AngryFrenchGuy

French Québec Doesn’t “Open Up” to English Culture. It Makes It.

with 150 comments

Quebec DiscoSo I’m sitting here ruminating on past humiliations because, you know, that’s what we Québec indépendantistes do, and the whole « should we have people singing in english at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste/Fête Nationale » crisis—as I’m sure you all are—and even though I personnaly though it was cool that a couple of Anglo bands we’re invited to sing in Rosemont, there is one argument hear time and time again during the debate that I just can’t let pass.

It’s the « Québec should open up to English-language culture » argument.

(For those who’ve moved on I apologize.  You are better people than I am. I’m a little bit slow. Despite my unrivaled mastery of useless trivia which has earned me the nickname of The un-sexy Cliff Claven, I would suck at Jeopardy. Even though we all know Alex Trebeck loves to show off his French and he would no doubt signal the Double Jeopardy to me.)

How ridiculous is this idea that Québec needs to “open up” to English language culture?  It quite quite possibly could be the dumbest thing ever said out loud in the history of La Grande Chicane, our century-old dispute that has inspired an encyclopedia’s worth of dumb statements.

And I’m not even thinking about the fact that we are surrounded by English speakers and are constantly bombarded with American media and culture.

English Québec has a healthy little local scene and have made a decent contribution to the wider English-language cultural world, but with the exception of Leonard Cohen and Mordecai Richler, both of whom are old or dead, its clear that French Québec has made a bigger contribution to the world’s English language culture than all of English Québec.

Listen, I am a aware that a few Québécois of English-language expression have done good. Cohen is a legend. Sam Roberts was called the future of Rock by the head of Sony Music.   I’m not enough of a hispter to get it, but I hear Rufus Wainwright and Arcade Fire sold a few records.

So what?  So have Simple Plan and Pascale Picard and Chromeo, all of whom are as French Québec as signing “Hey motherfucker get laid, get fucked” during the chorus of Billy Idol’s Mony Mony.

French Québec has always been in the game.

In the 1970’s Montreal nightclubs like the Limelight and Québec artists like France Joli, Martin Stevens and Gino Soccio were not only part of, they were once the heart of disco culture.

Or if you’re more of a metalhead you certainly know that even though Metallica certainly sold more albums than any other metal band in the 1980’s, their own inspiration was Jonquière’s Voivod and that’s the band Metallica bassist Jason Newstead chose to join when he quit Metallica after realizing, 10 years after the rest of us, that his old band sucked.  “I think that I’m in a band now that can kick their ass”, said the old Metallica rythm-man.

Oh yeah, and there’s that French chick who sold more English-language albums than any other woman in the history of recorded music.

And then she got together with the people at the Cirque du Soleil and other Québec artists like André-Phillipe Gagnon and Alain Choquette to save Las Vegas and give it it’s most glorious era since Sinatra and the Rat Pack.

So what was that you were saying? Y’all want Québec to « open up » to English language culture?

Québec doesn’t open up to English-language culture.  Québec makes English-language culture.  As well as any so-called native English speakers in Québec or elsewhere.

And then it has plenty of talent left over to invade France.

Written by angryfrenchguy

July 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm

150 Responses

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  1. “the more anglos that move to quebec, the better. they will eventually learn french and be better off for it”

    Evidence suggests they will not. Most of the upsurge in anglo bilingualism comes from native-born anglo-Quebecers who went through the education system here. Then there are the anglos who are already bilingual (generally via French immersion) who move here from the ROC.

    But your typical unilingual anglo who moves to Quebec from Ontario or wherever else will likely still be unilingual 5, 10, 15 and even 20 years down the line.

    Acajack

    July 15, 2009 at 3:56 pm

  2. I said that’s what they should do, not that I expect them to do it.

    In any event, the federalist camp is unfortunately very triumphalist, and their reaction to Oct. 30, 1995 would lead one to believe that the Non side won by a 90 to 10 margin.

    Acajack

    July 15, 2009 at 3:58 pm

  3. “Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia were all subjected to Russification before they became independent. Slovenia, meanwhile, was subjected to Serbification. There is no Canadian equivalent to Russification or Serbification. Therefore, I don’t think the aforementioned countries are appropriate examples. Nor do I think Slovakia is an appropriate example, as Slovakian and Czech are mutually intelligible languages, unlike English and French.”

