AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘bill 101

Paging Galganov! Canada’s Got a New Native Language Police!

with 78 comments

In a move sure to confuse the hell out of some self-righteous language activists in Canada who try to justify their opposition to Québec’s language laws by claiming to be fighting for the rights of native canadians, Nunavut’s lawmakers unanimously adopted their own version of bill 101 yesterday.

The citizens of Nunavut adopted a Language Law inspired by Québec’s French Language Charter in order to protect the rights of the citizens of the booming territory to live and work in their own language.

The law, Bill 7, will make Inuktitut mandatory in all schools and it will become the language of work in the public service by 2011.

The law includes the creation of the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit a.k.a. the Inuit Language Authority and of a Language Commissioner.  This commissioner will have “investigative tools for securing the compliance of the public and private sector organizations that have not had Inuit Language duties in the past”, including taking matters to the courts.

Unlike the Office Québécois de la Langue Française which can only act upon citizen complaints, the Nunavut Language Commissioner will have the power to initiate investigations.  Fines for violators of the law could be as high as 5 000$ for individuals and 25 000$ for organizations.

From now on all signs, inclusing those of a commercial nature, will have to be in Inuktitut and the Inuktitut will have to be of at least equal size to any other language used.  Businesses will also be legally required to be able to serve all customers who demand it in the Inuit language.

According to the Canadian Press, although 91% of Inuit said they could speak the Inuit language, only 64% used it at home, a dramatic 10% drop in only 12 years.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 19, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Making a Complaint to the OQLF for (and because of) Idiots

with 251 comments

As part of my mission to demystify the strange and scary place called Québec, today, boys and girls, I’m going to initiate you to the most vile and hateful ritual that we separatists have been known to partake in. Grab your garlic and keep one browser window on justin.ca, we’re going deep into the bowels of evil French Brotherhood. For you, the inquisitive readers of AngryFrenchGuy, I will renounce the anonymous protection bestowed on me by my brethren and take you through my very first complaint to the Ordre de la Langue Française du Québec.

…or Office de la Langue Française. Whatever.

Growing up in NDG-by-the-Décarie, I’ve always been keenly aware of the difficulty a Francophone can have in obtaining service in French in some parts of Montreal. That said, on the whole, most people were in good faith and you just avoided the stores run by the others. Things had this way of working themselves out.

I had never made a complaint to the OQLF and never expected that would be something I would do. I’ve never been a strong supporter of defending French through legislation – except when it comes to the language of education – and I have always prefered to let my money do the activism.

I came back to Montreal after spending a few years living mainly in Ontario and the contrast hit me in the face like like a STM bus rear-view mirror. Whereas shopkeepers in Toronto were friendly helpful people who seemed to value the service aspect of their profession, in Downtown Montreal I was confronted with aggressive and resentful assholes who made no attempts to hide their sighs of exasperation when I asked to be served in French. Worse, the random NDG dinosaurs who would simply refuse to serve you in French were franchising all the way east on Saint-Denis and beyond.

It was while I was struggling with this increasing frustration and disgust that I came across the nice people at Boffey Auto Sales.

I was looking for a car on the Internet and found one I liked on boffeyautosales.com. I looked for the phone number on the page and I noticed it was all in English. I looked for a Français button, or something. There was none.

I decided to send the company an email. I’m not thinking of bill 101 or of the OQLF at this point. I’m talking about the good old fashioned free market. I sent the shopkeeper my grievance and hoped this would eventually influence him to change his approach. Here’s the copy/paste of my missive:

Hi

I was going to visit your business to look for my next vehicle but a quick visit to your website made me understand you are not interested in my business.

Hint: Only 17% of Montrealers have english as their mother tongue. Maybe some service in the language the est of us speak would help sales!

Meilleure chance la prochaine fois.

Georges

A bit of a wise-ass, but nevertheless polite.

Now here is the response I got from the good people at Boffey:

Hi George, (your name with the correct spelling!)

You seem to be able to communicate quite well in english. It really is too bad that you are so ignorant that you would let language stand in the way of getting a great deal!

Most of the traffic our website sees is from ebay, which you are probably aware, is in english. We advertise on http://www.lespac.com in the language you prefer, and are fluent in both english and french. We have a large french speaking customer base who are interested in getting a deal, not in bickering over language.

