AngryFrenchGuy

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay bets re-election on Race Card

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Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay believes the next municipal election will be won or lost in the city’s diverse cultural communities.  Hoping to secure that vote, members of his Union Montréal Party have launched a pre-emptive strike against possible challenger Louise Harel.

Louise Harel is a former Parti Québécois Minister of Cultural Communities, Immigration and Municipal Affairs who has steadily been moving closer to City Hall’s fledgling opposition party, Vision Montréal.  She is scheduled to speak at a Vision Montréal convention next week.

Last week a coalition of cultural community leaders closely associated to mayor Tremblay’s Union Montréal party accused Madame Harel of making racist remarks and encouraging xenophobia.

One week before the eruption the controversy, incumbent mayor Gérald Tremblay had identified the cultural communities’ vote as the key to his reelection.

On the 25th of February, the mayor’s party, Union Montreal, held a cocktail party for leaders of the said cultural communities at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Montreal.  In the accompanying press release Mayor Tremblay is quoted as saying: « Union Montréal embodies what the New Montreal is: a mosaic of peace, that unites people of diverse talent, origins, aspirations and dreams. »

« It is clear that Montreal’s cultural communities want more and more to get involved at the level of municipal politics, and our party Union Montréal understood that need. »

On the 10th of March controversy erupted over a comment made by Louise Harel in an interview on cable news channel RDI.  Speaking about the possibility of reducing the number of Montreal boroughs, Madame Harel said: “If we go from 19 to 10 boroughs, but these boroughs remain quasi-municipalities as they are now, we will end up in the worst of situations because we’ll have cities … an Italian city, a Haitian city, an anglophone city, an Arab city – Ville St. Laurent, a Jewish city, etc.  We will no longer have this sense of one big city with boroughs that speaks with one voice.”

The Montreal Gazette printed a series of editorials and articles in which leaders of different cultural community groups spoke out against Madame Harel’s characterization of some Montreal boroughs as «Arab cit[ies] » and « Haitian Cit[ies] ».

Robert Libman, he former mayor of Côte-Saint-Luc, leader of the Equality Party and member of mayor Tremblay’s executive committee said Harel was “sowing the seeds of xenophobia by pointing to identifiable communities.”  And that “It’s as if she sees bogeymen in everything that is not white and francophone.”

The Montreal Gazette published four articles on the issue.  None included Madame Harel’s response to the accusations, taken here from free daily Metro: “This debate only serves to distract attention from the real debate, which is about whether we still have a great city in Montreal.  We have to reclaim this idea that we are all Montrealers and not only citizens of boroughs that have become quasi-municipalities.”

More than half of the people quoted in the Montreal Gazette article are current or former members of Gérald Tremblay’s Union Montreal party: Marcel Trembay is a member of the city’s executive committee and the brother of Mayor Tremblay.  Alan DeSousa is also a member of the executive comitee and mayor of the Ville-Saint-Laurent borough.  Keder Hyppolite is a member of Union Montréal, as was Robert Libman. (A former member of Gérald Tremblay’s executive committee, Libman resigned from the party after his municipality, Côte-St-Luc, demergered from Montreal. )

On march 15th, a press conference was held by a dozen cultural community leaders to condemn Madame Harel’s comments.  Speaking on behalf of the leaders was Marvin Rotrand, another member of Mayor Tremblay’s Union Montreal party and deputy leader of union Montreal at City Hall.

When contacted by the AngryFrenchInvestigativeJournalismUnit, community leaders quoted in the Montreal Gazette story all maintained that they found the quote offensive but that they did not believe Louise Harel is racist or was expressing a racist sentiment.  In fact, they had only praise for Madame Harel’s record when it came to relations with minorities or immigrants.

« It was a mistake », said Tony Sciascia, president of the Québec section of the Congress of Italian Canadians. « I know Mrs Harel quite well, I think it was more of a lapsus rather than using those terms.»

