Archive for the ‘AngryFrenchGuy Speaks!’ Category
AngryFakeLeaks presents: The Senate’s Standing Commitee on Official Language’s lost report on Nunavut’s Anglos
The myths of the white man of Canada’s North as a wealthy adventurer backed by wealthy European powers and natural resources companies still plague the English-speaking minority of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, according to a report by the Senate’s Standing Commitee on Official Languages.
Research for the report titled “From Baffin to the 21st Century: The endangered vitality of the English-speaking minority of Nunavut”, was conducted by the same senators that published another stereotype-shattering study tittled “The vitality of Québec’s English-speaking communities: from myth to reality.” In both reports the senators describe an official-language community that often lacks access to many federal services most Canadian take for granted.
« People assume that because the white Anglos who come to Nunavut are all under government contract or working for mining companies that they are a privileged minority », explained committee chairwoman Andrée Dawson-Duplessis. « The reality is that sometimes in Nunavut you come in contact with people who don’t speak English. That can be very disorienting for some people. Especially the elderly. »
The Senate committee’s report recognizes that the situation of Nunavut’s English-speaking community is unique. All of Nunavut children go to English schools, English is the working language of federal government institutions and of the rapidly growing natural resources industry. 100% of immigrants and 36% of natives of the territory adopt English as their home language.
Yet the senate committee has found that these statistics hide the reality of a community whose vitality is in jeopardy. For example, it has found that in numerous small communities stretching from James Bay to the arctic circle, English-speaking Canadians have little to no access to health care, schools or vocational training in English. « If you take an airplane from Iqualuit to Igloolik, and then you take a snowmobile and head north for 3 hours, you will find small communities where there is no English-language vocational training», explained Dawson-Duplessis, adding that the Official Languages Act requires the Federal government to actively promote the development of minority Official-language communities everywhere in Canada.
« That situation make it very difficult for some people », she added. « Especially the elderly. »
In all the committee tabled 27 recommendations for the federal government, including the creation of programs to promote English-language literature, movies and television and introduce Inuktitut-speaking inhabitants of Nunavut to the richness of Anglo culture. It also recommend’s the direct financing of Anglo institutions. “It can be very confusing for some people to deal with a territorial government run by non-English speaking people”, said Dawson-Duplessis. “Especially for the elderly.”
“Canada’s image is a diverse and multicultural country”, said the committee chairwoman, “and the high birth rate of Nunavut’s natives, the highest in Canada, challenges that diversity.” For that reason the Senate recommended that the federal government encourage and facilitate English-speaking immigration to help the Anglo community maintain it’s demographic weight.
Nunavut’s English-speakers repeatedly told the senators they were very supportive of Inuits culture and that they wished that the English-speaking culture could be seen as an integral part of Northern life. In the word of Bernard Ross, chairman of the Nunavut Community Network: « To survive and thrive Nunavut’s English-speaking community must grow. That doesn’t have to happen at the expense of other communities. They can join us and grow with us. It’s win-win. »
A couple of years ago I was hired by Vanier College, an anglo CEGEP, to take some students on a field trip for what was either an architecture or religion class. It wasn’t exactly clear. Anyway me and the kids spent the day driving around Montreal, stopping at various synagogues, churches and temples.
The teacher seemed like a very nice, and from what I could hear from behind the diesel engine, knowledgable man. He was your stereotypical CBC/As things happen fellow with glasses and toast crumbs in his beard who made it a matter of principle to address me in French even though on that day he was the paying customer.
Just before noon we stopped at St.Joseph’s Oratory in Côte-des-Neiges. The teacher gave the students a brief introduction to the story of the not-yet-saint Brother André, the lowly doorman who was commanded by God to build a big-ass church on Mount-Royal and to dedicate it to Jesus’s dad.
Then, before letting the students out of the bus, he informed them that catholic tradition demands that visitors to a church uncover their heads.
« Of course », he added, « if your religion requires you to cover your head, you may keep your hats. »
All of the sudden, all was made clear. That day, on the mountain, the lord came to me in the shape of that small man in a plaid shirt who looked like someone my dad would hang out with, and gave me the kabbalistic key to the split-level logical architecture used by the English Canadian media when discussing issues religion and law. Here was the wisdom of Younge Street used to solve conflicts between different incompatible religious requirements in all its simple clarity:
The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.
Everything made sense now. This was how MacLean’s Martin Patriquin could write an article about tensions between Outremont’s Hassidics—a hat and whig-wearing sect that openly enforces ethnic purity—and their secular neighbours, and portray the latter as the intolerant ones.
