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Montreal: Beware of Languages Unknown

“Bonjour-Hi!  What can I get you today?”  You’re fired.  Or at least, you could be if the Parti Quebecois wins a majority government in the looming election.  As Pauline Marois, leader of the PQ, revels in an unprecedented spike in the polls—naturally in her favour— she has called an election for April 7. I’m sure that this sudden desire for an election has nothing to do with the upcoming hearing that looms over Marois with regards to charges of some sketchy investments… shhh.

Now, you may be wondering what a PQ majority would mean?  PQ minister Diane De Courcy has that covered: the eradication of bilingualism.  You heard me.  Recently, De Courcy warned business leaders that a “slide into institutional bilingualism” is creeping across Quebec, and she specifically targeted Montreal as one of the major perpetrators of such an appalling example of linguistic practice.

This dreaded bilingualism is responsible for many life-ruining afflictions such as improving candidacy for jobs, facilitating travel, increasing appreciation for other cultures, and making it easier to learn even more languages.  Obviously, the PQ is concerned about the health and emotional well-being of its population, and seeks to shelter them from the horrors that wait in the pages of a French-English dictionary.

Bilingualism is fine behind closed doors, De Courcy says, but it is absolutely not fit for public eyes (think of the children!).  She says, “There is a difference with what is institutional and it must be without mercy.”  She also attacked opposition parties for their failure to support Bill 14 (which would have banned English within businesses with as few as 25 employees, and further kept Francophones out of English schools). This, on top of claims that the French language is under threat.

I will be first to say that Anglophones present a threat to Quebec society, and a rather dangerous one at that.  Unfortunately, the PQ got the statistics a little bit backwards.  See, the Anglophone threat isn’t one that revolves around us staying in the province and infecting everything with our little Anglo words like “shopping” and “hot dog” (if you say them with a Quebecois accent though, they become French, don’t worry), it’s one that comes from the threat of us leaving.

That’s right.  We, the Anglos, are a highly movable people who, if pushed far enough by an unreasonable slew of propositions that violate our rights as human beings, can pack our bags and leave for one of the twelve other provinces and territories.  Quebec, you’re not that special.

 

Wait...both of those roads lead further into Quebec! Curses!

Look everybody, they’ve given us two ways out! Lucky for us, we’re bilingual, so we know where we’re going. Now let’s just find some English signs to throw them off our trail.
Emmanuel Huybrechts

 

One might say that this is what Quebec wants – get rid of the Anglos, take a sharpie to the history books to scratch out all mention of English speakers, and rule in a self-contained bubble of ignorance and umm….solidarity, yeah, that’s the word.  The problem with this plan, however, is that living in a self-contained bubble only really works in fantasies because, much to everyone’s chagrin, nothing is free in life.  And, shockingly enough, when we leave, so too does our money.

Wait?  I thought only the Francophones had money.  Since when have Anglophones and Allophones been making money?  Did you know about this?  How much money are we talking about here?  This has really been going under our radar… we’ll have to get someone on that immediately.  We’ll pay for that investigation with our taxpayers’ money – oh.

This development must be rather unexpected for Ms. De Courcy who thought the only function of Anglophones was to bastardize the French language by including such revolting turns of phrase as “Bonjour-Hi.” We might find ourselves in a bit of an awkward situation here.  Montreal is Canada’s second largest city, but its growth has been about half that of Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary over the last twenty years.  Now, of the entire province, Montreal accounts for about 65% of provincial tax revenues.  Let’s take a look at some numbers from Statistics Canada.  As of 2011, of the nearly 4 million people in the Greater Montreal Area, 37% of census surveyed respondents indicated that their mother tongue was a language other than French.  Even with my despairingly poor math skills, I can already tell that this doesn’t look good for a government that desires to banish us to the tundra of English-speaking Alberta.  Assuming a uniform contribution, non-Francophones from Montreal contribute approximately 24% of Quebec’s total tax revenue.  Representing 1 out of every 4 Quebec dollars, all those taxpaying Anglophones quickly add up, especially in a province with a hefty deficit.

But just giving numbers of how financially dependent Quebec is on non-French speakers doesn’t actually mean there’s a threat.  The proof, however, comes in the shocking revelation that 51% of Anglophones and 49% of Allophones have seriously considered leaving Quebec over the past year.  Hell, even 11% of Francophones have deliberated about jumping ship.  Maybe the PQ doesn’t realize what it’s doing just yet, but when they suddenly turn around to find a legion of their population off spending money in Toronto, they might just reconsider the wisdom of such a promise to protect French.  And, though they might not miss our language, they’ll certainly miss our money.

Of course, the way they’ll defend their position to a poor, disgruntled (but pleasantly French) population is that it’s our fault for making them so dependent on our money in the first place.  (Obviously, Alberta’s oil money, doesn’t count as dirty English money since it’s a fundamental right of the Marois government.  Right?  Right.) With 33 days to go until the elections, we’re sure to hear promises, pandering, and all kinds of hatred in an attempt to determine this year’s margin-of-error victor. The games have begun, but let’s hope everyone can be a part of them. Otherwise, the number of Quebeckers that leave will just keep going up.