AngryFrenchGuy

Why You Should Vote Bloc and Why I Will Not

with 151 comments

You’re all going to accuse me of being a bourgeois socialist so let’s just make one thing clear right away:

I am. Big time.

I’m from the very bourgeois NDG and given we are exactly the same age, I came just this close to being bourgeois pinup Justin Trudeau’s classmate at the very bourgeois Collège Brébeuf.  In my youth there’s been yacht clubs and brunches at the Hôtel Bonaventure.  I’ve owned plenty of penny loafers and polo shirts.

That said bourgeoisie doesn’t always rhyme with money and I’ve got more working class patches than most of you bitches.  I’ve got a taxi driver’s pocket number and I’ve hauled big rigs all the way down to MS and BC.  I’ve been union. I’ve even been a Teamster.

(Although looking back at my trucking days, cruising in New England in my Volvo, sipping allongés from my in-cab coffee machine and listening to René Homier-Roy on my satellite radio, I have to admit I was still pretty bourgeois…)

As we head into worldwide financial apocalypse, all indicates that on next Tuesday Canadians are going to re-elect a Conservative government determined to avenge the memory of Herbert Hoover, who was kicked out of the White House in 1933 just as his Great Depression action plan of doing absolutely nothing for four years and letting the markets sort themselves out was just about to show some results, or so he said.

Great Britain is about to nationalize British banks and George W. Bush nationalized AIG, Freddie Mac and Fanny May.  It doesn’t matter what your political ideology is or what Stephen Harper thinks about it, this is the new world order.

No other party than the Bloc has as many people who have first hand experience with the Québec tradition of using the state as an economic and financial agent with institutions like la Caisse de Placement et de Dépôt du Québec, Hydro-Québec, la Société Générale de Financement and the like.  No party has as much knowledge on how such institutions work and how they fail.  Conservatives are hostile to government intervention.  The Bloc has people that understand government intervention.

Québec’s Quiet Revolution was Canada’s most wide-ranging, most recent and most successful attempt to use the state to manage and reform an economy.  No other party can claim to represent the legacy of the Quiet Revolution better than the sovereigntists and the Bloc.  The Bloc can’t form the government but we need their knowledge and expertise in Parliament and in the committees.

By definition sovereigntists have not been afraid of overhauling institutions.  At the root of the sovereingtist movement there are people who spent their whole lives taking on corporations for the benefit of people who had no capital and limited power.

The Bloc’s left is not the old left.  More than any other party, even more than the NDP, the sovereingtist movement counts people who have been at the front lines of novel and progressive ways of thinking about the markets and capitalism. Think of Yves Michaud (goolge’s sad translation) and what he’s done for shareholder activism or of Parti québécois vice-president François Rebello and his work for socially responsible investing.

The Bloc can’t make Québec an independent country without another referendum.  You can support the Bloc without supporting sovereignty.  Don’t let your Canadian nationalism stand in the way.

That said, I ain’t voting for the Bloc.

I vote in the riding of Westmount Ville-Marie and in my riding the MP is not chosen by the voters.  It’s chosen by the members of The Party. Over here, as in the Soviet Union and in China, people don’t vote for ideas or candidates, they vote for the colour red. In 2006 the Liberals had an 11 000 vote majority.  In 2004 it was 16 000.

The Conservatives are not a threat here.  Our only hail mary hope for some change is for the riding’s sizable progressives (like myslef) and the handful or separatists (also like myslef) and the enviromentalists (that’s me) unite together like they did in neighboring Outremont and elect the NDP’s Anne Lagacé-Dowson.

In last Wednesday’s Gazette – Montreal’s Anglo newspaper – Lagacé-Dowson and Thomas Mulcair, the NDP MP from Outremont defended their support for a Bloc québécois bill that would’ve extended bill 101’s protection of the right to work in French to the federal service in Québec and to other federally chartered institutions.

“To give you the simplest possible example, a woman working at the Royal Bank doesn’t have the same linguistic rights as her colleague working across the street at the Caisse Populaire”, Mulcair told the Gazette.

