Posted in In the news, Opinion

Anglo rights in a sovereign Quebec?

It’s not hard to imagine why anglophones in Quebec are so against the idea of separation. For them, there isn’t this big conflict between being Canadian and living in Quebec. For them, Canada’s bilingual nature – imperfect as it may be in practice – includes them more than Quebec’s attitude of French-but-some-English-too-if-we-have-to.

But it’s more than just a feeling of belonging. Canada’s laws give anglophones the right to live in their own language, to educate their children in English, to deal with the government in English, to have laws written in English. Quebec is obliged to offer services to anglophones, including English school boards, whether it wants to or not. And judging by the amount it restricts access to English public schools (and how much some want to restrict it even further), anglophones could be forgiven for thinking they really don’t want to offer these services, lest they threaten the francophone majority.

I don’t remember every detail about the 1995 referendum campaign – I was 13 at the time and had more important things to worry about that fall. Besides, it’s not like I was going to vote.

I remember about that time and in the years afterward (before it became clear that the whole separation thing wouldn’t be achievable in the short term) how the leaders of the Parti Québécois and the Bloc Québécois – the de facto leaders of the sovereignty movement – would reassure the anglophone community that we’re Quebecers too. During some provincial and federal election campaigns, some even had the gall to suggest that anglos vote for them because their common ground on social or economic issues was more important than their division over sovereignty. And I remember after every election, both those parties would proudly proclaim that every vote for them was a strong mandate for sovereignty.

Politicians being two-faced and pandering is hardly new, but it doesn’t exactly instill confidence when, for something as important as national independence, a lot really has to be based on trust in political leadership.

So it’s not surprising that, even though there were assurances that an independent Quebec would continue to respect the rights of the anglophone minority (under the unspoken assumption that all would be done to ensure they remain a minority), anglophone Quebecers didn’t really trust that a PQ government would do everything in its power to protect their interests.

I mention all this because an article came out in La Presse on Saturday that describes a draft Quebec constitution created in the summer of 1995 that would be enacted in the event of a Yes victory, one that hadn’t been made public until now. A PDF copy of that draft is linked at the bottom of the story. The constitution, which establishes Quebec as a state completely disassociated with the British monarchy, where a president appointed by the legislature would be the head of state but power would rest in the hands of the prime minister, was designed as a transition constitution that would keep everything as it is and eventually be replaced with a permanent one drawn up by an independent Quebec.

Nevertheless, a lot of thought clearly went into it, and those thoughts are described in notes that accompany each article of the constitution. In most cases, it’s the status quo, with a unicameral National Assembly making laws and the same rights and freedoms guaranteed in the existing charters of Canada and Quebec.

As far as anglophones are concerned, the constitution affords certain rights to the anglophone community in Quebec, there’s even an entire section devoted to the topic, starting at article 124 (PDF). Among them:

  • The right to speak in the National Assembly in English
  • The right to communicate in English during court or tribunal proceedings, and have decisions translated into either language
  • The right to educate children in English, from kindergarten until university
  • The right to administer their own educational institutions, presumably meaning the maintaining of linguistic school boards
  • The right to receive medical and social services in English
  • The right to maintain its “identity” and “institutions” (neither of these is defined very well)

That’s not to say everything would be the same. The constitution purposefully doesn’t include, for example, the right to have all laws and transcripts in English as well as French, preferring to leave that up to laws passed by the legislature. And a lot of these rights are very vague, leaving the details to legislation.

Nevertheless, it’s a pretty surprising list of rights from the perspective of a paranoid anglo. What’s more, Article 151 provides that amendments cannot be made to the articles guaranteeing these anglo rights without the consent of the anglo community (although what form that consent takes is left up to the legislature to define).

A logic major such as myself might point out that Article 151 itself could be repealed without the consent of the anglo community, clearing the way for stripping of other anglo rights, but I’m willing to give good faith the benefit of the doubt here. Like the Notwithstanding Clause, just because something is possible in theory doesn’t mean it can easily be abused in practice.