    So this would mean that most of these languages started from even further behind than French in Quebec is at the moment? Yet they are all thriving today.

    There is hope for us still!

    Acajack

    July 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm

  4. Typical number games that both sides like to use.

    A Moroccan who speaks Arabic at home, French on the streets and doesn’t know a word of English is used:

    – by angryphones to prove that Montreal is not really a francophone city, and

    – by hardliners in the PQ to prove that Montreal is in danger of becoming anglicized.

    Acajack

    July 15, 2009 at 4:02 pm

  5. abp,
    resistance is futile.
    beam me up to delisle.

    johnnyonline

    July 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm

  6. Well, independence for Finland, Slovenia, and the Baltic states entailed the elimination of either Russification or Serbification. I would imagine that, if the respective languages of these countries did in fact thrive after indepedence, it was solely or largely because of the elimination of the chauvinistic policies of Russification and Serbification.

    Now, your argument is that independence would improve the state of French in Quebec. The problem, however, is that you used the examples of Finland, Slovenia, and the Baltic states to support this argument, even though Quebec independence would not entail the elimination of any Canadian equivalent to Russification or Serbification.

    I’m sorry but you simply cannot draw an analogy between Quebec and the aforementioned countries.

    Hamer

    July 15, 2009 at 11:13 pm

  7. I am not an advocate of the independence of Quebec. I am just saying that no one will believe you if you use these arguments against the sovereignists.

    And BTW, Slovenia was never really subjected to Serbification (or Serbo-Croatian-ification), and the issue in Finland was more with Swedish than with Russian, and was actually quite similar to the French-English thing in Quebec.

    Anyway, you can find excuses all you want (like such and such a case doesn’t apply because people there drive on the left and in Quebec we drive on the right), but the historical reality is that national independence pretty much always has a positive impact on the national language.

    If you really want to defend Canada in Quebec, find something else. Please!

    Acajack

    July 16, 2009 at 6:06 am

  8. You keep stating that you are not an advocate of Quebec independence yet on virtually all issues you come down on the sovereignist side of the argument.

    How can you agree with almost everything the sovereignists argue yet come to a totally opposite conclusion ?

    You seem to even refuse to admit that there exists certain scenarios for the process of obtaining independence fraught with much risk, scenarios that could well lead to demographic and economic difficulties resulting in a weakening of the French fact in Quebec. Any time opponents of sovereignty mention these possible scenarios they are accused of fear mongering.

    I’m not talking about the fear of losing old age pensions sometimes used in some circles, I mean the genuine possibility of a backlash in ROC resulting on pressure to play hardball in secession negotiations. Borders, debt, federal assets, minority rights, free movement of people goods and services, common currency, first nation rights and territories, all these potential flash points could, and I say could, lead to a long drawn out and messy process which would obviously affect both countries, but where the pressure to settle would bear hardest on the smaller party.

    Obviously, to me anyway, the closer the referendum vote, the weaker Quebec’s hand in negotiations. The soft ambiguous question leading to a close vote for the Yes side only compounds the potential for difficulties. For example, had the Yes side won the 1995 referendum by the same margin as the No side, the Nos who formed half of the population, would not rally to the cause and would prove to be an internal impediment which could easily be used by Canada as a stick to beat up the Quebec negociators. Just imagine while our negatiators are at the table, massive rallies in Montreal against independence could only weaken their hand.

    Just mentioning these real possibilities is interpreted by sovereignists as some form of atavistic plot to reduce Quebec to servitude and thus dismissed out of hand. So I argue that your claim that independence is always good for national languages, in Quebec’s case, is falacious and overstated.

    Of course in sovereinists best case scenario, Quebec’s borders are guaranteed, our first nations would come on board, ROC would quietly agree to Quebec’s share of the debt at 20 % ( % of GDP) rather than 24 % (% population) , a slight difference of $20 billion, borders would be open, passports would be issued to all, the French language would no longer be threatened and the population of ROC would not react negatively, and certainly not violently, to the physical separation of their country. The No supporters would rally to the cause and life would be good. I will give you that argument, that in such a Alice in Wonderland scenario, French woulsd do at least as well as now if not better. But what is the probability of such a scenario, given the weak support for soverignty inside Quebec ?

