The Montreal Gazette is Lying to You # 234

with 83 comments

It is with a tearful eye and a trembling hand that I write today after reading Taking a Personal Stand, a piece by J.D. Gravenor about the plight of a poor 12 year old called Audrey-Laurence Farmer.

Poor Audrey-Laurence is a 12 year old student at a school called Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s… or was a student, we should say, because, as we learn in the article, she is being forced by the Québec government to leave her school and her friends.

Audrey-Laurence is not eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility for English Language Education, you see, because her parents have not been educated in English. The loophole that her parents had used to get her into Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s in the first place has been closed by bill 104 and, even though that law is being challenged at the Supreme Court of Canada, little Audrey-Laurence is being forced to leave her friends and classmates and start all over again in a French school.

Cue teary eyed child: “It makes me feel really sad, because I’m losing a really close friend. A lot of people who are really good friends with her are upset and they wish she could stay here, because they’ve been really attached to her.”

Audrey-Laurence Farmer is the perfect poster-child for the campaign waged by parents and Anglo school boards against bill 104: a bright bilingual kid forced to leave her school by mean bureaucrats.

It’s very dramatic indeed. It’s also a total fabrication.

Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s is not your average private school where a couple of thousands of dollars a year buys your kid ivy covered walls and pretty uniforms. Kindergarten at the Westmount school costs 12,810$ a year! Kindergarten! Tuition for grades 1 through 6 costs 14,580$ a year!

From kindergarten through grade six, Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s functions as a non-subsidized school. That means it receives no money from the government. It also means it is not regulated by bill 101 and that it can admit any child they want, even those who are not eligible for English public and subsidized private schools. Children like Audrey-Laurence.

So what happened? After grade 7 Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s becomes a subsidized school. As a subsidized school that receives government funding it can only admit students whose parents have been to English schools or who have themselves been to English schools in Canada. That’s the rule as established by the Charter of the French Language 30 years ago.

Until 2002 the school’s entire structure was built around a loophole used by some parents to get otherwise ineligible kids into subsidized English schools. Parents willing and able to pay the price of a brand new Volkswagen every year to send their children to Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s primary school were essentially buying the right to send their kids to English schools in Québec.

By the end of the sixth grade enough children had received “the majority of their education in English in Canada” and were legally allowed to attend Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s taxpayer-financed high school.

That’s exactly the loophole members of the National Assembly unanimously (yes, even the English-speaking ones!) voted to close with bill 104. Not so much because it was a way for parents to get their kids into English language schools in total violation of the spirit of bill 101, but because the loophole allowed wealthy parents to buy the right to a GOVERNMENT FUNDED English education

If grades 7 to 11 at Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s school were not subsidized, Audrey could’ve stayed. Because it is, now after the sixth grade students like Audrey-Laurence who are not eligible for English schools will have to go to French schools…

Or will they? Although most crusty private high schools in Montreal and Westmount operate on the same model of unsubsidized primary school and governement funded high school, there are some unsubsidized English high schools out there. Parents who have paid over $100,000 to send their child at Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s from kindergarten cannot claim that money is the issue here.

Schools like Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s were part of a vast network that provided a way for the wealthy to ignore Québec’s laws and obtain governement funding for high schools filled with privileged children that should not have been eligible for taxpayer financed English education.

The wealthy already have absolute freedom of choice when it comes to the language of education in Québec, as long as they forfeit about $3,500 of governement funding a year. What we are talking about here is extremely expensive schools that that had found a way to ALSO receive government money.

Let’s not forget that no other province in Canada gives as much government money to private schools as Québec. Ontario would not have contributed a dime to Audrey’s private education, in French or English!

If Audrey-Laurence’s parents had sent her to an unsubsidized school, she wouldn’t have to change schools next year. Sadly, her parents tried to have it both ways: an exclusive private education AND government money to pay for it.

They tried to cheat the system and it didn’t work out. So, as any good parents would, they told their daughter the governement is to blame.

Now that’s a lesson Audrey-Laurence will certainly remember.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 8, 2008 at 11:26 am

83 Responses

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  1. I must admit I am in a bit of a quandary on this issue, and am starting to wonder if the Québécois nation (that emerged from the anxious and fractious “French Canadian” ethnic group) that had its infancy in the 60s and 70s, and that some people of course saw as destined for independence one day, may not have been stillborn. Or at least a sociological version of Beethoven’s unfinished symphony or Gaudi’s incomplete Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. Like these famous works, much time and effort has gone into the edification of the Québécois nation, and it has admittedly been a partial success, inasmuch as significant numbers of people we could refer to as “non-French Canadians” are now “playing ball” with francophones and identify with the Québécois nation in the same way someone like David Suzuki feels “Canadian”.

