AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘minorities

Bill 101, hum… 101… The School Law

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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

Give TQS to Québec’s cultural communities

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What should be done with bankrupt Télévision Quatre Saisons? How about using the prime broadcast real estate of TQS to revive la Télévision Ethnique du Québec, the multicultural and multilingual cable TV network hijacked by CanWest Global in the early 00’s.

TEQ was a locally owned and operated community channel that aired programming by and for Québec’s cultural communities. The station experienced financial difficulties in the late 1990’s and was eventually sold to Rogers and later CanWest Global.

CanWest turned TEQ into CJNT-TV. Nearly all of the Québec-produced programming of TEQ was dumped by the new owners. CJNT now airs a mix of ethnic programming from Toronto and Montreal in the daytime and American TV in prime-time, all tied together with English-only branding. Montreal’s so-called “multicultural” TV station has an ENGLISH-ONLY website!

There is some French-language programming on CJNT, essentially produced by Montreal’s Lebanese and Haïtian communities. The token French-language shows, bundled up with Urdu, Cantonese and Armenian programming and the station’s deliberate editorial choice to make English the common language of the station strongly suggests that Montreal’s French-speakers are just another one of the city’s minorities.

It’s as if an American multicultural channel used Spanish as the common working language. Or as if a French channel used Arabic.

From being the voice of Québec’s minorities CJNT became the agent of their ghettoization and Anglicization by CanWest’s owners who only really cared about the 40% of American programing the station’s license allowed it to air.

“There is a debate that we need to have on Québec’s ethnic television and the Anglicization of ethnic communities through television”, declared Michel Tremblay, president of TEQ’s producers union in 2000.

TQS’s bankruptcy might be a good opportunity to have that debate.

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 9, 2008 at 7:30 am

Québec needs an English-language newspaper

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Québec doesn’t have an English-language newspaper. Québec doesn’t have an English-language television, radio station or Internet portal.

The Québécois are keeping silent in the lingua franca of the Internet.

In 2008 that means Québec doesn’t exist.

French-speaking North Americans who are celebrating 400 years on the continent have no media of their own to talk to the 400 million English-speakers who surround them.

Is it any wonder the wildest politically-fictional fantasies still circulate about Québec?

An Indian or an Armenian googling some news about Québec has 10 times as many chances to come upon Barbara Kay’s or Mordecai Richeler’s paranoiac diatribes about a fascist ethnic tribe trying to wipe it’s province clear of strangers and “coloreds” than a simple description of the French Language Charter.

What about the Montreal Gazette? The Gazette is not a “Montreal newspaper that happens to be in English” as columnist Henry Aubin once told me. It’s the newspaper of Montreal’s English-speaking minority. Period.

One token separatist columnist is not enough to fairly translate the diversity of thought of a population twice as numerous as Ireland’s. The Gazette deserves credit for giving some space to strong voices, from former RIN leader Pierre Bourgault in the 80’s to the current incumbent Josée Legault, but one person can’t possibly incarnate the diversity of ideas and opinions barely skimmed by 13French -language dailies.

Is it any wonder Canadians confuse the Parti Québécois, small-town nationalists, right-wing conservatives, 19th century ecclesiastic ideologues and violent student radicals of the 1970’s into a single seditious movement of anti-Canadianism that has to be crushed?

Why does Québec need an English-language newspaper? 2 reasons:

1. Because if Québec doesn’t talk directly to the world, it lets Barabara Kay, Jan Wong, Mordecai Richler and the Gazette do it for them. If the curious individuals around the world have access to The Gazette’s, The National Post’s and The Globe and Mail’s perspective on Canadian events, they should have access to Québec’s. Or more accurately to the plural: Québecs’.

2. 48 000 newcomers will come to Québec this year. At least half of the will not speak French when they arrive. Many of them will have some understanding of English, though. These people will learn to know their new country through the biased, truncated and partial coverage of the Anglo minority’s newspaper. With no access to French-language media, they will assimilate and adopt the Anglophone perspective and identity. They are entitled the French majority’s perspective as well.

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 7, 2008 at 9:41 pm

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.

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!