    Dave

    July 16, 2009 at 7:04 am

  9. “scenarios that could well lead to demographic and economic difficulties resulting in a weakening of the French fact in Quebec.”

    Can you elaborate on this?

    I heard a lot of reasonable arguments that Quebec’s separation from Canada will actually weaken French in NA and accelerate its disappearance from the continent.

    It seems that this language is doomed, no matter what happens.

    allophone

    July 16, 2009 at 10:46 am

  10. “Of course in sovereinists best case scenario,

    The stars and moon would have to line up perferctly wouldn’t they. Now, likely everyone knows this as the reality of the situation. So then, for what purpose is the threat of sovereignty other than to utilize a tried and proven threat to extort what Quebec wants from the ROC.

    The Sovereignty movement has been a great thing for Quebec and likely no one with power or vision in Quebec want it to disappear . Their ACE would be gone and could not be played any longer.

    Anonymous

    July 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm

  11. Personally I don’t think it is doomed, not by a long shot. The proportion of immigrants integrating into francophone society, while not perfect, is steadily increasing and has never been higher. This despite the obvious attraction of English in North America. At 4.5% (2006 census) the proportion of English only speakers has never been so low since the beginning of confederation. It is virtually impossible to aspire to any kind of management position without a decent knowledge of French whereas 50 years ago the very opposite was true. People will learn whatever language they perceive as being helpful to their own economic interests. So there are many positive signs that French is very much alive and vibrant and will remain the dominant language of Quebec for quite some time. Are there any guarantees, of course not.

    But to answer your specific question, it is not unimaginable that another referendum for sovereignty could some day pass with a razor-thin majority on a dubious or misleading question. The 50 % of committed NO voters and a substantial proportion of YES voters, realizing they had been misled, could together form a daunting first obstacle to the successful negotiations to follow with Canada. Setting up a new country is challenging enough, without having to contend with a substantial block of citizens openly hostile to the project. There would be strong political pressure within Canada to support the NO voters and protect their rights as Canadian citizens, thus exerting more pressure on the new country to make concessions on all fronts, including minority language rights.

    In such a context, one would be hard put to deny that some degree of political instability would negatively impact the economy. Nor is it inconceivable that another exodus of people, similar, or even more pronounced, than that which followed the PQ election of 1976, would compound the economic difficulties of the new state. This in turn would put immense pressure on politicians to do everything in their power to shore up the economy and language considerations would have to take a back seat. The old saying “it’s the economy stupid” has universal applications.

    I will say, however, that a clear question carried by a clear majority, say 55 % or higher, would make things much easier for all. Given the current climate, it seems highly unlikely that this would be the case. But let us assume the opposite for argument’s sake.

    Quebec, within Canada, is declining economically and demographically as our economic and population growth rates lag behind the ROC. A protracted period of instability and uncertainty would surely not ameliorate the situation. As for the status of French in Canada, do I need to sketch out the rapid decline that would follow the loss of Quebec and the centre of French culture , not to mention the probable dropping of French as an official language.

    So there is no perfect solution to the protection of the French language, there is only the best choice among difficult ones. To argue that independence would automatically ensure better protection is a matter of opinion and certainly not fact. The risk of failure, with the dire consequences for the French language, far outweighs the small advantages such a project would produce. This leads me to conclude that the present arrangement within Canada, a never ending work in progress, is a far better and safer bet for the future.

    It could well be that the interests of Quebecers and Canadians diverge over time to such an extent that separation would gain the necessary consensus that would ensure its acceptance by all, including Canada, and thus ensure it’s success. Sadly for the generation of baby boomers who founded the sovereignty movement and who remain its most numerous proponents, that day is not likely to arrive in their lifetime.

    Dave

    July 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm

  12. > The 50 % of committed NO voters and a substantial proportion of YES
    > voters, realizing they had been misled, could together form a daunting
    > first obstacle to the successful negotiations to follow with Canada.

