Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 01.03.03


Bilingualism -- it's what's happening in Quebec

As we say goodbye to 2002, I would like to reflect on one of the good things that happened this year locally. Here, where politics means language and language means politics, this is a pivotal year. Because news from Statistics Canada tells us that more people in the Montreal mega-city speak both of Canada's official languages than speak only one of them. This is the first time ever that such a situation has been recorded.

What does this mean?

It means that when the government of Quebec uses the phrase 'The Majority' to excuse one of its constitutionally-challenged laws, it now has to take into consideration that, in Montreal, 'The Majority' is bilingual. And for the first time in history there are more bilingual francophones than unilingual ones here.

Most of us have always considered Montreal a bilingual city and are confused when Quebec politicians pretend that it isn't. Montreal is like a French kiss, we would say: it is a mix of the two tongues.

In Montreal, even the bums are bilingual. They come up to you on the street and say: "Spare change? Du change, s'il vous plait? Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup." And when you don't cough up a loony: "Go to hell! Mange la merde!"

Bilingualism comes in many degrees. On top are those amazing super-speakers who can switch from one language to another with no trace of an accent in either. They are the masters of this universe. Then there are the rest of us who are only semi-articulate in our second language.

I was once told that I sound like an English professor from McGill when I speak English and a plumber from Ile Perrot when I speak French. And I took it as a compliment. But whatever the degree, most of us speak enough of the other language to get along.

Montreal may have lost much of its economic power as so many of the head offices fled the Quebec nationalist regime of the last thirty years: First there was the FLQ (Front de Liberation du Québec); and then there was the other FLQ (Folks who Left Quebec). What we are now gaining is a new kind of wealth: bilingualism -- which is still on the rise.

It is what really makes this city unique. And it is a priceless cultural asset. Bilingualism is the great Canadian dream and now most Montrealers carry it within us. And when you do leave Montreal and go to other parts of the country it gives you an inestimable power that 'unis' don't have.

If you are a unilingual francophone you will be forever confined to this province. If you are a unilingual anglophone you will be handicapped when going for most corporate and government jobs. What we need now is to have our language laws reflect this reality.

Bilingual signs should be everywhere. We should proudly display the bilingual face of our bilingual city. Because bilinguals are now 'The Majority.' Statistics show that bilingualism throughout the province of Quebec is on the rise. It is now at forty per cent. It is the difference between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

In Canada people would like to be bilingual, but mostly they aren't. In Quebec people would like to not be bilingual, but mostly they are. The bad news is that the anglophone population keeps falling. And if this trend keeps up, the future of Quebec will be just like Reed Scowen once predicted: that if we were to believe both sides of the language debate, eventually there will be no English-speaking people left in Quebec and everyone in Quebec will be speaking English.

The only way to keep anglophones here is to promote bilingualism as the cultural advantage that it is. Because acceptance is the first step towards healing, the governments of Montreal and Quebec have to accept it. But this will never happen with a Parti Québécois government.

Happy New Year, Jean Charest!