Another day, another debate about language in Quebec. This time it’s about a boy who is being forced back to French school because the academic records of his estranged father were destroyed in a fire. Quebec law states that a child may only attend an English-language school if either of his parents were educated in English.
Many Anglophones (and a few Francophones) think the law is archaic and does not further the evolution of Quebec society. Will I think the law has it’s place (primarily to protect the primary language of the province), I think a huge reason why lawmakers are acting ruthless in its enforcement is because people were using loopholes and other means to get around the law. Now with the patchwork done to the laws because people were trying to get around it, it becomes a nightmare for someone who has a legitimate argument for why their child should go to an English school within the context of the law. By the time someone with a legitimate claim to English education makes it through the bureaucratic red tape, they’ll have graduated university.
If the language laws are for the sole purpose of destroying the strength and perseverance of the Anglo community in Quebec, it is a mistake. When a case like this or the Office Québécois de la Langue Française cites a predominately English business for using the English language more than the French language, it does little to protect the French language in Quebec and actually galvanizes the Anglophone community to protest even more. It shouldn’t be like this. Yes, a client walking into any store or business in Quebec should be able to receive service in French but the OQLF has better things to do than admonish a business that’s clientele is 98% English about the amount of English they use.
What they should be doing is going after businesses for using poor French. Too often, French businesses use English terms interspersed in French phrases. The OQLF should be protecting the integrity of the French language than attack the English language. Thankfully, the OQLF is more reasonable than what they are made out to be in the Anglophone media and reports about the OQLF cracking down on businesses like a offensive militant group has all but disappeared from the news. From what I heard from a couple of people, a good chunk of the complaints submitted to the OQLF (who generally don’t act unless a complain is filed by an individual) stems from a customer either receiving poor service or not getting what they want and then nitpicking about a questionable sign as petty recourse.
We’re a long way from the heated disconnect between English and French Quebec from the last time we held a separation referendum. Quebec’s language laws have done a good job at protecting the French language in a sea of English. However, we the two solitudes need to stop attacking each other and should look at bettering themselves. The English need to stop making mountains out of molehills. The French need to worry less about the English eroding their base because the current problem is French people misusing the French language (which is happening in regards to the English language in the rest of North America). Finally, the government needs to make sure this kid gets to stay in an English school. I would say legally there isn’t a good reason to exclude him, but I know there is someone out there is rushing to find a snippet in the law to keep this kid in a school with a language he’s not adapting well to.
Ottawa held Groundhog Day festivities a day late yesterday. The verdict is that we won’t have an election for at least six weeks.
Funny how a Canadian snowboarder caught with marijuana in his blood almost gets stripped of his medal but when an American gets caught with a bong in his hands while getting a hit, he gets a stern finger-wagging.