He did qualify his support, saying he only wanted to extend the debate to committee, but you can’t deny it takes a serious set of mexican huevos for a pair of Anglos to defend the expansion of the Charter of the French Language in an English newspaper in the middle of an election campaign.

Armchair socialists of the world unite!

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 12, 2008 at 10:46 pm

151 Responses

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  1. “A sovereign Quebec, or a truly recognized distinct Quebec inside Canada, will certainly continue to try and consolidate its culture and identity. That is one overt aim of every democratic government we’ve ever had, all the way back to Papineau. Just as Canada will go on trying to consolidate its own identity, and get its citizens to adhere to it. Just as every other nation on the planet.”

    Yes, my point here is that you guys are criticizing a centralized Canadian government and mocking its attempts to promote a Candian identity, but are more than OK with a Quebec government trying to do the same thing.

    AM

    October 19, 2008 at 8:14 am

  2. “Great, so now we’re fantasising about exterminating minority languages in the name of diversity. Beautiful little Orwellian two-step there.”

    Where did anyone talk aobut exterminating minority languages in Quebec? We’re talking about maintaining a certain equilibrium. Would people in Regina be happy if the entire city became French-speaking, or Gujarati-speaking or German-speaking? Would they just sit back and accept it and say, hey man, that’s just evolution? Go with the flow, you know…

    Please show us where in my posts or Raman’s there is anything that would involve extermination (eg support for eliminating educational institutions in English, expulsions or deportation, violence). Because that is what extermination involves, unless you have some personal definition that is borne out of your own hysteria.

    Acajack

    October 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm

  3. Perhaps Holy’s reaction to Raman’s very thoughtful post is due in part to statements like :

    “Step outside of French-speaking Quebec (or often, sadly, inside of Montreal’s Anglo ghettos) and through no conscious effort, we’re suddenly in neighbor territory. Closer neighbor than say New-York, but neighbor nonetheless”

    The sentiment behind Raman’s characterization of Montreal anglo communities as ghettos and his belief that there is something sad about their existence could certainly lead one to believe that assimilation is his desired outcome.

    Anonymous

    October 19, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  4. Raman,

    thanks for the info.

    I am not familiar with the philosophers that you listed except for Charles Taylor because of a certain, recent commission on accommodation he was involved in.

    I will read up on John Rawls

    Antonio

    October 19, 2008 at 6:08 pm

  5. “The sentiment behind Raman’s characterization of Montreal anglo communities as ghettos and his belief that there is something sad about their existence could certainly lead one to believe that assimilation is his desired outcome.”

    I don’t this his comment was so much that the actual existence of these communities is a thing to be sad about, but rather that there has been in these communities a self-imposed isolation from the surrounding francophone environment. That is what is sad, especially when compared to francophone communities in places like Ottawa, Sudbury, Timmins, Moncton (in local population proportions equal or, usually, quite larger than that of Anglo-Montreal), where no such self-exclusion/segreation/isolation vis-à-vis the ambient anglo environment exists.

    Acajack

    October 19, 2008 at 6:26 pm

  6. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the isolation of Montreal anglos is real. What remains to be decided is whether it is self-imposed.

    What I took away from Raman’s post, among other things, is that it is perfectly normal, from a sociologigacl pont of view, for a group of people who share common cultural references (language being a major aspect of this) to have a harder time identifying with those who don’t share those things.

    His post, I think, was meant as and recived as a justification for the citizens of Gatineau to feel different from the anglos of Ottawa. Yet, here we are again, failing to extend the same understanding to the anglos of Montreal. The same arguments that are, at a minimum an explanation, and can even be seen as a celebration of Quebecois identity vis-a-vis the Canadian identity are being used to condemn Montreal anglos.

    And while I don’t want to question your expertise on the realities of francophone Ontario, to suggest that they don’t themselves maintain their own institutions and communities, to an even greater degree than anglo Montreal in some cases is a bit misleading.

