Posted in In the news, Media

Ici on parle English, mais n’inquiétez-vous pas

L'actualité cover from last Friday

“Ici on parle English” – “Quel avenir pour le français à Montréal?” – “Montréal français? It’s over!” – “Des unilingues anglais comme patrons? Get used to it!”

Kind of hard to imagine words that could infuriate language activists more. I won’t call it sensationalist, but when a magazine puts a picture of a frog on its front cover and tells a people sensitive about their language that their battle is essentially lost, I can’t really find a better word.

Last Thursday, L’actualité released results of a survey they did (with CHMP 98.5FM) of Quebec anglophones in which they asked them questions about language issues in Quebec. (The full results – with actual questions – are here in this PDF file)

The questions and answers were rather interesting, and I’ll summarize them here. Of Quebec’s anglophones:

  • 81% know enough French to carry on a conversation
  • 59% believe it’s possible to live one’s entire life in Quebec without having a single significant conversation in French
  • 63% believe companies should have the right to hire unilingual anglophones as managers, even if that means communicating with them at work would have to be done in English
  • 59% are “at peace” with the fact that Montreal will become predominantly English while the rest of the province maintains its French “charm”
  • 54% believe that because of globalization, most economic activity in Montreal will eventually be in English
  • 37% believe that the predominance of French is the key ingredient in Montreal’s originality and that without it the city would lose its soul
  • In the week before they were surveyed, about half used French in conversation for about an hour or less, the other half a few hours or more
  • 21% agree that as a Quebec resident, it’s their duty to help ensure that French remains the most important language here
  • 83% believe it’s important that their children grow up to be bilingual

The results appear in last Friday’s issue of L’actualité (or is it l’Actualité? Or L’Actualité? Even francophones have issue with capitalization of proper names), along with two stories analyzing them. One is by Jean-François Lisée, a former PQ adviser who hammers the panic button. The other is by Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies (or, more accurately, it’s a reporter’s Q&A with Jedwab), who highlights how things have improved. There were also some sidebars, including an interview with Sherwin Tjia, the unilingual anglophone whose appearance on Daybreak a few weeks back ignited a whole controversy because he dared say he’s okay being unilingual.

The magazine also asked Gazette columnist Josh Freed to blog for them, giving an anglo’s perspective (with his usual dose of humour).

Reaction to the poll and accompanying pieces seems to have fallen in one of three categories:

And there is a lot of contradiction. Apparently about half of anglo Quebecers have never had a significant conversation in French. But 80% of them are bilingual. This begs the question: How do this 30% know they’re bilingual if they’ve never spoken French?

One of the more surprising results is that for most of these questions, it’s the younger anglophones who seem to take the more anti-French stance. More young anglos think it’s okay to live life as a unilingual anglophone, despite the stereotype one imagines of the old West Island angryphone who grew up in the 50s being the most anti-French.

I wonder how much of that is more due to inexperience than a generational difference. I suspect many of these views might change as these people get older, become more familiar with francophone Quebec and try to make careers for themselves in this province.

I could go after the methodology. It was an online poll, which has issues in terms of accuracy. Some of the questions seemed a bit pushy. And some were based on false premises (the proportion of people on the island of Montreal whose first language is English is diminishing, not increasing, and there’s no risk of anglophones outnumbering francophones in Montreal or Quebec any time soon).

But one thing we can all seem to agree on is that more research is needed. These are complex issues and I suspect the answers given have complex reasoning behind them.

Of course, people who are paid to drum up controversy to fill column inches won’t be satisfied with waiting for more research.

Cultural solitudes

L’actualité’s survey also tested Quebec celebrity recall. Among anglophones:

It shouldn’t be particularly surprising that anglophone Quebecers don’t get much news from Quebec City, don’t watch much of Radio-Canada and TVA, and don’t listen to French-language radio.

Just like it’s not a surprise that francophones have little to no interest in English Canadian culture (what little of it there is). On a recent episode of Tout le monde en parle, Guy A. Lepage interviewed Jian Ghomeshi, and at the end he cited Jack Layton, saying once that English Canada doesn’t know Lepage and French Canada doesn’t know Ghomeshi.

This is a problem, and one I think we need the help of both sides to solve. (When was the last time Julie Snyder, Véronique Cloutier or Régis Labeaume reached out to the anglophone community in any significant way?)

There are all sorts of places to lay blame here. We could blame the CRTC, which requires broadcasters to have their programming in English or French but never both. We could blame French-language media, who consider anglos a community not worth trying to target. We could blame English-language media for not connecting its audiences with francophone culture. Or we could blame the two solitudes themselves for sticking to their ghettos and ignoring the other side.

Fortunately, simple demographics might be helping change this. Anglophones in Montreal are mostly bilingual, and many of them are in relationships with francophones. To some this might be assimilation (particularly since most of these couples choose English as their common language), but I like to hope that this assimilation goes both ways.

And there are people trying to do their part using new media. One blogger offering English summaries of Tout le monde en parle to try to get anglos to care about this important show.

With a bit of patience, a bit of tolerance, and a bit of effort from both sides, maybe we can get recognition of Véro and Guy A. among anglophones and Rick Mercer and Mutsumi Takahashi among francophones to the point where it’s clear that there is no more divide.

Then, we can hope, the next survey of anglophones by L’actualité won’t be whether they know who Julie Snyder is, but whether they preferred Mélissa, Andréanne or Andrée-Anne.

Un gars peut rêver, can’t he?

