AngryFrenchGuy

The Myth of Montreal’s Bilingual Hospitals

with 202 comments

Dying generally sucks, but you do get a few perks: things like a 24h VIP direct line to a nurse you can call when weird things start happening to your mother’s cancer-ridden body.

The thing is, at night the system is rigged up so that you have to go through the Montreal General Hospital’s internal operator to get to the nurse.  Not the public operator used to communicating with the taxpaying public.  The internal switchboard lady.

Dispatch.  What service?

This being one of Montreal’s  “bilingual” hospital, in-house communications are in English.  It takes a few seconds for the operator to switch gears into French and a little bit longer for her to figure out French acronyms and terminology.

Selles?  Selles?  Shit!  What are selles?

Eventually I get the nurse on the phone.  The situation I’m describing is kind of gross and she recommends I take my mom to the emergency.

My mother used to be a patient of the Montreal Neurological Hospital’s Docteur Olivier, the French-speaking successor to the legendary Dr. Wilder Penfield who revolutionized brain science, and the living proof that Montreal’s English hospitals are, according to the Montreal Gazette, nothing but a “mischievous myth”.

“There are French ones and there are bilingual ones”, they explained after former Québec Prime Minister Jacques Parizeau was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital last week.  “Parizeau is getting that care in French – or, at least he is if that’s what he wants. Parizeau’s English is so fluently mellifluous he might just choose to use it.”

While I’m sure the staff at the Jewish will avoid the diplomatic faux pas of addressing Monsieur Parizeau in English, those of us who haven’t managed to come as close to breaking up Canada don’t quite receive the same level of consideration.

When my mother’s name was moved from the interesting cases list to the basket cases list, Dr. Olivier passed her file on to a Czech doctor who didn’t speak a word of French.  He greeted every patient in the clinic hallway with a single question:

Do you speak English?

Only about 40% of patients in Montreal’s bilingual hospitals are English-speaking so the doctor spent the first ten minutes of every second consultation sighing loudly as he fished around for an idle nurse, orderly or first year student who could translate his patients for him.  I got on his good side by setting aside my modest expectation that in 2009 my mother was entitled to receive health care in French in Québec.

The Neuro doesn’t have an emergency ward so that night I take her across the street to the Royal Victoria Hospital, named for the glorious British Queen who spoke German, English, French and Hindustani.  A doctor walks into our examining room wearing a hijab.  This is English Montreal, a tolerant, multicultural community where people value and respect each others cultures…

Do you speak English?

Non.

Really? Are you sure?

The doctor tells me that she can take a look at my mother now or that we can wait.  Mother’s been writhing in pain for about seven hours now, so I take her hand and tell her softly that it’s her turn to be bilingual.

Because my family refuses to live in Saguenay or Rosemont where we belong, we, like 1.7 million Québécois from Côte-des-Neiges to Val-d’Or — people like Jacques Parizeau, Yves Michaud, Pauline Marois, Éric Lapointe and the AngryFrenchMe — have been designated as wards of the McGill University Hospital Center.

Every single word of every single medical file of every single member of my family is written entirely in English.

Twenty-five percent of the province of Québec’s health care is administered by a medical establishment that doesn’t require it’s doctors to learn a single word of the language spoken by the majority of their patients.  The Charest government just gave McGill 3.6 billion dollars, half of the tax dollars earmarked for the construction of two university hospitals in Montréal.

No need to worry, according to The Gazette.  For that price they’ll even care for separatists.  Me and my mom’s can be assured that Montreal’s bilingual hospitals “are open to all, regardless of language, creed, ethnicity, or political conviction.”

The day shift doctor who showed up in the morning didn’t speak French either.  I don’t speak French I’m from Brazil, he told me, almost proud of himself.

I made him speak to me in Spanish.  He got the point and dropped the grin.

(Now let’s have a moment of silence for the millions of Mexican-Americans who don’t have access to health care in their own language.  Aren’t you just fucking proud to be Canadian right now?)

