English is Back in the Québec Workplace

with 288 comments

anglo exodus montreal

“I just love Montreal”, I overheard a lady tell her friend in Avenue Video in Montréal.  “I’d live here if I spoke French.”

“I don’t speak French”, scoffed a passerby.  “Don’t worry about that.”

English is getting stronger in Montreal.  I’m not the one saying it.  The Montreal Gazette is saying it.  There’s just no way around the numbers.  Québec’s English-speaking population rose by 5.5% between 2001 and 2006 according to StatsCan.

How did this happen?

“The easy answer to the question of why young anglos aren’t leaving Quebec like they did a generation ago”, writes David Johnston, “is that they speak better French, and aren’t being chased away by political uncertainty.”

You will all remember that the “political uncertainty” started in the 1950’s and 1960’s when francophones started asking why they were paid less than any other nationality in Québec, why no francophones held any management position in Canada’s banking and finance industry and why they were forbidden to use their language to speak to each on the shop floor.

English-Canada’s business elite responded by moving the country’s entire financial sector and 800 000 jobs from Montreal to Ontario where discrimination against French-speakers was allowed.

But a more important reason, according to the Montreal edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, is that it’s getting easier and easier for English-speakers to live and work in Montreal because there has been a “cultural shift” that has made English “acceptable” in the workplace.

“By the 1990s”, continues our man,  “speaking English had become more acceptable in Quebec as firms came to see the need to improve the capacity of their workforces to operate in English. This created new opportunities for anglophones.”

As if English had ever disappeared from the Québec workplace!  As if the French-speaking majority of Québec that had been forced to work in English for 250 years suddenly found itself unable to communicate with the outside world in the international language of business after bill 101 gave them the right to work in French!

The failure of Bill 101

When I was a truck driver satellites communications between French-speaking drivers and French-speaking dispatchers had to be in English so the English-speaking security team in Toronto could understand what was going on.

In 2005 the Metro chain of grocery stores bought A&P Canada and Christian Haub, the CEO and chairman of the board of A&P got a seat on the Québec company’s board.  Thirteen Francophones and one Anglo.  Guess what language the board meeting are in now?

Yep.  Even when the French businessmen win, they lose.

That’s the way the modern workplace functions.  It is entirely structured around the needs of the less qualified people.  French-speakers in Québec, and all non-English speaking people around the world, are required to acquire additional language skills so that unilingual Anglos won’t have to.

Québec briefly tried to change that with the Charter of the French language, but the truth is that the rules that were supposed to protect the right of Québec workers to work in their language are broken.  They don’t work anymore.

They were designed for businesses that could be contained in a building, to make sure that the 15th floor would communicate in French with the 6th and 2nd floor, all the way down to the shop floor.

But businesses don’t work like that anymore.  Management is in Toronto, accounting’s in Alberta and IT is in Bangalore.  Toronto’s and New York’s business culture is once again being imposed on the workers of Québec, and the entire world, actually.

Québec’s workforce has always been the most multilingual in Canada, and probably one of the most linguistically versatile in the World.  Québec’s business culture did not change, it’s the world’s business structure that changed.

And once again, after only a brief interruption, unilingual Anglos can come back to work in Montreal.

And just in time, as the stellar generation of brilliant financial minds that left Montreal a generation ago have now managed to completely scrap Ontario’s economy and is now ready to come back home.

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 1, 2009 at 12:29 pm

288 Responses

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  1. One: English is the business language of the world. Of course it’s accepted in the workplace. What else do you expect? Even in France, they speak more English than in Quebec. Quebecois speak a variation of 16th century France French, due to the origin of the province. They’ve moved on, why can’t you? “Ici on parle Francais” That is linguistic Nazism there, bud.

    Le Bureau de la Langue Francais is putting many people out of work, starving on the streets because they can’t meet the French language expectations. They complain about co-works that don’t even speak to the public, that speak privately in English. If you’re so obsessed with having people speak in French, then I suggest you never leave the province, because you won’t get sympathy from anyone else.

    Frankly, we’d love it if you separate from the rest of Canada; you’ll lose the bridges between the shore and Montreal, the currency, passports, military garrisons, hydro fields, and businesses. How are you going to support yourselves? Cows? Good luck with that. You will lose any tourism you had before– and trust me, it’s been significantly reduced since French has been enforced further. Everyone says: “Montreal is such a pretty place, but the French treat us so horribly.”

