AngryFrenchGuy

Canada and Sarkozy deserve each other

with 128 comments

sarkozy and quebec

It’s been a pretty good week for Québec’s independence movement.  For real.

Whilst in the middle of very busy week in which he managed to insult the Prime Minister of Britain, the government of the Czech republic and bring almost every single French man and woman to he streets, Nicolas Sarkozy took the time to squeeze in a few nasty thoughts about Québec’s sovereignty movement.

He dismissed us, the sovereigntists, with the same disdain he used to reserve for the racaille of Seine-Saint-Denis.  The president called sovereingtists, without naming them, ‘sectarian’ and ‘inwrad-looking’.  He said he did not understand the « obligation to define one’s identity by fierce opposition to the other. »

The right of the Québécois democratically decide for themselves who should govern their affairs was not his « thing ».  The world did not need another division, he reasoned with the sophisticated and subtle thinking that has become his trademark.

I’m loving it.  Nicolas Sarkozy was elected with the support of an important part of the Front National vote.  He opposed the accession of Turkey to the European Union because “if it was in Europe, we’d know about it”.  He doesn’t think French colonialism had any negative effects of Africa and that the continent’s problem is that “it never entered History”.   And now he feels strongly about a united Canada.

Wow.  I doubt you could get a stronger confirmation that the sovereigntists are the good guys short of getting George W. Bush and Robert Mugabe to hold a joint press conference titled “The Canadian federation.  Our model and inspiration.”.

But even better, Sarko’s little diatribe completely drowned out any news of Jean Charest’s trip to Europe, arguably the most successful trip to the old countries by a federalist Prime Minister. Ever.

Predictably, the Canadian media nearly choked with self-righteousness, praising the French president’s ‘fresh’ and ‘forward-looking’ thoughts.  We’ll see how fresh they think he is when he tells them it’s time Canada gets rid of that anachronistic little border on the 49th parallel.  He might just get a real taste of a country that defines itself  by ‘detestation’ and ‘opposition’ to the other…

But the real story here is not that Nicolas Sarkozy does not know anything or that Canadians are completely blind to their own hypocrisy.  Everybody knows that.

No, the real story is that Québec’s sovereigntists need to get new friends.  Fast.

Ever since Québec emerged from the Great Darkness, the forces of light and good in the province have put all their eggs in France’s basket.  As if the only recognition an independent Québec would ever need would be that of France.

There is a reason why Québec looked to France and it is not only because of a shared language.  France has consistently been the West’s left wing.  Cooler, smarter and not afraid to break rank on NATO, Irak and the Occident’s apparent determination to abolish food.

But France is not only Renaud and IAM.  It is also Brigitte Bardot and Johnny Halliday.  France too has it’s Stéphane Gendrons, Josée Verners and Denis Coderres.  It is as it never occured to any of the Parti québécois’ numerous regulars of the bistros of Boulevard Austerlitz that one day one of them might actually take power.

Someone like Nicolas Sarkozy.

But it was bound to happen.  As night begets day and life begets death, a well read and inspiring American president begets a reductive twit at the Élysée.

The real issue is « why haven’t sovereigntists cultivated more friends in other countries? »

Before the Obama administration actually got the briefing on the aliens of Area 51 and the nuclear missile launch codes, all observers knew exactly how many friends Israel had in the White House and how powerful they were.  Canadian Conservatives had mules in Washington before they took power in Ottawa.  David Frum, a National Post columnist and the son of Barbara Frum, is the Bush speechwriter who coined the inspiring, in a Battlestar Gallactica kind of way, image of the Axis of Evil.

The last time there was anyone with any pull whatsoever in the White House who had ever heard about Québec was when Pierre Salinger served as press secretary for JFK.  Other than that their might be a cab driver in Baltimore who has a cousin in Beloeil.  That’s about it.

