AngryFrenchGuy

A Place de Resistance and a Place of Hypocrisy

with 198 comments

Determined to make good on his ambition of providing a decent living to his children, Rémi M’ba (not his real name) moved his entire family to Ignace, a minuscule town on northern Ontario’s highway 11. The single father from Gabon and former PhD. student at the Université du Québec à Montréal was lured to Ontario by the province’s more generous pay scale and easier training for teachers.

« In Québec I would have had to study four more years for a 40 000$ a year job. In Ontario, after one year I was licensed and earning 64 000$. »

However, this monetary boon notwithstanding, adaptation to life on this lonely stretch of Trans-Canada highway has proven to be quite a struggle for the West African family. It’s cold, small and far. Hired to teach at the village’s French school, Rémi has also discovered a francophone community « completely colonized by English » where his children are doomed to lose the French aspect of their heritage.

Rémi is already planning to move south, but he refuses to raise his black children in central Toronto where, he says, the black community has been « plagued by crime, violence and gangs ». Finding a place where he, a French-speaking black man, belongs in Ontario has proven more difficult than he ever had imagined, but he vows to press on.

Rémi M’ba is hardly alone. An AngryFrenchMediaCenter analysis of English-Canada’s performance in a number of key sectors viewed as barometers of economic, cultural and political integration of minorities – inspired by a similar investigation by Andrew Chung of the Toronto Star – suggests that the bestest country in the world still has a long way to go before it can claim to be the colour blind multicultural Mecca it’s branding itself to be.

By carefully stitching together StatsCan data, carefully chosen anecdotes and the testimony of political activists we will present as independent scholars, the AngryFrenchMediaCenter will make the French people of Québec feel all warm inside by telling them what they want to hear: that they are so much better than the Anglos.

Among the self-serving facts carefully chosen to make Québec look good and Anglos like backward hicks:

Natives: The proportion of Natives in Saskatchewan’s prisons is seven time higher than in the population at large while in Québec it is only twice as high.

Politics: While a significant portion of Québec’s modern English-speaking population is composed of visible minorities, there is not a single minority mayor in the province’s English-majority towns, and only one minority councillor in all of the island of Montreal’s English-majority municipalities.

Sports: There are no Black English-Canadian goons in the National Hockey League while Québec has produced Montréal’s Georges Laraque and Québec City’s Donald Brashear, leading some people to wonder if Canadian culture isn’t teaching young black males that they are not allowed to fight back…

Culture: Despite the fact that 5 million Canadians – 15% of the population – are so-called visible-minorities, their visibility on Canadian television is… ok, that’s not fair. There is no Canadian television. Well, except for news…

Furthermore, with a quick google search that we will call « careful analysis », the AngryFrenchMediaCenter has discovered that there are only two visible minorities on the board of directors of Canada’s five big banks and no visible minorities on the board of the English Montreal School Board.

And while the number of visible minorities in Québec’s civil service is ever so slowly edging up, the number of visible minorities who work for the federal government has fallen from 9.8% in 2005-2006 to 8.7% in 2006-2007. A situation which the Public Service Commission says « is of great concern, since they remain the only under-represented designated group in the public service and their proportion of recruitment remains below their workforce availability. »

Ok… That’s enough.

First of all, let’s make it very clear, I though Andrew Chung’s Toronto Star series on Québec immigrants called A Place de Résistance was spot on at the meta level. I have written myself on this blog about the scandalous unemployment levels of Québec’s North Africans and Haitians and on their invisibility on TV.

However, I have no more patience for English-Canada’s need to constantly caress it’s inflated national pride ignore it’s own many social problems by constantly comparing itself to Québec, as if the integration of immigrants into the world’s most powerful and wealthy culture—the world’s Anglo culture—and the challenges facing a minority society of seven million French-speakers in North America could have anything in common!

Perhaps Andrew Chung could have explored the fact that every year an important number of immigrants to Québec and their children themselves strongly resist integration into Québec society, choosing, for example, to persue higher education in English, a path that effectively funnels them away from francophone social circles and institutions like le Mouvement Desjardins or the Québec civil service.