    Yet we still can’t seem to get over the final hump, and getting back to AFG’s “Francos vs. everyone else” analogy, the dichotomy is still very much there, the only difference is that on the franco side, not everyone is French Canadian Catholic anymore. So perhaps this is a great improvement, or even a victory of sorts.

    Which brings me to hoo-boy’s question posed a while ago about what would be gained by independence. Well, I am not really a supporter of independence myself, though the arguments that it would favour cultural preservation are nonetheless truly compelling. We often hear Canadian federalists say that an independent Quebec would be so poor that its language and culture would be in greater danger as an independent country than as one of 10 provinces in a majority English-speaking Canada. The global experience suggests this is a ludicrous, baseless argument. There are just under 200 independent countries in the world. I’d say about 175 of them are poorer than an independent Quebec would be. Are all of these countries’ cultures threatened because of their underdevelopment and social problems? How is Brazil’s national culture doing these days? What about Croatia’s? Or Vietnam’s? Are the Vietnamese slowly switching over to Chinese for their internal affairs? Are the Croatians overwhelmed by German? Mexico? Of course not.

    The fact is, sovereign states make a big difference when it comes to preserving distinct cultures, or at least, to ensuring a nation of people are OK with the evolutionary path that’s being taken, rather than having the path imposed (usually self-servingly) by some other so-called superior “people” that owes its power/dominance over the others to sheer numbers or some military victory eons ago that no one even remembers.

    This is particularly evident in Europe, where for example Catalan has more speakers than Finnish, Slovak, Danish or Norwegian, yet the amount of “stuff” that’s available in Catalan (film titles, product labels and instructions, computer software, literary translations, etc.) is miniscule when compared to what’s out there in the other languages.

    And why is computer software available in Icelandic, but not in Inuktitut or in Cree, when all three languages have not dissimilar numbers of speakers (much less than 500,000 in all three cases)? The answer is simple: because there is a parliament, an army, a public service and a national economy that functions primarily in Icelandic, with no equivalents in Cree and Inuktitut. The same is true of Finnish, Slovak, Danish and Norwegian when compared to Catalan, which has about twice as many speakers in Europe (some 10 million) as each of these national, “unthreatened” languages does.

    As I alluded to previously, Quebec these days is sort of half-pregnant. Part of the highway has been built, another segment is still under construction, yet no one is sure that it will eventually reach its destination. I may be atypical of someone with my views, but my feeling for the moment is that Quebec could reach its destination by staying within Canada. Or at least, get 95% of the way there, with the missing 5% not being such a hefty price to pay for remaining part of one of the world’s most successful countries.


    April 16, 2008 at 2:01 pm

  2. Good stuff. Who said this blog would go to pieces without Tony Kondak’s input?

    But easy on Mat. I know we separatists are not known as thick-skinned individuals, but Mathieu is always well-read and polite contributor. He doesn’t deserve to be called a hot head.

    About the unified school system.

    I think bill 101 is working very well. Many years ago I was hired by the city to distribute some pamphlet in Côte-des-Neiges. Most people at the bottom of the hill spoke very limited French but I quickly figured out that rather than switching to English (which was only marginaly more understood) I just asked to speak to their kids. I gave to all the info to the 7 year old who spoke French as well as I did and let him or her translate back to their parents.

    I think Montreal will be ripe for an intergrated school system when those kids start sending their own children to school. When these kids will be adults and able to help newcomers communicate with a Francophone society that is not foreign to them, but their own. When parents who’s ancestral roots might be in Sri Lanka or Pakistan feel as strongly as any other about the quality of the French their kids are thought in school.

    But for that to happen, French has to remain a desirable skill in the workplace. On that issue, see my new post:


    April 16, 2008 at 3:23 pm

  3. I sincerely hope you are right about Bill 101, but consider this: some of the children of the children of Bill 101 are already in school (have been for several years), since kids who were started school in 1977 would be in their mid-30s by now.

    I was very young then, but from what I hear from people old enough to remember the era, it seems as though all French has done is held its own since the 70s. Now, perhaps just stopping the decline could be considered progress I suppose… But aren’t we hearing a lot of the same complaints as 30 and 40 years ago? It seems so.

