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The maple spring continues... ??
September 4, 2012 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Quebec throws out Charest, elects PQ minority government Quebec has handed a minority government to the Parti Quebecois, a left-leaning separatist party who promised to freeze tuition, the subject of massive demonstrations discussion previously on the blue.

Notable moments: Premier Charest loses his own seat. As noted in this article, it is not a clear sweep for the PQ, or a landslide for the left, as the right-wing CAQ winning several seats.

Biggest schadenfreude moment for the student protesters: Student leader turned politician, Leo Burebleau-Blouin, 20 years old, defeated the Finance Minister, who had sat across the table from him and the other student leaders during months of negotiations over tuition and the student demonstrations. He is the youngest MNA ever elected in Quebec.

Most ridiculous: some people wearing the badge of student protesters, the red square were turned away from the polling station because red is the colour of the Liberal party.

Some student organizers, like this woman interviewed on Rabble, is taking a wait-and-see approach to the new premier's education promises--despite campaigning for a PQ candidate.
posted by chapps (86 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Plus que ça change, plus que ç'est la même chose.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The Province of Québec once again swings the see-saw back into the PQ's camp, will the party be able to govern effectively or will it mire itself by splitting into anti- and pro-seperation factions?
posted by Vindaloo at 8:27 PM on September 4, 2012


MNA = member of the national assembly (which is the provincial legislature of Quebec, apparently)

Also, the "red square" article isn't clear, but it sounds like perhaps you aren't allowed to display support for a particular candidate or party in a polling station, but you ARE allowed to display support for a particular idea (tuition hike protests)? (That would be fairly analogous to many American states' rules about polling-place electioneering, although typically American rules are about signs and T-shirts, not colors.) Wikipedia says, "While Canadian electoral law allows representatives of the political parties to be present in polling stations, nobody present at the polling station is permitted to wear or carry anything identifying themselves as a member of a political party or supporter or opponent of any political cause. [...] The equipment used by polling staff has to meet strict colour criteria. Staff may be refused work if their clothing is of a "partisan colour"."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:28 PM on September 4, 2012


Are they going to bundle the tuition hike freeze with more spending by the government on higher education? Because if not... I doubt this will end up being a good thing. Look forward to larger classes, taught by graduate students, and a stronger push by administrations to eliminate the tenure system.
posted by sbutler at 8:32 PM on September 4, 2012


Être tiguidou.
posted by mazola at 8:36 PM on September 4, 2012


"Left-leaning"? Not really.
posted by docgonzo at 8:36 PM on September 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Perhaps the best of several unattractive results.

The Liberals were well past their Best By date -- they were supposed to have been turfed the last time around, already. The excesses of Bill 78, the corruption that we still don't know the full extent of -- it was time for them to go, and for Charest to go especially.

Personally, I was hoping for a better showing by the CAQ, not because I believe in their politics, but to disrupt an essentially two-party system divided along a line which, while important, is certainly not of the highest priority for the majority of the population.

A minority government for the PQ holds some promise in that the more divisive aspects of their platform may have to be toned down simply for political survival -- but I doubt it will. I hope I'm wrong.

In short, the people of Quebec once again prove to be the most astute voters in Canada. They have the PQ government on a short leash, Mulcair and the federal NDP on another short leash, and Anarchopanda and the students are still out there.

Bonne chance a tous!
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:37 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's okay, I hear Jean's getting a job up north.
posted by docgonzo at 8:40 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The first article also notes that Pauline Marois will be the first female premier of Quebec.

Someone please explain the difference between Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois (and feel free to throw in Coalition Avenir Quebec, Quebec Solidaire, and the Liberals). Mostly the first two, though, since BQ became PQ? Is that right? Is this a change of position on secession or a party collapse and reorganization or ...? I have been following the student protests in Quebec but I don't know really anything about Quebec provincial politics and all these articles assume more background knowledge than I possess.

Please forgive my lack of accent marks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:45 PM on September 4, 2012


Je m'en souviens.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 8:51 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


So much of the coverage, particularly in the Anglo press, has treated this as a three-way race (PLQ [Liberals], PQ, and CAQ), when one of the more significant developments has been the gains for Québec Solidaire, a truly populist, lefty party (big support of and from the carré rouge protestors against Charest's unconstitutional Loi 78), who nonetheless often get indiscriminately lumped in with other splinter separatist parties by most journalists. They are arguably the most responsible for denying the PQ a majority, giving people who might've voted for the PQ out of anger at Charest's heavy-handedness and corruption a better choice, more in line with their progressive positions. Marois is an old-school pol who's a bit out of touch, to put it mildly, not really all that lefty, and who opportunistically donned a red square relatively late in the game, no doubt seeing a wedge issue she could exploit. But she will be held to her pledge to freeze tuition, and the protestors could just as easily turn out against her if she makes any false moves.

The CAQ, btw, is no better than the Liberals in being in the pocket of corrupt corporate interests.
posted by Philofacts at 8:56 PM on September 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, there are federal parties and provincial parties in Canada. BQ is a federal party and PQ is a provincial party.

The Liberals have both a federal and a provincial party. They have the same name, but they are not the same party.

There are alliances and similar platforms between some of the similarly named federal/provincial parties but they tread in very different waters.

This holds in all provinces.
posted by mephisjo at 8:57 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Eyebrows, the difference between the Bloc and the Parti is pretty simple. The Bloc is a federal party, running for positions in parliment (although only fielding candidates in Quebec ridings) and the Parti is a provincial party, running for seats in the Quebec National Assembly. They're broadly (for certain values of broadly) aligned in terms of their policies, most particularly in their commitment to separatism, although they don't necessarily share a lot of people at the leadership or organizational levels.

Although there are still a few seats left to be declared, it looks like the polls were way off again. The seat totals and popular vote percentages at threehundredeight were all way off on the margins of the projection for each party. The projections for the recent Alberta election and the last federal election were similarly off enough for pollsters to publish soul-searching mea culpas in the national papers. Either the that are being used have serious structural deficiencies, or polling in this country is not very accurate for some reason.

On preview, what mephisjo said.
posted by figurant at 9:00 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Party     % of Vote      Seats
PQ          32.08%         55
Lib         30.99%         48
CAQ         27.12%         19
QS           6.03%          2
First past the post is deeply flawed.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 9:00 PM on September 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Marois just hustled off stage by security; CBC showing arrest of someone outside the building apparently related to threats or actual gunfire.
posted by Rumple at 9:02 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am genuinely surprised that the Liberals got as many seats as they did. Relieved, too, as it left the PQ in a minority government. But still, honestly and genuinely surprised.

