Friday, April 1, 2011

Living the Canadian Dream in Quebec

One of the most contentious issues in the Quebec/Canada language and culture debate is the accusation made by nationalists that Quebec Anglophones and most ethnics are disloyal by refusing to assimilate to the culture and language of the majority.

The debate was started by Jacques Parizeau on the election night" after his famous comment about "Money and the ethnic vote"
Yves Michaud

Five years later, the issue was brought to the forefront with Yves Michaud's speech to the Estates General where he complained that in the heavily Jewish town of Côte-Saint-Luc not one voter had cast a ballot for sovereignty in the 1995 referendum. See Is Yves Michaud Racist?
This led to a motion of condemnation in the National Assembly which still remains a sore point today with sovereignists complaining that Mr Michaud was rail roaded.

But the Michaud affair, highlights the current debate where some nationalists advance the theory that ethnics are disloyal and hence poor citizens because of their collective refusal to give their loyalty to Quebec, instead of Canada.
The idea that everyone living in Quebec must embrace the French language and common French culture is what Michaud and some writers on advance.

Let us consider the mythical story of a make-believe town in northern Ontario where 20% of the residents are Franco-Ontarians, the rest English speaking 'pur-laines'
Everybody always got along famously in Mythica, the two language groups although sharing a different  language and culture co-existed in peaceful harmony.
The Francophones while living among an 80% English majority enjoyed French language television produced in Quebec, had access to a local French newspaper and went to movies in the town's French language movie theatre and of course the children attended French schools. Stores in the 'French' part of town operated largely in French, but welcomed Anglos just the same, after all, a buck is a buck. Life was good.

  But the 'French" situation irked a certain group of English language militants who were organizing politically on a platform of eliminating the bilingual nature of Mythica. Lo and behold, after several years of fear-mongering, a member of this group was elected  mayor, as well as a majority of city council.

The mayor organized a referendum around the question of changing Mythica to a unilingual English town. The referendum would decide if the city could eliminate all bilingual city services, French signage, and restrict access to French schools.
Obviously the francophones weren't pleased and decided to organize to help defeat the referendum proposal come voting day.

The principle of the French high school led a furious campaign to convince francophones to vote NO, warning them  that the passage of the referendum would mean the end of their community.
The referendum came and went and when the votes were tallied it seemed that 99% of francophones voted NO. On the other side, a majority of 60% Anglophones voted YES  but combined with the francophone vote, the NO side won by the scantest of margins.
The mayor was furious.
We lost because of the French! These people, acting as a disloyal bloc, thwarted the will of the majority English, he ranted.

Many English radicals took up the call. Those damn Frenchies! Bad citizens the lot of them, watching French TV, remaining apart, refusing to embrace English and worst of all, insisting on keeping their French culture! Outrageous!
The leader of the Francophone NO side boasted gleefully that it was the bloc of French votes that defeated the referendum, a statement for which he was roasted royally by the Anglo militants, furious that their will was thwarted by an ungrateful minority.
Now before I get a slew of comments saying that my story isn't comparable to the situation in Quebec, my only point is that Francophones in other provinces have a right to live speak and live in French. I know it's a  harder situation for them than anglophones in Quebec, but it's an ideal that is fair and noble.
Secondly, is my point that people have a right to vote selfishly in their own best interest, even if it conflicts with the majority.
Honestly, in the above story, can you see any francophones voting YES in the referendum?

Seeing things from another point of view is difficult, especially for some sovereignists here in Quebec who cannot understand how someone can live in Quebec, while living the Canadian dream in English.

For these people assimilation of the French minority in Ontario is a cruel circumstance of ethnic cleansing while assimilation of Quebec Anglos and Ethnics in Quebec is a noble and entirely justifiable cause.
It a question of perspective, I imagine.

Talking to a leader of the Jewish community (one of those accused of inciting the community to vote NO) in light of Michaud's rant that 95% of Jews voted No in the referendum, I was told jokingly that he couldn't understand what the 5% of Jews who voted YES were possibly thinking!