    Canada is a BILINGUAL country, like it or not, we have a right to be served in English, get a job, etc, just as you do. Yet you repeatedly refuse to serve us in English.

    The funny part is; Montreal city prides itself on its multiculturalism, and what did Barbara Kay say?

    “Multiculturalism is not a Quebec Value”

    How is this accepting to anyone? And you complain about the English population growing? How about accommodating others to make them feel welcome? That it would be actually worth learning the French Language. Of course, the only reason why your population had survived was due to intermarriage in between the “Habitants” and Irish settlers, of course for that to happen, a degree of tolerance was needed. The silly fact is that no matter what, at least some of your ancestors had spoken English, in some way shape or form.

    This rant has gone far enough.


    March 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

  2. Its the province’s fault accros Canada that only teach the language of the majority. For example in Ontaio its English and Quebec is French , but if they were to teach both langueages in school there would be troubles for unilngual speakers of French and English as there would be someone always around to translate.


    March 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  3. Quebec should just establish companies that cater to the French speaking world. Create products and services and sell them to the Magreb, Sub-Saharan Africa France, Belgium & Switzerland.

    That way English won’t encroach into your sphere of influence. Other than that I don’t see how you can communicate globally without resorting to English


    July 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm

  4. Poem from a woman whose Mom was a Brit and dad was french:
    How do you feel about the province you live in?
    Do you love the life you lead?
    I’m not thrilled being a second class citizen?
    Why must you look down on me?
    How does it feel to be so greedy?
    Why must you walk ahead of me?
    Language laws for the English people,
    Taking away our freedom of speech
    Who gave you the right to abuse us?
    Who gave you the power to hurt and mislead?
    Continue this way and you will lose us
    Choking us till we can no longer breathe
    Why do you feel the English owe you?
    Why do you feel we have no rights?
    What makes you think that we won’t stand before you
    What makes you think we won’t get up and fight?
    Change for the best is what you all say
    But the English still here don’t see it that way
    What is the problem with having things equal?
    English and French live HARMONIOUSLY
    Everyone sees the troubles you cause us
    Something will happen soon one day.
    Whether or not you push us out
    We are still Quebecers proud, English and free.


    July 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

  5. to Shannon’s post (though it was left nearly a year and a half ago):

    Your post illustrates some misconceptions that bear similarities to the way unilingual English speakers often think about people do not speak English in daily life. English is a language of commerce and business, and so is German, French, Chinese and Japanese, and let us not forget Russian. But if you live in a world where you never learned another language and have everything translated to you, you can easily assume everyone speaks and uses English and can also naively imagine that when people do speak other languages, that they are all pretending because “everyone really speaks English.”

    Québécois speak modern québécois french. Not some 16th century variation. (Besides that, the old canadien colonists came over in the 17th century, and yes, knowing the difference between a century does matter.) Would you even know the difference?

    If saying “ici on parle français” is linguistic Nazism, good God! We really need to go back to school. Or how about a quick trip to wikipedia…..look up Nazism. I’ll wait. Have you read up on it yet? Good. Now about that use of the word Nazism. Most who use it blindly such as in the way you have, are just using it in a lazy way to shut down any further argument. Think of words like feminazi, air nazi (one that smokers will use), food Nazi…. even the soup nazi from the Seinfeld show. Funny how someone who has a different opinion which we think curtails our social privileges is equated with a political movement which murdered millions of people and caused millions more to die in the largest war humanity has fought so far.

    Speaking a statement of fact of a place, ici on parle français, should in no way matter. Do you take offense in Italy when they tell you they speak Italian there? Or how about in the USA when they inform you they speak English there?

    As for the starving people on the streets of Montréal because they can’t speak French, wow. Where are they? Surely such a holocaust would have been reported to someone by now?

