But with all the glorious prose and good intentions of both those Charters, it isn't quite true.
You see, If you are an immigrant or are born to a Francophone family in Quebec, your rights differ from those of someone born to an Anglophone family.
That's right, Anglophones and others don't share equality before the law, not in Quebec, anyways.
If you are an Anglophone, you are born with the inherent right to receive a public education in either French or in English, your choice. For everyone else, it's tough nougies, French and French alone is your only education option, thanks to Bill 101 the language law passed by the separatist PQ government back in 1977.
In other words Francophones and Allophones are discriminated against because of language,there's really no other way to look at it, unless you're a constitutional lawyer.
Here's what the Quebec Charter of Rights says about all discrimination. Notice that language is specifically cited;
CHAPTER I.1Now I'm no lawyer, but clearly language may not be used to discriminate against anybody. Notice that there is no proviso that limits this protection, as there is the after the word 'age', which adds the proviso-"except as provided by law." It seems to me that this proviso needs to be added to the 'language' reference, if Bill 101 is to be legal.
RIGHT TO EQUAL RECOGNITION AND EXERCISE OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMSDiscrimination forbidden.10. Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.
No matter, the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled in this matter at least three times and has come to the conclusion that language discrimination is permissible. So much for the concept that we have any real real Charter rights in Canada. At any rate, even if the Supreme Court found the practice illegal, there is an escape clause (Notwithstanding Clause) that permits provinces to bypass inconvenient decisions. How very Canadian!
As an Anglophone Quebecker, I don't think much about the Bill 101, it hardly affects me or my family.
We are the privileged class.
Aside from compulsory French signs in public, which don't offend me at all, the world turns nicely for me and my fellow Anglos.
We are educated in English, enjoy unlimited television, radio and press in our language and we can live in communities that are just about as English as we want. We can receive services from the government and our towns and cities in English and can be treated in hospitals run almost completely in English. English entertainment, be it movies, theater or music, is widely available, as is service in most stores and restaurants. Our children and their children are also guaranteed these same rights.
Like I said, life is good.
For Francophones, despite all the moaning and groaning by nationalists, life is also good, everything, but everything, in the Province is offered in French and one can easily get by speaking no English, which most Francophones don't..
But for some Francophones, it's not enough. Speaking French in Quebec is fine, but not so much when one leaves the province. Some parents want their children to become bilingual and that's where they come into conflict with their own government, which has a different view.
For the government and French language nationalists, bilingual Francophones are not in the best interest of the preservation of the French language and so Bill 101 was enacted not only to force ethnics into French schools, but to keep Francophones out of English schools. This, coupled with the fact that English language instruction in French schools is kept at the most rudimentary level, leaves Francophone students functionally unilingual. There is hardly a high school graduate from a Francophone institution who can order breakfast in Toronto.
Ever since Bill 101was enacted, Quebeckers have become less bilingual, a happy result for nationalists who wish to to impose the "barefoot and pregnant" syndrome, where people are deliberately starved of a skill in order to control them from leaving home.
Nationalists remind us that Quebec is surrounded by a sea of English and that French speakers make up just 2% of the North American population, yet just 35% of Quebeckers can carry on a conversation in English.
In Europe, where English is native only in Great Britain and Ireland, the rate of bilingualism reaches up to 90% in some countries.
A good comparison to Quebec, is the country of Denmark, whose 6 million inhabitants speak a language that is shared only in Greenland and one part of Germany. But the numbers are small, less than 100,000 speak Danish outside the country. If Quebeckers think French is in danger then Danish must be on its death bed.
But in Denmark English is embraced as the language of internationalism and schools teach the language early and successfully. 90% of Danes can speak English and they speak it very well.
Graduate school classes throughout the country teach business courses exclusively in English to prepare students for the real world. Danes don't seem to be particularly afraid of becoming Anglophones or having their culture destroyed by English.
The all-encompassing fear and the major argument among Quebec proponents of the ban on English is the premise that bilingualism leads to assimilation, a false assumption if you'd ask the Danes.
While the entire world sees the benefit of learning English, Quebec stands with countries like Islamist Somalia that forbid the teaching of English.
Not all Francophones in Quebec are pleased with being dictated to. Last week the leader of the small conservative party the Action démocratique (ADQ) demanded that English actually be taught in schools with the goal of getting students to become bilingual. Gérard Deltell, the leader, expressed his distress at the low rate of bilingualism among the young.
This brought out the traditional naysayers who actually used the excuse that making children bilingual was too expensive and that there is a profound lack of qualified teachers.
Switching an additional class or two into English from French has no added costs and as for teachers, here's some advice. Hire ANGLOPHONES! They are already bilingual. When I went to English high school in Montreal, most of my French teachers were Francophones who spoke almost no English!
How does the PQ react to all of this?
By announcing that they will extend the language ban to English Cegeps (junior college) where Francophones are enrolling after high school, in order to learn English.
And so the language nationalist propaganda machine drones on and on, repeating the message that English is dangerous and that bilingualism leads to assimilation.
After forty years of getting this message hammered home, most Quebeckers (but not all) accept it as Gospel.
Those who are brave enough to break out of the language prison are seen as having betrayed the 'collectivity.' Francophones in English colleges and universities make language nationalists ill.
Pauline Marois' quote this week, says it all.
"It is not acceptable to send this message, that it is possible to have free choice."
Do citizens have an obligation to serve to state, or does the state have the obligation to serve its citizens?
In banning free choice, it obvious what the answer is in Quebec.