And so today, attacks on the Ethnics and Jews in particular, on websites like is based on the bankrupt and wrong-headed notion that certain citizens have an obligation to live and act as the majority wants them to act.
Most of the hatred displayed on comes from a very small group of frustrated old farts, who realize rather painfully that like Pierre Falardeau, they are destined to die in the country of Canada and not an independent Quebec and for Yves Michaud and company, somebody has to be blamed.


  1. Editor, your argument is indeed cogent, and as you point out, some voters vote the way they do for selfish reasons, i.e., in their own self-interest. Heaven knows da Bloc Québécois is the proof in the pudding. Voting for da Bloc, a party where the probablility of running the country is virtually 100% against unless the four remaining "major" parties (including the Greens) receive an equal share of the vote.

    It is unlikely the Greens will win a seat again, but no one can scoff at their convictions. From a personal standpoint, I do hope they win a few seats if for no other reason than due to their perseverance, their will to hang in.

    Da Bloc got lucky their first time around, forming "Her Majesty's loyal opposition" albeit barely, but it pointed out there is a downside to democracy.

    Similarly, it is the rest of Canada's democratic right to form a political party that serves its collective needs ahead of Francophones. French Quebec had leverage for a long, long time, and they milked their advantage for all it's worth. That advantage is slipping with Quebec's Catholic doctrine of «la revanche des berceaux» (Revenge of the Cradles) reversing the trend by the 1980s to one of the lowest birth rates in the Western Hemisphere).

    The pur laine portion of Quebec's population has fallen below 80%, and with the influx of French speaking Muslim immigrants bringing their bigger families, there is really nothing to reverse the majority's fortunes. Tough luck, because their immigration policies, a special privilege bestowed upon them by former federal governments to the exclusion of ALL the other provinces, wanted it this way. They assumed French speakers from elsewhere would automatically be loyal to Quebec's collective dogmatic aspirations, but lo and behold...THEY WERE WROOOOONNNNGG!!!

    Their miscalculated strategies have come home to bite them squarely in the ass! In effect, Harper is on the warpath, as you pointed out, with Quebec. His recent announcement in Newfoundland promising them loan guarantees to build a hydroelectric project that would serve them well and bypass Quebec, enabling them to sell power to the Maritimes and Northeastern U.S. Duceppe retorted with fury! The beat goes on! If Harper gets his majority and Quebec is not there to contribute, LOOK OUT!

    As Charlie Sheen stated on a previous episode of his virtual reality show, 2½ Men, "leverage is a fickle bitch." The separatists are fast losing their leverage.

  2. @Éditeur

    Amérique : 350.000.000 d'anglos vs 6.000.000 de Francophones.Qui menace l'autre?

  3. Nicely said editor, the usual double speak, as for @Press 9, you really are a one arguemnts mind, don;t you, you obviously cannot accept or see someone having a different POV and accept that he can live it. Sad truly.

  4. @press 9.

    5 925 000 Francos vs 1 000 500 anglos in Quebec and we know the majority of francophones support bill 101. So the we know the risk and who menaces who.

  5. "...So the we know the risk and who menaces who."

    Alors nous sommes désolés de vouloir exterminer l'anglais de l'amérique.

    Vous vivez a Rome alors faites comme les Romains!

    Vous êtes vraiment des peureux!

  6. "Vous vivez a Rome alors faites comme les Romains!

    Vous êtes vraiment des peureux!"

    This is so hypocritical it's astounding. The same logic could be applied to Quebec as a whole. It's part of Canada so do as the Canadians do. This isn't what I believe as I think Quebec should retain it's unique culture but it just shows how asseninely hypocritical your comment is.

  7. Editor, perhaps you should rename your blog "No Dogs or Jews" because it's all Jews all the time here. According to statistics from 2001, there are about 90,000 persons in Québec who follow Judaism, which is about 1,3% of the population. According to B'nai Brith there were almost twice the number of antisemitic acts commited in Ontario in 2009 versus Quebec.

    I understand the author is probably Jewish himself, but this constant harping on the subject does not help dispelling myths about jewish conspiracies and in fact reinforces them, however misguided they might be.

  8. @ Press 9

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    I don't see how French Canadians like Press 9 (I actually really like that clever name) can feel so threatened about the English majority in North America and at the same time not understand why Anglophones in Quebec feel threatened. They complain they are being exterminated when the only people doing any extermination is them with their racist bill 101 and immigration tactics. The double standard is mind boggling.

