AngryFrenchGuy

Howard Galganov Has a Legitimate Case.

with 91 comments

Howard Galganov has a legitimate case.

The self-proclaimed language rights activist has embarked on a campaign against the Ontario township of Russell’s bylaw that requires all businesses in the area to have bilingual signs in both French and English.

The rule was adopted after a series of incidents where Francophones of the township complained that local businesses, notably the governmentally-operated Beer Store, had english-only signs. Russell township is about equally French and English.

Mr. Galganov’s problem with the legislation is that, according to him, it limits his freedom of expression, a freedom protected by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights.

Not only does it deny him the right to put up signs in English only, he rightly points out that it denies area francophones the right to put up signs only in French, should they choose to do so.

The idea that commercial signs are a form of personal expression and therefore a protected form of speech is controversial, but it has nevertheless been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada during the various challenges to Québec’s sign law.

Howard Galganov has a perfectly legitimate case.

It’s not a very strong one, though. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that commercial signs are a protected form of speech, but it also said that they could be regulated. Québec’s amended sign law, for example, which allows English and other languages on signs as long as French is predominant, is perfectly constitutional.

It’s hard to see how mandatory bilingual signs would not be. As Ontario’s French-language services commissioner said: “As a constitutionalist, I am really curious to see what their arguments will be.”

We will all find out when he pleads his case in the courts. Mr. Galganov and his supporters will present their arguments and explain in what way their rights are being violated. The defenders of the bylaw, starting with township mayor Ken Hill, will explain why the law does not unfairly limit anybody’s rights. An impartial judge will decide.

Democracy. Rule of law. Justice. The system at it’s best.

Howard Galganov has a legitimate case. Unfortunately, that is not the case he is fighting.

Using the Russel township bylaw as a pretext, Howard Galganov is waging war against democracy and a group of individuals singled out because of their language: francophones.

Howard Galganov is not a resident of Russel township. He only rented a storefront there and became a member of the chamber of commerce on June 18th, several days after announcing he would challenge the bylaw in court and months after he started his campaign against it.

Howard Galganov does not believe the people of the township have the right to decide for themselves what laws meet their own community standards. Nor is he merely supporting local opponents of the law. He is forcing himself and his ideas into someone else’s family affair.

That, however, is a minor detail compared to the much darker side of his crusade.

Apart from the legal challenge to the bylaw, Howard Galganov is financing a vast public opinion campaign, which is is a perfectly legitimate thing to do.

As part of this campaign, Mr. Galganov is calling for a boycott of all French-owned businesses in the area.

Now, by all accounts, the bylaw is controversial in all parts of the township, including within the French-speaking community. The bylaw’s champion is mayor Ken Hill, an anglophone. The law was voted by the democratically elected representatives of the township, both French and English.

Yet, Howard Galganov asks his supporters to punish only the French-speaking business owners. Only those who speak French, regardless of the fact that they could individually be supporters or opponents of the bylaw. Regardless of the fact that they could be members of the chamber of commerce that opposes the bylaw.

Howard Galganov asks his supporters to ignore the actual language of the signs, to look only at the surname on it. According to him Raynald Godin of Godin’s Hardware should be punished for being a Godin, even is his sign is in English, French, Tagalog or any combination thereof.

A boycott of Russell township francophones in protest of a municipal bylaw is the same thing as boycotting Anglo-owned businesses in Montreal to protest the decline of French in Montreal regardless of how these individual businesses treat their francophone patrons. It is the same thing as boycotting all Jewish-owned businesses to protest Israël’s occupation of the west bank, regardless of these individual business-owners’ opinion, if any, on Middle-Eastern geopolitics.

This singling out of one group for blame, ostracizing and punishment
only the basis of their ethnic, linguistic or racial origin is
something very sinister that has a variety of names. Names Mr.
Galganov is very familiar with as he is very fond of claiming he is the
victim of such logic and activity.

Howard Galganov was contacted in the course of writing this post. His response was: “I usually never turn down interviews (French or English), but your articles have been unfair, dishonest and insulting. Therefore the answer is no.”

Since I did offer him an opportunity do defend his position, he can’t call me unfair or dishonest anymore. As for insulting, he’ll have to get used to that.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

June 19, 2008 at 2:51 pm

91 Responses

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  1. The Beer store is private company

    The Beer Store is owned by three Ontario brewers: Labatt, Molson and Sleeman. While the company is private, the nature of the industry means that laws and regulations impact our business. As a result, The Beer Store management maintains a close working relationship with the Government of Ontario through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), and the Ministry of Government Services.

    http://www.thebeerstore.ca/AboutUs/tbs_history.asp

  2. A town or city does not have the right to legislate language laws. The reverse situation would be if the town of Dollard, Quebec, passed a law stating all business signs must be in Italian only, no other languages permitted.

    A town can pass this law however if challenged the town would lose.

