Earlier this week, an issue of Maclean’s magazine hit the newsstands with a picture of Bonhomme Carnaval on the cover, clutching a suitcase stuffed with cash. Beside the mascot, the headline called Quebec “The Most Corrupt Province in Canada.”
The article upset Canadian politicians so much the House of Commons passed a unanimous motion on September 29, expressing its “profound sadness at the prejudice displayed and the stereotypes employed by Maclean’s magazine to denigrate the Quebec nation, its history and its institutions.” After the House passed the motion, the magazine, and several other media outlets, said that Parliament had censured the magazine.
But Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said it was in fact not a censure motion, but instead a statement that Parliament was disappointed in the Maclean’s article. If it was a cenusre motion, he said, they would have said so, and added the motion would not have passed. “It’s something that I would have resisted strongly,” said Cullen in an interview with Muskeg News.
The article, written by Jacques Boissinot, tells the history of the various financial scandals in Quebec’s history: from the days when Premier Maurice Duplessis kept “$60,000 cash in his basement as part of an ‘electoral fund’ to dole out to obliging consituents” to the present day, when Quebeckers have been glued to their televisions watching the former provincial justice minister saying the current government under Jean Charest is “rife with collusion, graft and barely concealed favouritism.” Charest, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the article, is the subject of a public inquiry into how judges are appointed in Quebec. (Read the whole article here.)
But the article’s arguments didn’t wash with Cullen, who said he’s never seen a province so embarrassed by a national magazine. He also took offense to the cover image of Bonhomme, which Maclean’s has apologized for.
Cullen also said there were some serious allegations against the premier’s office in the article, and pointed out that Quebec is not unique in having its leaders investigated for scandal.
Cullen added that he put on his “B.C. lens” when reading the article and said that if a similar article had been written about B.C., “I would have been outraged.”
~Written by Chris Armstrong