I’m not going to say I’m a convert to the cause of sovereignty. There are questions much more important than the finer points of the French language charter. And it’s hard to take seriously a draft document drawn up in secret that may or may not have been accepted by the population and may or may not have been heavily modified or completely replaced once the public had its say.

But this is perhaps a nudge toward the idea that an independent Quebec might not do everything in its power to strip anglophones of their rights, and maybe there are some deep within the sovereignty movement that believed the anglophone community (or at least the “historic” anglo community in Quebec) is as much deserving of protection as a minority within their new country as the francophone minority did in North America.

Or, you know, I could just look at the French-only-laws thing and scream racism. But I’m not paid to pick fights with Richard Martineau and Jean-François Lisée. ;)

36 thoughts on “Anglo rights in a sovereign Quebec?

  1. Vahan

    Let’s stop lying to ourselves. The French Québécois are not an accommodating group of people and have a huge chip on their shoulders. As my name indicates I am Canadian born from an ethnic background. Born and raised here. I have allegiance only to Canada and have never been to the homeland of my ancestors, I suppose, like the majority of the Quebec population. My parents knew they came to a French speaking part of Canada, back in the days when people still traveled over by boat. They tried to get me into a French school, but we were not the right type of Christians, since school boards were divided by those thoughts. The English Protestant schools took us in with open arms. Not once was I made to feel like an “outsider”. I was treated like I should have been, a fellow citizen. Then I went to CEGEP Ahuntsic for college. Oh my God was I treated like crap. Mocked for not using the correct masculine or feminine terms, asked about how many wives I could have. Been called l’ethnie, immigre, and a camel jockey (my ancestors used donkeys I think). Mispronounce a word and everyone would come down on you like you just killed their favourite pet. I have worked in the print industry and I was always one of the few non francophones in every shop I worked in. Never asked to go out for drinks with the gang or BBQ parties. I now work in an anglophone environment with plenty of francophones and there is zero racism towards me and my fellow French Canadian employees. I have tried to integrate myself, but when you are treated like a virus working yourself into their purity, well then, the hell with them and their goals for a country. My whole family has left Quebec to better lives,yet I stick around with an idealistic dream that things will change. How stupid am I?

    Reply
    1. Marc

      The French Québécois are not an accommodating group of people and have a huge chip on their shoulders.

      Really? Every last French Quebec is like that? What are you, crazy?

      Reply
      1. Vahan

        Walk a mile in my shoes my friend. I am a Canadian born and raised in Quebec. Been here my whole life and have grown, mature children, born and raised here. I have never been accepted as a Quebecois, never, never, never, never. Oh sorry, yes some Quebecers are condescendingly so, when I speak French and they in return tell me how unexpectedly well I communicated with them. Aw shucks thanks. Yup, I am crazy.

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        1. Marc

          My problem with your comments is that you’re generalizing. And as such, you’re coming off as a Francophobe. There are no shortage of Francos who are NOT like you describe and no shortage of them who are emabarrassed by characters like J-F Lisée.

          Stop generalizing.

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          1. Vahan

            Francophobe?Francophobe? I live in a predominately Francophone neighbourhood, by choice. One of my kids actually lives in France and is dating a French person. St-Jean is a holiday for me, while July 1st is a day off. The rest of my family have left the province, twenty years ago, for a more prosperous and angst free living, never having to worry that one day they will have to go through another referendum and have their property values plummet. I have been kicked in the nuts, over and over again in this province, but I stick around, looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I was seeing the light in the past few years, but it looks like it is being dimmed again. The goddammed politicians have marketed this inferiority complex into every francophone with great success. Always with the island in a sea of English bullshit. Closing ourselves off to the rest of the country. Why not instead sow the Quebec culture across the country, why should June 24 not be a Canada wide holiday? No instead the political class wants to break all the dishes in the house before the divorce. If people are embarrassed by people like J-F Lisée, then why not stand up and tell them to shut the hell up? I have embraced Quebec, it still will not call me in the morning.