Mr. Sciascia, who was the organiser of the March 15th press conference and demonstration against Madame Harel’s statement, denied his involvement in this controversy is politically motivated.  « I’m not interested in politics my friend. »

Hear more of what Tony Sciascia’s had to say:

http://www.fileden.com/files/2009/3/17/2368193/SciasciaCut.mp3.mp3

Kéder Hippolyte of the National Council of Citizens of Haitian Origin and himself a member of Union Montréal did not participate in the March 15th demonstration.  «I’m not going going to take part in that demonstration.  This is political demonstration. »

Mr. Hippolyte says he was surprised by Madame Harel’s comment and wishes she would clarify her thoughts.  «She is one of the persons who always talks on behalf of immigrants, she was a former Minister of immigration, she created structures to help immigrants integrate society, and now she is telling me she is afraid of an Haitian city, an Italian city…  it is up to her to explain. »

Hear more of Kéder Hippolyte’s thoughts:

http://www.fileden.com/files/2009/3/17/2368193/KederHyppoliteCut.mp3.mp3

« I reacted to the journalist’s question who said it might be possible that there would be Haitian cities, Italian cities and Arab cities in Montreal. That’s not what we aspire to in Montreal », said Ninette Piou, also of the National Council of Citizens of Haitian Origin.

Madame Ninette Piou objects to a quote she never heard:

http://www.fileden.com/files/2009/3/17/2368193/NinettePiouCut.mp3.mp3

Madame Piou said she still had not read or heard for herself the controversial quote by Madame Harel and was unsure of what was actually said. « Knowing madame Harel, because I had not heard the declaration, I was surprised she would say such a thing.  If she said it I am offended. »

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 17, 2009 at 6:47 pm

123 Responses

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  1. That’s my point. A story shouldn’t lead us to a conclusion.

    Fon

    March 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

  2. OK, I guess we’re on the same wavelength then. But is Ignorantcomm? I am not sure, although of course we can understand where he is coming from and sympathize given that it is his child we are talking about and that tends to make people more emotional and less rational.

    Acajack

    March 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  3. > during this interview, the director pointed to a recent study that asked
    > individuals across canada and the usa whether they were more interested
    > in creating wealth or producing wealth. the results _ he said _ were
    > disappointing because in quebec, the response rate for “sharing
    > wealth” was the exact opposite of the response rate outside quebec.

    That doesn’t sound like a well-posed question. We have to choose whether to favour creating or redistributing wealth? Honestly, I think we need to do both. If you asked me which one I’d favour, I’d probably say “redistribute” since Canada is a rich country but where a lot of people are left behind. It has less wealth disparity than, say, Brazil, but there is still room for improvement. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t create wealth. We do need to do this as well (we can’t redistribute nothing, after all). I’m not an extreme socialist or anything, I consider myself centre-left on the Quebec political spectrum.

    I’d like to see the results and methodology of this study, if you have them, because it doesn’t seem very well-done to me.

    Marc

    March 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

  4. Ignorantcomm,

    I’m not suggesting that no discrimination exists. And I’m not implying it shouldn’t be addressed until others do so. I’m particularly proud of Québec’s leadership in having the Bouchard-Taylor hearings.

    Above all, I’m simply challenging what you’re implying; trying to sort out the anecdote from the facts.

    Perhaps you’ve read the story of David Fortin (14) who ran away from home in Alma. He’s been picked at ever since he started school at an early age and couldn’t take it any longer. He’s missing since February 10. Nobody can explain why he’s been the target of such an ordeal.

    Again, I’m not trying to trivialize your experience; as I have mentioned earlier, I can relate to it very easily. But what seems obvious may not be. Thanks for the exchange.

    Pure Laine

    March 23, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  5. Ignorantcomm,

    As you indicated above that you were not asking for sympathy and moreover, as you indicated that this was not your story, consider my sympathies rescinded and reserved for the family who suffered the hardships you described.

    Ok, everyone. Let’s just assume for a sec that no discrimination against Anglos exists in Quebec. Maybe we’ll base this assumption on a few possible conjectures:
    1. Anglos, although a minority, were always extremely accommodating towards francophones.
    2. Anglos historically often enjoyed privilege dispoportionate to their demographic weight, but francophones being immune to human failings never ever ever ever ever harboured even an ounce of ill-will, collective resentment or displeasure towards anglos.
    3. Francos are basically the only group in the world that has undergone oppression and come out of it without any discriminatory feelings towards the former oppressors. Each and everyone of them is some sort of Nelson Mandela-like superhuman of great love, patience, and forgiveness. They have managed to escape the confines of normal human behaviour.