And while were at it, why don’t we have any of our men and women working the pubs of London?  There once was a time when Québec’s representatives regularly looked to London as a fair arbiter in their conflicts with English-speaking neighbours and on more than one occasion the cooler heads in London did not hesitate to put the proto-Rhodesians of Upper Canada and Montreal back in their place.

Sovereigntists could send Pauline Marois to hang out with the Queen.  I’m sure they would get along splendidly as they both have a taste for expansive rural estates and an entourage keen on palace intrigue and making inappropriate comments.  A few shots of sherry and firm commitment to keep her on as Reine du Québec after independence and there is no doubt Betty would get on board.

First of all, she would have no choice but to publicly support her own subjects’ declaration of independence.  Second, no Englishman or woman, no matter how blue the blood, who would ever miss an opportunity to stick it to the French!

Take that Sarko!

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm

128 Responses

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  1. In France, the immigrants are going to French School. In Germany, immigrants are going the German school. In Italy, immigrants are going to italian school. In the Roc, immigrants are going to english school. In Quebec, we are insulted because we want our immigrants going in the school of the majority to facilitate their integration.

    midnightjack

    February 11, 2009 at 1:17 am

  2. Vinster:
    > Because I’m tired of hearing the same old debate about how the English
    > army was mean to the Patriots 150 years ago. I’m tired of history
    > teacher “forgetting” some stuff in order to pass down a modified version
    > of history. How many anglos with the Patriots, again?

    Actually, I’m always amazed to see how many anglophones were part of the Patriote movement, even as leaders. And honestly I think it’s great. In my opinion, the English Canadian nation was born sometime around those years, with the Patriote and Upper Canada Rebellions. Sure, it took a lot of time for most Canadian anglophones to truly become English Canadians — even as late as the second half of the 20th century, many anglophones still saw themselves as British first — but they’ve actually had a distinct national identity for quite a long time. But for some reason English Canadians appear to know very little about the Rebellions. I find it sad, since it’s one of the first military conflicts featuring the Canadian nation(s), unlike the War of 1812 which was truly a British-American war.

    And yes, given that the Patriotes have a strong cultural resonance in Quebec — much greater than in the rest of Canada — you will find them used as a symbol a lot, and especially by sovereigntists. But keep in mind that those “Young Patriots” movements do not represent the mainstream of the sovereignty movement.

    > And then, since we’re talking about language… French, in Québec,
    > is not threatened because of the ROC. It’s not threatened because
    > the evil federal government wants to assimilate us.

    No, probably not, though I do believe that many anglophones, and possibly some federal politicians, would like francophone Quebecers to stop seeing themselves as a majority group but rather as a glorified minority, so to speak. That is of course what francophones are in Canada as a whole.

    But what threatens the French language in Quebec is the fact that it’s possible for immigrants to come here and never learn it. And if we accept the idea that Canada is a “bilingual” country — and that francophones are not really a majority group anyway — there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Of course the independence of Quebec would change this, which is why sovereigntists still use linguistic arguments to sell the idea of independence. But a change in our conception of Canada might also change this situation, without the hassle of having to split the country and create an unstable situation. For the most part Quebecers’ (especially nationalist and soft federalist) view of Canada would be adequate. But it is resisted among many groups in the rest of Canada.

    Sovereigntists are well-aware that English is the main international language of communication today, and they’re not trying to resist it (okay, maybe your Young Patriots are). They’re just trying to make French in Quebec as attractive as Estonian in Estonia, to use an example already used on this blog.

    littlerob:
    > M. Laporte (subtly??) seems to accuse French people of being
    > condescending towards Québécois because of the way the latter
    > speak French

    The French have always seen Canada as this wild country of large open spaces (and Indians!), so it’s not surprising that to them we’re sort of colonials. And some of the “thicker” Canadian French accents sound a little like rural French accents, so to them we may appear to be hicks. But this changes: France has a cultural impact on Quebec, but Quebec also has a cultural impact on France, and not only in the “ma maison au Canada” way: apparently Quebecers are famous in France as, of all things, producers of quality television series. (We have an active television and movie industry, and it’s reached them.) But our series must be redone in France before being shown there, because French people have trouble understanding us speak. (At first I thought this was another example of French snobbery, since we understand the French fine, but apparently they do have trouble understanding Quebec accents, or some of them at least.)

