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?

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Written by angryfrenchguy

April 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

202 Responses

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  1. @Anonymous: Bratislava is in Slovakia, which comprised part of Czechoslovakia.

    The Slovak and Czech languages are pretty much mutually intelligible, so language didn’t really play much of a part in the breakup of Czechoslovakia. My sense is that the biggest factor that split that country up was that the Czechs and Slovaks have two very different historical experiences and cultural orientations. Bohemia and Moravia were for centuries tied to the German lands, while Slovakia was part of Hungary until 1918.

    @Acajack: Easy on Pittsburgh, there. It’s where Czechoslovakia’s Declaration of Independence was signed (1918). ;-)

    littlerob

    April 18, 2010 at 5:51 pm

  2. The breakup of Czechoslovakia was a bit different. It did not involve a smaller political entity getting out of a larger abusive one. It didn’t involve as much anxiety and anticipation present in the former USSR/Yugoslavia republics, and also generated much less euphoria post-separation in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

    But it also carried virtually no risk of deterioration of the standard of living than an eventual separation of Quebec from Canada would. Czechoslovakia was no Soviet Union or war torn-Yugoslavia, but it wasn’t a rich country either. Economically, it was not even close to what Canada is today. Thus, the “divorce” didn’t have much consequence for either of the two countries econimically, something that cannot be said of Quebec. In fact, in the short run the standard of living will probably deteriorate in separated Quebec, as some businesses will move out, some workforce will move out, transfer money will no longer flow, and new partnerships will have to be renegotiated from scratch. Partnerships with pissed-off former provinces which can afford turing their backs on Quebec, while Quebec cannot do the same. Quebeckers, who are at this point as spoilt a people as the Americans, will definitely have to be asked to tighten their belts, something that many of them won’t like.
    Note that in 1995, the question was not a straight “Do you want to separate? Yes or No” type of thing, but mentioned things like “a formal offer to Canada” ,” new economic and political partnership”, “ the agreement signed”. It was an unbelievable crock of shit, if you consider how much it deviated from Parizeau’s true intention of unilateral separation on the same day.
    In the long run, an independent Quebec would probably bounce back and get back on track economically, but the question is how long would it take. And unless you’re a nationalist that puts nothing above the “nation”, you will definitely take into account things like car payments, mortgage, bills, job, pension, benefits, etc…when making such political decision. And if you’re not a die-hard Francophone nationalist, you will end up putting your personal interests above those of the “nation”.

    Anonymous

    April 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

  3. “@Acajack: Easy on Pittsburgh, there. It’s where Czechoslovakia’s Declaration of Independence was signed (1918). ;-)”

    Sorry man! Note that there isn’t anything wrong with Pittsburgh (or Ottawa for that matter). It’s just that most people wouldn’t dwell on their uniqueness like they would for Montreal.

    Acajack

    April 19, 2010 at 8:20 am

  4. “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.”

    I note that you conveniently deleted my references to Ottawa and Toronto, which were a nod to the fact that the North American situation is not analogous to the one in Europe. I recognize this.

    Now regarding the European situation, I looked up for fun how well some of these places are doing.

    The furthest right column on the chart shows how well or not the places are doing relative to the average per capita GDP in the EU.

    The Bratislava region in Slovakia is Bratislavský kraj, whereas the Ljubljana region in Slovenia is covered under Zahodna Slovenija. Both are doing pretty well relative to the EU average I would say.

    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/1-19022009-AP/EN/1-19022009-AP-EN.PDF

    Unfortunately, regional figures for urban areas like the capitals of the Baltic states are not listed, so we don’t know how they are doing.

    Now, I don’t think anyone would seriously suggest (and your post actually supports what I am saying) that Montreal in an independent Quebec would start from as far behind as Bratislava and Ljubljana did, would they?

    Note that I am not a sovereignist, but rather a federalist who is trying to wean pro-Canada people off the traditional “An independent Quebec would be a Third World country” dogma. This argument doesn’t work any more, and the sovereignist side will shoot big holes through it if it is used by the Non forces in a future referendum.

    It often seems like preaching in the desert but the federalist side has to begin no later than now both selling and making the Canadian federation an attractive and welcoming place for the Québécois identity.

    The post-independence nightmare scenario won’t cut it next time round, if there is a next time.