The cost to put together the website you see was 2,300$. It seems expensive, but vehicles can be uploaded, and listings modified by a child it is so simple. It would have cost an additional 1,000$ to have it translated. Seeing as most of our online business is conducted in the 9 other provinces that make up our COUNTRY, we decided to save a few dollars. To date you are the only one who has been insulted.

I am actually happy that you made the decision to avoid our lot. Dealing with pigheaded fools such as yourself rarely leads to any profitable business.

Be sure to take a trip on by Encan Direct H. Gregoire, MTL Autoprix or Corporatif Renaud, just to name a few, where you will be catered to in the language of your choice, and will also pay the price for it!!

Hint: The mother tongue of 88% of CANADIANS is english.

Bonne Chance!

Ian Weir
Boffeyautosal

That’s the day I made my first complaint to the OQLF.

Easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Clicked here: www.olf.gouv.qc.ca/francisation/respect/plainte.html, filled the form in 5 minutes and emailed it back. Got a message from the OQLF a week later saying they’d received my complaint. That’s the last I’ve ever heard of it.

As the website is still only in English even though the courts have ruled that ecommerce is absolutely within the OQLF’s jurisdiction, I can only guess that my complaint is one of the 1000’s that the Imperial Guardians of the Language just delete every year.

And you know what? At the end of the day I’d rather they go after Best Buy and Coach Canada than a poor chump selling used cars on ebay.

In fact, I actually could’ve accepted Mr. Weir’s explanation that the website is only for business outside Québec, had he told me politely. But that day, all I could think was that either he was going to have pay 1000$ to translate his website or he was going to have to pay a 1000$ fine. Busted.

Perhaps this is an illustration of how the system makes it to easy for people to make impulsive complaints about trivial problems.

On the the other hand, it is also a good example of how many business people bring problems upon themselves by being first-class twits.

Re-reading that email a year later, I feel I just might file a second complaint right now…

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 31, 2008 at 1:39 pm

There is no such thing as the Québec Language Police

with 103 comments

When it comes to negative branding, opponents of Québec’s language legislation hit a home run when they coined the term Language Police to designate the governement bureaucrats charged with enforcing the French Language Charter. Probably the only thing that could do worse damage to your international public image than a Language Police is footage of your citizens hitting baby seals on the head with harpoons…

The nickname, however, was not even their own idea. The best the most clever Angryphone of them all, Mordecai Richler, could come up with was Tongue Trooper. It is Morley Safer of CBS’s 60 Minutes who is said to have been the first to use the term Language Police.

There is, of course, no such thing as a Language Police in Québec.

The general objective of Québec’s French Language Charter is to protect the right of every citizen of Québec to work and receive services and information in French in Québec, something that has often been problematic, especially in Montreal, even though French-speakers are the majority of the population.

To acheive that goal it made it mandatory that all businesses in Québec be able to serve their customers in French, both verbally and in writing, whether it be through menus, posters, telephone customer service, advertizing, on the internet or in person.

If a citizen felt his right to service in French was not honored, he could make a complaint to the Office de Protection de la Langue Française, the governement agency in charge of the Charter’s application. The agency would then send a agent to investigate if the complaint was justified, and if it was, to inform the business in question that there had been a complaint and assist him in correcting the situation.

If, and only if, the business in questions refused or failed to make the corrections the OQLF could forward the complaint to the Minister of Justice, who has the power to impose a fine.

In 2006-2007 there were 3873 complaints. Only 72 of those were eventually forwarded to the minister.

The OQLF agents are no more a police force than food inspectors or workplace safety agents, but Language Police is a powerful image and through endless repetition by less thorough reporters than Mr. Safer who couldn’t spell hyperbole, the idea that Québec has an actual Language Police has taken on a life all it’s own and otherwise informed visitors fully expect to see them patrolling the streets of Montreal in uniform.

The myth of the Language Police has hurt Québec and Montreal’s image, but it’s to late to do anything about it. The image is there and the name stuck.

In such situations the only thing left to do is embrace image. Québec could make the agents of the Office Québécois de la Langue Française actual constables of an actual Language Police, give them uniforms, badges, governement issue tape-measures and taser guns.

This change of terminology, however, will cause changes accross Canada as other pencil-pushing civil servants will also want to be called police officers. You see, cops earn more money and have way more luck with the ladies than white collar bureaucrats.

