As Quebec Language Wars Heat Up Should Canada be Bilingual Coast to Coast? – April 2, 2012

As Quebec Language Wars Heat Up Should Canada be Bilingual Coast to Coast?  – April 2, 2012

 CFN –  Language wars are heating up in Quebec again.  Well not really Quebec, mostly Montreal.

I’m what I like to call a Quebec refugee.   For me I decided that no matter how much I loved Montreal that the city of my youth is long gone and what it’s been replaced with is something that while pretty to look at is not where I want to be.

Sad yes, but I’m not looking for sympathy.   I marvel from the outside and make occasional trips to visit family, occasionally eat at Schwartz’s and shake my head as I try to get back without a bridge collapsing or chunk of road smashing my windshield.

Quebec is the special flavour that distinguishes Canada from the US in so many ways.    I still get this odd and warm feeling when I hear French when I travel.   My neighbor when I lived in Beverly Hills turned out to be a French Quebecer who over joints and drinks would lament about Kraft peanut butter.   We were homey’s, as were friends I had growing up who were French even though some of their relatives or friends pooh poohed they having an Anglo friend.

Quebec made choices that have rippled across Canada.  By choosing to essentially be a linguistically driven province they have given people like Stephen Harper the justification for Canada not to be bilingual.    The standard line is if Quebec is going to be French why should we not just be Unilingually English and frankly it’s hard to argue.

Likewise as nice as the dream of all of us being Officially bilingual and as valuable as that could be is it worth the cost of implementation across the vast majority of the country?  Is there any real reason why other than to accommodate a small minority of non-Quebec Canadians or those that fled the Province during the 70’s and 80’s for financial reasons?

You see many Anglophones in Quebec were the most sympathetic to Francophones and their drive for their rights.    I know I was until I started to really face the realities of Quebec and it comes down to the fact that no matter how well we may speak French we aren’t French and that there are many in Quebec that believe and live this.    I have a cousin that graduated from Oxford and worked his ways up the ladders at Hydro Quebec.  I don’t think his journey would have been the same if his name had been Larose…

The Internet changed Quebec forever.    Those strange things taught from French Text books didn’t ring so true when confronting people from outside Quebec, and most of the stuff in the rest of the World is in English.   It’s not that French was bad, but there’s a Zeitgeist that really is wild in La Belle Province.   Even movies dubbed in French in Quebec have to be dubbed differently than if they were in France.    Many Quebecers have this inferiority complex and chip on their shoulders feeling that not only we Anglophones look down on them but French from France too.

At a certain point though enough becomes enough and people either leave or turn the channel.   Watching the last Federal election I thought it was genius how Mr. Harper just gave up on Quebec.  He saved money in not trying to bribe and cajole its citizens.   He helped encourage the NDP behind the scenes to kill off the Bloc and the end result is that he has his majority and Quebec is in an uneasy position.

It’s one Provincial election from becoming a total political circus; but Quebec, like a fading Coquette that can’t get her way with Rich Men the way she used to now has to face certain realities as Canada shifts its power base to the West; something Quebec itself has helped by driving away countless youth and business.

Quebecers really have to decide if they want to stay in Canada and I have a hunch it’s they that will have to bring something to the table instead of being brought prezzies.

Montreal will never be the same.  It’s a ghost of what was.    It’s become something very different than its history.   Years of Language intolerance, high taxes, and way too much drama have made Toronto the powerhouse it is.     It still has some magic, but for many the price of admission negate its value.

The irony is that certain PQ types are complaining now about English in Montreal, but the reality is that you really can’t force people which language to speak and when managers and businesses can speak French fluently can you really throw sticks at them and complain?

Can Quebec really afford to be hiring 40 new Language police in a time when important areas of its government are going through freezes and lay offs?

The talented Lysiane Gagnon wrote an interesting piece in the Globe & Mail today about the Language Wars in Montreal.

Whereas the “enemy” used to be the English language, now the “enemies” are the anglophones themselves, even if they speak French fluently. 