    Acajack

    April 19, 2010 at 9:54 am

  5. Acajack: “An independent Quebec would be a Third World country” dogma.”

    Which is something I never wrote. What I wrote was:

    “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.”

    and

    “In the long run, an independent Quebec would probably bounce back and get back on track economically, but the question is how long would it take.”

    Acajack: “the sovereignist side will shoot big holes through it if it is used by the Non forces in a future referendum”

    Big holes…a scary prospect. In 1995, the Yes “forces” couldn’t get away from mentioning some sort of “partnership with Canada” 3 times in one sentence. Indicative of wanting to leave but being afraid to.

    Your separatist side will say one thing, my federalist side will say another. In the end it will be up to the people to use their common sense and decide for themselves. I’m not a “Non” voter because of what Ignatieff or Harper, or Jean Charest, or Jean Chretien are saying. They have their personal interests and agendas in mind too when they lobby for Canada, as do Duceppe, Parizeau and Marois when they lobby for separation. But the key question everyone will have to ask himself/herself is “will I be better off in the country of Quebec”. If the answer is “no”, or “nothing will change”, then there is no point to this whole thing.

    “Note that I am not a sovereignist, but rather a federalist”

    Give it a rest already.

    “the federalist side has to begin no later than now both selling and making the Canadian federation an attractive and welcoming place for the Québécois identity.”

    Or what? You’ll scare us with a separation with “an economic partnership”, with “an agreement signed”, “a formal offer” made. Or will you man up and ask your own people “do you want to go it alone or not?”. Yes or no.

    What the federalist side has to do is the opposite of what you suggest. The federalist side has to finally grow balls and demand that Quebec make up its mind. Either stay and play ball or get out. And if Quebec refuses to make up its mind, the feds should push for removal of this province from the federation and carve out a federalist corridor through partition, based on federalist referenda across Quebec. And leave the rest to become some Royaume du Francophonie on the periphery of North America.

    Anonymous

    April 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

  6. Anonymous,

    I hope it won’t happen but if there is another referendum you will very much need me and others like me, and will ignore my concerns and advice at Canada’s peril.

    Although judging from your last paragraph it seems as though you may have already chosen the “abusive husband” route…

    Acajack

    April 19, 2010 at 11:32 am

  7. Looks like we’d need a new “Commission Laurendeau-Dunton” pretty soon.

    Immigration, travail, xénophobie et la langue
    http://lautjournal.info/default.aspx?page=3&NewsId=2220

    L’étude nous apprend aussi que le fait de parler assez bien, bien ou très bien l’anglais commande un salaire plus élevé que le même niveau de compétence en français. L’équipe Curzi en conclut que les messages en provenance du monde du travail indiquent aux immigrants que c’est l’anglais, et non le français, qui est la langue de la réussite de l’intégration économique au Québec.

    Le professeur Charles Castonguay qui, le premier a attiré l’attention sur cette étude, en concluait devant la Commission Bouchard-Taylor que « cette stratification socioéconomique de la langue d’assimilation des immigrés à Montréal, en parallèle avec celle de la langue de travail, tend à reproduire le clivage qui affligeait la société québécoise d’avant la Révolution tranquille. Les nouvelles recrues francophones se situent au bas de l’échelle et les nouveaux anglophones se concentrent plutôt aux échelons supérieurs ».

    Dans son livre « Avantage à l’anglais. Dynamique actuelle des langues au Québec » (Éditions du Renouveau québécois), il constatait qu’on était « en train de reproduire, pour ainsi dire, un sous-prolétariat francophone à même la nouvelle population allophone ».


    Une conséquence tout à fait normale de cette situation est d’amener ces immigrants à entrer en concurrence avec les francophones pour des emplois dans la fonction publique québécoise.

    Nous savons que la création, lors de la Révolution tranquille, d’une fonction publique moderne et fonctionnant en français a servi à la promotion des Québécois francophones discriminés sur le marché du travail du secteur privé où l’anglais dominait.

    Aujourd’hui, il est remarquable de constater que les immigrants francophones focalisent leurs interventions sur la discrimination dont ils sont victimes dans la fonction publique et non sur le marché du travail dans le secteur privé.


    L’abandon de la lutte pour la francisation du marché du travail met les Québécois de souche et les immigrants francophones en concurrence les uns avec les autres pour des emplois dans la fonction publique et cela provoque nécessairement des tensions. La relance de la lutte pour la francisation du marché du travail, telle que le proposent le Parti québécois et Pierre Curzi, aurait l’effet contraire, soit de les unir.

