AngryFrenchGuy

Québec, Israël and Palestine

with 142 comments

one-love

It is no secret, when it comes to the situation in the Middle East, sympathies in Québec are overwhelmingly on the side of the Palestinians.

Although it would be unfair to compare the two situations, there is something automatic, almost visceral, in the way people in Québec identify with the conquered people living in Occupied Territories.  The images of the uneven war between a makeshift resistance armed with rocks and old soviet rockets and one of the world’s most modern armies echoes with something very profound about the way we see ourselves.

Until Jacques Parizeau asked them to leave in the mid-80’s, the Parti québécois invited representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation at all its assemblies and members of the Front de Libération du Québec trained with the PLO in Jordan in the 1970s.  To this day, members of Québec’s sovereignty movement like Gilles Duceppe, Amir Khadir and Pierre Falardeau are staples of any demonstration against israeli aggressions.

I used to feel the same way.  Not anymore.

As much as I am horrified by much of Israel’s way of dealing with the Palestinians and as much as I am disgusted by the blatant racism and islamophobia of Israel’s apologists in much of the Canadian media like the National Post and Maclean’s, I have come to understand Israel’s position much better recently, and I did it by – if you will – putting Québec in Israel’s shoes.

Take a step back with me.

After a long and emotional campaign during which all of the past injustices suffered by the French-Canadians, from the deportation of the Acadians to the economic discrimination of the 20th century, have been dredged up, Québec has just become an independent country.  At long last a free, independent and secure homeland for French-speakers in America.

The vote and it’s consequences causes fear and panic in English-speaking parts of Montreal.  Many leave their homes and move in with family in the rest of Canada, at least temporarily.  Quickly, resistance is organized in the West Island and the Pontiac.  Heavily financed by Canadian nationalist and patriots in Ontario and Alberta unable to accept any form of independence for Québec, the Canadian Liberation Organisation makes plans for the complete and final reconquest of Québec.

After countless deaths and destruction caused by Canadian terrorists operating out of bases in DDO and Shawville, the Québec government is forced to impose an always tighter control on Anglo areas, including countless check points, curfews and even walls.  Further complicating things, ultra-nationalist Québécois factions are building settlements in Pointe-Claire and the Ottawa Valley in the name of a divine right of the Québécois to occupy the whole territory of Québec.  At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Anglos who left Québec in the days following the referendum are now demanding the right to return and the restitution of their property.

Sympathies in the vast CNN watching North American public are overwhelmingly on the side of Québec Anglos whom they naturally identify with as they are of the same culture and speak the same language.  Anglo leaders know this and use it to their advantage as a vast campaign of Québec-bashing is orchestrated and dutifully relayed by the American and Canadian media.

Anglo Resistance leaders also spend much time on American television explaining how they are just a peaceful people trying to establish a peaceful homeland for Anglo-Quebecers, conveniently overlooking the fact that just yesterday they vowed to destroy the State of Québec and drive every last French-speaker in the St.Lawrence River.

And so it drags on, for years and decades.  Québec, with scarcely a friend (except for France, which doesn’t exactly help in North America) continues to protect its security and defend its citizens in the face of worldwide criticism.  Meanwhile, Anglos in the West Island and the Ottawa Valley suffer indignities that are simultaneously the cause and consequence of their support for always more radical leaders.

Of course, all of this is political fiction and I certainly don’t believe there is any reason to think things could ever breakdown so badly in Québec.  And I certainly don’t want to trivialize the pain and suffering of the people of the Middle East.

But I also think the people of Québec, and especially my friends in the sovereignty movement, should be careful before they throw their first stone at the State of Israel.

Peace.

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm

142 Responses

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  1. Bruce: “That’s why I need to wear the ‘Cassé’ t-shirt,”

    Don’t short-change yourself, man. You’re way better than a “cassé” in French!

    Acajack

    January 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

  2. GCL:

    “Moderate, tolerant, open-minded Canadians intervene on those boards to state that while, sure, some people in Quebec are really bigoted, not all Quebecers are separatists.”

    ( sigh…..)

    Kriss

    January 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm

  3. If any Anglo ever wants to endure humiliation in the course of speaking an acquired language, I suggest that they do what I did and pick up Spanish from Puerto Ricans. I have learned that there is nothing more humorous to a Mexican/Colombian/Peruvian, etc., than a white faced Anglo who speaks mediocre Spanish with a combined Yankee/Puerto Rican accent, and who uses Puerto Rican words and expressions.

    Puerto Ricans normally do not pronounce the letter s before unvoiced stop consonants, and intervocalic d’s are routinely dropped entirely. The result is that a word like “estado” sounds more like “etao.”

    Bearing in mind that wearing the t-shirts that I described must always be VOLUNTARY, may I suggest a fourth one: “Pas du tout.” The shirts could also be color coded–medium blue for “couramment,” paler blues for the next two grades, and red for “Pas du tout.”

