is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Quebec minister in charge of language said recently that Quebecers should expect tougher language laws if the Parti Québécois wins a majority in the next election. Diane De Courcy didn't even say "new and improved," so you know she's not fooling around.
Clearly, Quebec's language laws have been too lax of late, as evidenced by people more or less getting along (unless you're unfortunate enough to be wearing a hijab). Instead of taking the broad view, a majority PQ government is likely to narrow its focus on language. Yes, a more narrow-minded approach is exactly what we need.
So just what could these tougher laws look like?
- The word "Canada" will be banned from use. Even words containing "can" will be forbidden. Le Canal de Lachine will be known as "Le Quebal de Lachine," ducks will become "quenards," and of course les Cantons de l'Est will be referred to as "les suburbs."
If necessary, Canada will be described as "the great mass of land that surrounds us, except for the U.S., who are just fine," or "that country our betraying athletes competed for in the Olympics, but good job nonetheless, everyone," or simply as "the oppressor."
- English public schools will continue to exist, except they will be French schools.
- Sales staff in retail stores will be required to ignore customers in French only.
- Quebec's official greeting will be the scowl.
- Non-French Quebecers will no longer be allowed to greet each other with a two-cheek kiss because, honestly, who are they trying to kid?
- New immigrants to Quebec will be required to wear nametags that read "Trainee."
- The Ministry of Education will change the name of its controversial "Ethics, Religion and Culture" course to "Ethics, Religion and Shunning."
- Health care services will no longer be available in English, as opposed to the current situation where health care services have a slim chance of being available in English if you're lucky.
- Bill 101 restricting access to English education will be extended to Quebec cégeps because it is important for francophone students to experience underage binge drinking in their mother tongue.
- There will be limited advertising by Quebec businesses in English print media. In other words, status quo.
- In dealing with tourists, Quebec businesses will be encouraged to communicate by grunting and pointing.
- Book clubs will be required to feature books by Quebec authors only. Books by English Quebec authors will be allowed in translation, except for that Mordecai Richler guy, because we still haven't forgiven him for that New Yorker piece. Wait, he's dead? No matter; we must relentlessly instruct our children and the children of their children regarding the suffering to the collectivity caused by this great humiliation.
- Crying out the Lord's name during passionate lovemaking must be done in French only. How Quebec will enforce this rule, you don't want to know.
- The motto of the City of Montreal will be changed from "Concordia Salus," meaning "salvation through harmony," to "Pas Bilingue de Tout."
- Municipalities whose English population falls below 50 percent will lose their bilingual status, meaning public notices will be completely incomprehensible in French only.
- Eyebrows need to be trimmed to 2 millimetres in length. This has nothing to do with language; it's just something that's been bugging the PQ for some time.
- All complaints about oppressive and draconian language restrictions will be addressed by Jean-François Lisée who will personally call you up and tell you to relax, everything is fine, get over it.
- All "for sale," "going out of business" and "looking for drive to Ontario" advertisements must be printed in French only.
- More sign inspectors! Because we don't want the rest of the world to think that Rob Ford is the only idiot in Canada -- er, I mean "the oppressor."