Outremont: Yellow is not the new red

By Beryl Wajsman on March 14, 2018

Last week Outremont brought shame upon itself. A group of residents came to city council to demand restrictions on school bus traffic. Not all school bus traffic in an area with some of the highest concentration of schools on the island. Just the buses carrying children of Hasidic Jewish families. And these residents wore yellow badges to emphasize their point.

Let's be as blunt as we can. These people were not complaining about buses. They were complaining about who the buses were carrying. Jewish children. This is the same group that lobbied successfully to get a ban against more synagogues being opened on Bernard Ave. Some of those wearing yellow badges claimed not to understand their significance. If they didn't understand it was because they didn't want to understand. But their leader clearly did.

When the group's loudest spokesperson, Ginette Chartre, was told by other residents that the yellow square on her shirt evoked the Holocaust - when European Jews were forced to wear yellow stars - Chartre said she wouldn't stop wearing it. "(The Jews) always bring up their painful past," she said. "They do it to muzzle us. We are persecuted by them." Yes, the old story of painting the victim as victimizer. She later said in another interview that "People have to get over their history." No Ms. Chartre, people - particularly not the Jewish people - must not get over their history. Because as the philosopher Santayana said, "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." The Chartre mindset is eloquent testimony to Santayana's words. The souls of one and a half million dead Jewish children cry out not to be forgotten.

And let us be clear. It is a particularly dangerous mindset in a place like Quebec which has the highest dropout rate in  public high schools of any jurisdiction in the G7. Young people don't even learn world history in Quebec until Sec.V and even then it is only an elective. Young minds without a sense of what came before are easy prey for the words of nullification and interposition of the most prejudiced among us. Perhaps that is why Quebec had over 350 anti-Jewish incidents last year, the highest yet recorded by the League for Human Rights, and that number is twice that of anti-Muslim incidents. The hateful spectres of Abbé Groulx, Adrien Arcand and the Bloc Populaire hover over this incident like dark clouds of menace.

Jennifer Dorner, an Outremont resident, asked those in attendance to remove the badges because of their symbolism. "The buses are not a nuisance," she said. Outremont Councillor Fanny Magini said she and her colleagues were shocked over the wearing of the badges. "It's a campaign that targets children - particularly Jewish children," she said. "It's totally unacceptable." Even Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante weighed in saying, "I find it unacceptable to launch a political action against children," she said in a statement. "They should never be a target."

Despite the criticism, Chartre and her allies doubled down on their action saying,  "We'll march down the street wearing them, banging pots and pans if we have to."  One of her group said that they wore yellow because red had been taken by the students of the Red Square movement several years ago. That dog won't hunt. The wearing of red is the international symbol of revolution. The wearing of yellow is the historic symbol for genocide. 

We leave one message for Outremont. Yellow is not the new red. It is the old colour of hate. We urge Mayor Philippe Tomlinson and his council to act expeditiously so that their city is not tainted by it and does not become the latest face of it.


Please login to post comments.

Editorial Staff

Beryl P. Wajsman

Redacteur en chef et Editeur

Alan Hustak

Senior Editor

Daniel Laprès


Robert J. Galbraith


Roy Piberberg

Editorial Artwork

Mike Medeiros

Copy and Translation

Val Prudnikov

IT Director and Web Design

Editorial Contributors
La Patrie