    I know what response is coming back "if you don't like then leave". The arguments are so tired. Well the same can be said to French Canadians, "go back to France". But then they come back with the juvenile "we were here first" obviously forgetting about the Natives. And so no progress is ever made.

    If you don't to be "exterminated" by Anglos try not exterminating Anglos. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

  9. "the only people doing any extermination is them with their racist bill 101 and immigration tactics"

    This is always stated as fact here, but remind me HOW bill 101 supposedly "exterminates" anglophones? By allowing them their own school systems? By funding McGill and Concordia? By guaranteeing them government services in english?

  10. I'm looking at all the federal parties and trying to figure out who to vote for on one criteria: Who wants to PUNISH QUEBEC.

    NDP...they support Quebec's anti-English language laws and other separatist nonsense. Next.

    Liberals...they said they want to pay for Quebec's half-billion dollar hockey stadium. God knows what else they want to support and appease to Quebec. Next.

    Green party...not sure. What's their stance on Quebec? I could potentially vote for them, but if they have any pro Quebec promises, forget about it.

    Conservatives...not exactly fond of their ideals and policies, but if they lose seats to the Bloc Quebecois, then they WILL take revenge on Quebec and give nothing to this third world so-called province. So for that reason, maybe I'll give them my vote.

  11. @ Anonymous 1:52.

    I know sarcasm doesn't work well when in writing. I put quatations around the word exterminated (If you don't to be "exterminated" by Anglos try not exterminating Anglos. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) to point the stupidity of the idea that people are trying to exterminate French Canadians in North America, and similarly Anglophones in Quebec.

    The point is we should all respect each other and 101 separates society into distinct classes allowing for an environment were nobody respects each other.

    While we are on 101. Show me where the Anglo rights to exist are?

    (article 1)The right to have the civil administration, the health services and social services, the public utility enterprises, the professional corporations, the associations of employees and all enterprises doing business in Quebec communicate with him in French. (article 2)The right to speak French in deliberative assemblies. (article 3)The right of workers to carry on their activities in French. (article 4) The right of consumers to be informed and served in French. (article 5) The right of persons eligible for instruction in Quebec to receive that instruction in French.......

    While most French Canadians don't use this as an excuse to bar English from anything and everything, the language militants do. And in my mind any legislation that creates two classes of citizens, no matter what the classes are based on, is racist.

  12. See the FB Group Sunday Rally to Abolish Bill 101
    or Marche pour l'abolition de la loi 101 to understand why it must be dropped. It is ethnic cleansing by bureaucratic harassment, pscyhological harassment and a corrupt judicial system that supports the self-entitlement to make our rights now worth upholding.

  13. @anon 1:52

    Mcgill Concordia and the English School systems were around before bill 101 and were paid for by anglos and allo taxes and contributions. The english schools are closing one after another because Bill 101 does not let anglos and allos that prefer to go English school. Despite English being an official language of Quebec. A province which unilaterally declared French as the only Language of Quebec despite BNA explicitly making Quebec a bilingual province.

    Anyway the day will come when the rest of canada will scrap bill 101. As for Sovereignty it is always mentioned that 2/3 of francophones voted for Separation. This was in 1995. The ratio of non Francophones in Quebec is higher and it will keep getting more difficult for seppies to blackmail the rest of Canada.

  14. @Mississauga Guy

    I happened to read this [] today and strangely it made me think of you.

    Your allegory couldn't be any clearer.

    @Press 9
    Y a des affaires beaucoup plus menaçantes dans la vie que des marges de démos différentes. Que l'on parle d'une minorité au sein d'une majorité ou bien d'une minorité au sein d'une majorité qui est elle-même minoritaire au sein d'une majorité, il me semble qu'on a plus à perdre à s'attaquer et à se contre-attaquer qu'à se mettre finalement à travailler ensemble.

  15. @Apparatchik You know...after reading that Gazette article, I'm now leaning towards voting conservative. Ironically I'm totally against much of what they stand for and their policies, but ANY party that doesn't bow down before the racist bastards here in Quebec and NOT looking to sacrifice the rights of the English population (or order to appease those same bastards), well....gets my vote.

