McGill University professor gets backlash for Quebec Premier critique – National
WATCH: (Mar. 1, 2014) He was critical about a press release by Quebec Premier Pauline Marois following the gold medal hockey game last Sunday. Well, what he put on Facebook led to hundreds of critical comments and some are blaming linguistic tensions in the province. Mike Armstrong explains.
MONTREAL – McGill University professor Joe Schwarcz speaks out after criticism of his recent comments posted with a photo of Quebec’s premier on his Facebook page.
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With tensions over language already peaking, Quebecers have been less than forgiving of the Photoshopped image that caused such a controversy.
READ MORE: Quebec minister tweets photoshopped Olympic photo
“This ‘gold medal gate’ — as I’ve started to call it — is a trivial thing,” said Schwarcz.
“She deserved to be ridiculed for the nonsensical thing that she said.”
That nonsensical thing, Schwarcz pointed out, was an apparent snub of Carey Price and PK Subban by the Premier when they returned home from Sochi.
“Those two guys play for the Canadiens, which is in Montreal, which is in Quebec,” he said.
“They deserved the same kind of congratulations as the four others who may have been born in Quebec but don’t even play in Quebec.”
Schwarcz was insulted by the fact that the premier only congratulated Quebec athletes.
READ MORE: No mention of Canada when Marois congratulates Olympic hockey players
He did not hesitate to share his opinion on his semi-public Facebook page.
“I did find this cartoon or caricature of the premier where she’s holding a plate of pasta and she’s stuffing it in her mouth,” he said.
“Instead of putting her foot in her mouth.”
He was ready to leave it at that, until the Journal de Montreal published an article called “Un professeur de McGill attise la hargne des anglos” (A McGill professor stirs resentment in anglos).
After that, it wasn’t long before the comments started coming in.
READ MORE: Quebec language police target Chelsea shop’s Facebook page
“There’s a great deal of sensitivity right now about language, about the values charter, about the upcoming election,” said political analyst Bruce Hicks.
“There’s a defensiveness among the PQ as they smell victory.”
Hicks points out that tensions in the province right now are riding high.
“There are limits,” he said.
“Do I think Joe Scwarcz crossed it? No. I think we need to make fun of ourselves regardless of which side of the debate we’re on.”
Schwarcz insisted his comments are his personal opinion and don’t have any connection to his job at McGill.
He also admitted that the backlash surprised him.
READ MORE: Montreal Board of Trade criticizes Quebec language police over Facebook crackdown
“It kind of shows you the atmosphere that we’re living in here, where I think the problem has been created by the politicians,” he said.
“It doesn’t exist and [we’re looking] for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Despite being caught in the centre of a political maelstrom, Schwarcz argued that he won’t be censoring himself anytime soon.
“What we want is civilized discussion and if this triggered some interesting discussion, so much the better,” he said.
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