In fact, if Andrew Chung actually cared at all about Québec, Francophones and integration he wouldn’t be working for the Toronto Star, he’d be hard at work breaking down doors and invisible ceilings at La Presse, TVA and Radio-Canada.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

January 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

198 Responses

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  1. Tancrede writes:

    And yes, Bill 101 played a role in moving us slowly in the correct direction.

    Actually, liberating yourselves from your self-imposed servitude to the Catholic Church moved you in the right direction.

    Remember that Quebec did not have a Ministry of Education until the 1960s. Education — other than becoming a notary, doctor, or clergy — was frowned upon by Quebec’s church hierarchy. So, too, was business.

    This was not the fault of the English.

    Indeed, if you look at some of the economic indicators you see that well before the passage of Bill 22 in 1974 that things were improving for French Quebecers…and it is no co-incidence that this occurred as the Quiet Revolution was happening.

    Tony Kondaks

    January 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

  2. Personally I’m suprised that there are any francophones in Ignace as Northwestern Ontario isn’t really known for them. Although the English people are worried about disappearing with the continual job losses.

    The guy you mention would find better luck in Northeastern Ontario where are tons of french majority towns:Hearst, the Kap, Chapleau, Hornepayne, Kirkland Lake, Surgeon Falls. And Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay all have significant francophone miniorities. I worked a summer in Hearst (95% Francophone) and everyone there may be by bilingual but everyone speaks french in everyday esp. in the workplace. I dont really remember anyone addressing me in English- they always switched when I revealed my appalling knowledge of French though.

    Aiden

    January 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

  3. “Je ne suis peut-etre pas d’accord avec les positions d’ABP, mais je sais qu’il ne cherche pas a salir les québécois: il est faché contre la péréquation, les lois sur le bilinguisme, sa moitié de boite de céréale en francais, mais pas contre les gens..”

    Oui, tu as raison sur ce pointe. MDJ. Je ne pas deteste le gens du Quebec. en fait, je avoir plusier amis en Quebec, comme tu sais. Mais, J’ai plus grave problemes avec des autre issues tu ecrite. Je croirer des programmes comme de prequatione et bilingalisme par loi sont tres pas egale pour des autre etats en notre natione. Comme toi, je avoir mon pensees mais, je ne pas avoir deteste pour toi parce que nous ne pas d’accorde. Desole pour ma pauvre francais…Juste tente donner vous et votre langue une peu morceau de respect.

    ABP

    January 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm

  4. abp,

    true, it is miserable french but your heart reflects thinking common among canadians and also in quebec (where this very kind of thinking is also common – but don’t tell anyone). the effort counts in a big way despite the room for improvement.

    personally, i think your written french improves after you’ve had a couple rye and gingers. i know for a fact that my spoken french is definitely more fluid and agreeable after a couple glasses of wine.

    johnnyonline

    January 29, 2010 at 8:06 pm

  5. It is necessary, therefore, if we desire to discuss this matter thoroughly, to inquire whether these innovations can rely on themselves or have to depend on others: That is to say, whether to consummate their enterprise, have they to use prayer or can they use force. In the first instance they always succeed badly and never compass anything, but when they can rely on themselves and use force; then they are rarely endangered. Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered and the unarmed ones have been destroyed”.

    – Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince

    johnnyonline

    January 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm

  6. Tony Kondaks: “Does the U.S. have an equivalent of the hate law/race law Bill 101?”

    So I’m curious here. Can you explain briefly and succcintly why you believe Bill 101 is a race (or hate) law?

    Turpentine

    January 30, 2010 at 10:43 pm

  7. Just a little observation about 101 in an international context: Belgium, France, and Switzerland all have language laws, too. Could it be that language laws just come with the culture, like accordion music and the shoulder shrug?

    littlerob

    January 31, 2010 at 8:02 am

  8. “Why I declare Bill 101 to be a hate law/race law:

    1) Any time a law proactively discriminates, as Bill 101 does, against other groups by exclusion or preference it is, by default, a hate law. Thus, at this point, the onus is on those who support the law to demonstrate that it isn’t.