    > I don’t think we’re going to be losing ROC French anytime soon.

    I think New Brunswick will remain French-speaking for some time. It’s harder to tell with Ontario: there are many communities that are almost entirely French-speaking, but in those with a significant percentage of English-speakers, French is likely to disappear in one or two generations. The other provinces don’t have enough francophones to sustain their communities.

    Acajack:
    > Come on Johnny, you can do better than that. The dropout rate in
    > Quebec is the highest (or one of the highest) in Canada, but it’s
    > not that out of synch with the national average. It’s a problem here
    > and it’s a problem everywhere across the country. Places like Ontario
    > shouldn’t exactly be gloating either.

    Apparently Quebec has the second highest dropout rate in Canada after Manitoba. But I don’t know if it’s much higher than the other provinces or if the rates by province are more clustered. But apparently the education system reform, which was supposed to prevent this problem, hasn’t had much success. I wonder if the dropout rate in Quebec may have increased over the last few years.

    Marc

    February 11, 2009 at 2:11 am

  3. Marc–I have to be careful here, but I sense that part of the reason French people sometimes have trouble picking up North American French is that they are unfamiliar with the register of English-derived words in it, which is frequently different from the register of English-derived words in European French. Empirically, I sometimes see comments on places like YouTube such as, “Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire, toune?”

    AFG–do you have an online source (either in English or French) for the number of native French speakers in Louisiana thirty or forty years ago? I can’t find one.

    Most, but by no means all, of the French speakers in Louisiana are Cajuns. The others are immigrants from the Francophonie and Creoles of both European and African descent.

    I agree with you that the French language in New England is in trouble, just as I agree with Marc that French in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and probably Manitoba, too, will have difficulty sustaining itself.

    littlerob

    February 11, 2009 at 6:43 am

  4. AFG–just a reminder that Mexicans had a pretty serious run-in with what proved to be a very dangerous separatist movement back in the 1830s and 1840s. It cost them the northern part of their country. They have not forgotten this.

    littlerob

    February 11, 2009 at 8:29 am

  5. littlerob

    I have this information on Louisiana from an Acadian professor I heard on Radio-Canada radio last year. I’ll try to remember the name for you.

    angryfrenchguy

    February 11, 2009 at 8:43 am

  6. “apparently Quebecers are famous in France as, of all things, producers of quality television series.”

    The new director of fictional series development for TF1, a major French network, is a Québécois:

    http://www.finance-cinema.com/TFI-Andre-Beraud-nomme-directeur-de-fiction_a366.html

    angryfrenchguy

    February 11, 2009 at 8:45 am

  7. JOHNNYONLINE
    “your point about chinese in toronto eventually going the way of the buffalo holds more water than the idea of french disappearing in quebec.’’

    Hey! Wait a minute! Buffalo are still around! My daughter actually fed some some carrots just last week!

    ‘’did you suggest that the french language is disappearing or will disappear in quebec?’’

    There is a slight, slow erosion taking place at the moment in my opinion, generally in the areas of the province with the strongest economic growth. Whether this will subside, continue at the same pace or accelerate I have no idea. Though I must say I didn’t see this coming at all, and 5 or 10 years I thought French in Quebec was home free after the relatively steady progress of the 80s and 90s.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 9:05 am

  8. “apparently Quebecers are famous in France as, of all things, producers of quality television series”

    There is also a popular saying in France that is: ‘’elle chante comme une Québécoise”, which refers to someone who sings her guts out with passion and emotion.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

  9. “I have to be careful here, but I sense that part of the reason French people sometimes have trouble picking up North American French is that they are unfamiliar with the register of English-derived words in it, which is frequently different from the register of English-derived words in European French. Empirically, I sometimes see comments on places like YouTube such as, “Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire, toune?””

