I used to work with an anglophone called Mike. He was actually an Italian from St-Léonard but, although his French was fine, Mike thought and talked in English. One morning Mike came in to work in the morning absolutely furious. The night before Conan O’brien had aired a show taped in Toronto in which the American comic had amused his Ontario crowd by making ridiculing French-Canadians. « Did you see Conan O’brien last night? », asked Mike, in English, when he came to work. « Did you see the way he talks about us? »
Last week Giuliano d’Andrea, vice-president for the Canadian-Italian Business and Professional Association deposited his memoir to the Taylor-Bouchard Commission on reasonable accommodations. His organisations memoir was written in English to make a point, he explained. “We wrote our brief in English, not because we couldn’t do it in French, but simply to take back a bit of the public space that we have a right to. The English language has a right to be here.”
During his presentation M. d’Andrea also felt the need to salute another organization present at the Commision that day. To the members of French Language Rights activists Mouvement Montréal Français he said. « We like them a lot but sometimes we’d like to tell them two little words in English : Grow up. »
The Italian businessmen mad their presentation during an audience of the Taylor-Bouchard Commission set aside for anglophones. The Mouvement Montréal Français was present at this meeting to denounce what it considered the ghettoization of Montreal’s anglophone community. « How are we supposed to integrate immigrants into Québec society if they never learn Québec’s common public language? ».
The MMF spokesperson was Paolo Zambito. Another Montreal Italian.
Confused, insecure, proud, angry and fiercely attached to this little bit of of North America, Québec’s Italians are us. They are Nous.