UPDATE (April 10): Jack Jedwab responds to L’actualité’s survey with one of his own. It shows:

  • 25% of anglophones and 48% of francophones believe “eventually the majority of Montrealers will work in English” when the question is not preceded by reference to globalization
  • 90% of anglophones have francophone friends, but only 60% of francophones have anglophone friends
  • 70% of anglophones 18-24 believe francophones don’t like anglophones
  • 55% of anglophones, 54% of allophones and 15% of francophones believe Bill 101 has contributed to the decline of use of English
  • 10% of anglophones, 13% of allophones and 44% of francophones believe English speakers are the principal threat to the French language in Montreal
  • 55% of young anglophones are not comfortable with English becoming the majority language in Montreal
  • 60% of anglophones believe relations between anglos and francos have improved over the past give years. 45% of francophones agree versus 38% who disagree
  • 54% of anglophones and 43% of francophones believe their community feels positively about the other

85 thoughts on “Ici on parle English, mais n’inquiétez-vous pas

  1. Shawn

    Growing up in Chomedey in the 70s you could get by without speaking French. In the 70s.
    There are pockets on Montreal island where you don’t need to speak a second language. That’s because, for the most part Montreal is bilingual.
    I feel a short paragraph as a reply here cannot do this topic justice. I am fully bilingual. Due to the nature of my work my day is half in French half in English.
    I have no issues with protecting the French language. But not to the detriment of my rights. The language laws in place are without question, prejudicial. That does not mean there should not be a method or law to protect the French language. In their current state, the laws discriminate against anyone not born here, or born here with a mother tongue other than French.

    Reply
  2. Derek Cassoff

    Just yesterday I happened to go for a stroll downtown to run some errands. Fifteen minutes up Ste. Catherine and back down de Maisionneuve does not make for big sample, but the frequency of languages I heard on the street was as follows:
    1. English
    2. Arabic
    3. French
    I’m just saying…

    Reply
  3. Marc

    This is just Jean-François Lisée grinding his axe. For the past few years Lisée has been a very angry man. He and Pierre Curzi I’m sure are high-fiving each other. However, I don’t know what anglicization of Montreal they’re talking about. All I can think of are the droves of young francos moving to the 450.

    Reply
  4. mdblog

    Fagstein,

    If it’s ok for Francophones to live in a cultural bubble within Canada, why is NOT ok for Anglophones to live in a cultural bubble in Quebec?

    And I think you’re wrong about the lack of Canadian culture: “English Canadian culture (what little of it there is).”

    Do the names Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Tragically Hip, the Vinyl Cafe, Q, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, ring a bell? Sure, we don’t do a lot of TV and movies but couldn’t that be a cultural trait in of itself? We might just prefer literature, music, performing arts, and the spoken word, to other forms of media.

    For you to conclude that there is ‘little’ in the way of Canadian culture says more about your own biases vis a vis Quebec and Canada than about anything remotely related to the Canadian arts scene.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do the names Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Tragically Hip, the Vinyl Cafe, Q, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, ring a bell?

      Two are authors, three are musical artists who are only known here because of their success in the United States, two are CBC Radio shows, and one is a ballet company that’s hardly “English Canadian”.

      I don’t want to start a war here, simply to point out that most of English Canada’s culture is tied to the United States, while Quebec manages to stay independent for the most part.

      Reply
      1. mdblog

        A few points:

        It sounds to me like you are de-legitimizing non pop culture. Canadian literature is world class. Why are Radio shows not cultural?

        Tragically Hip are NOT known for their success in the US. I could say the same for the Barenaked Ladies, whom I saw in concert at the Olympia in 1991 long before their breakout US album in 1998.

        Leonard Cohen??? Only known in the US??? Come on…

        I think you’re confusing pop culture and culture with one another. Even Star Academie is based on a TV from…dum dum dum…ENGLAND!!! The horror, I know.

        Basically, you’re saying that Quebec has its own culture because they do their own version of American and European TV shows and Movies in French, but Canada, who expresses its culture through different media altogether and does so in English is culture-less.

        You’re also saying that by being insular, Quebec has culture, and Canada, which appreciates culture from abroad is culture-less.

        What is it Fagstein, is the girl you’re crushing on Quebecois? I’m making good points here and its frustrating to see you, a journalist, apply so much bias as to be completely hypocritical.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          You’re also saying that by being insular, Quebec has culture, and Canada, which appreciates culture from abroad is culture-less.

          I’m not saying Canada is “culture-less”. I’m saying that for culture that can be imported (radio, television, movies, books), francophone Quebec is much stronger (certainly proportionally) than English Canada. On Sunday nights, on a regular basis, about half the province watches one of two Quebec-made television shows. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen in the rest of the country.

          Quebecers consume much more of their own culture than English Canadians. That’s all.

          Reply
          1. Frank

            “On Sunday nights, on a regular basis, about half the province watches one of two Quebec-made television shows”
            I’ll assume you’re referring to Tout le Monde en Parle and Star Academie (or Occupation Double)?
            All 3, while produced here, are hardly original Quebec ideas as TLMEP is from France, SA is a revamped American Idol and OD is Endemol’s Big Brother with a whole lot of sex and inane dialogue.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              All 3, while produced here, are hardly original Quebec ideas as TLMEP is from France, SA is a revamped American Idol and OD is Endemol’s Big Brother with a whole lot of sex and inane dialogue.

              It’s still produced here, using Quebec-based hosts, participants and staff. The fact that the format was adapted from elsewhere is irrelevant. The format for a TV newscast was developed elsewhere, but the local news is still the local news.

              Reply
          2. mdblog

            “Quebecers consume much more of their own culture than English Canadians. That’s all.”

            That’s not what you started out saying. You made a snide comment about Canadian culture which denigrates that culture, whether you intended to or not.