    Yes, though some English words used in France are mystifying to us as well. For example, the French refer to “jogging” as “footing”. Geez! That’s not even close to what “footing” really means in English!

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 9:11 am

  10. Well…if sovereigntists in Quebec wish to speak to separatists in the countries I mentioned why not sponsor a world convention in Quebec City and let everyone have their say?

    Would that do any good?

    What, specifically, would be the result of a sovereign independant Quebec?

    Assuming that there are no logistical problems, exactly what would be the result?

    Would incompetence, corruption, lack of foresight, bad planning, poor education, etc; etc; vanish?

    I would rather see Quebec planning for the coming economic/ technological collapse through the establishing of a sustainable technology and economy.
    That would be real separatism.

    How about dedicating a post to that subject rather than go on and on and on about language.

    Michel

    February 11, 2009 at 9:12 am

  11. “Would incompetence, corruption, lack of foresight, bad planning, poor education, etc; etc; vanish?”

    Your question would be valid if “incompetence, corruption, lack of foresight, bad planning, poor education, etc; etc” were character traits uniquely typical of the Québécois rather than something to be found across the entire homo sapiens species.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 9:17 am

  12. To Marc :
    “But what threatens the French language in Quebec is the fact that it’s possible for immigrants to come here and never learn it. And if we accept the idea that Canada is a “bilingual” country — and that francophones are not really a majority group anyway — there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    The thing is… French is nowhere near as threatened as people like to scream about it. But, let’s consider your argument anyways. Do you know why English schools are more and more popular, even for those of us that actually have French as a first language? There are two reasons for that :

    1- You NEED to speak English nowadays to get a decent job
    2- There’s is absolutely no way in hell you can learn English correctly in French schools. And believe me… it wasn’t too long ago that I was in high school (I’m 26), and I’ve seen how it works first hand.

    Of course, anglo communities will probably keep on sending their kids to English schools. But the fact is that most anglos my age, although they went to English schools, still try hard to learn French.

    “But a change in our conception of Canada might also change this situation, without the hassle of having to split the country and create an unstable situation.”

    Right there, I fully agree. However, seems like wishful thinking : you need people to work on both sides for this to happen. Sovereignist argue that the ROC doesn’t want to hear about anything, while the ROC is currently saying that Québec just doesn’t want to give it a try since they keep sending the BQ to Ottawa…

    To Antonio :
    “If you really think that this is the only argument sovereignists make, you need to do more research on sovereignty. Sure, many sovereignists (probably older ones) make historical arguments or historical grievances as the reason for independence but many more argue for fiscal, social and societal reasons for the independence for reasons that have already been expressed elsewhere.”

    I never said it was THE only argument. I’m just saying that these are the ones that are the more popular. The economical argument does exist, but you barely hear about it in the news. It’s always about how the ROC is mean to us. Just look at how the majority of the discussions turn out around here: we always come right back to the language argument, about how Québec needs to be a country to protect French better. There are other arguments for Québec sovereignty. But as long as the leaders of the PQ/BQ/QS won’t distance themselves from the old guard (with their little Falardeau toy) and won’t focus more on those socio-economical arguments, I’ll never be convinced.

    To AFG :
    “Happy to hear you have a library card. Now you need to get a newspaper subscription. That is not what they say. ”

    I read lots of newspaper. It’s very helpful. But it’s also a good idea to rely on internet blogs to see how sovereignist really feel :

    “That would be Canada, with laws that make it legal not to hire canadian citizens who hold dual citizenship with some other countries. That would be Canada that sends it’s own citizens to be be tortured if they happen to be of the wrong colour or religion. That would be Canada that suspended the civil rights of all French-Canadians in 1970. That would be Canada, with the OLA and its apartheid separate but equal school system. That would be Canada with it’s reservation systems designed to culturally isolate and assassinate native cultures, which it succeeded in doing. That would be Canada with it’s language laws designed for the sole purpose of keeping Québec’s Anglos happy while being screaming bloody murder when they are asked to give 10% of the same rights and privileges to their own minorities.”

