AngryFrenchGuy

In Montreal Liberals Try to Speak French and the Bloc won’t Speak English

with 474 comments

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.

The Liberals

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:

The Bloc

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.

Advertisements

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 21, 2008 at 6:22 pm

474 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Well according to Stat Can , ( earnings, average weekly, by province and territory )

    For Quebec 725.29
    For Saskatchewan 724.03
    Newfoundland and Labrador 714.65
    New Brunswick 707.93
    Nova Scotia 673.38
    Prince Edward Island 628.90

    So your judgment seems applicable to Canada.

    Kriss

    October 9, 2008 at 3:22 pm

  2. Poor compared to whom? Rich compare to whom?

    Kriss

    October 9, 2008 at 3:24 pm

  3. Re: left and right in Canada

    Just for fun I was doing a quick calculation and if you take out the 75 Quebec seats in the House of Commons, the ROC more often than not ends up from election to election in a close-to-50-50 split between left and right similar to what you have in the United States, with more progressive regions (eg urban Ontario) and more conservative ones found across the country.

    On the other hand there are almost always three quarters (sometimes much more) of the Quebec seats that go to centre-left or left-leaning parties. The one exception was during the Mulroney years, when Quebec had a majority of Conservative MPs, although the Mulroney Tories were “red tories”, especially the Quebec caucus. Today’s crop of Canadian Tories espouse more traditional conservative values and ideology than the Mulroneyites did.

    I base my observations on the following assumptions:

    Bloc Québécois: left
    Liberal Party of Canada: centre-left
    Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (under Mulroney): centre or centre-left
    Conservative Party of Canada (present day): right

    Provincially as well, Quebec is very much a left or centre-left place, and until the very recent exceptional rise of the Action Démocratique (ADQ), Quebec hadn’t really had a provincial conservative party in contention since the late 60s.

    Note that in the 2007 election, the ADQ won 1/3 of the seats in the assembly (is this just a blip or the start of a trend?), which still nonetheless left 2/3 of the assembly’s seats to the left-wing PQ and centre-left provincial Liberals.

    Acajack

    October 9, 2008 at 3:34 pm

  4. According to U.S. Department of Labor, “The White House also gets its information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states that in that same month, the average wage for workers in the private sector was around $520 a week”
    and then you must take in consideration that the american governments offer much less services than in Quebec and Canada.

    Kriss

    October 9, 2008 at 3:39 pm

  5. Geck: “Quebec is a really poor canadian province.”

    And your point is…..

    Kriss

    October 9, 2008 at 5:02 pm

  6. By Canadian standards Quebec is poor due to the huge subsidising, don’t talk of Atlantic Provinces, this is Canada.Quebec – not.

    Geck

    October 9, 2008 at 8:04 pm

  7. Geck

    “By Canadian standards Quebec is poor due to the huge subsidising, don’t talk of Atlantic Provinces, this is Canada.Quebec – not.”

    I am still waiting…what IS your point?

    Kriss

    October 9, 2008 at 8:13 pm

  8. Geck

    “Quebec is poor due to the huge subsidising”

    What does it mean?
    Subsiding makes Quebec poor?

    Kriss

    October 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm

  9. There is a lot of axe-grinding against Quebec that goes on on this forum and on countless others regarding everything from nationalism, separatism, money received from the rest of Canada, its food, the quality of French spoken there, its economy. This is not the only forum I haunt and it is astounding how any topic with a Quebec angle, even something as banal as the fortunes of the Montreal Canadiens, inevitably will go off on a tangeant about how Quebec is like this, and Quebec is like that.

    The amount of scrutiny Quebec is subjected to from outside its borders (and even pretty far away from them) is truly staggering.

    It would be interesting to note if people in Tennessee have an opinion on the way people speak, dress, eat or run their affairs in Queensland, or if people in Alberta are really that concerned about what colour the margarine is in Newfoundland, or if people in Germany have an opinion on the economy of Upper Silesia next door to them in Poland, or if people in Wales are really concerned about whether one can turn right on a red light in Iowa.

