In Montreal People Who Don’t Speak English Are Uneducated Bigots

with 496 comments

Eric Amber theatre ste-catherine

About 10 or 15 years ago Blockbuster opened their first Montreal franchise on Ste.Catherine Street, between the Forum and Guy Metro. About every second evening me and my roommate JF would walk all the way up the hill from St.Henri to rent some videos because, a. we had no real professional or social obligations to speak of in those blissful days of our early twenties, and b. because the only commerce going on in St.Henri back then was the sale of beer and steamed hot dogs.

At Blockbuster there was this one employee that we called Tommy. Poor Tommy, we used to say, he just doesn’t get it. He wasn’t a bad bloke—although a bloke he certainly was—but he always had a look of confusion on his face and permanent hesitation in his movement.

One phenomenon that absolutely mystified Tom was that almost every single night me and JF bring to his counter a movie in English, and then proceed to address him and conduct the transaction in French.

Every single time Tom would pick up the VHS, open the box, read the title aloud, and then, with a grimace, tried to warn us: Mais… sé en Anglèse.

Je sais, I would answer. C’est cool.

Tom would then take our money and stare at us as we left the store, dumbfounded by these two French dudes who kept renting movies they couldn’t understand!

Poor Tommy. He just didn’t get it.

Mercifully guys like Tommy are rare in Montréal. We French bastards and Angry separatists are usually able to consume our hearts fill of Anglo-American pop culture and simultaneously uphold our right to be served in French simultaneously, without any problem. I can go to a downtown cinema, buy my ticket in French, buy my Pepsi and gummy bears in French, ask directions to the pimpled employees in French and even share my always entertaining and insightful commentary on the movie with my companion of the evening in French, and still enjoy the new Transformer movie in the original English version.

I don’t switch to English when I buy my Engelbert Humperdink CDs at HMV. I don’t try to order in Japanese when I order sushi. I can go to a bookstore, purchase a book in English and even discuss it with a librarian, speaking only French. Even when I go to McGill’s library to photocopy scientific papers and gawk at young girls from New Jersey I make it a point to speak exclusively in French with the staff.

Not only is speaking French not a problem at McGill, I’m pretty sure I get better service than English-speaking chumps. Staff seems to light up and come to life. It’s like it’s something new and interesting happening. Oh, French! I know this! I can do this!

Or maybe I’m just better looking than you are…

This said, poor Tommy’s are still out there.

Last week Eric Amber, the guy who runs the Ste.Catherine Theater downtown, sent out an email to all of Québec’s cultural media and institutions promoting his venue’s lineup as part of the Zoofest, a new comedy festival run by the folks at Juste pour Rire/Just for Laughs. When a few people complained that the email was only in English and demanded to be contacted in French or taken off their mailing list, mister Amber blew a gasket.

His theater’s shows were in English and, therefore, there was no point advertising them in French, essentially wrote the promoter, who, like poor Tommy, cannot comprehend that someone who has learned English does not immediately abandon his tribal language.

« You obviously can’t read English because you are an uneducated bigot », was the eloquent response of the theater to the demands for a French email. « Go fuck yourself. »

Sure, I’ll do that in a sec., but before I go I’d just like to point out to the Eric’s and Tommy’s out there that there are roughly 500.000 to 750.000 Anglophones in Québec and about 3 million Francophones like me who speak, read and consume English-language culture but still expect to be informed and to buy our tickets in French.

If you think you can run a business by only catering to « real » Anglos while four fifths of your potential market is jacking off in the shower, good luck with that.

We have our answer! As I’m about to upload this post, I learn that Eric Amber and the people at St.Catherine Theater do not want money spent by people who still nostalgically hang on to their backward cultures.  He is shutting his theater down and moving on to some other city where only people who have completely abandonned their primitive ways are allowed to talk back to the Anglos, somewhere like Toronto or Singapour:

« Due to the overwhelming racism and bigotry in French society toward minorities and non-french cultures, Theatre Ste-Catherine will be closing in protest. Effective immediately TSC will no longer be accepting bookings and will closed permanently Dec. 21, 2009.»

Cool.  Now maybe some uneducated bigot like Gilbert Rozon, who happens to run the biggest English-language comedy festival in the world, or André Ménard or René Angelil can buy back the theater and make some money while Eric Amber relocates to Peterborough where no linguistic and cultural bastards will try to crash his productions.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

July 19, 2009 at 10:10 am

496 Responses

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  1. Stupids peppers!


    March 22, 2012 at 10:19 am

  2. Although I found some of your points interesting and even agreed with them, there were others that I consider completely wrong. You criticize English people who refuse to cater to the demands of the French, but what about the French who do the exact same to the English? How many times has a person gone to a restaurant, store, whatever and spoken English? Whether because they do not know French or because they would like to use their primary language. And how many times has the person serving them blatantly refused to speak to them in any other language but French?
    My mother told me about something that she once witnessed at a montreal hospital. A man was in need of directions to somewhere in the hospital. He attempted to ask the nurse in emergency if she could help him out. He asked in English. She obviously understood him because she answered his question, in French of course. He explained to her that he didn’t understand French. She kept speaking in French. In the end my mother decided to help the man out by translating for him.
    I’m not in any way trying to insult the french language. I myself speak French and have absolutely nothing against it. But what I do disagree with are all of the french people who act like French is the only language. What happened to being bilingual? Why is it that the English are forced to learn French but the French are not forced to learn English? How exactly is that fair?
    Have you heard how they are trying to make it so that people working in non specialized fields will not be obliged to speak english AND French but only to speak French? Now that is super fair.
    Why can’t Quebec be a place where many different languages can coexist? Why is it that everyone feels the need to shove any language but there own out of the way?


    April 18, 2012 at 6:07 pm

  3. We live in CANADA.


    April 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

  4. So what?
    You spend half of your text defending yourself as not being an “uneducated bigot”. While by doing so all you really proof is your own insecurity. And your anger towards people – who in return you yourself seem to claim to be “uneducated bigots”.
    And why do you – as someone who demands not to be insulted – insult an English-speaker by calling him a “Tommy”, which is (as you obviously know) a rude racist name that uneducated folks use for other people they consider to be “way too much English”.

    This text thus ends as a kindergarten sand-box fight against virtual opponents while totally missing to hit any of the goals it may or may not have been aiming for. Or in other words: it ends up being nothing more than a simple rant with no value added at all.

    Let me put this straight: on the things you said I agree in no point at all. Also while I – just as you – will usually talk in my native language I will make ONE EXCEPTION.

    When I go to see an Italian opera I will take Italian as given. If I go to spend a French evening I will expect French. I go to an Irish pub and will speak English and of course: I will pay beforehand – just as it is done in Ireland (at least according to popular myths) and drink my Guinness the way I’m supposed to. Because I went there to be part of that.

    I consider it a faux pas to go to an English-only cinema, where guests wish to spend an English evening, just to find people are talking in other languages all the time. I as a guest went there BECAUSE I actively sought a break from that and specifically wanted to be part of an English-style environment for the sake of the event. I came and I paid to hear and be served in that language.

    I don’t even wish to share an English evening with people that dare to demand being served in anything else, because in that case: what would be the sense of going to an English-only cinema in the first place? It will spoil my experience for me and my friends.

    It’s like going to a French-only restaurant and demand an English menu. Even if they happen to have one: you simply don’t!


    April 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

  5. How sad. Your are a racist and don’t know it. Lots of laughs bozo.


    August 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

  6. Here’s an interesting fact: I’m a Quebecker who was born and brought up in Quebec, yet my native language is English. Je parle aussi le Français, lest I make some mistakes. I just don’t understand why I should have to speak only French if I have the advantage of speaking English as well. Either way, I like knowing two languages. I also think that separatists need to realize that “their culture” is no longer what they believe it to be (though it never really was “theirs” to begin with). I also don’t understand how we’re supposed to become our own country if we need support from the federal government. It’s just not the right time to make such a big change.


    September 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm

  7. IMHO, if you’re a customer and you speak english, you should be served in english, no matter where you are in Quebec. BUT, as a francophone myself, when I speak in french, I definitely want to be served in french. Une entreprise se doit d’accommoder ses clients. C’est une question de survie. I work for a small company owned by anglophones and employing mostly anglophones. Therefore I speak in english most of the day. Mais quand je discute avec une collègue francophone, c’est le français qui revient au galop. En fait, j’en suis venu à inventer un nouveau langage, sort of a mix between french and english. Mes employeurs ne parle que très peu (ou pas) le français, and that makes me sad. I think everyone has interest to learn french and english in Quebec. Pour Marcus: if hearing people speak french when going to an “english-only cinema” spoils your evening, I suggest you stay home and rent a movie next time. Au Québec, j’ai le droit d’être servi en français, peut importe l’endroit.


    September 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

  8. You Douche bags deserve somthing like the UFF did to England in Ireland, Except me as an english speaking citizen born in the province, disagree with you and your OLF beliefs.


    January 12, 2013 at 3:53 am

  9. Before we discuss English v French, why not have Quebec’s official language be an aboriginal dialect since this land was theirs prior to Europe’s invasion? As long as my citizenship is Canadian meaning Quebec is still a part of Canada, I should be able to speak English or French in any Canadian province or territory without being discriminated. Being able to speak two languages will only enrich our ability to communicate versus choosing one. Mandating that we speak one or the other will only set us back. Both languages are part of our history!


    August 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm

  10. 00Good post Jean-Paul way to offer up any sort of valid point or argument aginsat anything I have said. Why are my posts dilusional? Every post about Dix merely points to the fact that he and his party continually talk about what the government is doing wrong but rarely offer up any information on what his party would do differently. Go dig up articles on the NDP criticizing the liberals and you’d be lucky to find 10% of them with anything on what the NDP would do if they were in power.January 25, 2013 at 8:44 amShare:


    December 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

  11. Hi Rena, what a fabulous card and so clveer. I love your thinking behind this so very original. Beautiful warm summer colours and beautifully crafted. Thank you so much for sharing with us at Get Creative and good luck.Marie


    December 30, 2013 at 2:05 am

  12. Ben, I\’m not interested in aurging with you, because people don\’t really change their minds, not like this.Just a quick FYI the \”no Hebrew\’ thing is because I work for a government agency (ISRAELI government agency) that sells weapons and Israeli know-how to some of those horrible countries you mentioned, and can\’t have Hebrew in my communications.The reason I believe our country is a warmongering cause of disruption in the Middle East is because I work for the warmongerers.


    December 30, 2013 at 7:59 am

  13. You spelt Singapore wrong – does this mean you are uneducated too?


    June 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm

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    March 21, 2015 at 5:42 am

  16. And now they are dying by the thousands because they are too stupid to protect themselves from coronavirus. I read the stupidity in this old blog and sigh.

    Today, May 4/20, Montrealers are stacking up like cordwood because they think they are unique, that their Frenchness will protect them in a way that social distancing and good hygiene will not. Their moronic, narcissistic premier tries to reopen elementary schools so on a day when 43 more died, bringing the total to over 2000. The children can carry the virus onward. Perhaps the ill and dying can march under the fleur de lys.

    They continue to openly chain smoke in others’ spaces during a respiratory disease pandemic, they brush past each other in public, they lean around the plexiglass shields better stores have erected to protect the poor cashiers. They rage and rant when you don’t wish to share a tiny elevator, pick their noses and put their hands back down on the shopping cart. Some store employees are wearing latex gloves so filthy, you wonder if they ever learned the concept of hand washing in general.

    Unlike other provinces that have instructed citizens to certainly, enjoy parks but keep walking, Montrealers lounge in groups around picnic tables, apparently not understanding or not caring how many have touched the tables and seats before. Families spread out picnics on grass by the parking lots, on patches filthy with germs and dog piss and shit, and do not have the wit to lay down a tarp. They pet strangers’ dogs, and exchange of pathogens on the fur so likely, they may as well hug and kiss.

    The hospitals were filthy and mismanaged well before this crisis. I would rather die at home.

    I was all set to flee this hellhole of a bigoted, ignorant, arrogant city last week—but I got sick. So now I have to wait it out while watching how this “unique culture” commits suicide. The only regret I have about that is they might take some good people with them. The worst thought I have about dying, is that I may have to do it in Montreal.

    Separate Once I Leave

    May 4, 2020 at 11:31 pm

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