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  2. mdblog

    Hi Fagstein,

    As nice as it is to see this in writing, I’m still with Don Macpherson in that Anglo Quebecers gave the benefit of the doubt to the Francophone majority once (back in the 1970s-80s) only to be further disenfranchised and made politically impotent.

    Whereas some would have us believe that the extra security provided by sovereignty would make the Quebecois tolerant, and dare I say even supportive of the Anglo minority, I am pretty much convinced that it would only be a matter of time until a final solution to the Anglo “problem” would be put in place. As Don said in yesterday’s article, whether by assimilation or emigration, they want us gone.

    Maybe I’m just whining, so let’s for a minute imagine that Quebec Anglos were given the best possible arrangement in terms of rights and protection in an independent Quebec. Take it beyond the rights outlined in this draft constitution and grant Quebec Anglos their own province/state in an independent Quebec. A place where they could run their own affairs at the expense of the majority of Quebec via transfer payments, with their own institutions and even laws that protect the English language at the expense of the French language. Imagine if Quebec Anglos were given everything that Francophone Quebec has been given in Canada. I guess we wouldn’t have anything to complain about then. Would we…?

    I am no fan of hypocrisy.

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  3. wkh

    Why do anglos get so freaked out about access to English schools? If you’re educated in a Canadian English school, you get to send your kids to English school. This isn’t super complicated. Personally, I think anglophones who do this in QC are doing their kids exactly no favours, but hey, the access is there. Why are anglophones so “OMG AN AMERICAN IMMIGRANT ISN’T ALLOWED TO SEND HER KIDS TO ENGLISH SCHOOL! OUTRAGE!” about it every time some American (and it’s almost always an American, you notice that? There’s a reason, let me tell ya) comes here and somehow misses the fact in years of immigration prep that their kids will be required to go to French schools if in the public system? I’m not asking to be an asshole either. This has genuinely baffled me. English Quebecers, as a culture, always have had and continue to have access to English schools. It’s not under threat. The people “impeded” by the laws are actually francophones (I don’t care about immigrants. We chose to come here knowing the laws full well. We could have immigrated to Toronto).

    And I still say 90% of the anglo/franco drama here is media myth, fueled mainly by Francofascists and Don MacPherson (I probably spelled that wrong. If so apologies, but I’m not on a real computer and it’s hard to look it up).

    Reply
    1. chuck

      the choice of where to educate one children should be completely free….why condemn a child to french school when coming from an english background. thta to me is draconian and makes for a lot of problems.

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      1. Cody

        The reason for Bill 101 in the first place was for students in Saint-Léonard to learn in the public school system in Italian instead of either English or French (even today, many if not most students speak to each other in Italian in the hallway and when hanging out). If access to public education should be free (in the sense of “liberty”, not “gratuitous”, though it should be gratuitous too), should it be available for other languages with large enough populations to support a full school? (This could include Italian, Cantonese, Arabic, Punjab, Greek, Portuguese, First Nation languages and other frequently-encountered non-official languages (or those in high demand, such as Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish))

        The very same argument applying to English children from an anglophone background could be used for children of other languages; granted that most services may only be offered in English and French (or maybe just French; who knows), but should education be the exception? Should there even be public schools primarily in other languages? And if there ought to be, will there be any filtering, such as what is done currently under Bill 101?

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        1. Fagstein Post author

          The very same argument applying to English children from an anglophone background could be used for children of other languages

          Except that other languages aren’t official languages of Canada, and there isn’t a language community in Quebec with the same population and history as the anglophone community.

          But I’m not necessarily against the idea of publicly-funded schools in other languages, provided there is the population to support them. If it’s better for their education to be in an arabic-language school with French immersion, then why not?

          That said, there’s a danger of ghettoization, and some have argued that this has already happened in English schools in Quebec. Many anglos here don’t learn French for the simple reason that they don’t have many francophone friends growing up because francophone children don’t have the right to go to English schools.

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          1. Kevin

            I disagree that many anglos don’t learn French.
            If you’re over, say, 30 and went to an English school, odds are that your teacher was from France and you learned Parisian French — which is very different from Quebecois French.