    Not so angry-English-guy

    June 24, 2008 at 3:19 pm

  3. Ok, I agree that the boycott of French owned stores is a bad and clumsy idea. Nonetheless, unlike Gilles Rhéaume is pretending, it’s no hate crime. It’s just free speech at its best. But maybe Galganov should come clean and apologize, everyone is entitled to making mistakes and if we’re not in that, we’re not in a free society which is indeed my biggest fear and concern.

    Far from idea to try to justify the call for a boycott nonetheless, I do think that francos of Russell are more in favor of this bylaw than their English counterparts. And in all honnesty, they are the ones who asked for it.

    However, this type of law is no equality in the sense that freedom should allow anyone the EQUAL opportunity to be an equal citizen whatsoever.

    In your editorial, you try to deviate the debate of the language issue on the very minor detail of the boycott both which are in themselves two separate issues.

    Ok, Galganov is guilty on the boycott. Period, next call please.

    Now, let’s focus our minds on the bylaw itself shall we? Does it restrict freedom of choice, freedom of expression? Yes. Does it violate private property? Yes.

    The other funny thing is that francos that approve this bylaw are restricting their OWN FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION (play of letters to intensify the focus on the important issue here) since they won’t be able to advertize in French only as they should be entitled to do so in a free society.

    In a free society, the choice of language for business or else should all be up to the owner of the store. Let some Italians or Japeneses advirtize ONLY in their native language and let them even speak to customers in their own languages only. The free market should take care of itself by itself. Usually, the market rarely forget the sinners who don’t LISTEN to what their clientèle wants.

    This bylaw puts all people equal by FORCING them to use MANDATORY bilinguism (English and French). However, FORCED equality always means lesser freedoms and to me, it’s the freedoms that matter the most not some capricious statist politicians, lawyers and zealot elitists who get to tell us how to behave, what to say and what to do and I tend to agree with people who value more freedom than some kind of communist forced equality.

    Free men are not equal and equal men are not free.

    Tym Machine

    June 24, 2008 at 3:49 pm

  4. @Not so angry English guy,

    Wow, I always thought somehow that the Beer stores were a public company owned by the government of Ontario and that it was just another branch in the tree of the LCBO, man we get to learn stuff everyday.

    Anyhow, why don’t they “democratize” beer and let it be sold in convenience stores throughout Ontario. Isn’t the mentality that somehow government should restrict alcohol selling places a little old fashion conservatism on the edges?

    And lots of those beer stores could use designers services for hell sakes. Man, you feel like some cheap junky trying to go buy his fix when you go in there as if alcohol was just for the welfare people and hobos on the streets.

    Best regards,

    Tym Machine

    Tym Machine

    June 24, 2008 at 3:55 pm

  5. “Off the top of my head, I can think of close to 10 countries where you have different education systems for minority populations. I am sure there are many more. The proportion of these minority groups might be different from 8%, but I do have a a quibbles with the 8% figure:
    (…)
    – I am pretty sure the 8% only includes Anglophones, but there are others who speak predominantly English (or would want to learn it)and would use the English school system.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but this segment seems predicated on the fact that somehow all of this is because of English’s “inherent beauty” or “goodness”, or the fact that Mordecai Richler was sexier than Gabrielle Roy, or Leonard Cohen more appealing than Gilles Vigneault. In fact, the main reason English held such an allure in Quebec (and although this has diminished somewhat, there are still lingering elements of this present today) is because of the economic, political and social power structure that was put in place to favour it. This all happened by design, not by osmosis.

    The same applies to any “adopted” language. Do you think that the millions of people who use French today in many African countries do so because they love(d) Sarkozy, De Gaulle and Mitterand? Or even Charles Aznavour? To be brutally honest, for the most part they actually hate the French people’s guts. But they use French because that’s how the colonial power structure was set up in their country by France, and that it would be a complex, huge undertaking to switch over now (especially for countries that don’t have many financial and other resources to begin with).

    “I don’t think the current figure is as important as the figure when the English school system was being set up.”

    True, but once again that didn’t happen by osmosis, but by design. The British colonial authorities did make a half-hearted attempt at swamping the French Catholic population with settlers from the British Isles, but ultimately this did not prove successful, although thanks to these efforts the “anglo” population of Quebec did at one time reach somewhere close to 25% (around 1850), though it has declined in % ever since.

    The minority school guarantees, contained in the British North America Act of 1867 that people will be celebrating in less than a week, were initially intended for English-speaking Protestants – since all English speakers were wrongly perceived to be Protestants. Or perhaps all “meritorious” English-speakers were thought to be Protestants. In any event, these schools quickly became the schools for pretty much anyone “non-French Canadian”.