            What bothers me most about your position is that you think that Quebec Anglos SHOULD consume more Quebecois culture, not based on its merit, but because we live in Quebec. If this isn’t the case, my mistake but that’s certainly my understanding of your position.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              What bothers me most about your position is that you think that Quebec Anglos SHOULD consume more Quebecois culture, not based on its merit, but because we live in Quebec. If this isn’t the case, my mistake but that’s certainly my understanding of your position.

              My position is that anglophones and francophones in Canada should at least be exposed to each other’s culture. Even having a passing familiarity would go a long way to understanding each other better.

              Reply
          3. Apple IIGS

            If Quebec has any culture, it is of the lowest common denominator.

            A society where being openingly being racist and hateful towards “others” is not only tolerated, it is encouraged and practiced by the provincial government. A society where rampant animal abuse and cruelty goes on unabated daily and no one gives a damn (any protests on the streets about puppy mills, or the man who shot some dogs through the head with a nail gun and got off scott-free?). A society of gimme-something-for-nothings, an attitude that Quebecers deserve to take and take and take, while letting someone else pay for it through transfer payments (i.e. lowest university fees, $7 daycare, etc). A society that thinks it’s OK to sell asbestos, a dangerous banned substance, to third world countries. A society that lets its infrastructure crumble to the point deaths occur. A society that infringes on basic human freedom and rights, to the point even the United Nations has decried fowl play. A society where corruption is so out of control, the word is synonymous with the province now.

            Quebec is rotten to the core, in every possible sense. The only thing that seems to matter is that French is constantly in peril and needs saving from the evil English language, English persons and ethnics.

            All the above is just a taste of what “Quebec culture” is all about. Quite frankly I’m embarrassed to even say I’m from Quebec. That L’actualité article is just hate propaganda, more ‘us vs them’ nonsense. Can you imagine Time or MaClean’s magazine publishing such a thing about the French in Canada, or visible minorities in the States? Only in Quebec…

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              A society where being openingly being racist and hateful towards “others” is not only tolerated, it is encouraged and practiced by the provincial government.

              I have issues with Quebec’s language policy, and how protection of French tends to come across as suppression of English, but I would never go so far as to suggest that Quebec as a society is openly racist or intolerant.

              As for your other criticisms of society, they sound more like criticisms of the Liberal government, which you might note isn’t particularly popular right now. Plenty of people have protested in various ways against animal cruelty and asbestos sales.

              It’s unfortunate that you’re willing to paint millions of people with a wide brush based on the opinions of a minority of them.

              Reply
        2. wwreed

          “What is it Fagstein, is the girl you’re crushing on Quebecois?”

          I was with you mdblog until the uncalled for comment.

          Reply
          1. mdblog

            Just trying to figure out why he would be so biased against English. It’s fine to not like the Anglos but you can;t do it while presenting yourself as unbiased. It’s dishonest.

            Reply
      2. Josh

        I’m not going to argue a larger point one way or the other, but Steve, you really had to know that The Hip never made it big in the US. It’s one of their defining characteristics.

        Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Have to agree with mdblog on this one. English Canadian culture is much more vibrant than you give it credit for. Just because you haven’t heard of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
    Simply starting a “list war” doesn’t achieve anything except to shine the light on our own ignorance and to get into the”who’s is better(bigger)” argument is ridiculous. Great artists have created their work in every province in this country and have reflected that time and time again. Remember, art is in the eye of the beholder.
    It’s time to go explore your country. All of it!

    Reply
    1. Jean Naimard

      Paris, too, is cosmopolitan.

      But there is absolutely no question whatsoever that it is french, and that one simply does not expects to live in Paris without speaking french.

      Reply
      1. mdblog

        Actually Jean, there is much more openness to English as well as many other languages in Paris. A few examples:

        -At Galeries Lafayette, the store guides are printed in no less than 10 languages, and many conversations go on in English and Mandarin.

        -There is a bistro there called Le Quebec. They don’t even put an accent-aigu on it

        Paris is a major international tourist destination (actually it might be the most visited city for tourism in the world) and the Parisians understand that it is much more important to be open to other languages and cultures because at the end of the day it is they who butter their bread as a COSMOPOLITAN city.

        Reply
      2. chuck

        maybe in france french is needed but i know many french working in quebec who use every opportunity to use and speak english because the realize the importance of english to live and work in north america. its only in quebec where myopic quebeckers don’t understand how the world revolves in english. the global language. in fact if french disappeared tomorrow we would all be better off for it.

        Reply
  6. Jean Naimard

    56% don’t know who Julie Snyder is

    And, somehow, how is this bad???

    We could blame the CRTC, which requires broadcasters to have their programming in English or French but never both.

    How about “Chez Hélène”???

    Reply
    1. malstain

      For the first time ever I agree with M. Naimard…. if certain anglos aren’t aware of Quebecor vedette culture, they’re not missing much!

      Reply
  7. Frank

    I can just imagine the firestorm had Maclean’s used the image of a frog. Just like the N word; it’s ok for 1 side to use it but not the other? Bull…. If the image has denigrating connotations it should be disallowed across the lines.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I can just imagine the firestorm had Maclean’s used the image of a frog.

      They used the image of Bonhomme Carnaval, and that did provoke a firestorm.

      Reply
  8. pefder magfrok

    I would learn french faster if there were english subtitles on french tv shows.

    On the other hand, once you leave montreal island it’s french immersion, and it is good. especially in summer, which is coming soon and I hope improves everyone’s mood. Then we can all get together as one people, french, english, greek, laotian, et al and guide our hate the at the Harper Government and its sharp turn to the far right.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I would learn french faster if there were english subtitles on french tv shows.

      That would be fun. Unfortunately I can’t imagine a way this would work, even though it would seem so simple to do, because of CRTC regulations.

