Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quebec Language Nationalists Go Ballistic over Perceived Olympic Snub

It was with a certain smug satisfaction that I reviewed the scathing and venomous remarks by Quebec sovereignists and French language nationalists that have been burning through the press pages in reaction to the perceived snub of the French language at the Olympic opening ceremonies.
I don't know how serious these objections really are. You'd think that for nationalists and separatists, they'd be happy with any controversy that would tend to drive an emotional wedge between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Here's some of the more interesting comments;

In a piece entitled "The Limits of Indecency" on, author
"...and after watching on many occasions the opening ceremonies of these Olympic Games around the world, never have I seen a country, use these games for such crass politics...."

" ....In the past, when we talked about propaganda, it was Nazi propaganda, communist propaganda, Soviet or Chinese and even Vietnamese. For what purpose? ... To convince their people that they lived in the greatest country in the world, instilling national pride..."

What's the problem? by Eric Tremblay, the leader of the most militant sovereignist political party in Quebec.
"Let us not ask on bended knees that Canadians respect French, in their country that is falsely bilingual.To ensure the sustainability of what we are, including our national language, French, there is only one solution: make Quebec a free and independent French country."

Pauline Marois the PQ separatist leader complained in Le Devoir that, Canada shows it's contempt.
"This showed that we don't even exist, that we are invisible, a negligible quantity. We are not important and ultimately, just a burden."
Gilles Rheame is a long established hater of Canada and has been described as a fascist admirer in a biography. He is now is spokesman for the organization that portends to fight discrimination against Francophones. He is so upset over the lack of French at the opening ceremonies, that he is making a complaint to the Official Language Commissioner in Ottawa, which is in itself unbelievably ironic. That he would even consider asking Canada, his hated oppressor, to intervene on his separatist organization's behalf is beyond the pale!
"...The level of French throughout the course of this momentous event,  projects a distorted image of the legal reality in Canada...."
(to Quebeckers) "...Keep voting NON and remain 'Drawers of waters". You're paying the price for your absurdity!"

...and finally La Presses' Rejean Tremblay, a sportswriter with a deep and abiding dislike for Anglos of any sort;
"...At any rate, they now realize that Quebeckers love to be mocked. I am so proud that the false sense of politeness is now history. No need to believe that they respect Quebeckers, they can rub it in our face and we say nothing. In Vancouver, they understand."
Hmmm.... Pardon me if I'm not particularly sympathetic to  these whiners. One thing Mr. Tremblay got right is that most Canadians don't give a rat's ass about their complaints.

These are the same people who take delight in torturing Quebec Anglos and who work dutifully, on a daily basis, to rid the province of any vestige of English. They talk about 'bilingualism' as if it is a four letter word when speaking about it here in the province of Quebec, but as a noble ideal when it applies to Canada.

Here's what Anglos put up with in signage in stores, even those located in Montreal suburbs that are 80% English. Talk about humiliation;

This is what Francophones got in Vancouver;

I wonder how they'd feel about this;

What do you think?


  1. I couldn't agree more. Quebeckers are whining all the time about their French, anyway. They're never happy.

  2. According to Réjean Tremblay from La Presse, 4 millions quebeckers are French unilinguals.

    Really? I am amazed by such a large number of people.

  3. Canada is damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they had more French in Vancouver they would complain that they patronizing the French and only paying lip service. One almost wishes Quebec would separate and see these so called leaders not have the “bogeyman man” Anglos to blame for all of life’s problems.

  4. After decades of 101 I'm surprised the number isn't higher than 4 million. Francophone unilingualism is a great way to perpetuate the fear of les autres and the biggest stumbling block to an equitable society in this province. Not to mention that when the French media starts to beat the drums it's an all but guaranteed ballot stuffing strategy for the likes of Landry and Marois.

  5. Had they conducted the Olympics in French-only (eliminating any trace of English), I can guarantee you there still would have been uproar and discontentment in Quebec. I kid you not.