    RoryBellows

    October 19, 2008 at 7:09 pm

  7. Raman:

    “Québec’s perenniality, as a distinct cultural identity from larger North-American hegemony, is in peril. Canadian multicultural nation building idealism, as well as American liberal and post-national (i.e. “English”) idealism, are making inroads.”

    You realise that every time you say something like that, Jean-Marie Le Pen gets two cents.

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 8:10 pm

  8. « The sentiment behind Raman’s characterization of Montreal anglo communities as ghettos and his belief that there is something sad about their existence could certainly lead one to believe that assimilation is his desired outcome. »

    Only if they can’t read.
    Frankly, only cherry picking and heavy distorting – or possibly grave ADD — could make Holy, AM, T.K. or anyone else smell such fascism in my words.


    First, I never said, either explicitly or implicitly, that “all” anglo communities are ghettos. I even mentioned that many Allos and Anglos feel more Québécois than Canadian.
    To imply that I paint “all Anglos” to be like this or like that, is just a step below calling me an anglophobic racist.

    My comment did point to the fact that a sizable many Montreal Anglos (and anglophile Allos) do live inside a no-French bubble, and don’t seem very curious to know what exists outside of it. -Those whose TV sets apparently don’t have knobs for French channels, who are apparently blind to the existence of French newspapers, music bands, movies, theater…, and in whose consciousness the presence of 6 million French-speakers only manifests itself if it gets reported in The Gazette (or when they hit the occasional dépanneur owner who can’t answer them in English).

    It’s their choice, mind you. And I don’t recall suggesting that they should be sent to re-education gulags.
    In the context of what I was saying, that comment only meant that you can’t expect French-speaking Quebeckers to spontaneously feel culturally familiar with them, and vice versa.

    -When meeting a) Joe Smith, whose family has been in Quebec for several generations but who speaks only basic French because he was forced to learn it in little school, and b) Ahmed Zeitouni who arrived 15 years ago and endeavored to learn :
    -If Ahmed is a fan of Arian Moffat, thinks Daniel Bélanger’s lyrics are plain, loved the movie C.R.A.Z.Y but thinks nothing beats a Francis Weber comedy — whereas Joe doesn’t suspect the existence of any that — well there are great chances that French Quebeckers will more spontaneously feel that Ahmed is closer to them, whereas Joe will fall into a category near “tourist making a lifelong visit in Frenchland” in terms of cultural proximity.

    Again, I’m not saying that “all” Anglos are Joe Smiths : Just saying that is not illegitimate to wish more Joe Smiths would join in the gang, or would at least stop cry out “fascism !” while fighting for Ahmed’s “right” not to learn French.


    Second, I also did say, in answer to T.K. regarding language laws, that Québec’s aim was not to make minority languages disappear, but to get linguistic minorities to be able to function in the political community’s public language. That is part of the type of nation-building I said was legitimate for Quebec. As it is legitimate for Canada or any other nation.
    (Where exactly did I mock Canada, AM ?)

    Let me ask again : Which society would wish to become fragmented into a mosaic of sub-groups unable to even communicate together, unable to know each other, and would wish for minorities to remain unable to understand the democratic majority’s political and social choices ?


    Finally, to label someone an “assimilationist” when they express the desire to see minorities able to communicate and “integrate” (please read well), is like labeling someone “right-wing” or “racist”. -It is only a convenient tactic that serves to kill the debate. A cheap way to silence someone without debating the potential validity of their arguments.

    -Have you guys never heard the following rule ? -« In a debate, whoever compares their opponent to Hitler is immediately disqualified »…

    Raman

    October 19, 2008 at 8:12 pm

  9. Holy,

    You’re disqualified.

    Raman

    October 19, 2008 at 8:13 pm

  10. Hi RoryBellows! Good to have you back.

    Now, although you haven’t said it yet, I think I know where you’re going with this, so I may as well tell you right away that I agree with the next point you are going to make: that anglos in Montreal are today far less isolated from francophone reality than they might have been in the past, and that they are less and less isolated (and thus more integrated with mainstream Quebec – which is largely francophone – with each generation).