    Ok, now back to reality:
    Discrimination against anglos exists. It’s a problem for Quebec’s own sake. This should be fairly obvious and not too controversial anywhere outside of Denial-land.
    Discrimination against francos exists too. This is probably more obvious.
    Discrimination exists.

    Wow!

    Now ask yourselves. Do you (as an individual) want to live in a society free of discrimination? What would YOU (not someone else, but you as an individual) be willing to do? Will others share that view?

    I really would like to hear people’s thoughts. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do predict people will natch have a little cock-fight about who is most discriminated against. No. 1? Martians. Between anglos and francos? In general, francos. Obviously the English language enjoys more privilege than French.

    What will you do (if it interests you) to make a Canada that is welcoming to francophones? To make a Quebec that is welcoming to anglophones? To allow for difference and celebrate who you are? What are the other options?

    Looking into my crystal ball again, I’m predicting someone saying “well THEY must do this so that WE can do that”. I feel generous enough to warn this person in advance… it’s pretty hard to decide what other people are going to do.

    Encore une fois (ça se passe au moins trois fois par jour), j’ai faim. Je vais aller manger.

    Fon

    March 23, 2009 at 5:31 pm

  6. acajack,

    “I do think that high-performance innovative people should be rewarded materially. But the issue to be determined is by how much compared to everyone else.”

    whereas i see the issue as one of private property and and governments “buying and selling out democracy.” the way i see it, wealth re-distribution targets a minority of individuals (a very small minority) and penalises them for merely being “wealthy”. what are the chances people would not be outraged with a tax law that arbitrarily imposed a much higher rate of taxation on individuals whose middle names contained a “y” or a “b”?

    i understand that when a planet our size blasts around a star in an impossibly large universe and… some days it rains and other days it’s sunny – it’s difficult to make sense of anything never mind the things that i write but surely encouraging a claim to what belongs to others is a recipe for no good. there was a time when a voluntary tithe was encouraged in the community to help those who had fallen on hard times. it has been replaced largely by the mantra of rights and entitlements.

    you wonder why the big three automakers are in trouble? it’s because government and unions saddled them with costs that make their product uncompetitive. The cost of a toyota worker in kentucky over a lifetime currently averages $37-$40 an hour – the same worker in detroit is $70.

    and the most difficult question of all – who will decide what is fair? karl marx? adam smith? tommy douglas? louise harel?

    several weeks ago (and the irony is as big as the milky way) russia’s putin was giving advice to western leaders saying “go easy on your big plans to direct the economy – we already tried that – and it doesn’t work.”

    my bet is there’s still plenty of lurching around that’s going to happen in the search for a “balanced” approach and in the meantime i can say with unswerving conviction that anybody in the montreal phonebook whose family name starts with a pick-your-letter knows how to distribute their money for themselves better than some “expert” in quebec or ottawa who doesn’t know their name or care what happens to them but is very much intent on implementing their pet project on “seven easy ways to herd cats.”

    “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride,
    If turnips were swords I’d have one by my side.
    If ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ were pots and pans
    There would be no need for tinkers’ hands!”

    thank the scots for that one and let’s not forget the wee giftee of double entry accounting!

    johnnyonline

    March 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm

  7. marc,

    sorry i don’t have them – the report was something i saw on tva during lunch – 6 or 8 minutes in length. i don’t know who the guy was or his name – but he was well-spoken and obviously had never sold time-shares in cancun. what he was saying sure got my interest.

    however, i can say that i was totally impressed and encouraged by the idea that this pedagogue was imparting a positive outlook on self-sufficiency and the creation of success and personal wealth.

    johnnyonline

    March 23, 2009 at 9:43 pm

  8. fon,

    “What are the other options?”

    we could round “them” all up and condemn “them” to pushing a rock uphill hahaha! and every time they got near to the top they would find themselves back at the bottom. ad infinitum. ad nauseum.

    the truth is i’m an optimist and this fabulous front row view of the 21st century simply demands that we get off and do something positive.

    johnnyonline

    March 23, 2009 at 10:05 pm

  9. Getting a public education in a French language school in Ontario is not a right. It is a privilege afforded solely to the francophone minority.

    People seem to think there’s this great imbalance between Ontario (or ROC) school policy and Quebec school policy regarding mother tongue education for official language minorities. In reality the situation is technically parallel. However, in the case of Ontario, I believe it’s a School Board regulation, while in Quebec it’s a provincial law. The application of said regulation tends to be a bit more lax in Ontario than the application of the corresponding law in Quebec, but both are actually in the spirit of the Canadian Constitution.