    I would suggest that the closest thing to an aboriginal people in Palestine are the local Christians. A lot of them have gotten the hell out of the country, however, and I don’t blame them. I have read those who stay endure harassment from both Jews and Muslims.

    littlerob

    January 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm

  4. If I can move things back closer to the original topic, I must say that personally I have reflected on the potential for political violence in Quebec and, sadly, would say that some radical francophone groups are probably those I would fear the most.

    I know that there has always been a fear among the anglo population that a Oui victory for sovereignists would lead to some apocalyptic purge of non-francophones in the post-referendum period. I don’t agree with this particular view at all, and on the contrary think that hypothetical independence for Quebec would bring some pretty “good vibes” to a large segment of the province’s francophone population. So I wouldn’t worry too much about violent behaviour from francophones if ever this happened.

    No, what makes me really afraid is more a scenario under which a segment of the “purs et durs” sovereignist camp might come to the conclusion that achieving independence via democratic means had, for whatever reasons, become a hopeless case. Couple this with their long-standing bitterness about the 1995 referendum having been “stolen” from them, and the increased presence of English in the public sphere in Montreal and other areas like the Outaouais (quite apparent these days I must say) that some observers feel is soon to spread to other “attractive” areas of Quebec like the Laurentians and Quebec City that ROC Canadians and Americans are increasingly discovering or rediscovering…

    Though far from an identical situation, there would under this scenario be some similarities between Quebec and a place like the Basque country of Spain, where the number of Spanish (Castellano) speakers is very high (perhaps a majority?), the Basque language is marginalized in everyday life outside of a handful of strongholds and a democratic independence movement doesn’t have a hope in hell of ever carrying the day.

    And we all know that the Basque country is home to the still-active terrorist group ETA.

    Acajack

    January 2, 2009 at 2:22 pm

  5. Violence in Québec? Not likely…I don’t exactly envision all four OLF officers taking positions from the cross atop Mt. Royal and showering RPGs down upon the McGill campus.

    When the day comes to line the Anglos up against the wall, it will be with the pen not the sword. The bureaucrats will make life so annoying for the English in so many petty ways that they will see that the battle is already lost and retreat in exasperation either into français or into Ontario.

    The only reason to blow up mailboxes will be because the Postal Service will be the last remaining bureaucratic structure that will still be bilingual.

    Edward

    January 2, 2009 at 4:15 pm

  6. …and speaking of crosses, which were planted all over la belle province by Champlain on those occasions when he left his good ship “Don de Dieu” to claim land for France and for the Church, yes, Québec was given to Christiandom by God. And to her credit (and by “her” I mean Quebec rather than God in this case) she eventually turned to God and said softly “Thanks but no thanks”.

    I doubt there is any more compelling evidence that Quebec is a land of peace and lovers of peace than the fact that it is one of only a small handful of nations that has successfully overthrown the tyranny of religion and it did so without firing a single bullet.

    Edward

    January 2, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  7. Acajack’s point is well taken, however, that a small violent fringe of frustrated antisocialites could throw a temper tantrum to get some attention, but it certainly won’t win them any popularity contests and in the end it is doomed to fail for the same reasons that Quebec favors Palestinians over Israelis: the underdog phenomenon.

    Making martyrs out of Anglos will only generate more support for moderation and accommodation.

    Edward

    January 2, 2009 at 4:50 pm

  8. Acajack:

    Thanks for reining us back in. I can see where you’re coming from with your scenario in which a few hardcore neo-felquiste types become violent and I couldn’t agree more that it would never happen in the event of a Oui vote. The Yes side would be too elated to harbour any ill will towards anyone.

    Even in the worse-case scenario you describe, though, how many people in the sovereignty camp do you think would actually be prepared to use violence against innocent civilians? Personally, I doubt you could find enough of them across Quebec to form a soccer team (including people who hear voices in the walls commanding them to do kill). Despite some tough talk I’ve heard on occasion from ROCers, the average Joe Canuck isn’t going to start murdering random people either. I don’t think any of us are inherently more decent than other people on earth, but we do find ourselves in a position where even the most hardcore zealot can understand that violence would do more harm than good because the real battle, I think, will be the same one that is already underway (the PR/propaganda battle) only with the volume turned way up.

    gcl

    January 2, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  9. littlerob,

    IMHO, the ‘lowest category’ t shirt should be ‘pas encore’ (or pas toujours, pas déjà ) etc. Sort of to emphasize the eventual desirability of getting started.

    I wouldn’t make it in red — ‘the red badge of courage’ especially with pas du tout — could be a prideful statement of resistance to French altogether. Yellow would be a better colour — suggests timidity or perhaps a touch of the cowardly.

    You could also consider a débutant (e) catégorie, maybe.

    Shades of blue for sovereigntist sympathisers, and other shades for global village types. Sales will be better with more colour choices. anglo québec liberal types probably will want pink and red options.

    The t-shirt campaign should not really be about politics at its core, but about promoting the acquisition and use of French in Montréal.