            In my case, even though half the kids on my street in Kirkland were francophone we all spoke English because our ‘french’ was mutually incomprehensible.

            (Sidebar: In the ’90s my dad was working for a major Quebec engineering firm on a project in Tunisia. Even though everyone was speaking French, the African clients could not understand the Quebecois engineers. My English dad had to act as interpreter, much to his amusement and everyone else’s chagrin.)

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        2. Carlo Sigonio

          Just some corrections. The 1968 St. Leonard riot prompted the adoption of Bill 63 (and not Bill 101 as you seem to have suggested) by Jean-Jacques Bertrand’s UN government. Widely perceived by French-Canadians as a humiliation, Bill 63 allowed parents to choose their child’s language of instruction. It would be replaced in 1974 by Bill 22 which in turn was superseded in 1977 by Bill 101.

          Furthermore, the riot occurred after the local school board had attempted to limit access to English-language instruction, a measure which primarily affected Italian immigrants in the area who were sending their children to English-language schools. At no time, therefore, was Italian-language instruction an issue.

          Whilst Italian remains the third-most spoken language on the Island of Montreal (after the two official ones), I doubt that most youngsters of Italian origin speak the language in school hallways or amongst their peers, if at all. That surely was the case forty years ago at John F. Kennedy or Pius XII high schools, but not any longer.

          In closing, allow me to echo Mr Faguy’s opinion that schooling different ethnic groups in their own language would hinder integration. Ghettoization is already apparent in certain neighbourhoods where English-language schools are attended predominantly by members of a certain ethnic group: for example, the Italians in the East End.

          Kind regards,
          C.S.

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          1. Marc

            Furthermore, the riot occurred after the local school board had attempted to limit access to English-language instruction

            And hence, the anglos managed to pit the francos against the Italians. Had the anglos not got involved, all would have been well.

            Whilst Italian remains the third-most spoken language on the Island of Montreal (after the two official ones)

            Languages in Montreal: 1. French. 2. Arabic 3. English 4. Italian.

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            1. CommieCowboy

              Italians immigrating to a society with an overwhelming Francophone majority should have to send their kids to French schools. If they didn’t want to live in a French-speaking society, North America has 9 other provinces and 50 American states that would surely meet their needs.

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          2. Carlo Sigonio

            Marc,

            The 2006 census reported:
            1. French
            2. English
            3. Italian
            4. Arabic

            As the most common mother tongues in the Montreal census area.

            My initial statement was imprecise as the census area is not conterminous with the Island of Montreal and ‘most spoken language’ and ‘most common mother tongue’ are not the same thing. I wouldn’t know, unfortunately, where to find data with regard to the former. If you do, I’d be much obliged if you’d let me know.

            As for ‘pitting Francos against Italians’, I think it best to avoid such reductive statements. They’re not entirely untrue but are hardly the whole truth either. History is seldom, if ever, that simple and such generalisations, as you rightly have pointed out to Vahan, are easily confuted.

            Kind regards,
            C.S.

            Link to 2006 census data cited above:
            http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/tbt/Rp-eng.cfm?LANG=E&APATH=3&DETAIL=0&DIM=0&FL=A&FREE=0&GC=0&GID=837977&GK=0&GRP=1&PID=89186&PRID=0&PTYPE=88971,97154&S=0&SHOWALL=0&SUB=0&Temporal=2006&THEME=70&VID=0&VNAMEE=&VNAMEF=

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  4. News Guy

    The English school system in Quebec has been ravaged by the enthnocentric language laws. The law should be the same for everyone. You should not be accorded different rights based on your ethnicity or that of your parents. Even a francophone parent should have the right to decide about the education of their own children without the state playing nanny. We live in Canada. The Canadian government has done nothing to stop any of this garbage since it began. Now we have an official opposition with an anglo Quebecer who surely thinks bill 101 is fantastic and that Quebec anglos should have more of their rights taken away. As for a separate Quebec, don;t count on it happening in the near or distant future. You can’t start a country when you have already counted up a debt of over $200 billion, and that is without their fed share included. You think what is happening in the streets of Greece is bad, just wait until that happens here. Look at how the spoiled brats going balistic over an extra $300 bucks a year!