    Today, these English-speaking Protestants whose education rights were protected by the BNA Act are perhaps only three percent of Quebec’s population. In fact, if you look at the make-up of Montreal’s English-language school board, most of the people who sit as commissioners are either of Italian or Jewish origin:
    http://www.emsb.qc.ca/en/governance_en/pages/commissioners.asp

    Outside Montreal, the majority of the pupil clientele in English-language schools is now made up of French-Canadian kids whose parents took advantage of a loophole in the law because they themselves went to school in English at some point.

    So the continued vitality of English and our English-language institutions probably has much more to do with the lingering effects of a 150-year-old power structure in Quebec and, to some degree, the continental and global reach of English, than with the descendants of James McGill and Alexander Galt, most of whom have been living in Ontario, the other ROC provinces, or the United States for several generations now.

    Acajack

    June 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

  6. Way to choke there people!

    All I asked for St.Jean is a quick of-the-top-of your head list of countries who have a minority school system available to all children in the entire territory of the said country. Something the Canadian media has spent the entire second half of the century telling us was the norm while Québec’s more restricted system was a unique aberration in the Western hemisphere.

    Not one person could come up with a couple of names. No one.

    As we say in Français: Cassé!

    angryfrenchguy

    June 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm

  7. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but this segment seems predicated on the fact that somehow all of this is because of English’s “inherent beauty” or “goodness”…”

    Yes, I’ll correct you. It just has to do with the current dominance of the English language globally, nothing else. I personally find French a more beautiful language than English, but that is neither here nor there.

    “In fact, the main reason English held such an allure in Quebec (and although this has diminished somewhat, there are still lingering elements of this present today) is because of the economic, political and social power structure that was put in place to favour it.”

    I would disagree with this. This statement would then suggest that in places that were not colinized by Great Britain, English would not be as alluring. But if you have ever travelled to Sweden, you know that most everybody (below a certain age perhaps) not only speaks English, but speaks it fluently. And English is very popular in many other countries. I think Angry mentioned that China produces 20 million English speakers a year.

    “This all happened by design, not by osmosis.”
    “True, but once again that didn’t happen by osmosis, but by design.”

    Obviously both France and Great Britain and both Francophones and Anglohones had all kinds of plans and designs throughout the history of Quebec, some of which worked out, some of which did not and some of which probably had totally unintended consequences. And I do think that history is a very important subject, but we are here today and are the result of all kinds of designs, manipulations and (mis)management. The question is what we do now and what I am trying to find out from you and Angry is what you are proposing with the English-language school system?

    “Today, these English-speaking Protestants whose education rights were protected by the BNA Act are perhaps only three percent of Quebec’s population. In fact, if you look at the make-up of Montreal’s English-language school board, most of the people who sit as commissioners are either of Italian or Jewish origin”

    I realize I am again going back to talking about the past, but it seems this separate system was even more important to allophones, many of whom were not allowed to attend the French Catholic system until the 1960’s. And also, in my mind, there is no difference between a “true” Anglo and a “non-James McGill descendant” who speaks English. Why would they not have the same rights as any other citizen of Quebec?

    Anonymous

    June 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm

  8. Indeed. There are a few examples out there, but they are very rare. In multilingual states like Switzerland, generally language rights are territorial and thus non-transportable. Most Swiss cantons have decent-sized minorities that speak a Swiss language that is predominant in another area of the country. These minorities are usually a % of population that is comparable to that of Anglo-Quebecers or Franco-Ontarians. Yet no public schooling is offered to them in their language, and as I mentioned in another thread, even private schools in minority languages can be legally restricted.

    People who allude to “lots of countries” having such parallel public education systems similar to ours usually mistake “heritage language” programs that exist in many places as a half-baked attempt to keep an often dying minority language alive… but not too much, since the rest of the education curriculum is always in the main, official language.

    Canada is fairly unique in that it has significant numbers of students studying most of their subjects in a language that is not that of the larger community in which they live (e.g. learning science in French in Calgary). The presumption (at least with French outside Quebec anyway) is that the kids will no doubt learn good English on the streets and elsewhere, and my personal experience has been that 18-year-old kids who have gone to school in French from K to 12 outside Quebec are generally way better in English than in French, in spite of all those years of schooling! Whatever the reason, things have historically been a bit different in Quebec, and for many years the English language school system in Quebec seemed to think its main job was to prepare young people for their new lives in Brampton, Calgary or Evanston, Illinois. Thankfully, things have improved somewhat and Quebec’s English schools are now producing graduates that at least functional in French, if not as good as FHQs (francophones from outside Quebec) are in English.

    Acajack

    June 25, 2008 at 1:42 pm

  9. Personally, I am not really an advocate of changing anything much in the English school system in Quebec. Ideally, I would put in place a single unified school system for everyone where about 80 or 85% of the day would be in French and the rest of the day in English. However, I am realistic enough to realize that this would be impossible under the current Canadian constitutional framework where minority language education is protected. Especially since these rights for francophones outside Quebec are politically and even emotionally linked to those of anglophones in Quebec. Although I think the anglo community in Quebec could survive having its kids spending 85% of their school day in French, outside Quebec even the current wall-to-wall French set-up with English taught only as a second-language doesn’t appear to be sufficient to allow a lot of the communities to survive. So that’s why I won’t push this idea any further.

    The 85-15 arrangement could be pulled off in an independent Quebec of course, but since I’m not in favour of that political option… there goes that idea.

    On the whole I think the current set-up is reasonably OK, although I think teaching of French as a second language to kids who are expected to live their adult working lives in Quebec could be stepped up a notch even further.

    Regarding the history, my points weren’t to label the presence of the anglo system as being necessarily illegitimate, but rather to dispel any easy associations people might make as to why it’s there and why so many non-anglophones went into it. Your point is well taken as well about the fact that the French Catholic system was not really open to non-francophones until later on in the 20th century. This was a serious strategic mistake made by the francophone elites, although I’m not sure that being more open-minded would have resulted in a flood of immigrant children into French-language schools, especially given the “air du temps” in 30s, 40s and 50s Quebec.

    Acajack

    June 25, 2008 at 2:07 pm

  10. “And also, in my mind, there is no difference between a “true” Anglo and a “non-James McGill descendant” who speaks English.”

    Of course there isn’t a difference, I agree. My point wasn’t to suggest that there is, but rather that I find it interesting how there is a demographic disconnect between the grandfathered rights to publicly-funded English schooling in Quebec and who they were intended for, and who is actually populating those schools today.

    “Why would they not have the same rights as any other citizen of Quebec?”

    Actually, they have even more rights than the vast majority of the citizens of Quebec (including me), since they can choose between two publicly-funded school systems in two different languages, whereas I can only choose one!

    Acajack

    June 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm

  11. “I would disagree with this. This statement would then suggest that in places that were not colinized by Great Britain, English would not be as alluring. But if you have ever travelled to Sweden, you know that most everybody (below a certain age perhaps) not only speaks English, but speaks it fluently.”

    Yes, I have been to Sweden and have noticed how impressive the average person’s command of English is there. The difference between Sweden and Quebec is that, although even immigrants to Sweden tend to eventually become bilingual in Swedish and English, no one (native-born or immigrant) really attempts to live there permanently by learning only English and snubbing Swedish, and then go about their daily lives expecting every Bjorn their run into to speak to them in their second language (English).

    Acajack

    June 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm

  12. All right, I’ll bite. Some countries with minority language educations that are not “heritage languages”:
    -Russian language in the 3 Baltic states
    -Hungarian language education in Romania, Serbia and Slovakia
    -Albanian-language education in Macedonia
    -There is also Swedish language education in Finland
    -Spanish-language education in Catalonia

    I believe that for the first seven, this goes up to university; not sure about Finland, they might have Swedish-language sections in Finnish-language universities. Not sure about the others.

    Anonymous

    June 25, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  13. These are pretty much the examples I thought would come up.

    I believe that in the three Baltic countries Russian-language schools do exist but they appear to be slated (threatened?) for a phasing out eventually. At least that’s the case in Latvia, where the Russian-speaking minority is the largest (between 35 and 40% of the total population) and the language issue is hottest.

    Hungarian schools exist in the countries mentioned, as do Albanian schools in Macedonia. I guess one would have to go on the ground to see exactly what the situation is with respect to access (apparently only 25% of ethnic Albanians have access to the schools they are legally entitled to in Macedonia) and funding.

    Catalonia has a unified school system not unlike that which some people are proposing for Quebec. Most of the day is in Catalan and a significant portion of the day is in Castilian (what we know as Spanish). The party line is that separating school kids by language would be akin to “discrimination”.

    Finland is probably the closest situation to ours. Where numbers warrant, Swedish schooling is a right, with the result being that it’s usually offered in most areas of the country. Most kids are of course in the Finnish system, with some Finnish kids in the Swedish system (and vice versa) in order to learn the other language. Not sure about the issue of immigration and where those kids go. Historically, Swedish and Swedish speakers did effectively dominate Finnish society (as did the Russians as well for a period) in a situation that would not be that unfamiliar to us, but none of this has really been a major issue since Finland became independent in 1919.

    Apparently there are two Swedish-language universities in Finland and a few other universities are bilingual.

    Acajack

    June 25, 2008 at 3:27 pm

  14. -60% of classes must be in Estonian in Estonian-Russian schools by 2011

    -60/40 scheme for Latvian-Russian primary schools. Latvian-only in high school.

    -You can’t even get Lithuanian citizenship if you don’t speak Lithuanian.

    -Segregation of students on the basis of language into separate catalan or spanish schools is forbidden in Cataluya. Both languages must be mastered to graduate from primary school.

