Quebec On a Mission to Save English in the World

with 1,297 comments

It’s going to be a scorching hot summer in Québec City. In about a week the Philadelphia Flyers will put an end to the providential media blackout provided by the Habs’ unexpected early playoffs successes and Jean Charest’s Liberals, already busy with Mulroney-scale allegations of corruption, will also have to deal with their very first full-scale language crisis.

And if the word on the WiFi is true, Charest might just be about to take Québec’s already schizophrenic linguistic situation straight through the looking-glass.

Y’all of course remember that last year the Supreme Court of Canada invalidated Bill 104, a law that closed a loophole used by wealthy families to purchase the right to send their kids to English-language public schools, a privilege that in the spirit and letter of Québec’s laws, is supposed to be reserved for Québec’s historic English-speaking minority.

The Supremes essentially agreed that closing that loophole was a legitimate objective, but decided that the technicalities of Bill 104, the idea that all the time a student spent in a unsubsidized private school didn’t count as education in Canada, was too much. It gave the Québec bureaucrats one year to find a better way to close the loophole.

Evidently this is harder than it sounds and Charest government already missed its deadline.

In the Red corner, tenors of the English-speaking community have taken the debate way beyond the loophole and are arguing that short of a new source of students, Québec’s English-language public school system, and, by extension, all of Québec’s English-speaking community, is on the verge of demographic collapse. (The inconvenient fact that the size of the English system relative to the French system is stable, that interprovincial migration from English-speaking provinces to Québec is on the rise and that English as a home, work and higher education language in Québec is in the midst of a historic boom is conveniently ignored.)

Emboldened by a recent poll that suggests that for the first time in decades Québec Francos would support giving themsleves the right to send their kids to English schools, some are asking the Liberals to take this opportunity to give… everyone except Québec’s Franco’s access to English schools.

One of the solutions to the English schools demographic « decline » peddled by School Board—and appalingly getting support in some sovereigntist circles—is the right to public education should be extended not only to families who have received an English education somewhere in Canada, but also to those who have received this education in « English-speaking countries » such as the US or the United Kingdom.

Notice the two countries that inevitably come up when that solution is proposed: the US and the UK. What about Jamaica, South Africa, Belize, Nigeria and Cameroun?

An arbitrary choice of countries could never be justified on any objective moral grounds and would inevitably be struck down in courts as discriminatory. Eventually, the right to a subsidised English education would have to be extended to the children of parents who have been educated in English not only in Canada, but « to any children with at least one parent educated in English anywhere on Earth », as the Montreal Gazette suggested.

In other words, instead of closing a loophole that enabled wealthy Québec Francos and immigrants to purchase the privilege of a subsidized English education in Québec, these people are suggesting that we take the racket global!

Because make no mistake about it, « elsewhere on Earth » an English education is a privilege of the wealthy. In places like Pakistan, India, much of Africa and Asia, sending their children to exclusive private English-language schools is the local elites way of making sure they have first dibs on all the good government, justice and army brass jobs.

Ain’t globalization grand?

It is possible to argue that Québec’s English-speaking community has historical rights to its own institutions. But we would now be extending these rights to ALL English-speaking people, anywhere on Earth. Québec, of all places, would be the first Nation in the world to treat ALL THE WORLD’S ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES as a minority in need of special protection!

And all the Francos in the English language school board’s poll that want greater access to English schools?   Too bad.  They’d still be locked out.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

May 19, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Posted in AngryFrenchGuy Speaks!

Tagged with , ,

1,297 Responses

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  1. So, Raj, would you also characterize Canada’s decision not to fund Hindi, Mandarin and Arabic public schools as “irational” or is English the only “sane” language?

    Because if “choice” is your issue, then your focus on Québec, the North American jurisdiction that offers parents the most tax-funded options to CHOOSE from, would be a little crazy, would’t it?


    July 8, 2011 at 10:06 am

  2. In my opinion, the Canadian government should fund every school as long as basic Canadian charter is respected by the school’s curriculum. The government should not mandate primary language to any provinces.

    Yes, what is wrong with having public schools in different primary languages such as Hindi, Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic, Russian etc.. ? As long as the school is able to fund itself and include English and French (two Canadian national languages) in their curriculum.

    The above will give every Canadian citizen a choice to choose what language their child should study.

    In India, we speak/interact in 32 official languages.Even though our national language is Hindi, in a Hindi speaking province, you’ll still find a an Urdu language school or English only school. Only requirement for Urdu or English speaking school in Hindi speaking state is that they must have Hindi has 2nd language in their curriculum.

    I have done my schooling in similar fashion too. In India, I lived in a province or state of Maharashtra where Marathi language is official state language. I studied in a school where primary language of education is Gujarati (primary language of Gujarat state or province) and I studied Marathi language as 2nd language in my curriculum. As a result, I became proficient in both the languages.

    Based on it’s history the Canadian charter was created to support English and French languages. But this Canada is not the same what it was a century ago.

    There are several immigrants moving to Canada from various parts of the world, who speak different mother language (other than English & French). To help and promote different ethnicity, culture the the Canadian government and Quebec government should show broader foresight.

    Let people choose what they want their child to study in…for now the choice could be only English and French. But if they open the floodgates for other language schooling, you may see kids learning primarily in different languages.


    July 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm

  3. Sound like a tour de babel!


    Peanut butter

    July 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm

  4. I don’t agree with you, Raj, but now at least you are making a coherent proposition. Now, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I would like you to explain why, in light of your position, you declared Québec’s policy to be irrational, when this is the exact same language policy as the those in place in place in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Massachussets, Florida, Nuevo Leon, Tamaolipas, and every other North American state or province in Canada, the United States and Mexico?

    Do so-called advocates of free choice like yourself ever stop and wonder why you have this fixation on Québec’s language politics?


    July 11, 2011 at 11:12 am

  5. “why you have this fixation on Québec’s language politics?”

    Maybe because he lives in Qc (or close to Qc) so his focus is on Quebec. Or maybe it’s because the Quebec policy stands out as one of the most stringent language policies in the world, to the point that even the size of lettering on signage is regulated, something unheard of anywhere else in the world. (the more extreme version of this provision that banned non-French signage from public space completely was only lifted in 1993, after a UN condemnation).

    Also, he seems to make a statement to the effect that if Canada does indeed follow Quebec’s example, then it’s not a right way to go, and if there are any jurisdictions that do what Quebec does (which you assert is a fact, but I will have to double check that), then that is not a good way of handling this matter either. Instead, the Indian example of multi-linguistic coexistence and policy are a much better way. And I agree.

    Also, even if parallels with Quebec policy can be found, examples of wrong-doing in jurisdiction A do not absolve jurisdiction B. “Others do it too” is the worst cop out ever.


    August 27, 2011 at 8:11 pm

  6. We support a boycott of Quebec in order to hurt the government of Quebec, via the reduction of spending of individuals in Quebec.

    We no longer purchase wine, etc. here in QC and we no longer purchase lottery tickets here.

    As we travel in the US for 48 hrs+ a minimum of 4 times/yr we can bring back $6,400 in purchases/yr. That is a savings of $992 in sales taxes as we shop in NH where there is 0% sales tax on everything and in MA and RI where there is 0% sales tax on clothing/shoes. Across the board, prices in the US are 14% less so we save on the purchase prices as well.

    Toys, clothes and shoes offer a super savings. We purchased a toy for $70 in NH. It was $100 in Montreal PLUS tax. We saved $44.50 on one toy!!!

    Last yr we skied at Mont Ste-Anne for 5 days. This yr. we will ski at Jay Peak (VT) for 6 days! Mont Ste-Anne is in Pauline Marois’ riding! :o)

    It is time for everyone who is fed up with Quebec to boycott it


    December 30, 2012 at 8:45 am

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