    To that end you could possibly incorporate something that symbolises pride in Montréal — the Biodome or Marché Bon Sécours, and some fleur de lis etc.

    Maybe other image choices for other metro areas, like Trois Rivières, QC, Joliette\Tremblant etc.

    The t-shirt campaign should show a celebration aspect of speaking French une certaine joie de vivre, so lots of colours available –full price for pas encore, 50cents off for each subsequent notch upwards towards Couramment.

    If any of you would like me to be on topic, the Globe and Mail today has technicolour explosion pictures as Israel is busy bombing Hamas, une histoire qui a fait la une.

    bruce

    January 2, 2009 at 8:30 pm

  10. “Thanks for reining us back in. I can see where you’re coming from with your scenario in which a few hardcore neo-felquiste types become violent and I couldn’t agree more that it would never happen in the event of a Oui vote. The Yes side would be too elated to harbour any ill will towards anyone.

    Even in the worse-case scenario you describe, though, how many people in the sovereignty camp do you think would actually be prepared to use violence against innocent civilians? Personally, I doubt you could find enough of them across Quebec to form a soccer team (including people who hear voices in the walls commanding them to do kill). Despite some tough talk I’ve heard on occasion from ROCers, the average Joe Canuck isn’t going to start murdering random people either. I don’t think any of us are inherently more decent than other people on earth, but we do find ourselves in a position where even the most hardcore zealot can understand that violence would do more harm than good because the real battle, I think, will be the same one that is already underway (the PR/propaganda battle) only with the volume turned way up.”

    I will agree that it’s very unlikely. But it only takes a few yahoos to do a lot of damage. How many people in total were involved in the FLQ? Enough to form a soccer team?

    Acajack

    January 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm

  11. Several people have said some nice things! Wow, thanks, all! =)

    bruce, thanks (I think) but what’s “Natch”?

    b: “more lately once my head is in French, I don’t find Spanish words coming in anymore.”

    I have this problem occasionally also, believe it or not. Spanish will come to you again if you practice. Just try to avoid frespañol. =)

    re: t-shirts, discounts should be given to the “not yet” people. You are not selling t-shirts, you are selling linguistic bragging rights.

    I want a pantoute one and a cassé one. I’d rather underpromise and overdeliver. ;)

    Acajack: “No, what makes me really afraid is more a scenario under which a segment of the “purs et durs” sovereignist camp might come to the conclusion that achieving independence via democratic means had, for whatever reasons, become a hopeless case.”

    But if there would be another vote as you said and they would win, what would be their problem? If Québec were its own country, wouldn’t it solve a lot of the problems? If not, then why secede from Canada at all?

    angryenglishgirl

    January 3, 2009 at 3:12 am

  12. Acajack “No, what makes me really afraid is more a scenario under which a segment of the “purs et durs” sovereignist camp might come to the conclusion that achieving independence via democratic means had, for whatever reasons, become a hopeless case.”

    AEG: “But if there would be another vote as you said and they would win, what would be their problem? If Québec were its own country, wouldn’t it solve a lot of the problems? If not, then why secede from Canada at all?”

    I agree and others do also that in the event of Quebec independence, the hard-liners would all be pretty happy and hence not prone to violence.

    What I am talking about is a scenario where such a vote would never take place again (or would always be doomed to failure) and how, coupled with an erosion of Quebec’s French character, this might lead to a “cat-with-its-back-against-the-wall” mentality amongst sovereignists, which could entail violence on the part of some individuals.

    One of the reasons I think violence from anglos is unlikely is because the “back-against-the-wall” reality doesn’t apply to them. Despite all the talk that Quebec is their home (some of which I recognize is sincere), anglos still have 9 other provinces and 50 states on this continent where they can go. On the other hand, for francophones Quebec is really the only place where a modern, North American, comprehensive, French-speaking society can exist. If it can’t happen there, it won’t happen anywhere. There’s nowhere else to go. Hence my “cat-with-its-back-against-the-wall” analogy.

    Acajack

    January 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm

  13. AEG,

    Natch is just a short form for naturally! It is out of place in a little french sequence here.

    I have forgotten why your word avatar casts you as angry!

    You don’t sound at all angry.

    Someone here was of the opinion that Montréal is the only truly “terrific” city in Canada. Well it is terrific, and to an extext Québec city and also Ottawa, believe it or not.

    But for natural beauty and grandeur of that sort, Vancouver is hard to beat, it has an arts and culture scene as in TO, but for outdoor life with beaches, snowy mountains right across the bridge from the forested sea wall surrounded park,skiing right there panoramic sea views from all over the places and lush gardens and mild west coast marine temperate rain forest climate.

    (Obviously I’m biased, but I think if I could spend 6 months every year in Montréal and bien entendu, roaming through Québec from that base for about 3 of those 6 months, and 4 months in Vancouver an afterlife (which doesn’t exist anyhow) would be completely a redundant and ridiculous oxymoron.

    So for the other 2 months travelling to other places, central and south America, Cuba, even NYC — where you can practice Spanish even, since Manhattan is full of Spanish speakers, who only hear English from their customers of course.