    Oh well, at least you tried.

    angryfrenchguy

    June 25, 2008 at 3:29 pm

  15. “Oh well, at least you tried.”

    OK, so I could not come up with 10 countries without doing any research whatsoever (although citizenship and education are not the same thing – you could speak Lithuanian and go to a Russian school, no?). I am sure if we looked into it a little deeper, there might be a few more. There are also French-language schools in the Maghreb and West Africa, I am just not sure how accessible they are. South Africa and Namibia might have Afrikaans-language schools (and even German-language for Namibia). If I have time, I might look into it, but if anyone knows of examples, just list them…

    But, Angry, you still have not written down what your issue is with a separate English-language school system in Quebec (and I apologize if you have written about this before, but I only started reading your blog very recently).

    Anonymous

    June 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm

  16. “Ideally, I would put in place a single unified school system for everyone where about 80 or 85% of the day would be in French and the rest of the day in English.”

    I think bilingual education would be great. I was encouraged when Pauline Marois put that idea forward. Too bad it never got any traction.

    “The difference between Sweden and Quebec is that, although even immigrants to Sweden tend to eventually become bilingual in Swedish and English, no one (native-born or immigrant) really attempts to live there permanently by learning only English and snubbing Swedish, and then go about their daily lives expecting every Bjorn their run into to speak to them in their second language (English).”

    The number of people who expect everyone in Quebec to speak English to them is not that high. Does it exist? Yes. Is it much more than a fraction of the non-francophone population? I doubt it. But a quick question: a Native from Kahnawake going over to Chateauguay and going into a store, what language should he be expected to speak and should he be expected to be spoken to in his mother tongue?

    “Actually, they have even more rights than the vast majority of the citizens of Quebec (including me), since they can choose between two publicly-funded school systems in two different languages, whereas I can only choose one!”

    I made this point in an above post. I really think that Loi 101 has the greatest (and I would say negative) effect on Francophones. There is a reason that English language CEGEPS are doing a lot better (in terms of enrollment) than high schools. I also read a story about people along the US border who actually send their children to school in the US (at least they did until the press picked it up and made a fuss about the legality of this). I think this is a great disservice to Francophones who want to learn English.

    Anonymous

    June 25, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  17. Since you guys seem well-informed about school systems around the world, I’m curious, how many countries had a minority language school system for over a century, then abolished it?

    I’m sure there are several, some have been mentioned already. What were the circumstances? Are there any examples that occured in countries that weren’t newly independant?

    RoryBellows

    June 25, 2008 at 9:22 pm

  18. “I think this is a great disservice to Francophones who want to learn English.”

    You know, believe it or not, there are other ways to learn English than a segregated parallel school system administered by the English-speaking minority itself.

    I’ve never been in an English school. Neither have many of the other Francos on this forum. Neither have most of the people able to speak English in the world today.

    Yes the French schools in Québec could do a better job, especially for those who live in the regions and who are not exposed to English like Montrealers.

    I’m not a huge fan of Pauline Marois, but her suggestion of introducing some immersion by teaching other subjects in English is in total synch with the latest thinking in English as a second language (ESL) teaching. You can say what you want of the direction she’s taking the PQ in, but education-wise, this lady knows her stuff.

    Ultimately, I think a unified system, with an 85/15 French/English ratio like Acajack suggested (JF Lysée, a leading PQ strategist and backroom player, is suggesting 75/25) is what we should we trying to put together. Perhaps with different ratios for Montreal (where the challenge is protecting French and integrating immigrants) and regions (where French is safe and exposure to English inexistant).

    A segregated system with two societies living in parallel institutions like the one we have in Québec today is, in my opinion, morally wrong and a recipe for permanent conflict.

    In the wake of the Quiet revolution Francophones abandoned their religion and most of their cultural reference points to create a modern secular society.

    The dream of the Quiet Revolution was that Old-stock Francophones would shed religion and any relic of ethnic identity to create a new diverse multicultural society. The only thing that was conserved of that old identity was the French language.

    French-Canadians came a very long way and sacrificed a lot to create this new identity. The only thing they asked for was that French, already the language of over 85% of the population, be respected and protected as this new Québécois identity’s language.

    Not as everyone’s home, family or social language, but as the common language.

    It is frankly dishonest, not to say hateful, to suggest that the vast majority of Francophones have done anything but favor the emergence of a new diverse Québec identity.

    That was the goal of bill 101. That is why the Parti québécois mandated in 1977 that all the people of Québec, regardless of their origin, would from then on share a single, common and secular education system.

    That is everyone except for those among Anglos who fought and continue fighting for a segregated school system. Google bill 104. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

    English is not in any way endangered in Montreal or Québec. Francophones, although they have decided to protect their culture and language, need and want to learn some English. These goals can be achieved in a system that unites rather than one that divides.

    angryfrenchguy

    June 25, 2008 at 10:10 pm

  19. I fail to see how abolishing the english school system will either aid in the promotion of french, or lessen linguistic tension. It seems to me that, at least in the short term, the opposites would be true.