    2) Bill 101 is a race law because of the language of education provisions (which I have documented and won’t bore you with the details again…see chapters 2 & 5 of my book by clicking on my name).”

    You are absolutely right, Tony. If we justabolish the special privileges of Québec’s English-speaking community and fold the segregated English School Boards into a united school board that teaches kids in the language of majority, all your objections to Québec,s language laws disapear.

    And then you can get to work on the 20+ US states that have laws that make English their official language, hence “proactively discriminate by exclusion or preference”

    angryfrenchguy

    January 31, 2010 at 9:49 am

  9. AFG writes:

    If we justabolish the special privileges of Québec’s English-speaking community and fold the segregated English School Boards into a united school board that teaches kids in the language of majority, all your objections to Québec,s language laws disapear.

    But, AFG, if we follow the principle you lay down above, then we would have to abolish all the French language schools in Quebec because English is the majority in Canada.

    AFG further writes:

    And then you can get to work on the 20+ US states that have laws that make English their official language, hence “proactively discriminate by exclusion or preference”

    I would hope that by this time, AFG, you understand the implications of what “official language” means because we’ve discussed it here ad infinitum. Unfortunately, your above comment suggests you don’t.

    Tony Kondaks

    February 2, 2010 at 12:30 am

  10. littlerob writes:

    Just a little observation about 101 in an international context: Belgium, France, and Switzerland all have language laws, too. Could it be that language laws just come with the culture, like accordion music and the shoulder shrug?

    Language laws are quie common throughout the world, littlerob. What isn’t common is discrimination provisions in language laws, such as we have in Quebec and Canada.

    Tony Kondaks

    February 2, 2010 at 12:31 am

  11. Turpentine writes:

    So I’m curious here. Can you explain briefly and succcintly why you believe Bill 101 is a race (or hate) law?

    I did in a previous post in this thread (earlier page).

    If that isn’t enough for you, click on my name and read chapters 2 & 5.

    Tony Kondaks

    February 2, 2010 at 12:33 am

  12. @Tony Kondack:

    1) My choice of the word “atrocities” was careful. I began by listing these, but then tought that (a) it would be difficult to have a polite discussion after that and (b) the past is the past and the only responsibility that you have is to learn it so that you don’t repeat it, and to repair the damage done and not let the past dictate the present power structure.
    2) Please answer: are you, or are you not, against affirmative action in the case, for instance, of blacks or women ? And if the answer is that you are against it, is it for reason related to you conception of freedom ?
    Moral reasoning sometime works like the scientific method. If you deduce a consequence that is against moral “observations” of most people, then these people have the choice of discounting these “observations” (i.e., choosing, against their intuitions, that affirmative action is wrong) or rejecting your moral/political theory.
    Which in this case means weakening your arguments against bill 101. (And no, using the 1982 Constitution to prove that Quebeckers cannot use affirmative action and that there wasn’t any past wrongs done is not a good argument, unless you count unintentional irony as a new method of proof.)

    Tancrede

    February 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm

  13. @Tony Kondaks
    “I would hope that by this time, AFG, you understand the implications of what “official language” means because we’ve discussed it here ad infinitum. Unfortunately, your above comment suggests you don’t.”

    AFG seems to understand it better than you do. If we had only French _public_ schools, that would be a state (at the very least in the sense that there are state in the US) having an official langage and using it in the _public_ funded institutions. The fact that we cannot move to Texas (say – don’t know if English is official langage there, but let’s suppose) and have public schools in French do not make anyone less “free” to send their children to private school or to have tutors. Would you be happy if the law left only this “freedom” to Anglo-Quebeckers ?

