Vive Le Quebec Libre! (or, Anglo Privilege)

7 Sep

Yesterday morning, I woke up to find several posts on my Facebook feed about the recent provincial election in Quebec. Almost every post was disappointed and scolding in tone, admonishing La Belle Province as if they were a wayward child. Oh Quebec, the subtext seemed to say, why can’t you stop talking about separating and start behaving like a normal province? Why can’t you just be happy with everything we’ve already given you?

Full disclosure: I was born in Quebec and lived there for the first few years of my life. My parents were both born in Quebec. My mother’s (anglophone) family has lived there for several generations. My father’s family (who are anglophone, but come from a francophone background) moved there from the Maritimes in the mid-50s.

Fuller disclosure: I love Quebec, especially Montreal. I love the little frivolous things, like the buildings with outdoor wrought-iron staircases leading to second and third story apartments, and the giant Farine Five Roses sign that greets you as you pull into the train station. I love the people, and their laid-back attitude. I love how much they appreciate art and culture. I love the food.

I love the bigger things, too. In fact what I love most about Quebec are its socialist ideals and the fact that its people are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

I would say that Quebec is easily the most-hated province, with Ontario coming in a close second. When I talk to people about Quebec, I often get negative reactions. The complaint that I hear most often is that the Quebecois are rude and want to make anglophones feel bad by refusing to speak English to them.

I hear this story a lot, actually. Usually, it’s an anglophone from a province other than Quebec traveling through there for whatever reason. They’re upset because they’re certain that every Quebecois is perfectly proficient in English but simply chooses not to speak it just to prove some kind of political point.

The funny thing is, while working in retail, I’ve heard these exact same people complain about francophone Quebecois visiting Ontario and refusing to speak English when shopping in their store. When I’ve suggested that these people greet the francophones in French, I receive blank stares. But I don’t speak French, they tell me.

So let’s break this down: it’s fine for you to go to another province and refuse to speak their language, and you expect to get service in your own mother tongue. However, when the Quebecois come to your province, they have to speak English, and they should expect to receive service only in English. It’s fine for you to speak zero French, but the Quebecois need to suck it up and speak English, right?

Here’s the thing: most francophes feel just as shy about their English as you do about your French. Here’s the other thing: I am calling total bullshit on your story. Whenever I go to Quebec, I speak French, in which I am fairly fluent. A good chunk of the time the person I am talking to will hear my accent and switch to English, either because they want to make me feel more comfortable or because they want the chance to practice their English.

If someone in Quebec is not speaking English to you, chances are that they just flat-out do not speak English.

The second complaint that I most often hear is that Quebec just wants more and more from the federal government and is never satisfied. I’ve heard people say that now that Quebec has French as its only official language and their culture is protected, why don’t they just stop? I mean, their rights are protected now, yes? This is like saying that women are totally equal to men and so feminism can end now, which is to say: totally untrue.

Francophones in Quebec had a pretty shitty deal up until the Quiet Revolution. They were kept oppressed by various premiers (but especially Duplessis) and (unsurprisingly) the Catholic church. English was (and, really, still is) the de-facto language of the federal government, and the majority of the ruling class in Quebec were anglophones. In order to get a good job in Quebec, it helped greatly to be perfectly fluent in English. It helped even more to have an anglophone surname.

Before the Quiet Revolution, unemployment for able-bodied francophone men was high, reaching 50% in some areas, but for the anglos it remained low. Although 80 percent of the Quebecois were francophone, they owned only 28.3% of the businesses in the province. The majority of those businesses were involved in manufacturing, but they accounted for only 15.4% of Quebec’s production. The anglos controlled everything else.

And then there was the threat against the francophone language and culture. Seems ridiculous, right? Except that it’s not. Let’s look at another francophone culture in Canada: the Acadians (i.e. my people!).

The vast majority of people with Acadian surnames are anglophones (myself included). Up until recently, it was often economically and culturally advantageous for the Acadians to assimilate, and many of them did. When my great-grandmother moved from rural Cape Breton to Halifax, she stopped speaking French altogether, even though it was her mother tongue. She didn’t teach her children to speak French, and would flat-out refuse to speak to her brothers and sisters in any language except English. For her, there seemed to be little advantage in passing her culture along to her children, and every advantage in having them grow up speaking only English. Towards the end of her life she began to regret her decision, but by then, of course, it was too late.

Unfortunately, this is a very common story.

So it’s not a totally unfounded fear that the Quebec language and culture could slowly and methodically be eroded by the anglophone majority in Canada. And it’s not like we have a federal government that is super supportive of them; it often seems like the Harper administration does its best to thwart Quebec at every turn.

And then there’s separatism. That’s the biggest one that people freak out over. I feel like a lot of this (not ALL of it, but a lot) stems from this idea that, hey, we’re Canada. We’re super nice. Why won’t Quebec love us even though we’re clearly the nicest nation on earth? If Quebec doesn’t recognize how awesome we are, then it must be because there’s something wrong with Quebec, right?

Canada, I’ve got two things to say to you:

1) As my mother would say, not everyone is going to like you and you just need to deal with it.

2) Maybe you aren’t as awesome as you think you are.

My mother (who was, don’t forget, an anglophone who grew up in pre and post Quiet Revolution Quebec) has always said that it’s easier to be an anglophone in Quebec than a francophone anywhere in the rest of Canada. You are far, far more likely to be able to find English services in Quebec than French services anywhere else. But you probably don’t see it that way because you have what I’ve decided to call Anglo Privilege.

Anglo Privilege may lead you to say any or all of the following:

“We won at the Plains of Abraham! Quebec needs to accept that!”

“They’re ruining their children’s lives by having them grow up speaking French – English is the leading business language of the REST of the WORLD.”

“Imagine how upset people would be if we had ENGLISH language laws in the rest of Canada!”

“They’re just threatening to separate because they want MORE from us!”

Buddy, I got news for you: they’re threatening to separate because they’re unhappy. The Parti Québécois keeps getting elected because the francophones in Quebec are concerned that the federal government and the rest of Canada do not have the best interests of their province and its people at heart. And every time you bitch about Quebec and how high maintenance they are and how they should just get over it already, you are reinforcing that view.

You guys, Quebec is awesome. They have socialized daycare, free post-secondary education (CEGEP), and, in addition to a one-year parental leave, they offer five weeks of leave to the partner of the person taking the parental leave. Plus they like to have demonstrations and riots! So many riots. All kidding aside, if it were possible for our family, I would move there in a heartbeat.

And so I say, Vive Le Québec Libre! And if you’re afraid of the possibility of Québec separating, then I would urge you to help build a Canada that contains a Québec Libre, whatever that term means to the people of Quebec. Surely this is something we can figure out if we work on it together? You know, like an actual, unified country would?

Okay, but really, shouldn’t it be Farine Cinq Roses? Where are the language police when you need them…

180 Responses to “Vive Le Quebec Libre! (or, Anglo Privilege)”

  1. Sarah D. September 7, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    I love all the things you say about Quebec too. As an anglo Montrealer, who got to really revisit the city as an adult when my fiance-now-husband went to school there, it’s fabulous. i appreciate the guts, the lefty streak, the chutzpah. That’s why I tend to have difficulty with the PQ and particularly with Pauline Marois – obviously, I want this place I love, where my family still lives, to stay in Canada, and I dislike the ‘pure laine’ Xenophobic streak the hard core of the party embodies (no to kippahs and hijabs, yes to crucifixes). I agree there needs to be more tolerance all around – all of Canada should strive for bilingualism so we can understand each other, and be more tolerant of those who are unilingual and struggling in other provinces, and their own. However, the French now have so much privilege, especially within Quebec (my grandfather was ill and dying and I feel his last days were much less comfortable due to communication and language barriers within the system), and I don’t think historical oppression is an excuse to oppress others when given the opportunity (does the Holocaust excuse some of Israel’s behaviour toward Palestineans?) Not to say we can’t improve in our tolerance – we can all keep a more open mind, and should not vilify an entire wonderful province due to the opinions of a small-ish number in terms of separatism – keep in mind that separatism has so little to do with this election, with relatively low support in the big picture. And we have bigger fish to fry (Harper). But I do , when it comes to separatism and unconstitutional language laws etc., tend to subscribe to Ari’s expression: “Historical grievances are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.”

    • bellejarblog September 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      I am lazy, so I’m going to c&p part of a response I gave to someone on Facebook:

      No, for sure, I totally agree. I didn’t mean for this piece to come off as supportive of all of the PQ’s policies, or even the PQ as a whole, but more to give some historical context as to how we got here. I feel like a lot of people think that Quebec wants to separate just because they feel like being difficult or contrary, like that’s something inherent in the nature of the Quebecois.

      I definitely was rushing towards the end of writing this and didn’t finish it off very well, so I probably didn’t convey exactly what I wanted to say.

      My grandmother, who grew up in Westmount and NDG, speaks almost no French. She still lives in Quebec, and has been quite ill for the last few years. She for sure has a hard time navigating the medical system and I do wish that she was able to find more hospitals where the staff was primarily anglo (or, at least, more willing to speak to her in French). I do feel weirdly defensive of the language laws though, if only because I feel badly that I, who have a very French name and come from a French Canadian background, am primarily anglo because a few generations ago my family found it much easier and more convenient to give up on French and speak almost exclusively English. So I do have this real desire to protect the French language and culture.

      I am hopeful that a lot of this is just growing pains as Quebec learns to assert itself as a province with a population whose majority is French Canadian but still has a significant anglo population. Also, I don’t think that the generation of anglos growing up now will have as hard of a time as our grandparents or even parents did, since they are much more fluent in French. I dunno! I have a lot of feelings about Quebec and sometimes they’re confusing.

      • Francois November 15, 2013 at 8:36 am #

        I’m a francophone (but quite bilingual) guy from Montreal and a supporter of Québec’s independance. But that desire for a separate Quéébec country doeesn’t stem from a hatred of Canada and english-speaking canadians or anything like that because I happen to believe that nothing good can come out of hate.

        Sadly, though, the politically legitimate cause of Quebec’s independance (the Bloc Québécois is a legal party after all) seems too often to be scorned upon by a majority of Canadians, probably mostly because it is used and distorted by english-speaking medias for cheap sensationnalist thrills, resulting in a legitimization of irrationally anti-Québec rantings that prevents us from solving our constitutionnal debate in a mature manner.

        I know you’re not supporting the separation of Québec (not yet…. 😉 ) but since your text is such a hate-buster, Belle Jar, I award you the yet-to-be-officially-created “Jane Jacobs Prize” for the best effort to counter the cultural bullying of Québec on the web for 2012! (I know this comment comes in a lot later but I just got to see it on FB. Talk about “two solitudes”…) Hope you get this comment anyways.

        Merci beaucoup.

        And congratulations to those readers who were open-minded enough to let your blog make them think again about this subject in a new way. That’s how social progress happens.

