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. agf,

    still want to buy you a drink – hopefully enough of them to see you get up on the table and recite some shakespeare:

    All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
    Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
    And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
    Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
    Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation
    Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
    In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
    With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
    Full of wise saws and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
    His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


    February 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  2. “Romeo and Juliet” may be more à propos to this forum than “As you like it”.

    Or the Tempest…”O brave new world that has such people in it.”


    February 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  3. @Acajack, Once again you have read my “Canada” to mean “ROC”. French in Canada means in Quebec when I write it.

    Still, I hadn’t fully considered the possibility that there remains a large population in Montreal today who would vote with their feet. Probably correct since, as I have mentioned before, many of my Anglo colleagues are staunchly (and blindly) convinced that secession is never going to happen. I think in 30-40 years from now when todays 20-somethings are in charge (if we make it that far together) the number of people who would leave would be almost zero.


    February 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm

  4. “I think in 30-40 years from now when todays 20-somethings are in charge (if we make it that far together) the number of people who would leave would be almost zero.”

    I sincerely doubt that in 30 – 40 years that Canada/Quebec will be as it is now. I doubt that NA will be as we know it now with world influences as they are now. Is a nice thought that it would, but economic and demographic figures would indicate otherwise. The issues of our little language/cultural debate will be of little consequence in the scope of global issues.


    February 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm

  5. I guess the Maple Leafs of Toronto had a differnt vision of this evening from some on this blog. Sorry, couldnt or didnt have the time to find the comment about how the Hab’s were going to kick Toronto’s derriere..;):) as one suggested.


    February 7, 2009 at 10:53 pm

  6. bruce:
    > Je voudrais pas commenter sur tous tes répliques à ABP, mais il semble
    > qu’il a fait de bonnes obsérvations sérieuses que tu ( et autres comme
    > gcl, kriss etc souvent rejette, grâce au fait que “ta maison face au
    > nord” très loin de ton pays actuel qui n’existe plus dans ton esprit,
    > ce que est plutôt triste. Tu dit que tu est “quasi-séparatiste” Que
    > se veut dire ça?

    Pas grand-chose. C’est comme quand Acajack dit qu’il n’est pas souverainiste, mais que ses amis ontariens soupçonnent qu’il l’est étant donné qu’il a de la sympathie pour le Québec. Je ne suis pas souverainiste, mais je me considère Québécois avant d’être Canadien. Je ne me décrirais pas non plus comme fédéraliste, parce qu’il me semble que la plupart des “fédéralistes” sont attachés au Canada beaucoup plus qu’au Québec et en fait semblent avoir plutôt honte d’être Québécois, ou à tout le moins considérer que le Québec aurait beaucoup à apprendre du reste du Canada (et pas vraiment le contraire).

    Donc je ne suis pas exactement souverainiste, mais je suis pas mal certain que la plupart des Canadiens anglais croiraient que je le suis même sans que j’exprime la moindre opinion en faveur de la séparation du Québec.

    Et honnêtement, plus je suis exposé à ce que les Canadiens anglais pensent du Québec, plus j’ai l’impression que mes idées politiques tendent vers la souveraineté même si je ne suis pas là encore. Et je ne suis pas le seul. Au Canada anglais, vous semblez penser que la seule raison pour laquelle un Québécois serait souverainiste est qu’il est isolé du reste du monde et pas assez exposé à d’autres cultures. Non seulement c’est insultant au plus haut point, mais en plus c’est faux, puisque ce sont souvent les Québécois ayant eu le plus de contacts avec des anglophones qui sont le plus en faveur de l’indépendance.


    February 8, 2009 at 1:30 am

  7. bruce encore:
    > Vu que les gens habitent loin du Québec, c’est frappant comme le
    > français est appuyé par le peuple pour les écoles d’immersion tout
    > part disponsible dans les régions urbains.