    Unilingual English speakers always make much fuss about bilingualism and multiculturalism. They pay the right lip service to the ideas, and get very upset whenever none of us believe them. It is surely a shock to them that the reality of bilingualism means you speak another language. Multiculturalism means you cherish that there are differences of culture about. These words once meant something in reality. Now they are flags for unilingual English speakers to demand everything be done to cater to them and their ideas. Scottish Gaelic used to be a common language of Canada too, until the English majority decided to do away with it. Any Gaelic speaker left in Canada today is part of an endangered and oppressed language group. English speakers are NOT. No, not even in Québec.

    As for your points on Québec separating: It could be a good thing. At least local tax revenues won’t be frittered away by fat cats in Ottawa. Québec has enough of the home grown fat cat variety on its own.

    Montréal has always been part of Québec. If you don’t like it, then YOU can leave. I hope you find a place (Ontario) where your pea soup based insults are still current and not considered offensive.

    You know, sort of like your whole “poor Québec, so benighted and french speaking, that we Anglophones have worked so hard on bringing up and civilizing….they don’t see all the good we have done for them.” THAT was the tone implied when you remarked Québec wouldn’t benefit from separation. All masters use the same line of thinking when their subjects want to leave.

    As for the french treating people so horribly in Montréal? Seriously? Who has said that? Please don’t make up things. Everyone I know from places as far away as Beijing or Berlin, from even the USA, enjoyed their time in Montréal. And yes, even the time they spent interacting with people who speak french. (You know, like the majority of the population of Montréal.)

    You claim you are bilingual, so we take you at your word for it, and get irritated when you demand english only, because it is like you are lying to us all these years, consistently claiming you are bilingual and live in a bilingual country.

    As for Irish settlers, my family has a good deal of that in our background. They actually didn’t speak english. When they came over, they spoke Irish (which is another language altogether) and learned french. This and situations like it are the norm for Québecois people. We’ve had métissage for generations. Whether english, scots, irish, old canadiens, or cree and other first nations. Now we have haitians and people from more places. This never bothers most people in Québec. I never understand it when english speakers say we are racist. It’s like they set up this straw man argument and demand we prove them wrong.

    As you can see, I speak and use fairly fluent english. Languages benefit a person immensely, and english is a boon. But, remember, I already spoke an international language of commerce, arts, education, sciences, and law, before I learned english. When I want to relax and just be, it is in french and through french.

    If people like me, who enjoy our own language, make you tell us we should separate, it says nothing. Next time there is a referendum, how about the other 9 provinces don’t hijack the process behind closed doors? And you can also vote oui. Then you can crack open a Molson and go back to hating the US again, Oh Canada.


    August 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm

  6. I can completely understand your brief summary of things during the 1940’s and 1950’s because they haven’t been tainted by nationalist dogma, and they are very much true regardless of whether you’re reading the francophone history books or not. However, you really don’t seem to understand how English is the language of international commerce. All the big developed nations conduct their business in English, because the most powerful industrialized nations are Anglophone. All the big companies are owned by the Americans or the rest of Canada.

    Conducting your business in French is fine as long as it remains at the level of selling furs to the village up the stream, because you all speak French and everyone gets along. Local economy, local culture.

    But if you want to do business on the international level, you have to be able to speak English, or hire people that do. When the semi-rural islands off the coast of Portugal speak better English than an industrialized province such as Quebec, that’s pretty bad.

    This is why people who speak English have more opportunities: because they have access to a much greater market. I agree that as far as Quebec is concerned, I would prefer Francophone *bilinguals* to anglophone unilinguals running our businesses, but what happens when these people don’t exist? Quebec is so concerned with getting everyone to speak French that francophone bilinguals are increasingly rare compared to anglophone ones. Until francophones start getting a better grasp of the English language, you’re going to have to get used to the anglophones, whether they be unilingual or bilingual, being in charge commercially. They might not have much of a say in the government or society, but anglos will always have the larger part to play when it comes to money. (At least until the Chinese take over the world.) Complaining about this is like complaining about gravity weighing you down.

    I can’t understand why people think separating is even remotely close to a solution as far as language is concerned. Do people seriously think that if (big IF) Quebec gained its independence, everything would be magically better? That suddenly we’d all be speaking French, not be the province deepest in debt, corruption would evaporate, and no longer need the largest cut of Federal grants every year, sunshine and rainbows all?