    • Jean-Pierre Pérusse November 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      BTW : The Five Roses signborad was modified in 1997 for it to respect law 101. Before 1977 you could read :
      Five Roses
      The word ”flour” was taken off, wich explains the gap under ”Five Roses”. And since Five Roses is a trademark, it doesn’t need to be translated ( like Futurshop , Strabuck etc.. )

    • Jérémi Désy March 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      i’m sorry but the canada tha you love must die because canada is the most controlled country by the rolyal families…it’s not quebec that should separate…your canada was the genocide of indians. in the world we dont need more frontaries but we dont want of this canada like we dont need of pauline marois this fucking bourgeoise who want to divide our nation instead of recoverin the debt…our governments are corrupts by the maffia..the illuminati spider….dont love them either way youre fucked

      • M.Crevier March 31, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

        C’est ça…il n’y a rien d’autre à faire, puisqu’il faut REMBOURSER LA DETTE. Vite, vite allons-y! Fonçons dans le mur, continuons à se serrer la ceinture, parlons des vraies affaires! Tant pis pour ceux qui ne peuvent pas suivre le train, c’est leur maudit problème!

      • Bruno April 1, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

        Wow. Un article intéressant, avec une vision bien étalée. Des commentaires respectueux de gens plus ou moins en accord, mais avec des arguments constructifs. Puis finalement, un simplet – toujours – pour faire déraper le débat. Peut importe s’il est franco ou anglo, c’est le même étalement d’ignorance crasse.

        Bravo (#Not)

    • M.Crevier March 31, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

      I think there`s something you`re deeply misunderstanding here about Québec`s separatism. Of course, there`s a minority of separatists that you could describe by being intolerant or xenephobic. There`s even a name to those people: they are nationalists. They`re are stuck in the Quiet Revolution, they want to promote the “french-canadian race“. They want slow down immigration, go back to the traditional values of the colony. If you can read French, see every single Mathieu Bock-Côté`s writings and you will notice that of course we have to prevent those ideas from being widely spread. But I repeat, this is the case of a small MINORITY.

      Now, the point of reconsidering Québec`s separation from Canada is way more complex than just a linuguistic issue or anything about revenge on Québec`s anglos and all that kind of bullshit. No. The point is to create an alternative society, an alternative country. To fight agaisnt economic inequalities that are multiplying every single day in this mad system in which we`re living in. To have a better access to education, health (so that you`re dear grandfather could have decent services in English) and to slow down this ecological disaster humans have created. To have a real social-democracy. If you really think that the Parti Québécois’ ideas are shared by a majority of separatists, you are deeply wrong.

      So please don’t tell me that having a referendum is dangerous for the anglos in Québec or any immigrant. If you believe this, I suggest that you come up to reality and realise that this is only Couillard’s bullshit. He’s saying this kind of crap only to get the ethnic minorities afraid.

      And by the way, don’t think that we will have a country under Marois’ government. If we are to have one, it’ll be under the only truly respectful, equally-based, and realistic politic formation we have in Qc: Québec Solidaire.

      Vive le Québec libre!

  2. shannon September 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Wow! Great insight. I haven’t thought about any of this. Just two days ago, Steve (my husband) was trying to explain to Emma (our daughter) why Quebec wanted to separate. He was very respectful, but we’ve all been taught to be pissed at Quebec, and so some of that came out. At first Emma was like, “well, this doesn’t affect me, so why should I care” and then Steve explained how it woud affect our country if they left, and at the end, she was like, “What can I do to convince them to stay?”

    I’m going to read this post to both of them.

    I like you, Annabelle.

    • bellejarblog September 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks! I’m glad you got something out of this! 🙂

    • bellejarblog September 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      Also: I like you a whole lot too!

  3. Sarah D. September 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Anne – no and that much is fair and I guess that’s my point – I think neither the French or the English today have quite the difficulties that they used to because I think overall everyone is becoming more understanding and accepting of bilingualism etc. – it’s like any kind of bigotry (I’m thinking gay rights etc. now too), as the new generation(s) raised with more of a concept of tolerance come into higher prominence, hopefully some of these grievances our parents and grandparents on both sides of any given divide (language, colour, sexual preferance, religion) can become lesser.

    • bellejarblog September 12, 2012 at 2:26 am #

      Yeah, as I said above, I’m hopeful (maybe?) that these are just growing pains. I just get so tired of people being so negative about Quebec. It feels like a lot of the vitriol isn’t even aimed at the government, it’s aimed at the people :/

  4. Emilie Doucette November 3, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    I’m Acadian from rural Cape Breton and spent some time in Quebec to improve my French. I met a lot of wonderful people in rural Quebec but in the cities I found a lot of people just refused to speak to me because of my accent. I remember getting on a shuttle bus to the airport in Montreal, and having two Quebecois and the bus driver talk smack about me. It isn’t only the Anglophone in my experience who are given the cold shoulder.

    I’m also a waitress and when French people come to Nova Scotia I speak French to them unless they ask me otherwise (we sometimes get Francophones practicing their English). Usually there is always a staff member around in NS that is fluent in French, and if not, in my experience the general population tries to speak French even if they don’t know any. It’s the polite thing to do. We live in a bilingual country and people (both anglophone and francophone) should start acting like it. It benefits everyone in a society and when we travel, we can reap the benefits of knowing two languages. We can communicate and enjoy media we couldn’t have enjoyed if we were unilingual. It gives us access to a whole new world.

    I think a more ‘Québec Libre’ would be a nation that embraces bilingualism and educates it’s population in the language. In my opinion everyone should at LEAST be able to hold short conversation in French by the time they graduate high school. It isn’t like the population doesn’t WANT to learn French. Especially the Acadians who’ve lost their cultural identity!

    One reason I feel as though us in the maritime (+NFLD) feel frustrated about Quebec is because we’ve had it hard for a very long time. All of us have been screwed over, the Irish and the Scots whose entire language and culture is abolished and the Mi’kmaw and the Acadians who fight to maintain their culture. Nobody acknowledges the damage done to our population. We have a huge unemployment rate and most of our work is seasonal. A good portion of our population is out in Alberta on the tar sands, or they’re in poverty here on government assistance. And all of our young people are moving away. We’re the joke of Canada. The stupid fishermen and potato farmers.

    • bellejarblog November 11, 2012 at 3:07 am #

      Oh, neat! I’m also Acadian! Most of my father’s family are still in the maritimes, although I grew up in Quebec and Ontario.

      I think that a lot of this came from the fact that I’m someone who grew up knowing that I was Acadian, but knowing nothing about the culture. My father doesn’t speak French, and neither do many of my Acadian relatives. As one of my great uncles said to me, “People already looked at us strangely because were the only Catholics on our street – we sure as hell weren’t going to be speaking French on top of that.” I feel a lot of frustration that our culture wasn’t preserved as well as it could have been, and that I missed out on learning about it when I was young. I was lucky in that my parents insisted I go to French school, so I am bilingual, but I still feel like something was lost between past generations of my family and me.

      I do agree that everyone should be bilingual. I feel frustrated over how badly French is treated in the Ontario school system – no one is really expected to learn anything, and very few people come out even being able to hold a conversation in French.

      And yeah, I agree that the maritimes (and Newfoundland) got a raw deal. It’s why my family didn’t stay and why, after living in Halifax for 7 years, my husband and I didn’t stay – there were just so few jobs. I miss living there, though.

    • Dominic Cyr March 31, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Hi Emilie! I like reading you! And I like this post of BelleJar (just discover it this morning) by a post of my friend in Facebook! I am from Montréal!
      A part of my family history are Acadian from New-Brunswick! (Grand father and Grand mother on my father side were from there)

  5. FDL November 15, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    Yes! Omg, yes!

    I agree with 100% of this article’s content.

  6. Gérald McNichols Tétreault November 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    La différence entre les Québécois et les Canadiens c’est que la majorité des Québécois francophones ne se définissent plus et ne se sentent plus comme des Canadiens. Ils considèrent le Canada comme un pays étranger avec une mentalité étrangère. J’ai dit étranger, pas nécessairement ennemi. Le problème des Canadiens c’est qu’ils veulent maintenir de force le Québec dans leur pays, qu’ils croient idéal parce qu’ils l’ont transformé à leur image avec leur langage et leur culture et qu’ils sont incapables de comprendre ce qui pousse les Québécois à vouloir leur propre pays, alors que la majorité des Québécois francophones savent que le Québec doit devenir un pays libre et républicain. Je me sens chez moi à Paris et à New York mais pas à Toronto ni à Vancouver. Tous les “Love In” que vous pourrez inventer pour nous voler nos référendums démocratiques et nous forcer à demeurer une “province canadienne” ne convaincront plus personne. Nos imaginaires et nos destins sont différents et irréconciliables. Vous ne pouvez pas retenir de force quelqu’un qui n’a pas les mêmes rêves, les mêmes structures mentales, ni la même culture que vous. Le Canada n’est rien d’autre qu’une contrainte légale et fiscale pour nous.

    • Tremblay Le Federaliste. November 17, 2013 at 2:31 am #

      Gerald, parles pour toi. Il y a des centaines de milliers, voir des millions de Québécois qui se sentent Canadiens aussi.

      Speak for yourself Gerald. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of Quebeckers that feel Canadian as well.

      Apologies for the negative tone but I get extremely annoyed when the separatists speak as if we are one. We aren’t one !

      I’m French “pure laine” and die-hard federalist. So is my dad, my mom, my whole family in fact. And a whole bunch of my friends too !

      Stop speaking for me ! I don’t share your dream of an ethnic state. Never will.

      And if ever I were to have flirted with the idea, it died when hate mongering became an electoral tactic (a.k.a. The Charter).

      • Gérald McNichols Tétreault November 18, 2013 at 12:34 am #

        Vous modifiez mes propos. J’ai bien dit “une majorité de québécois francophones ne se définissent plus comme des Canadiens”…, je n’ai pas dit la totalité. Bien sûr vous ne faites pas partie de cette majorité et je ne peux rien y faire parce que l’identité n’est pas une chose rationnelle. Choisissez de vous exprimer en anglais pour affirmer que vous vous définissez comme Canadien, ça montre bien votre véritable culture et quels sont vos maîtres. Grand bien vous fasse. On verra bien ce que vous déciderez de choisir comme nationalité le jour où on aura fait l’indépendance du Québec. Le Canada a dû tricher pour gagner le dernier référendum en plus que presque tous les anglophones (pas tous) et presque tous les immigrants (pas tous) ont voté contre l’indépendance du Québec et pour la soumission au Canada. Le Canada n’est pas mon pays, c’est le pays occupant de mon pays. Nos chemins sont différents. Et vous êtes présomptueux quand vous prétendez que le projet d’indépendance est un projet ethnique : l’indépendance du Québec n’est pas un projet ethnique, c’est vous qui vous décrivez comme “pure laine”, moi je suis un Québécois francophone métissé et fier de l’être.