    Sadly looking at past elections, my riding and most around it blindly votes Liberal. Whether it's a provincial or federal election.

  16. @Quebec=Fail
    I don’t know that that’s where I stand.

    I think of similar reactions in different contexts, whether it’s the “Israel Firsters” outside Israel who decide who to vote for based largely on what kind of Middle East foreign policy a candidate or party would pursue, self-professed conservatives/liberals who vote largely on one lightning rod issue like abortion, gun control, or gay rights, or even the PQ/BQ voters, many of whom are witting/unwitting participants in a “Quebec über alles” doctrine.

    I’m wary of signing onto a populist bandwagon, especially on the basis of one issue alone. And I say this in the firm belief that there’s much about the politics of ethnolinguistic division in our city, province, and country that I think is long past its expiry date. And while I can appreciate the motivations behind voting for a party based on the perceived urgency of one immediate issue, I’m not sure that voting in response to a crisis is good for any party.

    Hitler was swept to power on populist ethnoracial rhetoric, capitalizing on the desperation and humiliation felt by millions of Germans following WWI. Duplessis long billed himself as the intrepid defender of our rights (“coopération oui; assimilation jamais!”). The PQ vowed they’d wrest power from the anglo establishment and in so doing emancipate downtrodden, working-class French-Canadians with the promise that somewhere over the rainbow, the dreams that Quebecers dared to dream really would come true. Even in Israel, the Right has largely dominated the discourse on Middle East peace since Rabin’s assassination, arguing that a get-tough-with-all-the-Palestinians approach is the only way to guarantee the security of ordinary Israelis (the fact that Israel is effectively a pariah in international circles speaks volumes about this approach). Then there are the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and even recently Libya, which many agreed to in principle in order to fulfill one objective, but which somehow mutate into a Pandora’s box of other items, both related and not.

    Consider how a voting pattern intended to exact some kind of (even swift) revenge can and will invite a host of other problems much later – side effects that were not initially bargained for, and which often cause us to question the wisdom if not utterly regret the haste with which we acted.

    Don’t get me wrong: huge partisan differences aside, I actually appreciate Harper’s abilities as a skilled tactician and I delight in the mischievous speculation that he might successfully neuter the separatists so that their movement will finally go the way of the Catholic Church in this province – especially given my belief that Harper is the foxiest of all the current party leaders (he’s managed to stay around for 5 years in a minority position after all).

    Liberal scaremongering aside, I am genuinely concerned that a majority Conservative government might be hijacked by elements and interests that would press forward with a socially conservative agenda which could turn our country into an equally trashy version — albeit slightly chillier — of Tea Party America. Sure, the people could turn things around in 4 years (many of us wished early on that Bush would get voted out in 2004), but perhaps there are other long-term effects to voting for the guy you don’t really want but that your current pair of political beer goggles chooses not to see. As we’ve seen, blindly voting for a party or voting by default for the lesser evil don’t do much to ward off apathy and cynicism toward the system as a whole. With that in mind, I have little reason to trust that taking it one step further and voting for a guy I don’t want just so he does one thing I agree with could produce an opposite effect.

    All this to say: be careful what you wish for.

  17. When will you understand that respecting intellectual property has nothing to do with numbers, English people !!!! get off your measuring tape for C... sake !

    If it would be the other way around, would you enjoy to be smuthered.... knowing you the way you are....

  18. > When will you understand that respecting intellectual property has nothing to do with numbers, English people !!!!

    Un argument peu sincère lorsqu’on constate la fréquence avec laquelle on entend « langue da la majorité », « communauté historique anglophone » tout en invoquant constamment les dangers qui nous guettent en raison de nos effectifs sur un continent à majorité anglophone. On a toujours été minoritaires…

    En passant, « intellectual property » = propriété intellectuelle. À ce que je sache, le respect de la propriété intellectuelle n’a rien à voir avec le débat actuel…

    > get off your measuring tape for C... sake !