    Dave, Quebecers aren’t stupid enough not to realize that they’re voting for independence when they vote “yes” in a referendum called by the Parti québécois. True, they may not know exactly what the plan for independence is. For example, I believe that in 1995, Parizeau’s plan was to unilateraly declare independence if the federal government had refused to negotiate after a “yes” victory (which seems likely, at least at first), but this wasn’t found in the question and I don’t believe it was discussed. But only in this sense can we say that the question was “misleading”. Those who voted “yes” knew that they were voting for independence.

    And I find it interesting that you assume that all “no” voters would refuse to rally themselves to the idea of an independent Quebec if the majority of Quebecers vote in favour. I’m sure that many of them wouldn’t, but there are large numbers of federalists whose primary attachment is to Quebec rather than to Canada, and who value democracy and can recognize when they’ve lost. That’s how the system functions. It’s especially interesting when people start talking about partition (which I agree might happen in some way if Quebec becomes independent) and assume that the regions where the “no” side is stronger, even if they’re largely francophone, would certainly want to remain as minorities in Canada or maybe even join Ontario. I’m not a Franco-Ontarian, and I don’t intend to become one, not now anyway.

    Maybe this is why you don’t understand why Acajack is a federalist, Dave. Yes, he does say that Canada is not the greatest thing on Earth, especially when it comes to ensuring the existence of a French-speaking nation in Quebec, and he even says that an independent Quebec, with all powers regarding language and immigration, would preserve its French quality better than the current Quebec. But all you say about the difficulties inherent in creating an independent country, the risks that the native peoples and anglophones might not get on board, the arduous negotiations with Canada, all of this Acajack is aware of. Presumably that’s why he’s a federalist. There are many others like him; the “no” side isn’t as monolithic as you seem to imagine. (Neither is the “yes” side of course. One of the biggest impediments to understanding Quebec politics is trying to reduce it to “Quebec or Canada?”)

    Marc

    July 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm

  13. “Dave, Quebecers aren’t stupid enough not to realize that they’re voting for independence when they vote “yes” in a referendum called by the Parti québécois.”

    Don’t overestimate Joe public. Polls showed that a minority of Yes voters thought that sovereignty-association meant they would remain in Canada. That was reinforced by several spokespersons for the YES side, who claimed that Quebecers were entitled to keep their Canadian passports and the Canadian dollar would be used. Please re-read the 1995 question and quote to me the terms of the June 12 accord. If everyone knew yes meant independence, why didn’t they just state that simply in the question instead of inventing a highly complicated tortuous question. I think you know the answer.

    “And I find it interesting that you assume that all “no” voters would refuse to rally themselves to the idea of an independent Quebec if the majority of Quebecers vote in favour”

    That’s not quite what I said. I was referring to a scenario wherein the question was ambiguous and the result extremely close.

    I also said that a clear majority to a clear question would make things much easier for all.

    I find it extremely ironic that Montreal municipalities had to get 50% of eligible voters to secede from Montreal, not 50% of votes cast, that Bernard Landry quit as head of the PQ with “only” 76 % support, and yet to separate Canada into three distinct geographic units, one only needs 50% of votes cast in Quebec, whatever the wording of the question. Its a recipe for disaster and certainly not in anyone’s interest.

    I have never said, nor do I believe , that Canada is the greatest thing on earth. I don’t have the slightest emotional attachment to Canada, I just feel that, for the time being , it is in QUEBEC’s best interests to remain. I don’t believe in the slightest that independence would better ensure the preservation of the French language here.

    If a clear majority clearly wants an independent country, is knowingly willing to make the necessary sacrifices, I really don’t have the slightest problem with that. I think that if we deserve our own country, we should obtain it honestly through the front door, not surreptitiously through the back door.

    Where do I imply that both sides are monolithic. When making assumptions about worst and best cases scenarios, one needs to imply certain things.

    Dave

    July 16, 2009 at 5:35 pm

  14. “So I argue that your claim that independence is always good for national languages, in Quebec’s case, is falacious and overstated.”

    Hamer

    July 16, 2009 at 10:41 pm

  15. “So I argue that your claim that independence is always good for national languages, in Quebec’s case, is falacious and overstated.”

    Hamer

    July 16, 2009 at 10:43 pm

  16. Why not just leave and see where this leads…After all nothing speculated…nothing accumulated.
    Just go without and leave and perhaps you will all be much better off.

