We open our arms to you, arrogant bastards

A new Impératif français ad shows young people holding up buttons that say "Oui! Je parle français"

I saw an ad tonight on TV from Impératif français, the French-language rights lobby group. What struck me most was that this ad was on CFCF-12. An anglophone station airing an ad for a group that seems, on its surface at least, to be so anti-anglophone. Kinda strange.

It turns out they launched a new ad campaign specifically targetting anglophones. And its press release actually sounds very progressive in its views of anglos in Quebec (emphasis mine):

Par cette nouvelle action, Impératif français cherche à renforcer auprès des Anglo-québécois la fierté de parler français et d’appartenir au principal peuple francophone d’Amérique.

Les études actuelles sur les choix de vie des Anglo-québécois ont démontré combien la maîtrise et l’appréciation du français avaient une incidence directe sur leur sentiment d’appartenance au peuple québécois, sur leur choix de vie et leur désir de mener leur carrière au Québec.

Le Québec compte dans sa population une minorité anglophone particulièrement instruite et extrêmement mobile sur le plan professionnel, au point où il perd, décennie après décennie, de nombreux effectifs au profit d’autres provinces canadiennes ou des États-Unis. Conscient de ce gaspillage de ressources, Impératif français considère qu’il est grand temps d’influer sur ces migrations interprovinciales en renforçant la place du français dans le cœur et l’esprit des Anglo-québécois.

Langue internationale, le français est aussi la langue de la très grande majorité de la population québécoise. Sa maîtrise ouvre les portes des différentes administrations publiques et facilite également l’intégration dans le secteur privé. En outre, la maîtrise du français permet aux Anglo-québécois de mieux connaître leurs concitoyens, de participer à la vie politique et culturelle d’un milieu de vie unique en Amérique du Nord. Cette maîtrise est la voie royale pour enraciner les Anglo-québécois dans leur patrie.

En outre, la connaissance du français permet d’abattre les préjugés, de rapprocher les citoyens et de développer une société intégrée capable de se doter d’objectifs communs. Pour tous, au Québec, le français est la clé de l’avenir. « Mon avenir est ici. Le Québec, c’est mon monde, ma patrie »

There are a lot of good ideas in here. In a province where more than 80% of the population has the same mother tongue, it’s vital for everyone who works there to speak that language. Even in Montreal, where half the population is francophone, a quarter anglophone and the rest a bunch of other languages, you can’t have a serious career here without being able to carry on a conversation in French.

The statement goes further, pointing out how many people leave Quebec after taking advantage of its cheap education, and how this brain drain is an economic waste. Impératif français wants to help combat this by reinforcing the Quebec in Quebec anglophones, reminding them that no matter what language they speak at home or how much life in Calgary seems flawless to them, their corner store is not a dépanneur, their Canucks are not Les Canadiens, their comedy festival is not Juste pour rire, and their Leah Miller is not Véronique Cloutier.

And then, rather than emphasize how much the group wants to push Quebec’s two solitudes apart, it points out how improving French language skills among anglophones can help bridge the gap. Their mission is not to push anglos down the 401, but to bring them into the fold and make them feel like true québécois.

I was about to go find my nearest Impératif français member and give him or her a great big hug, but then I read this interview its president did with Métro last week. It was short, consisting of three questions. The first answer started like this:

Nous déplorons l’arrogance des Anglo-Québécois qui imposent l’anglais partout.

Oh well, maybe next time.

26 thoughts on “We open our arms to you, arrogant bastards

    1. ATSC

      I as well spotted the ad on CBMT-DT during their local news. The first thing I thought was exactly like you. WTF?

      My second thought was, where are they getting the money to fund this campaign? Are they sucking on my tax dollars?

      1. Fagstein Post author

        where are they getting the money to fund this campaign? Are they sucking on my tax dollars?

        Yes. The campaign is being funded at least in part by the Quebec government.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      What kind of person thinks that anglophones living in Quebec DON’T know French?

      To be clear, the campaign isn’t to get anglos to learn French, but to get them to speak it in public.

    2. wkh

      I guess you didn’t see the Epic Meal Time guys on TLMEP or haven’t been in a dep in NDG recently.

      I’m constantly amazed how many people grow up here and speak jack shit for French.

      1. Dave

        I’m surprised that you think the language you hear at an NDP depanneur means anything. I speak french fluently, but no way am I going to speak french at a store in NDG. Or east of St. Laurent Boulevard, for that matter, unless it becomes clear that the other person went to french public school and can’t understand me.

        We need to stop being ashamed of being anglophones. Look at the flag of Montreal. We are major part of this city and province’s history. Stop letting revisionists change that. I speak French because it is an asset and a way to enlighten my life and career. But English is a part of Montreal I refuse to let get swept under the rug.

        Anglos: Learn french if you want to live in Quebec. You’ll need it, and it will enrich your lives. But be proud of your English, as it represents the history of city just as well as la langue de Molière.

  1. Dan

    Ahhh, these guys. I was so going to mention the Metro interview from last week!

    This won’t change a thing for me. I speak (fluent) French with francophones (and in stores/restaurants in general, unless I’m dealing with an anglo), English with anglophones, and Spanish with the “hispanophones”. I mean, c’est le gros bon sens, n’est-ce pas? I know this goes against what they’re trying to get me to do but, well, tough. My Montreal is not a unilingual place.

    And there isn’t enough kissing and making up that will ever get me to feel “Quebecois”.

  2. Shawn

    The message should be, learn both languages, speak both languages and respect your neighbours. Protect the rights of the individual without infringing on anyone else’s rights..