    De toute évidence, ce sont bien nos « bonhommes bleus » de l’OQLF qui se promènent rubans à mesurer en main pour assurer que la grosseur des caractères « dans une autre langue » sur les menus de casse-croute le plus souvent exploités par des immigrants (qui ont de la misère à s’exprimer tant en français qu’en anglais) soit conforme aux dispositions de la Charte.

    Mis à part ce tout petit détail, je suis entièrement d’accord avec l’essence même du propos. Les rubans à mesurer font partie du problème et non pas de la solution.

    > If it would be the other way around, would you enjoy to be smuthered.... knowing you the way you are....

    On imagine avec difficulté une communauté qui se ferait écraser volontiers par un groupe plus dominant. Je considère toutefois notre situation linguistique et je me demande à quoi sert écarter de la sphère publique une autre langue, un autre véhicule de communication d’envergure mondiale. Si on craint réellement que le bilinguisme serve à nous angliciser dans une génération ou deux, c’est qu’on ne croit pas réellement à la plus-value que comporte notre unicité, et qu’on se croit incapable de transiger en deux langues.

  19. I absolutely love this post and agree with it 100%

    I'm an anglophone Montrealer. I speak fluent French because I went to French elementary and high school.
    I love French, I love Montreal -- but sometimes I do get the feeling that I should be ashamed of being English - as though speaking English was something evil and bad.
    I get this feeling when I'm told 'En Français, nous sommes au Québec!'
    or it could be a disgusted look thrown my way when I'm speaking English on my cell.
    One person actually told me " your ancestors burned our farms, raped our women and tried to assimilate us."
    As though that has anything to do with me as a personal person.
    The French extremists in Quebec are extremely hypocritical - they act as though they are the victims, but some are so aggressive and racist towards the English that you can hardly call them victims.

    I'm definitely sharing this!

  20. To Apparatchik from last night:

    I guess great minds think alike. Actually, it was Editor who started writing about how voting for da Bloc one more time may harm the «pur lainers» of Quebec.

    I don't like Libman personally because when a friend of mine was organizing a charity event, Libman, still a politician in the City of Hampstead was trying to usurp all the glory. Glory-seeking politicians are absolutely nothing new, but, like Shania sings, "That don't impress me much", just like pretty boys who have a fancy-shmancy car. They may have the looks, but do they have the touch?

    I agree with that article 100%, because this is how things have been for 35+ years, with the exception of the 1989 election, when yes, Robert Libman led his Equality Party for 4% of the vote and 4 seats in the Assembly. It's only too bad they couldn't win again in 1994, but I guess the fools of the West Island, Snowdon, Côte-St-Luc, Westmount and a few of those last Anglophone bastions got fooled again. The Liberal vote was split in 1989. So what? It's not as if the Liberals were doing the Anglophones any favors.

    I remember Sam Elkas being squeezed out of the Robert Baldwin constituency in Pierrefonds for a Francophone (Marsdan?) back in the late 90s. Why? He wasn't patsy enough for Daniel Johnson Jr.? What the hell was that all about?

    Premier John James "Goldilocks" Charest, as Libman wrote, did indeed show us his true colors by having to screw one child out of a family of several children who attend French school while this one child could not. SCREW HIM AND SCREW THEM! That's what Premier John James "Goldilocks" Charest was saying to this family, despite the two sections of Bill 101 that make allowances for children with serious learning disabilities, and have going back to 1977 when it was legislated into fascist law.

    Yes, Apparatchik, I could have written that very article myself, and I loudly applaud Robert Libman for having written that article. Shucks darn though...he beat me to it!

    BTW, thanks for pointing it out to me. Can't thank you enough.

  21. "I agree with that article 100%, because this is how things have been for 35+ years, with the exception of the 1989 election, when yes, Robert Libman led his Equality Party for 4% of the vote and 4 seats in the Assembly."
    When did Anglophones ever rule the National Assembly? If you look at the list of Quebec premiers since Confederation, you only have roughly 2-3 English sounding names. They might have ruled Montreal's economy, but they certainly did not rule Quebec politically. Quebec Liberals managed to win all of Quebec's 45 seats at the time of WW1 due to the Conscription Crisis which mainly involved "pur laine" Quebecois.