    ABP

    July 17, 2009 at 12:04 am

  17. I still fail to see how Quebec could be sooooo different from the rest of the world. Virtually every single place where a smaller entity with a different language and culture has become independent from a larger entity has seen the previously minoritized language and culture thrive on its newfound exclusive turf. The only exception anyone has ever been able to give is Ireland, and as we’ve demonstrated, Irish was already too far gone by that time, and one could probably say that English actually was the “national language” of Ireland rather than Irish. In any event, contrary to the Quebec sovereignty movement (and the movements in Catalonia and Euskadi as well), language wasn’t even on the list of reasons the Irish wanted indepedence, so it’s a bit absurd to say it didn’t pay off dividends on that front.

    What I think is at play here, is that a certain largish fringe of the federalist side knows that language is its Achilles heel. It can never be as good as the PQ on language and doesn’t really want to go any further than forcibly holding its nose on Bill 101 because it really wants English to retain a toe-hold in Quebec. So it has adopted a tagline that given Quebec’s situation that is apparently unique in the entire universe, independence would not change one iota in the status of French and may even bring about its downfall.

    On this, you may want to be wary of those Joe Q. Publics you cited. Not sure that they are not really that big on analysing early 20th century demolinguistics in Ireland or Finland. For them, independence means Quebec becomes a French-speaking country with much less intrusion from English. I heard this many times from Joe Q. Publics in 1995: Voting Oui for them means no more (or at least less) linguistic arrogance of the type AngryFrenchGirl described, usually justified by the perpetrators with an astonishing ignorance of principles of counter-productivity by a “well, we’re in Canada here after all!” On the other hand, Joe Q. Public is totally aware of the economic risks as well.

    What it all boils down is what level of linguistic and cultural erosion are people willing to live with as a tradeoff for being part of one of the world’s most prosperous and successful countries. Even Jean Chrétien himself more or less alluded to this once when questioned about the precarious situation of francophones in North America: “Que voulez-vous. L’assimilation, c’est la réalité de la vie”.

    Obviously, Jean Chrétien thinks that the tradeoff is a pretty good deal.

    Others may not agree, and my point is just that Canada would be better off if it stopped pretending and using specious arguments like French would be more endangered in an indepedent Quebec than it is in status quo Canada.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 8:39 am

  18. Abp,

    In principle, I agree with you. I am really surprised that there is no wide-spread movement in the ROC to kick Quebec out. Or maybe there is, but it doesn’t get much publicity in the media.

    But I thought we agreed to wait till I get out of here. So slow down, you’re giving me a panic attack.

    My request to transfer to my company’s UK office has been pending for a year. Wtf are they waiting for?

    allophone

    July 17, 2009 at 9:13 am

  19. “and I can assure you that the Americans who live near Quebec — Vermont, upstate New York, New Hampshire, and Maine — may not know Bill 101 but they definitely know where Quebec is and have definite opinions on Quebec because of how they were treated when they travelled through Quebec.
    I used to work in Vermont and Maine and whenever I would drive to a client’s house in my car with Quebec plates, I learned very quickly to park in such a way so that they couldn’t see my plates because, inevitably, I would hear a very negative story about their travels through Quebec.
    Same with anglophones from the Maritime provinces.
    And I am convinced that Quebec’s Ministry of Tourism knows all about this. I can’t believe they haven’t done studies and surveys of Americans in those states asking them about how they feel about Quebec. Someone should do a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Tourism and ask whether such studies exist.”

    My experience has been that there is often a big difference between Americans and Canadians from the ROC vis-à-vis travelling in Quebec. Both groups tend to be unilingual, but the Americans seem to be more zen about stuff being all in French. They’ve crossed a border and are in a different country, so they don’t expect it to be exactly like home.

    Whereas many English-speaking Canadians, since they are still in their country after all, have expectations about Quebec feeling like home, and are fussier about their rights as Canadians to be served in English everywhere they go.

    Of course, both groups as we know tend to expect to be served in English by all the francophones they meet anyway (just as they expect English from all the locals when they travel in Mexico, France, Japan, etc.), but Americans tend to report more positive experiences with Quebec because contrary to many Canadians they don’t expect it to be “just like home”.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

  20. “My request to transfer to my company’s UK office has been pending for a year. Wtf are they waiting for?”

