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. “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 totally agree that this is true. But not speaking French and expecting people to cater to you in English in Quebec are two different things. The way I understand your argument is that because a fraction (however big or small) of English speakers do not want to have anything to do with French, that English should be somehow restricted (whether it is in education, at the workplace, on signs…).

    To me, the fact that there are many more Anglos who do not speak French than Francos who do not speak English comes down to necessity and not some visceral dislike of French. The fact that the English language is currently so dominant in the world means that someone living in North America can in most cases get by speaking only English.

    Where Francophones do not “need” another language, they speak it much less. I have known a number of French citizens who lived in Northern and Western Africa and never learned a word of Arabic or other local languages. In Belgium, 60% of Flemish speak French, but only 20% of Walloons speak Dutch. Does that mean that French should be restricted in Belgium to ensure that the minority (the Walloons) and newcomers learn better Flemish?

    Anonymous

    June 26, 2008 at 1:55 pm

  2. “Does that mean that French should be restricted in Belgium to ensure that the minority (the Walloons) and newcomers learn better Flemish?”

    It is. Language in Belgium is determined largely at the municipal level and a French family in the Flemish part of the country would not have access to even a fraction of the services an English family has in Laval or St.Jean-sur-le-Richelieu…

    angryfrenchguy

    June 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm

  3. “It is. Language in Belgium is determined largely at the municipal level and a French family in the Flemish part of the country would not have access to even a fraction of the services an English family has in Laval or St.Jean-sur-le-Richelieu…”

    1. The question was whether you bleive it should or should not be restricted, not whether it is. I obviously believe it shouldn’t be.

    2. Really? So if I am a Francophone living in Brussels, I will not get even a fraction of services of an Anglo in St. Jean sur Richelieu? Do a quick google search about this. Brussels, while in Flanders, is something like 90% French speaking and you can definitely get any service you want in French. It is officially bilingual and you can definitely get a French language education there. It seems like if there was ever place in need of a loi 101, this would be it, no? Brussels is a very important exception to your statement.

    But according to you (the immorality of separate school systems), there should not even be a French-language school system in Belgium. They should all be in a Flemish system (as the Flemish are in the majority) and learning French 15-25% of the time. And less in Wallon as Dutch is in even a bigger danger there…

    Anonymous

    June 26, 2008 at 3:37 pm

  4. “I totally agree that this is true. But not speaking French and expecting people to cater to you in English in Quebec are two different things. The way I understand your argument is that because a fraction (however big or small) of English speakers do not want to have anything to do with French, that English should be somehow restricted (whether it is in education, at the workplace, on signs…)”

    Given that there is absolute freedom of movement between the English-speaking areas of Canada and Quebec, what other choice is there? I’ve already said here that as a francophone I find somewhat humiliating the fact that legal coercion is necessary to maintain at least some level of French here, but the alternative is… oblivion. Given the global, North American and Canadian contexts to which you correctly alluded to, unfortunately there has to be some type of “inconvenience” attached to not knowing French in Quebec, otherwise many, many people just won’t take the trouble to do it. In the same way that I won’t be learning Chinese just to go out for dinner in Chinatown.

    In essence, that’s what Quebec is struggling against: not being relegated to the status of a gigantic ethnic neighbourhood.

    “Where Francophones do not “need” another language, they speak it much less. I have known a number of French citizens who lived in Northern and Western Africa and never learned a word of Arabic or other local languages. In Belgium, 60% of Flemish speak French, but only 20% of Walloons speak Dutch. Does that mean that French should be restricted in Belgium to ensure that the minority (the Walloons) and newcomers learn better Flemish?”

