C’est Tres Fun! Vraiment Mega Cool!

At least double-double needs no translation. 

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.

Canadian News

Ottawa held Groundhog Day festivities a day late yesterday. The verdict is that we won’t have an election for at least six weeks.

International News

So much for Cold War II: Electric Boogaloo.

Sports News

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.

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3 comments

  1. Every couple of weeks we hear about a story such as this one in the news. It’s been the same my entire life. I think there are a lot of people to blame for the constant battle between the francophones and the anglophones living in the province of Quebec. I think that the majority of the blame however should be put on the shoulders of the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois. Their constant talks about a free and independent Quebec only adds fuel to the fire that feeds this battle. Just last week, Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe took the troubles in Ottawa as an argument for independence and Marois for the PQ has seperatist written all over he forehead when she talks about anything.

    As for the infamous Loi 101, I do believe it’s time to revise it because it simply promotes racism towards a large group of people who live in Quebec. Private businesses should have the right to speak the language they want and post up signs in the language they want. I understand if the SAQ, SAAQ, Libraries etc… need to have french signs in it to serve the french majority then they should have a law for it but private businesses are just that…private.

    The same should go for education, if parents decide that the best language for their child to learn is English, then who the hell is the government to tell them otherwise? Is this 1930s Germany? No it’s 2009 Canada. The argument can be made that this is Quebec and it’s french here. It’s a weak argument because this is Canada first. A country we proudly live in and have voted to stay in twice already.

    I do agree with this article’s comments about the Office de la langue francaise and that it should protect the bastardization of their language by it’s own people. Giving a restaurant a fine because the sign on the bathroom says Women under the stick figure with the skirt instead of Femmes is a waste of time, money and only serves to upset people even more.

    I do believe these laws are made simply to try and stop anglophones from living here. The proof of this is all around us. One needs to look no further than Chinatown for proof. Are they forced to change their signs? Nor should they but had it been Englishtown, it would have been a public outcry to stop them from being English. When I went to school (I was forced into French school because my parents went to English schools in Ontario and New Brunswick which apparently didn’t count) I as given detention numerous times for speaking English in the halls but never was someone so much as told to speak french if they spoke Chinese, Arab, Spanish or any other language.

    What bothers me the most about the racism and hatred towards anglophones is the hypocrisy of the people who practice it. They talk about how much they hate anglos, how much they want them to move somewhere else and how bad it is for them to be here in Quebec. Then they go home and watch English made movies, listen to English made music, play English made video games and watch English television.

    In conclusion, I believe the constant threat of seperatists over yet another referendum is the source of these problems and will keep the two sides forever divided. I hope to see a united Quebec with no law 101, no seperatist groups and having the two languages that built this place come together in harmony.

    Now that I think of it, wouldn’t it just be better if we seperated Montreal from Quebec? This is closest place to a harmonious existance between the two languages that Quebec has to offer.. maybe the world. No wonder people love this city so much…

    1. I used to live and work on the West Island and I would have to say that I’ve seen more English people act intolerant towards French people in that area than the other way around so I don’t believe that Anglophones can say it’s not a two-way street.

      If it wasn’t for these democratically-created laws, the French language would not be as strong as it is today and Quebec would be a different place. One could argue that the French would have simply relented and accepted forced assimilation but there are many scholars that believe that we were lucky that the incidents we experienced in the 1960s and 70s (which led to the October Crisis in 1970) would have been much worse, more violent, and carried out for a longer period of time. Other independence movements around the world (and within the Commonwealth) have been far more bloody.

      I disagree with the law in the sense that people who have lived here for generations should be forced to send their children to French schools if both parents do not have an English education background. They’ve lived here for generations and they shouldn’t be declined the rights that their ancestors had. As for newly arrived immigrants, there shouldnj’t be any misconception about which language of instruction their children should receive. If Canada is about choice then why was it so difficult for people living outside the province to send their children to French schools for decades. The only province that seems to get it right is New Brunswick (and maybe Ontario) but try being a Francophone outside of Quebec.

      I think racism towards Anglos is only a mantra for a small group of Francophones. I have rarely experienced any anger towards my choice of language. It may be more prevalent outside of Montreal but considering that over a third of the province’s population lives in or around Montreal, I don’t think it’s fair to say that the French as a whole hate the English. Many prominent members of the PQ, BQ and even seperatist journalists have do not speak as if they equate the Anglophone population as a personification of evil and in fact encourage debate about the issues concerning Quebec society (including the seperation issue) in both English and in French.

      According to the BBM ratings (Canada’s version of the Nielsen ratings), many Francophones reject English television. Sure, there is a considerable amount that watch dubbed versions of The Simpsons, CSI, and Lost, but these shows fill a niche audience…much like many of the watered-down Anglo digital cable channels that show rubbish like house-hunting and auction shows for eight hours a day on a repeat cycle. According to the BBM, quite a number of Francophone shows in Quebec outperform most American shows in terms of national numbers. The only show “English” show that does consistently over a million viewers in Francophone households is House (and a Quebec remake of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”. Also, the French film industry is far healthier and more critically acclaimed than it’s English counterpart.

      As for Chinatown, it could be argued that since there is no real way for Chinatown to expand and start swallowing parts of the city, there is no real risk in having Chinese characters predominate in the area. However, I agree that if a law is to be fair, it should be applied evenly, and that goes for Chinatown as it does for Angloopolis.

      That being said, we need a strong Anglo presence to protect ourselves from a fringe part of the French population that are hellbent at wiping English out of the province. They look back at their history and say if it was good enough for the English to do 200 years ago, it’s good enough for the French to do now. Until we stop bickering about this and come together to create a truly bilingual society with equality for all, Quebec will continue to be a black hole on the map of Canada as it loses ground to Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.

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