In Montreal French-speakers are still second class
Le Journal de Montréal, the city’s most read newspaper, sent out a reporter to look for a job in downtown Montreal with an English only resume and a single word of French: “Bonjour”. In 14 days, the reporter got 15 jobs.
In Montreal, speaking French is apparently not a job requirement. Not even for a customer service job.
That means that in Montreal, 62% of the population is apparently not entitled to services and information in it’s own language. Considering that Montreal is Québec’s economic and commercial core, it’s 85% of Quebecers who are still treated as foreigners in the heart of their metropolis.
When she asked what to do about customers who wanted service in French the reporter was told by one of her new employers not to worry about them and that they were ‘pains in the ass’. The French term was chiâleux.
In the 1970’s, Pierre Bourgault wrote in the magazine Point de Mire about being kicked out of a downtown Montreal disco for ordering his beer in French. The owner told him she didn’t want any politics in her establishment. “In Montreal, in 1970, it’s a political act to order a beer in French.”
Apparently it still is in 2008.
Of course they won’t kick you out of the store anymore. They might kick you out of an airplane, though.
Last march Jules Léger, president of the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia, was refused on board of a Ottawa-bound flight in Halifax for demanding service in French and videotaping the carrier’s inability to provide it.
Air Canada is headquartered in Montreal and as a former crown corporation is required by law to provide services in both of Canada’s official languages. Air Canada openly ignores this obligation despite being the all time complaints champion Official Languages Commissioner office in Ottawa.
French-speakers are not only second class citizens’s in Montreal, they are also second class in their country’s capital, but that we already knew.