While the sampling from the article that quote came from is less than 1,000 people this isn’t a new perception.    Quebec has some big choices to make and in life if you sometimes don’t make a choice it’s made for you.

You can comment on this story below.

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31 Comments on "As Quebec Language Wars Heat Up Should Canada be Bilingual Coast to Coast? – April 2, 2012"

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William
Guest

As an American, I enjoyed my 4 years living in Montreal (working on the 1976 Olympics). It like seemed such a special place then.

James Wolfe
Guest
Remember one thing folks – The liberals brought in a lot of this expensive nonsense, bilingualism (forced french), multiculturalism, the charter, rights this, rights that…but the Conservatives have done nothing to repeal any of this crap. ??? Liberal, Tory same old story. The Conservatives have allowed all of these liberal polices to remain??? How come? The simple facts are as more francophone’s get hired for all government positions less and less English speakers are working for their own governments across the country. Don’t believe me; Go check the stats for yourself. Francophone’s are over-represented in all levels of government including… Read more »
Stan
Member

General James Wolfe, now I’ve seen everything! But I agree its time to end the bilingual job scam!

Eric
Guest

I don’t know how we could have forced bilingulism from coast to coast. We already spend billions per year in a few select geographic areas. Ontario alone spent over 600 million per year, and over the last couple of years we have had human waste reports in our waterways of Ottawa and Halifax, awful Indians living conditions and more, should we not be fixing those things first?

Where would we get the people for the positions? We already have one video with Mr. Cameron, how many more Mr. Camerons would there be?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMBl7ZOVfBg

Darcy Neal
Member

Quebec wants to be a protected french reserve in the greater North America continent. How are the other protected cultural reserves doing in North America? Be careful of what you ask for.

Debbie Cameron
Guest

Eric thanks -and yes there are many more Mr.Camerons out there that have been disadvantaged-how many hundreds of thousands of individuals has this effected -perhaps millions -far more then the francophone population in Ontario .I believe that this has become systemic discrimination across the country ,people wake up to this -its wrong to discriminate even though in the interest of political correctness .

Bruce
Guest

1. If I need to speak french, why don’t french need to speak English to the same caliber.

2. Schools don’t teach Franglais/Quebecois slang….so how do you pass that test??

3. I at least try to speak french, and don’t get mad at them for not being able to speak english, but it seems to be “ok” for french people to get pissed off when we can’t speak their language.

Catch 22….I’ll just move to the U.S. The Spanish seem to understand english just fine.

al
Guest

A big wast of money. The rest of canada is already contributing too much of tax payers money for this province.

Wow!
Guest

Word. And by word I mean truth. And by truth I mean I generally agree with all of the above. Bonne Easter.

Dave Windsor
Guest
Wholly molly! Can’t believe I just ate the whole thing, that is, read all the above about a lot of hurting, challenging, intolerance and anger. So sorry for all on both sides of this never ending age old saga. Burying history, lying and cheating ways of enforcing laws and obvious deceiving, bullying, arrogance in the workplace and in our schools. Is this in Canada you say? It makes me believe that even though we are 200 plus years in the making, we will continue to go through our growing pains unless we do a grand gesture on both sides of… Read more »
Reg Coffey
Guest

@Dave Windsor…let me see if I understand you. Are you saying that, even though it’s wrong, we should give the Francophone Quebecois everything they want to try to convince them to stay as part of Canada?

Bribes have not worked so far. How would total capitulation to the separatist agenda unite Canada?

john e a smythe
Guest

No NO No NO

cocofriend
Guest

NO…………………no bilingualism ACROSS CANADA! If Quebec wants their protective rights, then the rest of Canada wants their protective rights also!

