[Chronique de Jean-François Lisée] Quebec plans to destroy the English language

This column is a (sarcastic) translation of the text I did in English Globe and Mailthe National Post, Maclean’s and before being enthusiastically embraced by the CBC’s Opinion pages Toronto Star. Enjoy it !

It’s worse than anything you’ve heard. The Quebec government’s attack on the Anglo-Quebec minority was brilliantly summed up by Marlene Jennings: “the perfect formula” to “get rid of the dog.” He is in a good position to judge. The former Liberal MP led the fight against Francois Legault’s plan until recently, leading the Quebec Network of Community Groups.

The numbers don’t lie. English-speaking Quebecers make up 8% of the population. But what about the ability of the French to attract newcomers to the Anglo fold, given their great appeal on the continent? Only 14% of Quebecers use English more than French in their daily lives. That doesn’t even double the number! Admittedly, 44% of all Quebecers and about 80% of French-speaking young Montrealers speak English, but that is very small consolation.

Quebec’s intolerant immigration policy has only opened the way for about 90,000 monolingual English-speaking newcomers to the Montreal area since the CAQ election—adding only 14% of the population. Anglo-Saxon, then you can see where this gets us.

The English-language press has made it clear that the new CAQ language law will 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”. studied at an English school. The text of the law itself tries to hide the fact that the French language requires “except for health”, then a clause specifically claims that the general law on health does not apply, surprising lawyers. .

Don’t be fooled by the fact that this other law forces hospitals in all regions to set up English access plans and provide services in English to anyone who requests it. In fact, Anglo-Quebecers have hardly any resources other than the 37 English-language facilities of the public health network, which employs 45% of the health workers on the island of Montreal.

Outside of this little cocoon, they’ll be lucky if they fall into the hands of the low proportion of English-speaking francophone doctors who need medical care: 88%. It is clear to anyone interested in these issues that French-speaking Canadians outside of Quebec would revolt if access to health care in their own language were so limited.

It is certainly worse in the labor market. Toronto readers know because of the columnist Globe and Mail Andrew Coyne, “the law prohibits the use of any language other than French in provincial workplaces, large or small, public or private”. Specifically, the new law applies to the largest the rules that have been applied to medium-sized companies for 35 years.

So the damage has already been done: in the last census, the proportion of workers in the Montreal area who mainly use English at work fell to 20%, and the proportion who use it regularly fell to 49%.

In Quebec, only 14% of leadership positions are held by 8% Anglophones, giving them a ridiculously small systemic advantage. Thankfully, the rebel CEOs of Air Canada, SNC-Lavalin, Laurentian Bank, Canadian National and Couche-Tard, all proud monolingual Anglophones, allow all their senior executives and support staff to thrive in English, regardless of language background. This is called inclusion.

Quebec’s linguistic pressure is particularly offensive when it comes to education. René Lévesque’s famous Bill 101 took away the right to choose between French and English schools from kindergarten to 12 years old.e Shakespeare (and his children forever) moved to Quebec to everyone except Anglo-Quebecers and immigrants who attended English schools until 1977, who retained the right to choose (and could pass it on to their descendants forever). Terrible.

Admittedly, 8% of Anglophones have access to 17% of CEGEP places and 25% of university places, as well as 30% of research grants: this is fair. But the new law now limits the number of students enrolled in Anglo CEGEPs to just twice their proportion in the population. That’s not all. Prior to Law 96, these institutions of higher education refused to admit English-speaking students from lower classes and gave their places to French-speaking students who were bright enough and bilingual enough to be admitted. The anti-English nationalist government is now forcing colleges to prioritize English students, forcing these CEGEPs to downgrade by placing suboptimal English speakers. Shame, really.

Now comes the coup de grace. The Quebec government, the tribe, is convinced that English-speaking children must acquire enough French to succeed in a work environment where French is still, unfortunately, unavoidable. All graduates by law higher schools Quebecers are considered bilingual. So why ask them to improve this skill in CEGEP? This idea is so crazy that when the Liberal Party of Quebec proposed that Anglo students take three courses IN FRENCH (along with their French peers who take ALL their courses in English), the scandal was huge.

The Fédération des cégeps revealed that a good third of Anglo students will fail. It is patently absurd to claim that a bilingual person should be able to read texts, attend conferences, and produce works in the second language. Anglo CEGEP director Christian Cornot, writing in French, put the finger on the bum that the abhorrence was motivated by a desire “to atone for Anglo students for the sins of their ancestors” (who may or may not have oppressed Francophones). a questionable claim in the past).

The only position was to increase the number of French lessons these poor students had to take from two to five. This also does not pass: students’ grades will suffer. Forcing students to learn the language of the majority of the population of the place where they will live and work is, of course, an unprecedented and unacceptable compulsion in the world.

Quebec’s repeated attacks on minorities and the religious right have a major impact on its reputation and international appeal. Last year, there were only 177,000 temporary workers and foreign students 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 region, they only grew by 69% last year to a record $3.7 billion, but that’s only because Quebec has recently outpaced all G7 countries, including Canada. The fact that these newcomers and investors came to Quebec after the controversies and the passage of the secularism bill and during the debates over the language bill only underscores the paucity of information available to them. .

Fortunately, for the first time in history, Ontarians moving to Quebec outnumber Quebecers moving to Ontario. In the past, between 3,000 and 9,000 Quebecers went to Ontario each year, more than Ontario went the other way. But given the toxic new environment, the tide turned, and last year a balance of about 800 brave Ontarians crossed the Ottawa River to settle in Quebec. (In total, a staggering 29,000 citizens left the rest of Canada to settle in Quebec in 2021.) Not just to get more affordable housing, better services or job prospects, but certainly to contribute to defeating the current plan of extermination. More will be needed.

Lots of brides! Hurry before you speak the last English word in Quebec.

jflisee@ledevoir.com; blog: jflisee.org

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