    And for what “majority” it should be, Canada is not the “natural” reference population in any ways. Canada is one of these Borgesian entities AFG is refering to in the blog post about Jedwab. It looks like if someone, to make a joke, brought together France, Texas, California, Groenland and Ireland, and called the sum of these disparate nations/regions a country. That will never, ever work.

    Tancrede

    February 2, 2010 at 6:31 pm

  14. Tancrede:

    I hesitated to answer your question about whether I support affirmative action because in this instance I didn’t think my personal feelings on the subject had any bearing to the discussion as I feel that both supporters and opposers of affirmative action could agree that it is not a justification for Quebec to violate the rights it does in Bill 101.

    However, you insist on knowing my personal feeling on the subject. I am opposed to affirmative action in all cases, including for women and blacks…and anglophones in Quebec’s civil service.

    Tony Kondaks

    February 2, 2010 at 7:12 pm

  15. Sorry…and to answer the last part of your question on affirmative action: I am against it because I believe it to be discriminatory. It judges individuals by their membership in a group instead of as individuals. Same reason I am against the language of education provisions of Bill 101 and the Canadian Charter which sets up groups in Quebec/Canada in which membership in one group gets you rights that membership in the other group doesn’t get.

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Tony Kondaks

    February 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm

  16. Tancrede asks me:

    Would you be happy if the law left only this “freedom” to Anglo-Quebeckers

    No.

    My problem with the law is that it asks individuals what group they belong to in order to give them this “freedom” (i.e. do they have a certificate of eligibility).

    You know, when this question came before the Supreme Court of Canada, they ruled in Quebec’s favour, supporting the continuation of Bill 101′s language of education provisions as they are. Brent Tyler had challenged them by virtue of equality rights in the constitution (and Quebec’s charter of rights). But the court said that one part of the constitution couldn’t be used to disqualify another part because there isn’t any hierarchy of rights in the constitution.

    One of the examples they gave was that if equality rights of the constitution could be used to invalidate another part of the constitution, then the provisions that give Indians special status could be could be challenged as you can’t discriminate on the basis of “race”.

    I thought that interesting because, of course, the language of education provisions of Bill 101 and s. 23 of the Charter use virtually the same discrimination procedure as the Indian Act; they both ask: who are your parents and what is their classification? And that this classification is then handed down through the generations from parent to child.

    Tony Kondaks

    February 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm

  17. how are we as individuals to reconcile these “legal” but seemingly arbitrary deliberations?

    in the sense that they are considered remedial – there is an implicit if not explicit understanding that the validity of measures taken have only enjoy a shelf life. the measures favouring specific groups made legal by lawmakers cannot be justified ad infinitum. i will be more comfortable when judges fulfil their roles in upholding the law as opposed to arbitrarily creating whole cloth.

    the previous paragraph, in generosity, suggests that there is a place for “reverse discrimination”. how two wrongs make a right – i’m not sure but – i’m not buying — but pay for it nonetheless.

    in any case, the silver lining reveals itself as a set of temporal circumstance that cannot go on forever for any particular group. i sincerely hope these “groups” take advantage of their day in the sun because the only constant in the universe is change.

    soi disant – i will rest assured that politicians will be ever ready to correct “social injustice” within their constituency and ensure themselves a fat pension. how could a representative be elected or do otherwise? it’s a good thing that every now and then they face elections.

    johnnyonline

    February 2, 2010 at 11:51 pm

  18. Mon Dieu! Oh I am wished for when mi papa work wit Monsieur Duplessis eh…so happy day for quebecois. maybee sumtime peaple disappar at nite but always we have baguette and soup…vin, fromage….what more to ask coud u want. Mi papa not separatiste but Monsieur Levesque give us free newspaper for vote so papa say is good deel. Moma turn mi out wen I am 14 having ony rouge an party ballons. Then Sunlife leev….Mon Dieu! catastrophique! Jean Drapeau get pregnant eh…incredible! Jean Villeneuve run ovr by Jackie Stewart….triste! La belle province? La merde province…

    Frogface

    February 26, 2010 at 3:44 am


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