On Monday, Quebec unveiled its new anti-racism ads, intended to be positive messages against prejudice, to the public. But the new campaign entered the language debate after some took issue with the wording in one ad.
The ad, which is running in both English and French, has been criticized for how it describes a group of individuals sitting in a park.
In the now-removed English video, the ad narrator says "a group of young Black people in a park at night are called: friends."
The French ad narrator, reading the exact same line, ends it with the statement "des amis québécois" (québécois friends).
Spot the difference?
Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone interpreted the discrepancy as an indication that the government excluded anglophones from the québécois identity.
Maccarone took to Twitter to question what she called a "lack of tact" by the government.
"Sorry that being a Quebecer cannot be translated into another language," she wrote. "Are not English speakers fully-fledged québécois.es? Isn't the primary goal to bring everyone together?!"
In his own tweet Monday night, Benoit Charette, Quebec's minister for the fight against racism, explained that "following discussions with our language advisors, we had not included the term 'Quebecers' as it seemed less inclusive."
"Today's reactions show us that this was not the best solution," he admitted.
Apr\u00e8s discussions avec notre responsable des relations avec les communaut\u00e9s anglophones @Cskeete, nous avons demand\u00e9 \u00e0 ce qu\u2019on modifie la pub en anglais. Tous les citoyens du Qu\u00e9bec sont des Qu\u00e9b\u00e9cois, peu importe leur langue. Il a toujours \u00e9t\u00e9 clair pour ns que c\u2019\u00e9tait le cas.
"After discussions with our person in charge of relations with the English-speaking communities [MNA Christopher Skeete], we asked that we modify the advertisement in English. All citizens of Quebec are Quebecers, regardless of their language."
Premier François Legault is standing firm on his government's decision to maintain Quebec's health emergency state. While opposition parties have called on the CAQ to end the emergency and even accused it of using the status to "abuse power," Legault said Tuesday that it's still necessary to enable the government "to take certain actions that they would not normally be able to take."
The premier claims that things like mandating masks in elementary school classes and enforcing a vaccine passport are only possible with the exceptional powers that come with the emergency declaration.
Section 123 of the law gives the government broad power to order vaccinations for parts of the population, lock down parts of the province, freely spend to address a health crisis and "order any other measure necessary to protect the health of the population."
Legault has said the government would end the emergency once five to 11-year-olds are largely vaccinated against COVID-19. On Tuesday, he reiterated that commitment.
"I'm the first person to want to stop the health emergency," he said.
"We are quite convinced that once the children have had their two doses, which means somewhere in late February, early March, we will be able to remove" it.
"But at the moment we need it to keep certain instructions in place."
While the full segment is no longer available online, the clip shows the man, who's identified as police response analyst Daniel Cléroux, saying, "He doesn't have the background of a potential gang member at all, firstly because of his nationality." Internet users say Cléroux was on the show to discuss the fatal shooting of a Saint-Michel teenager, who is white.
Even Montreal's police service (the SPVM) took to social media to say, "The #SPVM wants to dissociate itself from the unacceptable remarks made during this interview. This person does not speak on our behalf and has never been employed by the Service."
Comedian and activist Renzel Dashington posted the clip on Instagram with the caption "He's the same one who will ask you if you're a Quebecer... but what nationality? [...] Racism at its best!"
Dashington's post has over 2,000 "likes."
Ce matin,une personne a accord\u00e9 une entrevue \u00e0 Salut Bonjour en lien avec le 31e homicide survenu \u00e0 Mtl en 2021.\n\nLe #SPVM tient \u00e0 se dissocier des propos inacceptables tenus lors de cette entrevue. Cette personne ne parle pas en notre nom et n\u2019a jamais \u00e9t\u00e9 \u00e0 l\u2019emploi du Service.
Meanwhile, the Twitterverse is full of reactions from people condemning the comment.
"Disgusting to imply that someone's nationality is indicative of criminality. It says a lot about our justice system when racist ideas like this are conveyed by "experts" in the field. @salutbonjour aren't you ashamed?" wrote @lo_psd.