This was how Montreal Gazette could simultaneously argue that the religious paraphernalia of Sikhs (a hat people) is so holy that our democratically elected legislators are not qualified to even have an opinion about it AND that Christian (a hat-less faith) prayers and crosses do not belong in the civic space and that MNA’s are not only allowed, but required to legislate.
The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.
Dear Mr. Singh,
It’s with great interest that I read your letter in Thursday’s Gazette in which you attempt to school the « culturally ignorant » members of our National Assembly about the Sikh kirpan.
First of all, I want to congratulate you for your willingness to go beyond murky statistics and to boldly dare to make up numbers on the fly when you write that there is an « extremely high » probability that none of our lawmakers « would be able to provide a coherent answer » if asked explain the significance of the kirpan.
Most people are not willing to admit that the statistics they pull out of their asses are solely based on prejudice and ignorance. Your self-awareness is commendable.
Your brief historical primer on the kirpan was very informative. I’m sure the democratically elected members of Québec’s National Assembly will be relieved to learn that the self-appointed clerics of Amritsar, Punjab settled this matter in their name all the way back in 1922.
Indeed, why indeed should Québec, Ontario, American Homeland Security or the United Nations for that matter, have any laws regarding the kirpan at all since the wise men of Amritsar have proclaimed that the dagger is not a knife. Someone should also tell Manjit Mangat.
But as McGill’s chaplain and the president of the Interfaith council of Montreal I trust you are familiar with the many other laws of our province that violate the religious commandments of our fellow citizens. Think of the religious rights of all these poor Catholic children forced to learn about evolution, the ultraconservative Muslim clerics forced to send their daughters to school and the Mormon men prevented from marrying multiple underaged girls.
Men like you need to speak out and explain to the lawmakers and people of Québec that in today’s multicultural world, the rules of unelected religious leaders override the laws of our democratically elected legislators. Because. Just because.
I was profoundly moved by the story of the kirpan as the symbol of the Sikh’s determination to not let others impose their religious tenets upon them, and impressed with the way you use that story to argue that Québec must let Sikh’s wear their kirpan’s anywhere they want to. I was also impressed by your splendid demonstration that not giving special treatment to Sikhs who visit the National Assembly was a double standard. Remarkable.
But what truly blew me away me was your boldness and courage in choosing to lecture Québec’s political class about their need to « educate themselves about new cultures that are coming to the province » in English, a language the vast majority of your fellow citizens do not speak, read or understand!
Speaking of cultural ignorance…
God bless you, Manjit Singh.
It’s going to be a scorching hot summer in Québec City. In about a week the Philadelphia Flyers will put an end to the providential media blackout provided by the Habs’ unexpected early playoffs successes and Jean Charest’s Liberals, already busy with Mulroney-scale allegations of corruption, will also have to deal with their very first full-scale language crisis.
And if the word on the WiFi is true, Charest might just be about to take Québec’s already schizophrenic linguistic situation straight through the looking-glass.
Y’all of course remember that last year the Supreme Court of Canada invalidated Bill 104, a law that closed a loophole used by wealthy families to purchase the right to send their kids to English-language public schools, a privilege that in the spirit and letter of Québec’s laws, is supposed to be reserved for Québec’s historic English-speaking minority.
The Supremes essentially agreed that closing that loophole was a legitimate objective, but decided that the technicalities of Bill 104, the idea that all the time a student spent in a unsubsidized private school didn’t count as education in Canada, was too much. It gave the Québec bureaucrats one year to find a better way to close the loophole.
Evidently this is harder than it sounds and Charest government already missed its deadline.
In the Red corner, tenors of the English-speaking community have taken the debate way beyond the loophole and are arguing that short of a new source of students, Québec’s English-language public school system, and, by extension, all of Québec’s English-speaking community, is on the verge of demographic collapse. (The inconvenient fact that the size of the English system relative to the French system is stable, that interprovincial migration from English-speaking provinces to Québec is on the rise and that English as a home, work and higher education language in Québec is in the midst of a historic boom is conveniently ignored.)
Emboldened by a recent poll that suggests that for the first time in decades Québec Francos would support giving themsleves the right to send their kids to English schools, some are asking the Liberals to take this opportunity to give… everyone except Québec’s Franco’s access to English schools.
One of the solutions to the English schools demographic « decline » peddled by School Board—and appalingly getting support in some sovereigntist circles—is the right to public education should be extended not only to families who have received an English education somewhere in Canada, but also to those who have received this education in « English-speaking countries » such as the US or the United Kingdom.
Notice the two countries that inevitably come up when that solution is proposed: the US and the UK. What about Jamaica, South Africa, Belize, Nigeria and Cameroun?
An arbitrary choice of countries could never be justified on any objective moral grounds and would inevitably be struck down in courts as discriminatory. Eventually, the right to a subsidised English education would have to be extended to the children of parents who have been educated in English not only in Canada, but « to any children with at least one parent educated in English anywhere on Earth », as the Montreal Gazette suggested.
In other words, instead of closing a loophole that enabled wealthy Québec Francos and immigrants to purchase the privilege of a subsidized English education in Québec, these people are suggesting that we take the racket global!
Because make no mistake about it, « elsewhere on Earth » an English education is a privilege of the wealthy. In places like Pakistan, India, much of Africa and Asia, sending their children to exclusive private English-language schools is the local elites way of making sure they have first dibs on all the good government, justice and army brass jobs.
Ain’t globalization grand?
It is possible to argue that Québec’s English-speaking community has historical rights to its own institutions. But we would now be extending these rights to ALL English-speaking people, anywhere on Earth. Québec, of all places, would be the first Nation in the world to treat ALL THE WORLD’S ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES as a minority in need of special protection!
And all the Francos in the English language school board’s poll that want greater access to English schools? Too bad. They’d still be locked out.
There are no allophones in Canada.
Just for fun (because I’m the type of guy who entertains himself by doing amateur statistics on a Sunday afternoon while the rest of the World is watching some hockey game), I searched « allophone » + « every Canadian province » on the Canadian Newstand search engine.
In all the Canadian newspapers electronically archived, 1551 newspapers articles contained both the words Québec and allophone. If you remove the stories that also mention Québec, only 57 stories have ever been published in a major Canadian newspaper in which the reporter used both the words Canada and allophone. The words Ontario and allophone have shared a daily’s real estate only a precious five times.
And even though 42% of immigrant workers in British-Colombia say they regularly use a non-official language at work, no writer has ever used those two words in the same story. Ever.
There are no allophones in Canada. They all live in Québec.
Strictly speaking, an allophone is someone who’s native language is not the same as the one of the dominant linguistic community in which he lives, which in Canada is understood to mean someone who’s native tongue is neither French nor English. By that definition, Ontario, British-Columbia, Alberta and even Manitoba have way more allophones than Québec.
In the context of Québec’s charged identity politics, however, the word allophone has become shorthand for visible minority, immigrant, ethnic and « white people with italian last names trying to claim some sort of ethnic heritage to advance their careers and/or political agenda », i.e. the Parti Québécois’ Pierre Curzi, the Liberal’s Liza Hébert/Frulla-Hébert/Frulla and the CDPQ’s Micheal Sabia.
That’s not to say allophones are a demographic fiction. They exist, at least in Québec. There are 900 000 allophones in the province, and with over 21 000 new recruits every year through immigration, they could soon be twice as numerous as Québec Anglos.
That’s huge. If the arrival of the French settlers four hundred years ago was the first dramatic demographic shift on the banks of the St.Lawrence river, and the arrival of the British Loyalists the second, we are now smack in the middle of the third.
Political pollsters usually treat Anglos and Allos as a single bloc of voters. In the Montreal Gazette « anglophones and allophones » has become a single word as their writers try to convince us they have many black friends.
In real life, though, the Allophones are a very different tribe than the Anglos and Francos.
Three quarters of Québec Anglos only listen to music in English. Allos, like Francos, say they listen to music in French or English indiscriminately. Eighty-five percent of Québec’ Anglos watch all their TV in English. Half of Allos watch French television, a third of them exclusively. A small majority of allophones choose to read French-language newspapers (a huge majority if you count the free dailies distributed in the Montreal metro). One third of Québec Allos watch French language movies and the majority of shows they see are in French.
And whereas Anglophones who choose to study in another language than English at the post-secondary level are as rare as palm trees in Rosemont, half of Allophones (60% of those who went to French high school) choose to persue a higher education in French .
And those numbers are from Le grand Montréal s’anglicise, a report compiled by the Parti Québécois for the express purpose of scaring us into voting for secession ASAP.
The fact is allophones are just as endangered as francophones.
According the latest census data, there are 2 400 000 Allos in Canada who have gone Anglo. Combined with the 400 000 Francophones converts to English and the 500 000 new native English speakers in the country, this has led to one of the fastest periods of growth for the English language in Canadian history according to University of Ottawa demographer Charles Castonguay.