    Mais qui s’en soucie?! Je le sais très bien que le reste du Canada est un pays anglophone, et c’est très bien comme ça. Ils ne sont pas obligés d’envoyer leurs enfants à des écoles anglophones pour me prouver que le Québec compte pour eux; s’ils veulent le faire, c’est très parfait mais ça ne change rien!

    > Tu parais un peu d’avoir une vision de Canada actuel, vient d’un
    > tour d’ivoire, je crois. Les minorities ont des communautés vibrantes
    > dans les grandes villes et la communauté entière participe dans leurs
    > fêtes, comme à Toronto la parade de “Pride”, Caribana pour la culture
    > des Antilles au Caraibe, Le salon des livres francais et le théatre
    > francais, ‘Caravan’ lieu le mois de juin, avec ses pavillons
    > éparpillés autour de et alentours de la ville avec toutes les
    > coutumes, costumes et cuisines des communautés éthniques qui font la
    > grande force de la ville ici. Même chose avec l’année lunare des
    > chinois ici et à Vancouver. La mosaïque au Canada est tellement riche
    > que tu n’a peut-être pas vraiment la pleine idée.

    Ben encore une fois, tout ça c’est juste des “tokens” culturels! Oui, toutes ces communautés ethniques participent à des grandes fêtes de rues à Toronto et Vancouver où elles montrent leur cuisine, leurs danses, tout ça, mais ultimement c’est juste de la “couleur ethnique” comme je dis. On ne fait pas une culture moderne vivante avec des danses ukrainiennes ou des dragons chinois! Comme tu dis, les francophones participent aussi à ces grandes fêtes culturelles, ils servent de la tourtière, montrent des danses traditionnelles canadiennes-françaises et des pièces de théâtre, mais tout ce qu’ils font c’est juste montrer leur sous-culture aux Canadiens. Peut-être que tous ces “ethniques” produisent encore quelque chose qui est spécifique à leur sous-groupe, mais en général ils font partie de la culture standard du Canada anglais. Tandis que le Québec moderne a une culture vivante et qui n’est pas spécifiquement *ethnique*, qui est l’équivalent de cette culture standard du Canada anglais. Elle est partagée par moins de monde, mais à part ça il n’y a pas tellement de différence.

    Bruce, à voir l’importance que le multiculturalisme canadien a pour toi, est-ce que je me tromperais si je disais que tu te considères plutôt comme un “Canadien-sans-trait-d’union” et sans vraiment de culture particulière, et que selon toi tu tires ta culture de la mosaïque culturelle du Canada. Bien, dis-toi que
    1) malgré que je suis théoriquement un “Canadien-français”, je suis aussi “Canadien-sans-trait-d’union” que toi, et
    2) la culture standard du Canada anglais existe même au-delà cette “mosaïque culturelle”, et de même pour la culture du Québec.


    February 8, 2009 at 1:52 am

  8. bruce:
    > Le Canada ne t’intéresse pas beaucoup il semble

    Pas moins qu’un autre pays; probablement plus puisque j’y vis. Les États-Unis t’intéressent-ils vraiment? Étant donné ton attitude face à eux, je crois que non.

    > We can’t allow women’s rights to be suppressed by their personal
    > decisions to wear a head scarf. They must be forced to see the
    > light. The vail of inferiority must be lifted from their eyes so
    > they can see what a tolerant culture we have.

    It’s not at all illegal to wear a head scarf in Quebec; plenty of women do it. This said, if you’re referring to things like the “Hérouxville conduct code”, yes I do agree that was a misstep, but I’d much rather belong to a nation that’s cautious about immigration because immigrants may not share our liberal values, than because they have brown skin or are going to steal our jobs. Quebec has some common values, which I believe are good, and we expect our population to hold these values. Note that many other countries are worried about immigration from Muslim countries and for the same reason.

    This said, I will concede that this attitude you’re describing is paternalistic in some ways, and given that one of my problems with English Canadians is their paternalism towards us, maybe we should try to do better. I guess Canadians, both in Quebec and elsewhere, tend to be paternalistic towards other cultures.

    > Nor can we allow Sharia law to be applied within the Muslim communities.

    Well, that’s more because every citizen should be subject to the same law. I support this fundamental concept. And I believe Ontario reached the same decision.

    > Pretty soon they’ll be telling us to take down the cross from our
    > National Assembly.

    I don’t know what this thing about the crucifix was. And now we have these mayors insisting on holding a prayer before city council meetings. I thought Quebec was a thoroughly secular society, but it seems that it is not the case. I wonder who these pro-religion in the public sphere people are; they’re not the Quebecers I know. Why would anyone want to withdraw to Catholicism as a symbol of Quebec identity is beyond me.

    > To a lot of francophones, Bourassa was almost a traitor: but it
    > seems that anglophones a little recognition for his services. As
    > if he was just the local chief of a colonized tribe, so why
    > should they honor him ?

    I don’t know, Bourassa was quite popular during his second term in office. I think of him highly. But anglophones may not think of him so highly, not because he was only a local kinglet, but because the Liberal Party became pro-bill 101 under him. Since then there hasn’t been a major party that’s been in favour of a “bilingual” Quebec. I’m not complaining, but some anglophones might.

    > I find it a lack of intellectual honesty on the part of independentists to
    > defend the place of the crucifix at the National Assembly.

    They did? I think it was Boisclair who first brought to our collective mind the idea of possibly removing it. Not that he really matters. I think the ADQ would be more likely to defend the crucifix’s place, not because of any strong conviction but to get votes from this elusive demographic I alluded to earlier, which also seems to care about Christmas trees (or should I say Holiday Green Lifeforms?) We can see what good that did them. And I see you agree.

    By the way, no, I don’t want the ADQ to be a marginal movement, but I think they should clean up their act. We need a centre-right alternative in Quebec, that’s not afraid to question even our sacred cows. But they’re much too populist, and even their economic proposals lack thought. Let’s hope a new leader helps them improve themselves.

    > I urge any federalist to realize that Belgium is not a good example
    > of a successful federation.

    Uh, are federalists holding Belgium as an example of a successful federal country? Because their problems are quite well-known. But most of these problems seem to be caused by the francophone elites too obsessed with national unity to accept greater decentralization. We could learn from this here. Switzerland does in fact seem to be a better example of a successful federal country, and it’s because they don’t try to fit their main ethnic groups into some multicultural hodge-podge.


    February 8, 2009 at 2:40 am

  9. “…ce sont souvent les Québécois ayant eu les plus de contacts avec des anglophones qui sont le plus en faveur de l’independance.”

    E.g. René Lévesque.

    It seems to me that in places like the small towns in the 450, where pretty much everyone speaks French, language isn’t that big an issue. However, in places like Montréal or New Carlisle, Francos are in fairly constant contact with Anglos. And so, all the sticky language issues common to every other place in the world where there are large communities of speakers of two or more languages crop up. People are angered that the “others” can’t or won’t communicate with them, and the frustration plays itself out in the political sphere.

    Switzerland is different from Québec because no Swiss linguistic “territory” harbors large numbers of speakers of more than one language. I think that Flanders is more apposite to Québec in that significant groups of French speakers live within its territorial borders, both in Brussels and in towns along the border with Wallonia. The difference, of course, is that Brussels is juridically separate from the rest of Flanders, a situation that is not viewed favorably by the Flemish nationalists, who react to it just as badly as souverainistes do to the idea that the West Island should be juridically separate from the rest of Québec in the event Québec becomes independent.


    February 8, 2009 at 6:57 am

  10. “Switzerland is different from Québec because no Swiss linguistic “territory” harbors large numbers of speakers of more than one language.”

    This is a widely-held view but it is not completely accurate. Most of the larger (unilingual) cantons have the other Swiss language groups, other than the local “official”, one represented in them. In particular, Swiss Italians are present in decent numbers all across the French and German-speaking parts of the country. The French-only Vaud canton, centred around the city of Lausanne, has a Swiss German minority of 5 or 7%. The Italian-only canton of Ticino has somewhere between 15 and 20% of its population that is German-speaking.