      • Jérémi Désy March 31, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

        je crois qu’avant d’Avoir un pays il faudrai changer le systeme politique actuelle je ne veux pas d’un pays controller par les calabrese ou les siciliens…et ile ne faudrait pas oublier les amérindiens la dedans et leur donner un petit peu de place avec leur sagesse on pourrait peut etre arreter les prohibition sur les plantes et seulement sur les substances transformées chimiquement comme le GMS le coca cola ou l’héroine…on est pas pret pour un pays mais il faut que les conservateurs ne soit pos réelus

      • Un dude! April 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

        Wonder if you are federalist because you were brainwashed by your dad, your mom, and so on. A lot of people, on both sides, tend to follow the rhetoric and diatribes from home. I used to be one, but I grew ip. And btw he’s not speaking to you, like you are probably not speaking to me. So, keep this in mind, as small as it is, he’s free to say what he wants, like you are.

    • Mireille March 31, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

      Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec vous.

    • Youri Raymond April 1, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      Exactement. Je n’éprouve aucune haine contre le Canada, mais pour y avoir été souvent, je ne me sentais vraiment pas chez moi, ni avec les miens. Je suis chez moi au Québec et n’éprouve aucune haine envers mes voisins, je veux simplement m’épanouir dans la liberté totale. Vive le Québec Libre! xxxx On vous aime nos voisins Canadiens! :p

  7. Richard Lehoux November 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    I never understand why people are surprise that a province like Quebec would want to separate from Canada. It’s for the same reason Canadien don’t want to become American, the same reason that Canada is no more a colony of Great Britain, that no European country want to forgive it’s flag. We are not in 22th century Star Trek. When a group of people feel they are to much different from an other group of people, they want to form a distinct entity. That’s the state of human social progress. The day that a franco AND a anglo don’t care if Montreal is part of a country name Canada or Quebec, then the separatist movement will be irrelevant.

    • Dominic Cyr March 31, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Wow! You got it!

  8. FuzzyWuzzy November 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    As a bilingual (mothertongue is french) separatist Montrealer who was feeling more and more berated by all the Quebec bashing and hate you can find from anglophone canadians on the internet i have to say : thank you for this beautifully written article. Not only is it on point, you also manage to see things from our perspective while still remaining true to your own ideals. Not a lot of anglos manage to see the Quebec situation from a frenchie’s perspective.

  9. Marie November 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Canada needs more voices like yours. Merci pour cet article, it does restore a bit of faith.

  10. crystal jones November 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    I’m all for trying to protect culture and what not but after being refused service numerous times because I don’t speak French perfectly (and trust me, I try) one of those times even being at a children’s hospital, I have to draw a line somewhere. Sure, there are those francophones who are shy to speak English, but do acknowledge that some francophones are just bitter and mean. When a friend of mine came to visit, she tried asking for directions to the bus driver using all the frenchbwords she ccould and his response? “J’parle francais.” Thats was it. Some of this is unnecessary. And lets not forget that quebec is apart of Canada and not its own country so it should definitely have English as one of the mother tongues. English being banned from being spoken on school grounds…really? Whats next? No spanish or arabic!? There is a such thing as compromise.

    • Nadia November 16, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      Article intéressant, merci ami anglo ! Si toutes les communautés saisissaient les différences culturelles de chaque groupe comme tu le fais, je pense qu’on réussirait à vivre tous côte-à-côte, voire ensemble. Le respect, la compréhension et la bonne volonté sont les clés. Il faut savoir s’adapter et comprendre le passé de chaque culture qui nous entoure.

      For Crystal : maybe you should travel a bit around the world ? Then you’ll find out how many other cultures that’ll reply to you “Yo hablo español” or “Je parle français” or “Ich spreche Deutsch”…culture is not only about a country or frontiers, it’s about people in a specific area and we have to adapt and maybe find other ways to communicate when language is a barrier. When you live outside Montreal it is mostly french speaking. So, you almost never speak english except if tourists are coming your way (you learn english basics in school). My mother, my friends living outside Mtl and other family still in these areas : they don’t know a thing (some knows few things) about english. I do because I live in Montreal and had to learn english for my work (it’s been 10 year I live in Mtl).

      Finally, about the french language rule here on school grounds : don’t you think it’s important to protect and share a culture ? If you don’t, I think you definitely need to travel and to learn about that matter. 😉

      Et puis, c’est tellement charmant un(e) anglophone qui essaie de parler français…laissez-vous aller, vous gagnerez bien des points, le charme, il faut aussi savoir l’utiliser !

      • crystal jones November 19, 2013 at 3:00 am #

        For Nadia:
        I have actually traveled and lived in various parts of the world. My home being the U.S (the South so..yo hablas espanol) but have lived in both Germany and Italy so there is no issue with my understanding the need to protect a culture. My issue is the growing lack of ignorance I face even when trying to comply with all the changes.
        English is my mother tongue- not by choice, just as french is to Francophones. When I try to respect that, I still end up the target of a language war by being ignored or mocked.
        I moved to Quebec specifically for the melting pot, believing that two languages can cohabitate peacefully together and over the past 4 years have been disappointed at just how badly I’ve been fooled.
        And about the school grounds: as important as it is to protect something, is it not also important to allow freedom of speech in whatever language each person is comfortable? To allow new things, cultures and languages to be learned for intelligence? Would speaking English amongst your peers who also speak English really kill off the french speakers who speak french with their friends? Its a form of discrimination.
        I am not saying all hail english, but will repeat as stated in my original post, is there really no room for compromise?

    • Etienne Vernier November 17, 2013 at 5:48 am #

      And you think you don’t get refused service if you speak French when going … everywhere else in Canada ? This isn’t a one sided issue and the anglophones are definitely not the only victims. All provinces should have proper French and English taught in school. We’d end up with smarter and more open-minded generations and it would finally put an end to this unnecessary crap.

      • crystal jones November 19, 2013 at 3:03 am #

        There are many languages offered in high schools all across Canada, french being the highest recommeded. I myself took french and spanish on high in the us (granted quebecois is a little different). Im sure some french have their hard times just ad the English but all I’m saying is instead of banning or limiting just one, merely compromise. Otherwise, this will inevitably turn into a war…sad to say.

    • Morisset November 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      Dear Crystal, i’m sorry to tell you this: 3 majors universities, 5 colleges(cegep) around 200 schools, 1 major hospital, equal to the french population even thouhg if the anglophones are around 12% of the population. Stop saying that you are not respected as an anglophone. Plus, there is nowhere in the world where a minority has that much public! institution. If you are not able to speak french, where is the respect toward the french majority who pays a lot for the english community and institutions?

      • Tremblay Le Federaliste. November 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

        Dear Morisset,

        Just the other day, I was at Lionel-Groulx and I heard a maintenance employee rage against a commuter that had addressed him in English. A tourist ! This is not what you heard in the papers about issues at STM, this is my personal experience, first-hand.

        We have issues. Let’s face it and stop justifying/excusing/hiding what is a something that happens relatively frequently. I know anglo-haters and so do you, we all do because there are a bunch of them amongst us (mind you there is no shortage of franco haters in the ROC and come to think of it of Montreal haters in the ROQ).

        The fact you are stating about anglo institutions has nothing to do with language based rudeness/discrimination.

      • crystal jones November 19, 2013 at 3:08 am #

        You’ve completely missed the point. Its a lack of respect after trying to accommodate and adapt to the environment to make the French feel comfortable.
        I’ll say it once more…is there no room for comprises!?

      • Julie Desautels March 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

        Mr. Tremblay, of course there are anglo-haters. The same way there are franco-haters. I was once told to speak French and I was once ridiculed for speaking French. There are idiots everywhere. That being said, those are the only two incidents I have ever witnessed in the 20 years I lived in Quebec, a lot of those in Montreal.

    • Nadia November 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      For Crystal :

      I am happy to ear that you’ve been traveling a lot, so do I.
      When I’ve been in Spain, Honduras, HK or wherever I’ve been it was very difficult to communicate as most people language was different from english. I think it’s sort of normal you find the same reality here.

      I absolutely agree that most people s/b bilingual but it’s not a reality anywhere in the world : in Quebec we are as a majority, francophone, let say that’s our nation. We are not different from Canadian anglo only because of the language, we also have a distinct culture and different values, I am sure you can feel it when you come here. I think that people that have the chance to be more educated should adapt when they travel : it’s the way it is for many emotional areas.

      For sure, as a Québécoise, if my neighbour has been here for 5 years or more and doesn’t take the effort to speak in french (talking from experience), let me tell you that it’s pretty disappointing, even frustrating ! It’s a lack of respect for the Quebec culture. Many people don’t understand this point : I have several friends from other countries that live here and they only speak english…they don’t understand the law about french, why it’s that way etc. I think that’s something that comes up very often here and that’s maybe why you can find some Québécois with sort of disrespect for anglos. I clearly understand this state of mind even if I try not to get stick with it. I don’t know much about the french speaking “law” on school grounds so I cannot express more about it. Thank you for your reply.

    • Nathalie November 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      Careful with this, I’ve lived both sides of this. I grew up in New Brunswick the ONLY officially bilingual province in Canada, and there I was bullied for speaking french on many occasions. I can’t even tell you the amount of times I was flat out ignored when I spoke french. And despite encouragement and easy access to immersion classes, few were the parents that took advantage of it, prefering to be angry about the ”advantages” that francophones had over anglophones when it came to jobs. When generally it was simply a question of them being bilingual by obligation.
      Sure, some Québécois are rude, but so are some people in every other province. And after years of being berated for not speaking english and having their major city filled with anglophones due to Canada’s immigration policies (at the time), maybe some people in Montreal are a little touchy about the language issue. And sure, I have no qualms about making Québec bilingual, as long as you make every other province in Canada bilingual too, and make sure that’s enforced…
      Let’s just accept that there is no easy solution and learn to be tolerant of one another

      Thanks to the writer of this blog, it’s fantastic!

    • Dan March 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      crystal these things happen anywhere. “J’parle français” is not a unique french situation. “I don’t speak french is also very frequent in Canada. It’s not because you had 2 or 3 bad experiences that millions of people are like that. As for the “english being banned from school grounds” well they still have english lessons in class. So it’s not about denying a language.

    • Jérémi Désy March 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      la ou y’A de l’homme y’a de l’hommerie!you are right when you say that it’S because of ignorance but that’s because we have been divided and oppressed since centuries by the Anglo-Saxons like we did with the indians and look where they live now!and in top of that it’S much more a montreal problem that you are exposin…i lived in montreal one year and for real i was worry with the french in quebec…but after my DEP i came back home in saint-hyacinthe and i was’nt hearin english anymore.i understand why people can overreact with the TVA’s media and all this crap that always talks about things to divide us!you should speak spanish before english it would’nt be the same reaction i think…idiots are idiots and anyway a disrespectful busdriver can receive a complaint and be fired…they are paid with motrealers taxes

    • Julie Desautels March 31, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

      I had to speak French on school grounds because I was at a French school. Enough of the student’s French was weak when we started that if they didn’t force us to speak French, there would have been a lot of English and Cantonese being spoken and a lot more difficulties learning in class. As it was, by the end of high school, everyone spoke perfect French and still spoke whatever second (or third) language they spoke at the beginning. English is banned from some schools, the same way Spanish or Arabic is banned, not because it’s bad to know those languages but because school is the only place where some students will get to practice their French.