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  5. Pefder Magfrok

    You have the right to leave Quebec.

    Now get going!

    English culture not “under threat?” I am the only one of 18 members of my quebec-born anglo generation still living in Quebec. The bill 101 agenda is closer to being a successful cultural genocide than of placing anglo culture’s status as being merely “under threat.”

    Ironically in Quebec city last weekend I was spoken to in english more often then ever here in mtl. Seems Quebecois treat english language/people a lot better when we are just touristas dropping cash and then leaving.

    The Quebecois are the “colonizers” these days, but don’t dare to tell them that!!!!!! The modern Quebec-identity mentality has a lot more in common with south Africa and Alabama than it does with the UN Charter of the rights of man. Pointe finale.

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  6. Alex H

    A long time ago, I realized what is really going on with Bill 22, bill 101, and the other language and education laws in Quebec. The idea is that, over a very long period of time, the true English people will die off, and the whole problem will be resolved.

    How is that possible? Well, consider the concept: By limiting education rights by mother tongue, the laws remove the effects of about 50% of the population on the future generation. As a man, I can marry an allophone or francophone woman, and my children become (for legal purposes) 100% francophone. A anglo women’s children would be anglo. The math gets really ugly: With a birth rate net of 1.75 or so (high compared to the rest of Canada) even an Anglo + Anglo marriage will not typically produce “replacement” anglos at the same level (for every 2 person marriage, you get 1.75 kids out the end). Now, if an anglo man marries a french or allophone woman, the anglo birth rate with him is zero. So if even a small percentage of anglo men marry allophones or francophones, they effective birth rate drops even further.

    The population increases come mostly from immigration, and those “allophone” people are immediately added to the francophone pool, as they are not and cannot easily become anglophones.

    The long term idea of a bill 101 or similar is that, over a number of generations, the anglophone population will get worn down, worn out, and basically go away.

    For anglophones, this sort of “constitutional” enshrinement of rights is a red herring. It’s very hard to increase the anglophone population, very easy to make it shrink. It’s only a matter of time that the anglophones become rarer than honest politicians.

    Without serious change, the end game is already set. I will make my contribution to the deal by following a job offer soon in another province, as a perfectly bilingual Anglo, I just don’t feel all that welcome in this province anymore.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      As a man, I can marry an allophone or francophone woman, and my children become (for legal purposes) 100% francophone.

      What do you base this statement on? Education rights are passed down from either parent. A Canadian educated in English could send his children to an English school in Quebec, regardless of who the mother is.

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  7. Captain Obvious

    Call me paranoid, but these draft rights sure sound a lot like pie-eyed, idealistic placations meant to lull everyone into a rosy, warm-and-fuzzy mood after the inevitable shock of a Yes vote: “Don’t worry, good citizens. All will be well in the new paradise of the Republic of Quebec! Pay no heed to the sudden lack of transfer payments. Instead, look over here at how open and egalitarian we’ll be to our minorities — at least for the first few years!”

    *Sigh* Theory and practice are always two very different things.

    Perhaps any future referendum question should be based on accepting or rejecting a proposed constitution in its entirety? Obviously that would never happen, but hey, we can dream.

    Still, won’t everyone be surprised when Montreal separates from a sovereign Quebec via the same rules the province used to extricate itself from Canada?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Call me paranoid, but these draft rights sure sound a lot like pie-eyed, idealistic placations meant to lull everyone into a rosy, warm-and-fuzzy mood after the inevitable shock of a Yes vote

      Perhaps, but if it’s written in a constitution, it’s legally enforceable, and takes precedence over any law.

