Maclean’s cover story angers Quebecers

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In the weeks since its publication, the Maclean’s magazine cover story that branded Quebec with the title of “Most Corrupt Province in Canada” has aroused strong reactions throughout the province.

In the article, which appeared in the October 4 issue, Martin Patriquin examined Quebec’s political culture, which he called “perpetually rife with scandal.” Patriquin cited  former premier Maurice Duplessis’s allotment of money and contracts to favoured ridings, the uncertaintities surrounding former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s rise to power, and the current scandal over judicial selection as evidence of Quebec’s political failures.

Several organizations and politicians have publicly demanded an apology from the magazine.

“The article itself isn’t so damaging,” said Marc Poisson, a representative of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec. “It’s mostly the culmination that comes along with it and the cover of the magazine.”

Poisson said that the article could discourage investors from coming to Quebec and could have a lasting effect on Quebec’s image both nationally and internationally.

Some groups are also upset over the lack of a complete province by province ranking and any empirical support for giving Quebec the top-ranked spot. Journalists and bloggers for L’actualité, a French magazine owned by the same parent company as Maclean’s, have attacked the article by searching for  the methodology used to determine Quebec’s status as the most corrupt province in the nation.  

“This is xenophobia,” said Jean-François Lisée, a Quebec political analyst who blogs for L’actualité. “This is what Maclean’s salesmanship rides on and perpetuates as we speak.”

Patriquin, the author, said he believes the article has been misconstrued.

“I think it was misunderstood by a lot of people,” he said. “They see the headlines and the cover and they don’t read the story and they make their judgements that way. That’s the way it’s been the whole way through.”   

According to Patriquin, cover articles generally receive lots of feedback, but this article has received a particularly high amount, both good and bad.   

“There has been a ton of positive feedback … from people in the press and letters from people telling us we spoke the truth,” he said.