    • Jérôme Pilette March 31, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

      Last minute report: A lot of anglos are bitter and mean too, and there’s mean and bitter people in every country of the world. Since we’re all humans, I’d bet on a pretty comparable percentage of bitter and mean people for any place on Earth.

      Québec takes a capital Q, likes does canada…since it’s the only misspell in your text, I tought you should know.

      You should revise your definition of ‘confederation’ and learn that if Canada was a true confederation, instead of trying to drag all the power to Ottawa, there wouldn’t be any problem and Québec would probably not be thinking about getting a country of its own.

      English banned from school grounds? Sounds like pinkneck paranoïa to me.

  11. kait November 16, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    Thanks for writing this. I am an Anglo living in Montreal, and I completely agree with everything you’ve said. Since moving to Quebec I have become shocked at the depiction of the québécois in Canadian media that, in my mind, borders on racism, and with many people’s (and not just Canadians) easy manner in sharing their irrational bigotry against Quebec. I can’t say I blame those of them who want to separate.


    There is something in this post that sticks in my throat which I can’t go without bringing up. After a dozen or so posts in this vein (they are actually quite common in Anglo Quebec circles) the elephant in the room starts to loom large. Because what this issue really boils down to is one question:

    “Is Canada a nation of just one white, European heritage, or can we make room for another?”

    What’s so poignant about that in this context is that the Quebec-Canada struggle hinges so much on the idea of ‘who was here first’. Which, sure, maybe is a justifiable question. But if it is, then we have to admit what we really are – a couple of car thieves fighting over who called shotgun.

    I want to be real clear. I am white, from a middle class background and maybe this isn’t my fight. But I grew up in a small, northern town with a sizable First Nation population. The last residential school in my area closed in the 1980s. I have seen first-hand the utter destruction – emotional, psychological, cultural – that our colonialism has had on aboriginal people. And I’ve seen many of my native peers brought down by drugs and alcohol, violent deaths, or just a deeply rooted belief that they are second-class citizens.

    I’m also not saying that the québécois have any less right to cultural identity or self-determination. But I guess what sets me off about this topic is that this deep drive for self-preservation – and our selective sanctioning of it – has essentially made ‘Quebec’ synonymous with ‘French’ – a total cultural and language assimilation by a group trying to avoid cultural and language assimilation. It smacks of hypocrisy, and not just because the word ‘Quebec’ isn’t even French (‘Canada’ isn’t English either).

    And underpinning it all is the notion that if we, the ruling elite, can find it in our hearts to play sharesies with our colonial partners in crime, we will have earned our absolution and a nice pat on the back.

  12. jean pelletier November 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    I’m French canadian, French speaking, and very proud of it. I always do my best to speak and write in the best French possible. I learned English at school, but more on the streets.
    When I was young, 66 years ago,,,if one, only one person in a group was English speaking, ALL THE REST of the group turned to speaking English, so to accomodate the stranger. Later on, when I found myself in a group of Anglos, I was the one to bend down so to be part of that group. But I never felt I was accepted in that group, because I was from French origines. I remember when I bought the first Christmas present for my mother, at down-town’s Eaton’s, a simple bottle of perfume. The sales lady did would not speak French to me, making all sort of gestures trying to pronounce “Lotus de Yardey”, the perfume I was trying to buy. Finaly, I was served by the Manager…That’s the true story, repeated millions of time. And not to help this one, she was a “grosse anglaise de westmount”
    I was living in Ahuntsic, a part of the north of Montreal. On Lacadie Boulevard, there was a 4 feel high green Frost fence to prevent the french people of Bordeaux to get to the English portion of Saint-Laurent!
    The real problem is that French language is one more subject to learn at English school. Same for the English in French schools. Learning should be a plus in education, but it is seen like a pain in the ass, for both cultures.
    As French is not a reconnized trade language, it is considered not important to our Anglo friends. So why would they make any effort to speak French? But we need to speak English if we want to work!
    In countrys were you find more than one religion, people, race or origin, there is caos! Because different people hate and fight others, since man was man. It will always be like this. This is the true nature of man!
    So, the final question is: Can a French culture people (Québécois) live with an English culture people, in the same Canada? The answer is obviously NO.

    We need to change the constitution of Canada, so to create a New and Better Country.
    Canada would be divided so East would become a State, Québec, Ontario, The Praries, and BC would become Independent States. The territories would be attached to the closest State. So Five (5) Independant States, in one Federation, Canada.

    Need more ideas?
    Just call me. .

  13. Jonathan Gregoire November 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Thank you for this text. I am a french independantist myself and agree 100% to what you wrote. Independance of quebec is not against canadians or against english speaking. I’ve been independant since i was 15 years old (1995) I attended enriched english class in highschool, went to an english CEGEP because I strongly beleive Everybody should speak at least french and english, if you can learn spanish, italian german any other language fine! The more the better. Yes there are some stupid french quebeckers that refuse to speak english but i beleive that is a small minority. Kind of Like not all anglo canadian vote for harper.

    At my workplace we are 100 speaking french and only 5 of them speak english, but in every meeting/conversation everybody switch to english if one of our anglo coworker is present. And nobody as any problem with that.

    independance is not based on language, it’s mostly because we have a different culture, different mentality (i’m not saying better just different). I beleive an english quebeckers is closer in mentality and culture to a french quebecker than to an anglo canadian.

    I hope my comment makes sence even if written in my second language. Anyways thank you for this text it is dead on!

  14. Bob Aubery November 16, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    What I don’t understand is why the State of California can pass a law like Proposition 227 (English Language In Public Schools, State of California June 2, 1998) but when the current PQ government tries to initiate an even milder version for French, they are called fascists and racists. Proposition 227 requires that all public school instruction be conducted in English because it was felt that bilingual instruction (Spanish and English) was hindering students from learning English properly. Well, well. So a significant majority of Californians felt that this was a logical, self-evident way to manage their language issue. Yet when the language is not English the proponent, in Quebec’s case Pauline Marois, becomes an ignorant fascist who knows nothing about how children acquire language skills. Isn’t there a double standard here? It really makes me physically ill to hear Anglos and The English media in Canada spewing their vile anti-PQ invective over this issue day in and day out. So much of this bigoted, bile was what probably inspired Richard Henry Bain (who could have killed many more than Denis Blanchette) to descend on the Metropolis that election night. Then I hear the same people and media who fanned the anti-PQ flames, telling us how touched they were by the tribute to Denis Blanchette. Hypocrisy was never so well served.

    • Un dude! April 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      great point, too bad Tremblay whatever his name is can’t grasp that! Sad.

    • Jasper Notwell April 3, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

      As somebody born and raised in California who has now lived in Montreal for fourteen years, I have to tell you that using Prop. 227 as a defense is almost as bad as Drainville defending Bill 60 by referring to nakedly discriminatory (anti-Catholic) laws on the books of several States or Liseé invoking Thomas Jefferson only to be schooled in how Jefferson was strongly against a strictly secular public sphere.

      The debate over Prop. 227 was nasty and full of racist and xenophobic venom. The sponsor of the law, Ron Unz, was a far right conservative Republican. I could understand such regressive scapegoating from somebody like Unz and the Republican party. I cannot for the life of me understand how the Québécois social progressives of which the PQ is supposed to be made are willing to throw immigrants, minorities and other Others under the bus in pursuit of your socialist paradise. Not to mention the PQ’s historical dismissal of First Nations dreams of sovereignty. Shame on you!

  15. Maxime LeDuc November 16, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    I simply wanted to say thank you. Simply put: you get it. I’ve seen these types of reactions to why it’s not the same living in Quebec, why people here are different, for the better and for the worst, etc. I’ve always tried to stay respectful in this debate and I generally avoided extremists from both side (going from “Anglos are the devil” to “let’s drown the Frenchies in the ocean”). People are not all extremists, but they rarely are very empathetic to the other side, sincerely understanding the issue. Maybe you and I don’t share the same vision of the independence of Quebec, but I sure respect your vision because I can say that it’s not built on fear, misunderstanding or misconceptions. I will gladly show this text to many people so that maybe, we can get a empathetic debate on this issue.

    Thanks again and good work

  16. ObnoxiousJul (@ObnoxiousJul) November 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    And what about the first nations? Do they have any rights to preserve their culture in Canada?

  17. Kim Doucet November 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    i am a french canadian woman in montreal. my mother is french canadian (countless generations back), my father was acadian raised in a mostly english but still french speaking household. his family moved to quebec from N-B when he was 6 months. although he had a think accent in french, he was completely fluent and would get pissed off if anyone would suggest that he was english. he was extremely proud of his french background. His 9 brothers and sisters all speak french and english.even those who moved to ontario and alberta years ago. my mom learnt english at 17 right before she met my dad. as i child i learnt both at the same time. my mom’s family all speak french and english. i went to french school and my sisters and brother went to english school. i have travelled in all of canada because one of my sisters was in the canadian armed forces. in my life… i have experience a lot of discrimination because i chose to also speak english in a dominant french area.. i also never encountered anyone who wouldn’t speak to me in english (i often pretended to not speak french to test the theory of those who said that they were refused to speak english to them) and never was i left unserved by someone. they always managed to speak to me in english. i have seen both sides since i was born. am i truly a french canadian if i speak both???? i am part of a middle ground… not french enough… and not english enough… i am bilingual. my friends from europe all speak 3-4 some 5 languages… why is canada soooooo afraid of speaking 2???????!!!!!????? my father was also part native.. and where is their constitution?? where is their nations libre??? your article is poignant because it stems from a stand point of equality and compassion and understanding. canada is a beautiful country but noyone is perfect. quebec is my home and i will never move but again… not perfect. i wish we could be tolerant and accepting of our differences and support them. i wish that quebecers would visit canada and canada visit quebec and know that we are all just humans beings trying to live a good life.

    the idea of the older gentleman of having 5 states kinda of brilliant…. i just honestly think that they are solutions to these issues that doesn’t have to uproot everyone’s lives… including mine because i am not a separatist.. i believe in communication and unity and understanding.

    thank you for a truly beautiful post. it opened the lines of communication in a positive way.

    vive le quebec heureux et vive le canada heureux xxx

  18. Sam Desormeau November 18, 2013 at 2:26 am #

    I am one of those interesting Quebecers in that my family is anglophone but not. My last name is french, my first name is not. One side is that interesting french/native/scottish mix that are all french-cultured but fluently bilingual. The other is irish and very much anglophone.

    I love Quebec. I love my home. I am as much a native to here as any “pure-laine”. I do not identify as a Canadian and have absolutely experienced that weird ‘I’m not like them/this is not home’ feeling when in Toronto or Ottawa.

    I do not care if we separate or not. So long as we have a stable economy, infrastructure etc. I do not want any semblance of independence if we will end up this impoverished nation struggling after getting it’s independence too quickly.
    We are a distinct place. We are a distinct culture.