    You might be surprised by what gets talked about in Flanders. For example, it is forbidden to speak French at town council meetings in some places where francophones are 90% of the population, just because the town happens to be in Flanders. In some municipalities, before buying a property you have to pass an interview/language test to determine your “suitability” to integrate into the community. Given that Flanders surrounds mainly French-speaking Brussels, the idea behind this is to keep francophones moving out of the city to the country from “invading” Flemish-speaking towns.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 3:40 pm

  5. “Really? So if I am a Francophone living in Brussels, I will not get even a fraction of services of an Anglo in St. Jean sur Richelieu? Do a quick google search about this. Brussels, while in Flanders, is something like 90% French speaking and you can definitely get any service you want in French. It is officially bilingual and you can definitely get a French language education there. It seems like if there was ever place in need of a loi 101, this would be it, no? Brussels is a very important exception to your statement.”

    Brussels is not in Flanders. It is completely surrounded by Flanders territory but is a separate “capital district” of its own similar to the District of Columbia in the U.S. Flanders’ language policies and legislation do not apply in Brussels, which has a bilingual status.

    On the other hand, Flanders itself is officially Flemish only, and Wallonia is French only.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 3:43 pm

  6. We can go into semantics as to the status of Brussels, but it is actually the capital of Flanders, the seat of the Flemish, was “historically” a Dutch-speaking city and as you pointed, is surrounded by Flanders. If you declared Westmount a “special district” and gave it bilingual status, it would not change the fact that in practical terms, it would still be in Quebec.

    Yes, I have heard of some of the goings-on in places surrounding Brussels and do not agree with any of those restrictions. My point on Francophones not learning other languauges when it is not a necessity is not altered by Flemish fears.

    Anonymous

    June 26, 2008 at 4:06 pm

  7. “Given that there is absolute freedom of movement between the English-speaking areas of Canada and Quebec, what other choice is there? I’ve already said here that as a francophone I find somewhat humiliating the fact that legal coercion is necessary to maintain at least some level of French here, but the alternative is… oblivion.”

    I think this is somewhat alarmist. I do not think that French is in danger of disappearing and would not be even if there was no legislation protecting it. It is not like you will all of a sudden going to teach your child English, just because your neighbourhood is Anglophone. I think that saying that drastic legislation is needed is saying that the Frnach language and Quebecois culture and identity is too weak to survive on its own and I strongly disagree with this. French is not going anywhere, loi 101 or not.

    But if you do beleive that French and the Quebecois culture is in danger of disappearing, what about Natives? I always want to know what people think about Natives (and you never answered my above question on a Native person from Kahnawake going over to Chateauguay) because it seems like the collective thinking -especially among politicians- about Natives is that it’s a problem we just want to go away as quietly as possible. If Quebecois identity is in danger, aren’t Natives even more so? Shouldn’t we be legislating that people lear Mohawk in school, which was the original language in the Montreal region?

    Anonymous

    June 26, 2008 at 4:21 pm

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

    I was refering to a pre-101 system, which admittedly isn’t exactly unified. My point was simply that the staus quo didn’t come about as a result of a desire on the part of anglophones to remain apart.

    I don’t know what would have to be done to make the idea of a single school system acceptable to anglophones. But I suspect it would require some amount of official bilingualism in the school system, and I’m not talking about the proportion of classes in english and french. What language would communication between the school and parents be in? What about PTA-type organizations? Either you’ll have to allow some amount of institutionalized bilingualism, which is sure to anger many, or you go out of your way to eliminate english in schools where the majority of parents speak english as a first language. It seems that either way, you’re setting things up for a conflict where there isn’t one at present.

    RoryBellows

    June 26, 2008 at 4:51 pm

  9. “I don’t know what would have to be done to make the idea of a single school system acceptable to anglophones.”

    One of the most used arguments by people who want to send their children to English schools is that they’ll have a better knowledge of the English language and therefore, will have better job opportunities, so the solution would be to apply the language laws at the moment of employment:
    when hiring two people in equal conditions, the employer should always prefer the person who received the higher amount of French education. Also, employees who attended English schools/universities will always receive a lower salary compared to the ones who attended a French school/university.
    This will discourage everybody to send their kids to English schools, and therefore, they will disappear.

