Pierre Karl Peladeau


I saw the front page of the Journal de Québec the other day. Pierre Karl Péladeau, the head of Québecor, Québec’s leading media giant, and one of Canada’s biggest also, pronounced categorically that there was to be no new Québec Nordiques hockey team in Québec city, unless taxpayers footed the entire bill for the construction of a new building to house the team.

I couldn’t believe what I saw, but I guess I should expect it by now. Our country has a long and notorious history of having its so-called ‘entrepreneurial class’, coerce the government into massively subsidizing virtually any major building project until virtually all risk has been removed from the venture, then bellying up to the bar and monopolizing the venture and making a piss pot of money off of it.

Such was the case with all the canals and railways of the nineteenth century, most notoriously of which was the CPR, wherein the Crown first had to give the CPR consortium 25 million dollars in outright cash grant, 25 million acres of free land, and a monopoly on all trade going in and out of the prairies for several decades, before they would lay a single mile of track.

The same goes for Péladeau. Except in his case, which is doubly galling, he’s filthy rich already, and pretty much owns the collective psyche or consciousness of Québecers through his massive media ownership. Just for example, he owns Le Devoir newspaper, Le Journal de Québec and Montréal, Vidéotron cable, Archambault music stores, Réseau Contact internet dating service, the TVA television network, the French-language version of the TV Guide, called TV Hebdo, as well as a whole schwack of grocery-store checkout magazines dealing with the Québec showbiz industry. Not only that, he also owns the ‘Sun’ chain of tabloids in English Canada, and a music library of Québec songs which is perhaps the biggest in the province, owning the copyrights to all the lyrics.

The guy is pretty much more powerful than any Catholic cleric ever was and the things his media outlets say are far more accepted as Gospel truth now than anything the Catholic Church ever taught in the past. The motto of his TVA television network goes so far as saying ‘c’est vrai’, or ‘it’s true’, in big bold letters on the screen, as if to remind the Québec population that their newly self-appointed and self-anointed arbiters of all that is sacred and profane have just dispensed an infallible Papal Dogma, and just wanted to remind their flock of this incontrovertible ‘secular theological’ pronouncement.

For all intents and purposes, Québecers have traded one set of clerics for another, and no one seems to have batted an eyelash. At least in the age of Clericalism in Québec, the clergy seemed genuinely concerned for the spiritual welfare and salvation of the souls of their faithful followers. Pierre Karl Péladeau on the other hand, just seems to want to sell us more stuff.

And now he’s demanding that the civil government which represents his flock, pay out of their own pockets, close to 400 million dollars to build a so-called ‘place of worship’, so that the ‘faithful’, can flock to see ‘gods’ that he himself will reincarnate out of nothing. Well the last time I checked, governments were no longer in the business of paying for the construction of any place of ‘worship’, and that if ‘Pope Karl’ wants us to worship his ‘gods’ at his ‘temple’, he should darn well have the gumption to pony up at least part of the cost of its construction.

I’m a big hockey fan myself, and would love nothing better than to see pro-hockey return to our Capital. However, we must look at the moral component of this issue, or in this case, lack thereof. Our nation and our province are currently undergoing unprecedented economic turmoil and contractions, the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. The very role of the state in the edification of society is being seriously called into question, not necessarily out of lack of ideological conviction, but more out of a sense of shear fiscal debt load, resulting from ambitious, well-intentioned, yet ultimately, fiscally, and possibly morally dubious spending.

The corporate world, however, is flush with cash, and should not hesitate to loosen its purse strings to throw some of that financial clout around for the good of society. It would appear, however, that Jean Charest, and Stephen Harper are trying to buy our votes in Québec city with our own money again. Charest is sagging badly in the polls because of all of this Bastarache commission business getting egg on his face, and Harper is trying to rebuild some of the bridges he almost completely burned when he cut funding to the arts a while back, and made disparaging, ideologically-driven remarks about artists being flaky wards of the state leeching off government money.

Well apparently pop culture such as hockey seems to be more appealing as a vote-getter with the likes of Mr. Harper, as opposed to all those flaky arty-farty types who take government money, so he’s decided he’ll stand behind this venture. However, the last time a Canadian Prime Minister was accused of trying to buy votes in Québec with the people’s money, it happened to be aimed at a gravelly-voiced guy from Shawinigan  who was from another party. In that case, this guy ended up being compelled to appear before a judge with a suitcase full of golf balls, and explain to counsel, and all those present, including His Honour, the finer differences between ‘small town cheap’ and ‘Westmount cheap’, much to the delight of the attendance, not to mention a large element of the viewing public, who admire the Boy from Shawinigan for his scrappiness and tenacity in the face of mean-spirited criticism for having defended the integrity of the country he loves.

Stephen Harper, on the other hand, probably will get a free pass on this one. I don’t quite see him having to bring any suitcases full of golf balls to court to explain himself for this one. Or hockey pucks. Harper will more likely end up on the golf course with Charest and Péladeau, seal the deal, go to the nineteenth hole for a few stiffies, and deduct it all on their income tax at the end of the year.

Like I insinuated at the beginning, the likes of Péladeau are using us for their own selfish and self-centred, self-serving ends. We end up paying in the end. In the meantime our new secular ‘Pope’ continues to rack up huge profits peddling his products. I think I’ll stick with the old Pope, and the old-fashioned salvation of my soul thingy. It’s been around longer, and has stood the test of time better than any Johnny come lately plutocratic secular bourgeois baron or potentate. I think I’ll go to bed now. My body and soul both need rest if I’m to contemplate their salvation. Or maybe someday go see a Nordiques game at a new arena. I’m not going to hold my breath to see which one comes first. I may be disappointed waiting for the latter scenario to materialize in my lifetime, whereas, if virtue doth not elude me, I shall surely know the former in due time.

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