    The francophone community has of course now integrated a much larger number of newcomers, but this is largely offset by the fact that the anglophone community hasn’t stopped integrating newcomers at all either. In fact, it has integrated more than ever since the 1970s. And those newcomers are also more numerous than ever, which makes the French-English tug-of-war for their hearts, minds and tongues all the more critical.

    As well, since the 1995 referendum, Quebec doesn’t “scare” English Canadians any more, so more of them are now moving to Montreal and the Outaouais. In the late 80s and 90s, I can remember how Quebec was pretty much written off by the ROC: many “national” weather forecasts skipped over Quebec (the Weather Network used to do this, for example), newspapers like the Globe and Mail would publish articles on the commercial real estate market in Canada’s largest cities without a single word on Montreal (seriously!), and I’m sure that, had something like Canadian Idol existed at the time, there’s not a chance they would have held auditions in Montreal.

    The indirect result of this was a relative strengthening of French, if only because English was more absent.

    But all of this has now changed dramatically, and one can truly say that in Quebec, and in Montreal in particular, (English) Canada’s back in town!

    I must say that, as a French-speaking Canadian whose family has been in this country for almost four centuries, I find it very humiliating and pathetic that seemingly the only way we can make progress or hold our own even is through instilling some kind of fear in our fellow citizens: the “knife at the throat” or “couteau sur la gorge” political strategy (actually I believe this term may have been coined by Stéphane Dion`s father Léon); fear of living in Quebec and being caught on the wrong side if it separates; fear of facing people who will be rude to you if you don’t speak French, etc.

    Pretty depressing actually.


    April 16, 2008 at 9:58 pm

  4. Maybe you could just try introducing school vouchers in Quebec and let parents decide for themselves where to enroll their children.
    Judging by the tone of this website French schools would be surely severely oversubscribed while many English ones would be forced to close for good. Mission accomplished.
    Except that Quebec government follows French model whereas the overbearing State is required to intrude upon every aspect of peoples’ lives and Voucher System would be too democratic.
    Imagine, parents themselves making the vital decisions about their children’s future. Quel horreur.

    It’s nice to watch polite people having enlightened debate that has already being settled in advance by the benevolent Government.


    May 12, 2008 at 10:48 am

  5. I am a student in Montreal in an english high school. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

    I am strongly against seperation. Freedom of speech is just that, the freedom to both say whatever you want and the freedom of how to say it; be it french or english. French culture is not going away. In fact, from an english teens standpoint, the only thing keeping most teenagers from really embracing french is the strong anti-english movements. The first things we hear when a new kid from another province comes to school is, “Are you guys separatists?”, “Are french people really that crazy?” and “I hate french”. Im not saying that all french quebecers are unruly, english-hating seperatists but it is the reputation we have built up upon ourselves upon youth around the world. I went to europe recently and even there we were asked about the french speaking quebecers. To sum it up, I think the seperatist movement is doing worse for quebecs futur than it is good. With the exception of maybe the french speaking adolescents of Quebec, I think most of us would rather live somewhere else. I am graduating this year and I was shocked to see how many people said they would like to live else where in Canada when asked where they see themselves in the futur. Also, Quebec is making itself look worse and worse with the new school reform.

    The bill 101 and 104 doesnt affect my everyday life too much. I have almost as many french friends as I do english friends and most of us have the same views (yes, even the french ones). We are mostly anti-separatist and pro freedom of language.

    I would like to address a post that was made over a month ago..

    “quebecois separatiste
    April 12, 2008 at 12:02 am
    4 proposals:

    1. Quebec become a country

    2. 1 integrated school system where 80% is in french and 20% in english. No more us and them.

    3. Also people people graduating from McGill and Concordia must pass a test to show a minimum knowledge of french to graduate. (Test must focus on basic conversational skills, not exoteric grammar rules nobody understand.)

    4. No more language laws for the workplace. No more francisation process at the workplace. They are annoying and make people uncomfortable.”

    Since I have little to no expierience in the workplace I will not touch with 4 but I would love to add my thoughts on the first 3 proposals.

    1. Why? If Quebec became it would mean higher taxes, a different health care system and most importantly, the attempt to abolish of english in quebec. I know if Quebec became a country MANY english-speaking families would move out to other canadian provinces. Im sure that would be great for the Quebec economy!

    2. Thats almost exactly how it is now only without the potential option of english schools. Right now, most french speaking course loads include 6 classes, 1 of which is english class. Thats 1/6 and english schools as opposed to 1/5 and no english schools. Are you kidding me? Thats supposed to be a compromise? What about schools 60/40 both ways or schools 50/50?