      Reply
      1. mike

        In Europe for some satellite channels you have the sound in different languages: english, french, german and more others.

        Reply
    2. Marc

      our hate the at the Harper Government and its sharp turn to the far right.

      By “our” you really mean “my” because you speak for yourself. You were not appointed as the spokesperson for everyone.

      And what “sharp turn to the far right” are you talking about? Have any LGBT folk been thrown in jail like they are in Iran just for being so? Since 2006 the size of the government and bureaucracy has been increasing; that’s something that should cater to leftists. It’s a question of putting things into perspective. You should inform yourself before saying whatever.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I guess not all attempts at humour are funny. Sorry to have offended you.

        I should have stopped at the “when we all get along” part.

        I will try to be more Panglossian in any future commentary.

        Reply
      2. Erik

        Panglossian, hilarious reference! At least three people got that reference. (Voltaire’s Candide folks, although it was not Candide himself who kept saying it)

        As my degree from university included courses in both canadian political economy and marketing research, I would observe that Pefder is accurate, and arguments to the contrary constitute a government-funded PR-industry spin strategy. (I am neither right or left, I fear equally both sides in Canada’s political spectrum [disorder].) Spin 101 instructs gov’t spin doctors to use a hyper-extreme example (marc’s Iran) to make Harper’s radical changes to the Canadian gov’t and societial structure seem benign and reasonable by comparison. I.e. Spin 101. Essentially all of our opinions have been delivered into your brain by the (admittedly impressive) PR industry. Find out what we fear, and the Harper Conservative government will be the answer to your fears.

        An examination of the local PR industry (as well as their step-brother in opinion manipulation the advertizing industry) would be an excellent subject for a future Fagstein blog post. Someone is creating tv’s talking heads, but who? Someone is paying someone else to create all that PR.

        Also, I am definitely for multi-language subtitles. That is a great idea.

        Let’s make it easier to get to know one another in this great, slightly strange (two completely -and gov’t mandated- separate language realities) country of ours, something Marc might try if he ever solves that anger thing he has going on.

        /Eric the accountant from Calgary who moved to Quebec to be part of his wife’s french family

        Reply
  9. The Breeze

    Funny how Normand Brathwaite is hardy known by English Montrealers, he being an Anglophone himself and living in ”English” Montreal.

    Reply
  10. mdblog

    “My position is that anglophones and francophones in Canada should at least be exposed to each other’s culture. Even having a passing familiarity would go a long way to understanding each other better.

    Fagstein, I have much more than a passing familiarity with Quebecois culture. I am bilingual and am familiar with most Quebecois TV shows and celebrities. Do I watch the stuff, not really. Does that make me a bad citizen. Absolutely not.

    But don’t for a second kid yourself that this is not a racist society. When I began my career here after University, I went for an interview at the OSL Marketing group in the old Windsor Station. I did all of my interviews in French and passed all the exams they wanted me to take. At the end, I had to sit down with the VP of Marketing (whom I’d be ultimately reporting to) and was told that although I spoke French very well, that they were concerned that I couldn’t integrate with the company culture because I wasn’t French. Suffice it to say that I didn’t get the job.

    Fast forward to this year when I went to a mini entrepreneurship conference here in Montreal where Pierre Karl Peladeau gave a speech. What I heard shocked me. He said:

    “Nous sommes ici pour encourager les entrepreneurs “FRANCOPHONES”! This was greeted by wild applause and cheers. I felt so uncomfortable. What if they found out that I was an Osti d’Angouille?

    I know it’s just two stories from one man but this kind of stuff happens every day in this province. I used to believe that these attitudes were held by the minority of Franchopones, but if that were the case, Francophone politicians and journalists would defend the Anglo minority openly and proudly, because it is the right thing to do. Their silence on the matter is deafening and sends a very clear message.

    Reply
    1. John

      Sadly I have to agree with you.
      I have co-workers — francophone — who cannot get jobs in ‘french’ workplaces because they went to Concordia or McGill.

      Some have been told flat out during job interviews that there is just no way they can understand Quebecois culture.

      Can you imagine the unmitigated gall* it takes to tell someone who was born and raised in Quebec, who only learned English at age 19 or 20, who spends every moment of every day in French — that they cannot understand *their own culture* because they spent three years at an English university?

      *pun absolutely and fully intended

      Reply
  11. Captain Obvious

    I don’t know who Marie-Mai is for the same reason that I couldn’t tell you who won Canadian Idol.

    Does that make me a bad anglo or just someone who doesn’t watch shitty television?

    Reply
  12. Apple

    but I would never go so far as to suggest that Quebec as a society is openly racist or intolerant.

    I wish that were true, but the harsh reality is after four decades of force-feeding propaganda to children in schools (take a Canadian history class in Quebec, filled with slanted material and falsehoods, even outright villainizing Anglophones), preaching one culture is superior to any other by birthright and blood, well, that is poisoning a society at its very roots. You may not always see it, but scratch the surface and it’s there. Believe me, it is very much there. Just watch the news or read a newspaper.

    To live in this province and deny that fact you would either need to be blind, or living in denial. I think the latter for most of us. It’s just not a pleasant thought face what kind of society Quebec has turned into and we’re a part of. Below are some strong examples of how racist Quebec society is…

    Stoning of Oka Indians:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYB-aF_MlB0&feature=player_embedded

    Quebec public speaks on their feelings towards immigrants:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0G398K5_qs&feature=plcp&context=C45db092VDvjVQa1PpcFNlCk3c3jeWrBnzZrxQaLBhXLSgJTaT6z8%3D

    These things are not isolated. A few months ago we saw a large group of people making an attack on the Jewish community in Hampstead, specifically because they are Jewish (all under the guise of reasonable accommodation going too far). The police actually drove them through, saying it was in their right. They should have been arresting them! Or weeks ago, attacking the convince store owner because it was decided he doesn’t speak French….blocking his business, smearing dog feces on his business, threatening his family with violence. Does this occur in the rest of the Canada?