    And as far as misconceptions go, they are present on either side. The rest of Canada sees us as spoiled children that are angry we don’t get dessert twice. After all, we take their federal grants, and spit in their faces. Unfortunately the francophone media is silent on the matter, and when sep dogma steps in, not a single francophone knows how bad our economic situation is unless they take the time to research it. We can’t really blame them for hating us.

    Over here, we recognize that the RoC hates us, but we misinterpret why. Yes, we’re different, but the RoC are so far from Americans that it’s painfully obvious. Only unilingual francophones and disillusioned francophone bilinguals think otherwise. They hate us because we take their money in the form of grants which are paid by FEDERAL taxes, tons of which “disappears” thanks to our rampant corruption and incessant complaining and whining about our distinctness and whatnot. They don’t care that we don’t speak the same language. Why should they? Sure they want us to separate! Because then they wouldn’t have to devote (waste) so much of their own money supporting our dismal economic state.

    Considering sovereignty is like an angsty teenager threatening to move out when they’re fed up with their parents. The parents and kids might not get along, but the parents support the kids regardless as to whether or not the kids realize it. Why move out only to spend every cent paying rent in a 1 1/2? How will you eat?


    September 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

  7. Many people in English Canada are descended from immigrants who spoke neither French nor English when they arrived. They had to learn another language while those from French and English – speaking countries did not. Francophones had to struggle for political power in Quebec and Canada but many anglophone groups ( e.g. the Irish in 19th century Ontario) also had to fight for equal rights. Only the elite in our country’s history did not have to battle for decent treatment. With an adequate understanding of our own social history we should be able to arrive at the conclusion that groups of minority-language speakers pose little threat in open-minded democratic societies. Globalization has meant that everyone benefits by knowing more than one language. When I visit Montreal I hear English more than elsewhere in Quebec but that hardly makes English a threat to a province which is over 80 percent francophone.


    September 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

  8. separatism is an expression of ethnic nationalism. I challenged a group of pequists to explain to me the benefits of separation from canada without bringing up race, language or religion.
    My point is, that you cant create a country based on race alone. you need to have some socioeconomic motivator, that will benefit your people as a whole.
    What really gets me is the propaganda. I promise you that my english and irish ancestors who came here 5 and 6 generations ago where no richer or more oppressive than my french ancestors. The pre 1960 english plutocracy is a myth. There where rich and poor of all faiths and languages in Quebec. There is a prevailing idea in quebec that english canada is somehow predatory to the french culture. if that where true, how did french survive here for 450 years without levesque, parizeau, bouchard, or marois respectively defending the french language. There is often brought up the hypothetical racist, I know a guy who knows a guy who went to saskatchewan and was treated badly for being francophone. And this somehow justifies incredible intolerance towards anglos in quebec…
    I was born and raised in quebec, fully bilingual. I have had the opportunity to travel through out canada, and I have to say, I was treated very well in every province, except quebec. The Idea that quebecers are mistreated in the rest of canada, is a myth, or more aptly put separatist fear mongering. Canadians are proud people, and they, no we, are proud of all the peoples that make up our wonderful cultural tapestry.
    I dont want people in the rest of canada to categorize all quebecers in with angry french guy. He represents an ever decreasing minority. A minority that most quebecers find shameful and ignorant. Tolerance should be taught towards all people. point finale.
    Lets work together to make this a better place for our children.
    Stop teaching hate!


    January 2, 2013 at 6:24 am

  9. why the hell do you write in english if you are agasint it in quebec.. it just proves a point that english is needed in quebec for YOU and the province to go well..


    January 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm

  10. I have been reading many of these posts. I am not Canadian nor am I Quebecoise. I am from the United States. I learned French in high school. My first French teacher was of Sicilian heritage and was already bi-lingual with Italian before learning both French and Spanish both of which she taught. My second French teacher was originally from Quebec and taught us her dialect. I chose to learn French because linguistically it was easier to learn than Spanish. Those were my only two choices. I attempted Spanish in my senior year but failed so bad in my first 2 weeks that I was pulled from the class. Now I can Speak French at an advanced level. I am at an intermediate level with Irish Gaelic, Italian, Polish and Hebrew. But for the life of me I can’t do Spanish.