    English hater

    June 26, 2008 at 9:49 pm

  10. “I was refering to a pre-101 system, which admittedly isn’t exactly unified. My point was simply that the staus quo didn’t come about as a result of a desire on the part of anglophones to remain apart.

    I don’t know what would have to be done to make the idea of a single school system acceptable to anglophones. But I suspect it would require some amount of official bilingualism in the school system, and I’m not talking about the proportion of classes in english and french. What language would communication between the school and parents be in? What about PTA-type organizations? Either you’ll have to allow some amount of institutionalized bilingualism, which is sure to anger many, or you go out of your way to eliminate english in schools where the majority of parents speak english as a first language. It seems that either way, you’re setting things up for a conflict where there isn’t one at present.”

    Thanks Rory. You raised several point I would have never thought of. All of which further confirms my view that although a unified system might be desirable, it would be virtually impossible to implement (for the foreseeable future). That’s why I’m not in favour of tinkering with it.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 10:15 pm

  11. “We can go into semantics as to the status of Brussels, but it is actually the capital of Flanders, the seat of the Flemish, was “historically” a Dutch-speaking city and as you pointed, is surrounded by Flanders. If you declared Westmount a “special district” and gave it bilingual status, it would not change the fact that in practical terms, it would still be in Quebec.”

    Sorry, but Brussels is not part of Flanders the political entity in the same way that Westmount is part of Quebec. Brussels may be part of the historic region of Flanders, but part of northern France is also historically part of Flanders for that matter! Sort of like saying Detroit is in Quebec or French Canada just because it was part of New France.

    The fact that Brussels is the capital of Flanders is actually seen by many as political ploy on the part of Flemish nationalists, sort of telling the francophone Belgians: “we’re gonna separate and we’re taking Brussels with us! Na-na-na-na-na!”

    The Flemish parliament and institutions located in Brussels have some authority over a few language-specific services for the 15% of Brussels residents that are Flemish. It’s as if the Quebec government ran Franco-Ontarians’ schools, and the province of Ontario ran everything else for them (and for everyone else).

    But for the most part the Flemish parliamentarians who sit in Brussels are running the Flemish region (which includes Antwerp, Oostende, Leuven, etc.) from a parliament across the border in another jurisdiction.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 10:23 pm

  12. I can’t express how much joy it brings me to know that such a thing will never happen, and how much that pisses you off. Frustrating, ain’t it? Until you get a country you can’t throw us out, yet unless you get rid of us, you won’t get a country. Sucks for you.

    RoryBellows

    June 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm

  13. That was directed at hater.

    RoryBellows

    June 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm

  14. “But if you do beleive that French and the Quebecois culture is in danger of disappearing, what about Natives? I always want to know what people think about Natives (and you never answered my above question on a Native person from Kahnawake going over to Chateauguay) because it seems like the collective thinking -especially among politicians- about Natives is that it’s a problem we just want to go away as quietly as possible. If Quebecois identity is in danger, aren’t Natives even more so? Shouldn’t we be legislating that people lear Mohawk in school, which was the original language in the Montreal region?”

    I had meant to answer your question about Kahnawake and Châteauguay but ran out of time… and then it slipped my mind.

    Actually, I do think that Mohawk could be considered to have historical legitimacy that is superior to French in that area. Unfortunately, a grave injustice was committed against it (and other aboriginal languages) to the point where its use is no longer practical, not even to most Mohawks themselves. Contrary to French, and for a variety of reasons (most of which are not the fault of the Mohawks), the Mohawk language today does not have an extensive support structure (schools, colleges, universities, media, institutions, computer software, etc.) that would allow it to permeate all areas of daily life in a given region.

    French pretty much has all of this in Quebec today, but as is usually the case with these things, this situation has a lot to do with luck. (Just as historical luck has given Danes and Icelanders their own countries, whereas more numerous peoples like the Catalans are in a more precarious cultural and linguistic situation as minorities in larger states.)