    But, (sigh), one needs to work for one’s living.

    gcl — “I’m pointing out that there is still a very deep-rooted francophobia in English Canada that manifests itself as indignation over racism/fascism/discrimination/individual rights/ethnic nationalism/whatever.”

    I think that here perhaps you’re talking more about your experience with some of your Montréal anglos, rather than ROC people. And on a one-to one basis you will always meet xenophobes and other ‘trash’ attitude people every day.

    So what? Some people will change attitude and others not. ‘Collective’ consciousness changes move slowly.

    But in ROC, especially those in the urban centres where the “thinking classes” watch CBC and read the Globe and Mail, (and even those who don’t, who still pretty much follow the lead in public opinion,) there isn’t any important degree of ‘francophobia’

    To say so is perhaps a bit paranoid, despite discussions you might have had with Ontarians who hold dear the concept of Canada from sea to shining sea.

    The general attitude in ROC is that “My Canada includes Québec”, not that people are unaware that it might vote to separate some day.

    We hear all languages around us on the urban streets, including French, and of course there are various levels of “eavesdropping” if you happen to know certain other languages. All kinds of communities here run heritage language programs, within the public schools facilities usually. Early French immersion is seen as a big plus.

    As for the BQ, most people here would shrug, and say they are used to it, that it is a regional Québec party, (not so unusual we’ve known others in the West) and that the BQ prevents majority rule in Ottawa, and around 60% of people in ROC view that as a positive thing.

    Duceppe acquits himself remarakably well in English, and usually holds progressive attitudes.

    BlocQuébécois-o-phobia is more of a Stephen Harper scarecrow, not a real fear.

    Also ROC likes to behave themselves nicely with respect to Québec. Most of us don’t want to fan any flames.

    So I don’t think you will find a significant “francophobia” in sum in the ROC. It is accepted that French is the designated and proper language for life in Québec.

    So those anglo guys you run into at the ball park in Montréal who bitch and howl about using French (yeah of course they are part of the totality of ‘English Canada’) –they are your local problem — how to motivate them to use French in all the appropriate settings.

    But apparently some headway has been made in the last 30 years, and perhaps these experiences you have at the ball park and everywhere else, sans doute, are the reason why you need fun initiatives like the t-shirts.

    Edward talks here about harassing the anglos into either francisation or retreat to Ontario, which did happen after 1976 in lots of cases, but how desireable is it to have everyone retreat to Ontario.

    The English in Montréal exist as a handy tool for francophones from all over Québec, to practice and perfect English, which supposedly equips you to be able to command a better salary and ditto for allos.

    Obviously you all can do this to some degree due to the extraordinary bilingual nature of Montréal, which would be therefore lost if Edward’s strategie came to pass.

    But it is those same Montréal anglos de souche who bitch and scream about language fascism, and their rights etc.

    Son of a bitch!

    Yet you two ‘de souche’ groups in the city share about 99.99% of exactly the same DNA genetic material.

    Just cultural experience has been different, and they the anglos are now the ones under the stress to change, just as you guys were under stress for such a long long long number of generations. And they don,t necessarily enjoy being in the same situation you guys were in …human nature.

    So they can’t quite fully adapt as you would like them to do in only one generation.

    But I would find it fair if Québec required everyone to attend French school, even the anglos in the west end — perhaps they could get tax funding for elective Saturday English school, like a heritage program, which francos could also elect to attend if they wished.

    More wailing and gnashing of teeth, I am sure, and some for sure would move out to Ontario (or Alberta), but probably the majority are going to hang in there in Montréal come what may. When push comes to shove people get flexible and adaptable.

    Some would bite the bullet for English private schools, quite true.

    But a Québec government within Canada can do all these things if it wishes — the notwithstanding clause again.

    It ( the Québec govt, whether PLQ, PQ or even (long long shot .. Q’Solitaire’)has to be persuaded however that these measures would be work out for them politically.

    You have to plan and pre-sell these programs well in advance, and be willing to sacrifice of a lot of so called ‘linguistic peace’ over the short term and put up with lots of anger and ill-will. Not that salutary to the social fabric. So it would have to be exceptionally well planned, phased in and cannot just be some bureaucrats had a meeting and went ahead. Townhalls everywhere would be needed for 2 or 3 years.

    Even a sovereignist goverment of an independent Québec might hesitate to implement a system like this.

    Obviously not a problem in Ontario, as people can opt for English or French, and IF your early immersion skills are sufficient, you can even wangle your way into a fully francophone school here. Obviously only 0.1 % (about) of anglos — often of asian or allo background manage to do so.

    But here there is the luxury of not worrying whether people will speak English or not, because it is sink or swim. So people generally swim. But francophones here have the linguistic right to education in French if they so choose. Obviously anglos have the same right in Québec, within the publically funded system.

    So you would have to take away that right, other than the right to fund their own ‘opt out’ English education.

    So there would be a lot of screaming, you are very right.