Charest losing his seat, however, was pretty much a given.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 9:06 PM on September 4, 2012


The guy's name is Léo Bureau-Blouin; he's not the first student politician to become a péquiste (he was likely a cryptopequist -- they are the plague of the student movement). The CAQ is basically the ti-coune party, taking the place formerly held by Mario Dumont's ADQ. Legault is one of the jackasses who would like to see Quebec become more like the US.

It is a quasi-universal truth that journalist are partisan of the status quo, but they've been pretty blatant about it in Quebec lately: very little attention given to QS, their preference for LBB over the more "radical" (read: of a left that is actually on the left) student leaders, their ignoring of police violence...

But hey, a Freeze! By the woman who was the minister of education... who first proposed to de-freeze! Hooray!
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:10 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Orange Pamplemousse: hey, it's not so bad! we get a sort-of centre-left PQ government when more than 58% of voters voted centre-right!
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:13 PM on September 4, 2012


Hmm. CBC claims the disruption was a starter pistol.
posted by figurant at 9:20 PM on September 4, 2012


As for the "red is the color of liberals" thing, it's not so long ago that Quebec had a strong patronage system, complete with vote-buying and blatant pork-barrellling (famously, under Duplessis, roads paving would stop right before the houses of known Liberal partisans). The Liberals have always been associated with red, and the PQ with blue. Prior to '76, the conservative Union Nationale was also blue. Since the church favored the UN, priests would remind their parishioners that "le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge" (the sky (heavens) is blue, hell is red).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:23 PM on September 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


CBC: Police confirm one 50 year old man arrested, 2 people critically injured by gunfire. CBC showing images of a long gun being handled in the grass outside the Metropolis centre. A fire has also been set outside the centre.
posted by Rumple at 9:27 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The impression that I was getting from the news led me to expect that the Liberals were going to be blown out of the water like their federal counterparts. Obviously, this didn't happen at all.

Out of curiosity, what caused the ADQ to implode? They briefly did well and then fell apart.
posted by Harpocrates at 9:32 PM on September 4, 2012


Man, I know nothing about Canadian politics....
posted by schmod at 9:35 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am genuinely surprised that the Liberals got as many seats as they did.

Maybe not many people are interested in a referendum? Marois is going to have to be quick and engineer some sort of showdown with the Federal government, or she will probably be out of office in a year or two, after the Liberals have gotten things sorted out.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:41 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


What the hell? Now the Globe is saying there was a bomb.
posted by figurant at 9:42 PM on September 4, 2012


There was never such a thing as the ADQ, really: that party was always a Mario Dumont vehicle. He was never able to really get a party going with strong candidates. The ones he found would regularly show they weren't ready for prime time: in 2007, one dude apparently hadn't read his own party's platform and declared he was in favor of abolishing tuition!

The ADQ lost most of its seat and then merged into CAQ, which is basically the right wing of the PQ (with Facal, Bouchard & co. behind them) + a bunch of opportunists.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:44 PM on September 4, 2012


"The English have woken up. That's enough," the arrested man said in French, with a heavy accent, as he was walked away in handcuffs. Montreal police later said a 50-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion that he fired and critically injured two people.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:45 PM on September 4, 2012


"The English have woken up. That's enough," the arrested man said in French, with a heavy accent, as he was walked away in handcuffs. Montreal police later said a 50-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion that he fired and critically injured two people.

How utterly depressing.
posted by junco at 9:54 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Si on vote toujours contre un parti, on n’aura jamais ce qu’on veut. Le choix le plus stratégique en campagne électorale, c’est de voter en fonction de ses opinions. Permettons aux gens de voter selon leurs convictions, et ils décideront s’ils veulent élire quatre, cinq ou six candidats de Québec solidaire »
Amir Khadir, leader of Québec solidaire, from an article about the party in Le Devoir.
posted by junco at 10:04 PM on September 4, 2012


CBC News just reporting that one person has died in that shooting.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:05 PM on September 4, 2012


Allez Qubecqois!
posted by Windopaene at 10:06 PM on September 4, 2012


WTF dear neighbors?

I had a conversation with a charming Anglophone Quebec, um, I guess Quebecker, who seemed perfectly inoffensive until she started complaining about "the language police." I immediately asked what on Earth she was talking about, and she said that it had to do with methods to ensure linguistic parity in signage. So I said, again, "but are they police, you know,that arrest you and bust heads," or words to that effect, whereupon she admitted that they were totally not actually cops.

She very clearly had a strong resentment against Francophone Quebecois and it totally freaked me out.

To indulge in ungrounded speculation, is her cultural mindset related to that which may be ascribed to the shooter?
posted by mwhybark at 10:11 PM on September 4, 2012


I don't live in Quebec, but I do live in Canada, and I think complaining about language laws and setting off bombs have nothing to do with each other.,
posted by KokuRyu at 10:21 PM on September 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


Coincidence of timing. The economy is bad, Quebec wants more federal dollars by threatening to leave; it's an attempt at blackmail knowing that if they seceded, they'd spire into a black hole economically.
posted by porpoise at 10:27 PM on September 4, 2012


Mwhybark: the Office de la langue Française (OLF) are not a police force, but citizens can report business related language infractions to them (signage, packaging, manuals, customer service, websites, etc.) to them and they can doll out fines and other draconian punishments, hence the term language police.
posted by furtive at 10:28 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


First, agreed that the PQ are not left in the sense I would like... they are good on childcare and the arts, but many PQ, including the leader, are terrible on immigrants rights. For this reason as a lefty I much prefer Quebec Solidaire as a lefty.

This article summarises the evolution of language law in Quebec and the various disputes that have arisen.

Language and separatism in Quebec loom large in how the media presents the province to the rest of Canada. As an Anglo BC-er who lived in Quebec while in school I was surprised to find many immigrants who were strong separatist supporters, and grew to appreciate the strong social policies and amazing support for the arts.

To me, as a lefty outside Quebec, the biggest tragedy is we don't work together more.

I also could see the history of the oppression of the french written on the city's layout. I loved on a two block street, the dividing line between the blocks was the divide between what had at one time been english and french areas of town. The english side, which was Edward Charles st. was full of expensive townhouses, trees, and fancy cars. The French, where I lived, was Rue Edouard-Charles, and had cheap suites with no yards and no trees. In fact you can stand on Mount royal and look at the line of trees that shows the old rich anglo neighbourhood.