    Courrier Laval just published a newspaper article saying there are too many English persons living in Laval, and it is becoming a problem. Even going as far as showing a map with concentrations of how many English people live in each square mile, like showing the spread of a disease. Can you imagine a Vancouver newspaper showing a map of the growing French population and how it is a “problem”? Or if in the States, a map of the African American population growing, and saying it is a “problem” that threatens American culture and identity?

    See, the thing is in Quebec, you just say or do anything racist you want, but slap a mention the PROTECTION OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE AND CULTURE and how it is in THREATENED, and it gets a thumbs up! The real danger is allowing this to continue, the poison is there under the surface….what happens when it bubbles and grows to the point of violence? Unfortunately history has shown us what can and will happen. I know this is a touchy subject, but I sincerely worry about where this is headed.

    As for your other criticisms of society, they sound more like criticisms of the Liberal government, which you might note isn’t particularly popular right now. Plenty of people have protested in various ways against animal cruelty and asbestos sales.

    How is the Liberal government any different from the Parti Quebecois government? Or the CAQ for that matter? They are equally guilty at spreading racism, hatred and undemocratic laws that the UN objects to, and making “outsiders” feel unwelcome.

    Do you honestly believe if the PQ or CAQ replace the Liberals, the corruption and racist policies are going to change? Seriously?

    Yes, I’m sure there are people against animal cruelty and asbestos sales in Quebec. My point is it’s not a proprietary to the vast majority, not enough people give a damn to change it. I see students blocking the streets and almost rioting over a small price increase to their university fees. Or when an English hockey coach is hired for the Montreal Canadians, we see protests, massive debate and coverage in the media ad nauseum. So where the HELL are the protests about the guy who shot those dogs through the head with a nail gun, and got away with barely even a slap on the wrist? NO, Quebec citizens don’t care enough about these issues….I can imagine the outrage on the streets if this happened in the States, elsewhere in Canada or the UK. We’re as much to blame for letting this go on.

    It’s unfortunate that you’re willing to paint millions of people with a wide brush based on the opinions of a minority of them.

    And it’s unfortunate there are people who believe everything in this province is A-OK and needs no fixing. There should be massive protests on the street about what goes on in Quebec over violating basic human rights, out of control cruelty to animals and the wide spread corruption that is allowing our infrastructure, hospital and schools go the way of a third world country. What exactly ARE people’s proprietaries here? The only time I see the general population get genuinely upset, is if there is a cry that French is threatened. Or some free benefit is being cut or yanked away. That, my friend, is not a society to be proud of.

    Reply
  13. silhouette

    I guess more movies that are english AND french would be a basic start … like “Bon Cop Bad Cop” …. I didn’t see that one, but it’s in both languages, right?

    Or maybe this could start in schools…. but NOT in a forceful way… say, in a elementary/high school ENGLISH class, there’s a project where a student must watch a foreign language film (french or other language) or a show or get involved in something not in their language.

    They would choose the subject/genre/medium they’re most familiar with THEMSELVES. Then they make a report on it or whatever from what they learnt from it, sort of like a show-and-tell ‘upgraded’. The same could apply to french classes, etc (….. I’m assuming this sort of thing is not already done?)… just brainstorming here… :)

    Reply
  14. News Guy

    Xenophobes exist all over Canada. The difference in Quebec is that it accepted and encouraged by politicians and a sizable portion of the mainstream media. There are many people in Quebec who understand perfectly well what is going on here in terms of language laws and so on. They are afraid to speak because if they do they will be shunned and vilified. Do not forget that when it comes down to it, the ones who are hurt most by the language laws are francophones.

    Although the Liberlas have proven inept in every possible way, the Parti Quebecois exploits the worst possible traits of human nature. They are built on a foundation of hatred, and I do not believe that is an overstatement. Bill 101 is a law that determines the rights of an individual based on his or her ethnicity or even that of their parents. That is unnaceptable in a truly democratic society where all citizens are considered equal under the law. In Quebec that kind of division is thought of as normal and outr federal politicians have gone along with it from day one.

    Reply
      1. John

        @Jean Naimard

        You should know that anglos always refer to it as Bill 101 (tandis que les francophones parlent de la Loi 101).

        And everything he said is completely true. Bill 101 shoots francophones in the foot, and half the people in the province don’t realize it. Half *do* and are outraged that only the Anglo kids are bilingual.

        Reply
  15. lop

    As I say all the time: If they (the french) are soooo worried about loosing their language, why don’t they clean up their back yard first.. Why don’t they clamp down on their own before forcing others..

    Stop playing english songs on the radio. It’s soo funny to hear a francophone sing along to Beiber or the like, and you know they have no clue to what they are saying / signing..

    Why, when I go the movies, is half the line at the theater is talking french in an all english theater?

    And, if they so detest English anything, why do they take english movies & shopws & dub them? Why not just import the releases fromFrance? and pipe in shows from Gai Paris?!

    Maybe they really need to go after their youth & the US for their apparent loss of language & culture.. It would seem the US has more influence on the loss of their (And I could say our “Canadian”) culture & Identity..

    Grr!!!! I’m soo angry with this shit..

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      why don’t they clean up their back yard first.. Why don’t they clamp down on their own before forcing others..

      I don’t think anyone is seriously arguing that francophones should be legally forbidden from enjoying English-language culture.