    I don’t have a right to have my child be educated an Esperanto public school.

    Public schooling is a right. The state invariably chooses the language. Invariably. There are a few exceptions where the state may offer a bit of choice and the parent may choose two or three out of the thousands of languages that exist, but that’s only because the state decides to offer those choices.

    So, to those who say that Quebec should offer English language public education as a choice to all parents, how can anyone dictate majority rights (the right of francophones to go to English language public schools) to said majority when that very same majority consistently votes to NOT have that right?

    Fon

    March 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm

  10. i’m really not that intelligent – if you’re referring to me – i got kicked out of my mensa group for farting. it was the skinny white episcopalian guy sitting next to me.

    johnnyonline

    March 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm

  11. Pure Laine,

    I checked out your blog. I liked the Parizeau speech you posted. Sometimes the framing of political discourse can be terribly important. For example, “What’s wrong with these damn ethnics?” is different from “What can we do to bring them on our side?”

    Analogously we saw during the B-T hearings so much “They must learn French” implying that immigrants and minorities owe it to the majority to learn French. “We owe it to them to ensure they learn our common language so that we may better hear their concerns and see them as equal participants in our society” would also promote the same end goal: everyone learns French.

    Unfortunately, those hearings were largely window-dressing….

    Fon

    March 23, 2009 at 11:17 pm

  12. Didier,

    Yep, that’s my real name. I may be ruining certain job perspectives by using my real name and allowing people to merely google me and find all of this shit-stirring . . .Afterall, the internet lies, so I ought to lie with it. I just haven’t really yet.

    I don’t know what you mean about the tonality of my writing or that I am a “visitor.” I am immigrating to Quebec on May 11th though. I am a PR.

    Well, I guess I don’t know the true history of Quebec, whatever that is, if you think French has never been and isn’t in jeopardy. In all honesty, I hope YOU’RE right!

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    March 24, 2009 at 12:35 am

  13. when you say “any language” what you mean is English. Why don’t you just say English? Tell it like it is, brotha

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    March 24, 2009 at 12:45 am

  14. “you wonder why the big three automakers are in trouble? it’s because government and unions saddled them with costs that make their product uncompetitive. The cost of a toyota worker in kentucky over a lifetime currently averages $37-$40 an hour – the same worker in detroit is $70.”

    The main problem of the American auto industry (big three) that has made their product uncompetitive is lack of innovation and an inability to forecast and adapt to changes in the market. The Japanese and others have simply outfoxed them.

    The reason a Toyota workers in KY costs less is simply because Toyota hasn’t been operating in the US for as long as the big three, so it hasn’t had as much time to accumulate as many “human liabilities”.

    In any event, there is not that big a difference in what is costs Toyota or Nissan to produce a car versus what it costs the big three. Pricing for Japanese cars is not out of whack with that of Americans, and in fact, many Japanese vehicles are priced higher because they are perceived to be of higher quality in the marketplace.

    The big three are guilty of having a “dinosaur” mentality and the goose that laid the golden egg would live forever and never even evolved.

    That’s the main reason why they are in trouble, in addition to some other bad corporate decisions (acquisitions, etc.), NOT government and union “impositions”.

    Acajack

    March 24, 2009 at 5:24 am

  15. Thank you thank you thank you Fon.

    I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve reminded (actually it’s more like “informed”) people of these facts.

    Nice to have someone else pointing it out for a change.

    An interesting point about Ontario, is that generally many francophone school boards adopt a fairly restrictive approach themselves to who gets in. Namely, kids often have to demonstrate they can speak at least a little French to a board committee before they get admittted.

    This contrasts to what English Quebec boards would do if they could (if the Ministry of Education would let them that is), which would involve opening the doors as wide as possible to welcome anyone and their uncle.

    Acajack

    March 24, 2009 at 5:39 am

  16. My child attends a French school in Ontario, we are 1 Anglo parent & 1 Francophone parent. Our child did not have to complete an oral/written test. We were interviewed, that’s it.

    Here is the way it works:

    Under the Education Act of Ontario, it is also possible for children whose parents do not meet the criteria of Section 23 of the Charter to be admitted to a French-language school if they receive permission from the school’s admissions committee. A committee reaches its decisions after examining each request in light of Section 23 and the admissions criteria in effect at the French-language school board, for example, the parents’ commitment to the school and to education in the French language.