    I could’ve added AngryFrenchGirl’s “speak white” comment, but I’ll be nice and refrain from associating it to you.

    Now I understand why you have few arguments : you spend way too much time trying to think about smarta$$ comebacks.

    Vinster171

    February 11, 2009 at 10:13 am

  13. “In Quebec, we are insulted because we want our immigrants going in the school of the majority to facilitate their integration.” Midnightjack

    Who is doing the insulting on this ? Please don’t answer Don Cherry.

    Stéphane Dion, the public enemy No. 1 of Quebec sovereignty has stated over and over that Law 101 obliging immigrants into French schools,was a “great Canadian law” which was also upheld by the Supreme court of Canada.

    You really have to patrol the lower taverns of places like Sault-Ste-Marie or Ft. MacMurray to find your insults that you then use to justify your weak arguments.

    Dave

    February 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm

  14. Vinster:
    > The thing is… French is nowhere near as threatened as people like
    > to scream about it.

    French is not “threatened” in the sense that it may eventually disappear in Quebec in the forseeable future. So as I’ve said, if you consider francophones a minority in Canada (including Quebec), there really is no problem. Francophones will always have the possibility (near-obligation, if bill 101 remains as it is) to send their children to French schools, businesses will keep advertising to them in French (and put French on their cereal boxes!), they will be able to work in French in most cases — of course, with English the international language of commerce, it is to be expected that francophones will have to work in English when they deal with the rest of Canada and other countries — and they will even continue to have a TV, movie and music industry, in French. So what are they complaining of; that’s more than what almost all minorities in the world can boast of!

    But if you consider francophones to be a majority in Quebec (or “co-majority” in Canada, as I’ve said before), that’s not enough. Continuing to exist as a glorified minority is not what we’re after. What we want to do is ensure that French will remain the common language of communication in Quebec, even with ethnic groups that are not French-Canadian. Anything less than this is a “threat”, but the threat is not that French will eventually disappear in Quebec. It is that Quebec will split in two distinct groups, one French-speaking and one English-speaking, that do not talk to each other and distrust each other. It will also have the effect of having a greater percentage of francophones not being allowed to work in French, which you may not find objectionable — English’s the international language of business, etc. — but which I do: isn’t the official language of a country the one in which you may be expected to work?

    > 2- There’s is absolutely no way in hell you can learn English correctly
    > in French schools. And believe me… it wasn’t too long ago that I was in
    > high school (I’m 26), and I’ve seen how it works first hand.

    Well, I’m 26 as well, and I think I speak English well enough despite going through these inferior French schools. (Of course, it may not be in school that I’ve learned the most English.) I am actually in favour of increasing the teaching of English in Quebec schools. I think AFG actually suggested going to a single school system for francophones and anglophones, with something like 70% of school time in French and 30% in English. This would be great, but it may be unconstitutional as well. Among prominent sovereigntists, Pauline Marois suggested teaching some classes in English in francophone schools. The point is, you don’t need to have all your education in English to succeed in today’s world.

    > But the fact is that most anglos my age, although they went to English
    > schools, still try hard to learn French.

    I must say that it is true that young Anglo-Quebecers are for the most part aware that they live in a mainly French-speaking society and are not actively trying to ignore it. But immigrants from other countries are less aware when they come here that they will be expected to learn French, so that’s why they are encouraged to learn it.

