In Montreal Liberals Try to Speak French and the Bloc won’t Speak English
In the last few day there has been a few reports and rumours suggesting that some of the political parties in this fall’s federal election were fielding candidates in Montreal that could not speak French.
Intrigued, the PKP cell of the AngryFrenchMediaLabs lauched a major investigtion revealing that for all their talk of inclusion, the two political parties currently slugging it out for the control of Montreal’s electoral map, the Bloc québécois and the Liberal Party of Canada, are still very much le Parti des Anglais and le Parti des Français.
Very few ridings in Montreal seemed to have an active Liberal campaign at all at the time of the investigation, the week of September 14th to the 20th. Of the handful of candidates that had a phone number and a website, most were in predominantly English-speaking Western Montreal. Even the Liberal Party of Canada – section Québec’s website has a heavy English accent with phrases such as “Contribuez à ce circonscription”
Calls to the campaign offices of the party of Trudeau and Official billingualism were usually answered in English or in bilingual.
In the riding of Mount-Royal – the former riding of Pierre Elliot Trudeau himself – the staffer asked the AFG to speak English because it was too noisy. Is English louder than French? Mount-Royal is 21% French-speaking and is represented by former justice minister Irwin Cutler.
In nearby Westmount-Ville-Marie, the riding that includes all of Downtown and Old Montreal and where the party is fielding one of it’s rare Francophone rookie stars, rocketman Marc Garneau, the phone was answered in English. The staffer was able to answer questions in friendly – if laborious – French.
According to the 2001 census, 37% of the ridings residents are English-speaking and 58% speak French or other languages at home.
One of the few active campaigns out east is Jesus… sorry… Justin Trudeau’s who is trying to get elected in the predominantly French-speaking riding of Papineau with a weird franglais introduction video. Despite reports that he also employed unilingual Anglo staffers, numerous calls to the campaign headquarters were always answered in French.
In nearby Honoré-Mercier where former Official Languages Commitee chair Pablo Rodriguez was one of the rare Liberal Francos to survive the sponsorship scandal, staffers spoke French to the caller, but the language of work in the campaign office was quite clearly English, as revealed by this CSI-style enhanced clip:
Well… at least the Liberals were nice.
Justin Trudeau’s opponent, incumbent Vivian Barbot‘s staffer was able to speak to the AFG in English. But she obviously didn’t want to. And was quite rude about it.
Over in Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel, whoever was answering the phones for the Bloc candidate Farid Salem simply refused to speak English.
Both ridings are predominantly Francophone, but also have sizable immigrant communities that the Bloc absolutely needs to win over if it wants to take these seats. Interestingly, both candidates in these ridings are themselves so-called Nouveaux Québécois.
In Western Montreal, where the Bloc will not win any seats, several campaigns were run from the same office and the English was fluent and friendly.
The NDP and the Conservatives
With the improbable exception of Outremont which could re-elect the NDP ‘s Thomas Mulcair and the West Island’s Lac-Saint-Louis riding, which some say is within the Conservatives’ reach, few expect the far left or right to win anything in Montreal. Calls to the few operational campaign offices of both parties were answered in fluent French and English without any difficulty… or attitude.