    Just like in Canada, you have English speakers who tell others to learn English. The irony about the US though is that Spanish speakers now make up about half or perhaps even now more than half of our population. You don’t hear about the Spanish fighting to have Spanish accepted legally as an official language because it is accepted culturally. That wasn’t the case in Canada until legal action was taken to recognize that there were French speakers who could not speak English. That being said I do however believe Spanish should be legalized. Being a native Anglophone, I am not against that. I am against anyone either Anglophone, Francophone or Hispanophone (Spanish speaking) forcing those who do not speak their language to learn it if they aren’t willing to in turn learn the other language. It is not right. I cannot speak a word of Spanish other than Hola. I think I was turned off to Spanish by being constantly told I need to learn or should learn Spanish. Learning another language should be a choice not legally forced. Not everyone is capable of learning another language. Statistically British English is one of the hardest languages to learn the other is American English which is even harder because it borrows from French, Spanish, Italian etc. more than British English does.

    I laughed at the one comment from someone about the dialect in Quebec being an archaic form of “16th” century French. We know he/she meant 17th century. I study linguistics on my own as a passion/hobby. The French of Quebec isn’t really all that different then how it is spoken in France. Now if you go to Senegal or Haiti it is quite different because it takes in an Arabic influence whereas both France and Quebec have English as an influence.

    On Quebec being separate from Canada… I support that idea but not based merely on the fact that the majority speak French. In the United States if one of our states decides they want to cede from the country they can do so so long as there are enough people who reside in that state legally that are for the secession of statehood. Typically it would mean that 9/10 residents are for it. If the majority of Quebec wants to be its own country regardless of their reasoning, than they should have the right to cede from the union. If Canada starts threatening to block access to the Atlantic as a means to deter a possible secession, than that isn’t right. If Quebec were to become its own country, Canada as a civilized nation should recognize that wish and not prevent access to the Atlantic Ocean as a consequence of leaving the nation. Such an action of blockade would be uncivilized in a time of peace. Though honestly I cannot see Canada doing such a thing. I think it is mostly a personal opinion of few Canadians.

    Even with blocking access to the Atlantic, Quebec would most likely still thrive. Canada in truth would be the one hurting if Quebec left because Quebec makes a lot of revenue for Canada. Quebec produces most of the manufactured goods for the country as well. I can tell you now the US would have no issue purchasing from Quebec manufactured products as we are intelligent enough to know that most of the Canadian made goods that we do own are in fact made in Quebec.

    Language wise, I do believe Quebec has the right to say French is the official language and that you must learn it to work there. We do that in America which still does not prevent Hispanophones from working here. We simply require that if you are going to work in our country you need to understand laws and regulations as well as be able to understand simple instruction. Throw yourself in lets say Romania with very little. They speak Romanian not English, not Spanish and not French. How are you going to get by without learning a little of the language? You’ll die without being able to communicate. You will want to learn because you will feel you need to not because someone is forcing it down your throat. Language is a gift to be appreciated not to be used as a tool to oppress others. I hate to say it but Anglophones are the worst when it comes to this type of oppression.

    And this stuff I hear about Quebecois people treating non-Francophones like crap especially Americans… it is all a bunch of crap that is spread by word of mouth and not even questioned about on it’s verifiability. I know Quebecois folk and they are the nicest people I know. I know English speaking Canadians as well and for the most part they are nice too. In EVERY culture you will have the few ignorant people who give the whole population the stigma of being rude, arrogant, dirty etc. The stereotypical view of a French person from France that man Americans hold as truth is in fact NOT true. French people love America. For some reason they find American culture fascinating. And there are Americans who are fascinated by French culture. All it takes it one person to give a nation a bad image keep that in mind the next time you go to talk about another culture, country, religion etc.

    Catherine mary oliver

    April 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

  11. As a multilingual British person, I empathise with Canadian Francophones. As Anglophones, imagine if the roles were reversed and Ontario was surrounded by Francophone North America! It is a real benefit to study another language, especially an international one such as French. Embrace bilingualism. I don´t want the entire world to speak the same language. How boring that would be!


