This column is the translation of a (sarcastic) text that I committed in English, rejected by the Globe and Mailthe National Post, Maclean’s and the CBC’s Opinion pages before being enthusiastically selected speak Toronto Star. Enjoy !
It’s worse than anything you’ve heard. The Quebec government’s assault on the English-Quebec minority was brilliantly summed up by Marlene Jennings: a “perfect formula” for “eradication” . She is in a good position to judge. The former Liberal MP until recently headed the Quebec Community Groups Network, spearheading the fight against the Francois Legault.
The numbers don’t lie. Quebecers whose mother tongue is English represent 8% of the population. But what about the ability to attract newcomers to the Anglo fold, given the enormous power of attraction of French on the continent? The proportion of Quebecers who use English more than French in their daily lives is only 14%. That doesn’t even double the count! Admittedly, 44% of all Quebecers speak English, as do nearly 80% of young French-speaking Montrealers, but this is a very small consolation.
Quebec’s intolerant immigration policies have only opened the way to the Montreal area for about 90,000 unilingual English-speaking newcomers since the CAQ election — adding just 14% to the population. Anglo-Saxon, then you can see where this is taking us.
The English-language press has clearly established that the new CAQ language law would crack down on any doctor or nurse who dares to speak English to anyone who is not a member of the “historic English-speaking community”, that is to say those who have attended English school. The very text of the law tries to hide this fact by stipulating that French is required “except in health”, then one article in particular stuns lawyers by claiming that it does not apply specifically to the general law on health. .
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this other law obliges hospitals in all regions to set up English access plans and to render services in English to anyone who requests it. In reality, Anglo-Quebecers have hardly any resources other than the 37 English-speaking establishments of the public health network, which employ barely 45% of the health workers on the island of Montreal.
Outside of this little cocoon, Anglophones in need of medical care will be lucky if they fall into the hands of the low proportion of Francophone doctors who speak their language: 88%. It is clear to anyone interested in these issues that French-speaking Canadians outside Quebec would revolt if their access to health care in their language were so limited.
It’s even worse, of course, in the labor market. Toronto readers know, thanks to the columnist Globe and Mail Andrew Coyne, that “the law prohibits the use of any language other than French in provincial workplaces, large or small, public or private”. Concretely, the new law extends to medium-sized companies the regulations that have applied for 35 years to the largest.
The damage is therefore already done: at the last censusthe proportion of workers in the Montreal region who mainly use English at work has fallen to 20%, and the proportion who use it regularly to 49%.
In Quebec, only 14% of management positions are held by the 8% Anglophones, giving them a ridiculously small systemic advantage. Thank goodness rebel CEOs at Air Canada, SNC-Lavalin, Laurentian Bank, Canadian National and Couche-Tard, proud unilingual Anglophones, allow all of their senior executives and support staff to thrive in English, whatever their linguistic origin. This is called inclusion.
Quebec’s linguistic oppression is particularly offensive when it comes to education. The famous project law 101 of Rene Levesque removed the right to choose between the French school and the English school from kindergarten to 12e year to all, with the exception of Anglo-Quebecers and immigrants who attended English schools before 1977, who retain the right to choose (and can transmit it to their descendants for eternity), as well as to any English Canadian educated in the language of Shakespeare who moves to Quebec (and his descendants, for eternity). Appalling.
Certainly, the 8% of English speakers have access to 17% of places in CEGEP and 25% of university places, as well as 30% of research grants: it is only fair. But the new law now caps the number of students enrolled in Anglo CEGEPs at only twice their proportion in the population. That’s not all. Before Law 96, these institutions of higher education refused to admit English-speaking students with lower grades and gave their places to French-speaking students who were sufficiently bright and bilingual to be accepted. The anti-Anglo nationalist government now forces colleges to give priority to Anglo students, forcing these CEGEPs to downgrade by accommodating suboptimal English speakers. Shame, really.
Now comes the coup de grace. The Quebec government, tribal, seems convinced that English-speaking children should master enough French to succeed in a work environment where French is still, alas, unavoidable. By law, all graduates of high schools Quebecers are deemed bilingual. So why bother asking them to improve this skill in CEGEP? This idea is so crazy that when the Quebec Liberal Party proposed that Anglo students take three courses IN French (alongside their French comrades who take ALL their courses in English), the scandal was enormous.
The Fédération des cégeps has announced that a good third of Anglo students will fail. To claim that a bilingual person should be able to read texts, attend conferences and produce work in their second language is obviously absurd. An Anglo CEGEP director, Christian Corno, put his finger on the bobo by writing—in French—that this abomination was motivated by a desire “to make Anglo students atone for the sins of their ancestors” (who may or may not have oppressed Francophones in the past, a questionable assertion).
The fallback position has been to increase the number of French lessons that these poor students should take, from two to five. This does not pass either: the grades of the students will suffer. Forcing students to learn the language of the majority of the population of the place where they live and will work is an unacceptable imposition, certainly without precedent in the world.
Quebec’s repeated assaults on minorities and religious rights weigh heavily on its reputation and its international attractiveness. Last year, only 177,000 temporary workers and international students were in the province. Yes, that’s triple the usual total and an absolute record. But think of those who did not come.
Foreign investment is being held back by the current climate of intolerance. In the Montreal area, they only jumped 69% to a record high of $3.7 billion last year, but that’s only because Quebec has had a higher recent growth rate to that of all the G7 countries, including Canada. That these newcomers and investors came to Quebec after the controversy and the adoption of the secularism bill and during the controversy over the language bill only underlines the scarcity of information available to them. .
Fortunately, for the first time in history, the number of Ontarians moving to Quebec exceeds the number of Quebecers moving to Ontario. In the past, each year, there were between 3,000 and 9,000 Quebecers who left for Ontario more than Ontarians who went the other way. But given the toxic new environment, the tide turned, and last year a balance of nearly 800 brave Ontarians crossed the Ottawa River to settle in Quebec. (In total, an astonishing 29,000 citizens left the rest of Canada to settle in Quebec in 2021.) Not simply to obtain more affordable housing, better services or job prospects, but surely to contribute to defeat the current eradication plan. More will be needed.
Please come many! Hurry up, before the last English word is spoken in Quebec.
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The Quebec plan to eradicate English
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