    No? There would have been cries about not sounding French enough, mispronunciation of words, how advertisers should have been forced to use French exclusively too. Heck, I'm sure they'd scold the athletes for having thinking in English thoughts inside their head! And the audiences for cheering too much in English!

    Quebecer and its political leaders will always have seething hate for the rest of Canada and its people. There's a word for that: racism.
    Nothing will ever make them happy, they don't want it, they want to look for petty reasons to hate outsiders who are not Quebecois. That's the reality here, this whole fuss is complaining for the sole sake of complaining.

    Interestingly, when I watched the Olympics I thought to myself the were being EXCESSIVE with the amount of French used. Countries were introduced in French FIRST, entire long speeches made in French. French on banners, signs, etc, in EQUAL size (sometimes even larger than the English, as seen above). Honestly, instead of all that French, they should have had a taste of their own medicine and treated French as they do English here (i.e. invisible and to be shamed).

    I wish other Canadians (and the remaining Anglophones here) would understand there is no amount of appeasement, no level of being, speaking and acting "French", no limit to rights sacrificed in the sake of, NOTHING will ever make them happy. We are just wasting our time. That is why, I'm sorry to say, letting Quebec leave and be on its merry way kicked out of Canada is the best thing for all of us. I've put up my entire life listening to this endless negativity of complaining and anti-English harassment...enough already! There are far more important things in life than just Quebec.

  6. Anyone with a high school diploma who attended a French school in Quebec has at least a Secondary IV English course, if not Secondary V. Noone will argue that the quality of second-language teaching (in French or English) is particularly high, but "unilingual" is quite an exaggeration, even for those reluctant to speak another languge.

  7. First of all, the using of French in the opening ceremony is quite disappointing. We're taking about French language, not about participation of Quebecers. Also, CEO Furlong's French pronunciation is absolutely terrible. Can't he learn phonetically like actors trying to speak second language?

    However, those Quebec politicians and activists making noise, complaints and criticism regarding that is absolutely shameful and hypocritical. After all they do to the minority in the province they still have the audacity to have other province not to do what they do.

    Shame on them!

  8. Anonymous, obviously you dont leave the island much - but you need not go too far. By the time you reach St. Therese, good luck finding even a waitress that can communicate in English.

  9. Mitch: I'm French and I couldn't agree more with what you said. You just said my very own thoughts on the subject. Great comment! As for having 4 million French unilingual in Quebec, I am not surprised at all. Even though we do have English classes until the end of High School (and even in CEGEP for those who attend), the quality of teaching is mediocre. I had to learn on my own to have decent English skills and even now it is not perfect. I often meet people who cannot even understand a simple question in English and they live in Montreal... Now imagine those who are living outside.

  10. Loved the banner photoshop illustration of your point. Valid one too.

    Someone said in comments above "Canada is damned if they do and damned if they don't". And I agree to that as well entirely. I think the problem is that Canada should have never been an officially bilingual country to start with. It just isn't. Canada is an english speaking country, with an important minority of French speaking people. As a political to avoid to see Quebec split over the language issue, it was made official. Interesting move that was in itself rather efficient, but it wasn't a perfect strategy and almost 30 years later, it has not been resolved and causes great irrationality:

    - There are proud nationalist quebecois who just don't care about whatever Canada could do, essentially, it's considered as a neighbor country and they are mostly only affected when policies from the federal government (such as environmental issues) come to remind them that their nation is still part of that imperfect federation they were forced into (Quebec never signed it...).
    - There are proud Quebecois that also feel Canadian and believed in the honesty of the policy of the multiculturalism and bilingual Country. Everytime there is Quebec bashing or disrespect of Canada's declaration that it's a bilingual country, there's a risk of losing them who might feel naive to have believed they were parte of that country in the first place.
    - There are english speaking quebecois that see themselves as a minority in the nation of Quebec. Anyone living in Quebec with eyes open will realise quite quickly that this is not Canada. They probably understand feelings from both sides better than any Canadian or Quebecois.
    - There are Canadians within Quebec comfortable here but holding on tight to Canada and prefering to see themselves living in an area of a french minority within the english Country that is Canada than within a nation which majority is french.

    To me, the clash of understanding comes from the impossibility of some canadians to understand that Quebec is ruled like a country that is not bilingual, but officially French speaking.

    These same individuals will feel offended to see that Canada is trying to honor its bilingual status promises for a province that is defending its unilingual status.

    An answer from a nationalist: we didn't ask you to be bilingual, you did that to yourselves, so be rational and do realize that your policy is meaningless and deal with it. You should be barking at Ottawa for implementing it, and not to Quebec for administrating its nation as a nation.

    There are Canada haters, and there are Quebec bashers. Both groups, if they hate the other, are indeed racists. I personally see Canad as a neighbor country, although I'm aware Quebec is not officially a country, you can't administer an identity. Tibet is not Chinese, Ireland or Scotland were never english, basques in Spain are not Spanish, and examples are plenty, all stuck within a larger entity is/was not ready to let them go willingly and denied to recognize their particularity.

  11. There is a key difference between Scotland, Ireland and Quebec. The Scots, Irish, Basques or whoever else you might like to refer to, happen to be indigenous peoples. Quebecers, on the other hand, are NOT! In fact, Quebecers, in the grand scheme of things, are only very recent immigrants to this land.
    The concept of Quebecers as being part of a nation other than Canada or their countries of origin belongs to the same genre as Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft. I don't care what your avatar looks like, you're not an elf or a nation.

  12. Fuck nationalism. And also the holier-than thou canadian version that poses as a lesser evil.

  13. But the main point in common between the Basques, Scotish, the Irish and Quebec is that they defined their own nationalist identity. For reasons of their own, they felt they belonged together and not to the country that claimed them to be theirs.

    As much as you could want us to feel Canadian, we don't. There is little you could say to convince me of what I feel I am. In other words: who do you think you are to tell me that I am lying to myself when I define myself like I do, and who are you to decide that this feeling shared accross all the millions of nationalists in and lots of non-nationalists (lots of quebequois feel they are part of a distinct nation, although they are ok with the federation) that their feeling of being part of a nation different than Canada is real. We thank you for your intention to know for us, but we will just ignore your ingorance and keep our self-definition to ourselves.

    But reading you was funny, thanks for the entertainment.

  14. And who do you think you are to tell anglophones in Quebec how to speak and behave? I will never consider myself to be part of your so-called Quebecois nation.

  15. I'm sorry, did I tell you how you should speak and behave? I predicted that you might be cute and grumpy, in that sense perhaps I did, but why did you obey?

    As for the later part... I know. It's our mutual problem. You deny us existence, but we're wherever you look. I'm happy we have an english speaking minority in Quebec, I'm truly proud of the diversity of Montreal, proud that some people will talk to me in english, I'll talk to them in French, and we understand each other, communication occurs although we have different backgrounds. It's beautiful, if you want it to be. I can't say it's a representation of the whole of Quebec, but it's clearly not Canada either. But obviously you're not happy standing where you stand. I feel for you, brother.

  16. The vast majority of Quebec nationalists like yourself support language laws such as Bill 101, which severely restrict the rights of minorities to freedom of expression. Anglophones in Montreal have been made virtually invisible. There are no restrictions on the French language or culture ANYWHERE in Canada. Who are the real deniers of identity here?

    I’m glad that a**holes like you are not happy living in Canada. Too bad! Tough luck! As Lucien Bouchard recently said, it is unlikely that Quebec will separate for a long, long time.

  17. "But the main point in common between the Basques, Scotish, the Irish and Quebec is that they defined their own nationalist identity. For reasons of their own, they felt they belonged together and not to the country that claimed them to be theirs"

    No they didn't just arbitrarily define their own natioanl identity but it is a part of millenia of cultural, linguistic, religious and world view traits that have bound them as a group. It's also a historically long attachment to a land and the experiences of each of these groups in these territories that also became a part of what defined them. Which is why there are clear lines of demarcation between these groups and others, including traditional costumes, music, instruments used etc. that help identify them for who they are.
    Quebecers will never be a nation based on these principles but will always remain an artificial construct hammered out by constant propaganda. It is also why assimilation is such a fear in this province because the cultural ties are not real or strong enough to withstand any type of influence, unlike the Scots, Irish, Kurds, Basques and even the Greeks who endured 400 years of Ottoman rule without losing their cultures.

    I'm not anyone to be pissing all over your flakes and I probably wouldn't be inclined to if your fantasy world didn't deny me my real world rights to an existence on par with the rest of the people in this country. You might 'feel' like a nation, but your home is on Crown land and your money belongs to the Queen.

  18. I've said it in a way too long post above, here is what I believe is misleading you to see irrationality in what we "whine" about:

    - Canada declared it was an officially bilingual country and struggles to make it look like it was real. Denouncing its flaws just underlines the absurdity of this.
    - Quebec's only official language is French. Being surrounded by 300 millions of english speakers, some would argue that applying measures of protection for the main language of this community is necessary.

    Personal attacks make you a greater person of course. Coming after a comment where I was especially inclusive and declaring my pride of living in an bilingual world, the only question I have is... why so much hate? Ass**les like me don't have the right to debate our position without being insulted? But we're the deniers of freedom of speech, right.

    Obviously you're not happy standing where you stand. I sympathize with your inhabiting frustrations, brother.

    Second anonym:
    I'm now enlighted and waving the Canadian flag, thanks! Oh wait... no I can't do that either... No Canadian nationalism aloud: The english won over the French in 1759.... that's only 250 years! To be logical with your fact-based theory, 400 years should be a minimum! And there's not even an Ottoman empire-like oppressor Canada! Loyalists coming from the USA in 1776... Their poor descendants will have to wait even longer to be proud... Hey, Quebec city has just celebrated it's 400 anniversary last year! I guess I could use this to say that THAT is a justification to be proud... But I'm sure you have more truth about me to unfold how I've naively fell to recent years of propaganda. I decided to incline myself to your superior judgement and trust that you hold the knowledge that is best for me, because you obviously care about my well-being. Thank you, brother, I'm glad to know im now one of your kind and that you welcome me with open arms. Hug me like you'd hold the Queen.

    In a futile action of wasting my time, I shall try to argue that there's been more thinking done on self-determination and hurray for lots of regions in this world, some theories are more inclusive, less narrow-minded.
    (I know, just a wiki, im not trying to be scientific but mainly to point at other points of view. Anyway, no matter what it would be, I doubt you would pay attention)

    I love the last part, in other words:
    Your fantasy world
    denies my right of existence
    No matter what you feel
    You are Canadian

    Again... who denies what to who?

    Fun times :)

  19. Look who's talking about personal insults: "cute and grumpy?"... Give me a break.

    You are the deniers of freedom of expression BY LAW. I don't care what your excuse is...the language laws of Quebec go too far. And nowhere in this blog have I told you not to write your drivel.

    In another post you said that you worked at a Canadian embassy. I find this hard to believe. It proves that the federal government really needs to run better background checks on potential employees, lol. We shouldn't have people who want to destroy the country representing us abroad.

    As for self-determination, if the Quebecois have the right to separate from Canada, then Anglophone and Native regions in Quebec have the right to separate from that province - partition. If I remember correctly, when Quebec entered confederation in 1867, the northern two thirds of the province were part of the northwest territories. If Quebec separates, this land should revert back to Canada. The Inuit people of Nunavik consider themselves to be Canadian, rather than Quebecois. I know - I have made several trips to the region.

  20. "Canada declared it was an officially bilingual country and struggles to make it look like it was real. Denouncing its flaws just underlines the absurdity of this. "

    Well then, perhaps Canada should reverse its policy, since you whine about the inherent hypocrisy, and pronounce itself unilingual. I'm sure the base at Valcartier will have no problem imposing the new status quo in our provincial Berlin.