Even in Montreal, the allophone’s last refuge, economics pressure the majority of allophones who assimilate into one or the other of the great linguistic confederacies choose the English-language. The number of people who reported using English as their home language increased by 5,5% between the last two census periods. Again, unprecedented in the history of Canadian census data, according to prof Castonguay.
Montreal is not getting more diverse, it’s just becoming more English. Just like Canada, where there are no more allophones.
Dying generally sucks, but you do get a few perks: things like a 24h VIP direct line to a nurse you can call when weird things start happening to your mother’s cancer-ridden body.
The thing is, at night the system is rigged up so that you have to go through the Montreal General Hospital’s internal operator to get to the nurse. Not the public operator used to communicating with the taxpaying public. The internal switchboard lady.
Dispatch. What service?
This being one of Montreal’s “bilingual” hospital, in-house communications are in English. It takes a few seconds for the operator to switch gears into French and a little bit longer for her to figure out French acronyms and terminology.
Selles? Selles? Shit! What are selles?
Eventually I get the nurse on the phone. The situation I’m describing is kind of gross and she recommends I take my mom to the emergency.
My mother used to be a patient of the Montreal Neurological Hospital’s Docteur Olivier, the French-speaking successor to the legendary Dr. Wilder Penfield who revolutionized brain science, and the living proof that Montreal’s English hospitals are, according to the Montreal Gazette, nothing but a “mischievous myth”.
“There are French ones and there are bilingual ones”, they explained after former Québec Prime Minister Jacques Parizeau was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital last week. “Parizeau is getting that care in French – or, at least he is if that’s what he wants. Parizeau’s English is so fluently mellifluous he might just choose to use it.”
While I’m sure the staff at the Jewish will avoid the diplomatic faux pas of addressing Monsieur Parizeau in English, those of us who haven’t managed to come as close to breaking up Canada don’t quite receive the same level of consideration.
When my mother’s name was moved from the interesting cases list to the basket cases list, Dr. Olivier passed her file on to a Czech doctor who didn’t speak a word of French. He greeted every patient in the clinic hallway with a single question:
Do you speak English?
Only about 40% of patients in Montreal’s bilingual hospitals are English-speaking so the doctor spent the first ten minutes of every second consultation sighing loudly as he fished around for an idle nurse, orderly or first year student who could translate his patients for him. I got on his good side by setting aside my modest expectation that in 2009 my mother was entitled to receive health care in French in Québec.
The Neuro doesn’t have an emergency ward so that night I take her across the street to the Royal Victoria Hospital, named for the glorious British Queen who spoke German, English, French and Hindustani. A doctor walks into our examining room wearing a hijab. This is English Montreal, a tolerant, multicultural community where people value and respect each others cultures…
Do you speak English?
Really? Are you sure?
The doctor tells me that she can take a look at my mother now or that we can wait. Mother’s been writhing in pain for about seven hours now, so I take her hand and tell her softly that it’s her turn to be bilingual.
Because my family refuses to live in Saguenay or Rosemont where we belong, we, like 1.7 million Québécois from Côte-des-Neiges to Val-d’Or — people like Jacques Parizeau, Yves Michaud, Pauline Marois, Éric Lapointe and the AngryFrenchMe — have been designated as wards of the McGill University Hospital Center.
Every single word of every single medical file of every single member of my family is written entirely in English.
Twenty-five percent of the province of Québec’s health care is administered by a medical establishment that doesn’t require it’s doctors to learn a single word of the language spoken by the majority of their patients. The Charest government just gave McGill 3.6 billion dollars, half of the tax dollars earmarked for the construction of two university hospitals in Montréal.
No need to worry, according to The Gazette. For that price they’ll even care for separatists. Me and my mom’s can be assured that Montreal’s bilingual hospitals “are open to all, regardless of language, creed, ethnicity, or political conviction.”
The day shift doctor who showed up in the morning didn’t speak French either. I don’t speak French I’m from Brazil, he told me, almost proud of himself.
I made him speak to me in Spanish. He got the point and dropped the grin.
(Now let’s have a moment of silence for the millions of Mexican-Americans who don’t have access to health care in their own language. Aren’t you just fucking proud to be Canadian right now?)
That night was a hard one, but it wasn’t the toughest yet. I spent many other long nights at the Royal Vic and the Montreal General Hospital with my mother. Tired, scared and confused by the quick succession of unfamiliar faces coming and going around her, my mother started to speak to me in English in those last few weeks of her life.