    That said, I don’t think we should relegate Quebec’s French heritage to the trashcan of history simply because grave historical injustices have been committed against other languages indigenous to this land such as Mohawk.

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 10:35 pm

  15. ”That was directed at hater.”

    Phew! I hoped so.

    I thought I was being pretty cool…

    Acajack

    June 26, 2008 at 10:37 pm

  16. “Contrary to French, and for a variety of reasons (most of which are not the fault of the Mohawks), the Mohawk language today does not have an extensive support structure (schools, colleges, universities, media, institutions, computer software, etc.) that would allow it to permeate all areas of daily life in a given region. ”

    The way I understand the argument then is that it is too late for Native languages so let’s make sure the same thing does not happen to French. This is pretty just the same as ignoring the Natives and hoping their problems disappear. But if the Native languages are hopeless, should we then not protect the languages spoken by them today? In some cases that is French, but in some cases (as for the Mohawks), that is English. You find it humiliating that French needs to be legislated, but how must my Mohawk feel when he cannot get service in his mother tongue on land that he feels is his and is being trespassed by all these “immigrants”? Should we then not make sure he can get English service when he steps off the reserve?

    I am still not convinced though that French is in any danger of disappearing. There are still Francophones in the ROC and they still speak French and still consider themselves Francophones. And they have been living among Anglos for an awful long time. If a few thousand French speakers can maintain their culture and identity in Manitoba, how can 6 million in Quebec not?

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 5:18 am

  17. “The way I understand the argument then is that it is too late for Native languages so let’s make sure the same thing does not happen to French.”

    Actually, I don’t think the situation for all native languages is hopeless. I did say in another thread on this forum that people from the south who move to places like Kujjuaq should make an effort to learn the local language. I think it would be totally legitimate for native languages to be propped up by Bill 101-style legislation or something else that the various groups can self-define (since it’s not really up to me as a non-native to determine for them what they need to survive as peoples).

    “But if the Native languages are hopeless, should we then not protect the languages spoken by them today? In some cases that is French, but in some cases (as for the Mohawks), that is English. You find it humiliating that French needs to be legislated, but how must my Mohawk feel when he cannot get service in his mother tongue on land that he feels is his and is being trespassed by all these “immigrants”? Should we then not make sure he can get English service when he steps off the reserve?”

    This a very complex issue which raises many questions. Once you abandon Mohawk (which is much more endangered that French obviously) in favour of English, then you move your language allegiance from a dying language to what is for all intents and purposes a language juggernaut.

    This makes me wonder about the relationship the Mohawks have with English. Is it part of their identity like the English language truly became for the Irish when they lost their original language? Or is it just a practical thing?

    Since I am a firm believer in global cultural diversity, I would tend to be in favour of propping up Mohawk to the detriment of English to be quite frank, provided that is what the Mohawks wanted to do. And once again, if that’s what the people want, I would also be totally favourable to restrictions on the use of French in the Quebec City suburb of Wendake where Hurons live, or in Innu communities on the North Shore like Betsiamites and Maliotenam.

    Acajack

    June 27, 2008 at 8:18 am

  18. “I am still not convinced though that French is in any danger of disappearing. There are still Francophones in the ROC and they still speak French and still consider themselves Francophones. And they have been living among Anglos for an awful long time. If a few thousand French speakers can maintain their culture and identity in Manitoba, how can 6 million in Quebec not?”

    I have lived as a francophone in four ROC provinces and I can tell you (sadly) that French is likely to die out pretty much everywhere except for a scant few exceptions like northern New Brunswick. Even in Canada’s capital, where I lived for most of my life, the recent decline is alarming for the members of the community who pay attention to such things.

    Sure, there will still be some people speaking French in Sudbury and St-Boniface decades from now, just as there are people who speak French (or any other language) everywhere around the world. There are more francophones in New York City that in Chicoutimi, but that doesn’t mean that French is more alive, vibrant and has more staying power in the Big Apple than in the Saguenay.

