Not any more

Charest slams Maclean’s criticism of Quebec

In Canada on September 29, 2010 at 14:07

MONTREAL — Premier Jean Charest came down hard on a Maclean’s cover story calling Quebec the most corrupt province in Canada, saying the magazine had disregarded basic standards of journalism.

In a letter, Mr. Charest said he hoped Maclean’s editor Mark Stevenson would recognize his error and apologize to Quebecers.

The magazine’s controversial cover story is accompanied by the iconic figure of Bonhomme Carnaval carrying a suitcase stuffed with cash, with the headline: “The Most Corrupt Province in Canada.”

“Drawing on recent debates, you have concocted an assortment of dubious conclusions, unproven allegations, and isolated events, in which you confuse Premier Duplessis, public service unions, the Quiet Revolution, state intervention, our Catholic roots, and above all the sovereigntist movement,” Mr. Charest’s letter read.

“With this twisted form of journalism and ignorance, any society would be painted in a poor light.”

Mr. Charest went on to list Quebec’s accomplishments in recent years, including its handling of the economic crisis. He called Quebec “half of Canada’s soul, identity, and humanity.”

The Oct. 4 edition of Maclean’s has caused a firestorm in both Quebec and Ottawa, with politicians denouncing the article’s claims.

Bonhomme is the mascot of the Quebec City winter carnival, and its president has also called for a public apology.

Maclean’s has stood by its story, noting in a statement that it is aware that some readers might find the “cartoon” on the cover to be provocative. “But we think that the articles should be read and judged based on their own merits of fair and credible journalism,” the magazine contended.

The story, which runs over five pages in the magazine, chronicles a number of scandals, notably allegations of cronyism in judicial appointments that has led the Charest government to appoint a judicial commission that is now conducting hearings.

The magazine notes that Quebec is “perpetually rife with scandal” and recalls that Quebec’s dodgy history goes as far back as the Maurice Duplessis era, when patronage was widespread.

The magazine also dwells on the sponsorship scandal, in which the federal Liberals spent nearly $100 million to flood Quebec with Canadian flags before the 1995 sovereignty referendum.

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