    Commission royale d’enquête sur le bilinguisme et le biculturalisme

    RAPPORT :

    Au sujet de la langue de travail, les commissionnaires concluent :

    « Il ressort que si le français n’est pas en voie de disparition chez les francophones, ce n’est pas non plus la langue prédominante sur le marché du travail québécois. Le français n’apparaît utile qu’aux francophones. Au Québec même, c’est somme toute une langue marginale, puisque les non-francophones en ont fort peu besoin, et que bon nombre de francophones, dans les tâches importantes, utilisent autant, et parfois plus l’anglais que leur langue maternelle. Et cela, bien que les francophones, au Québec, soient fortement majoritaires, tant dans la main-d’œuvre que dans la population totale. »

    Sur la langue de l’enseignement, le rapport affirme :

    « Les immigrants sont arrivés au Québec pour améliorer leur situation matérielle et pour assurer un meilleur avenir à leurs enfants. Ils ont été obligés de travailler en anglais pour vivre et ils ont vu les Canadiens français leur donner l’exemple. Ils ont constaté qu’à Montréal du moins, une partie des parents canadiens-français envoyaient leurs enfants aux écoles anglaises et aux écoles privées, chaque fois que leurs moyens leur permettaient de le faire. Ils ont donc suivi la même voie. Leur bilinguisme leur paraissait absolument nécessaire, et ils n’ont jamais cessé de réclamer des écoles bilingues neutres, afin que leurs enfants reçoivent la meilleure formation possible. »

    Le rapport recommandait que le Québec adopte une politique dans laquelle l’objectif général serait de faire du français « […] la langue commune des Québécois, c’est-à-dire une langue qui, étant connue de tous, puisse servir d’instrument de communication dans les situations de contact entre francophones et non francophones. » Jusqu’alors, c’était l’anglais qui jouait ce rôle au Québec, comme partout au Canada et dans le reste de l’Amérique du Nord. Pour savoir où le Québec en est rendu dans la réalisation de l’objectif central de sa politique linguistique, voir l’article Démographie linguistique du Québec.

    Pour réaliser cet objectif, la commission suggérait au gouvernement du Québec de faire du français la seule langue officielle du Québec et de déclarer le français et l’anglais langues nationales. Le rapport incluait également quelque 31 mesures visant à renforcer la position de la langue française dans le milieu de travail.

    Suite à la présentation de ce rapport, l’Assemblée nationale, alors dirigée par une majorité de députés issus du Parti libéral, adopta la Loi sur la langue officielle. Cette loi fut ultimement supplantée par la Charte de la langue française en 1977.

    Raman

    April 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

  8. “you may have already chosen the “abusive husband” route”

    Not an “abusive husband”, but a husband that has put up with a high-maintenance bitchy wife for a long time and has finally had enough.

    I’m advising the husband to finally have a serious conversation with a wife and kick her out if need be, since she doesn’t seem to want to leave on her own accord and would rather remain with the husband and continue to milk him.

    “L’étude nous apprend aussi que le fait de parler assez bien, bien ou très bien l’anglais commande un salaire plus élevé que le même niveau de compétence en français”

    There you go. A big reason why half of the Francophone population learns English. A much more probable motive than the “love for other languages” and “openness”, as some seem to suggest.

    “So, have states ceased to exist then? Or do you wish it so?”

    Whether Quebec is a “federated state” or a “semi-autonomous province” or one day becomes an “independent state” is less relevant than what its geopolitical reality is. And that includes the strength of Quebec’s economy, the strength of Quebec neighbors’ economy, the dependence between the economies, as well as the size of Francophone population in Quebec, its relative size to Anglophone and Allophone populations in Quebec, and very importantly, the size and cohesion of the population that surrounds it.

    Quebec is not like a European state, where some 60 million Frenchmen live next to some 45 million Spaniards, 60 million Brits, 60 million Italians, 80 million Germans, 7 million Swiss, 10 million Belgians, etc… Not only are these countries more or less equal in populations but also there is a lot of linguistic diversity around them and therefore much less linguistic cohesion of the neighbors. Even smaller countries like the Czech Republic are ok because they are surrounded by Austrians, Slovaks, Poles, Germans, i.e a different language each way you look rather than one linguistic monolith. And any differences in population sizes are in millions or at most tens of millions, but not hundreds of millions. Thus, in Europe everyone can feel more or less secure. And if there ever is a conflict between let’s say France and Germany, France will find partners in Spain and UK while Germany will partner up with Denmark and Sweden.