    And just under half of the population of Geneva’s French-only canton is made up of a hodge-podge of “foreigners” from around the world, not that many of which would be native speakers of French.

    Sure, the are a few bilingual cantons in Switzerland, but most are split up between French-only and German-only areas *within* the canton. This is true of the Valais, which has both German-only and a French-only areas. The federal capital’s canton of Bern, which is mostly German-only (including the city of Bern), has a small French-only zone as well.

    Still, there are only to my knowledge two actual municipalities in the entire country where groups cohabit and have equal official status. They are the city of Fribourg/Freiburg, which is roughly 2/3 French and 1/3 German, and the city of Biel/Bienne, where the proportions are the exact opposite.

    If one looks at the minority populations in Canada (8 to 10% anglos in Quebec, 5% francophones in Ontario, 33% francophones in New Brunswick, less than 5% francophones in the western provinces…), the situation in Switzerland is perhaps not identical to ours but it is not that dissimilar either.


    February 8, 2009 at 10:02 am

  11. Marc,
    Once again I find your point of view compelling and thoughtful. I merely lack your enthusiasm for a Republique Québecoise. I think it would be a great moment of pride for all of French Canada, followed by a painful period of harsh socioeconomic normalisation (for Canada too), however I don’t believe it would be the unmitigated disaster that some predict. The shortage of domestic heavy industry and capital for investment that would seem to be Quebec’s weakness is a weakness shared to a greater or lesser degree by all of North America these days. Manufacturing will in general come from Asia, so being on the East coast is not so advantageous, but with the soon to be revealed Northwest Passage all is well.

    The real question is how could a new Quebec, especially a strongly socialist Quebec, attract capital investment from outside its borders when the alternatives are Canada, US and Mexico.
    State adminsitration of benefits like health care helps, but Canada has that. Lower property costs help, but Mexico has that. The US has a big domestic market that is becoming increasingly protectionist.

    I often wonder when I see all the big posters announcing “Quebec: un nouveau pays pour le monde”, what’s really in it for the world? But it would not be quite so inspiring to say “Quebec: un nouveau pays pour le Quebec”, or would it?


    February 8, 2009 at 11:00 am

  12. As for the cultural mosaïc phenomenon, you’re exactly correct, but the solution (if you agree that show-and-tell multiculturalism is a bit of a farce), is either the US melting pot solution in which I have found we are left with the lowest common denominator rather than the rich complexity of many cultures in one, OR the US ethnic ghetto solution, in which one culture essentially takes over a small community and rebuilds a smaller, less vibrant version of what they had back home (“Little X”, where X=Italy, Korea, Japan, Colombia, Haiti, Havana, India, etc.).

    Quebec prefers the mosaïc model (sure we can have another street festival), and would not be pleased when immigrants get so uppity that they start to form their own growing tumor-like self-sustaining communities. For example, immigrants are very strongly urged to move to towns outside the 450/514, the better to be absorbed and integrated (and abnegated). As Antonio points out, at least this is made clear from the start here — though as an immigrant I can assert that one always optimistically ignores the warning signs of intolerance of your new host nation and focuses on its welcoming aspects.
    I assume you have all seen the site


    February 8, 2009 at 11:22 am

  13. littlerob:
    > E.g. René Lévesque.

    He’s the canonical example. Also Bernard Landry, who apparently became a sovereigntist after doing his military service in Western Canada. Many anglophones seem to think that support for independence is greater among the ethnically homogeneous population of Quebec City and rural Quebec, while Montrealers, being more ethnically diverse and possibly better educated, have no need for this. But the truth is the independence movement was born in Montreal, this is where the safest PQ and BQ seats are today, while Quebec City sees much less need for independence, and most of its infamous populist politicians and shock jocks are actually federalist. As for rural Quebec, it includes some of the most federalist regions, the Beauce for example.

