AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘Montreal

Leonard Cohen is a Québécois

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Leonard Cohen quebecois

The results are in. 100% Francophones who answered the AngryFrenchGuy’s totally unscientific Who is Nous poll, consider Leonard Cohen to be one of them, part of Nous, a Québécois.

Anglos are split right down the middle and Allophones don’t see Leonard Cohen as a Québécois at all.

Born in 1934 in Montreal, son of Jewish immigrants, Leonard Cohen lived most of his youth in Québec and studied at McGill university before eventually moving to the United States. As it was common in those days in Montreal’s immigrant communities, he was raised to be and English-speaker.

Cohen himself explained in a 1975 Crawdaddy magazine article, that he was never fluent in the language of Montreal’s French majority: I can get by, but it’s not a tongue I could ever move around in in a way that would satisfy the appetites of the mind or the heart.”

Does the poet feel like a Québécois? Here is what he had to say in the 1975 article in Crawdaddy Magazine:

“I live in Montreal, which is a French city, in Quebec, which is a French country–especially now, it is a country. I live as a minority writer, almost in exile, because there is no English writing community where I live. These are very special Canadian problems which to me form the Canadian character, because we’re very much involved in this notion of what is minority and what is majority; and yet while these questions are in the air, it seems that everybody has space. Because we don’t have the melting pot notion at all in Canada, we have a federal system that runs right down into the psyche of the country.”

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January 28, 2008 at 1:55 pm

AngryFrenchGuy in The Gazette!

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Even the mighty Montreal Gazette has to bow down to the AngryFrenchGuy’s rock solid reasoning!

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January 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Québec hid scientific proof French was declining in Montreal

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French Montreal

The government of Québec and the Office de la protection de la langue française had scientific studies (or here is a mediocre google translation) demonstrating that French was in decline on the island of Montreal. A press conference to make these studies public on January 18th was apparently canceled at the last minute.

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January 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm

In Montreal French-speakers are still second class

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Bilingual montrealIn Montreal, the second largest French-speaking city of the world, French-speakers are still second class citizens.

Le Journal de Montréal, the city’s most read newspaper, sent out a reporter to look for a job in downtown Montreal with an English only resume and a single word of French: “Bonjour”. In 14 days, the reporter got 15 jobs.

In Montreal, speaking French is apparently not a job requirement. Not even for a customer service job.

That means that in Montreal, 62% of the population is apparently not entitled to services and information in it’s own language. Considering that Montreal is Québec’s economic and commercial core, it’s 85% of Quebecers who are still treated as foreigners in the heart of their metropolis.

When she asked what to do about customers who wanted service in French the reporter was told by one of her new employers not to worry about them and that they were ‘pains in the ass’. The French term was chiâleux.

In the 1970’s, Pierre Bourgault wrote in the magazine Point de Mire about being kicked out of a downtown Montreal disco for ordering his beer in French. The owner told him she didn’t want any politics in her establishment. “In Montreal, in 1970, it’s a political act to order a beer in French.

Apparently it still is in 2008.

Of course they won’t kick you out of the store anymore. They might kick you out of an airplane, though.

Last march Jules Léger, president of the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia, was refused on board of a Ottawa-bound flight in Halifax for demanding service in French and videotaping the carrier’s inability to provide it.

Air Canada is headquartered in Montreal and as a former crown corporation is required by law to provide services in both of Canada’s official languages. Air Canada openly ignores this obligation despite being the all time complaints champion Official Languages Commissioner office in Ottawa.

French-speakers are not only second class citizens’s in Montreal, they are also second class in their country’s capital, but that we already knew.

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 16, 2008 at 5:08 pm

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

We are Italians

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I used to work with an anglophone called Mike. He was actually an Italian from St-Léonard but, although his French was fine, Mike thought and talked in English. One morning Mike came in to work in the morning absolutely furious. The night before Conan O’brien had aired a show taped in Toronto in which the American comic had amused his Ontario crowd by making ridiculing French-Canadians. « Did you see Conan O’brien last night? », asked Mike, in English, when he came to work. « Did you see the way he talks about us? »

Last week Giuliano d’Andrea, vice-president for the Canadian-Italian Business and Professional Association deposited his memoir to the Taylor-Bouchard Commission on reasonable accommodations. His organisations memoir was written in English to make a point, he explained. “We wrote our brief in English, not because we couldn’t do it in French, but simply to take back a bit of the public space that we have a right to. The English language has a right to be here.”
During his presentation M. d’Andrea also felt the need to salute another organization present at the Commision that day. To the members of French Language Rights activists Mouvement Montréal Français he said. « We like them a lot but sometimes we’d like to tell them two little words in English : Grow up. »
The Italian businessmen mad their presentation during an audience of the Taylor-Bouchard Commission set aside for anglophones. The Mouvement Montréal Français was present at this meeting to denounce what it considered the ghettoization of Montreal’s anglophone community. « How are we supposed to integrate immigrants into Québec society if they never learn Québec’s common public language? ».
The MMF spokesperson was Paolo Zambito. Another Montreal Italian.
Confused, insecure, proud, angry and fiercely attached to this little bit of of North America, Québec’s Italians are us. They are Nous.

No One Is Illegal When They Can’t Speak Their Minds

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Montreal collective No One Is Illegal tried to disrupt the Taylor-Bouchard Commission yesterday to protest against what they consider an exercise “fundamentally rooted in xenophobia, racism and sexism.”

40 years after the Quiet Revolution the preachers and curés are staging a comeback. Wearing their black bomber jacket uniforms and ceremonial Palestinian scarves, the preachers tried to disrupt a free assembly of ordinary citizens just like in the good old days of the Great Darkness.
The Bouchard-Taylor Commission is illegitimate, they say. We are all sinners on stolen land! The whiteness of our skin is the mark of the beast! No accommodation with the devil is possible! Repent! Repent!
When I was a young student activist who had it all figured out I was fighting FOR public forums where ordinary citizens could voice their concerns. Participatory democracy was the ideal we strived for. No One Is Illegal is apparently quite happy to have Stephen Harper and Jean Charest tell them what’s right for them. That’s fine, but most people in Québec seem to appreciate the opportunity to speak for themselves.
No One Is Illegal says the commissions has provided an “uncontested platform for racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”. This is true, but in reaction to those comments the Commission has also provided an unprecedented forum for informed citizens to debunk all forms of myths and prejudice. The facts about Québec’s cultures and the opinions of the members of different communities have had unprecedented exposure in the media. That’s the first step of understanding and dialogue. It’s a good thing. It’s called free speech.
Listen my young Concordia friends. You’re not in Pickering anymore. You’re not in your suburban development by the 401 where everyone pretends they like each other and then go off to the mall. Québec is a family. Members of a family don’t choose each other and often don’t even like each other. But they have to live together. The only way they can do that is by talking to each other.
Communication is a good thing. What you guys are doing is preaching. It’s not such a good thing.

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 28, 2007 at 1:36 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.

The Devil and Ms. Barbara Kay

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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…