How Do You Call a Quebecois Who is Not a Minority?

with 131 comments


How do you call a regular generic Canadian?  You know, a white guy called Rob or Bill with a last name that starts with W and ends with ON?

Or what about an American (see description above)?

You just call him a Canadian or an American, right?  If need be you could call him an Anglo or a white guy or a WASP, but unless race or ethnicity is an issue, you just use the standard issue label, right?

That’s the way it was supposed to work in Québec too.  In French the label Québécois was taken up PRECISELY to shed the baggage of the old French-Canadian label that implied that you were White, Catholic and had way to many siblings.  A Québécois would be someone who lives in Québec.  Period.

Sadly, it seems that even Them, the Franco-French-North Americans of French Expression, have picked up the very sad and even dangerous English-language concept of using the word Québécois to define not anyone who lives in Québec, but specifically one group of people, the white French-speaking men an women who have at least one uncle in either Gaspésie or Saguenay.

I have friends, born here, French-speaking, not especially fervent Canadian patriots, who will say things like: « Mon boss est Québécois », as if, because of their Viet Namese or African Roots, they weren’t Québécois themselves.

People, for a variety of reason, need a word to identify THEM.  Whether it is to express solidarity, denounce exclusion or spew out racist prejudice for profit in Canada’s daily newspapers, people need a word that points to THEM.  Since we need to protect the use of Québécois as a generic label that includes all the members of our civil society, even those we don’t like, it is time we pick an official label for THEM.

Many are already in use.  Pick one, people:

Pur (Pure) Laine: The most commonly used word in the English language to designate the Them.  The notion of purity is part of the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars inspired vision of Canadian multiculturalism that celebrates a motley crew of men and women in easily identifiable folkloric costumes who fight evil separatists before returning to ethnically segregated ghettos.  This is what John Porter called the Vertical Mosaic in 1965.  Jews get +3 business ability points and Them get +5 in goaltending.  Just as in the Lord of the Ring, English-speaking white males with no special skills have all the command jobs.

De Souche: Literally « of the stump », as in a tree stump.  This is the more common word used in French to designate Them.  The tree is indeed a nice image to describe a people, any people.  Out of innumerable and invisible roots a common trunk emerges before, once again dividing up into hundreds of branches that reach to the sky (take that poet-laureate!)  Sadly the Québec version of the image carries the weight of it’s terminal loser syndrome, the stump symbolising where the tree was cut down to make way for a Tim Horton’s parking lot.

French-Canadians: French-Canadian has a quaint old fashioned feel that evokes horse-drawn sleds and midnight mass.  Although still commonly used by Them when travelling abroad to avoid the whole « What’s a kweebeekwa? » conversation, most don’t use it at home.  Federalists feel they are full patch Canadians and indépendantistes don’t feel they are Canadian at all.

Paleo-Québécois: As opposed to Néo-Québécois.  A commenter on this forum came up with that one.  It is the AngryFrenchFavorite.

Written by angryfrenchguy

May 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm

131 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. edward
    @ 11:15 pm

    my point remains this (regardless of political genesis): the financial crisis has its roots in the well-intentioned re-investment act. take away that legislation and the house of cards does not get built.

    no house, no car, no driveway – no road that does not need a speed limit.

    the specifics of the legislation are secondary to the results – the unintended consequences. but in the same vein, 101 wasn’t passed with the knowledge (or intention) that hundreds of thousands of residents would pack up and leave.

    on the acorn thing – six of seven accused in one case have already plead guilty. again it’s just more pie in the sky thinking – that human nature will suddenly change. acorn in good conscience (and totally in line with the “new society” manifesto) hooked up with a prison release employment program for the voter registration drive. edward, acorn hired people who had been convicted of identity theft to do voter registrations paid for by volume. now that’s an incentive.

    to mirror with an inappropriate finale i would say – how many on this blog would rent out the basement apartment to the rehabilitated axe- murderer?

    the banks responded to the government legislation with two-year mortgage terms as fannie and freddie continued to accept and ignore the wild volume increases. banks may love profits but bankers are not stupid when it comes to lending money – the rules about risk are well-established.

    to secure the artificially imposed transactions – the banks put a traditional backstop clause in the fine print: if the value of the property fell below the threshold – the entire mortgage amount fell due. and we both know no bank in the world will renegotiate a mortgage in excess of the value of the property. individuals earning $50,000 a year with $300,000 mortgages mailed the keys of their homes to the banks and as more homes came on the market – more backstop clauses came into effect etc etc etc.

    the finance guys, the entrepreneurs were left holding the bad paper to be paid out on the taxpayers back.

    switching to partisan mode – the democrats did nothing – zero – zilch despite warnings and alarm from the repub admin and senate. the dems believed the program was working and that they had harnessed the power of the golden gooose – a perfect blend of state and free enterprise. chris and barney did not return the millions in bonus money they received. ah, politics. happy homeowners voting for the party that produced posperity.

