Log Cabin Chronicles

Quebec Budget Includes 'Net Subsidies For Family Surfers

John Mahoney

JOHN MAHONEY

Okay, let's hear it for the Quebec government. Those folks really know how to get their bits in a wringer.

At a time when our so-called linguistic peace - most anglos and French Quebecers aren't hurling consonants and vowels at the other - is being threatened by Pequiste Rads wanting to tighten the screws on the English - French is threatened! Immigrants are marrying anglos! - the government brings down its new budget.

A little something for everyone...winning conditions, eh?

So, how about that $120 million in subsidies to help families get on line. The family that surfs together, stays together, right?

Here's the deal:

  • The PQ government will help you rent a computer and pay for a monthly on-line ramp account, or

  • get 'net access via a computer or television set.

  • Maximum annual subsidy (75 percent) for computer/ramp account is $450.

  • Maximum annual subsidy (75 percent) for ramp account only is $200.

  • You have to have at least one child and receive the Quebec Family Allowance.

  • The 'net subsidy program starts May 1 and ends March 31, 2001.

  • At the end of the two years you get to keep the computer.
Childless people and people with adult children are not eligible for publicly funded 'net subsidies.

Great stuff, eh?

However, there are a couple of minor catches in this PQ plan.

  • You must use a government-certified internet service provider.

  • You must rent your computer from a government-certified supplier.
I wonder if the PQ government, with its beloved Law 101 and heavy handed bureaucratic tongue troopers, has thought this program through.

The World Wide Web, today, is dominated by English language web sites.

It follows, then, that the government is putting even more of its majority French-speaking citizens at risk by exposing them to even more English...Banner ads! News reports! Fiction! Poetry! Recipes! Rants like this!

Perhaps they will promulgate regulations that those receiving subsidies will have to visit twice as many French-language sites, or remain twice as long per page, or install software that will automatically shrink all web pages in languages-not-French to half-size.

Or, perhaps the PQ government b-crats have secret plans to install a French-only Net Nanny that would black out any site not in the only official language of la belle province and substitute a pop-up window: "touche pas!"

The possibilities astound.

Meanwhile, in lovely old Quebec, we suffer a shortage of nurses and hospital beds, we send sick people to New York state for treatment, our kids don't have enough school library books, the highway infrastructure is beat up all to hell...

You do not have to be crazy to live in this place, but it helps.


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Copyright © 2000 John Mahoney/Log Cabin Chronicles/03.2000