I imagine that everybody who comes to this blog on an ongoing basis has some pretty strong opinions on Bill 101 and I'm not here to convince anyone to change their position towards mine.
That being said, I'm going to give offer my point of view on the major elements, step by step and give you all weekend to make your opinions known in the comments section.
I think that there are four overriding positions that represent the opinions of most Quebecers.
POSITION 1 -There are those who want the law completely abolished because they believe that it is an affront to our democratic freedoms
So what is your poison?POSITION 2 -There are those who want the law strengthened, because they believe that French is more threatened than ever and needs even more protection than is now provided
POSITION 3 -There are those believe that although not perfect, the law is an acceptable compromise.
POSITION 4 -There are those that believe the law should be softened
Door #1, Door #2, Door #3 or Door #4
Regardless of how you feel, it's a foregone conclusion that the law isn't going away. There is zero chance that Bill 101 will be softened, somewhat of a chance that it will be made more restrictive.
That being said we can all fantasize about what we would like to see.
Here are some major bones of contention in relation to Bill 101 and my take on the subject.
MANDATORY FRENCH SCHOOLING
Freedom of choice restrictions apply to immigrants and francophones, but anglophones have the option of going to any school they please. The law makes second class citizens out of francophones and immigrants, but the vast majority of francophones support the idea that their children should be obliged to go to French publicly funded school, at least through high school.
Who am I to argue with those who want to put restrictions on themselves?
And selfishly, it makes no difference to me or my Anglophone family.
As for immigrants being forced into French schools, well, those are the rules that they agreed to abide by before coming to Quebec and so I also don't really have a problem with that either. They can always choose Ontario before coming if they don't like it.. It isn't as if it is a big surprise, sort of like winter, part of what they should expect. And so I remain unsympathetic.
The one bugbear that I have is those immigrants whose first language is English, like someone from Great Britain, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand. Forcing these people into French schools is utterly vindictive.
Is there one chance in hell they will become francophones?
All that being said, the English minority in the province hovers around 10% -13%, but our primary school system is being fed 0% of the newly arrived immigrants. Because we are in the same boat as our francophone brethren in terms of reproduction, the number of students in the system will continue to diminish and the English primary school system will eventually collapse.
Somehow, 10% of the immigrants must be allowed into the English school system to balance things out.
How? ....perhaps a lottery, like the U.S. government does with visas.
As is the case now, anyone wanting an English education, but who is not eligible for publicly funded English school, can pay for private education. That seems legit.
As for 'bridging schools' I can't really say I'm in favour of using a trick to defy the law.
As per applying Bill 101 to cegeps and universities, the vast majority of francophones are against this idea and since a government is supposedly elected to reflect the will of the people, institutions of higher learning must remain open to all.
FRENCH AS THE COMMON LANGUAGE
I haven't got a problem with this, Francophones shouldn't be forced to address bosses in English like the good old days on the plantation. The head offices that refused to adopt French as the working language have long ago fled à la SUN LIFE and they ain't coming back.
As for imposing Bill 101 on small companies, nothing could be stupider or more vindictive.
Imagine a small English family business being forced to add French software that nobody is going to use just to satisfy the OQLF?
FRENCH OUTDOOR SIGNAGE
I have to come down on freedom of choice. Merchants should be free to advertise in the language or languages of their choice and consumers can shop where they want to and avoid stores that offend them. In this case let the DOLLAR rule.
Since the government has already moved towards unilingual French signage, be it road signs, or it's own advertising, the face of the province won't change much.
The rule that French must be twice as large as the English is unacceptable. Were the shoe on the other foot, francophones would be rioting over that humiliation.
The two for one ration between English French is as silly as the picture on the right....
Even if the law changed to allow English signage, how many companies would have the guts to go bilingual or English?....Not many, I presume.
In fact, few companies avail themselves of what rights they have now to use English.
SERVICE IN FRENCH
Most of the complaints concerning clerks who can't serve in French have to do with newly arrived immigrants who are working their asses off trying survive without the benefit of welfare or unemployment insurance. Being a clerk is just about the most unrewarding job, offering poor pay, long and inconvenient hours. Who else is going to take the job?
Stores that don't offer service in French are run by idiots who are only hurting themselves by alienating francophone clients.
There's an easy solution for those offended......Shop somewhere else. No law required here.
SERVICE IN ENGLISH
Aside for Revenue Quebec, which will take your money quite happily English, most government services are not really offered in English even if they are supposed to be. Government web sites are slowly losing what English they have and within a few years will be unilingually French.
Yes you can receive most forms in English, but English service at government offices is hard to come by. While I don't think it's reasonable to walk into a license bureau in Alma and expect to be served in English, for anglophones with difficulty with French, arrangement should be made upon request.
At any rate, nobody can deny that Bill 101 changed the face of Quebec and certainly transformed it from a bilingual society into a French society, with English reduced to the island of Montreal.
Has Bill 101 served its purpose?
Has the language issue been redressed in favour of French and has Bill 101 passed its shelf life like Affirmative Action laws in the USA?
Opinions about Bill 101 remind me of pizza.
Go to a real pizzeria with a dozen friends and you'll order 12 different pizzas.
And so, the above post is just one Anglo's opinion.
It's your chance to sound off.
We have all weekend. How about a thoughtful comment on Bill 101.
Let's try lay off the #$#@$#!!!!
BTW......How contentious and emotional is Bill 101?
Here's a photo essay to remind us how touchy we all are over the issue of language.