    > Sovereignist argue that the ROC doesn’t want to hear about anything, while
    > the ROC is currently saying that Québec just doesn’t want to give it a
    > try since they keep sending the BQ to Ottawa…

    What is the alternative to the Bloc? I may vote Conservative someday, when their leader will be someone else than Stephen Harper. Harper strikes me as someone who’d say anything in order to get votes; I don’t know what his true values are or even if he has values. With Lawrence Cannon (for example) as Conservative leader, I’d probably vote for them. Of course, Cannon is a Quebecer, which may be less popular among Westerners. But I don’t know any prominent Western Conservative that I’d want as leader of the party.

    > It’s always about how the ROC is mean to us. Just look at how the majority
    > of the discussions turn out around here: we always come right back to the
    > language argument, about how Québec needs to be a country to protect
    > French better.

    The language argument != the ROC is mean to us. Our particular circumstances require that we at least do something — exactly what is a matter of debate — to encourage the French language here, regardless of how the rest of Canada sees us. After all, I’m sure they think they’re already as welcoming to us as they could be.

    > But as long as the leaders of the PQ/BQ/QS won’t distance themselves
    > from the old guard (with their little Falardeau toy) and won’t focus
    > more on those socio-economical arguments, I’ll never be convinced.

    Pierre Falardeau isn’t known for his insightful political commentary (neither are Victor-Lévy Beaulieu and Gérald Larose), but there’s no denying that he’s a talented filmmaker. Elvis Gratton, even though it was meant as a caricature of federalists, has become a major Quebec cultural icon. So he serves an important purpose in modern Quebec society.

    Marc

    February 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm

  15. Dave:
    > Stéphane Dion, the public enemy No. 1 of Quebec sovereignty has
    > stated over and over that Law 101 obliging immigrants into French
    > schools,was a “great Canadian law” which was also upheld by the
    > Supreme court of Canada.

    Eh, it’s true that things have changed in 30 years. When bill 101 was passed, the Quebec Liberal Party was against it, and might have repealed it had it won the 1981 election. Today even Stéphane Dion officially expresses its support for it. This just goes to show you that things that used to be unimaginable can become so commonplace that you can’t imagine it being otherwise in a short span of time. Of course, without the PQ willing the 1976 election, we may never have had a bill 101.

    As well, while bill 101’s main “meat” has been upheld by the Supreme Court, the federal government introduced a new constitution in 1982 in order to gnaw at it, and since then many language laws have been eroded by this court. So we don’t know what the future holds. Still, the most important parts of bill 101 are the fact that French is the official language of Quebec and the language of integration for newcomers, and Canada seems to accept this.

    Marc

    February 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm

  16. By the way, why shouldn’t we mention Don Cherry? He is extremely popular in Canada; I think he even finished second in CBC’s poll of Greatest Canadians. Yes, I guess Canadians like him mostly because he’s sort of a clown (but also knows a lot about hockey), but still, I guess they think there is a part of truth to what he says, or at least they respect the fact that he says out loud what many are thinking.

    Marc

    February 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  17. Boy George came in second when the same contest for greatest Brit of all time was held there. What does that tell you about those types of contests?

    Dave

    February 11, 2009 at 2:38 pm

  18. To Marc :

    “Well, I’m 26 as well, and I think I speak English well enough despite going through these inferior French schools. (Of course, it may not be in school that I’ve learned the most English.)”

    Oh please! I never said French schools were inferior, so please cut the sarcasm. French school are not inferior to English schools. But they sure don’t teach you to speak English correctly, that’s for sure, as you admit it yourself by saying that this is not where you learned most of your English. So if you want to actually learn a language that will be very useful to you in your professional life without having to take extra-scholar English lessons, you pretty much have to go to those English schools.

    “Pauline Marois suggested teaching some classes in English in francophone schools”

    Although the intention behind the idea was good, the way it was presented made it look goofy.

    “It is that Quebec will split in two distinct groups, one French-speaking and one English-speaking, that do not talk to each other and distrust each other.”