    your defense or your attempt to push responsibility elsewhere for a government-sponsored scheme (well-intentioned or not) doesn’t make sense to me.

    it’s possible and it does happen that one will give five ten or twenty dollars to someone on the street. but no one here will lend five hundred dollars to an unknown on the street corner. imagine if the city of montreal made a by-law that said you are required to give fifty bucks to every homeless person who asked you or suffer a fine – and when that didn’t work because the streets were abandoned by citizens – banned automobiles from the core.

    all the business workers literally running around the streets like the march hare shouting i’m late – i’m late. vilified for having legs and a job.

    i will underline my spittle-flecked phrasings ;) with these qualifications –

    north america has the richest poor people on the planet.

    helping others is a good thing but it is painfully obvious that government cannot organise its way out of a paper bag.

    the rewards of virtue are virtue – and if one expects anything else it is not virtue.

    yes, we can live under socialism and it will not be the end of the world – it will only be poorer with less freedom and choice. why would anyone want that?


    May 10, 2009 at 1:18 pm

  2. johnnyonline: “at least we agree about private property”.

    Not exactly. I said that, if one cannot be a libertarian for practical reasons (saying that it is a way to maximize the wealth of the less fortunate, for instance), one _can_ be a libertarian for value reasons – for instance, puttting property right above everything else. That’s not an economics debate though. It’s an ethical debate. Every economics textbook begin with a warning that it is necessary to trace a line between normative and empirical economics. Preserving every bit of private property to the point of having millions loosing their family income is a value judgement that I am not prepared to do, but that’s not something to debate by economics argument alone.
    But then, “Austrians” do not believe in empirical economics.
    Socialist in English is like liberal in French. If every canadian or american “liberal” were un libéral (or néo-libéral), the US would not have elected Obama but some Ron Paul (to say nothing of the “liberal party of canada”). And if every american “socialist” were “un socialiste” as the French say, then the red flag would be floating in every corner in North America.

    I agree with Edward about the crisis. And I see people around me who would have difficulty to cope with negative inflation. Students who borrowed for studying, for instance. A loan is easier to repay when inflation is at 3% than when it’s a -3%, so let’s hope that we do not go there. Again, the crisis is less of a problem in social-democratic country/province, so we have a biased view of it in Quebec.


    May 10, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  3. here’s an interesting take on the subject of housing:
    Obsessive Housing Disorder


    May 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm

  4. How come no one mentions negative population growth in the deflation debates? Working on the monetarist side of things, an overly high savings rate can be pushed down by interest rate changes, but what about other factors keeping Japanese prices low, like a productive, shrinking workforce?


    May 13, 2009 at 3:20 am

  5. You make a passionate and thoughtful case, but use anecdotal evidence to support sweeping condemnation of organizations or rules meant to achieve generally positive things like getting people in inner cities to vote, making home ownership accessible to the financially underserviced, etc.

    As usual the working poor get screwed in this fiasco, but now they even get blamed.

    I say no. When the food runs out you cannot accuse the rats scrambling for table scraps and excuse those who stockpile food only to let it rot.

    Laws that force the greedy hoarders to distribute what they have more fairly cannot be called Socialism. If so then laws against slave labor, human trafficking, and inhumane working conditions are socialism as well. The minimum wage, for example, is frank socialism, but it is socially justifiable.

    You tar everything, good and bad, with the same coarse brush.


    May 17, 2009 at 5:58 pm

  6. “…no one here will lend five hundred dollars to an unknown on the street corner”

    but indeed this is exactly what happened. Whose job is it, if not the banks’, to screen borrowers for creditworthiness? But when one is paid bonuses for volume rather than quality of sales, and when the loans (and responsibility for them) can be bundled up and sold off to some unsuspecting schmo whose willing to pay top dollar, who wouldn’t be throwing $100 bills at every unknown he can get to sign up?


    May 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  7. not that there’s anything wrong with socialism, per se, but in our current society socialism is seen as “anti-capitalism” and that is what the pundits really mean when they say the “s word”.

    Well, capitalism, like “our friend the atom”, is here to stay for better or worse, but it still needs adequate containment.


    May 17, 2009 at 6:13 pm

  8. re: sweeping condemnation
    it’s all imho – based on my knowledge of acorn. i have taken the time to read about their exploits and it’s true that my sources are on the opposite side of the political fence, however, the organisation has its roots in communism. that’s more than anecdotal – that’s proof their goals are detrimental to anything they touch. they represent the american arm of the frankfurt school dedicated to destroying western values. they deserve my condemnation.

    key to what has been written is : “meant to achieve generally positive things” – because voter registration and home ownership (worthy issues in themselves) are merely used to advance the real agenda – which can be neatly expressed as eat the rich. for what it is worth, i was non-plussed by use of the term “financially underserviced” and after a while came to my senses and thought this orwellian phrase was actually a misplelling of “savings book challenged”.

    edward, the rest of what has been written is so very much unlike anything you have ever expressed here at agf that i’m hard pressed to believe you signed your name to it.