      Reply
      1. Apple IIGS

        Francophones not forbidden from enjoying English-language culture, hm? Well think again, they damn well are shunned, scorned and discouraged for it. As a matter of fact, brainwashed at childhood in fact. Think I’m sounding ridiculous, well have a look at an *ACTUAL* school exam given to French children 15 years ago…

        Re-print from the Montreal Gazette, 1997:
        http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/27679920

        Here is a translation of the questions…

        1. I allow others to call me by an English nickname or call others an English nickname.
        2. I complain when a product ticket doesn’t contain French
        3. I mostly listen to English language radio.
        4. I don’t like the use of Anglicisms
        5. I speak English to Francophones
        6. I demand to be served in French.
        7. I rent English movies
        8. I speak French to immigrants.
        9. I mostly read newspapers, magazines and books in English
        10. I speak only French at home
        11. I have an English message on my telephone answering machine
        12. I believe workers have the right to work in French
        13. I don’t complain when instructions aren’t offered in French
        14. I mostly consume cultural products in French
        15. I send or receive greeting cards that aren’t in French
        16. I believe that an employer who cannot serve a customer in French is unacceptable
        17. I wear hats or sweaters with messages other than French
        18. I address Anglophones in French
        19. I mostly watch English television
        20. I speak French at work.
        21. I find it acceptable to receive a pamphlet, catalogue or brochure in English
        22. I work to improve my French
        23. I don’t believe an employer should be forced to communicate written instructions to employees in French
        24. According to me, French is the official language of Quebec.
        25. I mostly listen to American music

        Read the entire article, about how to score these questions and the conclusion. This is nothing less than social engineering and brainwashing to implant hate and resentment towards another culture. Rather scary. Think about it, those kids are now full grown adults.

        And you know what? Screw “Quebec culture”, I, and I alone, will decide what TV and movies to watch, what books to read and what music to listen to. If I want to listen to Spanish music, I shall. If I want to watch Chinese movies, I will. If I want to read books in English, you bet I will. No one, absolutely NO ONE, has the right to tell me what I’m doing is wrong or shameful. Doesn’t matter if I’m Anglophone, Francophone, Chinese, German, or dutch. We’re all simply human beings and we have free will and choice (or at least supposed to, since we live in Canada). The province of Quebec has no right to impose or force any of its citizens to embrace its culture. And, yes, that includes imposing it on Francophones too. Just because you’re French, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to enjoy things in French. We all have minds to think for ourselves, and pick our own personal preferences. I am sick and tired of Quebec antics. The Quebec government and these radical hate groups (i.e. OLF, Movement Francais, SJBS, etc) needs to get the hell out of our lives and let us live. ALL of us. In freedom.

        Reply
  16. Michelle

    I, an anglophone living in Quebec for the past 15 years but not born and raised here, do know Ginette Reno, Gregory Charles, Julie Snyder, Veronique Cloutier, Normand Brathwaite, and Regis Labeaume, but not Marie-Mai or Janette Bertrand. I have watched Tout le monde en parle (but I hate Guy A. Lepage so I don’t make a habit of it) but not Star Academie. The fact is, I am not very into pop culture whether Quebecois or not. I rarely watch TV. I may not watch Star Academie but I’ve never seen American Idol or Canadian Idol either. The only radio I listen to is CBC, and I do feel guilty for not listening to Radio-Canada instead. I don’t follow popular music at all.

    For my first 3 years in Quebec (and Mtl) I was a student at a francophone university and I did not know any other anglos until I switched to an anglophone university for my master’s. So I got fairly familiar with Quebecois culture. Then I was sort of shocked (and disappointed) when I realized what many anglo Quebecers were like.

    Why don’t Quebec anglos ever attend francophone cegeps and universities?

    Reply
    1. Apple IIGS

      Then I was sort of shocked (and disappointed) when I realized what many anglo Quebecers were like.

      Please, do tell, what what are “Anglo Quebecers” like? I’m listening…

      Oh, I just love that classification: “Anglo Quebecers”. I take it there is no point in saying Francaphone Quebecers, they’re just the regular Quebecers, right? We on the other hand are the foreigner bodies, the outsiders, les autre, regardless of how many generations we’ve lived here. How often to do you hear about the Chinese Ontario’ers, or German Vancouverites, or the black Nova Scotians. Nope, we don’t, people regularless of their language, religion, ethnicity are just called CANADIANS in this country we call Canada.

      We’re not Anglo Quebecers, we’re Canadian citizens. So are French persons living in Quebec, they too are Canadian citizens. We’re all equals, and yes, I’m sure my saying so has just offended a whole bunch of people. There is NO nation of Quebec, it is the nation of Canada (of which it is just a mere province), and none of us should have more rights or less freedoms than any other person.

      Why don’t Quebec anglos ever attend francophone cegeps and universities?

      How about because McGill is world famous, prestigious and one of the top ranked universities in the world. Universitie du Montreal, sorry…is not. Far from it. Even Francaphone students, wanting to be successful, often choose McGill over U of M.

      And English is the language of business and absolutely necessary if you want to be successful in the world outside of Quebec. French on the other hand, outside of Quebec, is irrelevant. Perhaps that is part of the reason for the hate and resentment towards English.

      Beyond all that, who cares where one chooses to go to school. Whether your native tongue is English, French, German, Chinese….YOU, and ONLY YOU, have ever right to pick what language to be educated in.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        How about because McGill is world famous, prestigious and one of the top ranked universities in the world. Universitie du Montreal, sorry…is not. Far from it. Even Francaphone students, wanting to be successful, often choose McGill over U of M.

        And people choose Concordia over U de M because…?