    Interesting comment about Switzerland, Acajack. I knew some “unilingual” cantons had a small population of another linguistic group (this little village for example), but I wasn’t aware that in some cases it was so large. The Wikipedia article actually describes Ticino as 83.1% Italian-speaking, 8.3% German-speaking, which sounds a lot like Quebec, except for the fact it has only 330,000 citizens.

    > I merely lack your enthusiasm for a Republique Québecoise.

    As I’ve said, I’m not really in favour of independence (though I guess a Republic of Quebec could exist inside of an eventual Republic of Canada, but let’s not even go there ;-)). Sure, the idea of getting a country would make me enthusiastic, but this doesn’t mean I believe it would be the best idea. I’m probably rather like Acajack on this issue.

    > As for the cultural mosaïc phenomenon, you’re exactly correct, but the
    > solution (if you agree that show-and-tell multiculturalism is a bit of
    > a farce)

    “Show-and-tell multiculturalism”. I like this expression; yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I think I’ll borrow it.

    > Quebec prefers the mosaïc model (sure we can have another street
    > festival), and would not be pleased when immigrants get so uppity
    > that they start to form their own growing tumor-like self-sustaining
    > communities.

    You’re right, we wouldn’t want that. Maybe people in the rest of Canada are less afraid of immigrants refusing to integrate, but that would be because they’re more secure in their continued existence. (Then again, maybe not, given how afraid of the US’s cultural hegemony they are.) Or maybe it’s because we want to have a proof that Quebec’s modern culture isn’t just a French-Canadian “marotte”, but a true living culture. If immigrants refuse to integrate, well, maybe it’s because our culture does suck and only French-Canadians who are born in it and don’t know any better could adopt it. If immigrants start being like us, then maybe we are a valid modern nation after all.

    I’m reminded of René Lévesque, actually. In his victory speech in 1976, he had this sentence: “On n’est pas un petit peuple. On est peut-être quelque chose comme un grand peuple.” This fills me with pride every time I hear it. But what does it mean? Basically, “you know, maybe we don’t suck quite as much as we thought!” ;-) Can you even imagine a politician in the rest of Canada saying anything remotely similar?

    > though as an immigrant I can assert that one always optimistically ignores
    > the warning signs of intolerance of your new host nation and focuses on
    > its welcoming aspects.

    I may have missed the fact that you’re an immigrant. Where do you come from?

    > I assume you have all seen the site

    No, I hadn’t seen it. Many of their complaints appear to be related to Canada “protectionism”, so to speak, in that they refuse to allow foreign-educated professionals to practice in Canada. It does go against the whole point of allowing people to immigrate. I think we all agree something should be done about it.


    February 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm

  14. René Lévesque was inspiring for everyone. It makes me a bit sad that today we have midgets who walk in the footprints of giants.

    My immigration experience is a bit strange. I am an American (New Yorker) who came to Canada with a prestigious job offer in hand during the peak of the Bush Empire. My work and professional life here has been wonderful. Like most American immigrants I chose the Plateau over Westmount/NDG and have no regrets there either. My neighbours range from globe-trotting Montreal Anglophone professionals to Francophone CEGEP professors with kids to middle-aged lesbian businesswomen. It is a dream come true.
    My wife who is a visible minority spent her first year here learning French and then after applying for two years finally got a job for a multinational company in her chosen profession. But she has had a bit of a nightmare. She found herself immediately smack against the glass ceiling both as visible minority and as someone who is not fluent in French. She’s always been very self-motivated and driven but here she feels that she’ll never be given a chance to prove herself because her accent and her face define her limits in advance.

    It’s quite difficult because I have had such a wonderful experience, but can’t be entirely happy when the person I love is not.

    So I guess I feel like an outsider who can see the pros and cons of Montreal more acutely than most. I want to make it work, but don’t have the personal investment here that many of you do. That is, if in the end it doesn’t work out I’ll just go back home. I hope it doesn’t come to that though.