    Oh, and let's not forget all the anti-English brainwashing that went on in those Roman Catholic schools (which by the way were resolved for French Roman Catholic only). Perhaps Quebec's current situation is a result of this. I'm no psychologist, but there must have been deep rooted hostility among the French Canadian community and the English minority and perhaps these tensions exploded in the late 70s. It's really too bad that L'Assamblee Nationale has been taken over by a bunch of anti-English bigots, who played a big role in the making of the modern day Quebec state.

    It's sad, really. Under Bill 101, we Anglos have the right to choose the education that better suits and take on the world, while Francophones will always be stuck in La Belle Province because they were refused English schooling. They shot themselves in the foot with that provision of Bill 101.

    We need more Berniers and Larry Smiths in the provincial arena.

  22. Anglo Montrealer: Nobody is looking for the Anglophone population to RULE the Assembly. That's demographically impossible and certainly won't happen in our lifetimes, and not in the lifetimes of our great grandchildren's great grandchildren, ceteris paribus (Latin for all other things being equal). The only way English will rule the demographic is if English speakers come to Quebec, in droves, and have larger families than their Francophone counterparts. Most unlikely.

    Those French Roman Catholic schools were so prejudicial, they dissed Michel Gratton, Mulroney's former PMO press secretary and a Franco Ontarian. He wrote a book on "French Canadians" for the consumption of his English speaking counterparts, beautifully written if I may add.

    Yes, Anglo Montrealer, it IS too bad the Assembly "...has been taken over by a bunch of anti-English bigots, who played a big role in the making of the modern day Quebec state."

    What do you expect when a separatist government gets elected for almost a decade, a separatist government that promoted and encouraged racist rhetoric with little resistance and passed legislation that could and has dealt ruthlessly with the minority population. I myself left Quebec simply because, despite having been born, raised and educated there, made me feel like a foreigner in my own back yard.

    I'm sure this piece will be responded to by those vitriolic vigile maggots whose skulls are full of Habitant yellow pea soup, May Wests and 1L bottles of Pepsi Cola. Bring it on, maggots!

  23. Mississauga,

    "I'm sure this piece will be responded to by those vitriolic vigile maggots whose skulls are full of Habitant yellow pea soup, May Wests and 1L bottles of Pepsi Cola. Bring it on, maggots!"

    I am as far as a pur laine quebecois as possible. And I do agree with most opinion of yours or the Editor's. However, I do need to make exception when it comes to lifestyle choices.

    It just happens that I like May West. Does that make me "them"? IIRC, May West is made by Saputo. Does that make Joey Saputo a sympathizer for the hard-line francophone cause? As well as Pepsi. For some reason, when given the choice, I prefer Pepsi than Coca Cola. And it just because of the taste. What does that make me?

    FYI, my favorite soft drink is actually Pepsi Wild Cherry. Alas, it is not available anywhere in Canada. Thus I need to make a run to Plattsburgh for my grocery shopping if I want to enjoy one.

  24. Troy: No, May West was NOT a Saputo invention. Originally, I think it was a company called Stuart that made May West and Swiss Rolls, and it got taken over by Vachon, the makers of Flaky, Jos Louis and Half Moons, amongst others. Saputo took the whole thing over.

    I suspect from way back the mob has its hand in Saputo's pocket, long before Saputo became the corporate raider it is today. Saputo either hostily or by business opportunity took over Vachon, and a slew of old family-run dairy and cheese producers. Trust me, I have my suspicions!

    Hey, I have that troll Stephen Harpon constantly up by butt crack with doughnuts (already he responded to TODAY's comments I added early this morning re the NF hydro deal with Harper), but as soon as I saw the word "donut", I stopped reading the troll's response. If my comments blow smoke up Harpon's rear end, score one for me!

  25. Mississauga,

    My point is, you simply can not put attribute to lifestyle in Quebec in terms of to whom it belongs.

    Like I said, I like May West and I prefer Pepsi more than Coke. I enjoy poutine, especially the one with foie gras (at Au pied de cochon, expensive). In the summer I go to Saguenay for whale watching and in the spring I go to erabliere to eat myself silly, including the pea soup and the "Christ's ears". I cheer for the Habs and Als and previously I liked that margarine was white so that I knew exactly which one was which.

    What do all of those make me?