AngryFrenchGuy

Bill 104: While English Canada Obsesses Over Language Mafia Takes Over Montreal

with 94 comments

bill 104You know how the English-Canadian media is always lecturing the Québécois on how their language issues are distracting them from the real important stuff, like economic developement and roads?  And how the separatist obsession with language is killing Montreal and has been causing it’s decline?

Two stories broke in the news yesterday.  One involved language, the other one about…  hum…  just something about the Mafia running the City of Montreal.

Loi 104 LabontéThe three French-language dailies in Montreal headlined with the Mafia story.  Only le Devoir even mentioned the Supreme Court ruling on bill 104 on the first page.  The Montreal Gazette went for the language headline and gave the story about the former of leader of the opposition and former executive council member Benoit Labonté’s allegations that the City of Montreal’s administration is hostage to organised crime a whopping 1/40th of the front page.

Inside, the Gazette gave the language story more that 4000 word, including the main editorial.  The City Hall scandal?  332. Eighteen less words that this post.

The National Post also headlined with language.  No national daily in Canada mentions the fact that Canada’s second major city is in the midst of a major corruption scandal one week from a general election.

A Google.ca news search for bill 104 on the 22nd and 23rd of october returned 167 stories in English.  A search for  Labonte returned ony 21 articles.  A search in French netted 84 stories for Labonte as opposed to only 47 about Loi 104.Loi 104 Journal de Montreal

Vigile.net, the ultra-nationalist clearinghouse for all things language and separatism-related in the Québec media lists 50 stories on Bill 104 and 90, almost twice as many, on the City Hall scandals.

Even those language-obsessed separatists of the Parti Québécois are reported by Radio-Canada not to have mentioned language, the Supreme Court or Bill 104 for the first 20 minutes of question period!

Meanwhile, the “Top court strikes down Quebec English school law” is the most active story of the day on CBC.ca with 1170 comments and growing.  The four stories on the Montreal situation, stories that just might be the answer to the eternal question as to why Montreal has so many potholes, have a total of 94 comments.

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 23, 2009 at 7:25 pm

94 Responses

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  1. While it is true that there is a demographic that the City of Montreal cannot tap into for its workforce which is lost potential, it should also be noted that the % of citizens in Montreal who cannot speak the language of the municipal administration is much higher than in almost any other Canadian city.

    In hyper-diverse Toronto and Vancouver, the percentage of people who can’t speak English is in the 6% range. In Ottawa, which has a local francophone community that is exactly the same % as Montreal’s anglo community, only 3% of residents cannot speak English.

    In Montreal, the percentage of residents who cannot speak French (combining allophones who don’t know French and unilingual anglos) is double that of any of these cities’ numbers, and is just under 15%.

    Acajack

    October 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  2. It’s true that for the City of Montreal in particular, there is some lost human potential that comes from the fact that just under 15% of the city’s population cannot speak the language of the municipal administration.

    In other Canadian cities, the percentage of people who can’t speak English is much lower, and hovers between 3 and 6% in places like Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

    Acajack

    October 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  3. “Does the 0.7% of anglos in the Quebec Civil Service you’re talking about include “”

    Don’t know about that but assume it would include those you speak of. Check this reference and you might find the answer.

    Click to access Jedwab.pdf

    ABP

    October 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm

  4. “Don’t know about that but assume it would include those you speak of. Check this reference and you might find the answer.

    http://www.ceetum.umontreal.ca/pdf/Jedwab.pdf

    Obviously the 0.7% does not include teachers, nurses, college profs, etc., as it refers to 394 people making up the 0.7%.

    Just take two anglo high schools in Montreal and you’ve probably got more than 394 people in total working there.

    Acajack

    October 30, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  5. Just take two anglo high schools in Montreal and you’ve probably got more than 394 people in total working there.

    You are assuming that everyone working in the anglo high schools are anglo. Likely not the case. I know from experience that the teachers in one of the english schools I am familair with, were in great number francos.

    I am really not sure how encompassing Jedwabs numbers are with regards to the various departments etc.

    But, suffice to say, that even if the positions are part of the civil service (transport, finance etc etc) the english are not represented in proportional numbers to population.

    Of course, maybe the anglos simply do not wish to work in the Quebec Civil Service although I would find that a bit of a stretch.

    ABP

    October 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm

  6. “In Montreal, the percentage of residents who cannot speak French (combining allophones who don’t know French and unilingual anglos) is double that of any of these cities’ numbers, and is just under 15%.”

    I get just under 13% from numbers on the Stats Canada website, but obviously this is higher than other major cities. But it would seem then, that you would need a proportionally higher number of English speakers (and Anglos) to deal with non-French speakers.

    AM

    October 30, 2009 at 7:37 pm

  7. Prince Charles!
    Welcome to Quebec!

    GECK

    October 31, 2009 at 7:15 am

  8. 7 % of anglos in greater Mtl can’t speak French-2006 census, % of allos is lower I believe, don’t know where Acajack got his 15 %

    Dave

    October 31, 2009 at 9:13 am

  9. Alas, the two solitudes.

    It is obvious that there are two predominant cultures in Montreal and that the Francophone one dominates numerically, and now politically and financially. Only an ostrich with his head in the sand would not make a sincere effort to become competent to participate in that Francophone aspect of society. On the other hand there is absolutely no justification for LEGISLATING language usage and training (the tired argument about the need to save French in N. America is emotional, not rational — and entirely disingenuous). Let the ostriches enjoy their sand.

    And that is where these two seemingly disparate stories come together. There is an attitude here that might makes right. The Anglos had it when they ran business in Montreal. The French have it now that they run things here. It encourages an environment in which corporate payoffs to the power brokers end up working.

    Whoever has the power gets to make arbitrary and unfair rules that apply to everyone. Just as someone who refuses to integrate into the dominant French culture here is denying himself opportunities and access, so is someone who refuses to ingratiate himself to the dominant political power.

    Edward

    October 31, 2009 at 10:45 am

  10. Edward writes:

    Only an ostrich with his head in the sand would not make a sincere effort to become competent to participate in that Francophone aspect of society.

    …I contend that we need as many of these ostriches that we can attract to Quebec. We need to draw upon the 300 million+ unilingual anglo ostriches that make up the rest of North America (sans Mexico) to come to Quebec to live and invest and provide their professionalism, know-how, and entrepreneurshp…and they ain’t gonna come if that have to learn French (not many, anyway).

    And Quebec will need these unilingual anglos once it becomes independent (which can’t happen soon enough for me).

    Tony Kondaks

    October 31, 2009 at 5:27 pm

  11. Tony,
    Why? Why not the Latinos — they happen to come in professional, entrepreneurial and educated varieties too. Why not Europeans? Or is your point simply that Quebec should encourage as many skilled professionals to come as it can? In fact it is already doing exactly that. I’m one of them.

    But the fact is that this is a French-speaking province. If you come here expecting to live your life exactly as you would in Toronto, NY, or SF you would be mistaken.

    Quebec has millions of bilingual English speakers already. Why exactly does it need these UNILINGUAL anglos so desperately? What do they bring to us that unilingual Francophone, Hispanophone, or Lusophones do not?

    And why are you so eager for Quebec to secede? I can guarantee you that nearly every last ostrich will finally pull its head out of the sand and fly as far away as they can for the first time in their lives if that happens. And they’ll be right because it will be open season on ostriches. Good luck trying to live as an Anglo-Canadian in Quebec (at least for the first decade of the Republic Quebecoise.

    Edward

    October 31, 2009 at 5:39 pm

  12. Tony, I just skimmed your Quixotic delusion about establishment of the province of Quebec West, which I assume motivates your secessionist bent.

    I can assure you that Quebec West already exists and it is called Toronto. That is where everyone who voted with their feet went the last time around and it will happen again, until English is a quaint little historical footnote in Quebec. And that is probably exactly what it should be and would be were it not for the life-support it gets from being part of Canada.

    Edward

    October 31, 2009 at 5:53 pm

  13. Edward:

    The answer is…proximity.

    Quebec doesn’t have hundreds of millions of francophones at its doorstep to draw from, nor Latinos for that matter. And this is beside the fact that not many would want to come to a cold climate. Plus, the language of commerce of North America — let alone the world — is English, not French or Spanish.

    And it needs unilingual anglos to come and live unilingually because Quebec will not be able to attract the number of anglos it needs if it requires them — as that silly resolution that Mulcair just introduced in Parliament last week and which was unanimously passed — to learn French and work in French and send their kids to French schools. Unilingual anglos must feel welcome to come to Quebec to live, work, study and interact with the Quebec government in unilingual English.

    You say that the fact is this is a French-speaking province. But prior to Bill 101 it was, mostly, a unilingual English-speaking province for the anglos who lived there. And it is only due to Bill 101 that there is the requirement for anglos to speak French at work to the degree that they now do. This hurts Quebec enormously economically. Montreal used to be the financial center of Canada; now it’s a backwater.

    And I am eager for Quebec to secede because then and only then will Quebec have a genuine way to protect its language and culture and be secure enough to be able to repeal Bill 101 in its entirety.

    The future of Quebec and the only way to secure the French language and culture is through economic strength…and that can only happen if there are a lot of unilingual english speakers and more and more francophone Quebecers who learn English so that they can interact in English in this globalized world where English is the lingua franca. And that cannot happen in a Quebec within Canada because the Quebecois are too insecure and too frightened for that to happen. It must be under a scenario of independence. Only then will English flourish and be adopted the way it must be.

    I note, Edward, that you seem to feel that the separatist Quebecois are such Huns that they would make life miserable for the anglos in an independent Quebec. They would all flee for their lives, you suggest, leaving none. Well, I disagree. Firstly, the current status of Quebec anglos in a Quebec within Canada is a horrible one and, secondly, at the very least it couldn’t possibly be worse in an independent Quebec.

    Tony Kondaks

    October 31, 2009 at 7:10 pm

  14. “On the other hand there is absolutely no justification for LEGISLATING language usage and training”

    your EMPHASIS and your feet on the ground here, amigo.

    edward, we may live long enough to see any adverse effects of pushing square pegs into round holes. it would be terrific it there were no adverse effects but there are laws in this goofy universe. i.e. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    in toronto, in order to protect the citizenry from themselves (jaywalking) – pedestrians were given the right-of-way in clearly-marked, well-publicised, well-light, crosswalks with advance notification in the form of icon signage for drivers. jaywalkers are mostly a thing of the past (the odd ex-montrealais excepted) but pedestrians are now found dead in the crosswalks.

    false security (security? – HA!) and a belief that human laws can trump physics are to blame – i believe.

    in the traditional interpretation of liberals – human beings were considered smart enough to manage their own affairs and deal with the consequences (like getting to the other side of the road) – something about some equation based on rights, obligations and responsibility.

    as bob zimmerman once said, “the sun’s not yellow – it’s chicken.”

    tonite’s recommended wine is an italian chianti classico 2006 “pèppoli” – delightful.

    johnnyonline

    October 31, 2009 at 8:32 pm

  15. Who cares?

    Quebec in, Quebec out.

    Really is of no consequene except for those that it impacts who are for the most part in Quebec. Outside of Quebec. its really a pee in the ocean for what relevance Quebec has to the entire picture of NA. Quebec has managed through political efforts (bloc, PQ, FLQ) etc to make an impact in Canada. In the end, they really will not impact NA that much.. Think my second langauge will be espanogl as it has more relevence.

    And to you in Montreal, given any thought to the other cantidates for the mayor. Maybe O’Sullivan.. at least she is better to look at than Harel who doenst need a costume on Halloween. or Tremblay..

    Heard shes got a good platform, of course, I don’t no as I am one of those uncultured anglophones outside of the greatest “self proclaimed” piece of earth in the world.. vivre le Quebec et leur poutine.

    ABP

    October 31, 2009 at 9:27 pm

  16. Harel was quite the looker in her day…

    In the early ’90s, it was a toss up between Harel and Frulla-Hebert as to who was the hottest MNA.

    Tony Kondaks

    October 31, 2009 at 10:37 pm

  17. “Harel was quite the looker in her day”

    Could be, I don’t know…If she was she probably used it to her benefit….most do.

    ABP

    October 31, 2009 at 10:42 pm

  18. “Don’t know about Montreal but anglos represent less than 0.7% of the Quebec Civil Service. Of course their numbers are about 8 to 10% of the population. No discrimination, of course not!”

    Has it ever occurred to you that some people simply refuse to work in French and that there may be nobody else to blame but them? It is a little too easy–and quite convenient for some–to blame it on discrimination…

    AngryFrenchGirl

    November 1, 2009 at 2:04 am

  19. AngryFrenchGirl writes:

    Has it ever occurred to you that some people simply refuse to work in French and that there may be nobody else to blame but them? It is a little too easy–and quite convenient for some–to blame it on discrimination…

    Has it ever occurred to you that the same society that passes a race law/hate law like Bill 101 could also discriminate in civil service in such overwhelming percentages as to leave little doubt what the reason is?

    Tony Kondaks

    November 1, 2009 at 8:47 am

  20. TonyK:”I note, Edward, that you seem to feel that the separatist Quebecois are such Huns that they would make life miserable for the anglos in an independent Quebec. They would all flee for their lives, you suggest, leaving none. ”

    Quite the contrary. I think Quebeckers are just like everyone else. They will do what serves their perceived interests. And in the aftermath of a successful nationalist movement, that will surely involve, as it has in every revolution in history, the overzealous elimination of offending traces of former colonialism. In the case of Quebec I believe that it will certainly not be violent but it will be bureaucratic. Rules upon regulations upon mandates will ultimately assure (with appropriately gentle condescension toward English speakers) that French entirely marginalizes English in those final few anglo-entrenched public institutions. I would not, for example, want to be associated with McGill, the English School Board, or the Gazette for the decade following secession. These will one day become National historical treasures preserved for posterity, but not until they have been sufficiently reduced to non-threatening shadows of their former selves through underfunding, oppressive regulations and complete political disenfranchisement.

    I don’t think that Anglos will flee out of fear for their lives or because they’ll be threatened directly. They’ll leave because they’ll recognize that the lives they knew before will no longer exist and the remaining ties that bind them to a location will no longer be strong enough to overcome the fear of possible future alienation, that may or may not materialize.

    I think almost anywhere else in the world it would go worse for the minority. But that still doesn’t make me long for the (possibly inevitable) event.

    Edward

    November 1, 2009 at 11:15 am

  21. Johnny,
    I can’t quite decipher your metaphors, but from what I can tell you are sympathizing? I’m a big fan of evolution and natural selection. You can fight it but you can’t really win in the end. As you point out, laws can be used to justify otherwise foolish or adaptively disadvantageous actions (like walking in front of a speeding car at a crosswalk), but they can’t turn them them objectively into good ideas.

    Here in Quebec it is perceived that one can legislate French as the principal language of public interaction, but of course trying to legislate how two people interact evokes Orwell’s descriptions of love “under the spreading chestnut tree”. In the end the “square peg” will be squeezed into the round hole, but at huge cost to the vibrancy and quality of life.

    Of course it is easy for me to say, “live and let live” when the inevitable outcome of a laissez-faire policy would be that Francophones would be forced to confront the overwhelming strength of English language in North America and would suffer at some level. In exchange for our current situation of unwholesome protectionism, these discomforts can be avoided or deferred at least chez nous.

    Edward

    November 1, 2009 at 11:37 am

  22. I should add that those are the reasons I favour the status quo. By that I mean a largely autonomous Quebec within Canada and a comfortable Franco-Anglo détente in which it is acknowledged that French is the language of Quebec but English has to be tolerated for practical, political and historical reasons.

    Today Montreal is a truly multilingual city where two (or more) cultures not only coexist but actually get along and even like each other.

    I still have issues about how immigrants are treated as bargaining chips, and how victim status is claimed by all parties involved as justification for irrational actions, but on the whole it’s settled into a reasonably stable equilibrium.

    Populist politicians disrupt this equilibrium for personal gain and I hate that. But the average Joe or Jean is great.

    Edward

    November 1, 2009 at 11:49 am

  23. Tony Kondaks:

    “Has it ever occurred to you that the same society that passes a race law/hate law like Bill 101 could also discriminate in civil service in such overwhelming percentages as to leave little doubt what the reason is?”

    I do have a “little doubt” about your reason why we don’t have much anglophones in our public service. It’s a little too easy to talk about discrimination, here.

    I happen to work in the Public Service and have been receiving CVs for different positions all the time. We of course get a lot of resumés from minorities, but it is EXTREMELY rare that we get one from an anglophone.

    And you know, what’s our reflex is when we see one? Cool, it would be great to have an anglo!

    What you have to understand is that now diversity is kind of a obsession in th Civil Service.

    Balthazar

    November 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm

  24. Dear Balthazar,

    Thanks for the anecdotal evidence but at the end of the day, anglophones are miserably represented in the Civil Service of Quebec.

    Tony Kondaks

    November 1, 2009 at 5:19 pm

  25. Is the absence of Latinos in the NHL is the result of discrimination in major league hockey?

    Balthazar

    November 1, 2009 at 5:47 pm

  26. Is the absence of Blacks in the NHL the result of discrimination in major league hockey?

    Is the disproportionately few Whites in the NBA the result of discrimination in professional basketball?

    I think if an individual is talented in those leagues he’ll be hired. Where there used to be discrimination, there is no longer.

    As for Quebec’s civil service, we can’t say that, so Quebec is suspect.

    Tony Kondaks

    November 1, 2009 at 5:54 pm

  27. Won again. Decided to go to the French courses despite of 101.

    geck

    November 1, 2009 at 11:42 pm

  28. Raman

    November 2, 2009 at 12:21 am

  29. “huge cost to the vibrancy and quality of life.”

    well that’s it – in a nutshell.

    johnnyonline

    November 2, 2009 at 5:25 am

  30. “Has it ever occurred to you that some people simply refuse to work in French and that there may be nobody else to blame but them? It is a little too easy–and quite convenient for some–to blame it on discrimination…“

    And most Quebec civil service jobs are in Quebec City, whereas most anglos live in Montreal.

    Also, even in the 70% or so of Anglo-Quebecers who self-identify as bilingual, even though most of them are pretty good at speaking it, most couldn`t write in an e-mail in French to save their lives, let alone a government policy paper in that language.

    Acajack

    November 2, 2009 at 6:25 am


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