Dave Windsor
Guest
Red, John and coco: We are already their…………in the next generation or so. there are no more choices. Prime example is the $17,000,000 high school built in Yellowknife no less to service French education. ALL GOVERNMENTS accross Canada have already accepted french as part of their ‘gradual’ requirement for future communications and hiring from todays kindergarden on up. You and I are already collateral just like our unilingual french neighbors. Service Canada is a required bilingual department……….accross Canada……yes, including in Quebec. The french fact has been upon us for years now. I have nothing to do with it. Our own… Read more »
Kim Khoo
Member
Dave Windsor is sending a very defeatist message. He writes that Official Bilingualism is here to stay and that we should just accept it. Dave, the country has spent countless billions since 1969 in the attempt to force bilingualism in Canada – it hasn’t worked. Even Stephen Harper in 2001 realized this: http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/07/15/canadas-not-a-bilingual-country It is so sad to see that Stephen Harper is still too afraid of Quebec and the French vote. What he said in 2001 still holds today!! Official Bilingualism is a failed Liberal policy and we have to acknowledge that this policy has caused more disunity within… Read more »
Charly de Gaulle
Guest

@”Dave Windsor”. I realize Canada will never be French. However, Canada could survive as one (as you wish) with a bit of tweaking of the OLA: make English the official language of English Canada as French is now the official language of Quebec. This linguistic parity will bring peace and happiness to all of Canada.

There is another solution Quebec craves for a long time and English Canada is ready for: separation. Sweden and Norway , Checks and Slovaks thrive after separation, and so will Canada and Quebec.

Eric
Guest

Dave Windsor, Winston Churchill once said – However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. We are spending so much money on providing work for bilingual people, I am surprised more people do not see it, and fight back.

I am saying man made the rules, man can change them.

Kenneth Flecknell
Guest
To Dave Windsor. Your so wrong. First point, Quebec never signed the charter, Although in the charter at the end in smaller print, (Just in case anyone might actually read and understand it) was a clause exempting Quebec from the bilingual status. Therefor, they don’t have to speak or provide English services or translations. With Quebec being now unilingual French, they should be taken out of confederation without the perks given to them when they joined. For example give back Ruperts land to the aboriginal peoples and make Quebec the 200 mile long narrow corridor it was before confederation. Also… Read more »
Dick Field
Guest
The Official Languages Act is not about languages. It is about the dream of Francophone extremists attempting to reverse the results of the conquest of Quebec in 1759 and the surrender of New France in 1763 to the British and British Americans of New England. The attempt of the OLA and its many regulations is to force feed the French language where it is not wanted upon an English speaking majority causing English only speakers to lose any ability to participate in their own government or fully in the military. Some French speakers, especially the Quebecois still think it is… Read more »
E B
Guest
way back in 1960 when we had landed in montreal the french schooll (across the street) refused us from entering their school system and we were forced to go to an English school which was 8 blocks away…which was OK by me and my brothers! All to say now in business we are force fed to speak French only otherwise…I want everyone out there in Canada to know that although I live in Montreal Quebec there is alot like me that hate these francophone extremists and if they (french extremists) want to separate I would like to know that Quebec… Read more »
Robert K. Monckton
Guest

One Nation,One Language,English.

Official bilingualism has failed and is wasting precious money needlessly that could be put to better use.

No matter what our origin or nationally, we have the English Language in common. We speak and use it every day.It unites and binds us together.

We are Canadians with no hyphen.

G. Pawson
Guest
What trudeau did with this bilingual language is such a complete waste of money its far past funny! I understand that in B.C. there are as a first language 129 languages in the elementary schools. French does not even register! If quebec wants to speak french who cares. In western Canada french is about as relevent as Mongolian. BILLIONS of $ has been WASTED on this dying 3rd world language, and if there is anything that will cause the western borders of Canada to be the lakehead its this continuous waste of money. It now seems that western Canada is… Read more »
Danny
Guest
No.. Canada is English and should always remain so. Quebec is the most ignorant province in Canada… This being said from someone who is 100% bilingual and was born and raised in Montreal. All 3 points said by Bruce are so very true. The word bilingual does not exist in the French dictionary. When people from other countries move here they are forced to learn the French language, if they wish to learn English they have to pay for it… majority of them don’t bother or can’t afford it, then they get a job as a customer service rep, or… Read more »
Highlander
Guest

C’est pas fair- you are so right and yet the population in Ontario is expected to provide bilingual services for that 4% in Ontario .