Now by the time I lived there, the anglo neighbourhood was full of french intellectuals and my neighbourhood was full of immigrants and students, but I began to understand why there was such a strong sense that language and class were interelated.
posted by chapps at 10:28 PM on September 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also the language laws in Quebec strongly favour french over other languages to the point where people are forced to send their kids to non first language schools even when first language schooling is locally available (IE: recent immigrants to Quebec have to send their kids to french schools even if they come from say England). It's a pretty hot button issue that, while I see the point of the laws from Quebec's point of view, are grossly discriminatory and would be unconstitutional if it wasn't for the not withstanding clause.
posted by Mitheral at 10:31 PM on September 4, 2012


on preview... hardcore poser has just noted what CBC is reporting about the shooting.

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posted by chapps at 10:32 PM on September 4, 2012


it almost looks like a hole appears in the screen behind her at :05 in this clip. tell me I'm seeing things.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:40 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


mwhybark: The Office de la langue française, aka the "language police", don't go around busting heads. They can't arrest people, and they can only investigate anything at all if a civilian makes a complaint. They are however, empowered to fine businesses that make too much use of non-French languages, and if they determine it necessary, to shut down those businesses.

I don't think their powers are unreasonable, at least not completely. Way back when, it used to be the case that most large businesses operated exclusively in English, and wouldn't hire francophones, and I'm glad that isn't acceptable anymore. But the OLF does use some of their powers in ways that seem designed to aggravate anglophones and allophones (speakers of languages other than English or French). Some particularly strange examples:

- The administration of an English school, which is (for obvious reasons) allowed to operate in English, was nevertheless compelled to use French keyboards.
- The OLF has sent inspectors to stores, had them greet the staff with "hello", and then when the staff replies "hello", they get fined. You must greet customers in French under all circumstances!
- They've gone after restaurants in Chinatown for using the occasional Chinese symbol on their signs, and the historic Hebrew sign of a Jewish gravestone manufacturer, even if it's pretty clear that neither of these signs (nor their languages) threaten the primacy of French in Québec.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of anglos who are really angry at the Québecois nationalist movement beyond all reason. The OLF might do some things I dislike, but none of it justifies the comparisons to Nazis that you occasionally hear, and certainly it doesn't justify violence. I hope the leaders of the anglo community in Québec are quick to decry this incident.
posted by vasi at 10:41 PM on September 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


the right-wing CAQ

I wouldn't really characterize them that way, I'd call them "populist", or maybe Gaullist. They have some ideas that are right-wing, mostly lower taxes and so-called "public-private partnerships". At other times they sound left-wing, saying the government should buy stakes in Québec companies to protect them against foreign competition, and should spend more on cultural programs. In other ways they're neither left nor right, just reformist, with their proposals to completely reorganize school boards, municipalities and health clinics.

It's really just a one-man party anyway, just like the ADQ used to be.

Mitheral: recent immigrants to Quebec have to send their kids to french schools even if they come from say England...grossly discriminatory and would be unconstitutional if it wasn't for the not withstanding clause.

As originally written, it was unconstitutional and required use of the notwithstanding clause, but that hasn't been the case for thirty years or so. The Québec anglophone community has a constitutional right to English education, and anglophones from the rest of Canada have the right to be treated the same as anglophones from Québec, but there is no general right to education in one's preferred language, nor one that applies to non-citizens.

My preferred solution would be a quota of immigrants who would be allowed to join the Québec anglophone community each year. I would totally trade that for requiring all anglophone children to do a year or two of French immersion.
posted by vasi at 11:11 PM on September 4, 2012


it almost looks like a hole appears in the screen behind her at :05 in this clip. tell me I'm seeing things.

I saw it, too. And if you listen carefully, you can hear a noise, like a click or something...?
posted by juliebug at 12:09 AM on September 5, 2012


Bummed, but this is a much better outcome than I, and I guess everybody else had expected. Obviously Quebec wants change, not separation ( no doubt the PQ is going to waste all sorts of time and money trying to convince them otherwise); just as with the federal Liberals, the rot does set in when a party is in power for so long. Jean Charest himself (admittedly I haven't paid that close attention to PQ politics for the past decade) though has always seemed to be a good, decent man and it would be a loss to the country if this prompts his retirement from politics. He gave a very generous, heartfelt concession speech which I wonder might have given some voters pause, compared with the leader they have this morning. Perhaps Charest will jump, for what would that be, what, his third reincarnation, to the federal Libs?
posted by Flashman at 3:49 AM on September 5, 2012


there was indeed a shooting, here's the nytimes rendition of events. they are reporting (not in this article) that the 2 people shot (1 killed) were employees of the nightclub where the event was taking place.

here's cbc's version.


this french article is way better at unravelling the series of events, but, um, it's in french.

in the french article, the man is quoted as saying "Les Anglos reveillent" (anglophones are waking up -- the PQ is a separatist party, which means that they want Quebec to be its own country). curiously, i didn't notice that reported in the english articles. who knows what the real story is; we're in for a long ride.
posted by andreapandrea at 4:53 AM on September 5, 2012


"Les Anglos reveillent"
Ils reveillent quoi exactement?
De l'article ...
«Les Anglais se réveillent», a lancé l'homme. «Its gonna be fucking payback», aurait-il ajouté.
posted by Wolof at 5:01 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


well, right, it's not said correctly in french. but i think the insinuation is that the shooter was an anglophone, so his french isn't great. who knows how accurate this quote is, but it certainly is incendiary.
posted by andreapandrea at 5:09 AM on September 5, 2012


The "nightclub" where this happened is a grand and storied venued. One more story.
posted by Flashman at 5:15 AM on September 5, 2012


What does "de l'article" mean, since we're all about the accurate quotation here?
posted by Wolof at 5:22 AM on September 5, 2012


The Gazette has a more detailed English-language article about the shootings. The man who died was a freelance lighting technician who was waiting to take down the stage at the end of the night. Jesus wept.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:25 AM on September 5, 2012


On a lighter note, Aislin has a funny cartoon about minority government.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:27 AM on September 5, 2012


Nevertheless, there are a lot of anglos who are really angry at the Québecois nationalist movement beyond all reason.

As you can guess by my username I am French Canadian on my father's side.

I don't speak french as I was part of the seventies post-FLQ crisis migration where all the corporations relocated from Montreal to Toronto.

Because of the language laws I will never live in Quebec, where I am not welcome, no matter how much my bilingual wife wants to work at her beloved McGill. Nor will my brothers ever return either.

I feel more welcome in foreign countries than I do in my own birthplace.

It doesn't help that I have visited the plains of abraham and understand how completely embarrassing losing that battle must be.

But I do like Montreal.
posted by srboisvert at 7:19 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, the "red square" article isn't clear, but it sounds like perhaps you aren't allowed to display support for a particular candidate or party in a polling station, but you ARE allowed to display support for a particular idea (tuition hike protests)?

