Log Cabin Chronicles

BILINGUAL QUEBECERS HAVE THE EDGE AND THEY WANT TO KEEP IT

BOB DESAUTELS

When I was a kid growing up in Southwest Montreal I did elementary school in French and high school in English. There were only two of us francophones in a large high school. Picking a school wasn't a problem.

Then came the immigrants who selected English schools as a matter of course. With a declining birth rate, francophones started to lose their majority ratio in the overall schooling scene. However, the problem was mostly a Montreal situation and didn't represent a particular problem until the decision to make French the working language in Quebec.

If the English school system had graduated enough bilingual people the situation might have been different. However, once the collective has decided to work in French, its unilingual citizens of an other language were unable to enter the general workforce. This applied to all anglophones, not just immigrants.

My children were educated in English but now work in Alberta because they were not bilingual enough to get a good job in Quebec. I blame that on the English school system.

Be it as it may, the change is made and we can't go back, We now live in an unilingual French province and God help our children if they can't or won't hold on to their English.

What I object to is the waste of ink and saliva fighting against sign laws. There is no future in two solitudes. If our arguments are only addressed to people who agree with us we might as well ague with a mirror.

I think that one of the major differences between anglophones and francophones is not only language but also individualism.

French society places more emphasis on the collective while the English emphasis is more on individuality and individual rights as opposed to collective rights.

We could spend many pages on the rights of minorities but I think that minorities in Quebec are better treated than many other places.

In less than forty years we have gone from a society ruled by a minority establishment to one governed by the collective. It's only natural for that establishment to want to keep it as it was.

Might it not be better to compromise and work for a bilingual Quebec?

A good number of francophones who couldn't care less about signs would support bilingualism.

Historically, French Canadians have been fenced-in by their own governments.

First it was the Seigneurs, then the Church, and now that they can read and write the government uses unilingualism to keep them segregated and uninformed.

Those who are bilingual have an edge and want to keep it.

On this American planet, English is a priority. Get the unilingual francophones to believe this and they might see the pit that they are in.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert Desautels is a retired truck equipment manufacturer with, he says, more concern about the future of Quebec than the future of Canada. Bicultural with no particular political attachments, he does worry about creeping Americanism in Canada. A native of Montreal, he now lives and writes in Hatley, Quebec.]


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