    In the spirit of the right stated in the Charter, French-language schools now serve a diverse clientele, both linguistically and culturally:

    Because students’ linguistic experiences vary greatly from one home to another and from one community to another, their language skills are considerably different. When they first attend school, some students understand their mother tongue well, whereas others know little or no French.

    Because the French language itself conveys the culture of the many communities in which it is spoken, students’ cultural experiences vary greatly.

    CI

    March 24, 2009 at 10:24 am

  17. It varies from board to board and region to region. In areas of Ontario where there are very few local francophones the French schools are more open to letting most anyone in who is interested because it widens their pupil base considerably and they get funded per pupil. This is typically what you see in French schools in the GTA.

    In areas where the local francophone population is larger, like Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, it is considerably tougher to get in if your child is not a native speaker of French (or at least a strong second language speaker). There, boards generally want to prevent their schools from becoming “super immersion” schools and becoming flooded by non-francophone children whose parents feel the French immersion schools run by the anglo boards don’t offer good enough French instruction – they’d rather have their kids schooled with native francophones.

    I’d say the toughest francophone schools to get into for a non-francophone in Ontario would probably be the French Catholic schools in Ottawa and suburbs. I have nephews and nieces who go to French Catholic schools in the Ottawa area and, in spite of the fact that their neighbourhoods are much more diverse than mine in Gatineau, their kids go to school in an overwhelmingly old-stock French Canadian environment, whereas my neighbourhood school is much more diverse because pretty much every kid in the area, regardless of religion or native language, goes to the one school.

    Acajack

    March 24, 2009 at 10:48 am

  18. I have given Fon’s question some thought: what can I do personally to reduce discrimination against anglophones in Quebec?

    OK, I guess it would probably be useful to start off by describing how I interact with anglophones in Quebec in general. For starters, I should say up front that when I moved to Quebec from Ontario I decided to behave exactly the same way English-speaking Canadians in the ROC (especially Ontario) behave with francophones. So I am replicating with a mirror image the behaviour I witnessed most of my life in the other province. The only difference is I am doing it in French whereas they are doing in English. I figured that it’s a good model, since English-speaking Canada is oft-touted as a paragon of tolerance, open-mindness and just plain old human qualities.

    What does this mean concretely?

    Well, that means if that if you’re blocking my way in the supermarket aisle, I will say “Pardonnez-moi monsieur”, even if I overheard you speaking in English with your spouse or kids.

    This also means that even if I heard you talking very loudly on your cell phone in English on the bus, and you drop a glove on your way out, I will say “Excusez-moi, madame, vous avez échappé votre gant”.

    It means that if you’re working in some type of customer service job and you’re chatting with your colleagues in English, I will still insist that you serve me, the customer, in French from A to Z.

    Now, if you can’t serve me in French, I will try to push the French a little but without being rude, but if I see I am getting nowhere I will switch to English so that we can at least communicate. I won’t make a complaint to the OQLF, but you won’t likely see me in your business again.

    These are the basics, now in some other cases, I go beyond the call of duty, at least compared to what most of my Ontario neighbours would do for a humble francophone.

    For example, if a stranger walks up to me and asks me “Do you speak English?” before really asking me what they want, I know in all likelihood that this is not a Quebec resident, and will answer that I do and will help them with whatever they need… in English.

    But if someone just walks up to me and blurts something out in English, then I more likely than not will answer back in French, but quickly switch to English since my initial reply in French was likely sufficient to get my message across.

    Now, on a personal level, I do have in Quebec some anglo friends and neighbours, all of whom happen to be reasonably bilingual, and our conversations generally flip back and forth between the two languages, in a Trudeauist-wet-dream sort of way. Sometimes the anglos end up speaking the most French, sometimes I end up speaking the most English.

    In my line of work, I often deal with anglos in Ottawa or from other parts of Canada. I always deal with them in English, unless they absolutely insist on practising their French with me, which is a very rare request.

    When I run errands in Ottawa, I always speak in English unless I am at federal government office that is designated bilingual, an obviously Franco-Ontarian institution or if the person helping me is sporting a name tage with something like “Marie-Josée Tremblay” on it.