    You know, for the most part, I believe this might have been true for older generation. But nowadays, with young French Canadians well aware that learning English is a big plus, and young anglophone making efforts to learn French, I don’t see this as a danger. Of course, there’s the question of “what to do with the immigrants”. That’s where a better education system comes in. If you had a French education system that could guarantee you’d be bilingual at the end of your studies, that would probably be the best of argument. But you don’t need to have a country to do all that.

    “What is the alternative to the Bloc?”

    There are two other national parties : NDP and Liberals. Sure, lots of people did not like Stéphane Dion. But sometimes you should look at the message rather than at the messenger. Voting for the only political formation that :
    1- cannot take power whatsoever
    2- is taking away votes away from other left-center formations

    … is pretty much the equivalent of telling the ROC : well, we don’t want to participate in this government, so we’ll just keep on sending you a group of man and woman that will complain about everything and nothing. But then again, when I talked about sitting at the same table, I did not throw all the blame on the Bloc. They could have done a far worse job than what they’ve done.

    “Pierre Falardeau isn’t known for his insightful political commentary (neither are Victor-Lévy Beaulieu and Gérald Larose), but there’s no denying that he’s a talented filmmaker. Elvis Gratton, even though it was meant as a caricature of federalists, has become a major Quebec cultural icon. So he serves an important purpose in modern Quebec society.”

    I don’t even dare think about the reactions if somebody had done that kind of caricature of separatists… and done so after receiving, as an example, money from the “Ministère de la Culture du Québec”. And I wonder if we’d say “So he serves an important purpose in modern Quebec society.” to describe an hardcore federalist that would bring approximately 50 of his followers to crash on the St-Jean-Baptiste parade!

    As long as the separatists leader won’t clearly take their distance from these type of personalities, it’ll be hard for the ROC (and people like myself) to consider that the sovereignist movement is only composed of moderate and reasonable persons. But then again… we do have Justin Trudeau on our side! :P

    “Of course, without the PQ willing the 1976 election, we may never have had a bill 101.”

    Goes to show that lots of improvements can be made to the system without completely separating from it.

    Vinster171

    February 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

  19. little rob said: “The French language has been known to be pretty persistent. There are still something like 200,000 native speakers of it in Louisiana (including two recent governors), and those people are a long way away from most of the rest of the Francophonie. I don’t think we’re going to be losing ROC French anytime soon.”

    You really think you can run around Louisiana in 2009 and speak French?

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    February 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm

  20. “But if you consider francophones to be a majority in Quebec (or “co-majority” in Canada, as I’ve said before), that’s not enough. Continuing to exist as a glorified minority is not what we’re after. What we want to do is ensure that French will remain the common language of communication in Quebec, even with ethnic groups that are not French-Canadian. Anything less than this is a “threat”,”

    Not sure if people in the ROC are really on board for what I am going to say (in fact, many may not even be aware) but part of the dominant ethos of modern Quebec, at least language-wise, is the broad expectation that French in the province will have a status relatively equivalent to that of national languages of small independent countries (e.g. those of Europe) and of places like the Swiss cantons and Belgian regions which have fairly strict language “territoriality”.

    The vast majority of people in Quebec, both federalists and sovereignists, think this way, believe me. Which I guess goes a long way in explaining why lots of federalists (including me) frequently air language-related grievances, which unfortunately get dismissed by a lot of people in the ROC as separatist paranoia.

    If there’s one thing that is close to being a consensus in Quebec, it’s that Quebec may share with the ROC a federal political system, Olympic teams, an economic space, etc., it may be represented at the UN and other international bodies by people not from Quebec, its ministers and MPs who work federally may have to switch to English in the corridors of power in Ottawa, but within the confines of Quebec, everything pretty much had *better be* in French.

    Now, I am not necessarily saying that this is a reasonable, workable or reasonable expectation, but rather just reporting on the general sentiment.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm

  21. “By the way, why shouldn’t we mention Don Cherry? He is extremely popular in Canada; I think he even finished second in CBC’s poll of Greatest Canadians.”