The specific rules:

Employees at the polling station are not allowed to wear anything even slightly political. You are specifically allowed to wear a button that says vote, the fleur-de-lys, the maple leaf, or the flag of Quebec or Canada, but they very strongly suggest you not wear anything but the first on that list. Anyone else is allowed to wear the same as above, but also a red, green or white patch of felt. No one at all is allowed to wear a party button/sticker/whatever.

The CAQ, btw, is no better than the Liberals in being in the pocket of corrupt corporate interests.

If you just assume that all parties with any power at all are corrupt, you're pretty safe. The Liberals have been worst lately because they've been the ones in power, but a few years of a PQ government and they will be just as bad. (Though they have the (dis?)advantage of regularly tossing out their leader.)

I had a conversation with a charming Anglophone Quebec, um, I guess Quebecker, who seemed perfectly inoffensive until she started complaining about "the language police." I immediately asked what on Earth she was talking about, and she said that it had to do with methods to ensure linguistic parity in signage. So I said, again, "but are they police, you know,that arrest you and bust heads," or words to that effect, whereupon she admitted that they were totally not actually cops.

Lots of people dislike the language police and have no particular resentment against francophones or some of the language laws. (I think a lot of them are just fine laws, but I don't agree with all of them, in particular the laws about education.) I have never actually personally heard anyone call them anything like Nazis, though I have heard a lot of complaints that people say they are Nazis. I'm sure there are a few extremists who think that, because there are always extremists, but it's not really a common view or statement.


- The administration of an English school, which is (for obvious reasons) allowed to operate in English, was nevertheless compelled to use French keyboards.

As I recall this story, they were forced to replace all their laptops early, which is actually not the law, they were supposed to be required to replace the laptops with French ones when they were due to be replaced. They admitted this later, but it was thousands of dollars too late. They also kept trying to crack down on matza, which has an exception because it's only eaten for one week a year.

I am particularly pleased that the PQ and QS do not, between the two of them, have a majority. (Amir Khadir was on tv looking miserable all night -- he had hoped for more than the 2 seats he was sure to win -- and letting David do all the talking again.) That means that the PQ will need approval from the CAQ (who don't want to offend either greater Montreal or Quebec City) before they do anything.

The results are about as good as I could have wished. I would have liked the PQ to have been a bit lower and CAQ a bit higher, but I'm at least not in despair. (I assume lots of people saw the "PQ majority!" headlines and switched their votes.)
posted by jeather at 7:30 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because of the language laws I will never live in Quebec, where I am not welcome, no matter how much my bilingual wife wants to work at her beloved McGill. Nor will my brothers ever return either.

I don't blame you. I actually have been getting into pretty heated arguments with my family. My husband is American and has been living here in Quebec for almost 12 years. He struggles with learning french a lot, he still can't do much more than order a poutine. He understands if people speak very slowly. His work doesn't require any french skills at all (he's a writer for a big video game company here in Montreal). He (my husband) feels that it's getting worse and worse in Montreal. People giving him dirty looks, being much more outspoken about things. He doesn't feel welcome here and I don't blame him. I'm not one to say "Ok I'm leaving", but I am slowly getting my ducks in order in case it comes to that. I'm renovating a bathroom in my house in case I need/want to sell, my kids are getting their American passports, my husband is finally filing his back taxes to the IRS, and just casually keeping an eye on the job market in other cities. No real plans to move though, I really do love Quebec, but I'm not in his shoes, I am bilingual and that makes it very easy for me.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 7:39 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am an American living in Montreal and I cannot tell you how happy I was last night when I realized that the PQ was only going to get a minority government. At least some of her more crazy identity based policies will be kept in check by the PLQ and the CAQ.

My partner is British (and a Canadian citizen by naturalization). Our son was born here in Montreal, but since neither my partner nor I were educated in English in Canada our son is locked out of the English school system here in Montreal (which includes the fully bilingual schools). Let that sink in, the child of a citizen, who himself is a citizen from birth, does not have the right to education in one of the official languages of the country, even though there is an entire infrastructural set up to provide education in that language.

We want our son to be educated in a bilingual school. Without paying private tuition we do not have that option.
posted by jpwhite at 7:47 AM on September 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


I don't blame you. I actually have been getting into pretty heated arguments with my family. My husband is American and has been living here in Quebec for almost 12 years. He struggles with learning french a lot, he still can't do much more than order a poutine. He understands if people speak very slowly. His work doesn't require any french skills at all (he's a writer for a big video game company here in Montreal). He (my husband) feels that it's getting worse and worse in Montreal. People giving him dirty looks, being much more outspoken about things. He doesn't feel welcome here and I don't blame him. I'm not one to say "Ok I'm leaving", but I am slowly getting my ducks in order in case it comes to that. I'm renovating a bathroom in my house in case I need/want to sell, my kids are getting their American passports, my husband is finally filing his back taxes to the IRS, and just casually keeping an eye on the job market in other cities. No real plans to move though, I really do love Quebec, but I'm not in his shoes, I am bilingual and that makes it very easy for me.

We are in a similar position, my company is almost all English speaking and I struggle with French. My partner is bilingual and is currently in grad school at Concordia. We both feel increasing unease when we use English, especially in certain areas. Even at work I have recently notices and uptick in the comments regarding the lack of French in the office (we are an American company with well over 90% of our business being with American clients) We are lining up our ducks so that when my partner finishes her degree we are set to leave if need be.
posted by jpwhite at 7:51 AM on September 5, 2012


The language issues have been in a bit of an uptick in the past yearish, but it is still so so so much better than it was in the 90s there are no words for how very much better it is.

The school issue:

To be eligible for English schools, one if your parents needs to have gone to English schools in Canada (or your family needs to be here on a temporary visa). It is sometimes possible to get a waiver if you have had enough education in English already, like if you move to Quebec in grade 10 or if you go to an unsubsidized private school (most are subsidized and therefore you need the eligibility).

Now, English schools have minimum amounts of French they need to teach, but no maximum amount, and no minimum amount of English they need to teach. So there are a lot of immersion schools that are officially English, but teach in French only until grade 3. However, French schools have restrictions on the amount of French and English they are allowed to teach (a few students are allowed to study half the year in English in grade 6), so you can't get more than half an hour of English or so a day until high school (= grade 7). There are some complexities about a third language, which aren't terribly relevant.
posted by jeather at 8:07 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm an American living in Quebec now for nearly four years. My French is okay but only because as a landed immigrant, I more or less got my French language learning for free. But I am not comfortable in it. I try though because it's what you're supposed to do. I have never felt any animosity towards my English speaking when outside our home---mostly because as an American, I am not expected to have had any French education in the US school system. It's very strange for me to be a linguistic minority and even stranger to see it as an issue that is constantly argued over.