    Personally, I am a proud descendant of two families who have been rooted in ROC provinces for close to 400 years, however I am growing tired of having these feisty but struggling communities used as political leverage against Quebec and its aspirations, and then totally left to fend for themselves once the “job de bras” against Quebec (the only francophone collectivity on the continent that has considerable political power) has been done.

    Acajack

    June 27, 2008 at 8:28 am

  19. “Even in Canada’s capital, where I lived for most of my life, the recent decline is alarming for the members of the community who pay attention to such things.”

    Can you provide some numbers for this and the reasonns behind the decline?

    “Personally, I am a proud descendant of two families who have been rooted in ROC provinces for close to 400 years, however I am growing tired of having these feisty but struggling communities used as political leverage against Quebec and its aspirations”

    As you should be proud! I was not using them as leverage for anything. I used them as an example to say that French language and culture are strong.

    “This makes me wonder about the relationship the Mohawks have with English. Is it part of their identity like the English language truly became for the Irish when they lost their original language? Or is it just a practical thing?”

    Not sure about this. I know the Mohawks in Kahnawake have (are??) made attempts to get more people to speak Mohawk, but I am not sure how successful that has been, and I don’t know about Kanesatake and Akwesasne. I am sure this varies among the different First Nations.

    “And once again, if that’s what the people want, I would also be totally favourable to restrictions on the use of French in the Quebec City suburb of Wendake where Hurons live, or in Innu communities on the North Shore like Betsiamites and Maliotenam.”

    Who do you mean by “people”. Natives only, or the wider community? I would love to see the reaction of people in Quebec if you forced businesses to start putting up signs in Mohawk/English in Chateauguay.

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 9:37 am

  20. .(…)how must my Mohawk feel when he cannot get service in his mother tongue on land that he feels is his and is being trespassed by all these “immigrants”? Should we then not make sure he can get English service when he steps off the reserve?.

    This is one of the most fallacious arguments that Anglos use against Québec language laws.

    1.English is not a Mohawk language. It is the language imposed on them by the British. The argument The Mohawks were here first, therefore you must give them English rights is false.

    2. What about all the natives who speak French? The Algonquin in Abitibi? The Huron in Wendake? The Innu? Etc?

    If I accept your logic that English services is a right of Mohawks as natives, then you must accept my argument that bill 101 is a legislation enacted to protect the linguistic rights French-speaking natives, don’t you?

    3. We ignored your comment because we know you don’t mean it. You don’t care about natives or their rights. I’ve never heard in my entire life an Anglo make an argement about native rights whose conclusion was not. “Mohawks speak English therefore they must have rights outside the reservation (but not the right to claim the land under my bungalow in St.Lambert, though) so I must be allowed unrestricted English services for myself in DDO.

    It’s bogus, self-serving and bullshit. It only exposes your ignorance of the reality and demands of Québec’s natives (of which Montreal’s Mohawks are just a tiny fraction.) Bullshit!

    angryfrenchguy

    June 27, 2008 at 9:39 am

  21. Wow, you are really angry this morning! You should take a deep breath and read my comments a little more carefully. Most of what I have been trying to do is understand the positions of the people on this blog (including you, but Acajack has been much more forthcoming) by asking questions and pointing out some of the complexities of the language issue in Quebec.

    I have not said one way or another whether I believe that a Mohawk should be served in English. And you should do just a little more research before you make sweeping statements. Kahnawake Mohawks used to be mostly bilingual Mohawk and French, not English. English came to dominate only relatively recently.

    “If I accept your logic that English services is a right of Mohawks as natives, then you must accept my argument that bill 101 is a legislation enacted to protect the linguistic rights French-speaking natives, don’t you?”

    You are doing here, what I have been trying to do, making sure I understand other people’s arguments and try to take them further. Although, I have tried to be less cynical about it.

    “We ignored your comment because we know you don’t mean it. You don’t care about natives or their rights. I’ve never heard in my entire life an Anglo make an argement about native rights whose conclusion was not.”