    3. Mcgill and Concordia are extremely highly ranked universities in canada. Many students from all over the world come to Montreal to study here. I dont know about you but if I had to choose between 2 schools to go to study abroad at and one made me take an extra french course so i could pass a silly french test, I think I would go for the other school.

    Stop this. Its stupid. We dont want it.

    And for the record, I love montreal. I love where I live and I love downtown. I can speak french and english fluently. I love the habs. I am not anti-french, anti-quebec or anything like that.

    Long live a quebec where people who speak english, french, arabic or piglatin can all live in harmony.

    B Johns

    May 22, 2008 at 8:24 pm

  6. I don’t really understand why a little thing like this make THE big difference. She was just wanting to stay with her friends because she doesn’t really understand the difference beetween someone who’s parents had an english education or other parents who had the french one.

    She speaks as well french and english so why do you make such A big thing like this? Why couldn’t she stay in her english school?

    Louis (14 years old)

    June 9, 2008 at 10:13 pm

  7. This law is TOTALY not fair. Audrey-Laurence is being seperated from her friends because of this law. Her parents didn’t go to English school so SHE isn’t allowed . Her story ISN’T a totalk fabrication! This article thing IS. I know how she feels because I changed schools too when I was that age. I agree with Louis (14 years old). I disagree with this part of this article:

    If Audrey-Laurence’s parents had sent her to an unsubsidized school, she wouldn’t have to change schools next year. Sadly, her parents tried to have it both ways: an exclusive private education AND government money to pay for it.

    They tried to cheat the system and it didn’t work out. So, as any good parents would, they told their daughter the governement is to blame.

    Now that’s a lesson Audrey-Laurence will certainly remember.

    …What the ?!%$/@*! this is SO NOT TRUE! I know that people like Audrey weren’t allowed to goto a PUBLIC ENGLISH SCHOOL! It is french OR nothing. It is not her parent’s fault. IT’s all the government’s fault.

    Tears were at the rendez-vous when Audrey had to leave all her friends. This law changed her life FOREVER. Read the original article instead of reading made up stuff like this!!!


    June 14, 2008 at 6:34 pm

  8. I agree with Meegy and Louis.


    June 14, 2008 at 6:36 pm

  9. I see we got kids reading here. I see they don’t understand the laws of their own country and are very vulnerable to media bias.

    Looks like we have a new generation of uninformed angryphones coming our way….


    June 14, 2008 at 9:19 pm

  10. afg, did you even read our posts? Please, atleast see out side of the story before calling us “uninformed”.

    We are all living the effects these laws first hand. The people who are effected the most by these laws are the students of quebecs. Our lives are changed by the decision the government makes for us concerning schools.

    How can you say we are uninformed when we are right in the middle of the problem? We are supposed to be the solution.

    Media bias? Come on.. stop finding excuses for us. Your ignorance is amazing

    You remind me of a french Bill O’Reilly.

    We are not ‘kids’. If I can drive, drink in a few months and go to war, I think I have the right to leave a reply on a website.

    B Johns

    June 15, 2008 at 11:56 am

  11. Bill 104 was voted to close a loophole that wealthy parents used to break the law. Now they can’t do it anymore. They have to live by the same laws as EVERYBODY ELSE.

    If you disagree with a law you don’t put a loophole in it, you change it for everybody. The very same lawyers now trying to overthrow bill 104 tried that before. They failed. They didn’t have support in the Québec population, they didn’t have support in the government and they didn’t have the support of the Supreme Court of Canada that has said many times that the education rules in bill 101 are perfectly fine.

    Bill 104 was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly. The people of Québec overwhelmingly support bill 101, especially the rules about schools.

    No the law isn’t the same for everyone. Under Québec law Anglophones have more rights than everybody else. You think that’s unfair? I agree. There should be one school system, in French, the language of the majority, for everybody.

    The lawyers currently petitioning the Supreme Court to invalidate bill 104 knew their arguments would not convince anyone who did not already support their cause. The only way they found to get any attention was to get a crying kid: Audrey-Laurence.

    It’s pathetic. It’s revolting. It’s a textbook definition of media manipulation. And it’s being done at your expense, kids.

    If you want to sue somebody, Bjohns, I suggest the people who tought you English. Your spelling and grammar is awful.


