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.
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