    May 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

  12. laTuqueFrouFrou and Jean Guy and JF and JP and all you ignorant Quebecois retards

    – Chinese could maybe be considered a written language, but to think people speak Chinese is very ignorant… as is most of your post. But I’m sure for the most part you know this. Commenting on the word nazi and it being misused… shocking! You realize Quebecois is an old french with a lot of English mixed in. So I know for you that means it’s the “new” French. I have lived in so many countries… guess what? You are not the nazis like the old ones, you are the NEW NAZIS. Bravo neo-nazi! New French for the new nazs… fits well.

    Quebecois is an ugly language. It is almost impossible for even non-Quebecois French speaking people to understand. I always vote for separatism, can’t wait to ship the French off to the poor outskirts of Quebec after Quebec city is filled. All the land belongs to Canada, maybe we will keep Quebec city, we will let you know when we, the majority, decide what to do with all our land. I am sure the majority, which are anglo and non-separatist and not Quebecois, would love to give you sh*tholes throughout Quebec to get rid of you and the tax burden that comes with you. Montreal will always be anglo! I will do my part to make sure I breed as many Anglo children with hatred to the Quebecois language as possible just to keep you Quebecois ignorant to the world and focused on your worry over language. Of course, my kids, as I do, will speak Quebecois, French, Italian, Spanish, some Korean, and any other language we can fit in. They won’t be ignorant (except for the hate I feel so guilty feeding into their minds, but have to to protect them against people like you). Many profitable businesses speak English globally, even the Chinese (regardless of the dialect)… and let’s not forget the Russians!

    Yes this is a terribly written letter with too much hatred returned to those that give me hate everyday here in Quebec. I usually let it go. Today I just wanted to remind some of you Quebecois that I will answer my phone in English, I will ask for all services, government or not, to be provided in English (or they lose my business). When I call Revenue Quebec I make a point of only speaking in English (cause it’s the law that they must – makes me smile so much). They struggle speaking with me, it’s so hard for them. Makes me all warm inside.

    Just a little note. The anti-quebecois nationalist get more thumbs up on this page than any pro-quebecois. Interesting! And you are the educated Francos that can read English.

    So stay ignorant all you Quebecois! We anglos actually created law 101 and the language police just to keep all you franco ignorant to be rid of you sooner. Keep falling for it! Keep dropping out of school! Keep making these funny sites!

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Truth is I love Quebec and I love having more than one language. I am just sick and tired of all the hate. Even the hate that it creates in me. Shame on me. Shame on you. Can we move on and work on more important things?

    Anglo - enough said

    October 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm

  13. PhilipII

    The anglos support bilingualism. I think you are mixed up. The Francos here in Quebec want Anglos to stop speaking English. A business can’t post a business name in English. English must be written in a font half the size as French. We have a language police that call businesses and give fines if French isn’t spoken before English! The first word must be French! Unreal.

    I speak 4 languages. Most anglos I know here in Quebec speak French and English and usually at least one extra language. True Quebecois can’t even speak an international French, only their dialect, yet alone English.

    Anglo - enough said

    October 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

  14. “As for the french treating people so horribly in Montréal? Seriously? Who has said that? Please don’t make up things.”

    I’m saying that. And I was born and raised in Montreal.

    I can tell you from first hand experience that there’ve been several occasions where I or people I’ve known have been denied service in English. One example would be where I asked a bus driver a question in English and he sarcastically asked, “Can you speak in French so I can understand too?” in French before he would deign to address me further. Another acquaintance of mine was greeted in French by a customer service representative when he went to The Bay, and, when he spoke to her in English, she ignored him completely and repeated her original greeting, the implication being that he would have to speak to her in French in order to be served or go without being served at all.

    There’s also been workplace discrimination at my previous jobs. One of my very French-Canadian former bosses was overheard expressing his disdain for non-French speakers…even though I worked for a translation company where the whole point was to translate things from English into many other languages. You should’ve seen the surprise on his face when, after a year or two of being a bit distant, he suddenly warmed up to me when he discovered that I could speak French pretty well.

    The problems faced by Anglophones and Allophones in Quebec is very real. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge this problem suggests that you’re either out of touch with non-Francophones or willfully ignorant or blind to it.

    Lunar Archivist

    March 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm

  15. Ok anglos, if you want to experience a workplace where uni-lingual anglophones are abound and don’t care, go to McGill. And I’m not talking about professors, I’m talking about managers. I went to the archives and the head archivist couldn’t speak a word of French. A senior manager should speak at least broken French at any public institution in Quebec. If not, get rid of her and give the job to some other qualified candidate.


