Published to Pass Herald The Simple Raven's Blog May 2 2018
A letter to a US friend.
I have a friend in Arizona who spent a couple of years in Montreal in the early seventies. He went back to the US and I stayed here. Now, my friend Tim is watching Canadian news and often compares what happened in the US and Canada. In his words, Canada is a Heaven in comparison to the USA today. In self-defence, Tim tries to find some things that Canada is doing wrong. Here is his letter from last week. It is dealing with journalism which in the US is treated more like marketing.
I've been watching The National for several weeks (possibly even a few months) and I've noticed almost no coverage of any story in Quebec. Quebec has a quarter of Canada's population. First Nations peoples represent only 4% of the Canadian population. The Maritime Provinces have tiny populations. Yet, when three children are killed by a drunk driver in a First Nations community, people mourn for days on television. And when an isolated community in New Brunswick flood, and The National covers it.
I mention this because tonight The National covered two stories (May Day riots in Montreal, and a court ruling against a Mohawk requirement that people who marry outside of the community leave the community). Both stories together totaled 50 seconds. It was the most coverage of Quebec that I've seen since I started watching - and most of it was dedicated to the Mohawk ruling, which was really a First Nations story.
One would think that 25% of the Canadian stories reported would be about Quebec. But it seems that possibly less than 1% of Canadians stories are about Quebec. Do Canadians believe that Quebec is unimportant or just uninteresting? Is Canada one country or not?
Just wondering from down here, where we've got plenty of our own problems.
Here is my reply.
“There is so much in this letter Tim. First, we must remember that the Prime Minister of Canada is from Quebec.
I have been watching the Canadian news including The National for fifty years, and I would estimate that overall more airtime has been devoted to Quebec than any other province. Each time when there was a danger of separation we heard nothing but Quebec on the news. We heard about people from the West going to Quebec to tell them that we love them. Another time we heard about farmers in Quebec filling a train up with hay for drought-stricken Albertans. We don’t treat news coverage as a commodity but as a way to let people know what is happening. Each region and major city here has a CBC station that deals with issues close to home.
I been listening to CBC Calgary for years. When the local station has something of national interest, usually it appears on the National. If it needs translating it may takes a little longer.
We have an ongoing war against drunk driving, so an issue involving a multiple killing by a drunk driver will surface on national news. It could be anywhere in Canada.
There is news, hockey, arts and entertainment all in French available to every Canadian where ever they live both on radio and TV. Many of us listen to our favorite French singers all the time.
Quebecers are not very volatile at large. A year ago some white supremacist (who adores Trump) murdered a number of people praying in a mosque. We had it on the news constantly. Now with the nut-case who drove a van over people in the street of Toronto it makes headlines all over Canada. The accident that killed 15 young hockey players touched all of our hearts. The news covered every funeral and talked to every family. When a train derailed in the Quebec town Lac Megantic five years ago, it was the same. To this day we often talk about the accident. Most of us care much about each other.
You probably noticed on our news yesterday a case where the last government handed an innocent Muslim Doctor Hassan Diab, an Ottawa University Professor to France with false evidence. The French courts have eventually determined that he was innocent after he spent three years in jail. This was not the only case of that government acting against our laws towards people of a minority group and one of the reasons they lost the elections. They lost the support of many minorities and even decedents of minorities. Doctor Diab was a French-speaking Muslim. He doesn’t want to sue the people of Canada.
We have an element of tribalism here in Canada, but it's not dominant and most of us, in our own quiet Canadian way, fight against it. Since Trump was elected, in your country, I have not yet met one Canadian who openly says that he or she supports Trump, and I reside in our Conservative bastion, Alberta. Canada is one country Tim, and most Canadians value all other Canadians. Our Conservatives are mostly people with a different economic view but not a trace of what I call the Nazi attitude, and most celebrate differences and don’t wish to subdue minorities. We exist free because we are able to live peacefully with each other. Canada is a mosaic, not a melting pot.”
Being an American, my friend Tim envies Canada but fails to understand the real difference between our two nations. We are more concerned with the plight of “our people” while they try to make people more useful at the lowest possible cost. This is why we have a brain drain. We educate and they lure our educated people.
I would venture to say that in 2018 most Canadians feel proud and have hope, while next door its no longer true. The difference is rooted in our news media. Canadians still feel that they are informed while Americans know that they are being sold on something.