    June 15, 2008 at 2:05 pm

  12. I would like to write this in French, but seeing that this is an English language blogue, I’ll use English. AngryFrenchGuy, I stumbled across your blogue yesterday and I have to say that I’ve read about twenty of your posts so far. They are facinating and I agree with you on everything you have written. I’ve gotten into many an argument with angryphones on The Gazette website discussion groups. This particular post is one of the most satisfying you have written. One where I had to write a comment on how much I appreciate and enjoy it. You write the truth and a lot of people don’t want to hear it. Tant pis pour eux. En passant, chus états-unien, mais chus en train de régler mes papiers pour m’y immigrer l’été prochain. La raison pour laquelle que je voudrais m’y installer ? Parce que c’est le seul état francophone en Amérique et ça ne cesse jamais de me surprendre qu’il y en toujours certains au Québec qui ne trouve pas cet endroit vraiment exceptionnel et qui mérite la défense et la protection de sa langue. Ben, moi, lorsque chus là-bas, je veux vivre ma vie autant qu’en français que possible. Voilà.

    Your blogue is amazing.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    July 31, 2008 at 10:09 am

  13. Merci Thomas.

    Bienvenue et a bientôt.


    July 31, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  14. As an American outsider looking upon the political situation in Quebec, I can appreciate the passion generated by this debate. But look at the reality:

    Canada is looked upon by the world as a nice country. The US is hated. We have people looking to kill us. You do as well BUT not to the same extent.
    We have illegal aliens. A lot of people want to hide here. Canada, for many foreigners, is a temporary boarding point to the US. They arrive to share your wealth or move on. You have a beautiful country, the world’s largest fresh water supply, oil potential, low crime, people leave you alone to enjoy life. Greek, Polish, Spanish, they all survive in Quebec

    Then why the fuck do you want to screw that up????

    Get real people, it’s only a fucking language battle. You are not fighting over the two civilization destroyers, religion and money (power). Commerce in Quebec is done in french, people are happy to buy nice houses, cars, go on vacation etc… LEAVE IT ALONE!! Don’t rip the country
    apart because some artsy fartsy teary eyed separatists want to wave a blue flag instead of a red flag. If you are English, speak french outside. Your mother tongue won’t go away. You can communicate with the rest of Canada and the US, it’s your advantage. If the Quebecois only want to speak french, so be it. They will continue to live in their own little world, less advantage to them. But you all know what would happen if Quebec separated. Come on, you all know, economic chaos, the destruction of Canada, and the eventual reality of being swallowed up by the US. (World order crap). Or we will all end up speaking Russian, Chinese or Vulcan. Enjoy what good things you have.

    By the way, Americans don’t give a shit one way or the other. If you people still want to be assholes and give yourself strokes over a STUPID cultural language issue, then there is more water for me!!


    September 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm

  15. See here:


    January 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm

  16. Hey
    I actually know Audrey and go to ECS. I really hate bill 101 because I lost my good friends.


    May 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  17. Audrey’s parents just wanted her to speak English and she couldn’t go to public english school because she’s ffracophone. What did you want her parents to do than pay a fortune for her to learn English?


    July 12, 2009 at 9:07 pm

  18. Fuck you all you Nazi cocksuckers we won the war and only let the shit stay, unfortunately it has a tendency to rise to the top, go sleep with your cousins like your used to doing in the saguenay, you live in an english country and that wont change you dumb bitches.

    Hatethe French

    February 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

  19. You have some nerve to write an article as horrifying as this. I went to this school for an amazing twelve years and can attribute all my successes to it. Canada (which INCLUDES Quebec the last time I checked) is a free country. Parents have the right to send their children to the school of their choosing and in their preferred language. Audrey-Laurence was an extremely bright girl who came from a French background and should have the right to learn to speak properly in any language she chooses. If anybody really believes that she would have gotten the same English language instruction at a French public high school they clearly have yet to experience a Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s education first handedly.


    August 31, 2011 at 8:29 pm

  20. ”Canada (which INCLUDES Quebec the last time I checked) is a free country. Parents have the right to send their children to the school of their choosing and in their preferred language.”

    There is no such right in Canada. Education is a provincial matter over there.

    There is no such right in Québec either, in our nation the medium of public education is French. There is also a priviledge for English Canadians to have access to public-funded English schools, a priviledge generously funded (given the ~8% size English minority), like you’ll find nowhere else in North America.

    It would be nice if the Anglo-maniacs would stop making up lies.

    The teen’s parents tried to fool the law and they lost the game, they blame the government. Pathetic.


    December 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm

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    December 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm

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  23. Audey-Laurence a terminé ses études secondaires en français en se méritant une médaille… et pas n’importe laquelle… pour l’excellence de sa moyenne pendant toutes ses études secondaires…


    August 24, 2017 at 4:36 pm

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