English Canadians are just sheep -being lead …..willing to be treated as second class citizens by their own government .

English Canadians would prefer to have others make decisions for them and permit their rights to be taken away ….go west English because you cannot work for your government or here in eastern Ontario !

Parpalhon
Guest
Alot of ignorance fuels this paranoia among English speakers. And quite a few deluded Anglo-supremacist anti-French in the comments. You write as if English Canada ever respected the French language minorities untill Québec’s French-as-the-common-language policy changed things. That’s not what happened. French was outlawed pretty much anywhere outside Québec for quite some time and assimilation to English is still very high today in Canada (40% per generation in Ontario, 70% in Saskatchewan). English Canada never gave half the status to French that English has in Québec. French speakers are assimilated to English at the rate of 40% to 70% per… Read more »
jules
Guest
People here in Canada are Canadians – Canadiens and are not English nor French. Compris? You are not of England, Scotland, or Ireland or France you are Canadians. There is a mighty big difference is temperaments, the way you think and act, the way you speak, the way you do business, etc. We are Canadians. Canadians are supposed to respect one another in both languages and be able to communicate in both and that includes “la Belle Province de Québec” to communicate in English. Québec has become a mild fascist place to live and many people whether of English or… Read more »
jules
Guest
EB you don’t even have to live in Québec to be treated like that to be declined of entry into a French school. Both my husband and I speak French fluently and we had to send our children to English-Bilingual schools. Then my husband’s nephew came over after living for five years in Paris France and it was he who had my daughter attend a French school here in Ottawa. You have to be persistent to get what you want and if you are not persistent then they put things over you and that is with everything in life.
Highlander
Guest
Parpalhon March 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm “English Canada never gave half the status to French that English has in Québec.” Never eh! At the moment most Ontario government institutions are bilingual can you say that for Quebec?NO As for assimilation what of the many other cultures that still maintain their language?And they are not supported to the tune of billions either . If you cannot support your own culture financially as well as teaching it to your children perhaps the language is meant to die.Is the rest of Canada is keeping it on artificial support? French as English is… Read more »
Pierre
Guest
@ Jules Bonsoir Jules, J’aimerais tellement échanger, avec vous en Français, mais puisque nous nous retrouvons sur un blog anglophone, voilà. It’s true that we are all Canadians but Canada is not a melthing pot. I am a French Canadian, others are Anglo Canadians, still others are of different ethnicities. All are equal but can be different. That, I believe, is the beauty of this country. But, there are two official languages and everyone is expected to know at least one of these languages. All new-comers to the English provinces are expected to learn English, and most of them adhere… Read more »
Highlander
Guest
Pierre March 17, 2013 at 11:06 pm I am surprisingly agreeing with your above statement and not forcing bilingualism upon the rest of Canada. I will never agree to getting ride of french services “where warranted” but as well we need a measurable ,fair and equitable approach when instituting bilingualism. Representation by population would be that measurable fair and equitable approach to bilingualism. “The minorities, including minorities of official languages, should accept to speak the common language of the province they are in, when mixing with the majority.” Yes in Ottawa the majority is Anglophone so yes they should speak… Read more »
Glenn
Guest
Without a bilingual Quebec, all other provinces should be unilingual English except maybe New Brunswick since they have a French-speaking concentration that is higher than that of the country. All other provinces are no more than naturally 5% French-speaking. If Ottawa has to be a bilingual city because it is the nation’s capital (hate it all you want, Quebec nationalists Quebec is NOT a nation) the federal government should pay the full cost. When all those federal government offices were moved to the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, it was agreed that Quebec would always be bilingual. All provincial… Read more »
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