    February 8, 2009 at 12:40 pm

  15. The Church has flagellated the self-worth of many in its quest to maintain power. Perhaps Québec is still licking its wounds, inflicted while its British “protectors” observed approvingly.

    Quebec culture must struggle with the guilt of parricide, having driven out the Church, and the inferiority complex of being a subjugated majority. There is rich fodder for cultural expression there, but who outside will listen when the tale is told in a foreign language. To pull oneself up by the bootstraps, pat oneself on the back and trudge onward takes a special kind of national strength. These days the struggle has almost become an ancient mythology for the young generation, and it is from there that a confident new culture will emerge, with literary allusions rather than fresh, seeping wounds.


    February 8, 2009 at 1:55 pm

  16. Yes, one day you could be as brazenly self-confident and proud as my homeland. Perish the thought!


    February 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

  17. Acajack–I stand corrected. I knew about the German speakers in Ticino but not about the other areas you mentioned.


    February 8, 2009 at 5:36 pm

  18. “Acajack–I stand corrected. I knew about the German speakers in Ticino but not about the other areas you mentioned.”

    This is one of the best-kept secrets in Switzerland as few public stats are available on this. I looked for this data for a long time and finally found some works by a professor named George Lüdi (think he is with the University of Basel) that cover the issue.

    There is a similar caution with language statistics in Belgium, where I believe the national census no longer even collects data on language. So people establish the relative weight of language groups in places like Brussels based on which language people file their tax returns in.

    I guess both Switzerland and Belgium do this in order to prevent minorities from saying: ”hey, we’re X% of the population here now, we want services in our language now!”


    February 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm

  19. ”Acajack–Your observations about the 1990 demonstration leads me to wonder this: Most of the (small number) of Québécois I know or know of (including you) have relatives in the ROC. Is it your sense that most ROC Francos lean towards the fédéralistes or the souverainistes when it comes to Québec?”

    ROC francos are massively opposed to Quebec sovereignty. Polls before the 1995 referendum showed that somewhere between 90 and 95% of Franco-Ontarians were for the Non. To be a franco in the ROC and support Quebec independence is to be seen as something of a yahoo whose head isn’t screwed on quite right. Rarely will you find so much unanimity on a political issue.


    February 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm

  20. “To be a franco in the ROC and support Quebec independence is to be seen as something of a yahoo whose head isn’t screwed on quite right. Rarely will you find so much unanimity on a political issue”

    Yes, there could be issues with pressure with their neighbors and communities…I suppose its never occurred to some that these people are quite happy with their lives, where they live… I suspect they don’t want to be associated with separatists in their own locals as they would be perceived to be against the federalist system.

    On the other hand, it could be self interest in that Quebec separation would result in a lot less french imperatives in the ROC which they realize would be detrimental to their own situations. Would be the end of a lot of progam spending such as CBC french service, immersion programs, OLA initiatives etc. etc.



    February 8, 2009 at 11:45 pm

  21. “Yes, there could be issues with pressure with their neighbors and communities…I suppose its never occurred to some that these people are quite happy with their lives, where they live… I suspect they don’t want to be associated with separatists in their own locals as they would be perceived to be against the federalist system.
    On the other hand, it could be self interest in that Quebec separation would result in a lot less french imperatives in the ROC which they realize would be detrimental to their own situations. Would be the end of a lot of progam spending such as CBC french service, immersion programs, OLA initiatives etc.”

    That’s pretty accurate. I’d say all of these factors enter into it to some degree, ABP.


