Madame Harel was elegant about her lack of bilingualism and committed to improving if elected, but for some French language militants, English as a prerequisite for public office in Quebec was an outrageous affront.
The whole argument was really a tempest in a teapot, Anglos weren't going to vote for the separatist even if she could perform "Hamlet" backwards and brought up her lack of English as a cruel way to belittle her candidacy.
But French language militants swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker and raged publicly about the injustice of it all.
Rising to her defence were those like Luc Thériault, president of Mouvement Montréal français who argued in a press conference that making knowledge of English an indispensable criterion to running for mayor of Montreal was a violation of a precept established by Bill 101, the Charter of the French language.
But the debate did lay bare the dangerous concept, currently in vogue in Quebec, that English is not that important, packaged with the equally condescending lie, that while it's always useful to speak another language, it isn't particularly necessary.
It's true that when teaching Cegep in Rimouski, selling hamburgers in Val D'Or or working for the government in Quebec City, one can get by quite nicely without any English. And so the argument goes, that for most Quebeckers learning English in school is unnecessary.
The myth that learning English isn't important is spun by militants to hide their paranoid delusion that English is a dangerous threat and an automatic road map to assimilation. So it's easier to say that English is just not that big a deal.
And so smug, complicit officials in the education department, torpedo the teaching of English to the point that French students leaving high school are functionally unilingual.
It's a cruel trick to play on students, akin to telling them not to study algebra or science because for most, it's irrelevant to their future.
Barefoot, pregnant and stupid, the philosophy of keeping the masses on the farm by refusing to let them visit the city, was the mantra of the Catholic Church for 350 fifty years. History repeats itself.
Perhaps speaking only French is fine when one chooses to spend one's whole life, living in the cloistered fish bowl of a unilingual Quebec, but dangerously cruel, when one aspires to more.
Luckily, many francophones refuse to drink this Kool-Aid of ignorance. They dream of success on an international level and understand the importance of English.
Julie Payette and Marc Garneau would never have gone into space without English.
Celine Dion and Guy Laliberte would never have achieved their success without it.
It's the way of the world, like it or not.
And so congratulations to Jonathan Duhamel of Brossard (a Montreal suburb) for his victory in Las Vegas at the World Series of Poker's MAIN EVENT, the world's richest and most important poker tournament.
The 23 year old Quebecker beat out a field of over 7,300 players, both amateur and professional to claim the top prize of 9 million dollars.
Duhamel's fine grasp of the poker odds and strategy would never have mattered if he hadn't first mastered the first requisite of joining the world poker elite - speaking English.
To all those in Quebec who feed the lie that speaking English isn't important, Duhamel is the living proof that it isn't quite true.
Quebeckers have a right to be proud of his accomplishments, the enduring lesson is that Quebeckers can compete on a world level in just about any field.
For Jonathan, English was just a small part of his ascension to the top of the poker world, but a key element without which, he'd have gone nowhere.
Every time Quebec language militants propagate the lie that English isn't important and that Quebeckers can be successful without it, parents will point to Duhamel and other internationally acclaimed Quebeckers and will continue to insist that their children have the opportunity to become bilingual.
As long as the education department refuses to teach English, there will be pressure to send Francophone and Allophone children to private schools.
By refusing to teach English in a meaningful way, the Quebec education department remains an instrument of oppression, seeking to limit, rather than expanding student's horizons.
Listen to Jonathan deliver his victory speech in English.
For language militants and separatists, don't bother watching. It's a bitter reminder of realty.
If you're going to punish yourself, watch Jonathan drape himself in a Canadian flag, in a final rejection of everything you believe.