Posts Tagged ‘language laws

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

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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!