    Just be careful you don’t get knifed coming out of a pub there, allo. A blade between the ribs is a much bigger incovenience than cashiers at Métro greeting you with “bonjour” instead of “hello”.

    At least it would be in my book.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 9:41 am

  21. I don’t care what Canada pretends or doesn’t pretend. I don’t care what language is spoken in West Vancouver. Canada is not going to decide how French can best protected here just as Quebec won’t decide how to develop the Tar Sands.

    I care about Quebec and the preservation of the French language here and am not convinced that independence at this juncture is a solution that would be in the French language’s interest.

    What you don’t mention in comparing small independent countries with national languages, is all of those countries obtained their independence because the VAST majority of their citizens wanted it. There was a broad consensus for independence which insured its success. That consensus does not exist in Quebec and sovereignists have been trying to finesse their project past the population without being able to rally a majority. Neither does that consensus exist in Catalonia, the Basque country, Scotland and many other small nations living within larger political units.

    “What it all boils down is what level of linguistic and cultural erosion are people willing to live with as a tradeoff for being part of one of the world’s most prosperous and successful countries.”

    Bunk, pessimistic unambitious petty navel gazing cowardly bunk. For 200 years French speakers endured discrimination, ostracism, economic servitude and came through with flying colours. The modern Quebec that produces the Cirque du Soleil, Bombardier, Ubisoft etc , that attracts immigrants from around the world doesn’t have to fear an Indo-Canadian strip mall in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, or the petty language bitching of some yahoos visiting from North Bay.

    Where is the vision of the future, where is the realization that our linguistic situation gives us an incredible leg up on most of our unilingual neighbours ? Why can’t we aspire to be the most prosperous part of one of the world’s most prosperous countries ?

    Dave

    July 17, 2009 at 10:14 am

  22. “Bunk, pessimistic unambitious petty navel gazing cowardly bunk.”

    Nice. This is the same type of stuff I used to hear from Franco-Ontarians when I lived in our neighbouring province. Today, if I cross over to Ottawa and walk through a francophone school when the kids are milling around, often the only thing that tells me it’s a French-language institution are the words like “garçons”, “filles” and “informatique” on the door plates.

    “For 200 years French speakers endured discrimination, ostracism, economic servitude and came through with flying colours.”

    Flying colours? The result of what you described is that there are an estimated 12 million descendants of the colonists of New France living in North America today. About half of them still speak French. I would suppose that most of them (regardless of language) have done quite well for themselves since this is a prosperous continent after all. As for the half that still speaks French, yes they have made tremendous progress. But imagine the potential progress if there were still 12 million francophones on the continent.

    I would rather that the group not be halved again.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

  23. “Where is the vision of the future, where is the realization that our linguistic situation gives us an incredible leg up on most of our unilingual neighbours ?”

    It does, provided that French remains an essential aspect of everyday (especially economic) life.

    I have quite a few Franco-Ontarian friends who work in the private sector in Ottawa and their employers care about their French skills as much as they care about their Swahili. It may be one of Canada’s official languages and they may be living in the country’s capital but as far as a professional skill knowledge of French yields zero for them. It’s just not valorized (sorry for the gallicism) by most of the private sector in Ottawa, even in many organizations that deal with the public.

    So in and of itself bilingualism is not an advantage if the second language you are functional in is not widely used at a business level.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

  24. and your point is ? I hate to say this but again what goes on in the private sector in Ottawa concerns me about as much as the weather in Iceland.

    If French were valuable economically to your friend’s bosses, don’t worry, they would quickly get with the programme. If Quebec was the most prosperous and dynamic economy in Canada, chances are French would be perceived as more valuable. Nobody learns a new language just because a group whines about lack of respect. You can’t legislate respect, you earn it.

    Dave

    July 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm

  25. “and your point is ? I hate to say this but again what goes on in the private sector in Ottawa concerns me about as much as the weather in Iceland.”

    I thought it was pretty clear in my post but my point is that knowing a language is only a useful skill if it is… a useful skill. In the economy, that requires it to be used on a regular basis. If not, it’s just a cool way to impress the local girls at a pub in Edinburgh or Adelaide.

    “If French were valuable economically to your friend’s bosses, don’t worry, they would quickly get with the programme. If Quebec was the most prosperous and dynamic economy in Canada, chances are French would be perceived as more valuable. Nobody learns a new language just because a group whines about lack of respect. You can’t legislate respect, you earn it.”

    Some people you can’t earn respect from no matter how hard you try.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm

  26. “What you don’t mention in comparing small independent countries with national languages, is all of those countries obtained their independence because the VAST majority of their citizens wanted it. There was a broad consensus for independence which insured its success.”

    Not sure what this has to do with language perpetuity…

    But in any event, in many places the population wasn’t even consulted. The fairly recent dissolution of Czechoslovakia took place at the political level between Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar in spite of the fact that separation has far less than 50% popular support on either side.

    Montenegro recently became independent with 55% support.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm

  27. “Canada is not going to decide how French can best protected here just as Quebec won’t decide how to develop the Tar Sands.”

    Dave, Dave, Dave. Sure we have a say in what happens in other provinces. That’s what being a country is all about, remember?

    “Canada” has in say in how far Quebec can go in protecting French because the ultimate power in the land to decide is the Supreme Court of Canada on which 6 of 9 judges are from outside Quebec. Plus, the Constitution on which the ruling would likely be based wasn’t even signed by the Province of Quebec. And I won’t even get into all of the federal institutions and federally-regulated companies that operate in Quebec, often in ways contrary to “protections” that Quebec would like to enforce for French.

    And BTW, Quebec MPs also have a say in the Alberta tar sands development. At the federal level, they technically have more say than Alberta MPs do because there are more MPs in the House from Alberta than from Quebec. (Though there are more Alberta Tories in the government at present than Tories from Quebec.)

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm

  28. “The result of what you described is that there are an estimated 12 million descendants of the colonists of New France living in North America today. About half of them still speak French. I would suppose that most of them (regardless of language) have done quite well for themselves since this is a prosperous continent after all. As for the half that still speaks French, yes they have made tremendous progress.”

    Gee I wonder how the First nations feel, I,m sure they would be happy with just 10 % let alone 50%, how many of the millions and millions of Germans who came to NA still speak German? Over 1.5 M French-Canadians emigrated to New England in the 19 th century, close to 33 % of the entire population. There are literally hundreds of thousands of French-speakers in Quebec today with Irish and Scottish names, descendants of immigrants. It flows both ways . To achieve 100 % retention which you seem to idealize, and which virtually no society on earth has done, one would need a Berlin wall around Quebec. What do you expect from people who move to Provincetown R.I. ?

    How would Quebec independence improve schoolyard French in Ottawa ?

    Its the victimization undercurrent in your comments that are so tired and pointless. Its what keeps the sovereignty movement from evolving and becoming more pertinent to today’s challenges. You are continuously blaming Canada and “the English” for all things wrong.

    BTW there are 7.0 M French-speakers in Quebec (2006 census) out of a total population of 7.4 M and another 2.2 M in the ROC for a total of 9.2 M.

    Dave

    July 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  29. @ Dave,

    With all due respect, man, Canada truly is a great country. You really should get to know it and then it would be great if you could report back to us on what you find.

    I’m sure you’ll love it!

    Your friend,

    Acajack

    Acajack

    July 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  30. Another typical victim’s reaction. Our gov’t can’t do anything to protect French cause the Supreme court has 6 judges from ROC. Gee, I wonder how in my lifetime, Mtl went from being an Anglo-dominated society where French-speakers went from the bottom of the heap right up to the top. The same “foreign dominated” supreme court that gave its benediction to law 101, that spelled out the procedure for Quebec secession, most other democracies prohibit secession under any circumstances.

    Fighting yesterday’s battles that have already been won in large part against non-existent foes is the sovereignty movement’s stock and trade. Righteous indignation it’s modus operandi.

    And guess what, if the supreme court rules against Quebec’s real and long term interests, we can always secede, all we need is a clear question and a clear majority, doesn’t sound like such a Gulag to me.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but the federal env’t dept. can only legislate the aspects of the Tar Sands that affect other provinces. If Alberta wants to foul its own nest, thats their business.

    Dave

    July 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm


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