Out of Sight, Out of Mind"
In order to justify the assault on minority language rights and more recently on English signage specifically, the government has been manipulated by language extremists via scurrilous fear-mongering and phony and manipulated statistics.
Over the last couple of weeks I've tried to convey the message that statistics can be manoeuvred in the most egregious manner, spindled, twisted and interpreted to conform to any particular political view.
I don't put much stock in statistics offered by tobacco companies that tell us cigarettes aren't linked to cancer and I don't believe in statistics spouted by Pierre Curzi, Jack Jedwab, Mario Beaulieu, the L’Institut de recherche sur le français en Amérique or the B'nai Brith, who all have a particular axe to grind.
When it comes to interpreting statistical data, I'll stick to Statistics Canada and the Institut de la statistique du Québec, two government agencies dedicated to unbiased research.
The most fearful aspect of 'Statistication' is that the promulgator doesn't have to lie, and so cannot be easily exposed as a fraud. Instead subtle interpretations, twisted and manipulated treatments of data give a completely false impression of reality while the appearance of fairness is maintained. Here is an illustrative example;
The graph on the left shows that the difference is actually slight.
One graph shows a slight difference, one graph a big difference, yet both are true.
One statistically correct and honest, the other statistically correct, but misleading.
This is the world of separatist statistics... deception.
By the way, I've actually seen the Journal de Montreal use the above device.
And so in Quebec we have been sold a bill of goods that says that the only data set that counts is the one that tells us that the province of Quebec is 80% French and 20% everything else. Like the deceptive graph above, the ratios are correct, but don't represent the true linguistic story.
If the 80/20 ratio played out in a general manner throughout Quebec, we would be inclined to accept it as a fair statistical base from which to make policy, but it isn't.
The 80/20 ratio does not play out on the island of Montreal, containing almost one third of the province's population.
In fact, of the 13% of Anglophones that live in Quebec, most live in the western neighbourhoods of Montreal, creating an enormous bubble.
Montreal West, the 80/20 ratio is actually reversed, where 80% of its citizens are English.
Policies and laws based on the preponderance of the French language in the province, have little relevancy here.
In fact, the entire western portion of the island of Montreal, is as far removed from this 80/20 data set as can be, with Anglos and English ethnics actually outnumbering French speakers.
In this part of Quebec, the majority doesn't rule.
Let's visit a mythical sports bar in Montreal West where 100 people have gathered to watch a hockey game. The bartender asks for a show of hands to determine whether the English or French language television broadcast should be shown on the big screen.
When asked who prefers the French language telecast, about 15 hands go up while about 80 hands go up for the English broadcast.
"Then it's settled" says the barkeeper, "We'll watch in French!"
Readers, this is Quebec..
While you may smile at the burlesque example above, most French-language militants will argue that it's completely reasonable, because French is the majority language of Quebec... and besides, it's threatened. (the old chestnut)
And so, because there is an overabundance of French-speakers in Quebec City, Abitibi, the Saguenay and Monteregie regions, towns that have enormous English majorities in Montreal are forced to treat their majority language as second class.
Here's a list of the English percentage of selected Montreal towns.
The great campaign to impose French signs over English Montreal is an underhanded attempt by language militants to promote the fiction that in Quebec, French is in the majority everywhere.
Like a child covering her eyes and shouting, "I can't see you, I can't see you," language militants believe that by eliminating English signs, somehow the English won't be there.
The worst of it all is that they drape themselves in the cloth of righteous indignation, crusaders battling the scourge of the heathens, when in reality, they are nothing but ethnic cleansers, bound and determined to 'disappear' the English from Montreal.
Everyday, more people speak French in Quebec than the day before. The fiction that Quebec is in danger of losing its French is the mantra that is repeated daily to justify discrimination.
Demographers tell us that Quebec has long surpassed the critical threshold required to maintain its language and culture.
Portraying itself as a society under attack from foreign influence is the same device demagogues around the world have used to discriminate against minorities to sell an unpopular agenda.
Here in Quebec the tradition lives on, where the agenda is sovereignty and where the English are the scapegoats.
By promoting the fiction that French is on the cusp of annihilation, all manner of restrictive and discriminatory practices can be justified and made more palatable to a public frightened by lies and misinformation.
Let me be as clear as possible. Montreal is not a French city and never was, despite the propaganda.
Montreal is a bilingual English/French city and always was.
Great swaths of the island of Montreal are so English, aside from signs one would think they are in Ontario. This is the reality that militants want to obliterate.
Demanding that French signage be adopted in the Montreal on a superior basis, is a question of unfairly imposing ones will on another, because one can.
And so language militants, now with the blessing of the government, are hell bent on pursuing confrontation, hoping that it will be a positive step towards sovereingty.
But times have changed, Montreal Anglos are unafraid and when challenged will push back with a vengeance.
To French militants, I repeat what I warned my English brethren in my last post;
Be afraid, be very afraid.....
Friday: The Coming Language War.