The New Saint-Jean – The Girlfriend You Can Present to Your Mother

The New Saint-Jean – The Girlfriend You Can Present to Your Mother

by Farnell Morisset

Being a seasoned veteran of the Plaines of years past, walking back on the field this year after last year’s radical re-orientation of the Fête Nationale was kind of like running into that psychotic ex-girlfriend with the perfect hourglass figure.  Sure, there’s a twinge in my heart when I remember the torrid good times, but that’s quickly followed up by a sigh of relief when seeing to the much more presentable, family-friendly Lady of the Plaines I’m with now.

This new girl is a lot more guarded and cautious.  For a date with her, I had to go through no less than three security checkpoints where private security (with police never too far) checked bags, strollers, and pockets.  Carrying nothing more than my wallet and cell phone, I had no trouble getting through any of the checks and the security guards were generally friendly and efficient.  Anyone trying to bring in alcohol, glass bottles, potential weapons (including flagpoles and umbrellas, to the dismay of many), or fireworks were asked to either leave their bags in a designated area or turn around.  While I can’t speak for those who were turned away, I’d say police and security performed their jobs with professionalism and restraint, and most people inside the perimeter seemed to appreciate their efforts.

Sure, this new flame of ours doesn’t also draw as much attention as our old one, only drawing in some 40,000 people.  There’s one thing that is definitely clear to everyone – the new Fête Nationale is not that wild party chick we used to hang with, which definitely turns off a lot of our old friends still into that lifestyle.  Even outside the security perimeter, especially in the Vieux Québec, pedestrian traffic was no different than any other Saturday night.  The “something for everyone” formula also didn’t seem to attract the interest it was hoping for.  Sideline events like a heavy rock show, hip-hop rap battle, and club-style electronic music area all had a few dozen attendees at most.

Of course, this new lady is also more reserved and polite.  Her main attraction, on a stage behind the feu Manège Militaire, had all the major elements we’ve come to expect and followed the formula closely – a smattering of Québecois artists carefully selected to please all age groups playing their latest hits intermixed with mash-ups of nostalgia music from the 60’s to 90’s on a backdrop inspired by the walls of the Vieux Québec.  Gildor Roy, host of the show on the main stage, opened the evening by expressing his light-hearted but sincere desire for the evening to be as apolitical as possible, given the current social context.  Even Loco Locass, the rap trio known for their polarising anti-Liberal lyrics, stayed away from their more inflammatory content until their late-night set after the end of the main televised show.  They and Marie-Mai were successful at raising the crowd’s energy, and New Brunswick native Lisa Leblanc’s deliciously comical folk-trash song Aujourd’hui ma vie c’est d’la marde was probably the highlight of the show.  Everyone else, though, drew light smiles from the audience and not much more.

However, once the cameras were off and the party really started, this new Fête Nationale showed she too can let loose and have a good time in the form of Loco Locass.  Lyrical geniuses, the group was probably the main reason most people showed up in the first place, and they did not disappoint, playing most of their heavily-nationalistic repertoire of high-energy French rap and spoken-word music, from both their new album and their old hits.    The stage being entirely theirs, they also did not hesitate to play up their anti-federalist and anti-Liberal rhetoric either, though no one could honestly claim to be surprised.   It felt like now that her parents and little brother had gone to bed the Fête Nationale was finally going to show us what she wanted from the evening.

So though she doesn’t drink as much, talk as loud, look as provocative, or tire you out so much the next day, we’re definitely all better off with the new Fête Nationale.  She’s cleaner, smells better, is nicer to children and the elderly, less frivolous, and while she will leave you satisfied by the end of the night, she won’t leave you feeling dirty and with a strange itch the next day.

Bonne Saint-Jean to all.

About the author:

Born and raised in Québec City, Farnell Morisset attended English school throughout his primary, secondary, and CEGEP studies, before ultimately choosing to stay in Québec City and study civil engineering at Laval University.

While at Laval, he served as president of the civil engineering student association. It was there that he discovered his affinity for writing and commentary, preparing a weekly column in the student newspaper dealing with the issues he, as president of the association, felt were important and relevant.

Farnell is passionate about discussing (amongst other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québecois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québecois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image.

He is also alarmed by what seems to be an invasive and aggressive polarization of complex social issues for which there are no black-and-white answers. This eventual identity crisis, he feels, will only be solved through good faith in, and honest communication with, all sides pulling on our ever dwindling “pure laine” blanket.

It is with this in mind that he contributes to as a valued member of our, in-house, writing team.

Categories: News

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset has an engineering degree from Université Laval and common law and civil law degrees from McGill University, where he also studied economics.