McGill Fails Andrew Potter & Democracy by Jamie Gilcig MARCH 24, 2017

Jamie Gilcig

Cornwall Ontario –  I never graduated McGill University, but it is the only one I’ve attended as a student.  I always thought that McGill was a shining beacon in Montreal, the city where I was born, something to be proud of for all of Canada.

Like many English institutions in la belle province it’s faced many challenges over the years, but it’s truly becoming disturbing to see this once mighty place of learning fall into disrepute.

Recently it failed to truly take a stand over the Igor Sadikov “Punch a Zionist” scandal.  In 2017 there should be no tolerance or room for violence, especially on a campus of young people.

It’s even more boggling that the school itself seems to have taken more of a stand against Andrew Potter than Mr. Sadikov.

Andrew Potter was a former editor of the Ottawa Citizen.   He wrote a piece for Maclean’s magazine that probably has drawn more eyeballs than any other piece of the long time mag in generations all because he pierced the insecurity and xenophobia that haunts so many in this province.

While he may have taken some flourishes, as his knee jerk politically correct apology for his column explained, ultimately he was forced to resign his position as director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

 It frankly is shocking.  While any piece of journalism is always up for criticism; for it to lead to a termination of a position in this manner simply is embarrassing and unacceptable.    Far worse has been written and said about Toronto for example, by many in Quebec without a flicker of comment or suggestion of loss of income or position.
As someone that was born and grew up in Montreal, and then left Quebec due to its many issues with non pur laine folk, much of what he wrote resonated.
Montreal is not Quebec.   It really isn’t.  Politically it’s English, or allophone, culture and history has been bashed and buried for the most part.  Right now the government is trying to rejig some ridings even in what appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to water down the Mont Royal riding which has a large English population, and other areas where anglophones habitate.
While transit workers who refused to speak English to people, or even Paramedics have refused to speak English to people;  how does Andrew Potter lose his three year contract and they not theirs?   Is that not utterly insane?
Stephane Giroux is a popular broadcaster and journalist.  I personally was shocked as he most definitely has the tools to legitimately have criticized Mr. Potter’s piece.   And who are his people?  Even if he was incensed by Andrew’s piece why sink to raging stereotypical East End PQ ranting which in my opinion opened another channel of floodgates of abuse and pressure?     Mr. Giroux pulled his thread on social media after the Potter apology, but the damage was done as Potter resigned the next day.
Lots of lively debate about this subject including with Mr. Giroux, who essentially brushed off my suggestion of bullying because of my previous comments about Quebec.    I don’t hate the city I was born in.     I miss the Montreal I grew up in because most of those I grew up with have left.  Most of the institutions I knew are gone.   I’m not sure Steph would ever consider me one of “his people”.    While Montreal may be the biggest city in Quebec, it’s a different world than the rest of the Province.  Quebec is a part of Montreal, but it has a totally different history and culture no matter what some people say and think.
And that was chiefly part of the focus of Mr. Potter’s piece.   As an outsider he shared a most unflattering reflection of Quebec via incidents in Montreal.   He posted statistics.  He offered positions.   He wrote a piece that could have led to actual debate and maybe discussion, which is what good journalists do.     He pressed buttons and those reactions essentially proved his point.  He did not deserve to resign or be fired over this.
McGill, as many far more knowledgeable than myself have written, has now created a situation where many academics may fear what they write will lead them to Potterville.   That silences a lot of voices.  That should never be what true places of education should be about.
How do we test ideas and concepts if we can’t debate and argue them without abuse or threat of job loss?
Should we all pressure the TV station that Mr. Giroux works at to fire him because of being offended about what he posted to Mr. Potter?
At the end of the day this is simply another example that highlights the failings of  a once great province, city, and university.   I personally find that very sad.  I probably will take heat for this piece and maybe even lose a few friends.
Luckily I can’t be fired for writing this.

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