Wednesday, December 30, 2009

English, English Everywhere!!!!

This year the French press embraced a new genre of pseudo news stories wherein Francophone letter writers regale readers with stories of language discrimination by haughty Anglophones who supposedly refuse to speak French.
These stories play to a receptive audience of language zealots who share a common persecution complex which is fed by stories as unlikely as the mythical English Eaton's matron of yore, who told Francophones to "SPEAK WHITE"

Let's start with a recent letter to Le Devoir by Maurice Leduc
"I was walking down a street in my neighbourhood when a man hailed me from across the street. I approached him and he asked me in English for directions to Bloomfield Street. I replied: "Don't you speak French?" He answered that he did and repeated his question in French and I gave him the directions. I then added: "May I ask you why you addressed me in English first?" He seemed a little surprised by my question and replied, again very politely: "But Outremont is English!" I replied in turn:" But we're in Quebec and in Quebec we speak French!
His attitude and his tone changed abruptly. He addressed me, shouting: "Oh! You are one of those. Fuck you."And he walked away, continuing to shout other obscenities."
The writer goes on to say that the man was "an allophone, not only a stranger to my neighbourhood, but to my country as well"

Hmmmm. Nice attitude!
What a neato story.
Too bad it's improbable, too neat and contrived.
Since the man was obviously recognizable as a 'foreigner' and the neighbourhood was Outremont, it's most likely that the person was a member of an ultra-religious Jewish sect known as the Hasids.
In Quebec, the word '
foreigner' accompanied by 'Outremont' is code for 'Hasid.' The idea that a Hasid became abusive in this situation is just about impossible, he would have just turned away. In fact, that he asked for directions is even less likely, he'd have used a cell phone. Hasids don't mingle if they can help it and would never start an argument on language. The story is not credible. The idea that a Hasid or any allophone is going to harangue and abuse a poor Francophone over language in the middle of a street, is as absurd as the mythical "Speak White" stories of the past.

Richard Martineau
is a Journal de Montreal staff hack who turns out a trashy column which often bitches about anglophones.
In one particualrly distasteful column he makes the same complaints as the letter writer above. He complains that his wife went to a manicure store and everything was in English with no one capable of speaking a word of French.
He then describes how he chastised a lowly car attendant for not being able to speak French and complains about a children's activity centre that is wholly focused in English. Then a complaint about a restaurant hostess who doesn't speak French. ETCETERA ETCETERA.

These anecdotal stories serve no purpose other to inflame. Mr. Martineau fails as a journalist to tell us who exactly these people are and the names of the stores and restaurants that are guilty. He violates almost every principle of fair journalism by keeping things so vague that it is impossible to verify, due to lack of detail. This shoddy and sensational journalism, typical of Le Journal de Montreal is fodder for the insatiable appetites of their low-brow readers, who hold that there is an organized plot against Francophones by vicious Anglos.

Finally let me share with you the biggest nose stretcher of them all. A certain Daniel Roy tells the story of how he and a patient he was accompanying were abused in a medical clinic in Dollard des Ormeaux. Link
On May 16, 2009, I accompanied a sick person to his appointment with a doctor in a clinic in Dollard-des-Ormeaux where the receptionist greeted us in English first. Over the intercom, again in English first, we were invited to go to a certain room. When the doctor entered the room, I hastened to say hello to make sure of being served in French.
She said "Hi" to me and "Hi" to the patient. She asked the patient to "Please come sit on the table." I then told the doctor, "You're putting a lot of ardour in trying to impose English on us. She said, "I do not understand the word 'ardour' and so I replaced the word with 'effort.' She then replied, "When I enter the room, I worry about the patient first, not the language, and you're the only customer complaining, so don't be so sticky about it. I asked her to repeat in French what she just said, but she replied that she did not know how to. I told her that I will remember this word 'sticky'. She then said "Get out of the room. I will examine the patient alone. "No," I replied "I haven't committed any aggressive or unpleasant act . She then refused to treat the patient and left the room.

I had just been raped linguistically and not for the first time. I was injured and assaulted. It makes me uncomfortable to talk about it. I was bullied over my rights, insulted in front of the sick person that I accompanied.
I was also deprived of a service for which I paid for as I had waited a long time for an appointment. "


Let me first tell you a little about Mr. Daniel Roy.
He is a virulent French language supremacist. A separatist who has a deep loathing for everything English and Canadian. He writes extensively on militant web- sites and you can get a sampling here, if you read French. LINK

He is a proud member of the Comité exécutif du Parti Québécois in Nelligan riding, a member of the Bloc Québécois, a member of the Parti Indépendantiste, a founding member of the Parti Jeanne du Lys, a member of the Parti République du Québec, a member of the Mouvement Montréal Français, a member of the Jeunes Patriotes du Québec and a member of the Réseau de résistance du Québécois.
The last two organizations have a distinct bent towards violence. He's one busy fellow...

