Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair Refuses to Apologize for “Slanted Eyes” Asian Comments. Racism still acceptable in Quebec? 3

2nd Update: Gilles Gagnon an ADQ candidate in Abitibi-East, Quebec is backtracking from his comments  on his business’s website about American and European Jews waging war too maintain their economic status.

Update: Jse-Che Lam a former member of the Star’s Community Editorial Board clues in the clueless

The Boisclair controversy did not crack Page 1 of the Star but earned front-page status in Chinese language dailies nationwide… If Boisclair had been a GTA-based politician, these words would have swiftly ended his political career.

One could explain to André Boisclair why “les yeux brides” is both divisive and inappropriate. However, I’m afraid that unless he could experience the world through my eyes, he would never truly understand.

Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair, who liked to snort cocaine while he was a cabinet minister see his wikipedia entry said to students in a speech on Wednesday that when he was in Harvard

I was surprised to see that on campus, about a third of the undergraduate students had slanted eyes,” he said.

“They’re not going to work in sweatshops. They’re people who will later work as engineers, managers, and will create wealth. They’re people who will innovate in their countries. There is ferocious competition in the world today.

Apparently it’s not the first time he used the word and he cluelessly refuses to apologize.

Yesterday, faced with repeated questions from reporters, Mr. Boisclair said he stood by his remarks and didn’t understand why a fuss was being made, since he has used the “slanted eyes” phrase repeatedly in stump speeches in the past.

“There’s no way I will apologize,” he told reporters during a campaign stop in Quebec City. He said he used the expression because “these people are a source of amazement for me. I’ve been to Japan; they are my friends, my colleagues. No way I will apologize.

So he also doesn’t know the difference between Japanese and Chinese people. The Parti Québécois is the same party who’s leader complained they lost the election by “money and the ethnic vote”

It’s not just Boisclair who’s clueless

Fo Niemi of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, a Montreal civil-rights group called the PQ office to talk to them about the inapporpriateness of Boisclairs comments and got this response

…he said the party’s director of communications for the election campaign, Shirley Bishop, aggressively told him over the phone that she saw nothing wrong with the comment and blamed “people like you” for making racism an issue.

He’s not the only one. The Toronto-based Chinese Canadian National Council called on Boisclair to clarify his comment.

“It is rather disappointing to hear Mr. Boisclair, and an aspiring premier at that, refer to students of Asian heritage in this manner,” council president Colleen Hua said.

“Indeed, it is ironic that today marks the start of Action Week Against Racism in Quebec.

“So we are taking action in asking Mr. Boisclair to correct his statement immediately.”

Apparently the 2 other Quebec provincial leaders don’t see the word as a problem

I think I know Mr. Boisclair well enough to tell you that I don’t believe Mr. Boisclair used that term in a pejorative way … . Believe me, I find plenty of fault politically with Mr. Boisclair, and I’m not shy of saying it, but I wouldn’t fault him for using that expression,” Charest said.

Dumont, who hadn’t heard Boisclair’s remarks, responded by joking: “I have those eyes. I’m told all the time I have slanted eyes.

Dumont suggested that Boisclair was just trying to convey an image.

“Frankly, from knowing Mr. Boisclair I don’t think it was done in a way that was mean or against anyone … . I tend to believe he is a man of generosity.

Not used in a pejorative way? How clueless can you get? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that you shouldn’t use words to describe people of a particular race that they find offensive, but apparently if you lead a political party in Quebec during a provincial election you don’t have to understand this.

Why is this behavior acceptable in Quebec? I know not all the Quebecois think like this. I’ve lived in Quebec for a few years when I was young and went back during university on a French immersion course and had a great time there and enjoyed the people. My last name is not english it’s French.

When I was coming back to Alberta in the early 80s I remember seeing seeing statues of black lawn jockeys in house in Quebec. I thought I was in the deep south in the 50’s.

Boisclair should apologize immeadiately. Should you feel like expressing your opinion, here’s the his party’s website their phone numbers 514 526-0020 or the toll free one: 1-800-363-9531

Or if you feel like it you could also send a letter to the montreal media ie the Montreal gazette.

Wikipedia has a list of Montreal media outlets

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3 thoughts on “Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair Refuses to Apologize for “Slanted Eyes” Asian Comments. Racism still acceptable in Quebec?

  • Jan Karlsbjerg

    Did you see the skit about Quebec racism from the “This hour has 22 minutes”? Very funny.

    A (pretend, of course) PQ sports organizer was justifying why girls with head scarfs, black kids, etc. etc. couldn’t participate in sports. It was all out of safety concerns.

    The head scarf might unravel in the middle of a game and trip up somebody, the black kids could be quite invisible (unless they ran with their open palms in front of them), and it was out of the question to have any Jewish kids participate in soccer; because if they tried to hit the ball with their heads but missed it, their horns might hit some other kid in the face or chest.

  • Tommy Finger

    Boisclair IS racist because he believes in his world, the upper echelons of Quebec society SHOULD be controlled and dominated by white pur-laine francophones.

    I will let others battle over whether or not the use of “yeux bridees” is racist or not. What is racist is his fear of the pronounced presence of Asians in institutions of higher-learning. This is something that ‘may’ ultimately hinder his vision of what an independant Quebec should look like. A society where “les autres” are mobile and well educated while his brethren are stuck in low paying manual service jobs (or unemployed) is not acceptable.

    In Quebec, language is just an excuse. It’s all about jobs and money and power. Jean-Francois Lisee demonstrated this with his comment that they value immigrants that live in French (which would most likely be a French person) more than just those who can speak French.

    Anglophones who have stayed in Quebec and became bilingual are now finding out that they continue to be second class citizens despite their language skills.