The Buonanotte Affair: Massimo Lecas and Quebec McCarthyism

By Beryl Wajsman on August 14, 2015

Quebec seems always to be digging for new lows in its abuses of civil rights. In the latest instalment, the government is demanding that merchants enforce shunning of citizens. Yes you read it right. The Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) is threatening to pull the liquor license of well known Restaurant Buonanotte unless its owner, Massimo Lecas, agrees to refuse service to a list of people the RACJ considers "undesireable." It's not the first time the RACJ has tried this. The other two times were also against Italian restaurants. Does the expression "ethnic profiling" resonate with anyone? What's next...blacklists to apartment owners and retailers not to rent or sell to those blacklisted?

Apparently we are all to go along with a state issued blacklist and be complicit in the social ostracism of our fellow citizens. Even Duplessis used the police to enforce his attacks - without charge or trial - under his infamous Padlock Law against those he considered "undesireables," such as Jehovah's Witnesses. Until he was stopped by another Italian restauranter named Frank Roncarelli who beat Quebec in the Supreme Court. But even Duplessis didn't have the audacity to blackmail citizens into doing the state's dirty work.

This kind of disregard of due process, basic civil rights and legal protections dating back to Magna Carta have unfortunately become an almost daily occurance in the instituional prejudice that permeates evey aspect of Quebec state authority. Modern parallels in North America can only be found in the McCarthyite 50s and the Jim Crow 60s.

But why be surprised at the jettisoning of fundamental concepts of presumption of innocence and equality before the law. Unique in western jurisdictions, Quebec has for some decades based penalty and sanction on the Stalinist policy of anonymous denunciations. It started with the establishment of the OLF in the early 70s. Today, it runs through Revenu Quebec, the Justice Ministry, SAQ, SAAQ, RACJ and of course the OQLF. For almost a thousand years, the right to face one's accuser has been the pillar of western law. But not in the étatisme of Québec.

This license to play fast and loose with our most precious legal protections, has empowered agents of the state to express and act with open contempt against we, the people. Perhaps one of the most notorious recent incidents that I have been fightng is the call by the OQLF for the Pontiac Journal to "segregate" English and French content in its pages.

McCarthyism and segregation. Quite a legacy. And still M.Couillard remains silent. Albert Camus once wrote that there comes a time in the life of a society where merely being human - being decent - is already being heroic. Let us all start to be heroic. Let us send a loud and clear message to M. Couillard that we will not be complicit in the destruction of our own consquence.


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