"Will Minister [Benoit] Charette firmly denounce this video excerpt from Salut Bonjour and, above all, will he end up recognizing systemic racism in Quebec and taking action to put an end to it?" tweeted @_QueenOfFluff.
Dashington is asking for "a real apology" from Salut Bonjour.
In another post, he highlights an apparent Salut Bonjour direct message that says: "Our show is live and we don't always have control over what our guests say. Rest assured, however, that we will do the appropriate follow-up."
Dashington wrote that the show being live "is not an absolution from being a responsible content producer."
He continued, "This morning 1 point for the normalization of racism in Quebec."
MTL Blog reached out to Salut Bonjour but did not receive an immediate response.
Premier François Legault took to Facebook on Sunday, November 14 to show his love for the Coalition Avenir Québec party (CAQ) on its 10th birthday.
"It certainly hasn't always been easy. We have had our ups and downs. At times, not many people would have bet on our victory. Some people quit, but there were also people who kept believing," Legault wrote in a heartfelt message about the party.
The premier explained how it took seven years for the CAQ to get in power, and since then he believes they "have completely changed the political landscape of Quebec."
On his list of the CAQ's achievements, Legault said the party helped in stopping the divide between Quebecers who want independence and those who do not.
He further said they "managed to bring together nationalism and the economy."
"For me, being a nationalist means first of all putting aside our differences to put Quebec first. It's not just about protecting our nation, our language, our values. It is also about being ambitious for the future. To be a nationalist means not accepting that we are less wealthy than our neighbours," the premier's message read.
Legault ended his Facebook post with a hopeful note about the future.
"We've come an incredible distance in the last 10 years, but you know what interests me most? It's not the past, it's the future," Legault said. "For me, it all starts with pride. Pride is what drives a people to excel. Pride is another way of looking at the future. Pride is the foundation of a winning Quebec!"
Avec mon coll\u00e8gue @marc_tanguay on demande \u00e0 la #CAQ de ne pas renouveler le d\u00e9cret d'urgence pour une 86e fois. La gestion par d\u00e9cret, sans reddition de compte, dure depuis plus de 600 jours. Si on peut faire du karaok\u00e9, on peut redonner la d\u00e9mocratie http://xn--qubcois-cyab.esqu\u00e9b\u00e9cois.es\u00a0.pic.twitter.com/0g65ukt7LJ
Quebec has continually renewed the health emergency it declared at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, keeping the province in a state of emergency for more than 600 days.
This emergency order grants the government special powers to implement health measures very quickly, passing them as decrees instead of laws, which means they aren't subject to the same process of checks and balances.
The Quebec Liberal Party has challenged the CAQ's use of these decrees in the past with Liberal leader Dominique Anglade calling them "authoritarian." On the day of this particular parliamentary session, she tweeted, "If we can do karaoke, we can restore democracy."
During the question period, Tanguay, the MNA for LaFontaine, spoke critically on the CAQ's use of these powers and asked for a debate in the National Assembly.
"Quebecers have been living under a political regime that has all the powers for 607 days," he said. "A month ago, the premier was saying: The worst of the crisis is behind us [...] that doesn't justify the fact that they are going to renew this."
He continued, "So, what does the CAQ not want Quebecers to know?"
Jolin-Barrette defended the use of emergency decrees to control the pandemic.
"Is the member for LaFontaine aware that there is a virus, COVID-19, previously known as the coronavirus [...] that all measures have been put in place to control the pandemic [...] that there are challenges, Mr. Speaker, throughout the world, including Quebec? Quebec is part of planet Earth," said Jolin-Barrette.
"Is the member for LaFontaine aware of this or [...] does he deny this reality? Does he believe that it is a conspiracy? Is he a conspiracy theorist?"
Liberal house leader André Fortin stepped in to call Jolin-Barrette's remarks a "completely unwarranted attack that deserves an apology" and asked that the word "complotiste," conspiracy theorist in French, be added to a list of unparliamentary terms that are banned from the National Assembly.
François Paradis, president of the National Assembly, didn't formally ban the term but said, "I don't want to hear that term again with respect to any member of the House."
Jolin-Barrette's office confirmed that he later texted Tanguay to offer his apologies.