"It is absurd to claim that Québec is “at war” against English. The Québec nation promotes inclusiveness and is renowned worldwide for its creativity and economic vitality. Quebecers of all origins are proud of their unique identity. We cordially invite you to visit and see for yourself." Read the whole letter to TIME MagazineSorry Mr. Boisclair, to pretend that Quebec is not at war against the English is a notion that only a disinformationist could or would dare advance.
Now most mainstream francophones are people of good heart, who no doubt want to preserve their language and culture while acknowledging the contribution of Anglophones to the province and respecting their right to cohabitate in a climate of mutual respect
There really shouldn't be a conflict in that, somewhere along the line there must be a meeting of open minds where Anglophones respect the particular dilemma that francophones face in regards to preserving their language, while francophones accept and embrace English as not only a reality, but a welcome addition to Quebec.
Bill 101 was the law conceived by the separatist PQ government, thirty-five years ago, meant to address the language issue once and for all, where affording francophones the right to exist and flourish in a French milieu was the ultimate but not sole consideration.
Unfortunately the other consideration was the very deliberate launching of an all out war on the English language and the Anglophone community with an eye to creating linguistic conflict whereby Anglos and francophones would be convinced that the language issue was a zero-sum game, where one side must lose for the other to win.
Now before readers get all hot and bothered at this assertion, understand that the author of Bill 101, the infamous Camille Laurin made no bones about this fact, the law was never meant to preserve and promote the French language exclusively, but also meant to create a climate conducive to sovereignty.
And so clause after clause of unconstitutional nonsense was inserted solely for the purpose of creating judicial strife whereby the 'francophone' side would suffer overwhelming and humiliating defeats in the courts, hopefully sparking enough rage to influence them to support sovereignty.
Rene Levesque himself was quite uncomfortable with the clearly hateful and illegal elements of Bill 101, but was overwhelmed by the party faithful who demanded that the punitive and illegal aspects of the law be preserved and enacted in order to send a signal to the English community that the rules had changed and that the not-so-meek Francophone majority had finally, 'inherited the Earth.'
The law enunciated a concept best described by paraphrasing George Orwell's 'Animal Farm;'
"All anglophones are enemies, all francophones are comrades"
Today, that PQ policy of enmity towards English first heralded 35 years ago has not only remained steadfast, but is now the focus of a renewed effort by the separatist government to embolden it's punitive provisions, an effort to re-ignite and fan the simmering embers of linguistic conflict into a roaring fire.
These new provisions are in no way meant to raise the stature of French across Quebec, they are meant only to stir up more conflict leading to Francophone and English confrontation .
In reality we have two Bill 101s, the one that francophones view as an instrument for the preservation of their French language culture and the anglophone version which is the view that it is an instrument of the destruction and ruin of their community and culture.
In fact, both communities are right, because that is exactly what Bill 101 is.
The very success of the law is that it has accomplished exactly what the PQ set out to do, preserve and promote French, discourage and obstruct English and most importantly create a climate of mistrust, fear and loathing, between the communities, a necessary prerequisite to a successful referendum.
In supporting this thesis, I've often been asked as to which provisions of Bill 101 or regulations are discriminatory, meant solely to attack English and Anglophones in an effort to trigger the fight or flight reaction. Unfortunately, too many Anglos have chosen to flee rather than fight, but that is for another post.
The requirement that the French text be larger than the English text in public commercial signage.
This rule is purely vindictive, plain and simple. It is conceived under the maxim of "Out of sight, out of mind" and its intention is to make English as invisible as possible, creating the fiction that English and Anglos are unimportant or nonexistent.
I wonder how Quebec francophones would react to the situation where Prime Minister Harper enacted a similar law that forced English to be larger than any other language on commercial signage based on the fact that Canada is three-quarters English.
How would merchants react in overwhelmingly French cities and towns across Quebec in being told that their signs were illegal because English was either absent or not prominent enough.
This is the situation in English Quebec towns like Montreal West where 80% of its townsfolk are English and who are told that pertaining to commercial signage, their language must remain inferior.
The rule is expressly meant to be cruel and humiliating and when French language militants tells us it is a question of respect, they really mean it is a projection of power.
The attempt to get stores with English banners to modify their names.
Another nonsensical attempt to project dominance. Nothing else.
Of all the attempts to humiliate English, none is so nakedly obvious and so patently stupid. Not one French language militant will ever propose that modifiers are required for informational purposes so that consumers don't show up to Toys R Us attempting to buy power tools or Home Depot to buy toys.
Is the next logical step the requirement for English and Ethnic citizens to change their names to a French version to show 'respect' to the majority? Reductio ad absurdum, I'm not so sure....
Forcing English people to attend French schools
Under Bill 101, a family immigrating to Quebec from Australia or Jamaica, who speak only English, must send their children to French school, even though English schools are readily available.
Do militants believe for one moment that going to French school will transform the children into francophones?
It is clearly a case of linguistic cruelty and vindictiveness, nothing else.
Nothing is as frightening to a small merchant, in a small store as is being pounced upon without notice by a humourless jack-booted French language bully who swoops down upon the hapless merchant looking for trouble with a camera and notebook, gung-ho to intimidate and humiliate.
Let us remember that the big boys get waivers, the little merchants, the shit end of the stick.
You might remember the list I published a few days ago with all the companies that were given a waiver so as to operate in English?
Well, the list is more telling by whom and what businesses are not on the list.
How about the Montreal Canadians, who clearly haven't been given a waiver and who clearly operate 100% in English.
How about all those video game companies in Montreal who all operate in English without the benefit of waivers?
Why are they given a pass while a small bake shop in the West Island is not?
The answer is clearly about intimidation and nothing else. Frightening small merchants is part and parcel of the intimidation game.
I could go on and on, but I wish francophones of good heart to understand that all this is a gambit meant to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, in no way an attempt to advance the French language situation. It is nothing more than a cynical strategy by a government which wishes to achieve sovereignty by advancing a climate of hate through language conflict.
While Andre Boisclair claims how good the Anglos have it here in Quebec, he never addresses the politics of hate and the climate of fear.
All day long Quebecers are inundated with hysterical cries of impending gloom and doom in the media by French language militants and politicians who are really just promoting their separatist agenda by whipping up a climate of fear.
It is a credit to most francophones that they remain steadfast in resisting and resolute in their determination to make up their own minds on the issues of language.
Quebec francophones are by nature mistrusting of authority, perhaps a result of generations of real domination and so, are much less likely to be influenced by manipulative politicians and language fanatics who attempt to frighten them about language and the utility of English.
Good on them....
Unlike other places in the world, where linguistic, religious or ethnic hate is easy to brew up, (Hungary is just the latest victim to succumb), the dogged determination of francophones to resist demagoguery and make up their own minds frustrates those with a separatist agenda, forcing them to ramp up the rhetoric of hate.
But the ongoing climate of hate does have an impact over the long term, Quebec has become angry and polarized.
And so Anglos feel threatened by the francophone majority and francophones feel threatened by anglophone minority.
It is surreal because it need not be that way.
In fact without interference, we get along famously. We live together, work together, shop together, play together, party together and even marry and procreate together.
This morning I went to change my winter tires and spoke to the clerk in my semi-perfect French only to be answered in his semi-perfect English. We both persisted.
The same goes for the repairman who came to my house the other day to fix our dryer.
Both the clerk, the repairman and myself determined to demonstrate our linguistic prowess.
French language militants would call these people colonized, that is of course, the politics of hate.
Myself, I call these people empowered, master of their own skills, oblivious to the insults of the ignorant.
If leaders preached the politics of cooperation instead of the politics of fear we would all surely be better off.