    But none of this discussion translates into francophobia in ROC. We’re not, in any majority sense, ‘francophobic.’ nor are we at all ‘tuned-in’ to Montréals linguistic day-to-day realities. And you are right … the ROC kids at McGill are mostly doing engineering etc., they are not living in a francophone surround, but more of a cocoon with a slight ‘franco saveur’

    Where people get heated up is when you say that Québec HAS to leave the country. People do tend to say “let them leave if they want to” if that’s what it takes, but no one HERE wants that in the least. (Outside a few vocal and ignorant ‘red neck’ types)

    In people’s hearts Canada includes Québec, and, understand, AS a French speaking culture — it is better understood nowadays, that the Québécois had to take various measures to protect that language.

    Question now seems to be how to have Montréal speak more French in daily life. Well the schooling thing would be one thing. T-shirts another. And you guys (nicely) not letting anglos of the hook.

    When I telephone to Québec, people offer to speak English — i.e. let me off the hook! I decline of course (much good natured laughter at the other end)
    Then at times, since I am quasi cassé ( but not pantoute) and a little assez bien, I sometimes repeat something I was told, in English to verify.

    When I spent a week in France, NO ONE ever replied to me in English, not even once! And yet they were talking in English to anyone who spoke to them in English. Obviously I was NOT French, so I appreciated very much that they absolutely respected my wish to communicate in French — and willing to speak slowly, clearly and repeat if I indicated the wish, but they never switched to English! This was SO very good.

    So don’t let your anglo acquaintances off the hook, or even if some of them are more than that, or your girl friend or whoever, if you happen to have gone for exoticism etc., Parlez in français toujours … and know their T-shirt level!

    Ask permission to speak English on occasion if you feel like doing some, and tell your interlocateur that normally you won’t do this because you don’t want to let him\her off the hook, and that you want him\her to improve there practice of French, even if that makes communication a little more difficult for him\her!

    Use English only on the most pathetic cases, and don’t fall prey to easy compassion. Work those anglos as hard as can, dont worry about them thinking you are a mean bigot. Just explain the situation, reassure them it is nothing personal, you are trying to render them a service, as well as a service to Québec where the only official language is, after all, French.

    Know their T-shirt level and push them reasonably hard without losing them. Be nice, Be firm. Explain.If they don’t want to play the game, they maybe it’s not worth playing it with that particular person. Their loss, not yours.

    I don’t know about Edwards approach, of using the language police in everyday life — it can be done in the corriders of a school during breaks of course, but usually people are more motivated by good-will.

    I think the government could insist on a basic French education for ALL, but offer some supplementary help in the heritage areas. It would be an assymetrical thing in the Canadian context, and Canucks generally don’t appreciate assymetricality of ‘rights’, but it could work if done sensitively.

    You also need to integrate the Montréal neighbourhoods moreso, get more of the anglos living in the east end — maybe around 15% at least and more francos in west island. (like AFG of course)

    But if all the francos have decided to pull OUT of Montréal … well its not much use blaming ‘francophobia’ for the decline in the use of French in Montréal.

    T-shirts baby! Use a cultural craze to motivate, but you franco guys need to be right in the thick of it.

    Maybe a Ponzi scheme or some type of phone-tree pyramid phenomenn…..

    Désolé tout le monde pour le conseil gratuit!

    I should be embarassed, but you know, like AFG, the Cajones thing.

    “What an anglo nerve that guy……..”

    “C’est bien certain! Maudite chien d’anglais de tabernak!…. “Ses bizarres drôleries….quelque chose de fou”

    But in my own strange way, I am still humble.

    Meilleurs voeux à tout le monde.

    bruce

    January 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm

  14. “So those anglo guys you run into at the ball park in Montréal who bitch and howl about using French (yeah of course they are part of the totality of ‘English Canada’) –they are your local problem — how to motivate them to use French in all the appropriate settings.”

    They don’t bitch and howl about using French. Actually, they get by with English (which they demand and almost always receive from Montreal francophones and allophones) quite well thank you.

    No, what makes them angry is what is implicit in my question when I innocently ask them if they’re from Ontario or the States: the indirect insinuation that they can’t possibly be (true) Montrealers if they don’t speak French. That’s what bugs them.

    Make no mistake. French is no big deal for them. After all, they get by just fine without it, don’t they?

    Acajack

    January 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

  15. Acajack,

    “anglos still have 9 other provinces and 50 states on this continent where they can go.”

    You know I’m not in their boots, nor in those of the Acadiens expelled by the Brits in 1755, but why would they WISH to leave to go to ANY provinces …. let alone states.

    They have no ‘rights’ to go to any of the 50 statea whatsoever, even if they should wish it, which is doubtful in most cases, because US society is far removed from Canadian, and even farther from Montréal life.

    Most would hate it there, but that is moot because they can’t go unless they have exceptional talents, and if they did, what would that say?