    The reality of that culture has not been seen for what it truly is.
    I am the product of a very faulty french immersion education. I am in this weird junction of watching french TV and listening to french radio and yet my grammar/writing and ability to converse. I *WISH* I had better french skills to be able to grasp all the cultural identity that Quebec offers instead of being this weird offshoot. I am choosing to write in english not because I ‘won’t’ or ‘can’t’ en francais but because my spelling and grammaire are terrible.

    I am tired of the drama. Past injustices do NOT condone future ones, if it becomes a game of ‘well they hurt/subjugated us so now we get them’ and so on it never ends. I am NOT receiving any ‘anglophone privileges’. I am not some sort of ‘canadian transplant’. I do not stand with Canada. I am a Quebecer.

    On both sides everyone is pointing fingers, justifying and reporting victim-hood.
    I just want to be able to communicate.
    I don’t want to worry about being spit on, egged, cussed out, glared at or having my health/welfare put into jeopardy because either (between both of us trying to translate for each other) I cannot make myself understood or because someone decides to make a political example out of me.
    I don’t want to be told I ‘have’ to speak french in a playground.
    Not because I have an issue with it, but made to feel bad/persecuted or lesser just because my mother tongue is English is wrong. Especially if all you have to say is well ‘Canada does it to french-speaking people so we’ll do it to you because since you’re english you’re obviously one and the same as Canada so you need to pay for what they’ve done’.

    I would hope for a strong, collective Quebec that knows it is NOT solely a french nation and that it’s culture/affiliation is NOT defined by language (or how else, as an anglophone would I identify so strongly with this place? Should I not just be Canadian?). It is ‘Quebec culture’ and it transcends both language. There are other cultures here (check out the Montreal city flag) who have a long and proud history here and this is their home and where they have placed their roots as well.

    I long for a Quebec that can put this idiotic language debate to rest for once and focus on important things. Not siphoning money out of healthcare and etc to fund it’s language police.
    A Quebec where we can all communicate easily in both languages and come together to make our home better.

    *shrug* that might be jumbled or not make sense. For that I apologize.

  19. Nadia November 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Wow, les commentaires ont poussés ! Je suggère à tous et toutes cette vidéo de quelques minutes où Pol Pelletier parle de nous, les Québécois, et les femmes…très émouvant !

  20. Séssyl November 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    Je n’ai pas lu tous les commentaires et j’en suis désolé, car je suis sûr que tous les propos sont plus intéressant les uns que les autres. Je voulais juste dire que personnellement, je suis né au Québec, ainsi que toute ma famille, et je ne suis aucunement séparatiste. J’aime avoir le choix et le privilège de traverser un continent d’un océan à l’autre sans me casser la tête si j’ai un visa, sa durée, etc. J’aime mes Rocheuses, mes Prairies, mes provinces maritimes.

    Il est vrai par contre que si on me demande comment je me perçois en premier entre québécois et canadien, sans hésitation je vais répondre québécois. Malheureusement, je le regrettes sincèrement, mais je ne me “sens” pas trop canadien. Bien sûr, comme une bonne partie des québécois, je parles anglais, du moins je me débrouilles assez pour me faire comprendre. Quand quelqu’un vient me parler en anglais sans faire d’effort pour seulement dire “Bonjour”, alors que l’on est en territoire québécois, ça m’horripile. Je ne demandes pas un long discours en français, juste au moins un “bonjour”. Nous ne sommes pas stupides. Comme plusieurs ont écrit, lorsque l’on voit un anglo avoir de la difficulté à parler français, nous allons lui parler en anglais, pour l’accomoder, pour avoir une meilleure interaction avec la personne. Nous sommes comme ça, nous aimons faciliter la vie des gens. L’adage dit : “À Rome, fait comme les romains.” Lorsque je vais ailleurs au Canada, je ne m’attends pas à ce que l’on me parles en français, cela me semble limpide. Mais, si je vais dans une institution fédérale et que je ne suis pas capable de me faire servir en français (qui est une langue officielle à travers le pays je le rappelle), excusez-moi, mais je ne trouves pas cela tout à fait juste.

    Voilà. Je ne veux pas que le Québec se sépare, mais s’il faut en arriver là pour arrêter de se faire “manger la laine sur le dos”, je vote oui. Un de mes plus grand rêve serait que chaque anglo, qui dénigre si aisément le Québec et sa population, vive au quotidien pendant quelque jours dans la peau d’un franco au Canada. Petite difficulté de plus, un franco hors-Québec.

    Bonne chance…

    • Bernard Fong March 31, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Il n’y aucun besoin d’un visa pour enjamber l’Europe occidentale grâce au pacte Schengen. Le même arrangement s’installerait entre le Québec et le Canada ensemble avec le commerce sans droit de douane qui fleurit dans l’Union européenne dont envisage aussi l’agrément nord-américain.

    • Un dude! April 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      And weirdly enough when you tell a closed minded anglo from here if it’s okay not to be able to be served in French in Calgary for instance, instead of taking a stance, they’ll say: well what happens there is not my problem. Geez!

  21. Emilie Lemonde November 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Wow merci de nous comprendre anglophone ❤

  22. Patrick Desfossés November 23, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    My hat goes off to you Anne, for this refreshing take on the whole Québec “situation”, if you will…

    I for one am a mild separatist, in the sense that yes, I want a country made out of Québec… I do however at the same time realise that to make a country, you need people, and Montreal, for all its faults, seems ike a good model as it is fairly accepting of different cultures…

    Bear in mind that I do not condone in any way the “bullying” of English Canadians when they come over in Gatineau (Québec), heck, when I hear them just try to speak french, even if only a word or two, I respect them all the more for it and I am happy to help them out in anyway, offering to speak english as a courtesy but often getting that they want to practice their french.

    That being said; I will not say that, having worked at a retail store, I haven’t had to deal with the occassionnal “entitled” Canadian, wanting to be served in english. I have politely told them in english that they should not expect every single employee in a retail store to be fluent in English, and I’d mostly gotten very unpleasant answers as: “You’re in Canada before being in Québec, you should speak english” at which point I very politey told the client that he was lucky that there even was anyone speaking english to him right now, as it is not a requirement, but rather an asset, to speak english in Québec…

    I know that not all people are like that, but the media in the greater part of Canada likes to depict us as a xenophobic/intolerant/oppressive people, and as such, a lot of people are starting to think that instead of being told we’re something we aren’t, we might just as well be what we’re told…

    I just hope that more people like you, Anne, exist across the whole of Canada…

  23. Marc November 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    Thank you for this. You should send this to the Globe & Mail and the National Post. Not sure they will publish it but…

    Your article reminded me a colleague from Toronto. She told me she would never come back to Québec. Here is her story: She were 2 weeks in Québec. All was fine until she stop in a restaurant at the end and the waitress didn’t spoke to her in French. For her, how rude and borderline intelorant. I told her, well, if I come here and even in Ottawa, I don’t expect anyone tp speak in French. Just the look on her face saying: it’s not the same! Priceless

  24. Jay March 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Thank you, you expressed very eloquently many things that I often find myself trying to explain. As an anglo non Québecor (who, admittedly, probably has the least stakes in what happens with Québec), a lot of people are surprised when I come to Québec’s defense . I feel similarly about my culture to the way you described-I’m from a Celtic Cape Breton family, and it was my great grandparents who decided that Gaelic was worthless and that they shouldn’t teach it to my grandparents, and poof, our language went from being the third most spoken European language in Canada at Confederation (and a majority in CB), to a couple scattered speakers in rural NS. I understand, then, that it really doesn’t take much to kill a language, and I would hate to see Québec lose French the way Gaelic slipped out of my ancestors’ hands (it really bothers me to pay to learn it in classes instead of speak it as a first language). I also think a lot of ROC anglos think Québec separatism is about hurting Canada-it’s not, at all (though as a Maritimer I’m wary of what might happen to us if Québec separates and we are cut off). I think maybe a lot of my understanding also comes from having worked hard to become bilingual. Minor correction on your post though-francophones in New Brunswick would have a much easier time accessing government services in French than anglos in Québec would in English in many cases (and that’s one of the reasons I think NB is highly underrated 🙂 ).
    Thanks again for an awesome blog post!

  25. Jojo March 30, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Now… Let’s talk about:

    I’ve been working with uni-lingual Anglo for years
    I was THE ONLY Frenchy at work
    YES, I did work (and still do) in international field
    but who was picking up all the customers who speak French, regardless of the department, questioning or WHAT EVER?

    You probably do not know it but Geoff Molson is bilingual
    and for him, according to his own family values,
    it’s important that his children speak French
    because, according to his family tradition:
    Being unilingual Anglophone
    is a lack of respect for Francophone!

    Molson is a Canadian company that hires Quebec employees
    in Montreal (French Canadian) since 1786!

    Molson has had its ups and downs
    and they could have drop its Montreal plant very easily
    (Eg partnership with Coors)
    but during the negotiations,
    it has always been very important
    to not touch the Quebec employees.

    Face it!
    The fact that of not speaking the language of the population in which you live and / or work, is a strange view of what is life in society …

    A final word about the Molson’s family
    Geoff Molson could have drop the French language very easily, but no, he did not do it
    and his children are bilingual French-English
    and guess what?
    The next Molson’s generations will also speak French.


  26. Jasper Notwell March 30, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    I find this essay well-meaning; at times the demonization of Quebec in the Anglo press is indeed a bit much (though it’s pretty rich that one of the leading demonizers, The Toronto Sun, is owned by the PQ’s new star candidate, Pierre Karl Péladeau!). But it is simplistic in that it ignores several significant issues. First is the status of First Nations peoples in Quebec. They are the only ones that can make a clear moral claim to be “the people of the place”. The Francophones are colonists and oppressors and stealers of land, as are the Anglophones. I find it interesting that nobody in this thread had enough respect for this fact to take up the questions raised by kait.

    Furthermore, First Nations have a very different relationship with Canada and with Quebec than the non-FN folks, and for the most part they have no interest in being part of a sovereign Quebec. (See various statements put out by the Mohawaks, the Cree, etc.) Separatists have absolutely no moral ground to argue for self-determination if they would not be willing to let these communities decide for themselves whether to ‘remain’ in Quebec.

    Second, commentators like you often make the mistake of conflating Quebec sovereignty for the will of the Quebec people, with the Rest of Canada just getting in the way of our expression of self-determination. But, as Tremblay Le Federaliste points out to Gérald McNicols Tétreault, support for sovereignty is a *minority* position in Quebec. Two losing referenda and polling for the last two decades confirm this.

    Third, the current campaign has made it clear that the only hope the PQ has for creating ‘winning conditions’ is to retreat to an ethno-supremacist approach that is disgusting—and, as a Cherokee person with small brown children, terrifying—in its scapegoating of the other. It is entirely appropriate that the Rest of Canada should be appalled by this, and harshly, harshly critical.