Employees of the CRTC, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, will be become the Thought Police, to reflect their power to decide who has the right to broadcast, what they can broadcast, and how much they can charge for it. The bureaucrats in charge of monitoring the 35% of Canadian music radio stations are required to broadcast by law will be known as the Rock n’ Roll Police and those found guilty of not playing enough Bryan Adams will be sent to a jail in Newfoundland known as the Jailhouse Rock.

Workers at Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal who investigate complaints of discrimination against visible minorities and women in the workplace will be renamed the Race and Sex Police.

City zoning officials in Saskatoon, whose job includes inforcement of a city bylaw that legally requires residents of the Hughes Drive developement to use a minimum of four colors on the facade of their houses and that “the selected colors should match the range of Benjamin Moore “Historical Colors”, will be known as the Royal Canadian Color Police.

Soccer moms in Saskatoon risk heavy fines if they should fail to coordinate with their neighbours, but that is nothing compared to the plight of homeowners in Edmonton where the Veranda Police will patrols the streets of Spruce Village on the lookout for violators of the “covered porch” architectural guidelines.

Well, the decision whether or not to turn any little government employee into a police officer is one Alberta and Saskatchewan will have to make for itself.

As for Québec, the world already asumes we have a language police so there will be nothing lost in getting one. In fact, it would be a unique opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

An actual Québec Language Police could play the role Mounties play in the rest of Canada. Language cops in crisp blue uniforms and funny hats could be posted arround Montreal and Québec, tourists would line up to be photographed with them and a paraphenelia deal could be struck with Disney Corporation.

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 5, 2008 at 9:43 am

Camille Laurin’s Bitches

with 54 comments

Who\'s your daddy?

Who says Montreal should be French, anyway?

This is a complaint I’ve been hearing more and more from Anglophones.

Montreal is a bilingual city. Why should French have a special status?

Because if French didn’t have a special status Montreal would have the economic and cultural importance Akron, Ohio.

Bill 101 isn’t about wiping out English From Montreal. It’s about providing a counterweight to the massive power of attraction of English in North America and the world.

Bill 101 created bilingual Montreal.

Before bill 101 there was no bilingual Montreal. It was as Jane Jacobs and many others observed: “An English city containing many French-speaking workers and inhabitants.” About 70% of the inhabitants actually.

Before bill 101 there was no French in the workplace, there was no French in the boardrooms and there was little or no French in the shops downtown. Before Bill 101 the Canadian National Railway and the big banks could have their headquarters in Montreal and not have to hire a single French-speaking person above the second floor.

Before the French Language Charter became law bilingualism was such a valued skill in Montreal that in his book “Sorry I don’t speak French” journalist and new Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser recalls meeting the editor of the Montreal Star, a man who’s position would suppose that he was not only well read but that he also had some very sensitive antennas in all of the city’s communities, and that he did not speak French at all.

Before those darn separatists took power immigrants only learned English because that’s the only language they needed to earn a living. Anglos didn’t need to speak French to get a job. Francophones who wanted to rise above the shop floor had to consider an English education. The market value of bilingualism was sweet fuck all.

By giving the French majority the right to work in French the French Language Charter’s creator Camille Laurin reversed that. All of the sudden Anglos and immigrants needed to learn some French to compete with the bilingual Francophones. The French classes suddenly got more important in English schools and the very idea of immersion programs was invented.

The children and grandchildren of unilingual Anglophones are now proudly bilingual and this proficiency with languages gives them a unique advantage other Anglo-Saxons would pimp their sister for. This ability to speak two or more languages has kept bilingual English Montrealers right at the top of the earnings pyramid in Montreal, Québec and Canada.

It has also given them such a unique access to federal public service jobs that in the West people complain that Canada has been hijacked by Montreal lawyers.

The language laws probably saved Montreal’s economy. Contrary to popular myth, the decline of Montreal as the economic center of Canada was well under way when English was the only language of business. Toronto had already caught up with Montreal by the 1940’s, a good quarter of a century before the Parti québécois came to power.

In those days Montreal was slowly becoming just another English-speaking town on the outer periphery of North America’s economic heartland. A Hartford or a Pittsburgh. By making French a central part of Montreal’s business and commercial life, bill 101 positioned our city as a unique bridge between two of the world’s most vibrant cultural and economic spheres.

A position it holds alone, without the shadow of a challenger, in North America or even the world.

So why should French have a special status?

Because that special status paid for your Lexus, biatch!

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 19, 2008 at 9:40 pm

The Montreal Gazette is Lying to You # 234

with 83 comments

It is with a tearful eye and a trembling hand that I write today after reading Taking a Personal Stand, a piece by J.D. Gravenor about the plight of a poor 12 year old called Audrey-Laurence Farmer.

Poor Audrey-Laurence is a 12 year old student at a school called Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s… or was a student, we should say, because, as we learn in the article, she is being forced by the Québec government to leave her school and her friends.

Audrey-Laurence is not eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility for English Language Education, you see, because her parents have not been educated in English. The loophole that her parents had used to get her into Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s in the first place has been closed by bill 104 and, even though that law is being challenged at the Supreme Court of Canada, little Audrey-Laurence is being forced to leave her friends and classmates and start all over again in a French school.

Cue teary eyed child: “It makes me feel really sad, because I’m losing a really close friend. A lot of people who are really good friends with her are upset and they wish she could stay here, because they’ve been really attached to her.”

Audrey-Laurence Farmer is the perfect poster-child for the campaign waged by parents and Anglo school boards against bill 104: a bright bilingual kid forced to leave her school by mean bureaucrats.

It’s very dramatic indeed. It’s also a total fabrication.

Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s is not your average private school where a couple of thousands of dollars a year buys your kid ivy covered walls and pretty uniforms. Kindergarten at the Westmount school costs 12,810$ a year! Kindergarten! Tuition for grades 1 through 6 costs 14,580$ a year!

From kindergarten through grade six, Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s functions as a non-subsidized school. That means it receives no money from the government. It also means it is not regulated by bill 101 and that it can admit any child they want, even those who are not eligible for English public and subsidized private schools. Children like Audrey-Laurence.

So what happened? After grade 7 Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s becomes a subsidized school. As a subsidized school that receives government funding it can only admit students whose parents have been to English schools or who have themselves been to English schools in Canada. That’s the rule as established by the Charter of the French Language 30 years ago.

Until 2002 the school’s entire structure was built around a loophole used by some parents to get otherwise ineligible kids into subsidized English schools. Parents willing and able to pay the price of a brand new Volkswagen every year to send their children to Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s primary school were essentially buying the right to send their kids to English schools in Québec.

By the end of the sixth grade enough children had received “the majority of their education in English in Canada” and were legally allowed to attend Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s taxpayer-financed high school.

That’s exactly the loophole members of the National Assembly unanimously (yes, even the English-speaking ones!) voted to close with bill 104. Not so much because it was a way for parents to get their kids into English language schools in total violation of the spirit of bill 101, but because the loophole allowed wealthy parents to buy the right to a GOVERNMENT FUNDED English education

If grades 7 to 11 at Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp’s school were not subsidized, Audrey could’ve stayed. Because it is, now after the sixth grade students like Audrey-Laurence who are not eligible for English schools will have to go to French schools…

Or will they? Although most crusty private high schools in Montreal and Westmount operate on the same model of unsubsidized primary school and governement funded high school, there are some unsubsidized English high schools out there. Parents who have paid over $100,000 to send their child at Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s from kindergarten cannot claim that money is the issue here.

Schools like Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s were part of a vast network that provided a way for the wealthy to ignore Québec’s laws and obtain governement funding for high schools filled with privileged children that should not have been eligible for taxpayer financed English education.

The wealthy already have absolute freedom of choice when it comes to the language of education in Québec, as long as they forfeit about $3,500 of governement funding a year. What we are talking about here is extremely expensive schools that that had found a way to ALSO receive government money.

Let’s not forget that no other province in Canada gives as much government money to private schools as Québec. Ontario would not have contributed a dime to Audrey’s private education, in French or English!

If Audrey-Laurence’s parents had sent her to an unsubsidized school, she wouldn’t have to change schools next year. Sadly, her parents tried to have it both ways: an exclusive private education AND government money to pay for it.

They tried to cheat the system and it didn’t work out. So, as any good parents would, they told their daughter the governement is to blame.

Now that’s a lesson Audrey-Laurence will certainly remember.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 8, 2008 at 11:26 am

Ireland’s bill 101

with 41 comments

Irish sign Montreal

A vast majority of Irish people support the adoption of legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers in Northern Ireland.

Sixty-eight percent of some 11, 000 responders to a consultation by Northern Ireland’s government published last October responded favorably to a draft of the proposed Irish Language Act.

The proposed Irish law would use a rights-based approach. That is the same philosophy behind Québec’s language law.

Among the proposed modalities of the law is the creation of a Language commissioner who would have the power to “investigate complaints, and if necessary initiate a review, where there is failure to act on the rights of Irish speakers under the Act or any other enactment that deals with the use or status of the Irish language.”

The law would also stipulate that “Private individuals must have the right to make complaints and have court remedy if necessary.”

In 2005 the Republic of Ireland removed the legal status the English-language name of 2,000 towns, villages and roads in the Gaeltacht region of western Ireland and made the Gaelic version the only one that could be used by governement and public bodies.

Happy St-Patrick’s Day!

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 15, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Bill 101, hum… 101… The School Law

with 44 comments

montreal high school

Québec’s language laws limit access to English schools for most citizens of the province. That is true.

Yet, if any other Canadian provinces or American state wanted to offer it’s linguistic minorities access to the kind of education network Québec finances for it’s Anglophone minority, every single one of them would have to increase dramatically the number of minority schools it finances.

For example, if American states were expected to give their Spanish-speaking minority the same education rights that Québec gives to it’s English-speaking minority, then New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Utah, Rhode Island, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Kansas – all states that have more Spanish-speakers than Québec has English-speakers – would have to create a second publicly funded Spanish-language schools system.

Although all Canadian provinces have some minority education rights and schools, no other provincial minority has the vast network of schools, colleges and universities that English-speakers in Montreal and Quebec have access to. There are in Québec about 367 English public schools, 3 English public colleges called CEGEPs and 3 English universities.

In fact, if you use that standard definition of a major university as one that has both a law school and a medical school – New Brunswick’s Université de Moncton, the only autonomous French-language university outside Québec, does not have the latter – then Québec is the only state or province to fund a complete education system for it’s linguistic minority.

That’s if you accept the premise that English-speaking North Americans can be considered a minority at all…

In the 1970’s Francophones in Montreal became increasingly alarmed to see the vast majority of new immigrants to Québec sending their children to English Schools. That situation, combined with the demographic decline of Francophones in Canada and the availability of an extensive and totally free network of English schools in Québec meant that within one generation French-speakers could become a minority in Montreal.

Québec’s Francophones, representing over 80% of the population of Québec but barely 5% of North Americans were put in the position were they had to assist their neighbors in anglicizing immigrants.

Not only were Francophones being assimilated, but they were paying for it.

In 1977 the Québec government adopted the French Language Charter, known as bill 101, which made French the mandatory language of primary and secondary education. From that moment on, all residents of Québec – except the Anglophone minority – had to send their children in French schools from 1st grade through the end of High School.

Many people in Québec’s Anglophone community and in the rest of Canada were angered by this apparent limit to their freedom to choose their children’s language of instruction. Few noted that Québec was the only place on the continent where an actual school network made that choice possible at all.

In any case, the right of English-speaking Quebecers to a “separate but equal” public English-language school network was constitutionally protected. Parents who have been to English schools anywhere in Canada have the privilege to send their children to either school network in Québec.

It is only Francophones and new immigrants – those who make the informed decision of living in the French-speaking part of Canada – who are limited to French Schools.

In 1972, before the adoption of the Charter, only 10% of immigrants to Québec sent their children to French schools. Since the adoption of bill 101 the situation has reversed. Parents who send their kids to private schools can still send them to English schools as long as the school does not receive government funding.

Freedom of choice remains total when it come to higher education and students can study in English at college-level CEGEPs or in one of Québec’s three English-language universities.

In the decades since the law was adopted, some wealthy families figured out they could send their eldest child to an unsubsidized school – one that usually cost over 10 000$ a year – and then switch all of their children to the English public system the next year.

The National Assembly of Québec unanimously adopted law 104 to put an end to the loophole. The Québec court of appeals struck down the law in 2007 and the matter is now headed for the Supreme Court.

Click here for information of the Charter of the French Language’s sign law.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 12, 2008 at 11:06 am