Will CJNT continue to Use Public Airwaves to Anglicize Québec’s Immigrants?

with 151 comments


This is exactly why Québec must become an independent country.

Once upon a time, back in the late 90’s, Québec’s different cultural communities had their own TV station, called la Télévision Ethnique du Québec.  It was a public access community station that broadcast cheap looking shows of uncomfortable looking men and women sitting on chairs and talking in one of 35 languages in front of cartboard sets.

Of course it sucked.  How could immigrants and wide-eyed community activists fresh out of CEGEP ever produce any good TV? Especially back in those days before digital when making TV actually cost money?

Yeah, but it was local TV.  Made by Montreal’s immigrants and about their lives and concerns.

In the summer of 1995, a date which I am sure has no significance whatsoever, Canada’s guardian of the airwaves gave away TEQ’s valuable cable channel to some vast media empire that eventually traded it to CanWest media, the owners of the Montreal Gazette, Global TV and the National Post.  Within 18 months of the sale, as many as 20 local shows were replaced by shows produced in Toronto or the States.   Interestingly, the cut shows were essentially those “from communities more integrated in the francophone majority”, according to Pedro Quirido, president of producers union of TEQ.  Eventually locally produced programming was all but abandoned and actual ethnic content dropped from 100% less than 60%.  David Letterman and infomercial made up the rest of the grid.

“One City, many Cultures”, became CJNT slogan.  To which we can add: One language.

Yep.  Nearly all of the station’s ID and promos suddenly became all-English and French became just another one of Montréal’s linguistic communities.  Montréal’s “multilingulal” TV station still only has an English only website.

Just like the founders of the station warned ten years ago, the owners of the Montreal Gazette transformed a TV station run by and for Montréal’s ethnic communities into a pedagogical tool used to perpetuate the myth that Québec’s allophones and anglophones are one and the same community and the “ethnic” programming became like training wheels on a bike used to train immigrants into consumers of anglo media.

Either these people don’t know that at least 60% of Québec’s immigrants are French-speakers when they get here…

…or they do know, and they are trying hard to do something about it.

You know, for all the angst about the use of English by Québec’s immigrants, the majority of them are already part of the French-speaking community when they get here!  Seven out of the top 10 countries of origin of immigrants are part of the Francophonie.  The US is the only English-speaking country of origin in the top 10 and, please, I beg you to argue Americans don’t have acces to enough TV in their language.  French is still the most used language by 60% of immigrant workers, it is the language their children study in and the language of the majority of the people who live around them.

There is no justification for CJNT treating them like generic Anglos.  It’s not based on demographics, culture or any real numbers.

Except economics.  Of course, the owners of CJNT are going to trash locally produced programing in favour of  cheaper mass produced Toronto and American fare.  And of course a media empire in the business of selling English-thinking minds to advertisers will use all its ressources to train and format more and more English-thinking minds and consumers.

That is why they put on air a channel where nearly all station IDs, commercials, and promos are in English and an English only website when targeting a market that is mostly French-speaking and living in a city where French is supposed to be the common language.  That’s somewhere between disrespectful and socially dangerous.

And it sure as hell is not an innocent decision.

This week CanWest Global sold CJNT to Toronto’s Channel Zero.  Will the pornographers give back the station to cultural communities?

It’s doubtful.  Not only did the CRTC not demand that the station stop acting like an ESL network, it straight out relieved the new owners of of any obligation to use any French at all!  (Which is not a reasonnable decision, Fagstein, if CJNT continues to broadcast in English). Read all about the company’s purchase of a multilingual channel in a French-speaking city in their English-only press release right here.

The CRTC’s decisions consistently reduced the amount of programing available to cultural minorities in their language, encouraged the exclusion of immigrants from Québec society and CanWest didn’t even make any significant money.  This is a perfect illustration of why a Canada-wide body like the CRTC is inadequate to govern Québec’s airwaves.

And this is why Québec should become it’s own country.

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 30, 2009 at 10:08 am

151 Responses

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  1. “If not, no! Are we living in the different countries?”

    Well, as a matter of fact, many people from the ROC refer to Quebec as a different country when visiting. Of course, many in Quebec consider themselves now a separate country from Canada. Listen to Iggy when interviewed in Sudbury…Did he not reference the needs of “Canada and Quebec” as if they are already distinct countries. Maybe this was for the benefit of all those Quebec liberal caucuss members surrounding him. :):)


    September 3, 2009 at 11:52 am

  2. Not surprising as when has Quebec shared any interest for any other region or the country as a whole. This is likely why the people of Quebec vote for a party that will never become a dominant party. This way, the BQ can threaten, complain and extort from Ottawa with no responsiblity for anything more than Quebec. Actually quite an enviable position for them to be in. Also quite ridiculous that the country as a whole both funds and supports a regional party in what is effectively a national parliament. Oh, I know, this will be ruled as an undemocratic statement. ;)


    September 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

  3. We aren’t, but we should be. That’s the problem.


    September 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm

  4. Allophone “It is in Montreal. But not in Quebec as a whole. Have you ever been up north in the boonies? Nobody speaks a word of English up there.
    But what should we, the Allophones, care, right? We’re all in Montreal anyways. So for our purposes, English only will do.
    Oh yeah, there is also this whole thing about learning a language “out of respect”. Yeah, hmmm…interesting…”

    “Opt out” if you wish, but then don’t go around complaining afterwards that you feel excluded from society, that it’s not welcoming to people who are different, and blablabla…

    You can’t have it both ways.


    September 3, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  5. Everybody understands that French is a language of Canadian minority group, is under threat, dying etc.

    If you and “everybody” in your circle understands this, then a big chapeau to you geck. Especially if you haven’t been in Québec very long. You should share that information with folks like Mam Boucher and the head op-ed writer for La Presse and Vinster, because they’ve lived here all their lives and still haven’t figured that out yet. Even when they visit Ontario, a major graveyard of the French fact, they don’t notice it, since they’re too busy gushing over the vastly superior infrastructure there with its notable achievements like Walkerton, Kashechewan, and Port Hope, one of the most picturesque nuclear dumps anywhere.

    So you get the little blue pin for star student.


    September 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm

  6. There is no solution to the self-imposed segregation in Montreal. Immigrants come to Canada and are then made to feel like they came to another country altogether. Every attempt to live as if it were Canada is frowned upon. Francophones, on the other hand, are pissed off that the immigrants live in Montreal as if it were Toronto. And it goes on and on and on.

    If Quebec were an independent country, people would know where they are immigrating to. The problem would be solved. But you have to make it happen first. Your 20% behind at the start (Allophones + Anglophones) but you’re still the majority. Convince 70% of Francophones that it’s worth it and get on with it. People like me will pack up and go. You’ll have your country. Everything will be dandy.

    Or if it doesn’t pass, accept that Quebeckers would rather stay within Canada and give it a rest…

    Mais, non, vous vous crachez dans les mains et recommencez. And the bullshit continues.


    September 3, 2009 at 12:52 pm

  7. You and others make it sound as if people were being asked to write a PhD thesis on the entire works of Gilles Vigneault, or memorize every single poem Émile Nelligan ever wrote…

    Whereas that all that is really being asked is of people is to learn enough French to go about one’s daily business in French, to chat with your neighbours in French and to serve clients in French if you happen to work with the public.

    Is that really such a big deal?


    September 3, 2009 at 1:14 pm

  8. Today, 32 years after the passing of the 101, the immigrants certainly do learn French. But the language they choose to use when they go about their daily lives is nobody’s business.

    If you want me to speak and live in French *only*, you are simply asking for too much.


    September 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm

  9. the city is spelled G-A-T-I-N-E-A-U.


    September 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm

  10. Vinster, the Bloc has been pulling in 45+ ridings for almost two decades. I don’t think you can boil it down to a lack of viable alternatives. Forget that they are supposedly sovreignist, they are the party that comes closest to doing, what in my opinion, an MP should do, that is represent his constituents, regardless of whether that conflicts with a supposedly “national” interest.


    September 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm

  11. “It is in Montreal. But not in Quebec as a whole. Have you ever been up north in the boonies? Nobody speaks a word of English up there.
    But what should we, the Allophones, care, right? We’re all in Montreal anyways. So for our purposes, English only will do.
    Oh yeah, there is also this whole thing about learning a language “out of respect”. Yeah, hmmm…interesting…”

    Allo. You have already made it abundantly clear that you have never been north of the 440 or East of St-Urbain. Why do you feel you have to remind us every week with your stereotypical caricature of a Québec you’ve never been to?

    And most allophones are still French speaking outside your tiny little sheltered ghetto, in case you didn’t know.

    Your enclosed little world is not the whole thing. Stay there if you feel safe, but stop embarassing yourself by insulting the Québécois, even those from the boonies, that live in a much bigger world than you.


    September 3, 2009 at 5:30 pm

  12. Step-and-fetch i.e. be a subserviant slave.

    M. Bergeron

    September 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

  13. For some strange reason I do feel comfortable in my little sheltered ghetto of 300 million plus. Very comfortable indeed.

    As for the “insulting the Quebecois” charge, no comment. It always comes back to this and it’s beginning to tire me out.


    September 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm

  14. When all else fails result to insults and/or condescending commentary…. Are you totally and unequivably sure allophone has not been to these areas. I doubt it! bigger world…you must be looking at yourself in a convex mirrow. Seems to me that a region with repressive language laws is likely the one living in the smaller world.


    September 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm

  15. Here we go again.AFG writes something controversial which spawns several responses that are sometimes outrageous . AFG then uses those responses as proof of what he originally wrote.

    Its like a game of bear baiting. He stirs up the bear, pokes him with a sharp stick and then when the bear reacts, he claims he has proof that all bears are dangerous animals , easily provoked etc. etc.

    In fact if the reactionary bears didn’t exist, he would have no audience. Sad.


    September 4, 2009 at 6:42 am

  16. I’ve been passively following this blog on and off for two years now, and the level of discourse has gone down big time. What used to be a place where intelligent discourse on an issue that ignites passions has degenerated into something akin to US healthcare town hall meetings. How sad…

    Anyway, how about going at it step by step. As a start, do you guys have any problem with the following statement:

    “The francophone majority in Quebec expects that they can:
    – be served in French in stores and other public places;
    – work in French;
    – have a minimal discussion in French with other Quebec residents, on topics such as the Habs, the latest snowstorm or the state of healthcare.”

    I’m not talking about the means and constraints to reach those objectives. I just think it would be interesting to focus for now on everyone’s opinion regarding these aspirations.


    September 4, 2009 at 10:13 am

  17. The thing is, allophone, that if you live on the West Island you may, with one thing and another, find yourself in Chateauguay or Mascouche or some such place one day. And if you do, you’ll find out that while acquiring a functional command of French can be complicated, life in QC without French is even more complicated.


    September 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm

  18. At 9 p.m. tonight (Friday), the Italian film, “Anche Libero Va Bene” is airing on CJNT. I wonder if the subtitles will be in English or French.

    Skinny Dipper

    September 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm

  19. Oh…you mean the poor side next to match factory..right


    September 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm

  20. Actually they have a lobby…it is SLOCAN as opposed to SOCAN in the ROC….They actually came out two years ago at a CRTC inquiry and were asking for 3% french music be airplayed on Radio in all of Canada.

    Could this be it would enhance the royalties…Obviously, that didnt happen.


    September 4, 2009 at 11:05 pm

  21. Of course , on the other are a stupid Quebecois who thinks he has a culture of his own..Sorry, Johnny Boy,,your culture is dieing a slow death..even with the language laws you self proclaim…you blood is thinner by the day..Avoir


    September 4, 2009 at 11:09 pm

  22. The subtitles were in English.

    Skinny Dipper

    September 4, 2009 at 11:27 pm

  23. Jsut the other day Illico (the digital cable box) said the program I was watching on CJNT was “French Music Videos” (written in English, of course.)

    All the vidoes were in English…


    September 5, 2009 at 1:13 pm

  24. AngloMontreal

    I believe that it is time for the Province of Quebec to be Anglicised and that English should be made the only Official Language of the Province. Keeeping alive the French Language and giving rights to the Quebecois in such treaties as the Quebec Act of 1774 and the Constitution Act of 1867 were big mistakes that should be rectified. The Quebecois are a bunch of hypocrytes, they liked that French was made a Co-Official Language of the Dominion of Canada, but at the same time they loathed that English was made a Co-Offical Language of the Province of Quebec. The Quebeocis then removed English as an Official Language (Illegaly) and made French the Sole Official Language of the Province of Quebec by there Fascist Laws like Bill 22 (Official Language Act) and Bill 101 (Charter of the French Language). Since the Quebecois have shown no gratitude to the British and Canada for giving them such Language Rights to use the French Language and in the end abused there rights and abused there rights by subjectated the English Language in Quebec, its time for Canada to stop this and impose English and ban French in Quebec. Canada must encourage the Anglicisation of immigrants heading to Quebec and encourage the Anglicisation of the Quebecois themselves. The French Language should have been banned in both the Dominion of Canada and it’s Province of Quebec as soon as the guns became silent and when the Treaty of Paris (1763) was signed by the British and French, in which France ceaded New France in exchange for the Islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinque and St Lucia to the British Empire.

    Canada should encourage more English Speaking immigrants from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Norhtern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, United States of America, Commonwealth of Australia and the Realm of New Zealand to move to the Province of Quebec and particulary settle in the Cities of Montreal and especially Quebec City. Quebec City needs to have a massive influx of English Speakers to transform this Unilingual French City to a Bilingual English-French City or to a Unilingual English City.

    In 1842, Anglo-Quebecers made up 61% of the population of the City of Montreal and in the same year Anglo-Quebecers made up 43% of the populaiton of the City of Quebec. Now today, Anglo-Quebecers make up 13% of the population of the City of Montreal and just 2% of the City of Quebec. This is a disgrace and all English Speaking Canadians must be ashamed of themselves to allow such a decline of the English Speaking Populaiton in both the Cities of Montreal and Quebec. Canada must restore the English Speaking populations of both Montreal and Quebec City back to there 1842 Demographics ASAP.

    In my oppion the French Language has no buisness in North America. North America is an English Speaking Continent and should have only English, just like how Spainsh and Portuguese are the Official Languages of Latin America. The English Language has everyright to have North America and the French Language has none. The British beat the French fair and square in the French and Indian War to get North America and kick the French out. The French did not care about New France and when the British gave them a choice between New France or the French West Indies, they chose the French West Indies. The French West Indies were more valuable to France because of there huge Sugar Plantations which made France a very wealthy country, however New France was a struggling backwater with a struggling fur trade that was a huge drain on the French Treasury. Get this in 1763, the population of New France was 70.000 people and at this same time the populaiton of Martinque was 74.000 people. The small Island of Martinque had 4.000 more people then the massive New France. Francois Voltaire called New France “A Few Acres of Snow” to show contempt at New France’s value to the Kingdom of France.

    If the French Language can not survive with oppresive laws like Bill 101 and Bill 22 and a Language Police (OLF) to enforce these inhumane laws and discriminate against the English Language and make it into a second class language then it should not survive at all. The French Language should be allowed to die in peace and dignity, instead of living how it is now. I consider such laws like Bill 22 and Bill 101 and the OLF a sort of Life Support Machine. This Life Support Machine will slow the death of the French Language and stop the rise of the English Language in Quebec, but it will not stop it. The French Language will die and the English Language will be Supreme in Quebec sooner or later. The French Language must die a fast painless death then a long and drawn out and painfull death like it is now.

    Lord Durham was right when he said that if the Quebecois are not assimiliated into Anglo-Canadian Culture and Anglicised into the English Language, it will cause discord and disunity in the Dominion of Canada for furture geneations. He was right and we should have taken his wonderfull advice and Anglicised the Quebecois into Anglo Canadians.



    September 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  25. Sieg heil!!


    September 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm

  26. I was totally…how would I say…pissed off when I tuned on CJNT, by chance, with a lot of snow (I don’t have cable)but enough to have a good idea of the programming, surprisingly good movies never seen on regular channels, but with english subtitles!!!Even a ”frenchmoviefromfrance” with english subtitles, again implying that Quebec immigrants will sooner or later join the anglo or that they should…again this anonymous and hypocritical money drenched effort from the ROC to mingle in our culture, well of course, money has no smell?


    February 10, 2010 at 7:44 pm

  27. CJNT Montreal(?)…then why not a québécois movie with spanish, italian or chinese subtitles well I certainly wouldn’t expect that from the trendy Toronto crowd who owns this channel. Revolting


    February 11, 2010 at 11:58 pm

  28. I wish you would all just shut up, quit complaining and go to work. There’s already a french country and it’s called France – there are boats and planes that go there every day; if you want a french country, buy a ticket and shut up.
    We have it good here – we don’t have a bunch of people running around imposing religious doctrine and shooting up kids, we don’t have deserts of starving people, we don’t have radioactive destruction and we don’t have leaders trying to physically kill us by imposing their rule over us.
    So quit complaining, get a job, pay your taxes and if you don’t like the channel, CHANGE IT! I don’t have cable and I still get an equal number of french and english and I DON”T CARE – I work in Montreal, I drink in Montreal, I eat in Montreal, I don’t complain about Montreal until I see people complaining and bickering over what language we’re using… get over it.

    Nathan Paul Prince

    February 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

  29. “…This is a perfect illustration of why a Canada-wide body like the CRTC is inadequate to govern Québec’s airwaves.

    And this is why Québec should become it’s own country.”

    I’m sorry but I have to disagree.

    I would agree that it’s perfect example of why the CRTC is a bunch of incompetent fools with the collective intelligence of a toad, but I think most Anglo-Canadians and Quebecois can agree on that much.

    The story of CJNT, as AFG tells it, doesn’t seem to be about any kind of malice towards Quebecois culture or Montreal’s immigrant community per say, but more part of the larger problem of small, independent media outlets being taken over by large media companies with little respect for ANY local culture. Something which is hardly a problem solely in Quebec, and certainly wouldn’t stop being a problem were Quebec to become it’s own country.

    Unless of course Quebec were to put up highly protectionist laws regarding media ownership, but I think Canada as a whole could benefit from such measures.

    In the end, what’s good for Quebec is good for Canada.

    The Nova Scotian

    May 10, 2010 at 2:33 am

  30. Dear Kris, thanks very much for your sriahng!!! Yes my wife is also writing down her experience, hope she can finish it! Thanks again!


    December 30, 2013 at 11:01 am

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