    With the all the attention Quebec gets around the (western) world, you’d think it was this gigantic military-cultural-economic power (think Roman Empire or the comtemporary US of A) that throws its weight around the planet extra-territorially, forcing lesser peoples than the Québécois to eat poutine every day and to have their middle-aged women all wear tight blue jeans with high heels!

    Acajack

    October 10, 2008 at 8:14 am

  10. Acajack :
    “This is not the only forum I haunt and it is astounding how any topic with a Quebec angle, even something as banal as the fortunes of the Montreal Canadiens, inevitably will go off on a tangeant about how Quebec is like this, and Quebec is like that.”

    One of the best example of this is the user comments feature on the CBC news site. The Bloc should translate and distribute daily digests of the posts that are published on this site… that would be *excellent* for the promotion of separatism. Ex:

    July 16th – “McCartney’s free Quebec concert ruffles soveignists”. 342 foaming at the mouth, anti-Quebec comments:
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2008/07/16/qc-paulmccartneyquebec4000716.html

    July 29th – “McCartney talks about amazing welcome in Quebec City. 6 (six!) measly comments:
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2008/07/29/mcartney-quebec.html

    Égrevisse

    October 10, 2008 at 8:39 am

  11. “The future for Quebec is going to be more and more English for everyone anyway because English is the international language of business and culture. At least with a fully independent nation there will be the protection for French. But, yes, there will be lots of English.”

    My experience with the economy in Montreal is that the presence of English seems to be more of a locally-generated phenomenon than anything to do with dealings with contacts outside Quebec in places like Toronto, New York, London or Frankfurt.

    The reason there’s so much English in Montreal’s economy is because of people like, let’s say -Chris… Thomas who grew up in DDO, never paid much attention to French in school, got a BCom from Concordia and now works as a leasing agent for a Montreal property developer. He interacts in English with Pierre Gadouas, who also has a BCom, but from Laval, and who is responsible for finding new dépanneur locations for Alimentation Couche-Tard in Greater Montreal.

    Or because of Ivan Ivanov from Sverdlovsk who moved to Montreal in 1992. He knew only a bit of English when he arrived, but not much French. Ivan now owns a chain of Italian restaurants across Greater Montreal. Since he has been here he has thoroughly perfected his English, and has learned just enough French to read the road signs and to say “bonsoir Madame” and “bon appétit” to the clients, but he has decided that all of his restaurants in the Montreal region will operate in English, no matter how many of his employees are native francophones or immigrants who speak better French than English. This is how 18-year-old Marie-Josée Tremblay from Boisbriand learned to speak English – by working part-time as a waitress at Ivan’s restaurant in Laval. This is also how Fadi Haddad, whose francophilic parents from Lebanon moved to Laval. Fadi went to Quebec French schools all his life, but he learned good English as well – by working in the kitchen of Ivan’s Italian restaurant in Laval.

    Neither of M-J or Fadi are global deal-makers, who chat in English daily with high flyers at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. No, for most Montrealers like them, English is a local thing, not a global thing.

    Acajack

    October 10, 2008 at 9:00 am

  12. “Well according to Stat Can , ( earnings, average weekly, by province and territory )…”

    One number is never going to tell the whole story, but Kriss be careful with these figures because I believe they include not only earnings from work and investments, but also various government transfers, which from what I understand are relatively high in Quebec.

    AM

    October 10, 2008 at 9:06 am

  13. “Just for fun I was doing a quick calculation and if you take out the 75 Quebec seats in the House of Commons…”

    I am not sure you can make any conclusions based on this due to the sovereignty question in Quebec. What you would have to do is take out the sovereignty issue out of the equation as well… in other words, there are “conservatives” in Quebec who, because they are sovereignists, vote for the left leaning Bloc and PQ.

    AM

    October 10, 2008 at 9:17 am

  14. AM
    “Kriss be careful with these figures because I believe they include not only earnings from work and investments, but also various government transfers, which from what I understand are relatively high in Quebec”

    Your point is valid if you want to know the exact amount per province. But as some other provinces receive some subsidies as well, at least the year these figures came from, your comment might not stand.

    My point was to compare Quebec earning, average weekly, with other provinces, in order to show GECK he is too quick making judgment and to try to make him tell me why he was saying that.