    Regarding Franco-Ontarians in particular, well since I spent, as I often do, most of the day today with these people in our neighbouring province, I would say that they are much much more integrated with mainstream Ontario than Anglo-Montrealers or Anglo-Quebecers are with their province. There isn’t a francophone in Ottawa who doesn’t know the local CTV news anchorman Max Keeeping. And the vast majority of francophones in Ottawa I know subscribe to the Ottawa Citizen rather than Ottawa’s LeDroit, which ironically was founded to defend their rights, but now is mostly a Gatineau and West Quebec paper. As well, contrary to Céline Dion, Shania Twain didn’t have to sign in the other official language in order for the minority language group (close to 40% francophone) in her own city to even know that she existed. Now all of this may not make for a community with linguistic staying power, but it does make them at the very least integrated and. most importantly, at peace with the place they call home.

    Finally, I don’t really know what you mean when you say that they “maintain their own institutions and communities, to an even greater degree than anglo Montreal”… so I’d really like to hear what more you would have to say about this.

    Acajack

    October 19, 2008 at 8:17 pm

  11. Didn’t compare you to Hitler, Raman, but the parallel with Serbia (actually Serbia on Kosovo more than on Bosnia), not to mention with Le Pen, is entirely apt and I stand by it. See below.

    “Let me ask again : Which society would wish to become fragmented into a mosaic of sub-groups unable to even communicate together, unable to know each other, and would wish for minorities to remain unable to understand the democratic majority’s political and social choices ?”

    Again the equation of the political unit of Quebec with the total society! And again the burden lies only on the minorities to come to grips with the majority, culturally and linguistically! Since when was that an a priori imperative? Only in a bizarre and frightening vision in which the State represents a homogeneous society. No individual, and no community, has a “duty” to integrate with the larger society. If you think that, you are on the extreme right whether you realise it or not.

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 8:37 pm

  12. Ok Holy, I quit, you win.

    And, to show you how magnanimous I am, I’ll even help consolidate your worldview :
    -When I cross pregnant women on the street who don’t speak French, I kick them in the belly.

    Raman

    October 19, 2008 at 8:53 pm

  13. “Again the equation of the political unit of Quebec with the total society! And again the burden lies only on the minorities to come to grips with the majority, culturally and linguistically! Since when was that an a priori imperative? Only in a bizarre and frightening vision in which the State represents a homogeneous society. No individual, and no community, has a “duty” to integrate with the larger society. If you think that, you are on the extreme right whether you realise it or not.”

    I think most Francos who come to this blog would agree that it’s desirable, and quite cool actually, to be able to use/read/speak English and check out what Canadian and American artists and thinkers are up to.

    I’m not saying some Francos are not sheltered, but boy did you find the wrong place to meet them…

    I certainly am conscious at all time that I am a Francophone in NORTH AMERICA. I cannot conceive of my life without English. But I still get angry when I can’t buy friggin’ milk in my own language in Montreal… I don’t see how that makes me the proponent of a frightning and bizarre homogenous society…

    angryfrenchguy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm

  14. Actually that surprises me if true. Most right-wing intellectuals are physical cowards.

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm

  15. sorry, above comment was meant for Raman, not angryfrenchguy.

    “I think most Francos who come to this blog would agree that it’s desirable, and quite cool actually, to be able to use/read/speak English and check out what Canadian and American artists and thinkers are up to.”

    Well, good for them. But when we talk about “when I step into the anglo ghettos” we’re not talking about curious, outgoing, intellectually engaged people, we’re talking about the equivalent of Brossard or Laval. As always, the enemy looks like what he is and one’s own side looks like oneself, great and good and glorious.

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:06 pm

  16. “Well, good for them. But when we talk about “when I step into the anglo ghettos” we’re not talking about curious, outgoing, intellectually engaged people, we’re talking about the equivalent of Brossard or Laval.”

    I have spent most of my life in one of these ghettos. I share just about every Anglo reference, be it TV, movies, books, comedians, authors, thinkers with my Anglo neighbors, these Anglos can throw at me. A frightning number of them, even if they know some French, have no notion of, or interest in, Québec TV, music or litterature.

    It is a ghetto.

    angryfrenchguy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:10 pm

  17. Yeah, and Laval isn’t?

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:16 pm

  18. «Actually that surprises me if true. Most right-wing intellectuals are physical cowards.»

    Hence my targeting only pregnant women. (I told you I wanted to comfort your worldview.)


    Frankly, I don’t know why I bother, because you’ve vastly proven yourself to be very dishonest, as well as living in a fantasy world that resembles a bad trip on pcp.

    But I would like to point out that, by your definition, probably every single governing body on the planet is “right-wing”, as everywhere immigrant and minority communities are either strongly encouraged or made to learn the majority’s language of the territory where they settle. In every country, minorities are expected to integrate to at least functional level.

    May I suggest that you start learning basic stuff about politics, history, and the meaning of concepts like “right wing” before you publicly accuse people of being evil ?

    Raman

    October 19, 2008 at 9:25 pm

  19. “May I suggest that you start learning basic stuff about politics, history, and the meaning of concepts like “right wing” before you publicly accuse people of being evil ?”

    May I suggest that you turn 25?

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:29 pm

  20. “everywhere immigrant and minority communities are either strongly encouraged or made to learn the majority’s language of the territory where they settle”

    But with the anglos we are not talking about immigrants, Mr. Soon-to-be-M.A. We are talking about a community that’s been living in Montreal for two hundred years.

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:32 pm

  21. “Yeah, and Laval isn’t?”

    Find a kid in Laval who isn’t aware of North American Culture and I’ll pay for your dinner at Timmie’s.

    I think Québec culture is very much a healthy subculture of North American culture. You’re just bitter because it isn’t a subculture of ENGLISH Montreal culture.

    angryfrenchguy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:38 pm

  22. Of course they’re aware of it, but an anglo going there is going to feel just about as culturally isolated as a typical francophone in an anglo ghetto. The fact that anglos don’t typically watch Quebec TV is neither here nor there. Both communities are inundated with American TV and American movies and American everything. How many kids in Laval are familiar with the anglo Montreal subculture at all? None I’ve ever met.

    holy

    October 19, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  23. Raman,

    You shouldn’t feel so defensive about my anonymous post above. I was merely trying to point out one paragraph in what I acknowledged was an excellent post that may have caused Holy to react the way he did. Admittedly, I could have thrown in the word “supposed” in a couple of places to make my point more clear. Holy seems capable of making his own points though.

    I stand by my criticism of the ghetto vs. justifiably distinct society double standard. But, as Acajack noted, I’m only repeating myself on this point.

    RoryBellows

    October 19, 2008 at 11:45 pm

  24. Acajack: “Finally, I don’t really know what you mean when you say that they “maintain their own institutions and communities, to an even greater degree than anglo Montreal”… so I’d really like to hear what more you would have to say about this.”

    I know, it’s probably not a great idea for me to open up a discussion on the cultural protection that Franco-Ontariens enjoy. I guess what I had in mind wasn’t so much places like Ottawa, Sudbury or Timmins, of which I have limited knowledge, but smaller towns near Quebec, like Hawkesbury, Rockland, Alexandria etc. There, french seems quite common. My point was simply that I don’t see those communities rushing to turn in their membership cards.

    As to the services that they enjoy to an even greater degree than anglo Montrealers (and they are quite limited) what I had in mind at the time were the network of health clinics that offer exclusive services to some minority groups, including francophones. The name of the program escapes me at the moment. This is different, in theory at least, to an english Quebec clinic/hospital, which is english (again, in theory) only in that it is administered in english. It doesn’t have any bearing on who is eligible to use the service.