Here are some of his published views;.
"The prince (Prince Charles) of the genocide of North American Francophones"
"We were robbed of Labrador, robbed in our elections, robbed in the referendums and robbed in the Constitution"
"We share Canada with a nation that is dominating and crushing"
We stopped being Canadian in 1759. We are Quebeckers and Quebeckers alone!"
"English continues to dominate and the movement to anglicize is slow and sure, but French is diminishing. It's important that French predominate."
"Nothing will make us waver. Nothing can make us doubt, because we have gained sufficient strength to reverse the overwhelming tide of assimilation and English Canada."
"A man (Jean Charest) with two maternal languages is of use to Canada, not Quebec"

"English is a language to be used only as a tool in foreign trade or travel"
mmkay....Back to his compliant.
Are we to believe that this raving French radical actually sought out medical help, in one of the most English of suburban towns, in a clinic run by Anglophones, with an almost universal Anglophone clientèle?
Given his fear and loathing, what exactly was he doing in enemy territory? As for the story, none of it sounds realistic or credible, especially when he says that, "It makes me uncomfortable to talk about it"
Ha! Ha! Believe me, this guy isn't in the least bit uncomfortable at all when lambasting Anglophones and Canada. This statement is the biggest lie of all and should clue us in that the rest is bullshit.

Given the tenor of his writing, I have no doubt that he went into the clinic looking for trouble, belligerent and spoiling for a fight.
He recounts how the doctor  accused him of being "too sticky." What the heck is that? I don't think any English person would use the term 'sticky' to describe an irritating guy.
In another article he has a complaint about a restaurant;

"I was given a menu with English predominating. The English was written on the left-hand side of the menu in the same size font as the French. The employees were speaking English to each other."
So having English and French, side by side on a menu is somehow humiliating. His complaint, by the way, that the English should be written in a smaller font is a misinterpretation of the law. A menu is not a sign.
The incident took place on Park Avenue where all the good restaurants are Greek. The Greeks are closely aligned with the English community and speak English at home. Now anyone who's eaten on Park avenue knows that it is one of the most bilingual streets in the city, the complainer didn't bitch about not being served in French, just about the Anglo atmosphere and the fact that the staff talked to each other in English. Could you imagine him complaining that all the waiters in a Chinese restaurant spoke Chinese to each other?

His other complaint, that the staff addressed most customers in English is also idiotic considering that the majority of patrons are Anglophones as well as out of town businessmen and tourists who also are largely English.

All of these stories of discrimination and contempt are invention of the writers imagination, the product of a persecution complex with a profound distaste to see English thriving in the city.

If these people have a real beef, let them make it. Name the people involved and the stores, offices or institutions.
Otherwise, the stories are just bullshit fantasies.

People ask me why I continue to report on these type of stories. They tell me that they are exceptional and not representative of Quebec society.
I tend to agree, but that being said it's important to denounce ignorance, discrimination and bias, even if it's coming from a small cadre of radicals.
Somewhere, someone has to call them out. I know that the writers of these articles see what I write about them. I always send links in the comments section, which they dutifully fail to publish, confirming to me that they are uncomfortable with what I have to say.

As long as they know I am here, mocking their idiotic missives, I 'm satisfied that it is useful.


  1. Hmm. Like the Claude Rains character in Casablanca, who was "shocked to see gambling going on" while pocketing his winnings, why would a language zealot go to an anglo area unless he was spoiling for a fight?

  2. 'Linguistically raped',,,hmm.... sounds pretty nasty to me!

  3. i live in a french neighborhood, i am from vancouver. when i arrived i spoke no french but i have worked very hard to learn.

    all of the french canadian people i have met my age (mid twenties) have shown me nothing but respect and friendship. i have really been impressed and very pleased with the way i have been received by the community.

    i think playing up the english/french divide in quebec doesnt do anyone any favors. and quite frankly, it is a bit boring.

    what is the point on dwelling on a topic that causes so many bitter feelings?

    and in my opinion, it is montreal's english polulation that is the guiltiest when it comes to discrimination and stereotyping of the "other side"