Episode 63: Bonjour Hi, Montreal
I know Quebec. It’s the Francophone chunk of Canada, prone to frothy linguistic disputes, home of the exquisite lumberjack foods of Joe Beef and Martin Picard, motherland of those hardy souls who live in plywood huts on the streets of New York City every Christmas season, making love in their camper vans, washing up in the bathrooms at Starbucks and slinging trees for cash.Of course, this is to say, I don’t know shit about Quebec. I saw it once across the Ottawa River, but never had set foot in it, and all the things I think I know are filtered through the reports of Anglophone Canada, or worse yet, Vermonters, who have described the province to me as little more than a dyspeptic land of Pepsi-drinking nativists and fur trappers.This ignorance of mine is an old friend, a familiar problem to those of us who have more frequent flier miles than common sense. But if I have one thing going for me, it’s this undefeated trick of the trade. It’s a two-step thing, actually. First: understand that you know nothing. Second: find a journalist from the place, bring her or him something to drink, and listen. My great luck in Montreal, at the outset of these next five episodes, is to not just find a journalist, but to find the journalist, the man who has spent years patiently intermediating between Francophone and Anglophone Canada, who has enough cage-rattle to him to have been sketchily surveilled by the Montreal Police Department, who won the Canadian Press Freedom Award for the way he fought back, and who now is the host and voice of Quebec’s biggest drivetime radio news show. He is Patrick Lagacé, and I brought him some beer, and I listened.Show notes:Le Quebec Maintenant showPatrick Lagacé’s columns at La PresseNews report on police surveillance of Patrick LagacéPatrick Lagacé’s (doctored) Wikipedia pageGlobe and Mail column by Patrick Lagacé
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