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New group preaches partying over politics.

The Chronicle, July 1991

by Rosa Vetrano.

Click the image to see original article

(Caption:) Fed up with politics and fed up with fighting, the Bloke Quebecois held a Party, including "Pin the tail on the Bloke" at Darwin's Pub in downtown Montreal. (photo:©1991 P. McMaster)

Feeling frustrated...depressed? Is the economic and political situation weighing you down? Take heart, You may not need a therapist. You probably just need the Bl¿ke Quebecois Movement, whose general philosophy is "lighten up."

Founded by Philip McMaster, the movement dares to tell politically suffocated, conflict plagued Quebecers to forget politics, It dares them to drop their political gloves and step outside the ring for an intermission.

McMaster's own weariness with the uncertainty of Quebec's political state motivated the former publisher of The UpNorth News to create a group intended to transcend social barriers and offer Quebecers a break from the political haggling.

"I wanted to introduce a concept that was based on light-heartedness - based on lightening -up," he said. People are discouraged. There are many that are fed up with politics and they're fed up with fighting."

There is a temporary solution, he believes. Let's sit down, have a beer, kick back our heels, laugh and say 'isn't this a weird world?'"

The movement's name - with the number 401 barred across the "O", was chosen partly for its play on words (following the creation of the "Bloc Quebecois" earlier that year -ed.) and partly for its representation of the "English-raised" (Bloke) Quebecer.

Launched during the Canada Day weekend, McMaster said he was surprised and delighted by how well the concept was received. Sixty T-shirts, "Member-shirts" as McMaster referred to them, were sold out that weekend.

Ironically, the first T-shirt was purchased by a francophone, who approached McMaster in a downtown pub. According to McMaster, the man appreciated the humour of the movement's logo and McMaster became convinced his concept would have diverse appeal.

"It's not based on culture or where you come from or 100% pure laine," he explained. "It's not based on anybody's purity as a race or a linguistic group."

"There's no political stance involved," he maintained. "It's not saying you're pro-Canada and anti-separatist. It's simply saying you're a Quebecer, and you're pro being an English Quebecer or, at least, having the ability to be comfortable here in English."

McMaster may opt for the comic relief approach to the problems plaguing many English Quebecers, but through the humour is an underlying current of seriousness.

McMaster expressed concern for the scores of Quebecers believed to be leaving the province. He was particularity disappointed by the defection of the younger generation.

"My main interest was in keeping people in Quebec, and there's only one way to do it - make it economically feasible to be here."

He hopes to provide a means for tangible aid to those whose economic situations may influence them to leave. For others, whom he believes "lack the will" to stay, McMaster is offering hope through humor.

To this end, his efforts are currently concentrated on the movement's first "Unconventional Party" being held at Darwin's, the Bishop Street bar, on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The evening is geared to involve less debate and more partying. If someone insists on spouting off about politics, McMaster is prepared.
"We just won't listen to them," he chuckled.


Source: The Chronicle, Pointe Clair Quebec, 1991.

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