      Reply
  8. News Guy

    Quebec anglos have no political representation at either the provincial or federal levels. No Anglo has a major portfolio in Charest’s cabinet and the NDP is loaded with separatists. I just watched the honorable leader of the official opposition, a Quebec anglo proudly tell Mario dumont how proud he is that the NDP is firmly behind having bill 101 apply to federal jurisdiction in Quebec. With friends like Mr. Mulcair, who need enemies? Did I mention there are literally a handful of anglos who work in the civil service in Quebec at either the provincial or federal level?

    The only thing that would change in an independant Quebec is that the remain english-speaking population would head downt he 401. This was after all, the true goal of bill 101 and the nationalists from day one.

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    1. Marty P.

      Absolutely not. Why this paranoid attitude. I am member of Option Nationale (the only one true determinated souverainiste party) and a lot of our discussion concern the dispositions we will take to make the anglophone, allophone and native community part of our new country. We can erase the past but we can build new bridges between our community. For us, you guys are all Quebecers, you have build the Quebec as it is today and you’ll shape the future with us. You should, at least, reassure of our profond will to include you guys and your aspirations in our great country project. Don’t make a mind shortcut and generalize everybody.

      We are the new generation of independantists and you guys will have something to say in the creation of this new state.

      Nothing has been clearer for us.

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  9. Jimmy Jack

    I can’t wait for the next referendum. I am voting Yes and hope the Yes side wins. Then I am moving to BC. Canada would be much better off without the continuing drag of Quebec. But then again having 2 failed states in the northern hemisphere (Haiti and Quebec) wouldn’t be good for our security

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  10. Xandersun

    I want to ask something. If you want to look at the big picture, this was all once British North America. You had English speaking loyalists, English speaking rebels, and French speaking I-don’t-cares. By a twist of fate the English speaking people who shared the same language and same culture, but differed politically (I support the King/I don’t support the King) ended up in separate countries. In 1812, the Americans tried to reunite all of British North America in one country, but failed.

    Since that date the Canadians (and here I mean the English speaking ones) have jealously guarded their independence and insisted that Canadians are different from Americans in oh-so-many-subtle ways. And, in fact, in order to protect the culture of Canada, Canada can never again be in the same political entity as the Americans, but has to have a border, border controls, and discriminatory regulation of trade (insisting that 40% [or whatever number] of radio, tv, movie, publishing products be of Canadian origin).

    And most definitely blocking American companies from freely operating in Canada (thereby driving up costs. Compare the cost of a flight from New York to San Francisco, with one from government monopoly Air Canada from Montreal to Vancouver), as well as insisting on Canadian symbols (metric system,maple leafs, funny money). We are essentially the same people, yet blatant, outward discrimination against American and American cultural products all in the name of protecting Canadian identity and culture. BECAUSE CANADA IS A SOCIETY DISTINCT from the U.S. Even though we speak the same language…Even though we more or less have the same cultural patrimony stemming from mother England.

    So why is it sooooooooo hard for English Canada to accept Quebec as either a “distinct society” or even a separate country, when they don’t even speak the same language or have the same cultural background? Or find that Quebec efforts to preserve the predominant culture in the province by restrictive laws to be so awful? I don’t see what Quebecois are asking for vis-a-vis the ROC so different from what English Canadians ask for vis-a-vis the U.S.

    This is the thought experiment I want people to conduct. What if in 1812 the Americans had won? English Canadians and Americans in one country for 200 years. But Canadians continuing to chafe under U.S. rule? Canadians still not believing in guns for everyone. Canadians still wanting universal health care. Canadians still reserved and not annoyingly hyper-patriotic. Canadians still preferring hockey to baseball. Canadians preferring maple leafs to stars. Canadians still secretly preferring the monarchy to the presidency. Canadians rising up in the 1960’s insisting that Washington recognize that there IS a difference between Canadians and the ROA. And that maybe Canadians might just want a country of their own.

    Would you be sympathetic to the Canadians? Or stand firmly on the side of the Americans screaming and bitching that the Canadians want special rights apart from all the other equally situated states; that the Canadians want to discriminate against the citizens and people not descended from loyalists; that all American citizens have the right to carry guns and Canadian efforts at laws severely curtailing such rights are discriminatory and unconstitutional; etc., etc.?