    May 17, 2009 at 9:44 pm

  9. Dear AngryFrenchGuy and Bloggers all–

    I just discovered this fun blog today (6/3/09) and I’m enjoying the topics, exchanges, etc. (The humor and quips are hilarious, especially the monicker “angryphones!”) I’m an African-american ESL teacher at Orange High School in Orange, New Jersey. My students are all Haitians and Latinos in 9th–12th grades.

    Perhaps you kind and erudite Canadian folk can enlighten me about an incident I had during a vacation to your lovely province…..

    In the summer of 2007, I attended Language Studies Canada to learn some French and enjoy multilingual Montreal. (Malheureusement I was placed in French 1B instead of 1A where I knew I truly belonged, and blithely walked into the first class to learn–the passe compose! I’ve tried since then to improve my French and my students are teaching me, but I STILL can’t properly pronounce anything with the “eur” suffix if my life depended on it. But that’s another story….*)

    One day, I found this cute “Quebec” T-shirt with the elegant royal blue-and-white provincial flag on it in one of those little tourist shops and wore it to school and then to a store in the shopping mall there on Rue St. Catherine. Imagine my surprise when
    The Nice White Lady in my aisle suddenly upbraided me
    with the statement: “We’re all Canadian here!”

    So, I, The Nice Black Tourist Lady from New Jersey simply stated: “Uh…ma’am, I’m just an American tourist from the states–the T-shirt is not a political statement for me!” She just loooked at me in shock–I’m not quite sure what she expected me to say.

    Question–Did The Nice White Lady assume I was:
    A. Representing the Parti Quebecois?
    B. Saying I was quebecoise and she wasn’t?
    C. Stating that other Canadian provinces were unimportant?
    D. Declaring French to be the most important language
    of Quebec and therefore at odds with the ROC?

    (It IS the dominant language of Quebec, but in multilingual/multiethnic/multicultural Montreal I heard at least 5 varieties of French, four varieties of English, three varieties of Spanish, Brazilian
    Portuguese, two varieties of Arabic, and several Asian languages during just two short weeks.)

    We Americans have all kinds of tourist stores in all 50 states in which you can buy T-shirts with state flag and national flag designs, so to me, the Quebec
    T-shirt simply represented a geographic place called
    “Quebec.” Since most natives of any place usually don’t walk around with these kinds of “tourist-trap T-shirts”, I thought just wearing the shirt automatically screamed “tourist” to any Canadian who strolled past!

    During the years since 2007, I tried to read up on the
    history of quebecois French, the linguistic politics,
    the dude who wrote “White Niggers of America”, the
    francophone/allophone/anglophone thing, the office quebecoise de la langue francaise(still not sure if I spelled that right–pardon a moi/a thousand pardons, Good Blogfolk)et al–and I’m still puzzled by the incident in the shopping mall.

    Can anyone explain to me The Nice White Canadian Lady’s reaction to my tourist T-shirt?

    Much obliged et je vous remercie!

    Ye Most Confused Nice Black Anglophonic ESL Teacher Tourist Lady from New Jersey

    Charity Dell

    June 3, 2009 at 5:23 pm

  10. You met a crazy person.


    June 20, 2009 at 5:09 pm

  11. Not sure which senators and MPs these are (can you elbaorate on that?), but I would imagine that none of them have the status that Justin Trudeau does. How about Stephen Harper back in 2000, where he wrote for the National Post”This is perhaps not surprising. Alberta and much of the rest of Canada have embarked on divergent and potentially hostile paths to defining their country.”Alberta has opted for the best of Canada’s heritage — a combination of American enterprise and individualism with the British traditions of order and co-operation. We have created an open, dynamic and prosperous society in spite of a continuously hostile federal government.”Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task….. “Westerners, but especially Albertans, founded the Reform/Alliance to get “in” to Canada. The rest of the country has responded by telling us in no uncertain terms that we do not share their “Canadian values.” Fine. Let us build a society on Alberta values.”Man, Harper hated Chretien as much as Trudeau hates him. He backs away from calling right-out for separation, but the idea of a province going it’s own way because the rest of the country put another party in power echoes Trudeau’s comments. Harper did it again in the famous letter, which basically urges Alberta to withdraw from federal programs — essentially getting as independent as possible without officially declaring soverignty because of a dispute over health care between the province and the federal government. And lo, five years later, this guy was our prime minister.


    December 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: