Some data I’ve written about and have since transferred to vid format. Enjoy! Ian :)

ALLiance Quebec 2.0: Our Organization’s Future

Nobody ever knows in what direction the wind will blow them. Case and point, since starting ALLiance Quebec 2.0, I’ve received two job offers from the United States, one of which is a freelance/contract writing gig which I have accepted. I’ve also received more offers of help from Americans than I have received from Canadians, even from Quebecers themselves! …And, I’m even deep in the process of carving out a business relationship with an American-based documentary filmmaker!  Yet, the issues we are fighting for concern us; they concern our democratic future and status as a society. And perhaps not surprisingly at all, more of us are talking about “les Habs” than any of this “stuff” that just so happens to concern our children and our children’s children. Wow. Really?!

I find it shocking and more than a little frightening to be honest. …Like pod-people frightening.

At the best of times, it’s been frustrating. First off, trying to wake up a whole city’s media and getting them to start conducting themselves in a manner consistent with other major city’s media outlets across North America – this, this has proven astoundingly insurmountable, particularly tasking one person with this. I mean, I get it: Montreal is Montreal and it functions under the various rubrics that have been laid out for it and embedded into what is a highly engineered and legislated society. But still – who precisely is making the decisions on behalf of us of “what is news” and do these people bring with them an established bias? The answer of course is yes, they do. As to who they are… I’ll let those who are interested conduct their own investigations.

I will forever ardently maintain that media is a fundamental societal check and balance system. That’s what it should be anyway. In Montreal it is not this. The sheer volume of ever-exposed corruption ought to prove this, right? Montreal newsrooms are much more given to pursue news tips than to investigate and actually “BREAK” news. We have almost as much “fluff” in our daily newscasts as we have reports on the latest corruption inquiry headlines… And I’m not even going to get into the embedded media bias present in both English and French language media in this city; I believe I am on record with that one, having worked in multiple jurisdictions myself over the last two decades. Of course, another unique feature onto Montreal media is the longevity by which media people here in this city CLING to their jobs, literally forcing more journalism graduates out of Montreal than medical professionals! (…Little known factoid).

It doesn’t end or even begin with the media though… in fact, the real “news” story here is us, Quebecers. We have become so accustomed to having the government do everything for us, make our decisions for us, legislate things for us the likes of which, again, doesn’t exist anywhere else in North America, that many of us have acquiesced ourselves into a corner… and the crazy thing is, many of us, are comfy in our snug, albeit all too often tight-fitting corners. To many Quebecers, in 2013, making a single “x” on a ballot every four years and paying 100 million dollars for that opportunity to label ourselves a democracy this way, is sufficient. That’s not a democracy to me – it doesn’t cut it anymore. We can do so much better than that, it’s almost a joke even debating where we are at now as a collective, as the Quebecois people. 

And that’s where I find myself, the day after this somewhat cathartic Easter weekend, although I’m kind of laughing at myself some. We have worked so incredibly hard at ALLiance Quebec 2.0 and have produced so much content and product based on message, that we were honestly expecting to be a little further down the pike than where we find ourselves now. With no volunteers to assist, I’ve been working 8-12 hour days for no pay for going on four months now. Cue the violins, no don’t; I chose to make that sacrifice because I believe in our message and I believed I could make a difference.

Obviously though, this current framework isn’t sustainable. With little or no media coverage, no one purchasing our product(s), donating to our crowd-funding campaign – and so few actually helping to spread our online digital footprint and message, we’ve been forced to conclude that we need an altogether different formula – one that is more sustaining on this end.

So, I am very seriously considering turning the ALLiance Quebec 2.0/Bill-101 product line into a division of a larger, private company that specializes in creating humorous political product. At the very least, this way, if I am going to be working 8-12 hour days for no pay, I will have profit motive to sustain me. We do have some incredible product developed in-house and in production as I type this; I refuse to accept that it’s all been developed for nothing. I also save myself a tonne of aggravation trying to convince people to get on board with my message.

Drop the message. Keep the products. Embed as much messaging into said products. Go Private. That is Le Plan, in a nutshell at this point in time.

Finally, if I may say, there are waaay too many players with egos in this particular field. In my admittedly biased and short-term analysis, many of them are clueless, have no business or political experience and/or are too old to be able to fight the fight the way it needs to be fought today. I admit I’m new to the Quebec political scene, but I stand by this analysis. I’ve been fighting “my own” for most of my organization’s existence. I’ll even add this, as a final, concluding, perhaps chilling thought:

We are on a precipice as a society here in Quebec – and we’re about to take the plunge off the democratic cliff into unchartered waters. It is most definitely a slippery slope. When leaders see that they can get away with taking away “X” with little or no recourse, the pattern usually concludes with more letters of the alphabet being taken away.

There are however three letters of the alphabet that the Quebec government will never be able to legislate away and those of course are, “U”, “S”, and “A”.

Ian :)

I invite everyone to sign ALLiance Quebec 2.0’s Quebec Refugee Registry. I don’t know about you, but once Bill-14 passes, I have a personal appointment with a Mai-Tai and a palm tree, in Malibu. Surf’s up!

Actually, the title should read – Montrealers’ problems with immigrants, because from what we are seeing, integrating immigrants into the Quebecois fold is becoming increasingly impossible and the onus is on US – Quebecers, for not doing enough to smooth and facilitate their incorporation into our society.

Approximately 40% of Quebecers view immigrants as “a problem” and a “potential threat” to the long-term viability of the French presence in North America. With numbers like these, is it any wonder that “Mohamed”, from Bangladesh cannot find work in Montreal? Mohamed was a neurosurgeon in his native land; here in Quebec, he works part time sweeping floors and delivering newspaper circulars. His children are well fed and taken care of, but Mohamed is failing himself. Actually, we’re all failing him and our society is losing out BIG TIME for it.

…And by the way, you don’t need to be from Bangladesh to encounter this discrimination and racism in Quebec’s workplace. I am third generation Quebecer. I have international references and have been published all over the place. When I lived in the U.S., employers apologized to me for starting me at $50,000-60,000/yr and that was some 15 years ago! Likewise, when I lived in Calgary, Alberta for a few years, my employer felt bad that the best they could offer me was a $27/hour job. Not surprisingly at all, here in Quebec, I am completely unemployable, despite speaking six languages, including fluent French.

What up?! I mean, particularly since our Premier has reached the pinnacle of success having barely mastered one language…how many languages do I need to speak before I’m considered a commodity in this particular economy?

There’s the clincher and it’s an ironic one no less. See, it’s not about language. I happen to have the misfortune of having a very identifiably “Jewish” last name – but it gets even worse than that:  My last name is associated with wealth, so I have actually been asked/told things like the following, at real job interviews (HERE IN QUEBEC):

-“What would rich Jew like you want with job like this?” (This was for a Federal government employee no less)!

And even better, on a separate occasion, in the private sector:

-“If we hired you, you would be the only Jew here, so we couldn’t be giving you special treatment for your holidays and prayers.” (I’m not religious, but I’m pretty sure the law provides me with the right to take off Jewish holidays, even though I don’t do that in practice).

Understand, these comments came at me totally out of left field and were prompted by nothing in terms of segue on my part. These comments come out of ignorance, isolation, insulation, and language laws that tell French-Quebecers they are “top-tier” members of society and all others are “beneath them”… that’s where comments like these come from. For the longest time, I’ve gone on record as saying if I took my exact resume and simply changed my name to i.e., Jean-Luc Desjardins, I’d have my phone ringing off the hook… and now, as of yesterday, I have OFFICIAL proof that this is in fact the case.

Did I actually send off a resume or two with the Jean-Luc moniker? No. But I was watching an interesting debate on Videotron’s Channel-9, on this very subject. The person in charge of immigration in Montreal was on the panel and he echoed exactly what I’ve been saying for years, though he used the Mohamed nomenclature to prove his point. Quebec employers, for the most part, when given the choice between a “Mohamed” and a “Jean-Luc”, 9/10 times will choose “Jean-Luc”. He even went so far as to suggest that there is a racist string to this phenomenon and he attested to the fact that he knew of situations where the identical resumes went out to companies, but with the two different names, and “Mohamed” was never once called, while his “Jean-Luc” counterpart was. He also cited stats that demonstrated that the problem was much less pronounced throughout the rest of Canada.

Quebec is a totally unique landscape, on so many levels. I get that. I ALSO get why this is the case. We are so insulated here. So many of us have never left this province so we lack comparative reference in terms of “how others are doing something”; this inherently slows down the process of change. But this is one area where we are going to have to speed up the wheels of progress in this province. We need to fix this problem and fix it with sound, community-oriented grassroots movements; simple, cheap things like Quebec families sponsoring immigrant families, working with them to ensure smooth transitioning, this can all be done. Instead, we bow to the never-ending political bureaucracy who on one hand is doing nothing to integrate these people and on the other is screaming in horror that their culture and language is under imminent threat because these people won’t integrate. How can they integrate when the messaging they are receiving and the laws the government is passing are telling them that they are second class citizens? Add to this the fact that many cannot find work and one must ask, how does a legislated second-class citizen with no representative voice, no job and no money, effectively integrate into the dominant culture when the dominant culture, at least 40% of it, doesn’t want them here to begin with?

As John Stossel, formerly of ABC News 20/20 would say, “GIVE ME A BREAK!”