    So there you have it. Anyone have any suggestions for me as to what I can do better to make English-speaking people feel more at home in Quebec?

    Acajack

    March 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  19. I’m glad someone replied. I’m an anglo and I try to consistently remind people that anglos are Quebecers too. I speak English unapologetically. I feel this projects my identity as an anglo. I tend to use French as my public language to strangers etc. I feel this helps project my identity as part of Quebec, Montreal etc.

    In the rest of Canada, when I can get it I insist on French service. Why not? It’s my right. Sometimes I’ll ask for service in English if I’m fighting a bureaucrat; I’m more verbally dextrous in English.

    I have recently dedicated a decent amount of my time to arguing with ill-informed or vindictive linguistic demagogues online. When not too frustrated, I try to get them to put themselves in “the other’s” shoes. Sometimes people have a remarkably selfish concept of justice. Sometimes they were born without the ability to empathize. And then of course, sometimes they’re like me… only more modest about it.

    Fon

    March 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm

  20. Maybe if you’re in an largely franco group with one Anglo friend and someone says: « ţête-carée» or «bloque» or «les Anglais». You can look over at your anglo friend to see how he or she seems to feel. Better yet, if people do this with no anglos around you can remind your friends that some anglos are put off by these comments and there’s no need to be hurtful (intentionally or otherwise). Of course in the great sandbox of maturity that is the Canadian linguistic debate somehow “but they do it to us” is considered a justifiable proposition.

    Just do what you can, I guess.

    Fon

    March 24, 2009 at 4:15 pm

  21. Fon,

    Thanks for the kind words… the framing of political discourse is always “terribly important” and Parizeau failed miserably that night. But that’s easy to say in retrospect.

    As for the the B-T hearings… even if they were largely window-dressing, it’s part of the process. I long to see another jurisdiction going through it. That’s what I mean by Québec’s leadership.

    Pure Laine

    March 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm

  22. acajack, @ 5:24 am

    when a guy who works for gm sits on a lawn tractor making 63.00 an hour – and he is a card-carrying union member – something is wrong. when a gm car costs an additional $2000.00 before it even hits the assembly line to support it’s union/government liabilities/obligations – something is wrong.

    when you suggest that government and unions are not implicated in this – you are misguided in your conclusions.

    you’ll note that i do not disagree with your observations about big3’s corporate decision-making and evolution and acquisitions.

    as for anyone thinking anything lasts forever – why would the unions delude themselves into thinking that they could just eat away at the profits forever and then have the gall to blame it on the executive when the money to innovate was no longer available? corporate speak says this is the death spiral.

    here’s the answer – it’s because leftwing idealogues believe that money grows on trees. you might ask, what this has got to do with entire galaxies collapsing in upon themselves?

    what i understand from all of this – the language thing, the politics, the finances… is that it’s not so bad as long as you have a seat on a small tractor.

    i have been driving toyotas for the last 25 years – and i can assure you that it a better product for less money. from where i sit – i’d guess you’re driving a pretty big tractor. good for you – and i say that sincerely.

    but… we (you and i) have been posting on agf’s space for some time and now, only now, i find out you are more polite to complete strangers. terrific.

    johnnyonline

    March 24, 2009 at 8:16 pm

  23. Hi Fon,
    How would I propose to make things better? I personally feel that more inclusion would be a good thing. I remember while growing up, my friends were both Anglophone and Francophone. We played together etc…I miss those days, I don’t see this anymore and it’s very unfortunate. I also think the exchanges in schools is an excellent idea! I wish we would have had these growing up. I always liked the French language and never had an issue learning it/using it. Today I’ve noticed our children only have this opportunity in school and are shy to speak it in public. Let’s face it, as teens, we are self-conscious and worried about image. I think if Francophones / Anglophones interacted more in a school setting etc… and both saw that we all make mistakes, this would be less an issue and would promote the language better to our youth. I am always encouraging my children to speak French. My youngest child (almost 3) is now learning it.
    I, like you, use French as my public language, lately I have decided to improve on my grammar, although I don’t use it, I try to write when I have the opportunity (with Francophone friends, co-workers etc…). This leads to my thinking community groups would be a good thing as well. Organized for Anglo/Francophones (where numbers warrant) in order to have discussions on certain issues and propose solutions however, during this time Anglo’s would speak French and Francophones, English. This would be perfect to promote French in a comfortable environment.
    When we were younger, we would often have school dances, well these could be held for both Anglo & Francophones together. Music mixed. This also encourages not only the language but the music as well. I often used to find myself singing the lines of French songs and liked them!
    Anyway, this may not seem feasible however, you did mention you would like to hear some ideas.