        Reply
        1. chuck

          they want to get the english exposure denied them in school so that they may advance career wise at least as fast as their anglo counterparts. a unilingual french speaking quebecker, over the long term, will not have the advantages without knowing english. its just a fact of life and all the teeth gnashing and had wringing will not change it.

          Reply
          1. Jean Naimard

            It’s funny that in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, etc., it is expected that a professional can learn his trade and work at it without knowing a word of english, but, somehow, this should not be the case in Québec.

            What is different with Québec?

            Oh, it’s true, I forgot… Québec is a colony of Canada.

            Reply
        2. mdblog

          “And people choose Concordia over U de M because…?”

          I think Apple IIGS answered this question in his comment, if you’d care to actually read the whole thing:

          “English is the language of business and absolutely necessary if you want to be successful in the world outside of Quebec. French on the other hand, outside of Quebec, is irrelevant.”

          Harsh words, yes, but ultimately true.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            “English is the language of business and absolutely necessary if you want to be successful in the world outside of Quebec. French on the other hand, outside of Quebec, is irrelevant.”

            So in other words it has nothing to do with how prestigious McGill might be, and everything to do with its language of instruction?

            Reply
          2. John

            @Fagstein
            And why exactly does McGill have prestige? Because it’s old and it’s well known, even if the quality of its undergrad teaching is pathetic.

            Now, do a masters or a PhD at McGill and you see a different thing entirely. But going to an undergrad lecture room with 300 students for every class? Anyone who thinks that is ‘prestigious’ is being silly.

            Reply
        1. Kevin

          You have to give Harper credit: he really fooled a lot of people with his declaration of the Quebecois nation.

          The motion states “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada”

          What does that mean? Let’s look to the french version.
          “Que cette Chambre reconnaisse que les Québécoises et les Québécois forment une nation au sein d’un Canada uni”

          Again, very clear, not the land, not the territory — the people.

          Still don’t get it? Here’s a hint: the First Nations are recognized in a similar manner.

          He specifically did not recognize Quebec the province as a nation. He recognized the Quebecois PEOPLE as one of the founding ‘nations’ of Canada.
          This is not the most popular definition of the word, but it is what Parliament passed.

          2: archaic : group, aggregation
          3 : a tribe or federation of tribes (as of American Indians)

          Reply
  17. Proudly Canadian

    When I was visiting in Toronto last summer, I was telling my friend on King Street in front of the CN Tower in French: “hey, this ain’t Montreal, don’t cross the street on a red!”. I continued speaking French and a Québécois group started talking to us in French. We spoke about Quebec society in French, and the lady commented how excellent my Québécois speaking was. Then she looked my friend and I up and down, and saw that we were of visible minority and then it came: she said in French: tes pas mal integrer dans la Societe Québécois. As I walked away, I realized that I would never be one of them, just integrated into the subculture.

    I was thinking driving back that one source of graffiti that would truly anger Francophones in Quebec would be the proliferation of Canada flags. Imagine little red and white Canaduan stickers all over, covering Quebec buildings, autoroutes and flags. Why not?

    By the way, Newsguy and MDblog really captured it bang on.

    Reply
    1. News Guy

      Despite what Quebec would like people to believe, this is a nationalist movement based on ethnicity, where language is just a smoke screen. You can impose a language, but you can’t impose a culture unless you do so by coercive or violent means. We see how outraged the PQQQ and their friends get when it comes to the activities of “cultural cummunities”. Guess what, most of those people speak french.

      Charest is going to unleash some more language police on us. Watch out, they will be armed with rulers and cameras in hand! This is not rational behaviour considering the year is 2012.

      Reply
      1. Jean Naimard

        Now go say that to all the arabs, latinos, vietnamese, chinese, armenians, etc. who have fully integrated into Québec’s society.

        Unfortunately, though, you claim of a language police is mere wishful thinking… :(

        Reply
  18. mdblog

    Fagstein, you should read this article from the Globe and Mail. One section in particular would cause an unbiased observer (which you are not) to conclude that your remarks about Canadians not consuming much of their own home-grown culture is a false premise:

    “[CBC] Radio is enjoying the highest ratings in its 75-year history. The great shows – Quirks and Quarks, The Sunday Edition, As It Happens, The Current and the local shows – have never been more popular. The 10 a.m. national morning slot, once hosted by Peter Gzowski, is now home to Gian Gomeshi and Q. The audiences are larger than they were for Gzowski.

    Television is in some ways doing even better. For the first time in history, the CBC has proven that Canadians can make entertainment shows that can compete with the programs made in the United States. For the last four years, CBC’s overwhelmingly Canadian prime-time schedule has beaten Global’s overwhelmingly American one.

    And the shows are not pale copies of U.S. fare. They are completely and unapologetically Canadian in their stories, style and sensibility. The Rick Mercer Report, Heartland, Dragon’s Den, Arctic Air, Republic of Doyle, The Border, Little Mosque on the Prairie and Battle of the Blades were watched by millions of Canadians.

    News and Current Affairs are also stronger. Marketplace often reaches a million viewers, as does The Fifth Estate. The News Network clobbers CNN and every other all-day news channel in Canada.

    The full article for your reference:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/television/federal-budget-poses-threat-to-cbc-stursberg-argues/article2387386/

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      your remarks about Canadians not consuming much of their own home-grown culture is a false premise

      This opinion piece from a former CBC executive doesn’t in any way show that English Canada is more attached to its own culture than francophone Quebec. Setting radio aside for the simple reason that we don’t import much American radio programming (there’s very little fiction programming on radio as well), statistics show English Canadians consume more American culture than their own, while in francophone Quebec it’s the opposite.