    In North America, that linguistic diversity as well as similarity in population size just does not exist. The Francophones are a minority surrounded by only one monolithic English-speaking majority. Not just a majority but an overwhelming majority that outnumbers them 100:1. A majority that can afford not to pay any attention to Francophones, while the Francophones can’t do the same for they’ll perish economically. Bypassing this English majority in search of economic partnerships is impossible for Quebec. It’s not France that can disregard Germany and strengthen its ties with Spain, UK, or Italy. The US and Canada can ignore Quebec so easily, but Quebec can’t reciprocate it. And with Sarkozy giving Quebec a cold shoulder, it’s painfully obvious that even the distant partnerships, even the most likely ones, are not such a sure thing.

    What’s my point? My point is that maybe it’s time to accept that you’re a minority, and stop the demographic acrobatics in finding ways of arriving at a majority. Andre Pratte said something along the lines: “Il faut que les Francophones acceptent qu’ils sont une minorite”. It’s time you do.

    And again, one of you will say that it’s not true, and that I’m just a Rhodesian detractor of the Quebecois “cause”. And then someone will ask you again why is it that half of your population knows English, while the other half is continually obstructed by your government from learning it. And you’ll give me some nonsense about being “open to other cultures”, before contradicting yourselves soon after in talking about the importance of English on the job market.

    And on it will go.

    Anonymous

    April 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm

  9. Anonymous Coward:
    > “Note that I am not a sovereignist, but rather a federalist”
    >
    > Give it a rest already.

    > What the federalist side has to do is the opposite of what you suggest. The
    > federalist side has to finally grow balls and demand that Quebec make up its
    > mind. Either stay and play ball or get out. And if Quebec refuses to make up
    > its mind, the feds should push for removal of this province from the
    > federation and carve out a federalist corridor through partition, based on
    > federalist referenda across Quebec. And leave the rest to become some
    > Royaume du Francophonie on the periphery of North America.

    You know, I think this illustrates the black-and-white, Manichaean view some Canadians have of Quebec national sentiment. Because Acajack has some Quebec nationalist views, he cannot be a federalist. And conversely, if someone is a federalist (i.e. votes against independence) they obviously don’t mind living in an unilingual English Canada and obviously do not identify in any way with Quebec, so we may as well carve them out of it and merge them to Ontario or whatever.

    See, Acajack, if you were truly a federalist and a good Canadian, you wouldn’t talk of “Yves Beauchemin, Chrystine Brouillet, Patrick Sénécal, Indian [sic] Desjardins, Anne Robillard, Dany Laferrière, India Desjardins, Bryan Perro and Pauline Gill” and all these people nobody cares about. That’s why it got you a thumbs down. You’d watch Rick Mercer and eat Timbits, like other Canadians. ;-)

    (Note that Acajack probably does watch Rick Mercer and eat Timbits…)

    Obelix

    April 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  10. “Anonymous Coward:”

    Hats off to Mr.Obelix for having the courage to use his real name. Not everyone has the courage these days, unfortunately. Such are the times.

    Regards.

    Moe Lester.

    Moe Lester

    April 19, 2010 at 5:09 pm

  11. Heh, it’s a Slashdot reference. I did use my real (first) name — Marc — to post here in the past, but someone else started to use it so I changed.

    Obelix

    April 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm

  12. So it’s Marc Obelix then?

    Regards.

    Moe Lester.

    Moe Lester

    April 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm

  13. “Moe Lester?” Didn’t you participate on another blog under the name “Ray Piste?”

    littlerob

    April 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

  14. At least you are speaking white in this blog… thank god.

    John Smith

    April 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  15. “Not an “abusive husband”, but a husband that has put up with a high-maintenance bitchy wife for a long time and has finally had enough.
    I’m advising the husband to finally have a serious conversation with a wife and kick her out if need be, since she doesn’t seem to want to leave on her own accord and would rather remain with the husband and continue to milk him.”

    You must be a relationship counsellor!

    Sure, I call my wife a lazy fat cow all the time, but hey, I bought her a really nice outfit at Winners last fall, so gimme a break!

    Sure, I call her a freeloading bitch who sits on her huge butt watching TV all day, but hey, I took her out for a nice dinner at St-Hubert in January, so she should just shut the f- up, man.

    And you know, she’s tried to leave me twice. The first time she chickened out ’cause she knew she’d be zilch without me.

    The second time she was a bit feistier and she had some friends that were a bad influence on her hangin’ around. She was even close to signing a deal for her own new place, but I sucked up, bought her flowers and promised to change. And whaddaya know, it worked!

    But not too long after, I made damn sure she’ll never come that close to leaving again. I crafted up my very own little post-nuptial agreement.

    She ain’t goin’ anywhere!

    Acajack

    April 19, 2010 at 8:31 pm

  16. Anonymous, you might want to be nice to Obelix too. You may need him someday as well!

    Acajack

    April 19, 2010 at 8:42 pm

  17. “you might want to be nice to Obelix too”

    Hypocrisy at its best. The guy makes a rather abrasive entrance and provides no credentials of his own, no email address, no telephone number, no fax number, not even a real name, and he has the gull to make a remark about the anonymity of others. And, a drum roll please, I am supposed to be nice to him. Well, pardon me for not obliging.

    “You may need him someday as well!”

    Let’s get this sorted out. I do not care in the least how you or M.Obelix will vote. If you vote “Non”, it will be only for you own interests. It will be about your car payments, your mortgage, your children’s future, your Canadian passport that you feel is so respected when you travel abroad. It won’t be for me or anyone else.

    ” I think this illustrates the black-and-white, Manichaean view some Canadians have of Quebec national sentiment”

    A separatist and a “federalist-nationalist” is one and the same mindset. It’s all about power. The only difference is that one is so preoccupied with power that he is willing to risk a possible dip in his standard of living, the other one isn’t, so he will work within the framework of the confederation and milk it to his advantage. But the underlying theme is the same for both – to secure as much power as possible for the “nation” in which they sunk all their individuality.

    Anonymous

    April 20, 2010 at 9:44 am

  18. Give me a break. As I’ve said, the “Anonymous Coward” was a reference to Slashdot, which uses (used?) this as the name for unregistered posters. I was about to identify your quote as “Anonymous” but thought it looked weird so I used that as a unique identifier. Of course we’re all anonymous here.

    And “abrasive”? You’re the one who’s basically saying that one can’t feel any attachment to Quebec and still be Canadian and want to be part of this country. That’s insulting. We’re perfectly justified to tell you, don’t tell us how to be a Canadian.

    Obelix

    April 20, 2010 at 5:16 pm

  19. “a reference to Slashdot, which uses (used?) this as the name for unregistered posters”

    ???

    “don’t tell us how to be a Canadian.”

    ???

    Anonymous

    April 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

  20. Acajack,
    What makes Montreal unique is the BLEND of French and English cultures.

    AFG,
    I was touched by your post, but at some level the problem lies not in the MUHC training foreign residents who speak poor French, but in the RAMQ restricting the total number of MDs to the point that you have to feel trapped to settle for a non-francophone doctor instead of waiting for a francophone one because finding an available doctor is harder than finding a decent bottle of sipping tequila here.

    edward

    April 20, 2010 at 10:08 pm

  21. “Although, I must admit, your predictability helped me to ace that quiz”

    I got a high score by going counter-intuitively.

    My favorite question was about whose English would be understood better by an international audience, that of Ignatieff or that of let’s-chair-the-richeness Pauline.

    I picked Pauline, which turned out to be the “right” answer.

    The spin in that question was based on a finding that ESL speakers find it harder to understand English spoken by Brits (especially dialects like Cockney) than English spoken by Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Dutch (who all speak perfect and well articulated English). What he forgot to mention is that American English is the most recognizable form of English in the world. Ignatieff, who speaks very well articulated American English would certainly be understood very well by any audience, whether native English or second language English.

    Also, an assumption that Pauline speaks English involves putting a very low bar on linguistic fluency. For those who have never heard Pauline’s anglais, here is a treat:

    “Chair the richeness” at 0:25

    dick wad

    April 21, 2010 at 8:21 am

  22. “What makes Montreal unique is the BLEND of French and English cultures.”

    Edward, I do value both the French and English cultures and I was opining about Montreal without anglos just for the sake of the discussion. I think it is actually the innate tension between French and English that gives Montreal its edge.

    That said, I still stand by my statement that what makes Montreal unique in the broader context (North America, world) is the French aspect of its character.

    The English aspect is really only unique in the Quebec context. And if you took the French element away, Montreal might lose a large part of its uniqueness in Quebec, but would remain just as different (perhaps even more) from Toronto, New York, Boston and, yes!, Pittsburgh.

    Acajack

    April 21, 2010 at 8:22 am

  23. As usual, Acajack, you are absolutely right.
    Cheers.

    edward

    April 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm

  24. Bilingualism has had only one purpose. To make sure that the english would not have to learn french.

    Jəan Naimard

    April 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm

  25. I am always totaly surprised at people pointing out that anglophone doctors save lives, too. This is so funny, because saving a life doesn’t only consist in performing the operation, sewing the person up and putting them in a hospital bed awaiting recovery. A very important and seemingly totally ignored component of saving a life is the communication of critical information. If, for example, you had bowel surgery and you now have a six-inch wound on your tummy, how can you avoid haemorrhaging by making sure you are not putting a strain on your stomach muscles if you are a unilingual francophone and your doctor tells you not to put a strain on your stomach muscles in English? How can you be sure you understood the doctor’s instructions if you don’t speak their language?

    I just find it ridiculous that people don’t realize that clear communication saves lives, too. Maybe it’s just too damn convenient to sweep this under the rug…

    AngryFrenchGirl

    April 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  26. To Resident Evil:

    “No one’s telling you that your family doesn’t belong within McGill’s catchment area, trust me. But Montreal doesn’t “belong” to you either just for being francophone.”

    “I’m sorry if it feels like a loss, or it feels like a retreat, but if you don’t want to deal with English or immigrants you might want to give Saguenay a try.”

    So, nobody is telling AFG where he belongs? I guess you should then sign your posts under the pseudo “Nobody”.

    I have a bit of trouble understanding your logic when you say that Montreal doesn’t belong to AFG just for being francophone. When did he say Montreal belongs to him? So, to you, asserting one’s linguistic rights equals claiming a geographic area as one’s own? I guess then all that is left for you to do is to find your own geographic area in the ROC and stay the hell out of Quebec.

    And I think you should leave AFG’s mom alone. How he perceives his mom is not yours to assume.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    April 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm

  27. “A very important and seemingly totally ignored component of saving a life is the communication of critical information.”

    Cite one comment on this board that implied that doctor-patient communication is not important.

    Or maybe you are making a far reaching generalization: defending of existing and rather well attended English hospitals = not recognizing the importance of doctor-patient communication.

    “If, for example, you had bowel surgery and you now have a six-inch wound on your tummy, how can you avoid haemorrhaging by making sure you are not putting a strain on your stomach muscles if you are a unilingual francophone and your doctor tells you not to put a strain on your stomach muscles in English?”

    A possible scenario, however unlikely these days, but still not enough to overhaul the well established institutions. You’re reaching.

    “So, nobody is telling AFG where he belongs?”

    AFG has to learn that people will not always adapt to him, just because he is the member of the “majority” a.k.a. “minority in peril”. Sometimes, he will have to adapt to other people.

    “So, to you, asserting one’s linguistic rights equals claiming a geographic area as one’s own?”

    ??? Again, you are drawing a connection yourself. This one doesn’t even make sense.

    “find your own geographic area in the ROC and stay the hell out of Quebec.”

    Pardon us for not obliging. We’re staying.

    “And I think you should leave AFG’s mom alone. How he perceives his mom is not yours to assume.”

    ???

    Anonymous

    April 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm

  28. Anonymous wrote:

    > “So, to you, asserting one’s linguistic rights
    > equals claiming a geographic area as one’s own?”

    > ??? Again, you are drawing a connection yourself.
    > This one doesn’t even make sense.

    Care to explain? I’m all ears!

    AngryFrenchGirl

    April 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm

  29. Well… would you have been happier if all the anglo doctors just left the province and then you would have had to wait for 20 hours to get someone to take care of her? I think not.

    To begin with, it’s hard enough for doctors to stay in the province since quebec pays the least to doctors, and we pay the most taxes. So really the only reason some anglo doctors stay in Montreal is because the city is nice and accepting for the most part.

    I suggest next time if you really want to go get your mother treated in french… just go to any of the U de M hospitals… it doesn’t matter where you live, you will still be treated.

    Adrux

    April 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

  30. i spent a month in the joliette hospital with my dying father hardly any of the nurses in intensive care spoke english, i didnot understand important information that was given to us ,the result was he should not have died ,if he had been in a english hospital he might be still here i will never forgive myself

    heidi

    June 14, 2010 at 8:44 pm


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