Since our official launch, three weeks ago, here is a list of everything that ALLiance Quebec 2.0 has been up to, both publicly, as well as behind the scenes.

(1)    We launched officially on February 27th, 2013, dispatching over 32,000 press releases internationally. We were picked up on several U.S./online news feeds and were invited to Global Morning with Richard Dagenais to talk about our launch. We were also featured in the only English-language newspaper in Quebec City, the Chronicle Telegraph.

(2)    Our launch also coincided with the launch of our website and our strategic crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo – check both out at www.alliancequebec2.com

(3)    We also launched our Youtube channel  and we’ve been slowly getting at promoting these videos, linking them as responses to others etc.

(4)    We filed a brief with the Bill-14 Hearings Committee to speak about the economic consequences of Bill 14 and Quebec’s language laws; on April 11th at 4pm, we will be presenting our case to the Committee in Quebec City.

(5)    We received shipment on our first of many promotional items, our Bill 101 Le Toilet Paper and have just approved the final proof on our patent-pending Bill 101 Le Board Game. The Bill 101 Toilet Paper webmercial is up on our Youtube channel. PS: In a few months time or less, Bill 101 Le Toilet Paper will be coming up at the top of a Google search for BILL 101… that is my own personal goal in terms of SEO.

(6)    We’ve entered into negotiations with a U.S. documentary filmmaker who is willing to invest 50% of production costs for our documentary film, 101 Damnations: The Struggle for Demo-crazie in Quebec. We are in the process of seeking a Canadian film production company (or investor) to cover the other 50% of costs… Tune in!

(7)    We’ve began the Quebec Refugee Registry – a post-Bill 14 initiative that will hopefully see thousands of Quebecers applying for asylum to the U.S. once Bill 14 becomes law. We are actually working with immigration attorneys on both sides of the 49th on this one.

(8)    We’ve completed the authoring of our children’s book, 101 Reasons Why Billy Shouldn’t Be Afraid to go to School (in Montreal) and are looking for a drawer/artist to lend his/her pictures to the bilingual book.

(9)    On March 6th, I was asked to be an emergency guest on a one hour long radio show on Money and Business. Of course I agreed. Several hours later, I was asked if I could be the emergency guest-host as well! How often does that happen? But I more than winged it – and the phones were down too – so that meant I had to keep talking for a little more than 45 minutes! The MP3 link will be up on our website, in our media section, imminently.

(10)We’re still another month or so away from the release of our online music video; we’ve hit a few snags in the post-production phase, but suffice it to say, this is one we believe can and will go viral…

(11) We went from having 4 Facebook friends to 325 in less than two weeks time; our Twitter followers are up to 150 now and more of them seem to be connected to our messaging than before.

(12) We’ve begun our own letter writing campaign, only not to MP’s and MNA’s to U.S. Congressmen/women/Senators and even to the President of the United States. In fact, we are the only organization of our kind focusing our media efforts primarily SOUTH of the border.

 * We could be doing more — it’s just a question of bodies. Help us spread the word. Like us, link to us, retweet us, facebook friend us, like our vids on Youtube… and if there’s anything else you can or want to do to help… don’t hesitate to be in touch. We help all our volunteers as well, so it’s not a one-way street. :) Thanks for reading! Ian :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILenRUbBX9Q

* Pls like and pass it on x100! We need signatures!! Ian :)

After hours of playing around with various database features from my web-host, I’ve been forced to conclude that having this registry off-site would work best. Sign up, tell your friends to sign, (even if they don’t want to immigrate to the United States) this is for optics! Remember, Bill 14 is going to pass, once it does, we have less freedom, and less ability to do anything within the existent system to effectuate change. This, as far as I know, is the strongest idea out there and I want it to catch! The day after Bill 14 becomes law I want to file this claim with the U.S. and go public. Help me? :)      Names, names, names!

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/quebec-refugee-registry.html

Be sure to check the ALLiance Quebec 2.0 website Sunday as we will likely have our Quebec Refugee Registry up and running by then. For those that don’t know, once Bill 14 passes we will be petitioning the United States to open its immigration doors to us, the disenfranchised, the forgotten, the discriminated. Sign up! Get everyone you know to sign up – it costs nothing and with enough names in the database we will be able to make a very loud splash internationally – think about it – thousands of political refugees lining up at the U.S. doorstep… from CANADA!

Time to DIG OUR HEELS in and fight – not with petitions and phone calls, but with MEDIA-STUNTS like this one that will bring international shame to both Quebec and Canada. 

Seriously, this is probably the easiest way for all of us to make a difference on this most fundamental of issues – make no mistake… we’re fighting for our democracy here and it doesn’t look good…

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