If the PQ had won a majority government, as much as I think it's beautiful here, I have no emotional attachment to this province and would have worked on how to leave. It would be hard because my Anglo husband--who speaks amazing French!--has lived and worked here for twenty years. We'll see what happens in the next few years, but I would rather the new Premier's focus be on economics/our crushing debt/jobs than language and separation.
posted by Kitteh at 8:11 AM on September 5, 2012


To indulge in ungrounded speculation, is her cultural mindset related to that which may be ascribed to the shooter?

Complaining about language laws is a favoured pastime of many anglophone Quebecers. It does not typically lead to violent action.
posted by asnider at 9:14 AM on September 5, 2012


There's a fine line between cultural preservation and manipulative, chauvinistic reactionary cultural politics.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:46 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anglophone Canadian, born in Ontario, lived ten years in Montreal and now residing in British Columbia, here. In my experience, non-Quebeckers, bred on Trudeau-praising history books and festooned with English scaremongering media every time someone utters the syllables "souverain," are way too hung up on this "separatist" thing. I hadn't heard the words "separatist" in Quebec, excepting hand-wringing anglophones, in the time I lived there, and none of my Quebec friends talk about this like the boogeyman it is in the rest of Canada (ROC).

This election was about many things: tuition fees, of course, corruption, the environment, and public services. Not to mention a referendum on the Liberal Party's (PLQ) neoliberal agenda of the past ten years. Sovereignty came up of course, but only because no one can go anywhere in Québec without English media assaulting politicians about their favourite chestnut. Anyone in Canada or elsewhere who finds themselves terrified at the evil moster that is the Parti Québecois (to answer an above question, the PQ is provincial, the BQ is federal), should ask themselves how often they vote for a party based on a single issue--and then ask themselves if they can see an entire province doing the same thing.

(Incidentally, the OP is incorrect: the PQ did not promise to continue the tuition freeze: they said they would cancel Charest's tuition hike and then "consult" with student groups and school admins about what to do. They importantly refused to declare what their policy would be. They are also emphatically not left-wing. Québec Solidiare is the only left-wing party on the ticket.)

What we should take out of this election -- which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Quebec political context -- is that things like public education, social services and the environment matter far more to Quebeckers than they do to Canadians. To the point where the idea of "sovereignty" as distinct from "separatism" is seen as the only mechanism possible to achieve policies in a Canada which is increasingly moving away from such welfare and commonwealth practices. The reason that the ROC media constructs such a scary caricature of the "separatist" (sic) Parti Québecois is not that they will tear Canada apart (gasp! horror!), but that the people of Quebec pose a veritable threat to the conservative vision governing the Maritimes and anything East of the upper St Lawrence river.
posted by Catchfire at 10:45 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


My partner is British (and a Canadian citizen by naturalization). Our son was born here in Montreal, but since neither my partner nor I were educated in English in Canada our son is locked out of the English school system here in Montreal (which includes the fully bilingual schools). Let that sink in, the child of a citizen, who himself is a citizen from birth, does not have the right to education in one of the official languages of the country, even though there is an entire infrastructural set up to provide education in that language.


What is even more ridiculous is that in a lot of cases, the english schools are in the BEST position to teach your son. My daughter is attending kindergarten at an english school. Her class is 100% french! French immersion, 100% french until 4th grade I believe. The difference is that if my daughter does have an emergency, falls down on the schoolground, or anything like that, she's actually able to communicate to a teacher/classmate/adult in a language that they both understand. Forcing me to send her to french school would have been just throwing her in with sharks. I've seen that school, the kindergarten teachers spoke NO english, so if my daughter had had any issues nobody would have been able to communicate with her, completely ridiculous. Argh, don't get me started on this.

I was lucky, because although my kids don't qualify for the english school boards through my husband (since he's American), they do through me... though I'm born here in Quebec, I was raised in Toronto and Winnipeg until I was in sixth grade. JUST long enough for me ot be able to say "I've done 50% of my education in english and so my children are entitled to english education in Quebec). My parents didn't know it at the time, but those years in the rest of Canada was the best gift they could have ever given me. When my fellow Quebecois go on and on about how the rest of Canada doesn't understand and doesn't care about them, I can just roll my eyes, having actually LIVED there. We're all good peeps, everywhere.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 10:48 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't have time to post here at length, but a few quick thoughts:

Forming opinions on the Quebec mindset and general tone of the province while living and working only in Montreal is a bit like generalizing what America is all about when you've never set foot outside of NYC. Living out where English is a 5% minority gives you a very different picture of English/French relationships and how lonely and strange it can feel to be an Anglo in a PQ-dominated part of the province. Which is not to say that Montrealers don't have interesting insights and thoughts, they certainly do, but Montreal is not the province.

Trust me: separation, whether you call the person discussing it a separatist or a sovereignist, is very much part of daily conversation in Quebec. It was a platform plank of the winning party. The easiest way to wrap your head around it is to accept that it replaced Catholicism as the de facto state religion during the Quiet Revolution, and that it's an article of faith rather than a debatable social or economic issue. It's a living movement with roughly the same popular support, irrational fervor, and tone of discourse as the Tea Party, but with a couple of generations more polish.

A PQ minority is my best-case scenario: Marois is such a terrible leader that she was hanging on by her fingernails and losing party members left and right a year ago. Hamstrung by a minority government and only 1% more of the popular vote than the Liberals, she must know that she doesn't have a mandate, she only benefited from the fact that a lot of people here really hate Charest. After a year of failing to get anything done – no tangible progress on separation for the hardliners, no actual plans for anything of substance, no charisma and no ability to hold her party together – this whole thing's going to go down like a lead balloon.

In my riding -- Charest's own riding -- he was defeated by the PQ candidate, a former Bloc (federal) MP who was himself defeated by a university student in the last federal election. This person has the personality and drive of a bag of wet sand. They could have literally run a three-legged dog against Charest under the PQ ticket and won. People here did not vote for a good candidate. They voted for a candidate they already rejected and know is useless. That's the degree to which Charest's turned off the province.

The NDP is planning to be a presence in the next provincial election, and I know there are tons of people who are frankly champing at the bit to have a viable option they can vote for and feel good about. The degree to which the PQ and the Liberals have managed to split fascism perfectly down the middle is uncanny, with Charest and the Liberals championing a laissez-faire market and heavy-handed policing and Marois and the PQ not even bothering to dog-whistle a “pur laine” culturally imperialist message.

