Sunday, September 8, 2013
Preserving French in Quebec: The Elephant in the Room
And so here goes, a no holds bar assessment of the current situation in regards to Quebec's failed policy that attempts to cure its declining population through an ill-conceived immigration program that focuses on language instead of quality.
Regardless of political affiliation, most Quebecers (and probably you) understand the policy to be a failure, yet there doesn't seem to be a realistic alternative.
It remains that we can either accept high quality immigrants who don't speak French and are likely to assimilate into the English community or we can accept unqualified French-speaking immigrants, who while fulfilling the language criterion, are unproductive, as well as difficult to assimilate into the French milieu, because of religion, culture and social upbringing.
It is a classic case of being firmly positioned between a rock and a hard place (entre l'arbe et la corse,) the first choice leading to either a demographic rise in the dreaded English community or alternately, economic mediocrity and social cleavage.
Not an appetizing choice for francophone Quebecers, who don't like what is happening, but remain powerless (or so it seems) to change the dynamic.
Quebec has made the choice of what it perceives as the lesser of two evils, accepting religiously orthodox, French-speaking immigrants from the Maghreb, who through no fault of their own, are extremely hard to assimilate, lacking the skills and temperament necessary for success in a modern western democracy. These immigrants come from a society that is fundamentally different from ours, where religion trumps everything, where women and children are treated like chattel and where human rights and freedom of speech are concepts as strange and alien as poutine in Benghazi.
As we've seen in country after country in Europe, the policy of entering North African Muslims has been disastrous and has led to economic decline and social upheaval.
It doesn't even have anything to do with language. Despite the fact that immigrants from the Maghreb speak French, they haven't assimilated in France any better than those living in Germany or Scandinavia.
My apologies to the 70% of Maghrebiens who have done well here and assimilated, they remain the majority, but alas not enough statistically. A 30% unemployment rate is unacceptable in a functioning and successful society.
Plus it doesn't take more than a tiny percentage of fundamentalists to create havoc.
If the PQ really believe that Quebec can and will be more successful than the rest of the world in assimilating these immigrants, they are as we say, quite off their rocker.
Unfortunately, the worldwide French-speaking immigrant pool is exceedingly shallow, after all, 95% of the world doesn't speak French and choosing from the remaining 5% makes for some slim pickings, considering that the French from France and Belgium are not keen to emigrate here.
And so Quebec accepts thousands of unskilled, orthodox Muslims from the Maghreb each year, those who fulfill the language criterion, but little else.
Now before I offer a solution, one that can perhaps change the dynamic described above, I want to put forward a notion that nobody in the mainstream press is willing to discuss, namely whether Francophones really care about saving their heritage or language and if they do, why are they unwilling to sacrifice for it.
There is of course the simplest of solutions to the demographic problem, the elephant in the room, the answer to the problem that Francophones refuse to consider or even discuss.
....have more babies.
It wouldn't take much effort, if half the francophone population committed to just one more child per family, not one immigrant would be required.
This fact is not lost on anyone in the debate, but remains taboo, a topic decidedly off limit.
So why don't the Mario Beaulieus, the Gilles Proulxs, the Jean-Paul Perreaults and the rabidly separatist minions on vigile.net advocate for a higher francophone birth rate?
How come this solution is off the table?
Is it because the militants understand that the idea is laughable in a world where small families are de rigueur and Quebecers (like all Westerners) are not willing to give up vacations, leisure and financial security in favour of a third child.
So much for the preservation of the French language and culture in North America, nationalists are unwilling to do what they must do, preferring to put the onus on Anglos and immigrants to protect French.
Slice it however you want, francophones want Anglophones and ethnics to sacrifice their heritage and culture so that French may persevere, while francophones themselves refuse to lift a finger to preserve their own identity.
Let us remember the immortal words of US President John F. Kennedy who said;
"...ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
...and paraphrase it as such;
"Ask not what Anglos and Ethnics can do for Quebec, Ask what Francophones can do for themselves."
And so I put the question to Quebec language militants;
Why should we sacrifice, if you will not...
I defy those who oppose my views to make a cogent argument that avoids deflection or the traditional ad hominum attack.
Hmmmm......Let's move on.....
I've given a lot of thought about the problem of the preservation of the French language in Quebec with an eye to coming up with a solution.
Somewhere buried in a statistical report by the department in charge of immigration is a breakdown of the languages spoken by immigrants upon immigration.
Of course some speak French to varying degrees, some English or some English and French, again to varying degrees, but most interestingly about 20% speak neither English or French.
And then I had my eureka moment.
I call it the Tabula Rasa solution.
Instead of demanding more immigrants speak French ( a failed policy) think about those that speak neither English or French.
Now English may dominate the world, but the number of people who speak no English towers above those who do speak French. All of a sudden the pool of potential immigrants expands exponentially.
Let us concentrate on quality immigrants from countries or cultures that do not have a historical affiliation with the English community in Quebec, but who possess other traits that more closely resemble our society and from this pool, select those that speak absolutely no English.
From here it becomes a challenge to assimilate these immigrants into the French side of the language equation and this can be done by making it a condition of immigration that they attend a formation school for between six and nine months that will forge them into citizens more comfortable in French than English.
This immigrant school can be fashioned after the Israeli ' Ulpan' experience, where Jewish immigrants to Israel, who don't speak Hebrew or are unfamiliar with the culture are given an intensive and comprehensive schooling into the culture of Israel and the language of Hebrew.
These immigrants would contract to remain in Quebec until they become Canadian citizens, as well as having their citizenship conditional on learning French.
It would be expensive, but cost less than having immigrants remain on the dole for years, the important element that those selected be high quality 'winners.'
The idea may be novel and the solution outside the box, but frankly, nobody has offered anything better, so giving it a try merits the effort.
As for forcing immigrants to assimilate into the French side of the linguistic equation, I cannot be against the concept.
Given the attractiveness of English, there will always be enough bleed over to the English side to keep things proportional.
To those who accuse me of always being negative, I thus present an interesting alternative to our present immigration fiasco.
Don't say I didn't try.....
Posted by Editor on 9/08/2013 11:05:00 PM