    So, it’s not a simple story of a peoples’ will to self-determination being frustrated by uncomprehending and unfair outsiders.

  27. Jasper Notwell March 30, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    I only realized after I hit “post” that your post about White Privilege is actually, in itself, an example of White Privilege, i.e, it *utterly* ignores the non-white people that are part of that Quebec nationalism question. It’s just another example of white people talking to white people about white people problems.

    • Jasper Notwell March 30, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

      My mistake, meant to write “Your post about Anglo Privilege is actually an example of White Privilege…”

      • chantale March 31, 2014 at 1:21 am #

        Merci!! Merci so much for that nice point of view!! I have plenty of anglo friends, and i “KNOW” they love french, and love Quebec and Montreal… but it takes courage to write a message like you did!! I work in a daycare in a multicultural setting, and what i see, are parents that want to learn french and speak well!! All of then love french…. but i don’t read or hear that many anglo defending it publicly…. and we do need more of that…. merci!!

        I know also, that most people judging anything, usually are the ones that have no idea of what they are talking about….. we judge what we don’t know about, in general…. reality is never all white or all black… there are always plenty of nuances, when you are close to the reality you are talking about….

        And i strongly believe that “French” is a common treasure, that needs to be protected somehow, because it makes us, different, in the North American continent…. As a cultural treasure to be preserved…. for all Canadians…. Its one of the colors of Canada… as First Nations are too…. But politicians, are awful communicators…. to my opinion…. and they too often mix their own personal interest with the real work they are suppose to do…. take care and work at uniting the whole nation toward a common ideal…
        But they obviously don’t do that…

        …and then, the medias, play an horrible role, in just jumping on anything that creates stir in the opinion of the population….They make money out of the anger, and hate… they make it bigger and larger…. which hurt some people and make people judge even more…. Separatists want to sell that….. it doesn’t represent the opinion of all quebequers…. obviously… if it did, we would be already independent….. For me the solution in our seemingly unsolvable issues is in creativity and intelligence…. i do believe in that…. but our present politicians are neither creative or intelligent enough…. humanely speaking…. and it is sad…. we do need new ideas…. like SSsoooon!! Tourlou!! Merci again!! Great virtual hug!! = )

  28. Richard March 31, 2014 at 3:13 am #

    There are some very interesting ‘takes’ on the issue, and they are certainly all valid. As an Anglo growing up deep on the South Shore of Montreal, my experience was not very positive as a child, even though I speak French fluently. I chose to leave, as I was not prepared to continue to live there, while the economy and job market kept declining. I have read through all the posts, and while there are some touching stories, and I have no doubt they are true, in terms of the prejudice that French speaking Quebecers faced historically. I faced the same issues as an Anglo time and again. There are a few posts where people speak about services being available for both the English minority as well as the French, and that is simply not my experience, then or now for those of my family that continue to live there. Try finding an English speaking social worker with the CLSC on the South Shore, my mentally ill Uncle lives on his own since my Grandmother’s passing, and it’s been over 2 years that he’s been waiting for any help, as the ONLY social worker who speaks English is off on LTD. I look around, from crossing the border from the USA into Alberta, education in BC and government jobs in Ontario…everyone has to be able to speak French, provide an education in French for those who require and request it, it’s not optional, it’s mandatory everywhere in Canada yet not in Quebec. Make no mistake, this is a large part of the problem for a great deal of Canadians, there is a perceived, and real, double standard. While this may have also been true years ago, two wrongs don’t make a right. I left after the then liberal leader Robert Bourassa passed the notwithstanding clause after the Supreme Court’s ruling, I just couldn’t see how I could continue to live there. My children are in French immersion, and I’m quite happy with that, I just don’t know how this will all work out if Quebecers decide to separate, as the impact will be profound and will likely spell the end of what little economic prosperity we enjoy as a united Canada.

  29. C. March 31, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    Theoretically speaking, I don’t disagree. I grew up and still live near Montreal, I speak French at home and English at school, I come from a unilingual francophone family but still dare to call myself Canadian because I love my (very, very flawed) country. I agree with the points you brought up, especially in terms of our linguistic and social background in Quebec; it does justify the hostility (for lack of a better term) our province has against the rest of Canada to a certain degree.

    However–and I believe this is important to mention: Having grown up 40 minutes away from our arguably bilingual métropole and strictly interacting with francophones until adulthood, I can assure you that people are not as well-intentioned as you seem to think they are. It’s deplorable, but it’s a fact. I personally know *dozens* of francophones who loudly claim that they refuse to speak English to accommodate someone, strictly because “au Québec, on parle français”. (Amusingly enough, these people are often the ones who actually butcher the language, but that’s beside the point.) The visceral hatred some Quebec citizens have of anglophones (and, while we’re at it, ethnic minorities) is incredibly widespread outside of Montreal. We’re essentially doing the linguistic equivalent of chasing English-speaking tourists away with pitchforks and torches. The current government does absolutely nothing to change this unfortunate reality; my BA in Translation allowed me a closer look at some of the OQLF’s policies, and the only thing I can say on the subject is “man, that’s fucked up”.

    While I really do appreciate the positive sentiment, the understanding and, most of all, the love for a province I can’t say I always share, there are two sides to every coin. Anglophones outside of Quebec and, perhaps most importantly, anglophones *from* Quebec, have been given more than enough reasons to believe we’re assholes. Canada can learn from us, yes, but we still have a lot to learn from the rest of our country, too.

    • Un dude! April 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

      you don’t mention Francophones outside Quebec. Maybe you should look into it, see how they are treated.

  30. cherrymustang March 31, 2014 at 6:33 am #

    Theoretically speaking, I don’t disagree. I grew up and still live near Montreal, I speak French at home and English at school, I come from a unilingual francophone family but still dare to call myself Canadian because I love my (very, very flawed) country. I agree with the points you brought up, especially in terms of our linguistic and social background in Quebec; it does justify the hostility (for lack of a better term) our province has against the rest of Canada to a certain degree.

    However–and I believe this is important to mention: Having grown up 40 minutes away from our arguably bilingual métropole and strictly interacting with francophones until adulthood, I can assure you that people are not as well-intentioned as you seem to think they are. It’s deplorable, but it’s a fact. I personally know *dozens* of francophones who loudly claim that they refuse to speak English to accommodate someone, strictly because “au Québec, on parle français”. (Amusingly enough, these people are often the ones who actually butcher the language, but that’s beside the point.) The visceral hatred some Quebec citizens have of anglophones (and, while we’re at it, ethnic minorities) is incredibly widespread outside of Montreal. We’re essentially doing the linguistic equivalent of chasing English-speaking tourists away with pitchforks and torches. The current government does absolutely nothing to change this unfortunate reality; my BA in Translation allowed me a closer look at some of the OQLF’s policies, and the only thing I can say on the subject is “man, that’s fucked up”.

    While I really do appreciate the positive sentiment, the understanding and, most of all, the love for a province I can’t say I always share, there are two sides to every coin. Anglophones outside of Quebec and, perhaps most importantly, anglophones *from* Quebec, have been given more than enough reasons to believe we’re assholes. Canada can learn from us, yes, but we still have a lot to learn from the rest of our country, too.

  31. Bernard Fong March 31, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    Permit me to revert to English to address this matter of the Canadian antipathy towards Québécois who were colonial subjects of the British Empire that had treated their ancestors with scorn and sometimes brutality, expelling some of them, to the forlorn shores and alien clime of Louisiana so as to seize the coveted land and their descendants to this day with a heavy dose of contempt. To ask them to forget because that is “history”, a matter often trivialized, is like telling the Blacks to get over slavery, the Jews their pogroms, the aborigines the loss of their sacred grounds and the Irish the potato famine which is easier to do if you are Anglo, have been at the top of the heap by birthright and are beneficiaries of the injustice in the names of king (queen), church and country.

    When in Quebec where I retain a home and where my daughter and younger brother reside, I speak to my hosts in French out of courtesy and an abiding love of the language, though my accent betrays my origin which some mistake for the island of Reunion, “un département d’outre-mer”. “How rude and yet how typical, typically shallow and arrogant,” I thought when in Paris upon hearing several Americans groan that the locals had snubbed them by not humoring them in English. Once upon a time, maybe, when the American hegemon was at its zenith and everyone else had had to stoop to please the colossus that bestrode the world but, happily, no more today, not even in many cities of the United States where the lingua franca is Spanish in which I prefer to “chalar” if only to snub “esos gringos”.

    I confess to adoring Quebec and accepting, indeed encouraging, its de facto independence, the logic being, “why keep together a forced marriage that has become a travesty?” Would everyone not be more content to go his own way than continue with rancor and acrimony under the same roof? I bet that Quebec shorn of its attachment to Canada – itself an artificial construct without any core identity except among a minority this slavish, and embarrassing, adoration of this superannuated Monarchy – would blossom, transforming itself into a more caring and productive society minus the complex and the grudge, merited, towards the federation. Malaysia, for one, expelled Singapore and now the two are better off for it.

    A Quebec, thus emancipated, would indeed be more welcoming and dazzling to visitors, itself being more eager to appease through the charms “de la ville forteresse en surplomb du fleuve”, the quaintness of old Montreal and the grace of its habitants, whose women especially, comprising many races. Several years back, while leading my daughter on a tour of university campuses, in Toronto at the hotel restaurant, I met a lady from Saguenay with whom I commiserated as to “la réticence banalisée des Canadiens pour aiguiser et approfondir l’apprentissage du français malgré leur voue au bilinguisme”; a conversation which elicited hostile glares and moans from those, Anglophones, in our proximity, feeling their domain violated by intruders, proof definite of lingering discrimination that all the platitudes about a multiethnic country cannot mask.

  32. Against race-blind socialism March 31, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    While I appreciate and agree with pretty much everything you say, however, I feel not addressing the issues around race, xenophobia and colonialism takes away from your message. The absence of these important issues also works to reinforce the very same oppressive dynamics.

    Quebeckers want independence, many (but not all) of them for important reasons around class oppression. However, too many of those same people are also racists. And no, I don’t mean racist against anglos (for me, racism is about *systematic* discrimination and that is not quite the case for anglophones in Quebec). The Independence movement is so tied up with nationalism, racism and xenophobia, it’s actually difficult to separate these issues.

    So it’s disappointing to read an article such as this from an otherwise rad intersectional feminist because you’re failing to address key issues around what independence means to indigenous nations, people of colour, immigrants and other marginalized groups in Quebec, thereby writing off their positions as less valid, less important, a tertiary concern at best. Finally, considering PQ’s neoliberal policies and soft stance on independence, a vote for them is a vote for nationalism, racism and austerity not a socialist, free Quebec as this article suggests.

  33. Dominic Cyr March 31, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Thank you so much Bellejar! I would expect every Canadian to read that. every English Quebecers. I just discover you this morning and about reading other articles.

  34. John Jancar March 31, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Sad to say, but Quebec has no culture. Okay. Eating poutine, drinking Molson beer and watching the Montreal Canadiens is not culture.

