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. Mattthew –

    “To presume that Quebecers will mistreat their new English-speaking minority is most irrational. First, Quebec is the most peaceful of the nations in the Western World and has no morality lesson to received from any other one on Earth, and Second, the USA and Canada being in the vicinity of Quebec, that new national minority is going to enjoy the best guaranty any minority could ever hope to get.”

    Quebec nationalists were *on the side of the Fascists* during WWII.


    April 13, 2008 at 5:53 pm

  2. Actually Québec fascists like Adrien Arcand were financed by the Conservative Party of Canada, fervent federalists and sang God Save The King at the begining of every meeting. (See le livre noir du Canada Anglais, Normand Lester)

    A young Pierre Elliot Trudeau famously declared during the conscription debate that to be conquered by the Nazis or the British, it was all the same to him.

    Jacques Parizeau was married for over 30 years to a jewish woman. René Lévesque was one of the first western journalists to enter a concentration camp (Aushwitz or Dashau, I’m not sure) and to report the horror of nazism to the world.

    Québec’s fascist temptation is, sadly, true. The idea that it is the foundation of the Independence mouvement, is not.

    I think that what Mathieu meant was that if you look at the history of other independence movements in Ireland, the Basque country and Corsica, the people of Québec – and, yes, Canadians too – can stand proudly as mature peoples able to discuss these very emotional issues in a democratic fashion.


    April 13, 2008 at 7:37 pm

  3. And no, I don’t think the current education scheme is the best possible one.

    Francophones is the rest of Canada are disapearing more rapidly than ever.

    Immigrants in Québec are still faced with an ambiguous message as to what is the common language and told by the Anglo media that their “right” to English education is violated, which fuels animosity between Franco and immigrant communities.

    Most Anglophones still spend a huge part of their lives in a parrallel universe of seperate but equal institutions and never really have to commit to Québec society.


    April 13, 2008 at 7:45 pm

  4. If that’s what Mathieu meant, he is certainly right. It doesn’t say a lot, though, if one is less violent and sectarian than the Irish and the Basques and the Corsicans. But I do believe that Quebeckers en masse are firmly committed to democratic principles. It’s the intellectuals and politicians I wonder about.

    It will take a generation for Parizeau’s concession speech to fade from the memory of Quebec’s minorities. The argument that Quebec’s territory belongs to the Québécois absolutely, that they can do whatever they damn well please with it in the name of popular sovereignty, keeps resurfacing, and while nobody would (I hope) deny that Quebec and the Québécois are inseparable, there are (I’m sure we all agree) limits to what a respectable state can do, especially a democracy. It would be nice if Quebec nationalists did a bit more active campaigning to reassure minorities of their intentions. Instead one is told again and again that “Everything will be alright when we get our own country.” What does that *mean*? Pauline Marois’ proposal that citizenship be denied to non-francophones? Loyalty parades? You can see that the subconscious panic is not totally irrational.

    As to living in a parallel universe, what is wrong with that? Why is there a cultural imperative that they should commit to Quebec society? What would Quebec society gain? What is Quebec society unable to do now that it would be able to do when the anglos are converted? Why is otherness inherently offensive? Why are the Hasidim routinely caricatured in La Presse?

    I won’t get into the whole fascism thing. It was rather a long time ago now. I don’t accept the idea that the Québécois are inherently peaceful, though. Look at the 22e, or the general ethos of young Québécois men. They’re not itching to conquer Iraq but they’re not exactly hippies.

    I don’t know how to solve the education problem (which I agree is a problem). It would be nice if the anglo media stopped telling immigrants their rights are being violated, which is obviously not the case. Maybe that will happen in the next generation. I mean, if you’re a first generation Montrealer over 50 you were almost certainly educated in English; but a first generation Montrealer who’s 20 will have gone to high school & CEGEP in French, right? So maybe the media will come round.

    I think one has to get over the fact that Montreal will always be a bilingual city. But even so, the francophone part of it is totally dominant, to an outsider’s eyes. I love Montreal, but the anglo community is so small there that I readily chose Toronto as my destination when I came back from the US recently.

    The no-brainer for me is more francophone immigration. There can’t be many Senegalese who would prefer to live in Toronto (and learn a new language) rather than in Montreal. If we boost immigration from Senegal & francophonia generally that should work, right? Either that or convince Québécois women to all have 4 children.

    French in the ROC . . . Well, what can the government really do, beyond providing schools? You can watch TV in French anywhere; you can listen to the radio; you can certainly live online in French. What you can’t do is meet lots of bilingual people of the opposite sex from the other community who are willing to raise their kids in French. Because there just aren’t a lot of those around in rural Saskatchewan (bilingual anglophones, I mean). Surely the anglo communities in the Saguenay and in Gaspesia must be shrinking too . . . What’s *their* story, I wonder? Where do they come from? Who are they? Where are they going?