    Angry, these comments are totally uncalled for. You have absolutely no basis to make any of these conclusions. And for your information, I am not an Anglo.

    For someone who is trying to educate English speakers about Quebec, throwing out insults and making snap judgements is a pretty weak way of going about it.

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 10:04 am

  22. “Can you provide some numbers for this and the reasonns behind the decline?”

    This is a hugely complex issue, with tons of people manipulating statistics to suit their own positions (the French is doing great crowd vs. the French is on the ropes crowd), one that would probably require its very own blog.

    I believe the most recent numbers actually showed a slight increase in the number of francophones in the vast area of Canada west of the Ottawa River. No one said it officially, but I would say most of this is likely due to people from Quebec plus some New Brunswick Acadians moving to Alberta to take advantage of the boom. Also, a small portion of the international immigration to these areas is francophone as well.

    This is the present. Where you can get an idea of the future is when you look at what language francophones speak at home. In a province like Ontario about 40% of francophones speak English rather than French at home. Now, this doesn’t mean that the francophone speaking English at home will forget his or her French, but it gives you a good idea of what their kids are going to be speaking as a first language.

    In Ottawa, the figure is something like one third of francophones who speak English at home, and if I recall it rises to close to half for people in their 20s and 30s, the prime childbearing years. So the end result is that lots and lots of francophones there are going to have anglophone offspring (who may or may not speak some French as a second language), and even if there is a trickle of new blood coming into the community (as evidenced by the slight increase in numbers I referred to above), this can’t possibly offset the decline caused by the language switch that such a huge proportion of the francophone community is making.

    Why is this happening? Well, part of it is just par for the course when you’re just 4% of the population in a massive English-speaking part of North America called Ontario. There is also the fact that there are some big institutional gaps in French-speaking Ontario, such as the lack of a bona fide French-language university. The bilingual University of Ottawa claims to play this role, but the fact is that behind its very visible, predominantly francophone senior management and staff, on an academic level it is more and more an English-language institution that leaves an increasingly small space for French.

    Retail service in French in Ottawa (even in the east end where francophones are more numerous) is often non-existent. To try and get served in French everywhere you go during the day in Ottawa (as I once was assigned to do by a newspaper as a young reporter) is to be made to feel like one is severely mentally retarded.

    Francophones in Ottawa used to be concentrated in the east end, most notably in Vanier, Overbrook, Sandy Hill, Lower Town and further out in Orleans. In many areas, they were the overwhelming majority of the population. Kids grew up playing with their neighbours in French, speaking French at the corner store and the local restaurants, and French totally dominated the schoolyards of francophone schools.

    Go to an east end Ottawa schoolyard in these areas today and listen to what the kids who go to school in French all day (and don’t even start to learn English as a second language until Grade 3) speak between themselves. Within minutes, you will come to the same conclusion as me: in the future, the primary common language of Franco-Ontarians will be (if it isn’t already) English.

    Facebook discussion groups for the francophone Ottawa schools I attended as a child feature discussions all in English. And all these people spoke French to each other in the schoolyard! I can’t imagine that the kids today are going to do the reverse, and go from English in childhood to French as adults. Can you?

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 10:48 am

  23. “Kahnawake Mohawks used to be mostly bilingual Mohawk and French, not English. English came to dominate only relatively recently.”

    Not sure about this. Historically, the Mohawks and the Iroquois were allied with the British and hence mainly learned their language. Whereas the Hurons and the Montagnais were allied with the French, the “colonizing” language many of them use today.

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 10:53 am

  24. “Who do you mean by “people”. Natives only, or the wider community? I would love to see the reaction of people in Quebec if you forced businesses to start putting up signs in Mohawk/English in Chateauguay.”

    I was referring to natives only, and my point wasn’t about putting up signs in Mohawk or English in Châteauguay, but in Kahnawake. As I said: it’s not up to me as a non-Mohawk to decide what the language of everyday life in Kahnawake should be.

