AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘canada

Quebec On a Mission to Save English in the World

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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!

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The Biggest Loser: Gilles Duceppe

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duceppe

Gilles Duceppe was given a choice this week.  He had to decide whether he was going to save Stephen Harper or Stéphane Dion’s ass.

No third option.  Dion or Harper.  Pick one.

Gilles Duceppe also lost the best gig in parliamentary politics this week: perpetual opposition.  The right…   – no, the constitutional duty – to rip the government and the other parties apart without ever having to offer a viable alternative.

Yesterday he agreed to keep a Liberal-NDP coalition in power for over a year.  He signed away the Bloc’s right to oppose their budgets or any other major legislation.  If the coalition ever forms the government the Bloc is  going to be held accountable for what it does.  The Bloc is going to have, ugh… a record.

And you think the Liberals and the NDP are going to have a hard time explaining to their constituents that they signed a deal with the separatists?  Gilles Duceppe had to sign a deal with Stéphane Dion!  Mister Clarity Act!  Canada’s Separatist-Slayer in Chief!

For an important part of the Independence movement, Gilles Duceppe became Maréchal Pétain yesterday.

All this for what?  Nothing.  Sweet fuck all.  Gilles Duceppe candidly admitted at the coalition’s press conference that he did not obtain anything substantial for the Québec Nation in return for his support.  Layton and Dion had him by the balls.  Either he ran with them or he was to become the man who saved Stephen Harper.

And the English Canadian media will have you believe this is the Québec independence movement’s greatest coup in history…

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 2, 2008 at 10:55 am

Sarkozy, Bush, Gaddafi and Canada

with 6 comments

Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen are in Paris.  It’s about midnight and there is no one around.  Stephen holds up a small piece of paper with an address on it, not sure he’s at the right place.

-I told you it’s too late, Stephen!  Everybody’s gone!

-Trust me honey, this is when French parties get started.  We’re fine.

Stephen sees a man smoking a cigarette and walks up to him holding his piece of paper.

-Exkweesay moi, savay vous oo ey l’Eleesaye?

The man smells like cigarettes and Pinot Noir.  He doesn’t even look at the piece of paper.  He just shakes his head.

-Stephen Harper.  Never thought I’d see the day we’d be at the same party.

-AngryFrenchGuy!  I thought you looked familiar!

-Stephen Harper, the friend of France!  Who would’ve thought?  Trudeau was never a friend of France. Chrétien was never a friend of France.  And then you, the rigid policy wonk from Calgary, you’re the one who gets the president of France to declare: “Our friends, the Canadians, our brothers, the Québécois”.  Way to make it with the cool kids, neighbour!

-Don’t forget he also said he prefered a united Canada!

-Yeah, yeah.. whatever.  C’mon I’ll introduce you to everybody.

-Are you sure it’s this way?

-Hey.  This is my cousin’s house.

AngryFrenchGuy, Stephen and Laureen walk up the stairs to a vast room filled with people and cigarette smoke. EuroHouse music is playing very loud.  AFG points over to a small gray-haired man standing by himself in a corner.

-That’s George W. Bush over there.

-Wow.  I thought France and the USA we’re not getting along!  Darn, even Republicans don’t want to be seen with Bush anymore!

-Hey, Bush is not only Sarkozy’s friend, he’s his brother! The first thing Nic did when he was elected President was have a barbeque at the Bush house in Kennebunkport. “Even within a family there are disagreements”, he said, “but we are still a family. And we may be friends and not agree on everything, but we are friends.”

-He said Bush was family...?

-Check it out!  See that guy over there with the soul glow hair and the hot female bodyguards?  That’s Colonel Mouamar al-Ghaddafi!

-Gaddafi?  I thought we weren’t talking to him?

-Sarko is talking to him.  He’s a friend of the family.  He invited him to France for his first official visit in 34 years.  He also negociated with him for the release of those Bulgarian nurses.

-But you can’t negociate with terrorists!  That defeats the whole purpose!

-Sarko also talks to them all the time.   When he was mayor of Neuilly there was this guy called the Human Bomb who took an entire class of schoolchildren hostage.  Sarko negociated with him on TV!

-On TV!? That’s dangerous!  A head of State just can’t go around talking to anyone, giving them credibility!

-Sure he can!  Check it out over there:  That’s Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia.  Sarko talks to him.  And over there in the fatigues, that’s the Colombian revolutionaries of the FARC.  Sarko also talks to them.  Oh! come here!

AFG grabs Stephen’s hand and drags him over to two angry looking men with red, white and blue ribbons accross their chests.  One is old and sitting, the other is middle aged and standing.

-Stephen, I’d like you to meet Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the Front National and Vladimir Poutin, President of Russia.

-Le Pen?  You can’t be a friend of Sarkozy!

-I am not.  He eez a dirtee immigrant.

-But why are you at his party?

-I have to come here to see my friends, now.  Before, ze other partees they leeve me alone with my supporters.  This Sarkozy he openly copies my ideas and reeche out to my supporters.

-Is there anybody this Sarkozy will not be associated with?  My God!  Terrorists!  Fascists!  George W. Bush for crying out loud…

Stephen can’t finish his thought because Vladimir Poutin has him in a jiu-jitsu hold and has his face 2 centimeters from his own.

-You listen.  Sarkozy is good man.  He is only western leader who call me when I have big electoral victory in 2007.  No one else call me.  Be careful what you say.  Sarkozy is my friend.

Poutin eventually let’s go of Stephen and he and AFG walk back towards the stairs.  Stephen turns towards AFG.

-Listen, AFG…  I’m going to go, now.  I’m just not comfortable with this crowd. I thought this was a good move, you know, normalizing Canadian relations with France and getting the French president to support a united Canada…  But I’m not so sure anymore.  I mean, this guy will be friends with anyone!  It’s ridiculous!  How can YOU be friends with him?

-Oh, I think Sarkozy is a fucking jerk!  He’s a disgrace and an embarassement!  He’s not my friend at all, he’s my cousin!  You know what they say: you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family…

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 19, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Posted in AngryFrenchGuy Speaks!

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On Québec’s Independence and Belgian Mathematics

with 47 comments

The separatist threat is over.

This is the new conventional wisdom in Canada. Québec’s independence? Old news. Problem dealt with. Taken care of.

In the Globe and Mail Lawrence Martin writes a one paragraph obituary of what was only a brief episode in Canada’s glorious history:

“In Quebec, a corner has been turned. Separatism? It’s old, it’s boring, the debates as shallow as a birdbath. Decades of referendums, constitutional battles, separatist threats drained the national spirit. They curbed foreign investment, preoccupied the federal government, sidelined other national priorities. Not so now.”

The latest polls show that support for independence is at it’s lowest in decades. Only 36% of the Québécois would vote for sovereignty according to an April 2008 poll by CROP. Léger Marketing counts 42% (google English).

Insignificant, apparently.

Well… you know what they say about numbers and what we can make them say.

Take Belgium, for example.

Now, French-speakers in Belgium have always had a slightly odd way of counting, different from the way other French-speakers count. Ninety and Seventy, for example, are in French Quatre-vingt-dix and Soixante-dix, but not in Belgium. Over there they say Nonante and Septante.

Apparently the perception of numbers is also different in Belgium. In Canada when 42% of the Québécois support the secession of Québec it means the movement is moribund and agonizing. In Belgium, when 49% of the Flemish say they support the independence of Flanders, the country is thrown into the worst political crisis of it’s history.

Yet, if you take a standard 5% margin of error, there could mathematically be more separatists in québec than Flanders right now…

Of course, the situations in Québec and Flanders are very different.

Over there, the crisis is the result of Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s failure to reform the country in a way that would give Flanders more autonomy whereas in Québec, Trudeau’s constitutional reforms and Mulroney’s Meech Lake accord have… left Québec pretty much in the same situation where it was when the “troubles” started 40 years ago.

In the very heated context of a political crisis that has been going on for years and the very fresh rejection of Flemish autonomy by the French-speaking Wallons, half of Flanders wants out of the kingdom of Belgium.

In a still favourable economic climate, with a governement that panders to the nationalists and after four decades of “referendums, constitutional battles, separatist threats” that have “drained the national spirit”, “curbed foreign investment” and “sidelined other national priorities”, between one third and one half of the Québécois STILL want independence from Canada.

Insignificant, I’m sure.

There is no way those numbers could go back up again, right? French-speaking Montrealers are feeling very secure linguistically right now, aren’t they? And there is no way the 55 000 new immigrants the Québec governement wants to recruit every year will have any effect on the demographic balance on the city either. Of course not.

And as the people of Québec watch their manufacturing sector collapse in the wake of the American economic meltdown, they will surely find comfort in the fact that they can always flee Québec and it’s horrible language laws for the riches and linguistic freedom of Alberta.

How could any of this ever flare up into a rise of support for Québec’s independence?

Thank God for Canadian Math.

Written by angryfrenchguy

July 27, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Canada Rocks!

with 28 comments

Blame Canada

The one recommendation of the Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation that was not met with total indifference was the idea that we should revive the use of the term “French-Canadian” to designate the white, catholic descendents of the French settlers that are otherwise designated as “Pur Laine” or “Old Stock” Québécois.

The idea was universally ridiculed. Sovereignists objected that they were not Canadians. Federalists took offence that they should wear an hyphenated label in their own country. Third generation French-speaking federalist descendents of Portuguese immigrants wondered if the label applied to them or not.

The two wise men did have a point. If Québécois is to designate all the people of Québec, we need some sort of word to designate the white French-speaking majority, if only because without it the Canadian media will have to project all of it’s self-righteous fear of Others on the Americans, and that’s bad for business.

But on this Canada Day I want to bring to your attention the fact that there is second very important word missing from both the French and English languages. How do you call English-speaking Canadians?

Belgium is the name of the country shared two people, the Dutch-speaking Flemish and the French-speaking Wallons. Britain is the country shared by the English, Welsh and Scots. All these people can call themselves British without fear of losing their own national identity. European is a label increasingly popular with a younger generation that can use it without feeling like they are abandoning their French, Spanish or Greek identity.

Canada is the union of the Québécois and the, well, eh… Canadians….

If Canada is to remain united (for many reasons the AGF is not a supporter of a united Canada, but for argument’s sake, let’s suppose he is) it needs an umbrella identity that can be used as a label for all the people living in the federation without implying that their more specific identity is not valid anymore.

That label is probably… Canada and Canadian.

Canadian was until the 20th century the label used to describe exclusively the French-speaking North Americans. Since the second world war, the label has been embraced by English-speaking Canadians while it was rejected by a growing number of French-speakers. On early maps and journals by the settlers, Canadian was a word used to describe natives.

As a label that was once used to describe all three of Canada’s founding peoples, Canadian is the obvious choice for a general name for all inhabitants of the federation the way British is used for the English, Scots and Welsh.

So now the problem is: We need a name for those darn English-speakers!

Although it is sometimes resented for a variety of reasons, I say we should baptize English-Canada The ROC. I mean officially.

Beyond it’s etymological root of Rest Of Canada that some find reductive, ROC is the only name for English-Canada as a whole that has any sort of real use in current language.

ROC has some geographical grounding, evoking the Canadian Shield, the Rocky mountains and The Rock, Newfoundland. ROC also evokes English-Canada’s extremely successful music scene and the rugged rock and roll sport of hockey.

Not to be underestimated, ROC sounds cool. There are worst things that could happen to English-Canadians than to become known as Rockers!

If it was up to me, here’s what I’d give you for your birthday, Canada: I’d get the House of Commons to officially recognize the ROC Nation!

Happy Canada Day


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Written by angryfrenchguy

June 29, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Canadian Nationalists Fear the .QC domain

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Pathologically insecure Canadian nationalists are denouncing the idea proposed by Parti québécois MNA Daniel Turp that a .qc domain be created.

Presently Québec-based websites can use a .qc.ca domain or the generic .com, .org, etc…

There are precedents for non-independent country domain names. .cat has been available to the people of Catalunya since 2005 and the danish territory of Greenland has it’s own .gl domain.

After making sure every single product in Canada is called Canadian something and that all the McDonald’s, Sears and Wal-Marts in the land had a canadian maple leaf on their logos, Canadian patriots now want to make sure all Québec websites are properly labelled as Canadian products.

Maybe they are concerned the Canadian federation will crumble to pieces if Québec individuals and companies were allowed to post websites on the internet without the .ca in front of the .qc reminding the world that, yes, Québec is still part of Canada.

This is probably the same people who thought that the solution the near breakup of the country in 1980 and 1995 was to plaster the province with canadian flags. The same people who forced SRC to backtrack and change it’s name back to Radio-Canada, despite the fact that CBC could keep its call letters and the minor detail that Radio-Canada was a TELEVISION station.

Jeez, if Canadian unity hangs by such a weak thread maybe we should go further. Maybe we should make it illegal for websites like mine use a generic .com and force me to use a .qc.ca. Or a .ca, period.

How about all Canadian websites be forced to use a .canadakicksass domain and post links to Molson and Tim Horton’s?

We could also force Quebecers to put that little Canadian flag on their licence plates that you see in the West Island and make the canadian flag mandatory on backpacks.

Let’s not stop there! Let’s force canadians to use .ca.uk until they get the balls to show the door to the Queen!

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Letter from Ottawa

with 20 comments

Ottawa bilingual sign

Salut Georges,

You probably remember me: we worked together in another life. We worked weekends and I remember you enjoyed reading the National Post to get angry. I just discovered you blog thanks to the article published in the Gazette and I said to myself: I only know one Georges Boulanger and it can only be him!

So congratulations for your blog, I’ve read a few articles and I found it very interesting. I think we have to tell the Anglos in their own language what the fucking problem is. I’m not sure they’ll get it but if we write in French they’ll say “Oh it’s French” and it stops right there. Communication breakdown.

I felt especially concerned since I now work for the federal government (Oh yes! The superb city of Gatineau) and I work in English 90% of the time. I write briefing notes in English, memos in English, instructions in English, research and analysis in English, etc… My colleagues are all Anglophones, except for the secretaries, of course. Ah, government secretaries have to be Francophones (bilingual, of course) because they are the point of first contact with the public.

French training usually gives rather poor results. In theory management jobs are bilingual but it’s a hoax: once someone has passed their French exam, they can easily never speak French ever again. I do have some Francophone colleagues in other ministries but meetings, even if Francophones are the majority, are in English.

That’s the big problem with Canadian bilingualism: its purely institutional and imposed from above. The reality is that Anglophones (except those who live in Québec, and even then…) have no reason to learn French, so why would they?

Anyway, all this to tell you I found your blog interesting and that I’ll continue following it.

Again, congratulations,

T.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 19, 2008 at 9:59 am