    Ignorantcomm

    March 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm

  24. I did a double-take when I read bloke and tête carrée! I hadn`t heard those terms in years, although I did hear them a lot as a kid growing up with Franco-Ontarians. Not so much since I’ve moved to Quebec, although I’d say they were probably widely used – perhaps more – in Quebec as well at the time, and it’s more that times have changed since I was a little boy or a teenager.

    Yes, the people in my entourage will on occasion refer to ”les Anglais” (though never in mixed anglo-franco company), generally in reference to people who move to Quebec, never make an effort to learn French and expect the entire province to bow to the so-called superiority of their language. Some of my born and raised Anglo-Quebecer friends can also be quite harsh towards people who insist on living in Quebec without learning any French.

    Now, among the francophones, I do have some fairly nationalistic people in my entourage, but for the most part what riles them is the way the Canadian system is set up, rather than the fact that many people in Ontario cities do bizarre things like wearing white running shoes to go out dancing on Saturday night.

    In 2009, if you’re that frequently exposed to name-calling of the bloke and tête carrée variety (or conversely, stuff like ”frog” and ”pea soup” in Ontario), then maybe you should stop hanging out with the trailer trash crowd. You might want to consider meeting some new people.

    Acajack

    March 24, 2009 at 9:25 pm

  25. ”from where i sit – i’d guess you’re driving a pretty big tractor. good for you – and i say that sincerely.”

    Bourgeois socialists like me don’t drive or own tractors, doncha know. ;-))

    ”but… we (you and i) have been posting on agf’s space for some time and now, only now, i find out you are more polite to complete strangers. terrific.”

    Are you being sarcastic here?

    Acajack

    March 24, 2009 at 9:27 pm

  26. yeah, but the word sarcastic is too strong – it was written without a trace or soupçon of malice – more like a humourous reach for feigned indignation – anyway it referenced both your self-described comportment in both languages – making the world a better place – and a recent post that cast aspersions on my intelligence – which is sometimes as welcome as beans in an elevator.

    btw, you make quite the case for bilingualism perched on your collective agricultural conveyance – as we city slickers now calls ’em. :-)

    johnnyonline

    March 24, 2009 at 10:05 pm

  27. I’m sick of this blog and sick of this city. It’s a nauseating, dour, tomb-like little carousel. Blah blah blah French, English. Well done. I like how none of this shit ever achieves the velocity to break free of a cluster of creepy little websites (and the Gazette, which is a creepy little newspaper). Why is that? Nobody gives a flying fuck. Here, I’ll sum up all of it for you outsiders to this pointless little argument:

    1. French is safe in the shabby little metropolis of Montreal (because we all know that’s what this is really about, not Quebec as a whole, where French is obviously safe)
    2. Some French speakers want to leave Canada because they have an inferiority complex, not realizing that in the ROC nobody really minds people speaking French, in fact many of us went to French schools to cultivate our respect for and interest in the language
    3. If you come here, you better already speak French. If you don’t speak French, enroll in university, or become a telemarketer, or spend a bunch of time learning French, or fuck off home.
    4. French people often seem rude to those who are accustomed to the social graces of the English-speaking world. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re racist, but some undoubtedly are.

    There, that’s it. Close the fucking blog, close the fucking Gazette, get on with your lives.

    Emilio Esti-vez

    March 26, 2009 at 7:08 pm

  28. Emilio, thanks for your enlightment. Now I know the Truth.

    Jonathan

    March 30, 2009 at 6:58 am

  29. Hey AGF, lis l’article de Lawrence Martin dans le globe and mail d’aujourd’hui: c’est drole, personne ne l’accuse de xenophobie la bas: ou sont passes les Libman?

    midnightjack

    March 31, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  30. Well, the writer wasn’t really expressing his opinion on the subject, but you can certainly draw a comparison between what he was reporting on (the apparant Conservative approach to integration) and what Harel was talking about. Is it true that nobody was offended by it?

    RoryBellows

    March 31, 2009 at 7:18 pm


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