    Like the rest of Canada, we are Americanized to a large extent, do you see the clothes the kids are wearing, do you hear the music they’re listening to, do you see the TV shows they watch. All of it is American, or some french knock off of American culture. Is that something to be threatened about, not really. Kids have no prejudices about these things, if they listen to the music, or watch the shows, or wear the clothes, it’s because they think it’s better. If you’re so afraid of losing your culture, come up with better material that the kids would prefer.

    And as far as I know, no style of music originated in Quebec. The music Quebecers used to listen to, was Celtic music from Ireland, music the English settlers brought here from England, Jazz music from America, and native music the Natives made, There was barely any music from France brought here even, the music french canadians always listened to, was from other cultures, mostly from England and America.

    Same for dress, no style of dress originated in Quebec. It’s not like Mexico, or other Latin American nations, or African nations, or Oriental nations, most with their own unique style of traditional dress. French canadians have no traditional dress, the closest thing to a traditional dress Quebec has produced, is a simple blue skirt and white apron the Acadians wore, that is so bland, it doesn’t hold a candle to other traditional dresses around the world. If people want to wear that fine, but to say because people wear other things, that somehow a bad thing, and we should stick with what little culture Quebec produces, is absurd

    And it’s the same for everything else you might consider cultural. Quebec has little to no culture to speak of, and any culture it does have, was mostly taken from other cultures. People talk as if Quebec has its own unique culture, comparable to other cultures around the world. It doesn’t have its own unique culture at all, barely. True Quebec culture is comparable to a local tribal culture you’d find in a small African nation. Other than that, all of Quebec culture is taken from other cultures, much of which became obsolete years ago. So all this fear about “losing our culture”, is ridiculous.

  35. John Jancar March 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    And it’s how it goes in life, the dominant culture always spreads, and lesser developed cultures end up disappearing. If Quebec had a strong enough culture, it would survive, without having to force other cultures out. If french canadians are so worried about losing their culture, well the answer is simple, come up with better material. Come up with better songs, better TV shows, better styles of clothing, better arts and crafts. If you can do that, well you might have something then. Until then, the better culture will take over, because people prefer that.

    A more evolved culture will always dominate a lesser evolved one, that’s just how it goes. If Quebec wants to keep its ” cultural identity” it better get into the game, and start coming up with unique and amazing architecture and music and TV shows, that trump anything else that comes along. The worst thing to do, is keep people away from a good thing, and force them to listen to, or watch, or wear, inferior french material from a stagnant culture that doesn’t hold a candle to material other more advanced cultures produce.

    I for one have no problem listening to music from America, because it’s better music. Why listen to an inferior brand of music, when there’s better things out there. I for one have no problem seeing German people, or Italian people, or Chinese people, speaking their language here. I wouldn’t have a problem with them even running their business in their language. Obviously it’s only logical to also be able to speak and serve in French if the majority here are French, but to me, the more cultures here, the better. It just enriches everyone’s lives.

    The world is moving into a multi-cultural world anyways, where diversity living together in harmony will become the norm. And that’s something to welcome, not fear. You’d only fear it, because you fear your culture is too weak to survive the exposure of other cultures in your midst. Well if it is, it is…and it will disappear, and nothing you do will change that. It’s the law of nature. And you can try and fight against it, but the better culture will always dominate every other culture, because people prefer the better thing.

    Most cultures in the world throughout history, aren’t around today. Because eventually a better more advanced culture comes and takes over, and that’s the law of nature. If American or “English” culture is taking over, it’s because it’s a more advanced culture. This isn’t like government, or a societal system, which can be imposed on people against their will. Culture is something you can’t really stop from spreading, because again, people prefer the better thing. The only way to stop it from spreading, is to force it out, like the Soviets did, or many Arab nations are doing, or China is doing right now. They literally force western culture out, because if they didn’t, it would spread to them too, why, because people prefer it.

    If people prefer western “english” culture, to french canadian culture, well you can’t stop it from spreading unless you force it out. And the only way to force it out, is to ban people from speaking english, ban people from watching english TV shows, ban people from listening to english music, wearing “english” clothes. That’s the only way, other than that, you won’t stop it from spreading.

    So ask yourselves, are you willing to go down the same route that Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, Taliban Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein Iraq, has gone down. Where you will literally force out other cultures to keep your culture in place. How far will this go then. Will you go so far as to house english people in ghettos, separate from the rest of french Quebec. Would you just deport english people out of Quebec entirely. Would you put english people in concentration camps and kill all of them, what else could you possibly do, besides that, to “preserve french culture”.

    Multi-culturalism is the future, and if you won’t jump onboard with that, you will be left behind. And if a better more dominant culture overtakes your own, well that’s how life goes. You had your reign, and it’s over. Deal with it. Don’t fight and cling to an obsolete culture, that is inferior to more advanced ones. The better more dominant culture will dominate every other culture, that’s the law of life. You can either go with it, or fight against it, but fighting against it is always a losing battle.

    • MontrealerSinceBirth April 1, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      If Quebec invested as much IN their culture as they do DEFENDING their culture, it would be a culture revered around the world.

      We have Oscar winning filmmakers, Internationally popular muscicians, scientists and entrepreneurs that change the world…and the first thing they do is leave Quebec because it restrains them.

      Quebec is like an over protective parent that would rather clip their childrens wings so they never leave, than give them the support and encouragement to change the world.

      And so a small child, who wants to be a lawyer in New York will never get the chance because his ‘culture’ will never allow him to learn another language.

      • Jérôme Pilette April 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

        Really? You’Re believing yourself here?

        I agree that Québec governments tends to be controlling and overprotective, but the result is lack of self initiative, not a fear of big brother. It’s still the REAL parents who educate their children, not the state. If they want to send their child to english school, to english school their child are gonna go. If not in Québec then in Ontario…thought it’s more expensive, thats probably why ontarian students come here…and try to vote…

        Here’s some bedtime stories:

        A small child dreamed about being a worldclass singer and did it, I think her name is Celine Dion…

        Another child dreamed about making a movie in Hollywood and just did, his name is Denis Villeneuve…copy and paste that with Jean-Marc Vallée…copy and paste that with Ken Scott…

        Another won an oscar and his name is Denys Arcand.

        Montreal band Arcade Fire…worldwide success. What? They’re english? Damn, according to your theory, the ‘nazi xenophobes quebecers’ should have thrown them in jail for being non-franco artists…

        Leonard Cohen, made in Montreal…I don’t give a monkey’s left ball if he’s english or french, talent and art don’t have a nationality.

        Jacques Villeneuve, F1 world champion…oh yeah, I forgot he was driving so fast trying to escape Québec’s restraining policies…

        Cirque du Soleil? Ever heard about them?

        Moment Factory?

        Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Mario Lemieux? I think they did pretty fine in the States.

        Alexandre Bilodeau, Chalres Hamelin, Justine Dufour Lapointe…damn, the PQ Government should have stopped their Olympic dream, they won for the evil Canada…

        And then some…so I think your lawyer kid is okay, and he’ll get to New York if he really wants to… or did all those guys just got to the top because they were restrained by Québec?

        They leave or go away for a while because they dream bigger, not because they’re restrained. As I said, the only restriction here is lack of initiative.

        Artists restrained? Here? Total BS! You coulnd’t be farther from the truth! It’s as saying the NRA is against guns, or the wolves agains meat…

      • John Jancar April 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

        They’re restrained here in the sense that, in Quebec, they wouldn’t have opportunity for success. Real success I mean, not just being a local celebrity, but being a world renowned figure, they couldn’t do that here in Quebec. If Celine Dion had stayed in Quebec, nobody would know of her except Quebecers. She had to go to America, where she could then share her talent with people all over the world. Why, quite simply because, Quebec itself just isn’t big enough, or advanced enough, to be a major international player, in any regard, and especially in culture.

        All our stars already do emigrate out, because there’s no opportunity for big success here in Quebec. Because everyone knows America is the big time. That’s where you go to be successful. Because it’s the dominant culture, it’s the more advanced nation, and everyone knows that.

        So I don’t understand this ridiculous desire, for Quebec to separate and form its own country. What would that possibly do, except make things harder for Quebecers. What would that possibly do, except turn Quebec into a joke of a country. We don’t have the scientists, the entrepreneurs, the artists and entertainers, the military might, we don’t have anything that would make Quebec a great country and a leader on the world stage.

        There’s no sensible reason to separate, you won’t become a great nation, and you won’t stop the “English” Western culture from taking over, even if you do separate. It already is taking over, and you won’t stop it, so there’s no point.

        I know I for one, as soon as I can, I will leave Quebec because there’s nothing here for someone who wants to be truly successful. And especially now, when English people are being driven out and suppressed, there is very little here for someone who wants success, because let’s face it, the English world is where you go to make success. The best Quebec has to offer is helping a few people, making a bit of wealth, having some local notoriety, and a living a simple yet comfortable life. For some people that’s enough, for truly ambitious people, it isn’t.

        Quebec is meant to be a place where small time folk live and work, that’s it. It won’t be anything else, it’s just not in the cards. It’s time people realize that.

        And it’s time Quebecers let go of this ridiculous idea that they can somehow withstand, or even compete with, the American Western cultural onslaught, it just won’t happen. They’re clinging to a dying culture….and no peoples ever in the history of the world, have fought against a dominant culture to preserve their weak and dying culture, and won. It’s never happened, it won’t happen, and the sooner Quebecers realize that, the better off they’ll be.

  36. William March 31, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    Hi. Interesting post. The Acadian reality you describe fits more the Nova Scotia reality than the New Brunswick reality, where the vast majority of those who identify as ‘Acadian’ reside. For them, it is possible to live, study, and work in French. The provincial government provides services in both languages, there is a dual school system where Acadians manage and run their own school system, with complete control over curriculum. In many areas of the province Acadians are the vast majority in that area, unlike anything that exists anywhere in Canada outside of Québec.

  37. Alex Ménard March 31, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Great little text you wrote there 🙂 All the comments are also quite refreshing. Usually, a post like this is followed with lots of hate comments 😛 It’s fun to have civilized talks sometimes! As a francophone, I’m kind of sick of the Quebec bashing in some newspapers!

    I have no greater dream than finally getting a country.
    I remember seeing my dad cry in 1995 when the referendum was stolen from us by 95% illegal financing in the “No” camp.
    I got to say though, we are not anti-canadian! (Although Harper makes me hate Canadian politics everyday a little more haha)
    We’re simply pro-quebec you know.
    I love chilling in Ontario and checking out the tulips in the spring in Ottawa.
    I really enjoyed my roadtrip in New-Brunswick.
    I’m planning to go to Vancouver this summer as well : )
    I mean, I want a country because I love Quebec, not because I hate Canada.
    Je pense que la nuance est importante!

    Peace and love everybody.

    Alex Ménard.

    • MontrealerSinceBirth April 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

      Well, when you do become a contry, I hope you’ll enjoy filling out the forms, and paying for a Quebec passport, because your Canadian one will be revoked.