    So in ROC there are 9 provinces and also two territories …. so eleven choices. Vancouver is way too expensive, ditto Alberta, the north is colder than Montréal, the praires are quaint and just as cold and rural and very well ‘small town” compared to Montréal. Ontario has good roads, so far, and similar countryside, but Ottawa maybe, but people in TO always say how much they miss Montréal, and often they regret having come here.

    So why would they leave friends, family, neighbourhood, work and everything they love about Québec over the last 250 years to go far away?

    It might represent a good historical revenge, but how can that be what a modern Québec wishes to be about.

    Besides it is probably easier just to improve the French than to put up stakes and do some great trek thing. They just need t-shirts in my opinion, not an out migration. A t-shirt and some good hard sweat.

    You are right however, a lot would leave, maybe 15% in all and take a lot of bitterness with them to be resettled and disseminated in various parts of ROC.

    For the majority who would stay, ROC for sure would not deny them continuing citizenship in Canada, so they wouldn’t have to give up being Canadian. Furthermore Canada would likely still allow franco Québécois who so wished to continue to be Canadian.

    So 85% of the Montréal anglos, except for the richest and perhaps most skilled top group would still be there and still probably speaking way too much English.

    So then they will probably be forced to attend French school by the independent government, which could have happened anyway within Canada, but I don’t think anglo mothers would start speaking to their babies in French, maybe possibly in 3 generations, if Montréal ceases to be bilingual.

    Do you really want it to cease to be bilingual?

    Wasn’t that a plus as well as a problem\tension?

    I think the cat’s back was more against the wall in 1950 than in 2008. Québécois speak French everywhere today except west end and downtown Montréal it seems, and further more are all well educated in standard international French in your school system, plus the pleasure of knowing all the delicious little Québéc expressions that donèt exist in France.

    Those who didn’t want to interface that much with the anglos in Montréal seem to have largely gone to the suburbs, as you are pointing out, so throwing in the towel I suppose and allowing Montréal to become inner city ghettoised in some sense.

    But Québec as a French speaking society is hardly up against the wall at this point.

    If the goal is to francisize Montréal more so than it has so far, or demographically has declined that way in last couple of decades, then francos have to do more than just abandon it for the suburbs!

    The Québec government the city, the urban planners and individuals can undertake initiatives and programs at every level to address the issues. That takes political will indeed, but just by having a referendum, followed by a new administration isn’t going to solve the linguistic ethnography of Montréal.

    Francos appear to leaving to city to allos and anglos, so like in any vaccuum things would evolve in whatever manner most reflects the people actually living there. To think they will all move to 59 or 61 other jurisdictions in a majority way is not realistic.

    It is like if New Yorkers complained about too much Spanish heard around the city in the subway and elsewhere. Without the latinos, they wouldn’t have their wonderful low-cost services.

    You want the immigrants to speak French… you have to mingle with them on the playgrounds at their schools!

    Bottomline is right there. Has little or nothing to do with political strategy, propaganda wars heating up or what not. One to one human relationships … that’s what it takes to operate and sustain a language.

    IMHO.

    bruce

    January 3, 2009 at 3:30 pm

  16. Acajack said:

    “They don’t bitch and howl about using French. Actually, they get by with English (which they demand and almost always receive from Montreal francophones and allophones) quite well thank you.

    No, what makes them angry is what is implicit in my question when I innocently ask them if they’re from Ontario or the States: the indirect insinuation that they can’t possibly be (true) Montrealers if they don’t speak French. That’s what bugs them.

    Make no mistake. French is no big deal for them. After all, they get by just fine without it, don’t they?”

    Well agreed it seems many of them do get by without any French, but there are I am sure many others who are trying to use some French.

    So why so bothered about the lazy louts with the bad attitudes? They are indeed getting by only in English, especially in francophone society in Montréal doesn’t insist. You’ve got those cojones too … just too polite, maybe.

    Again it is their loss, not really yours… except that you guys are the ones letting them off the hook.

    If they cannot order a hotdog in French maybe they should do without the hotdog. Maybe management at the park would have to be onside with that, presumably les gérents sont francophones.

    Maybe the OLF has been falling down on the job.

    Maybe you guys need to make them speak French to get what they want, just like les grosses et grossières vendeuses chez Eaton used to demand English from you guys in order to receive service.

    They are pissed off when you insinuate they aren’t from Montréal. Tough. Let them be pissed off. Might be a turning point or not one of these times. Maybe these guys will someday head down the 401 … no tears shed.

    Perhaps you, who are well educated, should be amused by their ignorance and isolation, which is when you think about it … kind of pathetic.

    Why waste your anger! for each of them, there is some one else out there, anglo, sharing that same human DNA, that is more sensitive, maybe too shy to try their French in public. A gentle nudge.

    Don’t accomodate the arrogant ones for god sake. Sergei’s franco neighbour ( a previous thread where Sergei ranted) didn’t have a snow shovel for him, because he couldn’t bother to say ‘bonjour’ let alone ‘pelle’

    His neighbour was right in a way, might have mentioned that when Sergei would try a teensie bit in French he would also be friendly.