    February 12, 2015 at 1:24 pm

  16. I´m British and have lived in France, Spain and Canada. . I sympathise with this post. The difference is that in the English speaking provinces of Canada English is not under threat, it is the new World language, if anything more people are learning English all the time. I think a lot of English speakers are hypocrites. We do not accept people who don´t speak English in “our” provinces yet for some reason we have the right to go what is a historically French speaking region and talk to people in shops and stuff in English. All of the multinacionals, world economic powers etc will push English onto people to reduce costs and grow their empires. I DO NOT want to live in a monocultural World. I think as time goes on other countries will probably start to feel as many people in Quebec feel now. I feel that many English speaking regions do not have to make any sacrifices yet people in other regions and non-English speaking countries have to spend shit loads of money to study English, adapt all of their workplaces etc to fit in with the multinacional culture. And what tops it off is that after bending over backwards to adapt to other cultures they are told they are unfreindly if they respond in what is their own language in their own region, an act of defiance protecting their own culture. If someone came into a shop in England or many places in Ontario and spoke in French I don´t think the person would respond in French, maybe they would laugh, not everyone, but when living in English provinces in Canada I did not know many people who could speak French well.

    When I have been to France recently or learning Spanish I iniciate the conversation in Spanish/French and quite often you get responded to in English. Or in places I have worked there the natives will often want to practice their English on you. I know several English speakers in these countries that never learnt the languages because they always got away with English, people wanted them to speak English and there was no real incentive to learn. Often i´d go on a night out and if any English speaking freind joined the group we´d all have to speak in English due to their lack of skills in Spanish or French- even though we were in France or Spain. This would never happen in an English speaking country, infact, I feel most people who dont speak English are segragated and shamed in English speaking zones. Sometimes if somone answered back in English in my everyday life in Spain or France I continued the conversation in their language, the oppostite to the quebec problem LOL. But I refuse to contribute to a World where speaking English is the norm. I prefer diversity.

  17. I am 1/2 Québécois, half New Zealander. I have travelled the world and lived in Italy, India and Hong Kong for a year in each or longer. I have never felt so disfranchised as an English speaker and Québec language laws are so over the top you miss out on a skilled migrant as myself trying to make Quebec home. Be thankful the English even let you use your language. Your right to speak French is not something most conquered people have or had the privilege of. You complain about something your not even entitled to, but gifted out of lack of usual English might to subdue and assimilate a conquered race as per the usual.


    September 18, 2015 at 11:35 pm

  18. Joining in on the discussion kind of late here, but oh well. I’m American, but I speak pretty good French and also 8 others languages at least as good, mostly better than French. I love languages and was excited to speak French. I had the COMPLETELY opposite experience from most of what has been described in the comments here. To my dismay, though, as soon as I started talking to people in French, they would hear my accent and many would immediately switch to English. It was one of the most frustrating things I have ever experienced; I’ve spoken in languages in countries all around the world and nowhere like in Québec did I ever get answered even close to as much in English. At Chutes de Montmorency I drove up to parking and proceeded to talk to the lady in the booth to buy a ticket, as soon as I had said 2 sentences she immediately answered in English. She continued to refuse to switch to French, even after I had said to her in French that I’d prefer to speak in French. She only switched once I had yelled at her in German, which made her think I wasn’t an Anglo-Canadian. It was appalling. Nowhere else have I had to “persuade” so many people to talk to me in their native tongue.
    What a ridiculous double standard. If you start off speaking English, they want you to switch to French. If you speak to them in French and, God forbid, it isn’t fucking perfect, then they answer you in English like it’s nobody’s business.
    So, in short, if you lazy anglophones really want the Québécois to speak to you in English, start off by saying something to them in (preferably not perfect) French. It really does the trick.
    And honestly, stop fucking complaining about French being dominant in Québec; let them have their own province for Pete’s sake. How convenient that you complain about not being able to be served in English in French-speaking Québec because you live in a “bilingual country”, but I’ll bet my ass ain’t nobody getting served in French in shops in Toronto or Vancouver.


    October 14, 2016 at 6:09 pm

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