    Seventh actually. BTW, I think he is the highest-paid employee of the entire CBC/Radio-Canada family.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 2:53 pm

  22. “You really think you can run around Louisiana in 2009 and speak French?”

    Well, Zachary Richard does!

    Personally, I spent a few weeks in Cajun Country (Lafayette-Breaux Bridge-St. Martinville-Houma) a few years ago, and the number of people I met who could speak any French at all I can count on my fingers and probably have a hand left over.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm

  23. “That’s where a better education system comes in. If you had a French education system that could guarantee you’d be bilingual at the end of your studies, that would probably be the best of argument. But you don’t need to have a country to do all that.”

    True, but it would at the very least require a constitutional amendment that would be very difficult to achieve, since separate English schools for the minority in Quebec are guaranteed constitutionally, and are politically (and perhaps most importantly) *optically* linked to the minority francophone schools in the ROC. Pas facile!

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 2:59 pm

  24. “Boy George came in second when the same contest for greatest Brit of all time was held there. What does that tell you about those types of contests?”

    Boy George actually came in 46th:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_Greatest_Britons

    At least the old drag queen doesn’t spout off intolerant, borderline racist comments about Scots or immigrants from a taxpayer-funded soapbox… We can’t say as much for Canada’s national curmudgeon.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm

  25. Funny how a blog about Sarkozy morphs into Don Cherry… and then the meteorite hit and all the dinosaurs were killed…except for one, the one who earns the most on CBC…what does that tell you about the quality of the CBC

    Dave

    February 11, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  26. “Funny how a blog about Sarkozy morphs into Don Cherry… and then the meteorite hit and all the dinosaurs were killed…except for one, the one who earns the most on CBC…what does that tell you about the quality of the CBC”

    Well, Dave, you’re the one who brought up his name at 1:59 pm today! Maybe deep down, most of you guys really do have an affinity for the fellow…

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 3:45 pm

  27. “Would incompetence, corruption, lack of foresight, bad planning, poor education, etc; etc; vanish?”

    “Your question would be valid if “incompetence, corruption, lack of foresight, bad planning, poor education, etc; etc” were character traits uniquely typical of the Québécois rather than something to be found across the entire homo sapiens species.”

    True enough- but if that’s the case why bother about separation.

    From a purely objective standpoint, one cannot tell in any visual way who is a francophone, anglophone, or allophone. All drive the same cars, wear the same clothes, watch the same TV and movies, ( dubbed or if original with the same cliche action plots etc), eat the same food etc.

    There really isn’t that much difference and, as far as I can tell, there isn’t that much difference in business either with the same bubbles, etc;

    Now….if Quebec could follow this example from Catalonia, an example that is expressive of that culture, then I might change my mind;

    http://www.mcc.es/

    That a separatism worth looking at but given the squabbling egos in Quebec fat chance it could happen.

    Michel

    February 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm

  28. “From a purely objective standpoint, one cannot tell in any visual way who is a francophone, anglophone, or allophone. All drive the same cars, wear the same clothes, watch the same TV and movies, ( dubbed or if original with the same cliche action plots etc), eat the same food etc.”

    All of this is even truer for the ROC vs. the U.S. than it is for Quebec vs. the ROC. Are you therefore an annexationist that wants Canada and the U.S. to become a single country?

    BTW, your example is from the Basque country, not from Catalonia. Not the same people at all.

    Finally, your posts about Quebec are long on prejudices (in the sense of préjugés in French), and short on analysis.

    Acajack

    February 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm

  29. Thomas–To answer your question: No. I think that by this time French in Louisiana is spoken at home rather than on the street. My sense is that you can find speakers only if you become ingratiated into some families.

    littlerob

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm

  30. Acajack–I am not surprised that the misunderstandings work both ways. The French have for some time been in the habit of making home grown compounds of words taken from English (e.g. “wattman,” “recordman”) that make no sense at all to a unilingual English speaker.

    littlerob

    February 11, 2009 at 5:36 pm


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