This doesn't represent a fundamental shift in Quebec values. This is people being generally sick of the ruling party, and the ruling party being hamstrung by a singularly unpopular leader. The people replacing them, though, are idealogues with no plans of substance other than throwing all their cards into the cultural-identity hat, and hoping that the pur laine faithful will conveniently ignore that they have no solid ideas other than "punish the English."
posted by Shepherd at 11:21 AM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


You know where you can get great education in English? EVERYWHERE ELSE ON THE CONTINENT. God, you're making me feel like a racist redneck from the regions, and I'm the most Anglo-friendly Francophone I know.

What attracted you to Quebec in the first place? Was it the overwhelming coolness of Montreal? The vibrant cultural landscape and/or the glorious natural landscapes? The progressive family policies? The (however meek) combativeness against the rise of savage capitalism and conservatism? The thriving game industry (hey there, colleagues!)

You can't get those without also embracing the language AND the language issue. What makes Quebec awesome is also what makes it distinct. It all comes out of years of history defined by the ongoing struggle of a people for self-determination. You take that away, and we're just another Edmonton, y'know? Catchfire is right about the important counterbalance that Quebec politics brings in opposition to the scary direction taken in the rest of the country. You'd miss the French if we weren't around, probably while saluting the American flag.

So it bugs me like crazy to see anglo-Montrealers - my dear friends, peers and colleagues -bask in all the greatness of this province while moaning incessantly about being greeted in French in stores or having to take a token French class or whatever. Like expecting people who live here to make a basic effort to understand the culture is such a great imposition. Fascism, hah. French is one of the official languages in Toronto too, guess how far you get as a unilingual Francophone.

I'm not thrilled about the PQ (I'm an orange voter across the board), but there's a reason the "pur laine dog whistle" works on the masses, and it has a lot to do with the shitty attitude of the anglo minority at home.
posted by Freyja at 11:38 AM on September 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


...they have no solid ideas other than "punish the English."

Shepherd, you raise a point I was thinking about last night.

I was wondering if support for sovereignty has gone through something of a shift. I stand to be corrected on any of this, but it is my understanding that traditional support for sovereignty was based on protection of the French language, as born out of cultural and linguistic oppression of the past.

With that oppression becoming ever most distant with time, and the generations which witnessed it disappearing, that traditional argument becomes less and less viable.

My question is this -- with Quebec having done much to reverse those wrongs, and having done so progressively within the context of Confederation, is support for sovereignty now based on freeing Quebec from conservative forces in English Canada, to allow Quebec to be as progressive as she wants? That is, has there been a shift from 'punish the Anglos' to 'cut the anchor loose'? (Is this shift -- if it exists -- what the rise of Quebec Solidaire is in part about?)

Perhaps I'm way off base here, and I apoligize if I am, but I would appreciate the thoughts of any residents on this.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:55 AM on September 5, 2012


You know where you can get great education in English? EVERYWHERE ELSE ON THE CONTINENT. God, you're making me feel like a racist redneck from the regions, and I'm the most Anglo-friendly Francophone I know.

What attracted you to Quebec in the first place? Was it the overwhelming coolness of Montreal? The vibrant cultural landscape and/or the glorious natural landscapes? The progressive family policies? The (however meek) combativeness against the rise of savage capitalism and conservatism? The thriving game industry (hey there, colleagues!)


In my case I was born here and just happened to marry an American. We choose to live in Montreal because 1) It's a great city. 2) His JOB is here (video game industry). 3) Affordable real estate

Sure we can move somewhere else, but where in the world would a job in the game industry give us the same standard of living that we get in Montreal? Even Edmonton real estate has quickly become unaffordable. Toronto? Forget it. Vancouver? Hah. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles? Nope. Maaaaybe Austin.

I can't force my husband to speak french. It infuriates me, because believe me, if I moved to Japan I'd be speaking Japanese within the year, there's no way that I would live somewhere for 12 years without understanding the locals. But what can I do, I can't force someone to learn. He tries but he gets frustrated easily. When he tries to speak it people talk over him in english. So naturally he always switches back to english and never really makes any effort because nothing in his life forces him to make an effort in this department. And while his company is from France, in his department it's really all about english and he doesn't even need french there either.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 11:59 AM on September 5, 2012


So it bugs me like crazy to see anglo-Montrealers - my dear friends, peers and colleagues -bask in all the greatness of this province while moaning incessantly about being greeted in French in stores or having to take a token French class or whatever.

Oh please. People who hate that this city is bilingual all moved to Toronto already. Teenagers bitch about having to learn French because they are teenagers and haven't finished growing up yet. There are actual valid arguments about the way the language laws are enacted -- essentially making it impossible for anyone who isn't already an anglo to learn English until they are an adult -- that don't also say that they wish there would be no French and they hate having to learn French. In fact, many francophones do not like the restrictions on English schooling.

What attracted me to Montreal? I was born here. My parents were born here. There are a lot of things I like about it, but I don't have to embrace the xenophobia in the language issue to embrace the other things, and I don't have to say that I accept that it should be impossible for people to learn English because of the scary, apocryphal Eaton's lady.

There is an interesting post on openfile about some of these issues here, and and even more interesting comment in French by Joanne Bonnici, also available here. I do not agree with the post entirely, and the comments section is unmoderated.
posted by jeather at 12:12 PM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Freyja,

I understand the frustration of many of the locals with regard to English however, part of what makes Montreal unique, in addition to all of the things that you listed above, is its bilingual nature, and its vibrant Anglo minority (going back many generations). This minority has become bilingual, has adapted, and continues to see its rights chipped away bit by bit.

What attracted me to Montreal? My job. I work for an American based consulting company, that for historical reasons has an office in Montreal. Our work is primarily in English (a few contracts with other firms in Quebec are in French). I take French lessons at work, order food in French, have francophone friends who I stumble along in conversation with.

We are not talking about "people who live here to make a basic effort to understand the culture is such a great imposition". We are talking about the fundamental right to education in one of the two official languages of Canada. We are talking about extending Bill 101 to smaller companies; companies which may have no business in French but now have to adopt the costs of "working" in French. We are talking about RAMQ changing its rules so that now when you call to discuss health matters you cannot just hit 1 to get an English speaking operative you have to instead "take a verbal French assessment" first.

Also, it is not just the English thing that is problematic with Marois. Her continued promotion of the charter of secularism (with exemptions for Christianity) is offensive. Her Quebec Citizenship plan with a restriction on who can run for office is offensive. Her party has consistently made disparaging comments about people from non-White French backgrounds (look at Lisee's comments regarding a francophone from Singapore vs. one from France).
posted by jpwhite at 12:19 PM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


First of all, I worked for two years in Abitibi-Témiscamingue along with living a decade in Montreal which included travelling throughout the province; and while I never claimed to have a comprehensive understanding of Quebec culture and politics, I can say I have a damn sight more inkling about it than the vast majority of ROC anglo pundits (and their francophone mouthpieces).

