And so talk of extending Bill 101 to cover post-high school education is a sad and misguided attempt to somehow staunch what appears to be the inevitable and inexorable decline of traditional French society.
But for all the discussions over what's to be done and who's to be blamed for this decline, the rather simple and rather painful truth is hard to face.
The decline has nothing to do with anglophones or access to English cegep and it has nothing to do with francophones 'switching' sides.
It has everything to do with immigration and nothing else.
Canada (including Quebec) has the highest immigration level of any country in the western world.The rate of immigration to Canada is twice that of the United States and six times larger than France's. Strangely there is no policy or rationale that can explain this.
Of the remaining 40,000, half assimilate to the anglophone community and half to the francophone community. This is the key to the small, but inexorable diminution of the French proportion of Quebec's population. To maintain linguistic balance around 32,000 of the 40,000 would have to assimilate in French.
Over a decade it means that over 110,000 people have shifted disproportionately to the English side and this and this alone accounts for the decline in the Francophone element from 81% to 79% over the last two decades.
The same is true of immigration in Canada where the difference is much more startling.
Each year 250,000 newcomers are welcomed to Canada, (this number keeps growing) 50,000 in Quebec and 200,000 in the other provinces. But Quebec bleeds 10,000 of these immigrants to other provinces, changing the numbers to 210,000 immigrants to other provinces against just 40,000 in Quebec.
Of course, all the immigrants that settle in the rest of Canada assimilate to the English community while only half of those immigrating to Quebec assimilate to the French community.
The final numbers end up looking like this;
Of the 250,000 immigrants who come to Canada (including Quebec) 230,000 become anglophones and only 20,000 become francophones.
Wow! It's rather shocking.
That's right, only about 9% of immigrants coming to Canada are assimilated into the French side of the language equation. This wouldn't be a huge problem if the number of immigrants was modest, but Canada enjoys the highest immigration rate among leading western democracies.
Canada increases it's population by a million people every four years by way of immigrants, yet only 95,000 become members of the French community.
In Quebec the changes are not so dramatic, but while the demographic shift is small, it is ongoing and cumulative, as long as immigrants are welcomed in such large numbers and assimilation patterns remain as they are.
As for Canada, the French/English demographic change caused by immigration is monumental.
The francophone element in Canada is dropping by a rate of over 1% per decade!
Within 20 to 25 years, the Francophone element to Canada will fall below the 20% threshold, while at Confederation in 1867, it was 33%.
In 1971, one in four Canadians (25.7 per cent) spoke French at home. By 2001, thirty years later, the proportion had gone down to 22 per cent.
All this has to do with immigration.
It has NOTHING to do with Anglophones in Quebec.
If Quebec wants to reverse this trend, it has to find a way to convince immigrating families to adopt French, right away.
Assimilation takes place within the first few years of arrival, not ten to fifteen years later in cegep.
If the government believes that changing access to English cegeps will change this in any way, they are sadly mistaken.
For French Canada to maintain demographic weight or at least to slow down the bleed, it will have to convince the Federal government to slash immigration and to find a way to francize immigrants much earlier.
Both tasks are rather daunting......