    But I don’t want to get into a comparison of linguistic minorities in the two provinces. Too many things are different, including population density and the prevalence of anglo culture in Quebec vs. franco culture in Ontario. I think it is fair to say that, to the degree to which it is reasonable, both groups are protective of their respective indentities and to the degree that it is necessary, both groups have adopted aspects of their linguistic counterpart’s culture.

    RoryBellows

    October 20, 2008 at 12:11 am

  25. Hi Rory,
    Glad you’re back. (Maybe I’m mistaken, but I seem to recall you’d decided not to post here anymore, or maybe just to take a break…)

    And don’t worry, I didn’t take offense at all from you anonymous post. It was balanced and honest, as your comments and criticisms usually are. I was answering Holy and others through it.

    Here is another (way too long) answer that you can criticize.


    «What I took away from Raman’s post, among other things, is that it is perfectly normal, from a sociologigacl pont of view, for a group of people who share common cultural references (language being a major aspect of this) to have a harder time identifying with those who don’t share those things.»

    -Pretty much exactly that.

    «His post, I think, was meant as and recived as a justification for the citizens of Gatineau to feel different from the anglos of Ottawa. »

    -Not really a “justification” : More so a claim that this is a normal, natural, sate of things.
    It is quite a universally spread trait that humans will recognize people who share their culture as their own kin, more than they do people who can’t speak their language and don’t know anything about their sphere of references. Sharing a common culture is a society’s lubricant. Which doesn’t at all mean that you should devalue, mistrust or hate people who don’t share your culture, or that you shouldn’t feel just as much compassion for them.

    -Also, I am not in any way making an ethical statement about the existence of cultural proximity and cultural distance : Just saying it exists, and drawing conclusions from it. I’m also saying that someone would be greatly deluded to deny it, or to claim that it is immoral for a people with a distinct culture to call for its recognition.
    But that is just what happens when politicians, journalists or normal folks from the ROC (or from Montreal anglo ghettos…) deny that there is any specificity to Quebec, and label any assertion of it as fascism, or as ethnic tribalism.

    «Yet, here we are again, failing to extend the same understanding to the anglos of Montreal. The same arguments that are, at a minimum an explanation, and can even be seen as a celebration of Quebecois identity vis-a-vis the Canadian identity are being used to condemn Montreal anglos.»

    Here, I will probably repeat stuff I’ve said last time we talked. But here goes.

    Again, I, but also AFG, Acajack, and just about every Québécois nationalist I know, do not wish for the disappearance of Quebec’s and Montréal’s English communities. Not at all.
    And, since I’ve been talking about culture, you can be sure that when we meet with outsiders, most of us are super proud to brag about Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Patrick Watson, Wolf Parade, Leonard Cohen, The Stills… All are the voices of the fantastic creativity borne out of Montreal’s and Quebec’s diversity, its unique makeup, and its Anglo community which is quite distinct itself. (And maybe we like to think that the Francophone presence has a little something to do with the fact that Anglos here are cooler than elsewhere…)

    But these things are in no way problematic. That’s why I don’t talk much about it here.

    Obviously, many Anglo-Quebecker of this generation are well integrated, are fluently bilingual, and feel quite at home among the French. And it is reciprocal.
    But every French person who evolves in Anglophone milieus also knows that a great many don’t.

    I know you’ve criticized my resorting to anecdotal evidences in the past. But please trust the credentials I’ve given before : I’ve spent the better part of these last 25 years (minus 5 years in Asia) straddling Montreal’s language division. And a division there is.
    From these years of accumulated anecdotal evidence, I honestly cannot say that a strong majority of the English-speaking folks I’ve met, studied with, worked with and befriended were of the bilingual, fully integrated kind. Most do speak at least some French, and many are pretty fluent. But only a minority are well aware of what animates their French neighbors.

    Seriously : Pretty much everyday that I go out of my house, I find myself explaining stuff like who Yvon Deschamps is, to folks who have lived here either all or a great part of their life (!!!).

    In and of itself, that is not problematic. As I said above, they don’t “have to” care.
    What many of us perceive as problematic is that, at the end of the day, we share a city, we share a society. We live, work, shop and go out side by side. Yet, the French remain strangers to Anglos.
    Most of the French folks who often encounter Anglos endeavor to know their neighbors better, endeavor to acquire the means to better communicate with them, and they rejoice in the Anglo community’s cultural inputs. But we feel, and indeed experience, that the effort is not reciprocal.
    -If sharing a culture is social lubricant, we feel we are too often the only ones lubricating.

    That leads to several problematic things.

    -First, there is the the mistrust, borne of knowing us very little, that is often expressed towards the French and our politics, by Anglos who see us as potential fascists and racists. How often have I heard Anglos denounce the Québécois identity as exclusive, “ethnic” (what a dirty word!), when in fact it is those individuals who themselves seem to carefully avoid any contact with our culture.
    It is problematic to crack up The Gazette, The Suburban, The National Post, or tune into CJAD, and hear yourself depicted as a potential fascist, the PQ as Nazis. But even more so when you then close your newspaper to go to work in your English school, and you realize that all the teachers never read French at all, and so only get that viewpoint.

    -Another thing is that many of us can’t help but detect a form of passive racism expressed in the English community’s apparent lack of interest for everything French. I don’t mean aggressive, active racism. But, after all, if someone categorically rejects everything you do as uninteresting and systematically avoids you, you’re likely to feel they don’t think very much of you. No?

    Understand me : I’m in no way accusing the English community members of malevolence or spite. Just avoidance, neglect.

    -And finally there is also the mixed messages sent to immigrants, when they realize they’ve landed in an Anglo ghettos, where they hear repeated claims that «This is Canada, we speak English here», and it offers them a chance to avoid learning French at all.
    What a loss for mainstream Quebec culture to see all this cultural input attracted solely to the English sphere ! By maintaining the Anglo ghettos, the English community in turn encloses us into one.


    In closing (maybe what follows is, after all, the most important stuff I have to say),

    You and I know that things aren’t dramatic, and that we are not on the brink of a civil war or anything. We know that daily interactions are pretty smooth. And I’d even add that things have steadily been getting better on the level of linguistic interactions over the last 30 years or so. (Though I make no prognostic for the future.)

    I’d also like to state something that is obvious to me, but maybe needs to be said :
    -Political conflicts are political; social conflicts are social; individual conflicts are individual. The greatest mistake one can make is to confuse one for another.
    Though I come here to talk about social and political frictions, I do not feel at all in conflict with the Anglo individuals I meet everyday, and whom I take as they come : As people who should be evaluated on personal merit, not linguistic capacity.

    So, when reading my comments, keep in mind that this is a space designed to discuss and debate just such frictions. So please read with an “Objects in the blog are smaller than they appear” warning in mind.

    Peace.
    (Wow. Maybe I should go to sleep…)

    Raman

    October 20, 2008 at 2:19 am

  26. Talking about Yvon Deschamps, I remembered this incident, which is a good example of what I was just saying :
    An Yvon Deschamps stand up comedy tape was retracted from a charity financing after a unilingual Anglo resident and The Gazette protested, mistakenly taking an anti-racism skit to be pro-racism.

    Only very deep and widespread ignorance of the Québécois culture, doubled with mistrust, could have caused such a thing to happen and conclude that way.

    http://archives.vigile.net/pol/racisme/ducasdeschamps.html

    Raman

    October 20, 2008 at 2:29 am

  27. I have touched on this before, but I suspect that a lot–probably most–of Québec anglos are functional in the French language, but that fewer of them are familiar with Québec’s French language culture. Learning a language and learning cultural references are two very different things.

    I think that part of the cause of this may lie in the way French is taught to us Anglos in northeastern North America. Most of the material used centers on France and European French rather than on Québec and Québec French, or at least that is how I was taught French, anyhow. I think that this is a mistake, especially in a Canada/Québec context. When we learn Spanish here, we are taught Latin American (usually Mexican) Spanish (and its culture), rather than the kind they speak in Madrid. It would make similar sense to teach us Québec French (and, say, Robert Charlebois songs) rather than Parisian French and “Sur le pont d’Avignon.”

    littlerob

    October 20, 2008 at 5:46 am

  28. Fine, let’s accept all that Raman, AFG and Acajack are saying about which community is less integrated or more integrated. That is not what I was talking about. My point is the following:

    What I am hearing is that the fact Quebec has a distinct culture from the ROC is a positive and that it is a big reason why the province should be independent or have even more autonomy:

    Raman “In the minds of Quebecers, that culture actually exists, whereas Canadian culture is seen as either a fiction, or as foreign.
    Hence our insistence at being recognized as a distinct nation.”

    However, the fact that there is a minority in Quebec who seems to not share in this Quebec culture (I assume Anglos and English speaking Allos are what is meant by this minority) is a negative and should be legislated by extending things like loi 101 to CEGEPS and small businesses.

    AM

    October 20, 2008 at 6:19 am

  29. “(Where exactly did I mock Canada, AM ?)”

    Raman, I wrote “you guys”, not you per se.

    AM

    October 20, 2008 at 6:37 am

  30. AM:

    So
    Anglo-Quebec is to Quebec
    what
    Quebec is to Canada?

    Though it’s not the first time I’ve heard this analogy, it’s always an interesting one. It has almost become Anglo-Quebec’s self-proclaimed insurance policy against independence.

    As with most such self-justificative brainwaves, there are a few problems with its logic.

    If we look at Quebec’s relationship with Canada, one of the main justifications for special status/independence/autonomy/distinct society is its uniqueness. Basically, that Quebec as it is sociologically and culturally doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. Quebec is not just an outpost of France like the zillions of ethnic neighbourhoods that exist in Canadian cities and elsewhere are offshoots of cultures that already have home bases in Turkey, Russia, Italy, China, etc.

    Admittedly, the heritage from France has a huge place in Quebec, but the province is nonetheless the product of a fusion between the French, aboriginal, Irish, WASP and modern North American, etc. cultures. In that sense it is totally unique (as distinct as U.S. culture is from Britain, or Mexican culture is from Spain) and does not and cannot exist (and, most importantly survive) anywhere else in the world. If it dies off in Quebec it vanishes off the face of the earth. Plain and simple.

    So there you have “Quebec Cultural Sociology for Dummies”.

    Now, if we go back to our original analogy (Anglo-Quebec is to Quebec what Quebec is to Canada), can the same “uniqueness” argument be made for Anglo-Quebec? It’s not really up to me to decide which of the two following theories applies, but it would seem to me that Anglo-Quebec can only be construed as one of two things, either:

    – the Anglo-Quebec community is an enclave or an outpost of the English-Canadian nation (which is in turn is a subset of the larger Anglo-North American culture), that just happens to be located in a province that is mainly French-speaking, but aside from some language practicalities, its location in Quebec has had little effect on its culture; in this sense, the community’s situation would be not that different of that of the millions of Russian speakers in the Baltic states.

    OR

    – the Anglo-Quebec community is a bona fide part of Quebec, and effectively embodies the “Quebec experience” in North America, except that it does it in English; and although its cultural integration with the francophone majority may not yet be at the level desired by the latter group, there is no question that the fact that the community is based in largely francophone Quebec has left an indelible imprint on what it is; take it out of Quebec, and it wouldn’t be Anglo-Quebec anymore, just “Anglo-Anywhere North America”; astonishingly, if one takes a fresh, honest look at this, it could even be suggested under this hypothesis that the Anglo-Quebec identity’s continuity at least partly hinges on the survival of French as a common language in Quebec, since rubbing shoulders with ambient Frenchness is a big part of what makes it what it is.

    As I said before, it’s not up to me decide how the Anglo-Quebec community defines itself, but judging from its opinion leaders and behaviour out there in the real Quebec world, it would seem to me that there is no real consensus on which of the two descriptions is the accurate one.

    Acajack

    October 20, 2008 at 8:36 am


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