    "why so much hate?"
    Try reversing the policies of the nationalists in this province and targeting French speakers with them. Let's see how you feel when you have to spend thousands of your cash to change signs on your store-front or risk losing your business. Try being pulled over by the cops who refuse to extend you the courtesy of speaking your language even if you pay into their salaries with the currency of a BILINGUAL nation. Try being turned into a target by demagogues like Parizeau who blame everything and anything on the minority populations of the province.
    Do I hate Quebecers? In all honesty, it's becoming harder and harder to answer the question. I stick to my own ethnic neighbourhoods now. When I leave these areas and head out of town I don't necessarily feel at home or welcome. When a unilingual Francophone rolls into my cafe, or into my neighbourhood I treat him as I've been treated. I refuse to speak to him in French. Maybe to you that's hatred, but to me it's just fed up and you'll find that most of us, at least around my area, feel the same way.

  21. "Hey, Quebec city has just celebrated it's 400 anniversary last year! I guess I could use this to say that THAT is a justification to be proud... "

    Except that the Greeks were the indigenous people of that region having inhabited it for thousands of years. Francophones arrived here as part of a conquering army that failed in securing the colony for the fatherland. Not really the same. If the nazis had been more successful, it would be like their German descendants arguing for nationhood in Russia because they're a majority in one area that they conquered. Hardly a legitimate position.

  22. to Anonymous from Feb 26 4:29

    Thus there should be no Canadian pride whatsoever, since the English weren't indigenous...

    If you felt even slightly proud of being Canadian watching the Olympics, then this is meaningless historical rhetoric used for self-convincing that Quebecers may not identify themselves as a nation. Why are you aloud to feel it, but not them? Were your descendants indigenous people of Canadaland for thousands of years?

    What about USA? or Australians? Indigenous?

    The indigenous people criteria is not a dogma nor a law of social science for nation building. It's a variable found in many cases of quests for autonomy, but not all of them.

    Mark for your example: FAIL
    - We are not claiming country from the conquered, but from the conquerer. Here is your example:
    Conquerer (Nazis-Quebec) claims nationhood over an indigenous people (Russians-First Nations of Quebec)

    Proper use of this example is:
    Conquerer (Nazis-Canada/UK) claims nationhood over an indigenous people (Russians-First Nations of Canada)
    Conquerer (Nazis-USA/UK) claims nationhood over an indigenous people (Russians-First nations of USA)
    Conquerer (Nazis-Australia/UK) claims nationhood over an indigenous people (Russians-First nations of USA)

    Conquered (Russians-Quebec) claims nationhood over the conquerer (Nazis-Canada/UK) who failed to assimilate Russians into Germans even after 250 years of nazi control over their population.

    As you said, hardly a legitimate position.

    From QB_101

  23. to Anonymous from Feb 26 4:17

    Reversal of this policy = certainty to see Quebec split, while keeping it = need to contain ponctual dissatisfaction everytime its irrationality is publicly noticed. The later is easier to handle, creates less damage for Canada. The strategy from PET in 1982 to contain the nationalists was a great one. It works more than it doesn't for its political objectives.

    Reversing the situation: No need to work real hard at that. You experiment in Quebec what French Quebecers experiment with Canada. Prime minister Harper succesfully fought the Coalition in 2008 by saying that supporting for the Coalition is supporting the splitists of Quebec. His speaches were not the same in French and in English, was more harsh against the Bloc Quebecois in english than in French. Like the anglophones and allophones were not all Federalists, Bloc Quebecois voters are not only sovereignists (it got more than 50 seats out of about 70 in Quebec? There isn't that many sovereignist or we'd be long gone). The whole province has been tagged as splittists to serve Harper's political strategy. You might not see it, but Quebec snubs in the Canadian media is quite present. The number of times I've heard about federal policies being dismissed because their goal was to please the Quebec voters. If Quebec is part of Canada, why should Quebec pleasing policies be bad and other province pleasing policies be ok? Yep Canada is bilingual and if you seek bilingual services at federal organizations (such as Service Canada, GRC, Immigration, Border services) within Quebec, you can expect them to speak to you in both languages, it's their commitment. As for provincial status, it's different across Canada, few provinces are bilingual (NB and NS?), most are unilingual english. You're living in the one unilingual French, which means seeing French impacting your life should be all but surprising. If I enter a bar in Toronto and speak french, will they serve me in french? They could, but I can't expect it from every store/cafe, etc). Same for Quebec, if you are surprised that someone cannot speak to you in english, you have a problem. There are indeed rude people, on both sides, who will be rude to someone speaking the other language. Ottawa is particularly rude for french speakers. And as you said, so have you become. I think nothing will get better if we preach by the bad example. I believe the anglophone and allophone minorities and the francophone majority can very well live in harmony, all it needs is a little good will. At least for Montreal, there is more work to be done outside, I know. Francophone bashing certainly won't help.

    As for the fight over a sign, I read the post, I disagree that something like that should create such public trauma. Then again, whereever you open a business, you should do a market study and a background check, although it's extreme, it should have been foreseen as a potential risk, such issue is not the first, won't be the last, sad but true. If I was to open a store called "Quebec Nation Something" in Calgary, I don't think it would be very welcome ;)


  24. There's no comparison between a banner of grocery and the obligation of bilinguism by the Charter of Olympics ! Bad example !:). If I follow your logic, we can do what we want in Québec because you just imposed to us the Constitution ? Can I remembered you that any government sign the Constitution ? You're not feeling welcome because the french speakers don't talk to you in canadian english ? You must be sad in a couple of country ! You don't leave your confort zone often ! By the way, do you think french speakers feel welcome in other province ? Do we can be served in English in restaurant, shops, except government ? Just ask the question is the answer not at all !!! Stop doing your prosecuted, if the other provinces treated their french population on the same way that the anglophones are treated in Québec, it will be better for all of us !

  25. "What about USA? or Australians? Indigenous?"

    Sorry to be the one to inform you of the harsh realities but failed attempts at empire that result in a spit size minority within a continent requires THEM to accomondate, and not the other way around. When the First Nations decry the way they've been treated, they have a legitimate cause which should be addressed as far as possible - Quebecers don't. So you tried to colonize North America. Things didn't pan out as you hoped. Sorry, I can imagine how it might suck. So now you live amongst 350 million anglophones. Get with the fucking program and learn a second language. Turning Quebec into your own private reserve is not a solution. It's also illegitimate in the sense that you have no indigenous claim to this land and should therefore be accorded no more rights to the territory than any other immigrant group in this country. I don't give a flying fuck at a rolling donut if your family came here two hundred years before mine - you lost your empire and I moved to Canada, not Quebec. Your rights should not impede mine as a Canadian citizen.
    Get it through your head, this will NEVER change. Even if seperation occurs, you might keep your official language status but you will remain politically and economically subservient to your English speaking neighbours! As a bilingual province within the federation you at least get to participate instead of being turned into North America's sweat shop.

  26. "If I was to open a store called "Quebec Nation Something" in Calgary, I don't think it would be very welcome "

    You're right, and do you know why? Because there's no such thing. On the other hand, there is a Canada and you're living in it even if you call yourself a Quebecer. The store was opened in Canada so the name seems perfectly suited to me. But even allowing for the imaginary nation syndrome that so many seem to be afflicted with in Quebec, why is the name Canada so offensive to you? If you don't like the English signs, go somewhere else.
    I have an issue with the linguistic policies of the province so I spend my money exclusively at ethnic and english owned establishments. I suggest you do the same if you don't like the language on the sign.

  27. Ladies and Gentleman, the head of your country:

    To Anonymous MARCH 1, 2010 8:56 AM
    I'll just say "weak argumentation", anything further is worthless. But I congratulate you for your efforts, keep practicing. This post is aging, I'm out, debate you later, brother.

  28. Here is the head of your delusional Quebecois nation: