AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘language laws

Membership has it’s privileges

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Instead of a Québec citizenship that is more restrictive that the Canadian citizenship we already have, why not create a citizenship that is broader and designed to attract the bright and dynamic immigrants Québec needs? Why not give Québec citizenship to non-Canadians?

All over the demographically-challenged western world countries are engaged in a fierce battle for the world’s young bright dynamic minds. If Québec plays by the same rules as the others it will lose. Québec’s geography and culture are not a disadvantage anymore in the online globalized world, but only if it plays a smarter game than its competitors.

The controversial clause of the Parti Québécois’ Identity Act that would restrict the right of newcomers who don’t speak French to run for public office or submit petitions to parliament is superfluous and distasteful but it was not racist or ethnically motivated. It was a botched attempt by the PQ to put some meat around their proposed Québec citizenship when they realized it was a hollow concept that people had no use for.

The idea of a Québec citizenship itself is not to keep anybody out. Quite on the contrary, the concept is meant to facilitate the integration of immigrants into civil society and the use of French as the common language of this society.

Who would want a Québec citizenship? Membership should have its privileges. What privileges can the government of a province provide? Health services and education are by far the two main services provided by provincial governments and are certainly a big factor in any immigrants decision to chose Canada and Québec over New Jersey and Portugal.

Giving out free health care to more people is unfeasible. And a system designed to attract the sick and the old is not what I have in mind.

On the other hand, Québec also maintains a highly subsidised quality network of Universities. These universities have a three tiered pricing structure. Québec residents pay the lowest tuition, Canadian students from other provinces pay more and international students more still.

My proposition is this: Quebec should make the cheaper price available to all students who pursue a higher education in French and have a second price for students studying in English.

Yes, I think Québec “citizenship” and a cheap education should be made available to all students, even those who are not Canadian citizens, if they study in French in Québec. This would help make Québec and Montréal the choice destination for young and bright francophone and French-speakers from the world over. These French-speaking and French-educated students would be more likely to build relationships and social networks in the province and to stay after they complete their studies.

Smart kids from Saskatoon or Surrey who don’t have to prove their fluency in English to anybody now have to pay a premium if they want to pad up their resume with a university degree in French from a Québec university. This is madness! These are the kids we want!

All residents of Québec would have Québec “citizenship”, of course, and automatically be eligible to the cheaper price. The novelty would be the possibility for Québec to grant “citizenship” to anybody in the world who chooses to come to Québec to pursue a higher education. Under Canadian law they would remain students temporarily in the country with a student visa, but with their Québec “citizenship” they would have access to other services not usually available to international students. The cheaper tuition is one such privilege. Access to other provincial services such as the 7$ kindergarten network could be another.

There are many advantages to have English-language universities in Québec and with my proposal these universities would not be jeopardized. If they certainly will be at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting Québec residents, their access to English-Canadian, American and worldwide English-speaking students remain unchanged.

Under this plan, absolute civil equality of all citizens is also rigorously protected. If Brandon from Kirkland studies in French, he gets the cheap price. If Sylvain from Cacouna wants to study at McGill, he’s going to have to pay more. People will be writing tests at school, where they should, not at Immigration Québec offices.

One possible objection is that all programs are not available in all languages. Perhaps a program could be eligible for the cheaper “citizen” price if a certain percentage—80%, 50% or 30%?—of the classes are in French. I don’t see why students of McGill Law School who take a great deal of their classes in French and usually stay in Québec to practice should not be eligible. On the other hand I don’t see why students of McGill Medical School who often graduate without the skills to carry out a basic conversation with a French-speaking patient and who leave the province after graduation in alarming numbers should have their education subsidised by the taxpayers of Québec.

I am afraid of Barbara Kay

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Yes, I have reconsidered my decision to not pursue a debate with Barbara Kay. She called me a wimp and, in the words of the great teacher KRS-One, “if you call my name I come get that.”

A double standard, Ms. Kay, is when you make a living out of denouncing what you perceive to be the racism at the core of the Separatist movement while at the same time write some of the most unilaterally chilling dismissal of an entire ethnic community, nay, culture, namely Arab, that I have ever read. Twice you have condemned Québec sympathies not for regimes, dictators or terrorist organizations, but “Arab countries”.

Moral relativity, Ms. Kay, is when you condemn a so-called preoccupation by some Québec politicians for “ethnicity” while your writing is replete with a constant division of the citizens of Québec between “old-stock Quebecois”, “Pure Laine” and the very eloquent: “by “we” I obviously mean anglos and ethnics”. “Most educated Québécois are wonderful people to live amongst“( my italics), you wrote. Nobody is excluding you from the Québécois but yourself.

And by the way, God knows we’ve heard a lot of questionable ideas on religion, language and citizenship in the last few weeks, but who the hell is talking about ethnicity but you and my buddies at The Suburban?

Selective memory is when you write “it is only in Quebec that you find racist remarks coming from the mouths of so-called political leadership”. Remember federal cabinet minister Doug Young telling Bloc MP Osvaldo Nunez to find himself another country? Or how about the uplifting anti-Québec political ads run by the parliamentary wing of your newspaper in 1997? Betty Granger’s Asian invasion? Remember Reform MP Bob Kingma sending gays and “ethnics” “to the back of the shop”?

Hypocrisy is reaching far back into the past to a “long tradition of anti-Semitism in the discourse of French intellectuals from France”as proof of “the strains of racism that invariably accompany hardline separatists” and conveniently overlooking that the “principled Stephen Harper”‘s (your words, not mine) own Reform/Alliance/Conservative Party struggled late into the 1990’s to purge itself of the Heritage Front and Social Credit Party elements at it’s root.

Yes I am afraid, Ms. Kay. I am afraid of people who holds someone guilty until proven innocent (how french a concept…) because of the accident of their culture and/or birthplace. I fear a culture in witch fast and easy logical leaps from French-speaking to Arab Francophonie to Rampant Anti-Semitism are not considered “in any way unusual or even highly provocative”. I fear a climate where the cultural insecurities of provincial townspeople who wouldn’t know a Jew from a Sikh from a Mormon are portrayed as proof of widespread organized projects of ethnic cleansing. I fear a country where you must subscribe to predetermined values determined by an arbitrary third party (pun intended) before you are allowed to seek public office or take part in a public demonstration.

I fear a time when what used to be passionate debate about political structures degenerate into politically motivated structured campaigns of fear. I fear that by engaging fear-mongers I feed the beast that I most fear.

I’ll be out of the kitchen for a while, not because of the heat, but because I work for a living.

The Devil and Ms. Barbara Kay

with 11 comments

Barbara Kay likes it both ways. One year ago in an infamous column in the National Post called The Rise of Quebecistan, she linked a Montreal march for peace in the Middle-East and “cultural and historical sympathy for Arab countries from the francophonie — Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon” as proof of rampant Quebec anti-semitism.

She now does a full 180 and in her October 31st column now accuses the Sovereignists and Pauline Marois of trying to stir up hate against the people that she herself, no just last year, was calling : “Hezbollah-supporting residents of southern Lebanon cash(ing) in on their Canadian citizenship and flee(ing) to the safety of Quebec”.

Ms.Kay prides herself on having predicted last summer that “the Bouchard-Taylor Commission would likely stir up dormant sovereigntist mud at the bottom of what has been a relatively clear pond since the provincial Liberals took office in 2003″.

The proposed Quebec Identity Act was a ploy by Marois to stir up the dormant racism that Ms. Kay is convinced lies at the root of Quebec Separatism. “(…)she’s planting seeds in the muck at the bottom of Quebec’s political pond(…)”

While Barbara Kay was digging in the mud and muck at the bottom of Quebec pond looking for proof of Quebec racisim and bigotry, seven ChineseCanadian fishermen were victims of violent racist attacks while fishing in southeastern Ontario. Andy Zhang, president of the Chinese Anglers Sports Club of Canada, said last week that many Asian fishermen have had rocks thrown at them, have been pushed off bridges and have had their gear thrown in the water.” The RCMP is investigating the attacks.

So far no Quebec separatists seem to be involved. That’s probably why Barbara Kay is not writting about this story.

“The devil is always on the lookout for the moral relativism that signals a latter-day Faust, and it seems he has found some eager recruits amongst Quebec’s most prominent spokespeople,” wrote Ms. Kay in The Rise of Quebecistan. I’m guessing she includes herself as one of these spokespeople…

Ill-intentioned, poorly informed, small town idiots

with 3 comments

I live in the western part of Montreal and one of the countless perks of living in that part of the city is to have the Montreal Suburban delivered to you doorstep every week.

The Suburban is the charming neighborhood weekly where as a young boy I could read Christy McCormick’s columns against minorities in the police force because being a white rich Anglo was what every one aspired to be or, not more than a few years ago, op-ed pieces calling for the creation of a provincial upper chamber where a majority of Anglophone members could keep the province’s French-dominated National Assembly in check.
It’s reading The Suburban that I learned that Arabs are a inherently violent people and that Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are generally grateful for the protection provided by the Israeli army from the mean extremists in their midst.
The Suburban is a little like a little bit of Fox News “juste pour nous autre“. As Stephen Colbert would put it: “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiots” except that they are small-town and not well-intentioned at all.
Whenever anything resembling protection of the french language is mentioned, though, The Suburban has the ability to morph it’s paternalistic bigoted rhetoric into luminous righteousness. Pauline Marois‘ ill-conceived Identity Act that would require new immigrants to learn french before they could run for public office provided them with their latest opportunity.
“While politicians make political capital, wrote Beryl Wajsman, the Suburban’s editor, minorities — whether racial, linguistic or religious — suffer daily in Quebec. The message and metaphor of the struggle here is one of civil rights. Though the prejudice suffered here is not as draconian as in the American South in the sixties — thanks to federal protections we have here that were missing in the South — the damage is just as overt. (…) The message that is being propounded in Quebec, and expanded with the PQ’s latest proposal, is that this province is still wedded to “sang and langue”. Blood and language. “Ein volk! Ein Kultur!”
According to the C.D. Howe institute, in 2003 unilingual Anglophones in Quebec earned 15% more money than francophones who did not speak English. Non-Francophones, who represent 19% of Quebec’s population owned 33% of businesses in the province.
The Suburban has also been an opponent to bill 101, the law meant to create a single integrated school system for all Quebecers and championed the current Apartheid system that gives anglophones their own “separate but equal” schools.
All though it’s fair to oppose Pauline Marois‘ bill, I oppose it myself, I’m not sure the Civil Right metaphor is quite the right one, especially coming from the folks at the Suburban.

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 30, 2007 at 8:41 pm

All Québécois are racist

with 5 comments

Kristian Gravenor wrote one of his always clever columns in witch he tells about the citizenship test his wife had to take to become a Canadian. The questions were hard, he said, and even he couldn’t answer many of them.

“If Quebec separates”, he wrote, “the questions could worsen. For example: “Who was the first mayor of Drummondville and how much beaver could he bag per day?” “What brand of shoe polish did Camille Laurin rub into his hair?” “What’s Celine Dion’s dog’s name?””

I am sick and tired of English Montreal and Canada’s media license to make unsubstantiated allusions to the alleged intolerance of the Québécois in general and of Québec’s sovereignists in particular. Saying ‘black people are dumb’, ‘Jews are cheap’ or ‘Quebecers are racist’ is the exact same thing. It is making a blanket generalization about a group of people. It’s prejudice. And prejudice lives across the street from real racism.

Go ahead, bring out Parizeau’s ‘money and ethic votes’ remark and Lucien Bouchard’s white babies. I raise you (former liberal minister) John Crosbie telling Bloc MP Osvaldo Nunez to ‘go back to his country’ in the House of Commons and Mel Lastman’s comment about sitting in a boiling pot of water surrounded by cannibals in Africa. Should I understand from that comment that all English-canadians are prejudiced against Africans? Or is it Ontarians? Torontonians? 905ers? Or maybe it’s just MEL LASTMAN?

How about we ignore the politicians and take a look at our city, ok, Kris? Let’s talk bout the wonderful ethnic and social diversity of Westmount, and Beaconsfield, and Hampstead, and Pointe-Claire. Oh no! That’s right! They ‘separated’ from Montréal. That must mean that the white English-Speaking people of Westmount and Beaconsfield hate Asians and French people, right?

But no, how about we do talk about Westmount and Beaconsfield and the Philipina ‘nannies’ employed in these neighborhoods in conditions that human rights groups have described as slavery. Let’s talk about the Bloc Québécois being the only party that came to these women’s defense. Do you think they’ll ask your wife if she knows that on her Canadian citizenship test?

Or do you think they’ll ask her if she knows that it’s under the rule of the Patriotes and Papineau that Québec became the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to give full rights of citizenship to jewish people? Or that the first black man elected to the National Assembly in 1976 was a member of the PQ while the liberals fielded their first black candidate—candidate!—in 2000!?!

Get it, Kris. Nationalists don’t want to keep immigrants OUT of Québec, they want to bring them IN! They want more immigrants. They want immigrants who will stay and not leave after three years because there are no Mounties and they can’t send their kids to English schools. They want immigrant kids in their schools. They want them in their neighborhoods and not only to cut the grass and take care of the baby. They want them to be part of our community, to be part of our family to the point where when one of them is named Governor-General of Canada we protest not because she is black or because of the monarchist institution, but because they claim she is one of theirs!