    Now, there are next to no Mohawks who live in Châteauguay as far as I know, so I don’t see the point of having Mohawk signs there. Or at least forcing businesses to have them. If businesses want to put them up as a nice gesture to their Mohawk clients, then that’s their choice.

    I don’t expect French signage and service at all when I go to west end Ottawa communities like Nepean and Kanata, but I sure as hell do when I am in Gatineau, in Québec, where I live and where francophones are the vast majority of the population. And I can totally understand why most francophones in the Eastern Ontario community of Embrun feel the same way and why they mostly support the bylaw.

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 11:00 am

  25. Last three posts by Acajack, BTW

    Acajack

    June 27, 2008 at 11:01 am

  26. “Not sure about this. Historically, the Mohawks and the Iroquois were allied with the British and hence mainly learned their language. Whereas the Hurons and the Montagnais were allied with the French, the “colonizing” language many of them use today.”

    Found this, page 2:

    Click to access hoover.pdf

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 11:49 am

  27. Interesting study, although I find it hard to believe that Kahnawake would have been a bilingual French-Mohawk community in the 19th century, given the links they had to the British crown for almost 200 years prior to that, links with other Mohawk groups in Ontario and New York State, as well as the significant presence of English (far greater than today) in the area of Quebec surrounding them (South Shore of Montreal and Huntingdon County).

    Acajack

    June 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm

  28. I think I saw this in a documentary once. It might be due to the fact that the closest, neighbouring communities to the Mohawk territory back then were Francophone and they traded and otherwise interacted with them.

    I am not really going to be able to say anything new on Francophones in the ROC, as you obviously have experienced the situation firsthand and know it really well. My big thing with too many restrictions and legislation is that people tend rebel against them. There is a very good book called Influence by Robert Cialdini and he writes about the idea of scarcity. He has an example of some cleaning product that was going to be forbidden to be sold in a particular county. So people started buying up and hoarding this thing and even after the law was passed, they went to neighbouring counties to buy it. And they did surveys and found out that people were much more favorable to it and bought more of it in this county than in neighbouring ones. It was something they had a right to and when it became more scarce, they wanted it more.

    I think you get this tendency with legislation as well. Once you start mandating certain things, people will become more hostile to them.

    Anonymous

    June 27, 2008 at 4:55 pm

  29. “Thanks Rory. You raised several point I would have never thought of. All of which further confirms my view that although a unified system might be desirable, it would be virtually impossible to implement (for the foreseeable future). That’s why I’m not in favour of tinkering with it.”

    Lack of tinkering is what I’m arguing for. I agree with you that a unified school system would be desirable, but it would have to come about about under the right circumstances, otherwise, i don’t see the benefit in changing anything.

    As long as some anglos feel they have to defend everything they have, for fear that if the nationalists had their way, english would just about disappear, and as long as some francos see everything english as a threat to all that is Quebecois, mixing the two together more than they need to be is a recipe for conflict, unfortunately.

    In the end though, I think it is primarily the anglos that have something to gain (as well as the most to lose) in agreeing to a single, french language school system. At some point they (we) will have to decide whether we want to be part of Quebec, or are happy to be english Canadians living in a french speaking province. The status quo is fine for now, but a little hope and vision for the future is nice sometimes.

    RoryBellows

    June 27, 2008 at 9:03 pm

  30. “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.”

    I suppose the language police never went into Westmount? Like anglophone communities in Quebec have the freedom of choice as to store signage? No! We are in racist Quebec!

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

    Like Eaton’s was never identified by racist Quebecers as an Anglo institution to be avoided because of the apostrophy in its name… Likewise, any name with an apostrophy was considered to be illegal due to this racist language movement in Quebec. Like banning an apostrophe will save a culture! What a pack of racists in Quebec.

    It’s funny how Franco-Canadians can so readily cry racism when they can’t see it at home.

    Toutum

    September 16, 2008 at 10:08 pm


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