    1. Marc

      Protect the rights of the individual without infringing on anyone else’s rights..

      This is Québec. We don’t believe in individual rights; we believe in collective rights. Individual rights are a perverted anglo-saxon concept.

      //End devil’s advocate

  3. wkh

    Honestly, I think other anglophones are the biggest hinderance to speaking French in public. I’ll speak it with francophones easily and happily and even enjoy it but it’s pulling teeth to get me to do it in front of another anglophone unless their from out of province (and therefore almost guaranteed to speak worse French than me). Why? The same reason francophones hate speaking English in front of other francophones unless it’s a given their English is better. We’re harder on one another and always critiquing; I suspect to assure our own insecurities or something. I know my francophriends aren’t going to give a shit if I miss an article, misonjugate, or mispronounce. They’ll just run over it and enjoy my efforts. Anglophones who I know speak great French? Fuck that no way am I talking in front of them.

    1. darthsco

      Yes, you have it exactly right. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been laughed at for making a mistake when speaking French, but I can tell you that every time it was an anglo laughing.

  4. Marc

    My brother lives in New Brunswick. Funny how the French/English signs of NB seem so correct when you simply ACCEPT both languages.

    Too bad the French didn’t see that failing to promote a prosperous environment for families to have kids and instead relying on immigration for population growth, they shot themselves in the foot with the idea that immigrants would want to support isolating themselves from the rest of the World (ok, forget Amir Khadir).

  5. silhouette

    I want to see someone actually flash that pin in public.


    One that says “Yes! I speak english”. Wonder what the response would be…

  6. nat

    I just find it funny… if you were to turn things around it would be:

    “Par cette nouvelle action, Impératif anglais cherche à renforcer auprès des Franco-québécois la fierté de parler l’anglais et d’appartenir au principal peuple anglophone d’Amérique.”

    “En outre, la connaissance de l’anglais permet d’abattre les préjugés, de rapprocher les citoyens et de développer une société intégrée capable de se doter d’objectifs communs. Pour tous, au Québec, l’anglais est la clé de l’avenir.”

    What Quebec doesn’t seem to understand is that not everyone wants to work for the government and be a pencil pusher. And as of private business I have never in my life worked in an office where french was the predominant language. Business is done in english. Period. For Quebec to be a country English is the way to their future. They keep losing brain power- hell yes- this ship is sinking!

    Quebec also has a very warped idea that anglos are forever taking over la Belle Province. There is such a minute anglo community now in Montreal that it’s like hitting a flea over the head with a 100 pound elephant. And by the way….every anglo I know already speaks french. Maybe, maybe very old people but even then.

    By the way… I am 100% french and am tired of this bullshit. Peace.

  7. Bill

    I disagree with your comment “you can’t have a serious career here without being able to carry on a conversation in French” To spite my efforts to learn French for the 13 years I’ve lived here on the island, I’m still barely able to deal with anything related to day to day life in French; however, I’ve always had great jobs (3 since I’ve been here). I do try to show respect and will lumber through most ‘cold’ conversations in French out of respect for people in general, and the place I choose to live specifically. I don’t ‘require’ English anywhere – I choose to live here, I can deal with the language even if it’s a challenge. I love the fact that Quebec is French, my 5 year old son already is fluent in both tongues and I think that is the wonderful thing about living here (and I wish I was either more linguistically capable or had the time to devote to becoming fluent).

    What irks me is the vilification of English.

    No matter how much the PQ tries to use language as a lever for political gain of the few, the internet and vast resources it offers drive English as the Lingua Franca of the world – nobody is going to stop that.

    Anglos learning French for the most part is a ‘nice to have’ in terms of making Quebec a globally advantaged place to live and work – but the inverse that really irks me – we should be ensuring that every Franco student in Quebec emerges ‘ready for the world’ and is able to be conversational in English whether they live in Montreal or Alma. New immigrants and those who move here – French only education – no worries. But lets stop letting politicians whose only goal is to get their name in the history books from using language as a divisive lever instead of holding them accountable to making Quebec globally advantaged. Quebec has the resources and capability to produce the most linguistically skilled children in North America, let’s add that to the mix that is our ‘Distinct Society’.

    English isn’t evil, French isn’t evil. People using language to divide people……

  8. charles

    i find it hilarious how this xenophobic group of language zealots want to extend a hand to the anglo community! Canada is still an officially bilingual that includes quebec. why should i forsake my language to please this gang whose only goal is linguistically purify montreal. At the risk of sounding arrogant I will use whatever language i please..imperatif francais be damned.

  9. Steve Hatton

    BTW did anyone notice this interesting box caption in the metro article? “La publicité lancée par Impératif Montréal sera diffusée sur les ondes de CBC et de News World.” Does metro not know that Newsworld no longer exists and even if you assume that they meant CBC News Network, they don’t air local ads.

  10. Elizabeth

    The more things change, the more things stay the same. It’s now two years later and CTV Montreal is airing commercials for an extremist separatist group, that encourages violence and hatred on their website and facebook page, against the anglo community, in the province of Quebec.

    Non merci Imperatif Français.

    1. Marc

      CTV Montreal is airing commercials

      They’re airing the commercials because the group purchased advertising space. Not because CTV has a hidden agenda.

      1. Elizabeth

        Never said CTV had a hidden agenda. On the other hand, it appears that they are pretty desperate for advertising dollars.

        1. Marc

          it appears that they are pretty desperate for advertising dollars

          Pretty much all non-Internet media are.


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