      I’m not suggesting English Canada has no culture, but it’s much less influential because of the overpowering influence of American culture. (I’m not happy about this, of course. I’d like to see more effort put into pushing more Canadian culture, and in particular more local television programming.)

      The CBC might be competing with Global for ratings, but CTV is the No. 1 network, and both CTV and Global get most of their ratings from American shows.

      Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Sure. The CRTC’s Communications Monitoring Report is here. It covers just broadcasting.

          Tables 4.3.5-7 show viewing hours for Canadian vs. non-Canadian television programming. For conventional networks (CBC, CTV, Global, Citytv, Radio-Canada, TVA, V, Télé-Québec, etc.), we’re at just under 40% Canadian programming in English Canada, and about 70% Canadian programming in French Quebec. For the specialty channels it’s a bit closer (Quebec specialty channels will import and dub a lot more American programming), but there’s still a significant edge for French Quebec.

          Reply
      1. mdblog

        And by the way, let’s not forget what we’re arguing about here. Your comment,

        “Just like it’s not a surprise that francophones have little to no interest in English Canadian culture (what little of it there is)”

        implies that English Canada has little culture. You didn’t say “compared to Francophone Quebec”.

        I simply disagree based on the points I’ve made in my numerous posts on the matter, the most important one being that culture cannot be defined or limited to what media one consumes.

        Reply
    2. News Guy

      Canadian news and current affairs programs have always been highly popular. This is not a sudden phenomenon. I don’t believe CBC television has done anything earth-shattering in recent years. Dragon’s Den for instance is not a Canadian creation, but originated in Japan. It is yet another reality-TV franchisee and could have easily found its way onto CTV or Global. I judge the CBC by whether as a national brodcaster I see any of “my’ reality as an English-speaking Quebecer represented on its airwaves whether fictional or community-centred. The answer to that question is no. When I see the english CBC making docu-dramas about guys like Rene Levesque and portraying them as heros, I find it disturbing but typical.

      I also do not believe that governments should be in the broadcasting business.

      Reply
  19. mdblog

    I’d like to re-iterate a comment I read elsewhere. I won’t speak for everyone but for me the reason I don’t watch much Quebecois TV (other than RDS for Canadiens games) is that I just don’t like shitty TV.

    Also, I don’t watch APTN, and I doubt may Quebecois do either (though I may be wrong).

    Does this make us all bad North Americans?

    Reply
  20. John

    … in English Canadian culture (what little of it there is)

    You know what this reminds me of?

    A fish talking about water.

    You don’t notice it because you live and breathe it every day. It overwhelms your whole life so much you don’t even notice it.

    Culture isn’t a product. It’s not what you watch on TV, hear on the radio, read in print. Culture is not a consumable.

    Culture is a way of life — and Quebecois culture is, for the most part, stuck where broader Western culture was back in the pre-hippy days when it comes to dealing with ‘les autres’.

    The U.S. had the civil rights movement to tackle racism. The UK got used to immigrants. So did Montreal and the ROC.

    But not Quebec.

    And because it’s so much a part of Quebec culture those attitudes are not even recognized as being offensive by most Quebecers.

    Reply
  21. Alex

    Anybody here has an explanation as to why 85 % of Anglo montrealers surveyed have no idea who Regis Labeaume is? The mayor of Quebec City is in the news (newspapers and television) every week.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Anybody here has an explanation as to why 85 % of Anglo montrealers surveyed have no idea who Regis Labeaume is? The mayor of Quebec City is in the news (newspapers and television) every week.

      Is he really, though? And does that necessarily mean people will remember him? Do people know offhand who Quebec’s minister of culture is? Or the mayor of Laval? Or the governor of New York state?

      Reply
      1. chuck

        does it even matter that anglo’s don’t know the quebec celebrities? the fact that julie snyder is unknown or that 60 minutes is watched rather than tout le monde en parle is of no consequence.

        Reply
        1. Robert H

          I beg to differ. Chuck, it’s about more than simply not knowing Tout le Monde en Parle, or any random Vedette de chez nous. Fagstein’s point is that widespread anglophone ignorance about influential, popular francophone personalities and television programs is a reflection of and a contributor to the misunderstandings and resentments I see festering among the comments on this blog. You live in Québec, but dismiss the majority of its culture while denigrating that majority’s language; with your attitude, I’d be alienated too. It’s not only francophones who’ve developed a siege mentality.

          Reply
      2. Alex

        Labeaume has been the driving force behind getting the Nordiques back and building a new arena. Considering that there are as many hockey fans on the french or english side of Quebec it makes no sense that 85% of anglos have no idea who he is.

        Reply
    2. Kevin

      I know francophones and anglophones who couldn’t name a single cabinet minister, let alone the mayor of any city other than Montreal, so I’m not surprised.

      Reply
  22. Robert H

    It’s not your fault, Fagstein, that the discussion here seems to have devolved into anecdotal francophobic whining. You’ve done a good job of keeping your responses rational and to the point while avoiding a descent to the rhetoric of too many participants here. You can be pro-anglophone and pro-minority rights without resorting to hateful smearing of an ethnicity or exaggerated claims of oppression.

    Reply
    1. wwreed

      “You can be pro-anglophone and pro-minority rights without resorting to hateful smearing of an ethnicity or exaggerated claims of oppression.”

      Amen ! Couldn’t have been said better

      Reply
  23. wwreed

    “You can be pro-anglophone and pro-minority rights without resorting to hateful smearing of an ethnicity or exaggerated claims of oppression.”
    Fagstein: Why, is that not a true statement? why should it not be praised?

    Reply
  24. Sylvie Henderson

    Ici on parle English, mais ne vous inquiétez pas?

    is what your title should be! You obviously don’t speak French.

    Reply

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