The fact that you see no difference between the anglo boogeyman "separatism" and the political belief system "sovereignty" causes me to suspect your capacity for the necessary analytic nuance. Your "Catholicism" shorthand (and the usual appealon the "pur laine" chestnut) is equally spurious, and betrays a serious lack of depth to your interpretation of Quebec history.

I agree with you that Marois is awful. And I don't trust her anymore than I trust Charest. I think the decision to form an NDP Quebec wing is a terrible idea and a betrayal of all the QS activists and workers who built support for the federal NDP last election.

As for those who feel entitled to speak English wherever they travel in the world: a) perhaps that's why you don't understand the aloofness you encounter from francophones who want a say in running their own state and b) what Freyja said.
posted by Catchfire at 1:24 PM on September 5, 2012


I've got anglo-Montreal roots going back to the 1800's, so I think I've got a pretty good grasp on what makes anglo-Montrealers tick. Most of my anglophone family and friends speak French well, whether they were born in Quebec or moved there from elsewhere. I worked and studied for years in fully French-speaking environments. So I don't think there's any rejection of Quebec culture from my point of view.

However, there is definitely a feeling, at best, of not fitting into the dominant culture. At worst, facing outright animosity as a non-native French speaker. The aforementioned schooling situation is discriminatory: a child must have a parent educated in English in Canada, otherwise public English schooling will be denied. Children of immigrants or French-speaking Canadians only have access to public education in French. That's only one example of why non-native French-speaking Quebec residents feel shut out.

It appears that last night's shooter is a bilingual, native English speaking Quebecer. He looks quite unhinged in the photos, dishevelled and wearing a bathrobe. So the act was probably due more to mental illness than political statement. But it's worth noting that all the major shootings that have happened in Montreal over the years were not by "pure laine" Quebecois. I can't find the article, but Jan Wong published an article in the Globe and Mail a few years ago discussing the fact that all the attackers were minorities in Quebec.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 1:42 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


As for those who feel entitled to speak English wherever they travel in the world

I don't think that's the issue at all. There are anglophone communities that are born and raised in Montreal. Canada is bilingual. Montreal is a tourist city. I don't think it's so farfetched to imagine that you can get service in english in such a city. If you want tourists to come, you have to make them feel welcome. If I were to go to Mexico, I would attempt conversation in english because I don't know spanish. In no way would I feel entitled to an answer in english. And really, if I stopped random person on the street in Montreal, I would not feel entitled to receiving an answer in english. I would reasonably assume however that a person working the cash register at a store in the Eaton Centre would be able to reply to me in english if that is all I spoke.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 1:43 PM on September 5, 2012


perhaps that's why you don't understand the aloofness you encounter from francophones who want a say in running their own state

It's not just theirs, though the dearth of non-pur-laine francophones in the public sector does suggest otherwise.
posted by jeather at 1:50 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe I am hanging out in the wrong parts of Montreal when we come into the city, but I mostly encounter French wherever I go and am happy to practice because, well, I could use the practice, especially if I'm here awhile. I keep having to tell friends back home that it really isn't that scary. If you just try and be polite about trying it, most Francophones can figure out you're not from here and help you out. I have found this is true of the younger generation, at least, who are often keen to practice their English (which is amusing and frustrating when I am keen to practice my French!).

I don't think you should expect immediate service in English here. In fact, in the three years I have lived here, it is the very last thing you should expect. Again, even rudimentary French is your friend.
posted by Kitteh at 1:56 PM on September 5, 2012


French is one of the official languages in Toronto too, guess how far you get as a unilingual Francophone.

You know what you can do in Toronto, though? Have your kids educated in French if it's their mother tongue. No further qualifications necessary. And if you wanted to open a store at Yonge and Dundas and christen it Le Grand Magasin du Quebec Libre in blinking hundred-foot-high neon and post no other signage whatsoever, you could do that too.

It's not the dominance of distinct Quebecois culture that angers anglophones inside and outside Quebec; it's the double standard. The unequal treatment. The indifference to Charter rights. That stuff. (What this guy said, that is.)

My daughter - granddaughter of an anglophone Montrealer, by the way - here in Calgary has attended private Francophone school since she was four and was rejected when we tried to move her into the public Francophone school because a French lycee didn't count as attending a French school somehow, which if we wanted to be assholes about it we could probably challenge on Charter grounds, but we aren't. Life's too short and we don't have stacks of legal-fee money sitting around.
posted by gompa at 2:12 PM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


What attracted you to Quebec in the first place?

The fact that you assume that because I'm English I couldn't possibly have been born here speaks volumes.
posted by Shepherd at 2:53 PM on September 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, it is not just the English thing that is problematic with Marois. Her continued promotion of the charter of secularism (with exemptions for Christianity) is offensive.

This.

It's been my experience that many francophones who are perfectly reasonable and progressive about anything outside Quebec will unflinchingly say and hear things about religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities within the province that would make Rush Limbaugh gasp. It's a bit of a blind spot.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:17 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


To a broader point, I've never -- never once -- complained about having to speak French in stores. Or at work. I've never railed against the tiny men with measuring tapes make sure the French on our signs is always 150% or more the size of the English.

But the current leader of the PQ has publicly floated the following ideas:

- only Christian religious symbols may be worn by people in the public service;
- basic rights, like the right to stand for office, may only be exercised by people who speak French to an unspecified degree;
- there should be a "Quebec Citizenship" that is based in part on your linguistic ability in French;
- it should be even harder for children to attend school in English, regardless of their parents' choice;
- we should extend the prohibition on English-language education to colleges;
- immigration policy should be based on language first, and other considerations second.

Sometimes she walks it back the next day, sometimes not. But there's only so many times that you listen to this pattern before you realize it's pretty obvious what she's saying and who she's saying it to.
posted by Shepherd at 3:22 PM on September 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why we shouldn't fear conversations about sovereignty

To the point about the secularist/Accommodement raisonnable discourse in Quebec, it's important to point out two things: one, Quebec, like any other nation, has the right to author its own policies and practices on immigration, religious freedoms and other liberties; two, the dominant position of "multiculturalism" which is taught and disseminated in the rest of Canada is itself deeply racist and produces all sorts of white supremacist and colonialist practices--and these are hidden by their own "blind spots" and explanations.