    Look at his post:

    Littlerob wrote: “Just a footnote to this: when I go from Plattsburgh to the Montérégie, I know damn good and well that I have crossed into another country.”

    And Geck replies:
    “Yes, that’s right. Bad roads and poorness everywhere.”

    But why was he saying that?
    If Quebec is not, as he said “a really poor canadian province” as these figures can suggest, then GECK is wrong.
    But even if he is right, why does he say that in reply to Littlerob comment?

    Kriss

    October 10, 2008 at 1:03 pm

  15. er–just so that I am not misunderstood, I meant my comment about the Montérégie in a sociological and linguistic sense, rather than an economic sense.

    The roads that I drove on seemed all right to me. As for the standard of living, it seemed to be “North American middle class,” by and large, on the face of it.

    littlerob

    October 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm

  16. It’s no interested to talk to the people who don’t know what to do. To stay or to leave. If you want to stay – stay, but start to work, get rid of the endless welfare and bill101, attract investors, be equal. Don’t you know that “not distinct people” are laughing at you, your “exclusivity”, and your leftist “ politburo style” politicians that came from the sixties. If you want to leave, just leave.
    About your question, Kriss! You read stat and full of stat, but I am travelling a lot and see the difference between Western Canada and province of Quebec. Pretty big difference. People are working hard in the ROC and don’t dream of welfare. This is the shame over there. In Quebec is opposite. Sort of “I’ve got it!” Yes, there is welfare in the ROC, but 2-3 months. No more. In Quebec unlimited.
    Aufiderzen

    Geck

    October 10, 2008 at 7:51 pm

  17. Regarding Acajack’s vision of English as a local phenomenon: great observations. I hope those that create businesses in which they want to operate in English are continued to be allowed to do so.

    T.K.

    October 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm

  18. Greck

    “If you want to leave, just leave”
    Does this “you” you’re talking about include de 51 % of quebecois francohpne, anglohone and allophone who voted NO last référendum?

    “Your leftist “ politburo style” politicians that came from the sixties.”
    Do you include Jack Layton ( who is from Quebec as well) and all his supporters of NDP?

    Kriss

    October 10, 2008 at 9:26 pm

  19. GECK
    Actually when you look at it, the provincial New Democratic Party currently form the government in the province of Manitoba, and provincial parties have previously formed governments in British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and in the Yukon territory.
    THe NDP has now 30 seats in Ottawa.

    So it seems Canadians like “leftist “ politburo style” politicians” as well.,
    or is it ok for canadians but bad for québécois to think left?

    Kriss

    October 10, 2008 at 9:35 pm

  20. No, I am talking about 49% of yes vote, the other allos and anglos probably will take highway 401 west.
    Layton is a typical social democrat, the same model of sixties, PQ/BQ clon minus separatism.
    BTW, your welfare system attracts lots of welfare motivated immigrants french and not french speaking. The problem getting deeper and deeper. I don’t think the real Quebec needs them. Where is the real Quebec?

    Geck

    October 10, 2008 at 9:55 pm

  21. To think left is bad for everybody, trotskism, marxism, leninism, separatism – everything behind. Look forward.

    Geck

    October 10, 2008 at 10:00 pm

  22. “To think left is bad for everybody, trotskism, marxism, leninism, separatism – everything behind. Look forward.”
    Well, I don’t really know if left is so bad, but I know for sure the dammage right economical view and politics made in many countries such as Tatcher’s England.

    Kriss

    October 11, 2008 at 1:10 am

  23. “To think left is bad for everybody, trotskism, marxism, leninism, separatism – everything behind. Look forward.”

    Are you sure you’re up to defending Free Market capitlism this morning?

    Or do you not get newspapers in the crack pipe fantasy world you live in?

    OtherAngryFrenchGuy

    October 11, 2008 at 8:46 am

  24. AFG: “I have an accent in French?”

    You have an adorable accent in English! But yes, you do also have an accent in French. You have a beautiful Québec accent. Not to make you blush, but your dipthongs are showing. =) Everyone has an accent, because everyone is from somewhere. Don’t worry about it.

    Touriste

    December 14, 2008 at 7:21 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: