AngryFrenchGuy

Québec: Canada’s Xenophobic Obsession

with 154 comments

Pic by: Ulrik F. Thyve

Now that science has determined that women can neutralize all of men’s self-respect protection systems by exposing very precisely 40% of skin and my own experience with the very powerful effect of long dark hair being nonchalantly tossed over a shoulder to reveal a soft, tanned neckline, I think we can all agree that Islam’s founders knew what they were talking about.

If only we could say as much about the English-Canadians media…

Just last week I was eating soup at a Vancouver area Timmy’s after driving 5000 kilometers across northern Ontario, the Prairies—where I did not come across any mosques, big or little—and a snowstorm in the Rockies, just letting the left coast mellow wash away my separatist rage while I read the Vancouver Sun, only to discover that the religious paraphernalia of Québec’s civil servants was what was on British Columbian minds.

Who knew?  More than seven months after Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor handed in their report on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences I had to drive across an entire continent to find out that Québec was still obsessing with so-called reasonable accommodations!

“Reasonable accommodation is a ridiculous phrase, not least because it sounds like a reference to a decent hotel room”, writes Naomi Lakritz in Reasonable Accommodations: Québec’s Xenophobic Obsession.  “But used in the context of Quebec, it’s clunky and it carries overtones of an us-versus-them mentality that, frankly, because it is not an issue in the rest of Canada, lends a distinct xenophobic tinge to Quebec’s obsession with the idea.”

And I naively thought we had moved on to much more important topics, like how not speaking English very well is a worse crime than being a front for organised crime

Lakritz, a former writer for the National Examiner, the fine news organization that broke the story of the Clinton divorce and the return of Bob Barker as host of the Price is Right, is apparently very angry at the prevailing consensus in Québec that employees of the state should not be allowed to wear visible religious clothing.

“As I type this, I am wearing a chain with a little pendant on which is inscribed in Hebrew the Shema, the prayer that is central to Judaism. I’ll wear what I please in this free country, regardless of whether I work in the private or public sector.”

Listen, Naomi,  I don’t care if you have Aleister Crowley’s eight lecture on Yoga for Yahoos! tattooed on your ass and share it with the world in your free time, there is no way you will wear what you please while on the clock at the Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec.  You’re not wearing a Bloc Québécois baseball cap while you’re working for the government and you’re not wearing a Marc Lépine Rocks t-shirt.  Some things are absolutely inappropriate to wear when representing the government of all Québécois.

Are religious symbols part of those inappropriate symbols?  I’m not sure.  I haven’t made up my mind.  A ban on religious symbols is a pretty radical idea, but it’s a popular idea in societies that have first hand knowledge of religious extremism.  It’s the prefered option in Turkey, pretty much the only progressive and democratic muslim country out there.

My parents grew up in a province where catholic priest administered the province and when people who didn’t happen to be loyal Roman catholics, Anglicans or members of a major jewish congregation basically didn’t have access to education or health care. They fought pretty hard to kick God out of Québec’s schools and government and their not about to let him back in.

A ban on religious symbols is many things.  It’s hardcore, I’ll give that to you.  It’s not a perfect solution either.  The one thing it isn’t, though, is a manifestation of intolerance.  It’s the exact opposite of that.  It’s a dedication to the principle that all citizens are absolutely equal before the state.  Period.

Although well intentioned, Canadians must never forget that their approach, the so-called multicultural approach, the idea that the State can treat citizens differently, depending on their culture, religion and beliefs,  is part of the same continuum that, in most extreme cases leads to “separate but equal”, segregation, apartheid and Indian Reservations.

Oh, I’m exaggerating, now, am I?

Well tell me then, which xenophobic Québec school board was it that brought back racially segregated schools in 2009?   Wait, was it la Beauce?  No, wait, was it those evil rednecks in the Saguenay?

No.  It was the Toronto District School Board in Ontario.

The path to hell is paved with good intentions, they say.  Just ask Anakin Skywalker.

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

154 Responses

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  1. MJ,
    English is being imposed on you by the English media. Not too surprising there. You could just ignore them, or write your riposte as Martineau has done.

    If French is the language of the majority and it is the English media that is making these attacks, then aren’t they just shouting in their own echo chamber to nobody in particular?

    In real terms what is actually being imposed on you? The inability to use French in the remaining English enclaves of the city? Is this such an imposition? Perhaps. Do you find that it has impaired your ability to get by in French in more traditional Francophone areas?

    Is this a tempest in a teapot or am I missing some key point (and if so kindly explain)?

    Edward

    December 4, 2009 at 1:12 am

  2. Ce qui nous est imposé c’est la marginalisation dans notre propre état de notre langue et de notre culture au profit d’une minorité qui croit avoir l’ autorité morale de nous imposer la sienne..

    midnightjack

    December 4, 2009 at 1:41 am

  3. Jews, Muslims, Catholics and Scientologists who work for the government should not be asked to give up their own brands of superstitious beliefs and practices just because they work for the state.

    They’re not being asked to, and just think of the time and trouble you’d have spared youself had you bothered to confirm whether this was even the case.

    A Scientologist has nothing to fear from the Québec state or civil service. If he ever decides to ditch Scientology though, it’s the Scientologists he’d better beware of.

    James

    December 4, 2009 at 1:52 am

  4. But James, they are.

    If my religion demands that I wear a red dot on my chin at all times and my employer tells me that I may not do so what would you call it?

    If your employer tells you that you may not use French at work though you are free to continue to do so at home, is he not intruding on your rights and freedoms? Why is this so different from being told you may not show any signs of your religion at work?

    I think the point you miss is that for a Jew or Muslim or Sikh the head covering is not just a symbol but a sacrament, part of the religious practice itself and not just a way of getting in your face.

    —————-

    MJ:”Ce qui nous est imposé c’est la marginalisation dans notre propre état de notre langue et de notre culture au profit d’une minorité qui croit avoir l’ autorité morale de nous imposer la sienne..”

    This sentence could easily be translated into English and posted in the Gazette to make their own tired argument.

    OK, I understand that there are differences with respect to the long-term consequences in these two cases and it may be correct that the ends justify the means when your back is against the wall.

    This kind of moral argument just bounces back and forth without advancing, and I for one have no horse in this particular race, but perhaps a different tact is needed to counter the endless assault of the English media.

    I don’t know what it is but incentives rather than mandates seems like a good idea. Perhaps that has been tried unsuccessfully? I suppose one issue is the unrepentant stubbornness with the Anglophone community refuses to make concessions. It is tempting (and maybe necessary?) to provide a kick in the pants?

    Edward

    December 4, 2009 at 8:55 am

  5. “HAHA. Yeah, I am. I dropped the Ecole Francois-Buote name figuring someone’d Google it. No need to tell where I am from if I can let folks figure it out for themselves. ;)”

    Didn’t have to google it mon ami. I have friends whose kids go there.

    Acajack

    December 4, 2009 at 9:31 am

  6. “I could just have easily griped about the annoying yentas in New York Jewish society if this were the AngryMenchGuy blog”

    AngryMenchGuy! I love it!

    Acajack

    December 4, 2009 at 9:35 am

  7. Acajack,

    I’m trying to think back on some of your previous posts. So you’re an Acadian from northeastern Ontario who now lives in Gatineau?

    John

    December 4, 2009 at 10:09 am

  8. James, the number of employees in the nail salon doesn’t matter. They still have obligations to provide services in French and if they don’t you have the right (I would say duty even) to report them. The OQLF will investigate and force them to make changes. Sure, if they had 50 or more employees, the state would have “more teeth” to deal with them, but they certainly aren’t immune from an investigation.

    RoryBellows

    December 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

  9. Regarding the Martineau column I must say I find it pretty depressing.

    Based on what he said, and what I hear elsewhere in the media, from friends and what I observe on the ground, it seems like some sort of “covenant” has been broken.

    Now before some people freak out and tell me “covenant, WTF? there ain’t no covenant… you’re full of it, Acajack!”, hear me out.

    The thing is, after everything we’ve gone through in this country over the past 40 years (October crisis, two referendums, Bill 101, Meech, etc.), at one point in the fairly recent past it appeated that an equilibrium had established itself. It was almost as if Quebec had been told: “OK, you guys didn’t go for independence, you didn’t get distinct society from us, but you know what, you can have Quebec. Let the anglos keep the institutions they have there and go about being as French as you want. In any event, most English-speaking Canadians’ interest in Quebec is limited to tourism and that’s about it.”

    For a period, it seemed that this was working, and Quebec politicans of all colours liked to refer to “la paix linguistique”. Some anglos were leaving Quebec, few were moving here, and the ones who stayed behind tended to be the bilingual ones who were cool with French being the predominant language.

    Immigrants have always been a challenge for French but there was also some impressive progress on this front. I remember going to Thursday’s on Crescent about 15 or 20 years and was actually shocked that the obviously multiethnic staff weren’t just serving us in French, but that French was the default language that this United Nations of employees used to communicate amongst themselves.

    I don’t what has happened of late, but it seems as though there may be a sea-change taking place. On the ground, not having French service and not being able to speak French seems to be “no big deal”, defiantly so in some cases.

    I am even seeing this from the federal government, which had been very prudent in its approach to Quebec in recent decades. For example, I occasionally patronize the federally-owned National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Now, the NAC in its programming does an excellent job of reflecting this country’s anglophone and francophone cultures. They have an excellent French theatre division, currently headed up by Quebec theatre giant Wajdi Mouawad. So, anyway, in recent months I have received a few calls at home from the NAC asking me for my support. In all cases the person who called addressed me in English after I answered the phone with a “bonjour”.

    Consider that I have French-sounding first and second names, I live on a street with a French name, in Gatineau, in Quebec in the 819 area code and that pretty much all of the NAC tickets I have ever bought in my life were for French theatre. They have all that info in their computer yet they get a unilingual anglo to hit me up for money. When I politely asked the people calling from the NAC if they spoke French, the answer was “No, I don’t”. Seems to me that a few years ago this would have never happened. Today, apparently it’s no big deal.

    Another example is that since the 1970s the federal government has always dealt with the Quebec government in French. At bilateral meetings with Quebec the feds were almost always represented by francophones, or by bilingual anglos (which is actually even better, optics-wise). But apparently this practice has gone by the wayside, at least somewhat. Friends who work in the federal government report being sent to meetings in Quebec City and Montreal as the “token francophone”, but that dealings between the feds and the Quebec government are now frequently carried out in English. The feds send who they want, and the Quebec reps have to make do and trot out their English. Too bad, so sad.

    Unilingual federal bureaucrats are even sent to bilateral meetings in the very politico-linguistically sensitive cultural sector, even though their unilingualism means they know zilch about Quebec culture.

    So maybe I was wrong in thinking that the way things are portrayed in this famous video was hugely exaggerated for comic purposes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3zBPnIYavI

    Clearly folks, there is something afoot. I am not sure which way this is going to go. I know that some francophones are cool with this evolution or at least apathetic about it. Whereas other francophones are increasingly anxious and even angry. I haven’t yet heard many people say “I am a federalist who voted Non in 1995, but given the current state of things, I will be voting Oui next time (if there is a next time).”

    So I can’t say for sure which of the two groups is larger, although I do know that many voters in the 100% francophone areas outside southwestern Quebec (Outaouais, Montreal, Laurentians, Montérégie, Eastern Townships) don’t feel particularly concerned by the issue, and therefore in the short term at least, it is unlikely to affect their voting patterns.

    So I am not going to predict where this mouvance is going to lead us politically since I have no idea.

    But one thing I will predict is that within 5 or 10 years you are going to get people in Quebec City complaining that “hey, I went into a dépanneur or a shop on rue St-Jean/avenue Cartier and the person there couldn’t even serve me in French!”. Mark my words. I don’t know how often people here go to Quebec City but even there I have noticed that in the odd business (hotels, restaurants and shops), staff actually communicate with each other in English. Of course, they can turn right around and serve you in perfect French, but in Quebec City that this situation with English exists anywhere at all is remarkable nonetheless.

    So we’ll talk about Quebec City in 5 or 10 years, maybe sooner (who knows?). Hopefully I am wrong, but I doubt I will be, given how attractive Quebec City is and how it being “rediscovered” in a big way by ROC Canadians and Americans alike.

    Acajack

    December 4, 2009 at 10:38 am

  10. “I’m trying to think back on some of your previous posts. So you’re an Acadian from northeastern Ontario who now lives in Gatineau?”

    I am actually an Acadian from northeastern New Brunswick, though I also lived in Ottawa and (south)eastern Ontario outside Ottawa for several years.

    I have never lived in northeastern Ontario, though I did at one point work on issues affecting the Franco-Ontarian community which means I travelled to most areas of that province where francophones live.

    And I currently reside in Gatineau, Quebec.

    Acajack

    December 4, 2009 at 10:42 am

  11. Marc: “It’s really easy. Take a stroll down Sainte-Catherine street between Atwater and Bleury – try and get served in French. I wish you the best of luck”

    I assume you must have a few examples. I also assume you have done your duty and reported the offenders. Have they changed since you filed your complaints?

    no, you say? You’re just generalizing without any actual proof? You’d rather keep the idea of the unilingual anglo boogeyman alive than actually help to solve the city’s linguistic problems?

    RoryBellows

    December 4, 2009 at 11:09 am

  12. Acajack,

    Gotcha! I was close. Gives you a rather unique and interesting perspective on all of this and I have quite enjoyed your posts.

    Acadian Peninsula? Unfortunately, for all the time I lived, went to school and worked in New Brunswick that is one place I didn’t visit.

    John

    December 4, 2009 at 11:44 am

  13. I get what you are saying Rory but not everybody wants to live their daily lives butting heads with people and making complaints about irritants. There are lots of irritants of all sorts in everyday life, and if I were to make complaints about every single one of them, I would spend my time doing just that.

    But just because I don’t act doesn’t mean I don’t care and consider the issues unimportant.

    I know all about the language issue as a former francophone living outside Quebec. Where I lived had a large francophone population (though not a majority), and I strongly felt that French speakers should be entitled to at least some service in our language. The reality was that French service was quite rare there. Some of the people I knew are still there and are still insisting on French (falling on deaf ears most of the time). For my part I decided that I would rather spend more time watching my kids playing soccer and having candlelight dinners with my wife than arguing with people about what I thought – and still think – should actually be automatic: service in French for a 40% francophone minority right next to Canada’s capital. Apparently it was and is too much to ask. So I moved to Quebec.

    The fact that I choose not to fight that battle there has nothing to do with the fact that I consider the cause as not being just. It’s just that sometimes you just want to buy a goddam loaf of bread with no hassles.

    And BTW, I have personally made complaints to the OQLF since moving to Quebec.

    Finally, consider that a lot of people choose not to fight irritants (of whatever nature) in everyday life, but will vote for people who promise to address them come election time. On the language issue in Quebec, we all know what that means.

    Acajack

    December 4, 2009 at 11:50 am

  14. Fair enough, but I still have a hard time connecting the ideas that

    1-French service is hard to come by in some parts of Montreal

    2-the mechanism that has been in place for over 30 years to deal with this is apparntly being underused

    I’m not suggesting that anyone who has ever been greeted with a “hello” should spend their weekends marching with the MMF, but in the more irritating instances, a simple letter to the OQLF should be in order. I honestly believe that if this were done more often, the problem would start to go away. It just bugs the hell out of me to see so many people so angry, yet refusing to take a reasonable, civilised course of action to deal with the problem.

    As for your earlier post, if I understand you right, you seem to be suggesting that linguistic peace is bad for french in Montreal because it breeds apathy in francophones and makes it too comfortable for unilingual anglos to move in. That is truly depressing.

    It still believe that it doesn’t have to be that way. Quebec has had some great success in integrating children through its schools. The challenge now is to do the same with adults who arrive here and don’t speak any French, be it from Pakistan or Alberta. The PQ has been talking about this of late, which is encouraging, but then they pepper their rhetoric with the usual anglo-scapegoating, which leaves me wondering why I’d ever support them.

    RoryBellows

    December 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  15. no, you say? You’re just generalizing without any actual proof? You’d rather keep the idea of the unilingual anglo boogeyman alive than actually help to solve the city’s linguistic problems?

    Ah. A conclusion-jumper. Yes, I’ve filed lots of complaints and thanks to this Liberal govenment’s piss-poor attitude towards our language, not a damn thing has been solved. The Liberals, which bend over backwards to the English, seem to be more concerned with dollars, cents and “investment” rather than our language and culture. The latter being much, much more valuable than anything with a price tag.

    Marc

    December 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm

  16. John: “Gotcha! I was close. Gives you a rather unique and interesting perspective on all of this and I have quite enjoyed your posts.”

    Thanks for the compliment. I enjoy your posts too, and always find that Maritimers are among the most fair-minded Canadians on these issues. Maybe it has something to do with living in long-established communities (similar to Quebec) that makes them more able to understand where Quebecers are coming from.

    Many other areas of Canada are more recently-settled and so people perhaps have less of a sense of place and view sentimentalism and passions for history as a tad anachronistic.

    Acajack

    December 4, 2009 at 1:01 pm

  17. I think the point you miss is that for a Jew or Muslim or Sikh the head covering is not just a symbol but a sacrament, part of the religious practice itself and not just a way of getting in your face.

    You claim that “My point was never to single out Quebecois as uniquely racist or anti-secular.[sic]” and that “I’m not saying Quebec is the black sheep of N America or that French culture is inherently more intolerant than English culture”.

    Your last post reaffirms that that’s *all* you’ve been trying to say from the get-go with no facts to back it up. You *presume*, just as afg notes, that there are the “old stock French Canadians” which see this one way (suppressing religious expression), and les autres, who embody freedom of choice in everything including religion and who have the reasonable opinions. This is a canard and the public opinion surveying across Québec’s ethnic and religious groups demonstrates that it’s a canard.

    When did I suggest that what religious garb people wear “gets in my face”? Precisely never. You just made that up, in another variation of the strawdog argument you’ve been working from the beginning of the thread. What examples did I give of people who are trying to compromise the religious neutrality of public institutions? Read them again and see if *any* of them involved dress. And notice that the references were to various different groups. None spoke of dress, and they all involved examples of people who were not being imposed upon, but who were trying to do the imposing, specifically, of their religious precepts on state institutions which are not answerable to their gods or anybody’s gods.

    I can’t pass over the hypocrisy however of someone claiming it’s none of my or afg’s business what people are allowed to wear in the public service but that we need to plumb our consciences over the injustice of a Jewish accountant having to report to work at an intersection named after saints. I mean, really…

    And I and I suspect many other Quebeckers have had “notre voyage” of the hypocrisy – which we can find everywhere from the editorial rooms of Edmonton to the revolutionary cells of Concordia’s “shithead masqués” (merci Falardeau) that somehow old stock Quebeckers (of whom I’m not even one) have no business having any opinions about these things much less discussing them while everybody else can. A direct parallel to the hypocrisy-laden discussions on language of course. Well, fuck that noise, it’s everybody’s state and we all have a right to ponder these things. The Grand Mufti of Egypt thinks people should be visually identified before voting. He’s allowed this opinion but woe betide a “pure laine” Québécois feminist for harbouring such ideas.

    There are actually many countries out there, including ones with strong Muslim majorities I might add – where restrictions on religious expression in the civil service and state institutions are considerably stronger than either in Canada or Québec. That all goes under your radar though. Gee I wonder why.

    James

    December 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

  18. Serving customers is a priority for all business, even more so for retail business. Its much more efficient to complain about poor service to a retail outlet’s head office than to the OLFQ. They get the message fast because they don’t want to lose customers.

    I recently had occasion to complain about English only service at a large store on Ste-Catherine St. and my online complaint was followed up very quickly and I’m pretty sure the offending cashier got the message from her boss, since I was asked for a copy of my receipt.
    To think that its the government’s job to ensure all retailers give good customer satisfaction is just another way off wishful thinking. To blame the liberals is to easy especially when you see the moronic solutions the PQ proposes, like frncisation of the 250,000 companies employing less than 50 people. How would that be enforced, at what cost and what, if any, would be the ultimate benefits ?

    Dave

    December 4, 2009 at 1:59 pm

  19. For a period, it seemed that this was working, and Quebec politicans of all colours liked to refer to “la paix linguistique”.

    Among those pushing the idea the most were the Bouchard Bros. – Lucien et Gérard – with the latter affirming it most recently and completely whitewashing the question in the B-T report. He did everything he could to frustrate Castonguay’s testimony on the subject.

    And now it can be seen that the “paix linguistique” was wishful thinking and that the people who weren’t buying it like Josée Legault and Marc Termotte and Charles Castonguay got it right.

    http://archives.vigile.net/AQ/jlfantomecentaur.html

    Perhaps there’s a lesson here about believing career politicians and self-serving talking heads over people who’ve honed their professional discipline on a subject over much of their lives.

    Actually the day when the thing English Canada cares the most about re: Québec is tourism would be a welcome day indeed. To date it ranks far down the list, with first place occupied by the need to function as Québec’s conscience.

    James

    December 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm

  20. To think that its the government’s job to ensure all retailers give good customer satisfaction is just another way off wishful thinking

    As a French society, it is our government’s role to keep private business on the shortest leash possible. Private business is not to be trusted. If the OQLF is inefficient at handling complaints, then there’s your proof of how insanely underfunded and understaffed John James Charest’s government keeps them.

    the moronic solutions the PQ proposes, like frncisation of the 250,000 companies employing less than 50 people.

    And what, pray tell, is moronic about ensuring that we can use our language anywhere we go?

    How would that be enforced, at what cost

    With brute force, at whatever cost necessary. There is no price on guaranteeing a future for our language and culture.

    Marc

    December 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  21. You’d rather keep the idea of the unilingual anglo boogeyman alive than actually help to solve the city’s linguistic problems?

    so you link us to a “don’t worry be happy” missive by Me Grey explaining that it’s time to stop “the war against English” then you reproach people for not being more militant for calling out Mom and Pop unilingual businesses?

    How about making up your mind?

    I guess since Martineau’s real examples pose a problem the ideal is to shift attention by accusing someone else of fabricating them.

    I love that hypocritical bit of Grey’s near the end about how the PQ mustn’t abandon its “social-democrat” vocation. If ever there’s been a specimen of someone posing as a “progressive” it’s Grey.

    http://www.lautjournal.info/default.aspx?page=3&NewsId=899

    James

    December 4, 2009 at 6:09 pm

  22. 2-the mechanism that has been in place for over 30 years to deal with this is apparntly being underused

    If it’s being underused then how come the officers charged with following up on complaints can’t keep up with the volume they have now?

    James

    December 4, 2009 at 7:44 pm

  23. First of all James, it is you who presume that I have some kind of axe to grind against what you call “old stock French Canadians”. I don’t think I’ve ever used that term. I would not make any distinction between “old stock” and “new stock” like Gilles Duceppe if their political values are cut from the same cloth. I have also repeated countless times that I consider Quebec more progressive and open-minded than most of the world. However I do believe that Loi 101 was a uniquely québecois mistake and yet I find not the slightest hint of remorse here over having created that linguistic “Year Zero”. If anything on blogs like this one I hear increasing noise that it evidently didn’t go far enough.

    While I think it truly sucks that people would refuse to use French anywhere in Quebec, or for that matter in Canada, and I for one do make every effort to use French in public in this province, I don’t see armageddon at hand. I just see this as confirming that people are lazy and busy and even at times obnoxious.

    As for my obvious misinterpretation of your position on the issue of religious head wear in public, I suppose it came from the following. Sorry if you meant this as a show of support for a woman’s right to wear whatever her own religious values require of her:

    “… there is no such regulation in Québec. In fact the legislative consequences to date of the accommodations/laicity debate have been very limited. Restricting the wearing of religious symbols in the public service, which is being debated here, is not the same as restricting users/clients of public services (e.g. students) from doing so. There is no “law” placing the latter type of restriction in Québec. …

    The Québec Council on the Status of Women’s proposal to amend the Québec Charter of Rights to ensure that the equality of women could not be compromised by the invoking of “freedom of religion” was based on an interpretive clause which already exists in the Canadian Federal Charter of Rights. I believe this formed the basis of Bill 63. They wanted the same protection of gender equality clarified in the Québec Charter. This idea was hysterically criticized by English Canadian morons who didn’t seem to realize that the “Québec xenophobes” and “laical fascists” were merely affirming in the Québec Charter what was already part of the Canadian Charter and therefore the Trudeau constitution. Again, we note the double standard. English Canadian women are permitted the argument that religious fundamentalists of all stripes seek to limit women’s autonomy as a first line of attack, and to take appropriate measures to protect against this agenda. It’s just Québécois women who are not permitted this insight.

    This abusive spouse has hit us before. He’ll hit us again. Let’s take all the necessary measures for divorce. Assez, c’est assez.”

    Edward

    December 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

  24. “Or une nouvelle vague de désinformation est a l’oeuvre aupres des immigrants, a partir des journaux anglophones. Il s’agit de mettre les immigrants en garde contre le .racisme. des francophones qui exigent qu’on leur parle dans leur langue, et on les encourage a se battre pour nous imposer non pas le vietnamien, le grec, l’italien ou le portuguais mais bien sur la langue de domination par excellence, l’anglais.”

    I just had an interesting conversation with my cab driver on my way to Vancouver airport. He was telling me how the BC government works very hard and makes what he feels are sincere efforts to provide governement services in as many languages as possible. he had the understanding that it was the right of a British Columbian to receive information in English, French, Ounjabi, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, whatever.

    This is very different from the Gazette/Liberal/Federalist project of being tolerant towards immigrants in Québec by providing them with… English.

    I remember that under mayor Bourque (Jacques Parizeau’s former PQ riding president…) the city of Montreal started providing information in French and English, but also viet namese, kreyol, arabic, etc… I also this inicuative being attacked by the “Montréal Français” crowd, but also by anglos who thought this was “trivializing” Montreal’s English heritage…

    angryfrenchguy

    December 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm

  25. As for my obvious misinterpretation of your position on the issue of religious head wear in public, I suppose it came from the following. ..

    I never stated a position on the issue of religious headwear so there was nothing for you to interpret, only for you to conjure out of your imagination. And that goes for the passage you quote as well.

    This is from the (federal) Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contained in the Constitution Act of 1982:

    A

    Rights guaranteed equally to both sexes

    28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

    And now here is the modification to the Québec Charter, projet de loi 63, *directly inspired by A above*:

    B

    2. Cette Charte est modifiée par l’insertion, après l’article 49.1, du suivant :

    «49.2. Les droits et libertés énoncés dans la présente Charte sont garantis
    également aux femmes et aux hommes. ».

    Now perhaps you can account to us how it is that in English Canadian opinion, text A apparently shows that Canada is a glittering inclusive democracy which respects the rights of women whereas text B apparently shows that Québec is a racist volkstaat out to persecute immigrant women and tell them what to wear.

    And try *not* to use too much imagination this time.

    James

    December 4, 2009 at 11:35 pm

  26. Edward wrote:

    If your employer tells you that you may not use French at work though you are free to continue to do so at home, is he not intruding on your rights and freedoms?

    Ordering an employee not to speak French at work infringes on his rights and freedoms provided that it doesn’t interfere with the nature of the business. Example: a telemarketing company that sells exclusively to the U.S. market can most definitely require that the francophone only speak English to English-speaking clients. Indeed, the employee’s ability to speak English was probably a requirement for the job. But to prohibit the employee from speaking French during his lunch break or off-time or in casual conversation with a fellow employee would be a violation of his rights and freedoms.

    Tony Kondaks

    December 5, 2009 at 12:00 am

  27. Regarding the s. 28 Rights guaranteed equally to both sexes clause of the Canadian Charter:

    Neither the “notwithstanding” clause nor the reasonable limit clause apply to s. 28. That should therefore mean that men and women are to be treated equally by government in every way without any room for the consideration of differences. Yet I don’t think this is the case. I’m not 100% sure but it is my understanding that the Canadian Army — a government institution — does not allow women to engage in combat whereas they allow combat for men. If true, then this would therefore be a clear violation of Charter rights, no?

    Tony Kondaks

    December 5, 2009 at 12:05 am

  28. However I do believe that Loi 101 was a uniquely québecois mistake and yet I find not the slightest hint of remorse here over having created that linguistic “Year Zero”. If anything on blogs like this one I hear increasing noise that it evidently didn’t go far enough.

    The mistake was the 200+ amendments which have rendered the law impotent. 101, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t exist anymore – see what I had to say about getting served in French on Sainte-Catherine street ouest.

    Going “far enough” would be back to the original 1977 Law 101 as was democratically and unanimously adopted.

    Marc

    December 5, 2009 at 12:16 am

  29. James: “so you link us to a “don’t worry be happy” missive by Me Grey explaining that it’s time to stop “the war against English” then you reproach people for not being more militant for calling out Mom and Pop unilingual businesses?

    How about making up your mind?”

    Without getting into your interpretation of what he wrote, I certainly do agree with Grey that there’s no need to keep up the war against THE english. That doesn’t mean that a francophone owned business who’s recent-immigrant employees can’t serve you your hamburger in french should be let off the hook. Not if you value (worship) french the way you guys do, Not if you`re going to bitch about it as often as you do.

    And if you do let ’em off the hook, I still don`t see how that ends up being the fault of the bilingual O`Brien family of NDG and not that of the people who have the means to make sure those businesses respect the law.

    RoryBellows

    December 5, 2009 at 2:31 am

  30. “Now perhaps you can account to us how it is that in English Canadian opinion, text A apparently shows that Canada is a glittering inclusive democracy which respects the rights of women whereas text B apparently shows that Québec is a racist volkstaat out to persecute immigrant women and tell them what to wear.”

    I can provide a first-hand account of nothing about English Canadian opinion, being neither. Living in Montreal gives me some clearly limited understanding of life in Quebec, but next to nothing about the Anglo-Canadian experience, but a fair amount of insight into how these groups are perceived from the outside. Furthermore I have seen nobody here claim that Canada is a “glittering inclusive democracy”. Sure, it is superior to the American democracy under the Bush royal family, but being superior to a toilet bowl only proves you are full of crap.

    Why do you take every criticism of Quebec as a conspiratorial, personal attack from the evil English Canadian juggernaut? Is it not possible to criticize without having destruction and derision on one’s mind? I can assure you that I would not have moved here if I considered this place inferior in any way, but having moved here do have as much right as you to criticize it with the aim of making it more of the kind of place where I want to live. Or do you, who seems to have some kind of complex about “old stock French Canadians”, think that my rights here are less than yours?

    Now if you’ll permit me to ignore the anti-anglo-canadian blowback for just one moment — you’re obviously more capable of handling that than I — and focus on the “racist volkstaat out to persecute immigrant women and tell them what to wear” comment…I don’t know about that but I do know that there is much discussion about adopting a French-style ban of public expression of religion by public employees, no doubt inspired by similar legislation in France.

    In addition as you know, the PQ has proposed the following modification to the Charter:

    “50.1. La Charte doit être interprétée de manière à tenir compte du patrimoine historique du Québec et des valeurs fondamentales de la nation québécoise, notamment l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes, la primauté du français et la séparation entre l’État et la religion.”

    This would replace:
    “50.1. Les droits et libertés énoncés dans la présente Charte sont garantis également aux femmes et aux hommes.”

    In my opinion the original is flawless. The proposed “upgrade” includes several questionable elements. Regarding the “racist volkstaat”, don’t you think that the term “de manière à tenir compte du patrimoine historique du Québec et des valeurs fondamentales de la nation québécoise” is vaguely defined in such a way as to be fairly meaningless but to clearly imply that OUR culture and heritage must have priority? I’m sure you believe these vague terms to be entirely benevolent, but that would not be the case if your core values were different from those taken as les valeurs fondamentales de la nation québécoise, whatever that means.

    I also think that the notion that the separation between the state and religion is also vague. Does it mean that the state has no say about an individual’s religion (my view of what is correct) or does it mean that religion must be excised from all aspects of the state (the most likely interpretation).

    Edward

    December 5, 2009 at 9:18 am


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