    Quebecois testy when you reject their symbolic touchstone–the French language? What about English Canadians getting sensitive and whiny when Americans assault Canadian identity and symbols by such infamous words such as “well, it’s not like your a ‘real’ country” or “you’re just like Americans, really” or “why can’t they be like normal people and just use pounds, miles, and fahrenheit? (i.e., speak white)”

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    1. Kevin

      This entire premise is full of so many half-thought-out assumptions and misstatements that it’s barely worth addressing.

      I’ll leave you with a concrete idea based on solid reality to think about: English-speaking Quebecers are a distinct society, different from French Quebecers and from English speakers in the rest of Canada. True or false?

      Reply
  11. Patrick Henry

    Minority rights should be protected and subject to reasonable accommodation. This is a basic human rights principle. This is a two way street, however. Try flipping the French-only laws promulgated by the majority in Quebec around and apply them to French speakers in Ontario. Would they not be blatantly discriminatory and in violation of the rights of the minority? Of course they would. It is hypocritical for the Quebcois to claim minority rights in the rest of Canada and squelch them in Quebec. There’s a big difference between being flexible and getting steam-rolled.

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    1. Marc

      It is hypocritical for the Quebcois to claim minority rights in the rest of Canada and squelch them in Quebec

      Could you please point out (with evidence), what minority rights have been “squelched” in Quebec?

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      1. CommieCowboy

        His immigrant neighbour has to send his kids to French schools, which is just common sense in a society where over 80% of the population speaks French. English education in Quebec exists to protect the rights of Quebec’s historical Anglo-Quebecois minority, not to serve as a vassal for English language imperialism. In choosing to immigrate to a Francophone society, you acknowledge that you have no right to help assimilate it into English-speaking North America. The biggest problem with Bill 101 is that it came a century too late, and as a result you have certain waves of immigration who are more fluent in English than they are in French. That’s not good for the viability of the French language in North America, and not fair to the people of Quebec. In other words, if you’re not Anglo-Quebecois, Quebec’s English schools were never meant for you.

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  12. Jacques

    I am second generation US, my grandfather was born in St Henediene, Quebec. I’ve read the story and the comments it was very interesting. However why do you feel that the US thinks there’s no difference between the US and Canada, or is it the you would like the political acknowledgement the it is so? I can and know there’s a difference between the with the politics. First I see that West Canada favors the Queen of England more so than we. I can uderstand the tensions between PQ and the Federal Government of Canada, after all it was England that exspelled the Francophone off their land in the former territory of Acadia. Then invaded Quebec to win the French and Indian War. I might note that the American Revolution started shortly after the Acadian racial clensing that Britain did to the Francophone. Here is my reason for the post; isn’t the Qeubecois independance movement similar to that of the American Revolution?

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    1. Joe

      No, Quebec independanc is in no way similar to the American Revolution. That revolution was in the name of liberty and to create a democratic republic, which at the time had never exsisted, out of colonies of a colonial empire ruled by royalty and a very limited elected government (rich whites vote only), while Quebec’s independents has nothing to do with that because, apart from being it’s own country, there is no liberty to be gained from it, since Quebec already has a “free and equle” society, and given the nature of independance, if it was achieved any problems with the “freedom and equality” of Quebec would not only go unsolved but would become greater then the already are.

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  13. Daniel

    I read your comments and I am surprised by the clear division that I notice between English-speaking Quebecers and French-speaking Quebecers (although perhaps it’s my mistake and the division doesn’t really exists. Sometimes the internet tends to distort reality).

    I am a Catalan. Perhaps some of you know that Catalonia is a region of Spain with its own language and culture, which also longs for independence (does it ring a bell?). As a Spanish-speaking Catalan, I must admit that I am worried about the future of Spanish language in an independent Catalonia. I really wouldn’t like to see my mother language and culture slowly vanish from my homeland.

    However, I have never felt any social division between Spanish-speaking and Catalan-speaking Catalans. It is common to hear both languages in family gatherings, amongst friends, at work, etc. Is the language-based division in Quebec purely political or also social? Do English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers tend to live and work separately?

    Reply
    1. Cody

      I will start off by saying that I may not be the best case study, and I am only one testimonial drop in a sea of representation. However, I will undoubtably say that I come from an anglophone background that, despite living in areas that did have a fairly large proportion of francophones and French speakers, could not integrate with many other French speakers because of our language; mostly because some of my family refused to learn French because they had been so accustomed to getting by completely in English.

      My father was a detailer for a car dealership, and my mother was (and still is) a receptionist for a hair salon. While my mother was relatively bilingual (it’s an important part of her job, but she can’t speak fluently in areas such as politics, etc. in French), the fact that my father was very good at his trade made it that he could work for companies that wouldn’t mind he primarily speaking English (struggling, but managing to get by, in French when absolutely needed). As well, since my brother and I could go to English schools, we were both raised in English and for a very long time, my mother took care of any business that absolutely had to be done in French.

      I can tell you that for a very long time, most of my friends spoke English. Obviously some of them were francophones that had learned to speak English (b/c they were fortunate enough to have at least one parent that could make them eligible for English schools), but the fact that I got a late start on the language of Molière meant that, eventually, it was hard to even start practicing the language with friends without them either not understanding you and thus having to switch back to English, them becoming too irritated with your mistakes and slow speaking and thus having to switch back again, or (occasionally) them becoming irritated with the idea of even speaking in a language that they did not want to learn and felt that it was forced upon them by a power much greater than their family and friends.

      I didn’t exactly live in the West Island either: in my childhood, I’ve lived in Côte des Neiges, famous for housing one of the most prestigious French universities in the world; and past the West Island in Pincourt, a bilingual community. There were francophones all around us, but for the most part, only my mother has gotten sufficient social contact with francophones. Since high school, I developed a drive to become fluent in French (a drive that has not yet come to fruition b/c only now have I found friends and circles encouraging and patient enough to help me practice; also keep in mind that I am only 20, so obviously I do not speak for 35 year olds who have learned both languages fluently and spend time with others in both languages), and my brother is also now eager to learn French so that we can both become contributing members to our greater society.

      But now, it is hard to suddenly start anew with old friends in a completely different language when it is all we knew for the longest time. Our circles of friends, from which we often find new circles of friends, are generally English-speaking and thus identify as such. Even francophones in our groups of friends don’t often speak in French (except sometimes to each other or if they are quoting something that happened) because everyone is proficient in English.

      I can imagine in many families it is certainly different: many anglophones had to go to French schools and probably made lots of francophone friends and circles; many anglophones are absolutely required to speak French fluently in their profession, spend lots of time with francophones, whether it be in English or in French, and encourage their children to take part in discussion in both languages; there are certainly francophones that are patient with people who are willing to learn their language. Again, I don’t claim to be the whole story; I am but one. But my one story says this: while it may not be universal, we can definitely find strong elements of segregation between anglophones and francophones. We are not necessarily adverse to each other once political rhetoric is put aside, but there is definitely something there (intagible) in the fact that we cannot easily cross that communicative barrier and share our cultures together.

      Fortunately, more and more people are becoming bilingual, but I feel we still have a ways to go.

      Reply
      1. Daniel

        Thanks for your reply.

        According to your words, the separation between English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers seems to be frustratingly deep. It’d be interesting to read other personal experiences.

        I’m not all that familiar with the history of Quebec, but, as you suggested, the absence of a large number of bilingual citizens is probably part of the problem. Perhaps a mixed education system would have been better?

        Here in Catalonia we’ve had for 30-some years an educational system which guarantees that, by the age 16, everybody will be fluent both in Catalan and Spanish. I think that this educational system has been very successful in avoiding a language-based separation between both communities, allowing them to mix and merge. The system has been criticized by some for positively discriminating Catalan (about 70% of lessons are in Catalan and 30% in Spanish) but still I think it’s been a success in social terms. Naturally, the social situation is different in Catalonia, with about a 50% of the population with Spanish as mother language.

        Reply

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