    Picture it, some french speaking kids suddenly start attending predominantly english speaking schools, where english is still the language of the playground. Some english kids and take their language to the playgrounds of predominantly french speaking schools. English teachers are fired en masse and replaced with underqulified people who are rushed in to fill the gaps.

    What would be the benefit to the Quebecois population? Why voluntarily relinquish the one area of Quebec society where french isn’t believed to be threatened?

    And I have never met a single anglo who has or is currently fighting for a segregated school system. Not a single one.

    RoryBellows

    June 25, 2008 at 10:44 pm

  20. “Picture it, some french speaking kids suddenly start attending predominantly english speaking schools, where english is still the language of the playground.”

    You just described my High School.

    Did every kid at my school become a Devoir-reading, PQ-voting, Loco Locass-fan clubbing Québéco-québécois? Not quite.

    But every one learned French. Everyone learned French through the same curriculum than a kid from Saint-Jean-de-Matha. He had the same history program and the same biology program.

    That is what school is about. It’s not about everyone being the same or making everyone the same. It’s about bringing all elements of society together for a season of their lives around some common ideas and values.

    If you don’t like those values you don’t get to opt out. You get to fight to change your society.

    “Some english kids and take their language to the playgrounds of predominantly french speaking schools.”

    And Québec society spontaneously collapses, exposed to English, the French language’s cryptonite?

    Why would it be a bad thing for a kid in Hochelaga to meet a real live Anglo?

    “English teachers are fired en masse and replaced with underqulified people who are rushed in to fill the gaps.”

    Actually, in a unified system where the place of English as a second language is expanded, job opportunities for Anglo teachers just increased dramatically.

    “Why voluntarily relinquish the one area of Quebec society where french isn’t believed to be threatened?”

    We didn’t put the Indians in reservations to protect them or their culture. We put them there so they would go away and die. We almost succeeded

    French culture in North America will live or die in Montreal. If the French school system is turned into a cultural reservation, the culture will die.

    “And I have never met a single anglo who has or is currently fighting for a segregated school system. Not a single one.”

    The system is segregated. Anyone who is not trying to unify it is supporting segregation.

    angryfrenchguy

    June 26, 2008 at 12:24 am

  21. “You just described my High School.

    Did every kid at my school become a Devoir-reading, PQ-voting, Loco Locass-fan clubbing Québéco-québécois? Not quite.

    But every one learned French. Everyone learned French through the same curriculum than a kid from Saint-Jean-de-Matha. He had the same history program and the same biology program.

    That is what school is about. It’s not about everyone being the same or making everyone the same. It’s about bringing all elements of society together for a season of their lives around some common ideas and values”

    Are there really vast differences between the biology programs in english and french schools, other than the language it is taught in? Every kid in an english school learns french too. The quality and quantity of french instruction could probably be better, but ultimately whether those students retain and use the skills they learned is up to them.

    “If you don’t like those values you don’t get to opt out. You get to fight to change your society.”

    Anglos never opted out of anything. They are going to the same schools their grandparents attended, only now they aren’t allowed to have immigrant or francophone classmates. English school boards are engaged in such a fight right now. How is that being received by the majority of the population?

    “And Québec society spontaneously collapses, exposed to English, the French language’s cryptonite?

    Why would it be a bad thing for a kid in Hochelaga to meet a real live Anglo?”

    I don’t think it would be a bad thing at all. The argument that Quebec is collapsing due to exposure to too much english isn’t coming from me. But it is certainly there. I don’t know if I’d want my kids to be the target of a new campaign by groups who feel that their playground discussion is yet another threat to the protection of french.

    “We didn’t put the Indians in reservations to protect them or their culture. We put them there so they would go away and die. We almost succeeded

    French culture in North America will live or die in Montreal. If the French school system is turned into a cultural reservation, the culture will die.”

    Wait, who’s in a cultural reservation? The anglophones are the ones who are granted special status, their own schools, hospitals, laws that apply to everyone but them. Culturally, the vast majority of the population is moving in one direction, while the anglophones are moving in another. Integrating the school system will have little positive effect on those in the french system. It is those in the english system that are being asked to make a huge change. The fact that such a change is being proposed by people who are only concerned with the group that will be largely unaffected is kinda suspicious.

    “The system is segregated. Anyone who is not trying to unify it is supporting segregation.”

    Again, there are no anglos that would oppose a unified system, but the kind of unification that they would accept is unacceptable to the majority of Quebecers, therefore we have the present compromise.

    RoryBellows

    June 26, 2008 at 1:41 am

  22. “And I have never met a single anglo who has or is currently fighting for a segregated school system. Not a single one.”

    Certainly most anglos in Quebec would be in favour of maintaining the status quo. Sure, it hasn’t been traditionally viewed as being a segregationist thing, so people don’t tend to perceive it in those terms. It’s the same thing with francophones outside Quebec. They don’t view having their separate schools as a self-segregation or self-exclusion, but rather from the “rights” angle, as part of their right to continue to exist. I presume that anglos in Quebec view their distinct school system pretty much the same way.

    On the issue of a single, unified Quebec school system (regardless of the % of the day in French, and the % of the day in English), I’d say that it could never happen without the accord of the English-speaking community.

    “Again, there are no anglos that would oppose a unified system, but the kind of unification that they would accept is unacceptable to the majority of Quebecers, therefore we have the present compromise.”

    On this, I would be interested in knowing what type of unification you think the anglo community in Quebec would be willing to accept.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 8:08 am

  23. “Since you guys seem well-informed about school systems around the world, I’m curious, how many countries had a minority language school system for over a century, then abolished it?”

    I don’t consider myself that well-informed on the subject, but here goes…

    Although the history of the notion of “freely accessible public schools” is generally measured in decades rather than centuries, there is a country where established, minority language schooling was eradicated in many areas – Canada!

    Most of Canada’s current provinces actually had French schools on their territory as early as the 19th century. In many areas even in the West (Manitoba for example), they were usually the first schools established, going back to the early part of that century.

    Then, towards the end of the century, things started to change and there was a cross-Canada trend to ban French in public schools: Nova Scotia in 1864, New Brunswick in 1871, Manitoba in 1890, the Northwest Territories (parts of which became Alberta and Saskatchewan later) in 1892, Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905 when they became provinces, Ontario in 1912.

    Redress came faster in New Brunswick, where Acadians were a larger share of the population (around 30%) and also more geographically concentrated and better organized. They started winning their schools back in the early to mid 20th century.

    But in most of the other provinces it wasn’t until the 60s and 70s that francophones got their schools back, and even in the mid-80s I think it was for Alberta and Saskatchewan. The very first French-language high school in Ontario, École secondaire André Laurendeau, only opened in 1969 in Vanier, an inner suburb of Ottawa.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 8:34 am

  24. “I’m sure there are several, some have been mentioned already. What were the circumstances? Are there any examples that occured in countries that weren’t newly independant?”

    In most cases where a certain language’s schools were eliminated, usually it came after a change in régime, either independence, the withdrawal of an empire, etc.

    In the U.S., places like New Mexico (Spanish) and Louisiana (French) would have had significant numbers of pupils studying in non-English schools at one point, but their systems were switched over to English. Both places today have what we might call “heritage language” programs, in the case of NM as a bridge between original family language Spanish and the desired learning and societal language English, and in LA to keep French (contrary to Spanish, French is not perceived by anyone as a threat to the American way of life) from dying out completely.

    Aside from the nation-building examples from Canada (outside Quebec) and the U.S., if one looks at Europe, well there were of course German-language schools all over the place at one point which were eventually eliminated (in some cases the population that they served was eliminated or expelled as well). Think of East Prussia (around Danzig, now the Polish city of Gdansk) or Sudetenland, now part of the Czech Republic. Also the Alsace region in eastern France.

    A lot of the time minority schools are eliminated in this way because the feeling is “you X people have been very naughty boys and girls” (cf Germans in the mid-20th century). This is also the justification given for scaling back the Russian language’s presence in the three Baltic countries.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 8:53 am

  25. Whether other countries have minority-language education systems or not is irrelevant. Quebec, as a state whose official and (vast) majority language is French, it has no responsibility to teach anyone English, just as Denmark has no responsibility to teach anyone Chinese.

    Publically funded education is such that a state has no responsibility to use those funds to provide language training in any language other than the official language and majority language of the public. That Quebec does provide publically funded English education for a portion of the population is greatly commendable. That Quebec provides publically funded, mandatory English-as-a-second-language education is also commendable.

    Neither, however, is Quebec’s unassailable responsibility and it is the height of arrogance for a minority population (and 8% is a very small minority) to demand that more be done.

    Éric Grenier

    June 26, 2008 at 9:29 am

  26. “You know, believe it or not, there are other ways to learn English than a segregated parallel school system administered by the English-speaking minority itself.”

    Sure there are, but look it’s not happening. Sure, you speak English, but I am guessing you grew up with many Anglos around you and that you learned the language at a young age. Not everyone has the same luck. The fact is, languages are learned fastest (and hence at a lower cost to society) when one is young and when one speaks it on an intensive basis.

    “A segregated system with two societies living in parallel institutions like the one we have in Québec today is, in my opinion, morally wrong and a recipe for permanent conflict.”

    So the Basques, the Kurds, the Catalans and all other minorities of the world should be forced to attend schools in the language of the majority? It’s immoral for them to try to educate their children in their own language? That’s a very interesting point of view.

    And with respect to conflict, what are you talking about, all this screaming and yelling by politicians, bloggers and various pundits? What country does not have conflicts and debates? Go to the US and you get the “culture war”. If we did not have language as a point of division, we’d find something else to argue about for sure. At the end of the day, Quebec is a pretty safe place, it’s not like we are killing each other over English schooling.

    “Ultimately, I think a unified system, with an 85/15 French/English ratio like Acajack suggested (JF Lysée, a leading PQ strategist and backroom player, is suggesting 75/25) is what we should we trying to put together. Perhaps with different ratios for Montreal (where the challenge is protecting French and integrating immigrants) and regions (where French is safe and exposure to English inexistant).”

    That is interesting: have less English education in places where there would be a bigger demand for it… and have you thought about the practicality of this? Are you going to have different ratios in the East End than downtown?

    Anonymous

    June 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

  27. “Publically funded education is such that a state has no responsibility to use those funds to provide language training in any language other than the official language and majority language of the public.”

    Eric, let me get this straight then. If the federal government were to pass a law tomorrow to make English Canada’s only official language and another to put education into federal hands, you would be advocating the elimination of French language education in Quebec, right?

    “Neither, however, is Quebec’s unassailable responsibility and it is the height of arrogance for a minority population (and 8% is a very small minority) to demand that more be done.”

    Can you tell me what more they want done (other than equal access to English schools to all Quebec residents)?

    Anonymous

    June 26, 2008 at 10:47 am

  28. Giulano d’Andrea, former Alliance Québec representative for Montreal East probably went further than anybody to promote a bilingual system.

    His system would have been a 75/25 or something to that effect.

    To get Anglo support for his plan, he suggested that bill 101 be amended so that Anglos could send their kids to that school, technically a French school, without losing the right to switch back a generation later to an Anglo system.

    Francophones proponents of the unified system opposed that one. It would have given Anglos a protected parallel system, a way to opt out, while Francos would have no option but the bilingual system.

    So instead of a truly bilingual system, it would’ve been a bilingual system and an enlarged Anglo system. Not quite what we had in mind…

    One experiment going on right now:
    http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=84f06c86-2d07-4c27-a519-08833fb01514&p=2

    angryfrenchguy

    June 26, 2008 at 10:48 am

  29. “Whether other countries have minority-language education systems or not is irrelevant. Quebec, as a state whose official and (vast) majority language is French, it has no responsibility to teach anyone English, just as Denmark has no responsibility to teach anyone Chinese.

    Publically funded education is such that a state has no responsibility to use those funds to provide language training in any language other than the official language and majority language of the public. That Quebec does provide publically funded English education for a portion of the population is greatly commendable. That Quebec provides publically funded, mandatory English-as-a-second-language education is also commendable.

    Neither, however, is Quebec’s unassailable responsibility and it is the height of arrogance for a minority population (and 8% is a very small minority) to demand that more be done.”

    Actually, Section 23 of the Canadian Constitution guarantees minority language education rights, subject to certain conditions which are relatively easily attained by most Canadian citizens.

    Now, one can make the argument that Quebec didn’t sign the Constitution and therefore it doesn’t apply here, but the reality since 1982 has been that the Constitution is still the law of the land in Quebec, signed or not.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 11:04 am

  30. “The number of people who expect everyone in Quebec to speak English to them is not that high. Does it exist? Yes. Is it much more than a fraction of the non-francophone population? I doubt it.”

    A fraction perhaps, but it’s much more than a small fraction, I must say. I see it at work more days than I don’t, usually several times day in fact. Granted, I do live close to the border with Ontario, but still… you’d think that you’d see the same thing with people asking for/demanding French on the other side of the river, but outside of government offices, it’s pretty rare to see someone in Ontario insisting on French service. I have worked in the private service sector in various types of businesses in Ottawa and, logically, greeted clients in English. Only very, very rarely would someone answer my English opener with French (their way of saying: hey man, speak to me in French!). Perhaps once every couple of months, if that.

    Plus, you’d be tempted to think that most of the people asking for/demanding English in this area would be Ontarians who’ve ventured across the Ottawa River in Quebec. Not so.

    The truth is, I’ve lived most of my life as a francophone outside Quebec. I also married into a “francophone outside Quebec” family. So when I count family members (immediate and extended), friends, schoolmates, work colleagues, etc., the number of people I know who are Franco-Ontarians, Acadians, Franco-Manitobans, etc. probably numbers in the several hundreds.

    What’s my point? Well, my point is that I know (or know of), more unilingual anglophones in my 95% francophone neighbourhood in Gatineau (and I don’t even know everyone in my neighbourhood, of course!) than I know francophones outside Quebec (out of my hundreds of acquaintances) who are unilingual in French.

    I can count all of the unilingual francophones from outside Quebec I know or have met on my two hands and still have a few fingers left over.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 12:32 pm


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