My own position is that both states, Canada and Quebec, are colonialist, and the policies that they produce will be necessarily racist and problematic. But to call one superior to the other is not objective--it's ideological.
posted by Catchfire at 4:23 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, that particular article says that people in Quebec have the right and the reason to be "nervous, frustrated and angry"; that title was speaking to people outside of Quebec.

Quebec, like any other nation, has the right to author its own policies and practices on immigration, religious freedoms and other liberties

And presumably its citizens have the right to have opinions on these policies and practices, and even have and express negative opinions about them.
posted by jeather at 4:45 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's been my experience that many francophones who are perfectly reasonable and progressive about anything outside Quebec will unflinchingly say and hear things about religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities within the province that would make Rush Limbaugh gasp. It's a bit of a blind spot.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:17 PM on September 5


That reminded me of a heated conversation I had last night with an old friend from my Montreal days (1988-1993). I made a joke on Facebook about Marois "not liking minorities", and he went off on me, saying that I was dumb to believe everything the ROC media said about Quebec and the PQ. When I bought up the proposed Charter of Secularism, comparing it to what happened in France with the banning of religious headgear, he replied that it would never happen in Quebec because it was only a minority government, and the French ban proved that the French were more racist than the Quebeckers ever were.

The whole thing reminded me of out initial meetings back in 1988 when he would complement me on being one of the few anglos he knew who wanted to "assimilate" into Quebec. Or a few years back when I met up with him and his girlfriend and got a heated lecture about "that dumb broad" Jan Wong who had the audacity to claim that some non-francophones were alienated enough to pick up a gun. I just thought it was bad journalism, but what do I know, living in Toronto and all, right?

I still go back to Montreal once in a while, and while there are a lot of things to like about the city, the language issues do become exhausting: when to use French, when to stick with English (ever make the mistake of speaking French on Montreal's west island, even though it was obvious you were an anglo? I have.) In Ontario I'm just another guy who speaks english, and no one cares. That can be an amazing relief, sometimes.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 5:40 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Incidentally, the OP is incorrect: the PQ did not promise to continue the tuition freeze: they said they would cancel Charest's tuition hike and then "consult" with student groups and school admins about what to do. They importantly refused to declare what their policy would be. They are also emphatically not left-wing. Québec Solidiare is the only left-wing party on the ticket.

I stand corrected on the tuition...

I guess I should have said the PQ are to the left of the Liberals on some issues... historically the PQ have been associated with childcare funding, arts funding, and prescription drug coverage for those on lower income, something that would be left (and lovely to finally obtain) out here in BC.
posted by chapps at 5:42 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Video of Quebec Gunman’s Rant After Shooting at Separatist Rally
posted by homunculus at 6:01 PM on September 5, 2012


anglo boogeyman "separatism"

I always feel like this issue is Canada's red scare--primarily used to sway people's vote and fears of eachother. Not to minimize the very real problems with Marois and cultural intolerance-- which, of course, is a problem that is not limited to french separatsts. BC has its share of people who would ban the hijab (or tried to ban turbans in the RCMP),
posted by chapps at 6:21 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that you see no difference between the anglo boogeyman "separatism" and the political belief system "sovereignty" causes me to suspect your capacity for the necessary analytic nuance.
Quebec, like any other nation, has the right to author its own policies and practices on immigration, religious freedoms and other liberties;


Just to clarify: Is your position simultaneously that Québec and Canada are two different nations and that Québec is not subject to the Charter on religious freedoms &c, but that the notion of Québecois sovereignty/separatism is a boogeyman invented by dastardly Anglos?

And could you please enlighten me on what you see as the differences between "sovereignty", which I understand as the idea of maintaining principal control over your territory subject to no others, and "separatism", which I understand as the movement by which Québec could obtain sovereignty, since they are currently, like the other provinces, subject to the Canadian government. Unless you just want to call me dumb; that would be okay, too, I suppose.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:10 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Speaking of respect for religious freedoms, looks like the fed conservatives don't want prisons in BC to have wiccan spiritual guidance.
posted by chapps at 10:50 PM on September 5, 2012


(and sorry--I am so Canadian-- for derailing my own post !!)
posted by chapps at 10:51 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So it bugs me like crazy to see anglo-Montrealers - my dear friends, peers and colleagues -bask in all the greatness of this province while moaning incessantly about being greeted in French in stores or having to take a token French class or whatever. Like expecting people who live here to make a basic effort to understand the culture is such a great imposition.

I made the mistake of coming back. I was born here, the usual anglo business a few generations back, but my family got the hell out during the whole referendum thing in the nineties. It was increasingly hard to find work. Hostile. My papers to be educated in English were lost repeatedly. But love makes you do stupid things, and here I am.

I cannot find a job that is not in a call centre, and many of the positions I can find are actively involved in fraud. My last workplace made is clear I could not speak in front of one the clients, one of the parties who wanted to use their survey research capacity to provide a town hall meeting. It was a bit humiliating. But ironic, since the company's most lucrative clients needed me and my impeccable English and the switchboard was, incidentally, going to be manned entirely by recent immigrants from South America who spoke french as a third language and this was not a party with a pro-immigrant stance.

I graduated from McGill. I worked and took french classed for about half a year, which was about 60 hours all told, classes at 8:30 AM, home from work at 11:00PM. i'd be so tired I could cry, all the time, couldn't concentrate at school. We did the same hand outs over and over again, sat through an assembly where the school director told us how proud she was that one of her students went from not speaking a word of french to marching in language rallies. Got good enough to go shopping entirely in french, which you don't need because everyone speaks English whether you want them too or not, though I'd always wanted the skill so I don't resent it- and Quebecois sounds nothing like the french in the class nor can I carry on a basic conversation. I'm still unable to qualify for most jobs. Not even in a cafe.

Yeah, hysterical anglophones. This is my home too and my culture and I deeply resent the idea that my blue birth certificate is not the same value as a francophone's.
posted by Phalene at 12:55 AM on September 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


What is up with Quebec's English education law, anyway? It seems more than a little counterintuitive.

I mean, if the PQ's position was that anglos controlled everything and made francophones' lives miserable, well, what exactly is to be gained by disallowing francophone children from learning English? Opportunity? The horror!

The anglos may have made the francophones' lives a barrel of shit (I'm sure they'd be much better off had the anglos not abolished the French seigneurial system!), but it's René Lévesque who screwed the lid on.

French is one of the official languages in Toronto too, guess how far you get as a unilingual Francophone.

Pretty far? There's not a particularly huge francophone population in Toronto, but there's no reason there couldn't be -- least of all a government-enforced reason. Ditto for any other language (we've got plenty). There's no shortage of majority-francophone towns in the rest of the province.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:19 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


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