My father had started to do the same thing in the last days of his life. So did my grand-mother. So did my grand-father.
Anyone still wondering why I’m angry?
In his excellent biography of Pierre Bourgault, journalist Jean-François Nadeau tells the fascinating story of the gay veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who lived with a pet kangaroo in his Shaughnessy village house near the old Forum and became an indépendantiste pioneer. In his book, Nadeau also recalls the separatist firebrand’s long forgotten tour of the Canadian West, early in his career.
Way back in the day, before paying lip-service to Canada’s “bilingual” nature became a litmus test of canadianess, Bourgault toured the Prairies to explain the idea of an independent Québec to hostile crowds of Westerners who had no sympathy for any “French power” or “Québec Libre” nonsense and who basically were going out to see a freak show.
According to Nadeau, Bourgault usually left the room to standing ovations.
This week the Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe launched his own Canadian Tour, but Québec’s independence is not the radical idea it once was. The idea that with Québec out, Canada will be more a more united and nimble country has much greater acceptance today than it did when Bourgault spelled it out to his unsuspecting audiences of farmers and cattle ranchers.
And Canada has changed too, since Bourgault’s time. Like the Prime Minister’s muse, Tom Flanagan, is quoted as saying in the Globe and Mail: “In the West, it’s a yawner, whether Quebec is in or out”.
Duceppe is one of the longest-serving members of the House of Commons, a familiar face to all Canadians and, even if bashing separatists who collect a federal salary is always a good for a few votes in te ROC, most people in Ottawa recognize the Bloquistes are kickass parliamentarians.
It’s hard to see what Duceppe will accomplish with this tour, or even who would come out to hear him.
One useful thing Duceppe could do, if he was so inclined, is reach out the Canadian left and see if his sovereigntists comrade Amir Khadir‘s suggestion that the Bloc and the NDP work out some sort of formal alliance has any legs.
Why, not? If the Bloc is in Ottawa for the long run, there is not fundamental reason why it couldn’t form a united opposition with the NDP, with a common social platform and separate constitutional planks.
Damn, I could even make a case that it could form a government with the New Democrats, deferring it’s votes on any constitutional or federal-provincial issue to Québec’s National Assembly, achieving a kind of sovereignty-association without changing a coma in the Constitution.
I’m not holding my breath. Big ideas are hard to sell in the age or micro-targeting. It would be surprising if anything inspiring or novel came out of Duceppe’s voyage.
Now I’m not saying Duceppe is a boring politician of that he doesn’t have any good ideas. He’s certainly one of my top 5 separatists.
I’m just saying he looks more like a dog man than a kangaroo type of guy.
Québec signer Kevin Parent, the all-time best-selling artists in Québec music history after Céline Dion, was beat up by a mob of drunken tourists a couple of night ago while out on the town in Québec City.
The singer suffered a concussion and says he remembers nothing of the incident, but bystanders report the attackers were drunken English-speaking tourists.
As if the apparently xenophobic attack was not pathetic enough, Kevin Parent is himself an Anglo. The morons beat up one of their own.
“This incident made me understand the rage of the oppressed Québec francophone who is pissed on in his own city, in his capital, during his own carnival…”, declared Parent in a press conference on Tuesday.
“I spent years building a bridge between French and English. I spent years going to the Junos to say that the Québécois are cool and going to the [French-language music award ceremony] l’ADISQ to say that Anglophones are not all boring and are good people…”
Essentially famous for his French-language albums, Kevin Parent’s mother tongue is English. Just like Mary Travers, a.k.a. La Bolduc, who became Québec’s first ever popstar during the Depression, Kevin Parent is a Anglo from the maritime region of Gaspésie who made records in French.
In a move that says a lot about the impressive vitality of Québec’s music scene, in 2007 Parent reportedly had to leave his record label, Tacca records–ironically run by fellow Anglo Donald K. Tarlton–and join Audiogram to finally record his first English language album.
The incident is reminiscent of another in 1997 when Québec legend Serge Fiori, frontman of Harmonium, was also allegedly attacked by four drunken English-speaking women in Montreal. The women were later acquitted.
Although Fiori and Harmonium are closely associated with the Québec nationalism of the 1970′s, he declared in a 2007 interview with Richard Martineau that he “functions a lot in English, writes in English”, and even seriously considered starting over, in California, in English, under another name when fame back home became to much to bear.
Anglo on Anglo xenophobic violence… The English-canadian press is reportedly brainstorming ways to blame the attacks on the separatists…