    Tough Sergei, here’s a map to help you get to the 401!

    On a case by case basis, you can defend the use of French.

    bruce

    January 3, 2009 at 4:04 pm

  17. bruce: “Natch is just a short form for naturally!” Ohh, okay. Thanks.

    Acajack: “Make no mistake. French is no big deal for them. After all, they get by just fine without it, don’t they?”

    I hate to bring up something as inane as Dr. Phil, but he once said, “We teach people how to treat us.” Not to be the devil’s advocate here, but this is why they keep speaking English. Because they can!

    b: “If they cannot order a hotdog in French maybe they should do without the hotdog.”

    J’espérerais on peut commander un “hot-dog” en français ! Juste ajoutez un “s’il vous plait” et un “merci”. Même le “h” est aspiré ! Parlant de l’arrogance…

    (Sorry, I had to use French for rhetorical purposes.)

    b: “You don’t sound at all angry.”

    Happy now?!

    b: “Most would hate it there, but that is moot because they can’t go unless they have exceptional talents, and if they did, what would that say?”

    “It is like if New Yorkers complained about too much Spanish heard around the city in the subway and elsewhere. Without the latinos, they wouldn’t have their wonderful low-cost services.”

    How can you reconcile these two statements?

    angryenglishgirl

    January 3, 2009 at 7:13 pm

  18. Acajack–this is from es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euskera:

    “…[in 2006] el 60% de los habitantes [of the Comunidad Autonoma del Pais Vasco] entendia y hablaba bien o con alguna dificuldad euskera. 775000 personas hablaban y entendian bien la lengua mientras que 459000 lo entendian pero lo hablaban con dificuldad [the ‘bilingues pasivos’]…”

    About 2.1 million people live in the CAPV. Castellano is co-official with Basque there.

    littlerob

    January 3, 2009 at 8:27 pm

  19. AEG:

    Not sure the statements require reconciling.

    The first is about anglos from Québec, if displaced after a OUI and forced out by linguistic requirements they could not meet, and if they could somehow go to the states, which most couldn’t (usually only the best and brightest are allowed to secure a beneficial place in the US,) but assuming they did, they really would find society there NOT so wonderful compared with life in Montréal.

    The second statement refers to complaints in Québec about allos speaking other tongues other than français in public, notably English of course. An analogy would be complaints from (relatively pampered) Manhattanites about the maternal tongue of the latinos who do all the heavy work and service down there. They don’t of course since they know how their bread is buttered.

    But Montréal similarly has Italian, Portugese, Asian and other immigrants. Seems to me most of these learn
    French, but speak a lot of English around town given that the French have been moving out of Montréal.
    Even immigrants who already speak French from the francophonie probably want to learn English and find Montréal a perfect bilingual opportunity to do so.

    AFG and others here seem to think that allos and anglos can learn French and use it constantly in a vacuum devoid of much contact with the real Québec francos, who supposedly have headed for the South shore.

    I think that sociologically that won’t work, no matter who governs, or with what powers. Ghettos speak whatever ghetto speakers find most practical.

    If Québecois de souche flood into Montréal, then people will want to speak French.

    But another reality of Québec is that young people from the regions go there in large part because they can learn and practice English readily, as well as land jobs, which may offer better advancement if you have the other language. So its rather a catch-22 situation.

    From afar I sort of understand — there is within Montréal a whole range of needs and attitudes — the city is a flux of cultures, not a pure francophone environment, but an economic driver of a French society within the context of an english global economic juggernaut.

    International cities cannot be totally linguistically and culturally pure.

    Still many things could be done to shift the language most commonly heard in public towards French.

    bruce

    January 3, 2009 at 9:09 pm

  20. So littlerob, if there are 2.1 million Vascos in Northern Spain who have kept their language and culture since the times of the Visigoths and earlier, then perhaps we can find faith in the staying power of French in Québec with at least 7 or 8 million speakers.

    The Vascos are surrounded by French speakers, since 1 or 2 of their provinces are in France, and the other 4 are in Spain, surrounded by Castellan speakers. And Basque is utterly unlike any other language anywhere! The ETA people who are extremists blow things up, but here you give evidence that the majority integrate well, yet keep their ancestral language an culture.

    Do they not count the kids in the figures? Because 775000 and 459000 add up only to 1.224 million of the 2.1 million mentioned. Clearly the 459000 group have difficulty in speaking their maternal tongue, but manage to get by.

    Clearly we want French do do much better than that in Canada and above all with Québec and in Montréal as well.

    bruce

    January 3, 2009 at 9:25 pm

  21. “an economic driver of a French society within the context of an english global economic juggernaut…So its rather a catch-22 situation.”

    This is true. I see it at work. The whole world has this issue, in that sense. English is the language of international business since it would be impossible to learn all of the languages of the world. French actually at one time acted in this way globally. The problem in Montréal is that English is not just a work accessory, we have that vacuum as you mentioned.

    angryenglishgirl

    January 3, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  22. Bruce:
    “But another reality of Québec is that young people from the regions go there in large part because they can learn and practice English readily, as well as land jobs, which may offer better advancement if you have the other language.”