      This means that if you want to stay longer than several weeks in Vancouver you’ll have to fill out a VISA application.

      Illegal financing ‘stole’ the election? Where is the proof? Who funded this illegal financing? It was a referendum, not an election, therefore there are no political parties and much less regulation.

      What do you think about 50 000 people in a remote area in Northern Quebec having as much of a say in the elections as millions of people in and around the island of Montreal? Do you not think that 1 vote = 1 vote? Or are there special people who’s vote counts for more because they’re in smaller communities?

      • Un dude! April 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

        wow! And your canadian passport might not be accepted in Quebec, did you think about that? Canada is not the only one who can play scare tactics, how école primaire of you. So lovely to see how an amicable breakup could turn sour. Sad!

  38. Jessie Holmes March 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    I live in Quebec born in Quebec and deal with this crap. Some of what you are saying is very much fact. What is also a fact is the increased hostilities against non francophone Quebecers. This is fact on the highest level. Most of my mother’s family is francophone.this PQ party is the cause of it and that is as true as snow in March. The fight for more rights for the French speaking population has been faught and won. But they shit and stomp the roses instead of smelling them. Hate is the New weapon lead by made up fear. I live I’m Quebec I see and feel the air, it smells and it is time to clean it up. The PQ party needs to die their job is done.

  39. Paul Therrien March 31, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    I am a half Anglo myself, and could not agree more with every single word you’ve written. This must be shared with as many Canadians as possible. Thank you so very much.

  40. Batiste March 31, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    Hi, I’m a Quebec born francophone living in the proverbial Rest of Canada.

    This is a great piece and I’m happy to read it. There’s only one point that I disagreed with and I’ll tell you why.

    Like most Canadians, you assume Quebec’s separatists want to leave because they are unhappy in Canada or, somehow, that they are pissed at Canada for mistreating them or something. That’s very normal. Canadians feel attached to what they consider an integral part of their country, so they see the idea of Quebec leaving as some kind of betrayal; that they want to break Canada; that it’s against them.

    The thing is, it’s not how it works. Quebeckers do not want to break Canada; they want to build Quebec. It’s not against Canadians, it’s for Quebeckers.

    You’ve been in a break-up before, right? When the person you love leaves you, you feel hated. But when it’s you that’s leaving – if the relationship was not acrimonious, that is – you’ll probably end-up saying something like ‘ it’s not you; it’s me ‘ and you’ll mean it, cuz you just want to move on even it’s painful. It’s the same with Quebec. Quebeckers don’t hate Canada; they just want to build a country that’s theirs. Separatists are not fueled by hatred, but by hope.

    When my Canadian friends ask me why Quebeckers hate Canada I take a deep breath and then I tell them: “sometimes good friends make bad roommates”.

    Again, great read. Thanks.

    • Blus April 1, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

      Hey Batiste!

      I hear what you are saying. One thing you need to understand though is this is not how it’s being played out… anywhere really.

      We are all being manipulated by people who want to achieve their aims no matter how they go about it and it’s getting out of hand and does every time an election comes up. Everybody is getting whipped up and emotional. There is controversy and controversy stirs emotion and emotion chooses sides. Hopefully it chooses the side we want it to.

      I will say that as reasonable and logical as your explanation is, you will have a hard time convincing me that this is how all separatists think, just as you should never be convinced that everybody thinks the same way or for the same reasons on the other side of the equation.

      But I certainly appreciate the way you look at it.

  41. Louis. April 1, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    Hi, next time you come to Montréal; the first round’s on me. Love the article ! Peace !

  42. Lou-Joris April 1, 2014 at 1:52 am #

    Merci pour ce bon article.. si seulement plus d’anglophones et de canadiens comprennaient un peu la réalité du français et du Québec, peut être que la politique et les cultures ne seraient pas autant polarisés et fermés d’esprit.

  43. sociologueerrant April 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Thanks immensely for your text.

    As a Francophone working in a Montreal English school, I was told by an Anglophone colleague just last week that the English are being “persecuted” and “systematically discriminated” at in Quebec. It is far form the first time that I’ve heard or read this, but hearing it from someone I’ve considered a friend since I started working there, and suddenly realizing that I’m surrounded by people who believe this about me, my culture, my society and my language, made me infinitely sad.
    When I pointed out to her that the Francophones in other provinces don’t have a 10th of the services and access to institutions in their language compared to the Anglophones in Quebec, my colleague got very angry and left the conversation, letting out a final: “Maybe you should remember that you lost the war!” I’ve been feeling very depressed since.

    • Un dude! April 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      Yep! They all end up with that phrase…sad

  44. MontrealerSinceBirth April 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    Yes! Take THAT imaginary person being hypocritical regarding greeting people in their favorite language!

    NOt that I don’t disagree with your point, but does it really deserve this much writing? You’re over simplifying a complicated concept and therefore whatever solution you propose is over simplified. Tit for Tat is NOT a mature solution.

    For example, just last week I overheard 3 grown men discussing American comedy in French. They were discussing Louis CK, Sandler…do Anglos do the same thing? Do we discuss French culture at all? Unfortunatley (or fortunately, however you look at it) Quebec is HIGHLY influenced by anglo culture, and the reverse is not true.

    Furthermore, in Quebec, French speaking children are denied the priviledge of learning English in the school system. At all. They don’t learn it. Even if they want to. How do Anglo schools treat other languages? Usually there are several other languages you can learn if you chose to right?

    But where you totally lose all credibility, and you’re a blogger, so you are obviously more comfortable typing than critically-thinking, is when you compare it to feminism; the holy grail of the uninformed bloggers opinion support system

    Women aren’t equal in our society therefore the French aren’t either.

    First of all, despite the agenda behind the ‘feminist industry’ (yes, ‘industry’, as in selling books, marketing to women, enrollment in Women’s Studies, selling out seminars and talks as well as driving traffic around the web for ad dollars) women are equal in our society. In fact, women have several advantages that men don’t BECAUSE THEY STRIVING FOR SUPERIORITY UNDER THE GUISE OF EQUALITY; they’ll never be subjects of a blog this well received though.

    Here are a couple of the most important:

    80% of suicides are men (this includes teenage boys!! Have you , and other feminist no humanity!?)
    70% of the homless are men.
    There are no men’s shelters, or support groups, yet men are more susceptible to addiction.
    85% of non-custodial parents are fathers.
    Women abuse children at a rate 300% higher than men.
    Millions of men get raped in and out of prisons…yet feminsits aim to monopolize rape victimhoos as a ‘women’s issue’ and go so far as to shout ‘rape is never funny’. Feminists distortion of the facts surrounding rape sure is funny though, but not ‘haha’ funny, more like – ‘I really feel sorry for you, you need help’ funny

    Should I go on?

    Nah, just do some research yourself. It’s important for you to consider opinions other than, or even contrary to your own before typing up a storm and expecting intelligent people to take you seriously.

    Here, I’ll help:

    There is enough dis- and misinformation out there, and most bloggers seem content to keep contributing more.

    As long as you find the right tone and voice, you’ll get attention right?

    That’s ultimately what blogs are about folks, attention, not information or critical thought.

    • sociologueerrant April 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

      Must be hard for you living among people you despise so much.

    • BornInMontrealWhereIlearnedEnglishAtSchool April 1, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

      “Furthermore, in Quebec, French speaking children are denied the priviledge of learning English in the school system. At all. They don’t learn it. Even if they want to.”
      Either you’re lying through your teeth or you’re just plain ignorant, but there are english classes at every level of every school system in Quebec… from kindergarden through university. It is true that they can’t go to an all english school if their parents didn’t go to one, but to claim they are denied the privilege of learning the language is bullshit and you (should) know it.

  45. Willou April 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Hi ! 🙂 i’m one of those who wants to be part of this : having their place with all the other nations of this world … I want Québec to be known…

    But even if it happens one day , i will always look forward for good news from Canadian , i love canada ! I knows a lot of Bands coming from all over Canada , i also have great interests in Canadian Paintings … I have lot of friends who can only speak english…and i respect them…

  46. Jacques Paradis April 1, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    If you spoke only Inuktitut and you wanted to go anywhere else in the world, you would have to learn another language. If you are french Quebecois and you ever want to see the world you will probably also have to learn English. The same might be said if you hope to hold any position of power, whether in the public or private sector, outside of Quebec. Most (if not all) of Quebec’s anglos are bilingual, and will as result enjoy much more opportunity.

    If unilingual french Quebecers don’t want to learn another language, that’s fine, but it’s time they stopped blaming the english language for their plight. In the past it was the Catholic church that held back the Quebec people. Now it is the PQ, blaming the english for all their ills, and promoting fear, hatred, and divisiveness at every opportunity.

    The first logical step to prepare our children for future success in both life and the outside world is to start teaching them english in Quebec schools at a very young age, rather than trying to vilify and exclude it from sight. The PQ is simply a party of liars, haters and xenophobes, and as such they do a great disservice to all Quebecois.

  47. Bruno Deso April 1, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Rare are the comment that are not bashing on Quebec people. My family”S all around the Canada. For me i born in Quebec province , I’ve been raise here, in french language. i learn in my life that loving to discover and know more about our world would always be better for us. i speak English ever since i start school. From 3rd Grade i get English in public school. Almost every kids that get to secondary level will be able to discuss and speak in English. Maybe they are not total bilingual. For sure thing English is an important language all around the world. But thing is that economics and business is not the only thing that are in French Quebecker.

    Connaitre deux language ou plus ne peux qu etre une richesse. JE fais des fautes dans les deux langue pourtant.

    As i said before my family live in Saskatchewan. They like this place … I’m not. i’ve been in BC/ Sask/ Ont. and never fell like this place could be better than my home town. People are just different. I fell my country deep inside me as the QUEBEC…. but as i said i really like to met new people from every culture and thinking. i think that every people have good and bad.

    By the way i was too young to vote in 1995…. FOr the YEs party and that maybe what make me a part of the new generation Y that only think that global and planet is not as big that was before.. With the communication and social network travelling and Couch Surfing…. We have to be open to people around…

    THE PQ get old and maybe need to be remove from the gouvernement… But i dont Think that liberal is a better way to solve this problem. i Hate BIPARTISM….

    I Like Canada BUT really Love Quebec….

    101 bill only get young people to learn more langagae than any place in canada.
    why is it so bad..?

    Thing is that the old mass of RUral people still be afraid to be assimilate… i Think that every human beam is equal … That our socity must be out of ANY REligious view

    THe choosing view of people must be make by there how way of thinking not by a religious thinking.

    any way .. Great TEXT BUDDY!
    Really like it


  48. Ghassen Athmni April 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    My first question is, what will happen to other francophones around Canada if Quebec separates

  49. pierre champagne April 1, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    To the people in the rest of Canada MYOB. The future of Quebec belongs to Quebecers.


  1. Vive Le Quebec Libre! (or, Anglo Privilege) | R. Vincent - November 27, 2013

    […] Vive Le Quebec Libre! (or, Anglo Privilege). […]

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