That night was a hard one, but it wasn’t the toughest yet.  I spent many other long nights at the Royal Vic and the Montreal General Hospital with my mother.  Tired, scared and confused by the quick succession of unfamiliar faces coming and going around her, my mother started to speak to me in English in those last few weeks of her life.

My father had started to do the same thing in the last days of his life.  So did my grand-mother.  So did my grand-father.

Anyone still wondering why I’m angry?

Add to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to Twitter SHARE.  ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

202 Responses

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  1. ^^^ BTW, I don’t mean to start a pissing contest re. who is more tolerant… rather, the point is I think that the (franco) Québecois and the (anglo) Canadians are BOTH very tolerant of each other, which is a credit to this great country. Aside from a few ignorant rednecks out west, and a few hardcore patriotes in QC that is, whom the rest of us could do without!

    Carlos

    April 16, 2010 at 12:59 pm

  2. noyb,

    You may need to revise your high school political notions. Quebec is a federated state.

    Raman

    April 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm

  3. “Quebec is a federated state.”

    Yep, just like Ontario or Prince Edward Island. The Canadian term for “federated state” is “province”. Nice try, smarty-pants.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federated_state)

    “Finally, I would say that in your reference to a “deeply religious, peasant” Quebec it is you who has the “arriéré”, “passéiste” view of human cultures, not us.”

    He was referring to Quebec society before Réné Levesque, FLQ, and swingers parties in Brossard. The good old days, back when furniture was distinctively ours and hand-made of pine, most people had bread ovens in the back yards, and people still believed in old-fashioned notions like marriage and children. His question (what is the new QC culture?) is interesting, and is just as difficult to answer in any other western society: it seems we are all more interested in accumulating Chinese consumer goods and going to Cancun every year, than we are in enjoying anything resembling “culture”. (Sorry, going to see “Broue” at Théatre St-Denis doesn’t count…)

    Carlos

    April 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  4. Michel: “…from what I can see, people in Quebec/Montreal are indistinguishable from any other North American people. They drive the same cars, eat the same junk food, watch the same lousy TV and movies…”

    But they don’t read the same books or listen to the same music. And they are oriented culturally towards France and Belgium, unlike the most of the rest of us here who are oriented culturally towards Britain.

    littlerob

    April 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm

  5. «Nice try, smarty-pants.»

    Oh boy, being lectured by a graduate from University of Wikipedia!

    Yes, Quebec is a federated state, just like the other federated states that are called “provinces” in Canada.
    That’s why we have a prime-minister instead of a regional administrator. Also why we haven’t abdicated all our sovereign powers and prerogatives to Ottawa.

    So Quebec is a state.
    What’s your point?

    Raman

    April 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm

  6. AngryFrenchGuy, I read your blog on occasion, for entertainment rather than for information. The way you manipulate and distort facts to suit your political incline is worthy of a skilled political spinster. And I don’t mean this as a compliment.

    In this last post, however, you went overboard. You used a personal and tragic experience, a death of your mother, and turned it into a political issue. You took something very profound and serious, and took it to the lowest level possible – that of politics.

    In your article, you went from:

    “Mother’s been writhing in pain for about seven hours now, so I take her hand and tell her softly that it’s her turn to be bilingual.”

    to…

    “Every single word of every single medical file of every single member of my family is written entirely in English.”

    …so seamlessly and effortlessly, as if the two facts were causally connected.

    This post was not only manipulative, but exploitive. It was the first time one of your posts really bothered me. It proved to me that there are no depths to which you will not sink.

    You may be angry but in the context of this story, I hope it isn’t because of some The Gazette or some English speaking doctor. These things should mean absolutely nothing next to your mother’s ordeal.

    Extrapolating her suffering and death to petty language politics is low, man. Politics is a gutter. Don’t bring the memory of your mother to that scummy level. Let personal stuff be personal. I implore you.

    noyb

    April 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm

  7. Seems to me you’re the one doing emotional blackmail here, Carlos :
    Trying to get AFG to feel guilty because he explained a painful personal experience through analyzing it in the context of a broader political environment.

    You see, Carlos, that’s just the thing with cultural discrimination when it is taken to a political level: It has very concrete personal repercussions. No matter how much you try to deny it and choose to believe that it is only baseless whining.

    Raman

    April 17, 2010 at 4:10 am

  8. “I wonder if Wal-Mart would be so favourable to laissz-faire economics if a Chinese version of Wal-Mart set up shop in every single town in the U.S. and undercut them by 25% on everything they sell.”

    Yeah, and look an Canada rediscovering the importance of protecting a culture and building dikes against the unfair cultural dumping with this Amazon issue:

    “What hasn’t been bandied about very much are terms such as “cultural sovereignty” and “national identity” – political vocabulary that to some ears sounds anathematic in 2010. Yet now might be exactly the time for that discussion. As historian Tony Judt laments, “we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: Indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose.”

    But material self-interest is not what is embedded in Canada’s key cultural statutes.”

    [Sarcasm On] Hey, yo, I think you guys should just get with the program. Canadian culture is irrelevant, 20 millions people against 350 million, accept it already. Amazon’s books are cheaper so you have to buy them, and to fucking bad if they won’t put Maggie Atwood and Mike Ondaatje on their web page just becaus they are part of your tribe….[Sarcasm (temporarily) off]

    angryfrenchguy

    April 17, 2010 at 11:28 am

  9. @NYOB

    “Notice how about half of French Canadians speak English, not with the help of your government, not even with your government as an impartial bystander, but despite the best efforts of your government to keep all of us unlingual French. There must be a reason for so many people defying the official creed – “le Quebec est une province Francaise, Francais est une langue commune”.”

    There are many things you obviously don’t understand in this big confusing world and I don’t have time to address them all, but I have to correct you on one thing: There is no one in who is saying people should not learn English.

    You can argue that English is not taught well enough in our schools, I’d agree with you. But to say that there is any program to prevent anyone from learning English is false period.

    I believe that at this moment, the only political party that has an increase of English classes in Québec schools in it’s program is the Parti Québécois.

    Your flawed logic is that the only way to learn English is with total immersion in English schools with native speaking teachers.

    The fact that so many Québécois have learned to speak English without the help of real English people, a fact which evidently make your head explode, is proof of that fallacy.

    angryfrenchguy

    April 17, 2010 at 11:48 am

  10. “But they don’t read the same books or listen to the same music. And they are oriented culturally towards France and Belgium, unlike the most of the rest of us here who are oriented culturally towards Britain.”

    From what I’ve seen of the books and music, apart from some philosophy and theology, there is very little difference once translation kicks in.

    Pop literature is the same everywhere. Pop music is the same everywhere, ( I include even a place as far away as Japan).

    “His question (what is the new QC culture?) is interesting, and is just as difficult to answer in any other western society: it seems we are all more interested in accumulating Chinese consumer goods and going to Cancun every year, than we are in enjoying anything resembling “culture”. (Sorry, going to see “Broue” at Théatre St-Denis doesn’t count…)”

    Exactly. All cultures inviolved in the “global economic system” are undergoing and facing the same challenge to identity. Some, I think, have had more resilience because they did not completely abandon the “spiritual” expression of their cultures. Others have had more difficulty because, having abandoned that aspect of culture, they become purely “secular” cultures wth no meaning outside the material.

    Raimundo Panikkar, half-Catalan, half-Hindu, a great, interesting theologian argued that religion without secularism becomes fundamentalist while secularism without religion cannot succeed.

    It seems to me that Quebec will never succeed until it recovers that peculiar spirituality which is its own. By this, I don’t mean the Vatican ultramontanism of the past. I mean something like the attitude of Brother Andre who represents the essence of that spirituality.

    I wonder how many in Quebec even know about Brother Andre.

    Michel

    April 17, 2010 at 1:41 pm

  11. “I believe that at this moment, the only political party that has an increase of English classes in Québec schools in it’s program is the Parti Québécois.”

    faute d’orthographie…..its, ( possesive) vs. it’s,( contraction of it is).

    Michel

    April 17, 2010 at 1:42 pm

  12. “But to say that there is any program to prevent anyone from learning English is false period.”

    Is it really?

    Anonymous

    April 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

  13. “faute d’orthographie…..its, ( possesive) vs. it’s,( contraction of it is).”

    Touché. Which obligates me to point out:

    “faute”

    A Sentence should start with a capital letter and suspension point consist of three period, followed by two blank spaces.

    “d’orthographie…..”

    Unless you are trying to say that the perpendicular profile of my fortification is wrong, the correct expression is “Faute d’orthographe”.

    “its, ( possesive)” vs. it’s,( contraction of it is).

    Grammatical error (poSSeSive is spelled poSSeSSive). Incoherent punctuation (unnecessary space in brackets, random quotation marks.)

    Hey, bitch, you started…

    angryfrenchguy

    April 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm

  14. “and suspension point consist of three period”

    That’s “consists”, not “consist”. 3rd person singular – you must add an “s” to the verb.

    And it’s “three periods”, not “three period”. “Three” implies plural, hence you add an “s” to the noun.

    Anonymous

    April 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm

  15. Michel: “Pop music is the same everywhere.”

    I cannot believe you are familiar with Québec popular music. I hate to use the politically loaded word “distinct” to describe it, but that’s what it is all right. Has a good bit in common with Cajun music if you ask me.

    “from what I see of books,…there is very little difference once translation kicks in.”

    QC people read authors who are practically unknown in the English speaking countries. I have seen repeated references to Albert Memmi on this blog, who isn’t read here (US) even in translation. Ditto Pierre Vallieres. I am sure there are plenty of other modern French-language writers who are well known in QC (and Francophone Europe) but whose work we here in the “anglosphere” remain blissfully ignorant of.

    littlerob

    April 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm

  16. “QC people read authors who are practically unknown in the English speaking countries. I have seen repeated references to Albert Memmi on this blog, who isn’t read here (US) even in translation. Ditto Pierre Vallieres. I am sure there are plenty of other modern French-language writers who are well known in QC (and Francophone Europe) but whose work we here in the “anglosphere” remain blissfully ignorant of.”

    According to the official statistics, just under 50% of the books sold in Quebec in any given year are Quebec-made books. If these are the same books that are popular elsewhere in North America, I am sure that Yves Beauchemin, Chrystine Brouillet, Patrick Sénécal, Indian Desjardins, Anne Robillard, Dany Laferrière, India Desjardins, Bryan Perro and Pauline Gill will be pleased to learn they enjoy such renown elsewhere on the continent, and will be expecting healthy cheques in the mail to follow!

    I have also found since moving to Quebec that in addition to French authors like Guillaume Mousso, Anna Gavalda, Christian Jacq that are popular here, stuff translated from other languages can be fairly mainstream in Quebec (Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marques), whereas it is normally *fringe* or niche literature or even unknown elsewhere on the continent.

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 6:28 am

  17. And now a long take on the English = cosmopolitan theory…

    You know, I have been thinking about this a lot and at the risk of being provocative my conclusion is that Montreal doesn`t really need a large anglo community and its institutions for it to be cosmopolitan.

    Most of the Cameroonian, Vietnamese, Senegalese, Lebanese, French, Belgian, Swiss, Algerian, Moroccan, Haitian, Algerian, etc. immigrants we have would still be in Montreal because one of the main things that drew them to the city is the possibility of using the French they already know in a North American context.

    If anything, they get an unpleasant surprise from the unexpected pressure to know and use English, not so much to swing billion dollar deals for LBG with financiers in New York and London, but to work in the kitchen at Baton Rouge in Ahuntsic or as a receptionist for Royal LePage in Ville d’Anjou!

    Immigrants to Montreal these days mostly fall into two categories:

    1) those who come because it is French

    2) those who don`t care which language is spoken in their new home, and intend to adapt; this second group would also be willing to learn Swedish in Stockholm or Italian in Milan; for some of them who already know English, they do end up finding an anglo network in Montreal and make their niche there, but unless they came to study at McGill, the anglo network of Montreal is not really what drew Indian and Sri Lankan shopkeepers who use English in Parc-Extension.

    Any immigrants who feel really strongly about English are usually scared off by Montreal`s French reputation, and they quickly cross it off their list and choose Toronto or Vancouver instead.

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 6:41 am

  18. I am going to post some more on Montreal and Quebec without anglos, but before I do, before anyone freaks out, I just want to say that I am not advocating that there be no anglos. It`s just that there seems to be a train of thought out there where some of ours anglos think, as the Aussies would say, ”that the sun shines out of their arse”. This is meant as a rebuttal to them.

    Peter Scowen, when he was working for Hour magazine in Montreal, once urged his (anglo) readers to acknowledge that what makes Montreal special, unique and interesting is that it is French. So anglos, he said, if you truly love your city as much as you claim to, you should embrace the French language and culture.

    As much as I hate to say it, I have to agree.

    What makes Montreal unique is hearing Francis Cabrel and Charles Aznavour on the radio, seeing them on talk shows and seeing posters for their concerts.

    What makes Montreal unique is that every once in a while the hot movie in town is Amélie Poulain, Les Boys, Le Dîner de Cons, De Père en Flic or La Grande Séduction…

    What makes Montreal unique is that when Roger Federer or Serena Williams win our tennis tournament, they address the crowd in French.

    What makes Montreal unique is when you go see U2 or KISS in concert, the lead singer jokes around with the crowd in very basic French, and everyone in the house revels in it.

    What makes Montreal unique is that the most popular comic books with all ages are still the large-size European ones like Astérix, Tintin, Lucky Luke, etc. instead of the smaller soft cover DC and Marvel comics from the States.

    The francophone character of Montreal is also why the city is home to Canada’s F1 Grand Prix, because Formula 1 is the most popular auto racing code here, as opposed to the American Indy and Nascar which dominate in the ROC.

    Now, don`t get me wrong – I am not a franco-supremacist. It`s not the French language that is that special. It is any language other than English in this part of the world. Montreal could be mainly Greek, Turkish or Afrikaans and the uniqueness would still be there. And you could put a mainly English city in the middle of Brazil and it would be just as unique as Montreal is in the North American context.

    A ski resort in Quebec is banal. A ski resort in Australia is something special.

    So put Montreal in Europe and it becomes banal. Another Brussels. Not that I have anything against Brussels but I would say few people fawn over how unique Brussels is.

    Take away the French element from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and you`ve basically got another Pittsburgh.

    Minoritize French in Montreal to a mere afterthought and you`ve basically got a big Ottawa on an island.

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 7:00 am

  19. And I would be remiss if I didn`t address the heartfelt concern of some anglos for saving we poor francophones from cultural and economic isolation…

    So, is the anglo community of Montreal and Quebec really the key for the province’s francophones to global culture?

    I dunno… people in 100% francophone Ste-Chosebinne-de-Whateveux, PQ still know Lady Gaga, Avatar and High School Musical as far as I know. Their parents knew Pink Floyd and Star Wars. Their parents also knew La Guerre des Tuques, Marjo, Harmonium, Les Compères, Louis de Funès, just like their kids know Aurélie Laflamme, Marie-Mai, OSS-117, Samantha, Tomber la Chemise by Zebda and Dans une Galaxie Près de Chez Vous today. They know the anglo stuff as well as the franco – just like they always have. I don’t think the people in small-town Quebec need a 20% anglo minority in their midst, or to hear English daily at their local dépanneur, or be greeted in English at their neighbourhood dollar store, in order to be exposed to the global culture that is produced in English.

    No more than the people in Goteborg, Wroclaw or Reggio di Calabria, who would also know the global anglo stuff as well as we do.

    I would also like to point out that Quebec`s francophone political and economic elite today functions quite well in English when it has to, thank you very much. And if you looked up the bios of most of them you would find a strong majority have not spent a single day in Montreal`s anglo educational institutions.

    So much for the myth that McGill and the other anglo institutions being the only things in the province that can prepare Quebec francophones for the big, scary English world that lies out there…

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 7:17 am

  20. Perter Scowen should also add that if anglos really care about their city, they (and you too, Acajack) would also support sovereignty of Quebec because it would increase the importance and prestige of Montreal; it would become the economic and cultural capital of a contry rather than being reduced to be a mere city among others in Canada. The late and respected urbanist, Jane Jscobs, made this case in her 1980 book: “The Question of Separatism”. Jacobs was an American and therefore had a neutral view of this constiutional debate.

    Quebec City would also benefit from sovereignty as it becomes the political capital of a true country rather than a province.

    Antonio

    April 18, 2010 at 9:23 am

  21. Regarding the necessity of anglo insitutions.

    In light of the fact that these institutions exist, it is irrelevant whether or not Montrealers would still be ok if these institutions didn’t exist. What’s relevant is if all these Cameroonians, Vietnamese, Haitians, Belgians, French, Congolese (but also Chinese, Indians, Eastern Europeans – let’s not forget anglophilic immigrants, and Anglos, which comprise 20% of our city’s population) mind the presence of anglo universities or hospitals. One can be ok with a French institution and be ok with an English one all the same time. Being ok with one doesn’t preclude being ok with the other.

    Building a French hospital over an English one because people would not mind a French one is ok (although even then it’d be nice to ask Montrealers, and only Montrealers, which one they would prefer), but abolishing or replacing an existing English institution would not be ok, unless it becomes obvious that people don’t want it. Given admittance rates of Anglo hospitals as well as soaring admission rates of McGill and Concordia, I don’t think Montrealers would mind any of these institutions in their city. And if you don’t want to go with admission rates, why not commission a poll and ask a simple direct question: “do you mind the presence of English institutions in Montreal?”. And poll only all the residents of the Montreal, and only of Montreal. It’s irrelevant what someone in St-Hycinthe or Trois Rivieres thinks about this.

    It is only a French supremacist that would question the presence of “others” in his backyard. Creeps like Mario Beaulieu take a good care to pose the wrong questions and give irrelevant answers. “We don’t need MUHC or McGill because Quebec’s official language is French”, “because Quebec’s majority is French speaking”, “French is supposed to be the common language of Quebec”, “because Bill 101 says this or that”. But they’re afraid or unable to pose relevant questions, like “Do Montrealers mind English institutions in their city?”, “Do they see a need to have them replaced with French institutions?”, “Are they bothered by English institutions?”, “Do they see these institutions as unnecessary?”. These are the relevant questions that need to be asked. What’s drafted on a piece of paper regarding the “primacy” of French and deposed in the “national” assembly is not.

    Anonymous

    April 18, 2010 at 9:29 am

  22. “because it would increase the importance and prestige of Montreal; ”

    Or it would turn Montreal into a major North American shithole. No way to know which way it would go.

    Anonymous

    April 18, 2010 at 10:14 am

  23. “respected urbanist, Jane Jscobs, ”

    Who?

    Anonymous

    April 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

  24. “Or it would turn Montreal into a major North American shithole. No way to know which way it would go.”

    read the book and see for yourself.

    BTW, it’s Jane Jacobs.

    Antonio

    April 18, 2010 at 10:28 am

  25. “Regarding the necessity of anglo insitutions.
    In light of the fact that these institutions exist, it is irrelevant whether or not Montrealers would still be ok if these institutions didn’t exist.”

    This is true of course. My series of long posts this morning wasn’t at all to question the existence of the anglo institutions, but rather for the enlightenment of the “Anglo Shit Doesn’t Stink” crowd.

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm

  26. “Or it would turn Montreal into a major North American shithole. No way to know which way it would go.”

    Perhaps we could ask people in Bratislava, Ljubljana, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, etc. how their cities are doing?

    Or hypothesize as to what Toronto and Ottawa would look like if there were no international border and Canada were part of the United States. Would there be a thriving metropolis of 5 or 6 million people on the north shore of Lake Ontario if Canada and the U.S. were one country? And what would the urban area at the confluence of the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau rivers look like if it were part of a country with Washington, D.C. as capital?

    Interesting questions.

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 1:10 pm

  27. Antonio,

    As I may have said so before here, I have read the book by Jane Jacobs you are talking about. One of the reasons I do not support sovereignty is because I think there is an opportunity for Quebec and Montreal “to have it all” within Canada, not unlike what the francophone Suisses romands have in Switzerland. Now, I will concede that it is an elusive goal and sometimes things appear to be going in the other direction (the current period is a good example), but until it becomes a totally hopeless case I will persist in trying to carve out an optimal place within the current framework.

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm

  28. I know that I have been a bit incendiary with some of my stuff here today but I find it interesting that my post at 6:28, where I simply referred to statistics on book sales and rattled off a bunch of Quebec authors’ names, got me a thumbs down…

    Hmmm… are some of you anglo-supremacists going Pavlovian on me?

    Acajack

    April 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm

  29. This has been a very thought-provoking thread, and I have been reflecting on it over the weekend. In the spirit of harmony, I hope that we can all agree that none of wants to see the removal or extinction of the other; and that Montreal’s unique cosmopolitain character is a result of the confluence of francophone AND anglophone cultures (…with all the multiculturalism implied on both sides…). Agreed? …and that we would like it to continue as such, yes?

    Good, then, the rest is trivial (…but still interesting!)

    Wishing a pleasant weekend to all except the haters (if there are any).

    Carlos

    April 18, 2010 at 2:20 pm

  30. “Perhaps we could ask people in Bratislava, Ljubljana, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, etc. how their cities are doing?”

    This is so manipulative. Comparing the cities of former Yugoslavia and (of all places) the Soviet Union to Montreal. Apples and oranges.

    Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union were communist countries that collapsed economically. People in those cities (and countries) were relieved to be out. Any referendum there with a clear concise question would have probably yielded an overwhelming decision for the “yes”. Economically, things in those cities at the end of the 80’s could not have been worse, and could only get better if the countries were to go it alone. Politically, the former republics, Yugoslav but especially Soviet, were under a total control of Moscow or Belgrade. There was no “Bloc Lithuenien” or “Bloc Estonien” in the Russian parliament; there wasn’t even a democratically elected parliament to begin with.

    The situation of Montreal, both economically and politically, is totally different than in the cities mentioned above.

    Politically because the province of Quebec is much more powerful in the Canadian framework than any of the former Soviet or Yugoslav republics were in the USSR or Yugoslavia. Some even suggest that Quebec is a “federated state”.

    Economically, because Montreal is located in one of the most prosperous counties in the world. Separating from Canada is risky from the economic point of view. In the long run, a separated Quebec may achieve the same economic standing as Canada has today, but it certainly won’t go much above it. In the short run, the economy will certainly deteriorate, even by the admission of some separatists. I believe it was Marois who admitted that there will be a 10 year period of economic upheaval in an event of Quebec’s separation.

    Putting Canada on the same footing as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia is not real. And the experience of one city can’t always be extrapolated to another. Especially when dealing with different countries, different political and economic circumstances, different historical contexts, and different times in history.

    Anonymous

    April 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm


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