    Believe me, those people are rather rare. English is not the reason they come here.

    Anonymous

    January 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm

  23. Bruce:
    “But another reality of Québec is that young people from the regions go there in large part because they can learn and practice English readily, as well as land jobs, which may offer better advancement if you have the other language.”

    Believe me, those people are rather rare. English is not the reason they come here.

    Kriss

    January 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm

  24. Bruce–the other ~875,000 are either Basques who speak only Castellano or non Basques who don’t know Basque.

    French is doing much better in Québec than Basque is in the CAPV.

    littlerob

    January 4, 2009 at 7:35 am

  25. “In his first public comments since the ground operation was launched, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet on Sunday that Israel could not allow its civilians to continue to be targeted by rockets from Gaza.

    “This morning I can look every one you in the eyes and say the government did everything before deciding to go ahead with the operation,” he said.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090104/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

    This doesn’t sound like they are extremists. What people are talking about here are extremists with their backs against the walls over language. The Israelis probably could care less about language as long as their people are not being shot at. Granted, in this article, there have been some Palestinian civilian casualties also, and other countries like France and the UK and are saying this needs to stop on both sides.

    angryenglishgirl

    January 4, 2009 at 7:44 am

  26. “French is doing much better in Québec than Basque is in the CAPV.”

    French is also doing much better in Quebec than Catalan is doing in Spain’s Generalitat of Catalonia (which includes Barcelona).

    Acajack

    January 4, 2009 at 9:20 am

  27. “Believe me, those people are rather rare. English is not the reason they come here.”

    Agreed 100%. People from the regions of Quebec who are anglophilic have freedom of movement to all other regions of Canada. Those who want to live in an English environment go to Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and even Ottawa.

    Those who move to Montreal do so for the same reasons people all over the world move to their nation’s metropolis. It has nothing to do with language. If anything, many of the “regional” Quebecers in Montreal actually resent how present English is in “their” metropolis. This is actually what feeds support for sovereignty among francophone Montrealers (one of the highest levels of support in all of Quebec) and also among people in the regions of Quebec, where there is a fear that anglicization will spread outwards from Montreal to their entire province.

    Acajack

    January 4, 2009 at 9:24 am

  28. Bruce: “The first is about anglos from Québec, if displaced after a OUI and forced out by linguistic requirements they could not meet, and if they could somehow go to the states, which most couldn’t (usually only the best and brightest are allowed to secure a beneficial place in the US,) but assuming they did, they really would find society there NOT so wonderful compared with life in Montréal.”

    How would society in the US not be so wonderful compared to Montreal? How do you know this? Have you talked to any of these potential anglos wanting to move out of Quebec?

    Speaking from personal experience, I have 1 relative that moved to Boston, 2 relatives that moved to suburbs in Toronto and my sister has a close friend that moved to Staten Island and work in Manhattan. That close friend is not one of the best and brightest and does fine. One of the two Toronto expatriates hates living in Toronto, the other likes it, and both of my US expatriates like it in the US.

    It is harder to emigrate to the US because of security concerns there but it is doable and the US is still an attractive place for those anglos that leave Quebec for various reasons. It is their loss. Quebec is an attractive place to live in just like anywhere else in North America. However, one gets to live in Quebec in French and with 400 year old Québécois. I can’t imagine living elsewhere but Quebec.

    Antonio

    January 4, 2009 at 9:52 am

  29. I meant to say “400-year old Ouébécois culture” at the last sentence of my last post.

    Antonio

    January 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

  30. “How would society in the US not be so wonderful compared to Montreal? How do you know this? Have you talked to any of these potential anglos wanting to move out of Quebec?

    Speaking from personal experience, I have 1 relative that moved to Boston, 2 relatives that moved to suburbs in Toronto and my sister has a close friend that moved to Staten Island and work in Manhattan. That close friend is not one of the best and brightest and does fine. One of the two Toronto expatriates hates living in Toronto, the other likes it, and both of my US expatriates like it in the US.

    It is harder to emigrate to the US because of security concerns there but it is doable and the US is still an attractive place for those anglos that leave Quebec for various reasons. It is their loss. Quebec is an attractive place to live in just like anywhere else in North America. However, one gets to live in Quebec in French and with 400 year old Québécois. I can’t imagine living elsewhere but Quebec.”

    Antonio, I was going to say the exact same thing. Lots of former Anglo-Quebecers are living in the States today. People should not forget that a large proportion of Anglo-Montrealers are of Italian origin or of Ashkenazi Jewish origin. They have lots of natural affinities with people in the Greater New York area (often many close relatives in fact), which is where many of the US-bound Quebec anglos go.

    It may be more complicated to get into the US than to move to Ontario for them, but it’s hardly impossible, especially not if you have a job offer from an American employer.

    Acajack

    January 4, 2009 at 10:08 am


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