor strategy in the long term for any party that wants to make lasting positive changes that will improve the lives of its citizens.

  3. I would love to know more about that fairy-tale – do you have any more information that would enable me to find a written version?
    The Conservative’s strategy makes perfect sense, as awful as it is – the Island will always be half Liberal, half Bloc (including most of the Plateau), and any spoils go to the NDP. They’ve got everything to gain by going after the suburban/rural voters.

  4. “Ultimately dividing the country that you purport to govern is a poor strategy in the long term for any party that wants to make lasting positive changes that will improve the lives of its citizens.”

    There’s your problem right there. I see little evidence they want “to make lasting positive changes that will improve the lives” of all Canadians. Just a few of them.

  5. En terme Américains, le Québec au grand complet est de gauche, même ceux qui ce croient de droite.

    Je serais bien curieux d’apprendre ce que ca a apporté a ces régions rurales de ”voter du bon bord”. A part d’avoir un député muselé faisant partie d’un groupe qui carbure au vote de gens qui n’aime qu’un Québec qui se tait et s’efface…

  6. @William, I heard about this story through word of mouth – the father of a friend who grew up in the countryside believeing that Montreal would be literally be sinking any day. I’ll keep looking around, a cursory search didn’t turn up any trace of it online… where are legends kept in this day and age??

  7. Are you entirely surprised by politicians spouting partisan nonsense in a potential election year? Come to think of it, are your surprised by politicians spouting partisan nonsense in general? While I’m not a huge fan of Ducepe myself, quite frankly I invite the Tories to maintain their current inane schemes in an attempt to, as you say “divide and conquer” us. Attacking a 50% voter-base is, from a strategic perspective, rather obtuse. It makes them look like cheaters trying to win bronze at the special olympics by rigging the wheelchairs. Not exactly inspiring.

    My sincere apologies to the handicapped and challenged for that last comment. No one deserves to be compared to the Conservative Party. How Un-PC of me ;)

  8. The main demographics of the Canadian Reform Alliance Party (let’s call them by their true name and not the one they usurped — the Tories) are rural, poorly-educated people, which fits the ridings they have been elected in Québec: in the Beauce and around, which is the region with the least scholarization in Québec.

    And it’s been there for a very long time; back around WW-II, Adrien Arcand’s fascists had a lot of support in the very same region, thanks to trash media (newspaper, during Arcand’s time, and nowadays trash radio).

  9. @Alanah Heffez  You make a mistake in the fact that the Charlesbourg/Haute-St-Charles is a rural region… It’s in Québec city and if you said that the Capital is a rural region… Maybe you are right : You are too Montréal for Conservatives and rural people 

    @Jean Naimard 

    That’s why we, people from rural regions hates “Les Montréalais”. We hate them because they think that we are poorly-educated people and we think that Montréal is the center of the Earth. 

    I’m from Donnacona, Québec. A beautiful city along the St-Laurent and we are maybe 6 200 people here. And you know what? We elected André Arthur. 
    Maybe you will say : They are more stupid than I expected. But, it’s not because it’s Arthur. It’s because the whole political system is rotten. If we, the rural people, are more include in the political system, maybe we will vote for the same party as you. But you have to say that the conservative talks more about rural than others partys. That’s why the ADQ is popular here. They talk to us and they are honest ( here honest is a big word, we know how political people are honest but it’s the less bad at this)  and they go to the point. 

    It’s my point of view but to say that we are poorly-educated people it’s lying and it’s clearly “stupid” 

    Oh I almost forgot trash radio it’s only a pejorative word from Montréal. We think that is a radio, who the people there express their point of view. That’s why we say in my hometown : “C’est à toi les oreilles.”

    Alexandre Jobin a proud rural person and now studying in Montréal in Urbanism to return in his homeland. 

  10. Alexandre Jobin – thanks for this important correction. I am interested to learn that you are studying urbansim with the view of working in a rural area.

    I believe that the links between the city and countryside need to be strengthened if we are going to ever achieve any kind of sustainability – that is why it frustrates me that the federal gvt is working to divide us. If you ever want to submit an article to Spacing montréal (en français ou en anglais) i’d like to hear more about your perspective.

  11. @ Kyle: “The current crop of conservatives are god-loving creepy assholes”
    I’m not sure they love God, so much as they love how much power they can get by citing his name. Traditional Western politicians have learned to “work” their audience, rather than learning how to serve the citizenry. This is a fatal change in governance.

  12. I am well educated in a French (France) boarding school.  I have lived in 6 countries and visited a lot of the others.  I respect each person I meet no matter what or where he or she comes from.  After three years in Montreal, where do I meet people like myself?  The discrimination here is absolute.  The francophones are a closed society, so at the anglophones; that leaves the immigrants, mostly under 35 years of age with a different agenda (meaning looking for work).  So, how does an person with higher education manage in Montreal.  Where do you go to meet people who respect all others and also can relate to all others?  It’s getting a bit lonely here.  In Western Europe, there is no problem but living in Western Europe has become very expensive.  How is it that Canadians are so ‘mindless’?

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