    February 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

  22. This is hilarious. I love it when my fellow anglos don’t speak French. It’s like: “Wow! I hope being an indie rocker works out for you, because you don’t have an uncle in Westmount so you’re either going to be a welfare bum or a telemarketer” Or “Oh you’re totally right. Learning a language that completely surrounds you from cereal boxes to mass media, in an environment there are thousands of resources to help you learn, and the particular language in question contributes 37% of your mother tongue’s vocaubulary msut be really hard. You should learn Klingon instead.” Pure comedy gold. French is really, really easy for English speakers to learn. It’s harder for English speakers to learn than English, because… they already speak English, but compared to Portuguese, Japanese, Swedish, Mohawk, and just about every other language spoken on this planet…

    Anyway, it’s important to recognize that despite their historical dominance whose spoils the vast majority of anglos did not greatly enjoy, anglo-Quebecers often feel apprehensive about their place in Quebec. Now before someone flies off the handle at this one, let me reiterate: “feel”. We’re talking about emotions here. And we need to address this emotional question, because anglos are people too.

    Here’s what I propose.


    This is the same as saying “anglos must learn French or else…” but without the ominous connotation. The end result is the same. The education minister should work hard with the anglo community and commit her department to helping anglos. An oft-cited reason for the uptick in anglo presence in Montreal is that as their bilingualism rises, anglos are more likely to stay. This assuages anglo apprehensiveness about staying in Quebec and franco apprehensiveness about language.

    Now, when I say fluent, I mean fluent. Not like, «Je suis une avocat de McGill que ecris francais comme un étidiant du 5 année en ecrivan un text message.» I mean «mon apprentissage de cette langue a commencé quand j’étais très petit et depuis ce temps-là, je ne cesse pas de l’utiliser dans ma vie quotidienne.»


    February 25, 2009 at 11:27 am

  23. It’s only a matter of time before English will take over all of North Amercia. The problem with Quebec is that they are a bunch of cry babies at a large table. The rest of the world is pretty much fed up of them and wish them nothing but hard times.

    Vive le quebec libre eh?

    mr anglo

    March 1, 2009 at 6:53 am

  24. pointless language in north america (and slowly the rest of the world) just learn english and drop the french already. It’s only a matter of time. Learning french is a WASTE OF TIME. Once you get that through your thick skull, you can actually come join the rest of us that actually got skills and 100k+ a year jobs in either the US or the rest of Canada. Oh, I forgot, Europe picked up some of my good friends too. See, the rest of the world values skill over language. Only in quebec do they have it backward. And always will. I hate coming back here to visit my family. Can’t wait to get back to the good ol US of A. Never hear anything about quebec or french there. It’s like every day is a good

    mr anglo

    March 1, 2009 at 6:59 am

  25. I am glad that you “got” skills, but it is apparent that one of them isn’t writing English very well. :-)


    March 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

  26. Reading comments like yours is an even bigger waste of time. If you can’t realize that mastering more than one language is an asset, what can I say? Stay ignorant and leave us alone.


    April 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

  27. this website claims to be in defense of the French language here in Quebec, yet the entire site, and most of it’s content, is in English? The very language you folks are trying to snuff out, or at least keep at bay so that it does not eliminate your precious language…..

    Wondering Why?

    May 25, 2009 at 3:45 pm

  28. Avez-vous consideré que c’est possible que le site existe pour rendre la discussion sur le role de la langue française dans l’Amerique du Nord plus ouverte aux anglophones et surtout aux anglophones unilingues, dont il y a des tas au Canada et aux USA?

    Oops, sorry. I should have written that in English. How arrogant I am to assume that everyone who visits this site knows French. And I’m an anglo, too. How embarrassing. :-)


    May 25, 2009 at 6:25 pm

  29. You probably don’t hear anything about Quebec because everybody’s talking about how their insurance company screwed them because they filed a claim. Please hurry back to the good ol’ US of A, with them there skills that you got.


    July 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm

  30. as a first generation canadian ,i know 3 languages and i am happy to say so do my children ,they were lucky to be able to enter the english school system and learn both official languages, now they are able to work anywhere in the world not just quebec or canada. the french children have not been as fortunate,i can see it in my own nieces and nephews who have been in the french system,knowledge is power we should all have the right to learn both languages not just one


    June 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm

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