Oh, dear. I fear my fellow Maudit Anglais Phil Gohier doth protest too much. Not sure what’s in the air in Toronto these days – Frustration? Spite? The stench of failure? – but whatever it is, Phil has been inhaling a little too hard. (Through the nose, Phil.) I wept yesterday when reading his treacherous post about TQS, Quebec’s self-professed “black sheep” network, the recent hardships of which Phil tut-tutted: “Am I the only one who doesn’t really understand the collective hand-wringing over the plight of TQS? Exactly how did the future of a third-rate TV network whose only success was in the realms of late-night softcore porn and phony ‘debates’ between insufferable blowhards become a constitutional issue?”
First off, Bleu Nuit is a long-running cultural icon that for decades has helped countless Quebec teens through the night. It also taught the world at large that, yes, Quebecers are for the most part horny and forever tortured. You might as well say Poutine is bad because its fattening and clogs the arteries, or that foie gras is evil because, well, think of the poor ducks.
After sex, Phil took on hockey, suggesting the post-game natterings of the likes of Jean Perron and noted cheap shot artist Marc Bureau on TQS flagship hockey show ‘110%’ constitute a blowhard-happy ‘phony debate’. (Imagine that, English Canada.) Hockey and blowhards were meant for one another. Don’t take my word for it: the success of ‘110%’ was so great that our normally staid and ponderous state broadcaster blatantly ripped off the format.
Until recently, TQS also was home to Jean-Luc Mongrain, one of the more interesting news anchors this country has ever seen. If you understand French, check this clip. It’s of Jean-Guy back in the day, excoriating a listener who said she was unemployed because of all the immigrants. Mongrain works himself into a froth over the insular nature of Quebec society, and how quickly some Quebecers blame others for their problems. He decries the province’s “culture of mediocrity” and its all-too-frequent tendency towards xenophobia and our fear of success – nearly 15 years before Quebec’s crise de coeur over reasonable accommodations. And he is more enlightening in eight minutes than two months of Bouchard-Taylor hearings on the subject. Mongrain is like that brilliant, drunk uncle you see on holidays: yes he’s a blowhard, and he’ll probably end up offending someone. But damned if he isn’t right most of the time.
Finally, Phil, everything in Quebec eventually becomes a constitutional issue. It’s part of the charm.