    While I’m discharging my shotgun like this, I think one thing to be done about French in Montreal would be if francophones decided en masse to show a bit more patience with anglophones who are trying to speak French. As it is, it literally feels like a secret language: you make one mistake, of intonation or gender, and you’re suddenly revealed as an anglo and everybody switches to French. It takes a will of iron (expertus loquor) to keep on in French in that situation, with everybody giving you funny glances. Practically speaking, this is what I was getting at in my long rhetorical appeal above: francophone Quebeckers need to stop treating language as a matter of practicality and start treating French as a holy vessel of linguistic beauty. Then it wouldn’t be a question of switching into English to get over some poor anglo fumbling with his subjunctive: everybody would be communing with beautiful French to the best of their ability. As it is, it’s simply not worth the effort for many anglos to try and talk white: you get rebuffed more than half the time. Contrast that, please, with a francophone trying to get by with broken English in Toronto: in Toronto most people have some sort of foreign accent and the absence of an authentic local accent is not in any way strange. One encourages people to improve by treating them as equals, not as morons. (I realise it’s different in rural Canada.) In Montreal it seems most people subscribe to Dr. Johnson’s saying that for all he could see, foreigners were fools.


    April 13, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  5. sorry: I meant — “everybody switches to English.” Would that it were the other say around!


    April 13, 2008 at 10:16 pm

  6. hoo-boy writes: “Quebec nationalists were *on the side of the Fascists* during WWII.”

    That is not an accurate portrayal of Quebec nationalists, even for that period. You probably meant Adrien Arcand was on the side of the Fascists, especially those of Great Britain and Canada, for he was a most accomplished Anglophile. He was not a Quebec nationalist, on the contrary.

    As for the ultramontane nationalists, the only one you would know by name being Lionel Groulx, some of them flirted with French intellectuals who were royalist and antisemitic, no doubt. Yet they were not royalists themselves and were “antisemetic” only by extending the meaning of the adjective to all prejudiced Christians. This did not stop Groulx to consider antisemitism to be stupid (“niais” is the word he used) and to tell his own to follow their “rough will to survive, their invincible spirit of solidarity and their moral armour” adding that in a way the Christians were spiritually Semites.

    But there were of course liberal nationalists at the time. There were even truly progressive ones like Olivar Asselin, founder of the newspaper “Le Nationaliste” and co-founded with Henri Bourassa of the more conservative “Le Devoir” . Asselin, the best journalist Quebec has ever had (according to Quebec journalists), who is still read today unlike Groulx, wrote to denounce antisemitism and try to educate Quebecers on their Jewish co-citizens.

    The father of Quebec nationalism, Louis-Joseph Papineau, is at the origin of the political emancipation of the Jews in Lower Canada (1832). In that year, Lower Canada became, after the USA and France, a country where Jews had the same civil rights as other citizens.

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    April 13, 2008 at 11:03 pm

  7. hoo-boy writes: “I think one thing to be done about French in Montreal would be if francophones decided en masse to show a bit more patience with anglophones who are trying to speak French.”

    I wish that too. It do not think it is a question of patience though. It is a behaviour which many francophones have socially inherited: they were only recently told: “Wake up! behave like a free people!” Only those who voted YES in 1980 and 1995 wish to be free so far. Let’s hope it keeps increasing steadily by the decades!

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    April 13, 2008 at 11:09 pm

  8. Mathieu —

    The people of Quebec *are* free. There is no one dominating them. There is no one imposing laws on them. They have been in total control of their financial institutions since the 1970’s, insofar as anyone is in control of capitalist institutions. A change in the constitutional status of Quebec will not change that one iota. The need is not for external but for internal change (if I can presume to lecture another people about what it should do — I could spill buckets of virtual ink on lecturing the ROC, believe me).

    As to Groulx, the admiration of his for the Jews which you quote evidently references his idea of them as a tough, indomitable, self-assured race that was unwilling to be assimilated into the Christian world. Leaving aside whether that was true or not, it is not exactly a liberal attitude. There are plenty of other less than flattering references to the Jews in Groulx, which occur when he is not identifying with them but viewing them as interlopers in the ultramontane purity he envisioned. This is precisely the European antisemitism which, while not necessarily murderous in all forms, was rightly the target of generations of enlightened European intellectuals (Zola, Nietzsche, et al.) who rejected it not so much because it made life hard for the poor Jews but because it degraded any nation which adopted it.

    What is frightening about (much of) Quebec nationalism even today is that it has *not* renounced this sort of nous vs. les autres sectarianism. What is sad, as opposed to frightening, is that when one has carved out one’s own little independent Slovakia, or Wallonia, or Scotland, one has only cut oneself off from the rest of humanity. What nation ever made itself great in that manner? Why would any real friend of the Québécois want to see them stuck in a ghetto? *Especially* when the vices of passivity and provincialism are mirrored so closely in the ROC! We thinking people have a duty to our fellow man to help pull our respective nations out of the minor leagues; how is that better accomplished in separate countries?

    As to the YES vote increasing steadily, if it followed the 1980-1995 “trend” it would be 60% two years from now. Doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon.

    I can’t begin to say how wonderful it is, by the way, that (in addition to the superb style etc.) you spell “behaviour” in the proper way.


    April 14, 2008 at 12:37 am

  9. “As to the YES vote increasing steadily, if it followed the 1980-1995 “trend” it would be 60% two years from now. Doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon.”

    Well, it was well over 50% about two years ago. Remember when people were seriously talking about the Bloc winning 60+ seats and more than 50% of the vote during the 2006 election campaign? Things change quickly in Quebec.

    And if you’re interesting in English Quebec-nationalist blogs, you should check mine out too.

    Éric Grenier

    April 14, 2008 at 9:14 am

  10. “What nation ever made itself great in that manner?”

    Ireland, one of the most successful states in Europe or even the world.

    Éric Grenier

    April 14, 2008 at 9:15 am

  11. Ireland didn’t make itself great by breaking away from Britain. Depending on how you look at it, it was already great (millenium of Celtic culture, literary glory, etc.) or it became great as of about 1995 (8% growth in GDP). The years 1923-1995 were not the happiest in Ireland’s history (though they were better than some!).

    Ironically, Ireland’s prosperity is owing to the massive investment in IT there on the part of foreign investors, who liked it because it was both a) in the EU and b) anglophone. In other words it suffered the fate-worse-than-death of a linguistic assimilation more severe than Lord Durham’s cruelest dreams and now is getting envied by Eric Grenier. May the same thing not happen to Quebec!!


    April 14, 2008 at 10:18 am

  12. hoo-boy writes: “The people of Quebec *are* free. There is no one dominating them. There is no one imposing laws on them.”

    Not only is Ottawa imposing its various laws and regulations day to day, on our territory, it is imposing a constitution, the fundamental law of the federation, against our will. Since 1982, we are ruled by a constitution we did not sign because our National Assembly rejected it unanimously, across party-lines. That is to say, even those who claim we should stay in Canada, and try to reason out the ROC, rejected it.

    Between 1867 and 1982, Quebecers powerlessly observed the federal State, its Parliament (in which we will never be anything but a minority), Cabinet (which has exorbitant powers) and Supreme Court (unelected), gain more strength and interfere more deeply into our affairs to the point that today most Canadians think of Canada as a Nation-State with a national government in Ottawa and administrative sub-entities below it.

    That we send more than half of our tax money to a level of government which every day acts as though we did not exist is about as bad a political oppression can get without resorting to physical force.

    hoo-boy writes: “What is frightening about (much of) Quebec nationalism even today is that it has *not* renounced this sort of nous vs. les autres sectarianism.”

    Yes, of course. Your evidence has proved it most conclusively, as did your Reductio ad Hitlerum arguments.

    hoo-boy writes: “We thinking people have a duty to our fellow man to help pull our respective nations out of the minor leagues; how is that better accomplished in separate countries?”

    Canadians have had over a century to fix the union to make it equal. Even today, with very little effort, they could do it and kill separatism completely. But they will not do it, because their rulers are business people who care for nothing but themselves and misrepresent our cause to the English speakers. The pretencion to moral superiority, coming from those who have stepped on our rights for generations, is absolutely preposterous and most insulting to our intelligence.

    And still the sovereignists will probably continue to be a majority to wish to offer the ROC a new partnership for the mutual benefit of all involved parties.

    “[…] the hour of noble revenge, when good will be done even to those who practised evil.” – Louis-Joseph Papineau, December 17, 1867

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    April 14, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  13. I, perhaps ironically, don’t feel so angry.

    Hoo-boy, has proven an able debater and a gentleman, and does not deserve to be held accountable for all the prejudice and misconceptions of Anglodia.

    He has accepted the legitimacy of Québec’s school laws, which was the topic of the original post. It’s reasuring to know reason can prevail.

    But his prose still transpires with the unconscious reduction of Non-anglophones to a kind of secondary humanity, which is what might trigger angry responses from some readers:

    -the constant references to some supposed original crime (fascism, antisemitisim, the massacre of indians, etc..) that supposedly that every Québécois still, to this day, must pay for.

    In the 21st century accusing someone of these types of crimes – especially by procuration – is the moral equivalent of questionning someone’s humanity.

    When it becomes common wisdom in a society, say English Canada, that a people , say the Québécois, are collectivelly and perhaps genetically (how else do you explain that I must answer for long dead Lionel Groulx?) guilty of such crimes, it amounts to saying they are lesser humans.

    The black community in the United States has produced much litterature on this phenomenon. Read Malcom X. Read the Panthers. Read the Black Liberation theologists.

    -The unconscious belittling of the Québécois, i.e. “We thinking people have a duty to our fellow man to help pull our respective nations out of the minor leagues; how is that better accomplished in separate countries?”

    The only way you get to the Major Leagues is by yourself.


    April 14, 2008 at 4:14 pm

  14. Believe me, it’s all conscious. And if I didn’t think there was hope for you all, I wouldn’t waste my breath.

    MGP: what reductio ad Hitlerum? (Isn’t Hitler 3rd declension anyway?) It is very pertinent that you presume to speak on behalf of a whole people. No one has such a right. When you assume it, you are also presuming a nous vs. vous split. My reference to fascism (not Hitler) arose because of your original assertion that the Québécois are an inherently peaceful people. Your own attitude belies such a statement. God help the minorities of Quebec if people like yourself, to whom God has granted such self-assurance, achieve unchecked power.

    Well, fuck it. Seems we are only reconfirming each other in our stances. Or is that the object of the exercise?

    Angryfrenchguy — That you for the compliment. It is presumptuous, though, for you to take my statements as reflective of “English Canada.” There is no English Canada. There is no French Canada. There are only English Canadians and French Canadians (or whatever — English Newfoundland fisherpersons with eight toes). To seek refuge in the warm glow of collective identity is to abdicate one’s own responsibility as a son of the Enlightenment, of reason. I fight against it in English Canada as much as I can (where it’s even more pervasive). It has to be possible to have a debate in which one is not reduced to one’s own identity. Have I made any accusations against the Québécois per se? No, only against nationalists.

    A couple of specifics:

    “the constant references to some supposed original crime (fascism, antisemitisim, the massacre of indians, etc..) that supposedly that every Québécois still, to this day, must pay for.”

    Um, yes. Every Québécois in the case of the Indians, every Canadian in the case of the Indians, every North American, every South American, etc. etc. etc. It’s not that one has to put on sackcloth & ashes every day of the week; it’s just that it’s self-defeating not to acknowledge that our societies are built on history. Likewise anglo Quebeckers need to reckon (whether they like it or not!) with the very arrogant behaviour of their great-grandparents — as this blog is living proof. Likewise, in my view, the Iroquois have to reckon with their massacre of the Huron. And so on and on and on. The reason why the Jews and antisemitism and the Holocaust keep coming back to all these debates is that we are all sons of the West. We have a collective responsibility for the Holocaust. (Yes, yes, even the Québécois, incredible as it may seem! Even they participate in the Western intellectual tradition!) The fundamental lesson of WWII, in retrospect of course, was the Holocaust. It is a negation of one’s own humanity to deny it a central place in our fundamental system of values. *That* is the telos of sectarianism. It is no shame whatsoever to scale back our commitment to our own national pride as a result — not erase it, not deny it, but firmly place it behind our loyalty to HUMANITY. Even here, I’d certainly say that the ordinary Westerner need not think too much about it, and that the ordinary Québécois or ROCanadian need not worry about the Indians too much. But we, the leaders and thinkers of our nations, how can we not? We owe it to those who have no time to weigh values and creeds and philosophies to do the reckoning for them. I do indeed question the humanity — or perhaps the courage — of any intellectual who is unwilling to face the difficult questions our forefathers bequeathed to us.

    As to Lionel Groulx, I brought up his name because of the reference MGP made to Groulx’s favourable review of the Jews, and the ethnic essentialising I felt lay behind. I didn’t accuse anybody here of being Groulx reincarnated (though MGP was defending him a bit). And I will happily listen to anyone endorse some of Groulx’s ideas who is willing to put down his sectarianism. After all, the man’s got a metro station named after him, he must have been quite a fellow.

    On m’accuse encore —

    “The unconscious belittling of the Québécois, i.e. “We thinking people have a duty to our fellow man to help pull our respective nations out of the minor leagues; how is that better accomplished in separate countries?” The only way you get to the Major Leagues is by yourself.”

    It was quite conscious. I do belittle the Québécois. I also belittle the anglo Quebeckers. They are worth belittling (as opposed, say, to the Newfoundlanders). I intend for the rest of my life to belittle my fellow Canadians. I belittle the Americans. I belittle the contemporary Brits til I’m blue in the face. I belittle every nation that thinks it can be a great nation simply by declaring itself such. There are not a lot of great nations. It is not an easy thing to become a great nation. The Romans were great. The French have often been great. The Jews are great. The Turks have certainly had their moments. The Assyrians kicked some serious ass. The Irish are great (as Eric pointed out). Are the ROCanadians or the Québécois great? Not yet. Not yet, but if either or (ideally) both of us can ever get over the incredibly stupid and time-wasting sibling rivalry that has kept us both at each other’s throats for the last hundred and fifty years (or more), I think we have as good a shot as anybody. We could at least become relatively great. At the moment we are both, in the eyes of the rest of the world if not in the eyes of our respective editorial boards, at about the level of Jordan or Chile. Sorry to disappoint you, but the true patriot wants genuine greatness for his nation and not the bullshit Potemkin greatness we hear so much about from Canadian nationalists (and sometimes, alas, from Québécois nationalists).

    If you think that message goes down well in the ROC, btw, i.e. with the establishment and its “common wisdom,” you know nothing of the fatuity we have to live with over here every day. Having never identified with your nation, I don’t know what it would be like to have to live with the rah-rah “beau destin” of P. Marois and J. Charest & the whole friggin’ political class over there, but I can imagine it would be almost as bad. Not quite as bad, but almost.

    As to “the only way you get to the Major Leagues is by yourself,” that is simply false. No culture has ever triumphed by itself. A culture triumphs by taking up the torch of international civilisation and racing with it. Elizabethan England was a *participation in* the international Renaissance. Likewise the Grand Siècle. The Greek 5th C BC was the Hellenization of international Mediterranean civilisation. Augustan Rome strove endlessly to coopt Greek (i.e. international Mediterranean) culture and make it Roman. None of these people shut out the rest of the world. And while of course the real work has to be done chez soi, neither of our cultures is rich enough to turn down allies, especially with nihilism breathing down our necks. Or is the beautiful destiny of Quebec (Charest or Marois version) just to have a lot of refrigerators and a lot of beer and five good reperatory cinemas and free tickets to the Jazz Festival for everybody? (Actually that sounds attractive.) Well, I shouldn’t be so satirical: no one in English Canada has even talked about national destiny, either beau or laid, for 25 years. So you’re a few steps ahead in that regard. I just can’t see how you Quebec intellectuals could be so heartless and selfish that when we ROCanadian intellectuals come begging you for help on our own ascent of Parnassus you would leave us to die of exposure like those Japanese guys on Everest. Who else is going to ally with you, honestly? The assholes at the French Academy? The bear baiters in New York? The navel-gazing Germans? God help you, the Brits? No one cares about us Quebeckers or Canadians!

    Man, I’ve exhausted the number of question marks and exclamation marks permitted on one comment, even on this fine blog, so I’ll stop. Hopefully someone is still reading. Thank you for the chance to exchange ideas. Long live Quebec.


    April 14, 2008 at 9:57 pm

  15. Wait . . . damn . . . angryfrenchguy was politely dissociating me from “English Canada” . . . Hmm, well, pretend he wasn’t if you’re reading the first part of my post just now. I guess it was presumptuous of me to call him presumptuous. Meech Lake, anybody?


    April 14, 2008 at 11:00 pm

  16. I enjoyed the read so no hard feelings.

    But back off from the Newfies.


    April 14, 2008 at 11:21 pm

  17. Heh, thanks.

    You like our Newfoundlandish comrades? They have a certain charm, of course. But how would you feel if the gens de la Beauce (Beaucois? Beauciens?) lowered the fleur-de-lis every time they got pissed off at Quebec City? And then bragged about it?


    April 14, 2008 at 11:55 pm

  18. Let’s not talk about the past. I am not a separatiste because of the past. It is about the future.

    I am 31 years old I became a separatist in the past 5 years. I even voted no in 1995, I was one of the few cegep student to do so in my class.

    I became a separatiste when I saw the not so good state of the french language in the workplace. I was personally victim of what I consider act of hostility because I prefer to speak french.

    You talk about Ireland.. The goal is to avoid Quebec to be like Ireland. Ireland got assimilated into english exactly because it was a province of the UK. I prefer Quebec to be Sweden than Ireland.

    Separation is the only way to avoid the louisianisation of Quebec.

    quebecois separatiste

    April 15, 2008 at 12:44 am

  19. QS: A I tried to show above, I’m as against linguistic assimilation as the most fervent nationalist, I would just like the separatist parties to spell out how independence would preserve the French language without resorting to shooting all the anlgophones, jamming English-language TV, and requiring exit visas.

    I’m charitable enough to think that Marois’ two-tier citizenship idea was just an anti-ADQ ploy, and wise enough to see that simply stripping anglos of their rights wouldn’t make them disappear; and I don’t have any kind of magic answer to making French flourish as never before. I’d just like to know how the political status of Quebec bears at all on this issue. Is the idea that primary school students will be so fired with joy and pride in their independent country that they will suddenly . . . what? My idea of the intellectuals leading from the front and making the good use of language “cool” seems both much more gentle and much more effective. Independence would get everyone all fired up in the wrong direction. This is a cultural, not a political, issue.


    April 15, 2008 at 8:11 am

  20. With all due respect, you can’t compare contemporary Quebec to 17th and 18th C Ireland! Nor to Louisiana. What exactly are the odds that a non-francophone will ever be Premier of Quebec? A million to one? Whereas those other two places were essentially ruled by foreigners. On the contrary, Canada has had a PM from Quebec for all but five of the last 40 years, owing to Quebec’s being 25% of the population. In their wildest dreams, the Cajuns and Irish couldn’t have had 1/50th of that influence.


    April 15, 2008 at 8:18 am

  21. Hoo boy writes: “To seek refuge in the warm glow of collective identity is to abdicate one’s own responsibility as a son of the Enlightenment, of reason. ”

    Talk about dogmatism. What about the fact that Enlightenment philosophy is at the origin of contemporary nationalism?

    There is hardly anything more irrational than believing that individual identity is somehow to be opposed to collective identity. The most fundamental principle of logic speaks against it, as one is not the opposite of the other, as both can exist simultaneously and in fact make each other possible.

    “I fight against it in English Canada as much as I can (where it’s even more pervasive). It has to be possible to have a debate in which one is not reduced to one’s own identity. Have I made any accusations against the Québécois per se? No, only against nationalists.”

    Are you against Canadian nationalists too? Against those nationalists who, in 1867, decided to build their British nation on top of ours without asking for our opinion?

    Because they deny us, while we do not deny them. We do not deny their right to exist and continue to exist as a distinct community if they wish, while they pretext the illegitimacy of our existence, they question the purity of our intentions, as a means to avoid talking about the fundamental inequality which we are trying to fix.

    We are not against nationalism when nationalism does not deny equality to other nations. When nationalism denies the others, it is no longer nationalism, it is imperialism, as liberty denied to others is not liberty but power.

    “I see in the not remote distance one great nationality bound like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of ocean … I see within the ground of that shield the peaks of the western mountains and the crests of the eastern waves.” – Thomas D’Arcy McGee, 1860

    “Very blind are those who speak of the creation of a new nationality, strong and harmonious, on the northern bank of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, and who are unaware of or denounce the major and providential fact that this nationality is already very well formed, that it is great, and growing unceasingly; that it cannot be confined to its current limits; that it has an irresistible force of expansion; that in the future it will be more and more made up of immigrants coming from all the countries in the world, no longer only from Europe, but soon from Asia, whose overpopulation is five times more numerous [than that of Europe] and no longer has any other outfall than America; composed, says I, of all races of men, who, with their thousand religious beliefs, large mix of errors and truths, are all pushed by the Providence towards this common rendez-vous that will melt in unity and fraternity all of the human family.” — Louis-Joseph Papineau, 1867

    Hoo boy writes: “As to Lionel Groulx, I brought up his name because of the reference MGP made to Groulx’s favourable review of the Jews, and the ethnic essentialising I felt lay behind. I didn’t accuse anybody here of being Groulx reincarnated (though MGP was defending him a bit).”

    Your use of the word “essentialising” here tells me what kind of reading gave you your opinions and consequently how little you understand the issue.

    Contemporary Quebec nationalists defend Groulx because he fought for our rights as a people and laid down the foundation of scientific research in the field of history.

    Is being defended his dignity, as a human being, because he is calumniated by ignorant people, now that he is dead and cannot defend himself. A handful of interested individuals have tried to make him “the father of Quebec nationalism”, reduce his thought to sectarianism and antisemitism, and make that typical of Quebec nationalists at the time, in the hope that the naive people would jump to conclusions with regards to today’s nationalists.

    The goal is to represent today’s independence advocates as morally inferior and potentially dangerous now that secession appears possible.

    Many of us didn’t fail to notice it. The constant depiction of Quebec nationalists, sovereignists, francophones in general, or even all Quebecers, as morally inferior to Canadians, incapable of governing themselves, less progressive and liberal, responsible for Canada’s problems, is fundamentally the same process that was used to spread hatred of the Jews in 19th and 20th century Europe.

    “Calomniez, calomniez…il en restera toujours quelque chose”.

    By the way, Honoré Beaugrand, a free mason, founder of the newspaper “La Patrie”, also has a station.

    Should we also try to find anything in his writing to associate him with hatred of some others or paedophilia and consequently censor him?

    Hoo by writes: “There are not a lot of great nations. It is not an easy thing to become a great nation. The Romans were great. The French have often been great. The Jews are great. The Turks have certainly had their moments. The Assyrians kicked some serious ass.”

    I do not value what you call “greatness” here. I do not believe in competition between nations as something that cannot be fixed.

    The Enlightenment has set for humanity the goal to end oppression of man by itself. That is all I am concerned with.

    But if I am wrong and imperialism is a fact and will always exist, then I propose to make the imperialism system democratic:

    I propose that the nation which is going to domineer others be taken at random among the members of the United Nations every 5 years. That each randomly selected nation be taken out of the lot one by one until all nations have ruled others in turn. Then, the process should be restarted all over again, until the the end of times.

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    April 15, 2008 at 10:52 am

  22. I’m not only a little bit offended by this often repeated idea that the Québécois would never elect a Anglo Prime Minister of Québec or mayor of Montreal.

    Do you have any idea how popular Jack Layton is in Québec? If it wasn’t for the national unity debate, he would have scooped up Québec long ago.

    Remeber Outremont? It took two Anglos, Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair to pry the reddest Francophone ridding in the land from the Liberals.

    Who did the Québec Liberal Federal Caucus think was the best leader to win in Québec? Paul Martin and Micheal Ignatieff. Two Anglos.

    Because they though only a Francophone could win in Québec, the rest of the party chose Stéphane Dion. Today the Federal Liberal Party has all but disapeared from French Québec.

    And the last two leaders to beat the PQ and the BQ in the heartland were also Anglos: Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper.

    If Anglo federalists can win in Roberval and the Saguenay, I see no reason the people of Québec wouldn’t support a sovereignist party lead by an Anglophone, would oe ever be elected as leader.

    The idea that the Québécois only vote for francophones is another symptom of the widespread stereotype of Francophones as an illiterate ethnic tribe. It is also false.


    April 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm

  23. Hello AFG

    I haven’t checked your site for a while but I’m delighted to see that you are still blogging despite the recent fatwah from some rather narrow minded ethnonationalists.

    I tuned in late on your current gem but I’ find that you still don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

    The Gazette’s little article is 100% fact, contrary to your bizarre assertion that it is a “total fabrication”. But when I read more closely I see that you have made up your own interpretation of the article and then declared your spin to be a fabrication. How convenient. But there are no “mean bureaucrats” mentioned in the article. And Audrey’s father is quite accepting. The article is nothing more than a personal story about a young francophone girl who would like to have the freedom of choice to stay in an english sector private school. It isn’t about wealthy anglophone parents trying to “cheat” the system. But you seem to have found it difficult to pass up an opportunity to sneer at a francophone family who are able to afford a private school education for their children. I’ll bet they don’t drive a Volkswagen, AFG.

    The Gazette article is just one more example of why Camille Laurin was so determined to deny francophone parents the right to choose english language schools – if you give those poor oppressed folks freedom of choice, they might be tempted to exercise it. That , dear AFG, is what the article is really about. Damn Traitors !! Damn RICH Traitors !! Sellouts !! Sure, its ok for the damn anglos to have that choice, but not our “people”. Instead, the francophone political elite will continue to decide what is best for their people. And families like Audrey’s will continue to seek the education which they believe is best for their children.

    But I wouldn’t worry about young Audrey. Like Camille Laurin, the AFG and many other members of the francophone chattering class she will likely get a substantial benefit from her english language education. Unlike those poor unilingual folks in Herouxville, or wherever in the regions.

    Do as I say, not as I do – just like always, eh AFG ?

    Here’s some free advice (i.e. its worth nothing) – If you really want to improve the lot of your fellow travellers stop wasting your time blogging about wealthy francophones trying to thwart the will of the people. Get an idea, borrow some money, start a business and employ unilingual francophones. If you can think of a really good idea you can employ hundreds of people. That is how to make a difference. Hey, even Mme Marois thinks that creating wealth is a good idea. Isn’t that the seal of approval ? Get rich AFG and then you can send your 1.8 children to College Jean Brebeuf and still have money left over for a used Volkswagen. But too many nationalists would rather talk, and write and talk and talk… (present company excepted, of course)

    On the other hand, if you don’t like my advice then please – Keep on Ranting in the Free World. I look forward to your next pensee.


    April 15, 2008 at 6:55 pm

  24. I’m against public funding of private schools period.

    Wealthy Francophones who send their children to exclusive English schools AND want the rest of us to help foot the bill, make me angry.

    Lil’ Audrey is in the sixth grade. The article says she’s been at the school since the third grade. That takes us back to 2005. Bill 104 was law and her parents knew she wouldn’t be able to go to the High School.

    The article is a total misrepresentation of the school, of bill 104 and of the decisions her parents took.

    I never put a foot in an English school in my life. I still learned English.

    My grandmother said I would never amount to nothing because I went to public school instead of Brébeuf. So far she’s right…


    April 15, 2008 at 8:43 pm

  25. Angryfrenchguy — You’re back to the schools, appropriately enough given the post, and since I really agree with you about all that stuff I won’t get in the way. And obviously trying to argue with MGP is a waste of breath. He’s not trying to convince me of anything. His hate is eternal and will end in the grave.

    Re: anglos in Quebec politics, I think you misread what I said. I said there would never be an anglo as Premier of Quebec, or at least not ’til hell freezes over. I’m not bitter or anything, that’s quite natural. Doesn’t preclude anglos having good success in subordinate roles, obviously. Nor did I say that the Canadian PM had been from Quebec solely because the LPC or Tories wanted to curry favour with the Québécois. In Dion’s case, conceivably that’s the case; but I think it was more a compromise candidate situation. Nobody, I think, was under the impression that Dion is worshipped as a living god in Quebec. And Trudeau, Mulroney, and Chretien won because they were sufficiently charismatic and ruthless. Whereas there hasn’t been an effective/popular PM from Ontario since before my parents were born (King).

    Anyway, the point is that Quebec’s interests have not exactly been off the radar screen in Canadian politics, unless you define “Quebec’s interests” in purely existential terms.

    I should leave you to debate the issues of the day . . . Farewell, angryfrenchguy & ilk! May the force, if not force majeur, be with you.


    April 15, 2008 at 11:23 pm

  26. hoo-boy: “His hate is eternal and will end in the grave.”

    Yes, of course. A most logical statement after all I wrote:

    Hate is not eternal. Gandhi wrote that Love must be true for we humans still exist in spite of all this hatred.

    To seek greater liberty for all, to seek it in equality has nothing to do with hate. Rather the opposite.

    Like John Stuart Mill wrote regarding those who won over the Patriotes and built Canada on a fundamental injustice:

    “What was the feeling they [the MPs who voted against the 10 Resolutions of John Russell] expressed? That they would learn with less regret, the defeat of the British troops in this war, than their success. Will their assailant be pleased to remember, that according to their view of the matter it is an unjust war? At what time since Christianity existed has it been held, that success in injustice was a lot which patriots ought to desire for their country? That to prosper in evil courses was not a far worse evil than to fail in them—was not the strongest mark of divine displeasure,—permitted only that the example of the subsequent chastisement and humiliation might be more memorable? Lord John Russell would bring us back to heathenism. That love of country, which would rather see the success of our country than that of the right, is an essentially Pagan sentiment, and even as such, repudiated by all the great philosophers and moralists of the Pagan world.”

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    April 16, 2008 at 3:07 am

  27. AFG, you say you favour a unified school system with most of the day in French and an increased % of the day in English (at least compared to what the francophone system currently offers). Yet you say this is not achievable at the moment and you fear attempting this would pit Francos vs. everyone else… And that we have to give Bill 101 a chance and more time to do its work.

    My first reaction was to think back to when Bill 101 was passed… I was a schoolboy at the time, in an Ottawa Franco-Ontarian school not too far from the neighbourhood hoo boy described in one of his posts. I am now pushing 40, with kids of my own, living in Quebec for some years, and I ask: how long is going to be a long enough wait for the fruits of Bill 101 to be harvested?

    Quebec had been facing a “Francos vs. everyone else” situation when Bill 101 was adopted, and there’s apparently still that same fear today, more than 30 years later? When is it going to end and is there really going to be a light at the end of the tunnel at some point? Or are we still going to be discussing this here when my kids are all grown up and my age, three decades from now?

    I sometimes wonder if we haven’t reached the absolute maximum effectiveness of legislation such as Bill 101. And yet the results seem so hit-and-miss. We are now in 2008 and the Quebec government (not the federal government, the officially unilingual French Gouvernement du Québec) still communicates with three quarters of all immigrants in English; francophones still complain of being served only in English in shops and businesses (I myself have noticed an upsurge in this in the past year or so, and I don’t live in Westmount or Aylmer, but rather in an area that is more than 90% French-speaking!); immigrants who speak only French earn way less money than those who speak only English, and have much higher jobless rates; French as a language of work is still problematic; etc…

    After seeing Quebec dragged through the mud and compared (with a straight face) to the most despicable characters of the 20th century pretty constantly since 1977 for its language legislation, I think it’s time to take stock and say, we went through all of this… to end up here today? Or as French film-maker Claude Le Louch would say: Tout ça… pour ça?


    April 16, 2008 at 9:45 am

  28. A minor comment on Acajack’s interesting post: or rather a question. Have the details of all this been studied, by linguists or sociologists or psychologists or what have you? I mean, I’m sure they have, but what is the consensus opinio on what motivates a store clerk in, say, St. Henry to ask a customer “May I help you?” instead of “Puis-je vous aider?” This seems to be a sort of index of assimilation, so it would be nice to unravel it a bit.

    There is not exactly a big physiological difference between myself and my Norman/Breton/Vendée francophone comrades, but somehow shopkeepers always seemed (back in the late 90’s) to nail me as an anglophone until I shocked them with my elegant, perfectly turned phrases in French. (They were shocked, anyway.) Now I wonder if they were not just weighing me up subconsciously and deciding that there was a strong chance I might conceivably be a helpless anglophone who would panic and run away without purchasing anything if they used “Puis-je vous aider?” and were simply playing the odds. (Seems like the odds of offending a MGP would also factor in, though . . .)

    Perhaps, therefore, if shopkeepers felt confident that anglophones *did* at least know enough French to inquire about their wares and take out their wallets they would stop switching? Which would mean trying to get the anglophones in Quebec to learn French.

    What about a really easily accessible, totally free Learn French Centre in every anglo neighbourhood, geared especially to non-French-speaking anglos and allophones? Or maybe they exist already? I mean the kind of place where there are always three conversation classes going (of different levels), a warm fire, a 1:4 instructor:student ratio, a place to meet new people, etc. etc. The beer/wine would be cheap, but there would be a strict no-English immersion policy once you stepped inside. You could even have amateur productions of Phèdre or Le Cid once a year at each place. And you could market it in some positive, upbeat, non-threatening way.

    Of course it would cost a hell of a lot, and some would say anglos should just pick up Larousse and have at it by themselves. But that ain’t gonna happen. I bet the Federal government would chip in (though it would be VERY hard to explain to the ROC why they didn’t get nice language centres too . . .). And my brief experience of Language Learning in Montreal (I tried to get a job teaching ESL at one point) left me convinced that the usual “Voilà mon chien. Il est faché. Mon chien est faché” pedagogy was unbearable for most sane people.

    Wouldn’t that be a nice plank for some party in the next Quebec election?


    April 16, 2008 at 12:22 pm

  29. Hoo boy:

    I’d say there probably isn’t a single aspect of language use/planning/”aménagement” that hasn’t been the focus of at least one study in Quebec at some point.

    Regarding the language centres you alluded to, they actually do exist (for immigrants at least) and they are known as COFIs (Centre d’orientation et de formation des immigrants), where among other things free French classes are offered (though there are sometimes waiting lists apparently). I believe the Liberals scaled these back when they took power in 2003 but recently pledged to reinvest in them in light of the “rebirth” of the language issue.

    And finally, one point about poor little Audrey-Laurence, whose ears must be ringing non-stop. Here is who her daddy is:

    I’ll leave it up to others to comment on whether he likely has enough cash to send his daughter to private school.


    April 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm

  30. The fact that they were scaling back these COFIs does not bode well for the massive investment my brilliant idea calls for.

    Seriously, though, could you invent a more depressing name than Centre d’orientation et de formation des immigrants? It sounds like a food supplement. What about “Centres Champlain” or something sexy? Something that doesn’t scream “underfunded, plastic-chair-strewn concrete bunker smelling of disinfectant”? And I bet they don’t have cheap beer and wine, or firesides. Where do I apply?

    I don’t see why the daughter of a neurosurgeon has to go to school at all. In “The Matrix” they just upload knowledge instantaneously. But I guess that would make my “Centre Champlain” idea moot . . .


    April 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm

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