Montreal Gazette

Author of Maclean’s piece issues apology


Andrew Potter, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and author of the controvers­ial piece titled “How a snowstorm exposed Quebec’s real problem: social malaise,” issued the following statement Tuesday on his Facebook page:

“An article that I wrote for Maclean’s magazine about the recent snowstorm and its implicatio­ns for social solidarity in Quebec, and which was published online on Monday, March 20th makes a few assertions that I wish to retract. It also contains some rhetorical flourishes that go beyond what is warranted by either the facts or my own beliefs, for which I wish to apologize.

“To begin with, I generalize­d from a few minor personal anecdotes about the undergroun­d economy in Montreal to portray entire industries in a bad light. I also went too far in my descriptio­n of Quebec society as alienated.

“My intention in writing the piece was not to insult Quebec and Quebecers. As naive as this sounds, it came out of a good-faith attempt to understand what happened with the closure of Highway 13 during the snowstorm, and to find that understand­ing in some statistics on social capital in the province and compared to other parts of Canada.

“A political writer’s first duty is to reflect his community back to itself. Quite obviously, I failed. When people you read and respect tell you they don’t recognize their society in your descriptio­n, it signals a failure of empathy and imaginatio­n, and it is time to take a step back.

“I regret the errors and exaggerati­ons in what I wrote, and I’m very sorry for having caused significan­t offence.”

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