Promoting English in Quebec touchy

Special to the Gazette

MONTREAL – The federal government’s announcement of a $1.1-billion plan to promote bilingualism across the country comes at a time when language has re-emerged as a political football in Quebec.

Five years ago, the Tories approved an identical plan that would pour millions into supporting English educational programs in Quebec and French programs in the rest of Canada without much fanfare. But experts say things may be different with a PQ government at the helm in Quebec.

“I think you have people within the PQ who prioritize the protection of French over bilingualism, so it’s possible they would want to repatriate those funds toward another cause if they could,” said Antonia Maioni, who teaches political science at McGill University. “Any initiative on the part of the federal government is a positive one in that it’s fulfilling its mandate to support language minorities across the country. But, on the more specifics of how this plays out in Quebec, language has a different meaning, a different political context. We have our own language laws and they’re not necessarily dedicated toward revitalizing minority languages. From the PQ’s perspective, we have Ottawa entering an area in which the provincial government feels it has no jurisdiction.”

During the PQ’s short time in office, language politics have dominated headlines in local and national media. The “Pastagate” scandal – in which an apparently overzealous agent from Quebec’s language police chided a Montreal restaurant for having the word “pasta” on its menu – became a lightning rod for critics of the PQ’s language policies.

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Notre Home: Hip Hop artist visits the coast

Gaspe Spec

GASPE: – Between March 19 and 21, students from English secondary schools along the Gaspe Coast attend music workshops with hip hop artist David Hodges. Mr. Hodges relays his message through performance. “With talks and videos between the songs, we discuss difficult issues such as living your dreams, don’t be afraid of being different, and we encourage Quebec students to get involved in their communities.” He met the BPS students on March 19 at Bonaventure Polyvalent and those of Gaspe and Chandler on March 20 at the Douglas Community Center in Douglastown. The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) initiated the project called “Notre Home,” in order to foster cultural exchanges between English and French-speaking communities of Quebec. 

“Notre Home” is the name of a bilingual song, written by David Hodges, which became the project’s rallying point. (Genevieve Gelinas) 

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Notre Home: a story of identity for young English-speaking Gaspesians

Gaspé Spec, Letter to the editor, by David Hodges, Montreal-based hip-hop artist

I am a proud to be an Anglo-Quebecer, a Québécois. For most youth of my generation we believe our future in Quebec is contingent on breaking down socio-cultural and linguistic barriers through collaboration, dialogue … and song. 

We are the generation born and raised to be the same 

I’m with my brothers and sisters; we wanna be the change 

We’ve come to know a beautiful culture, we mustn’t go 

We’re here to stay, sing and praise a place we’re calling Notre Home

These lyrics express my sentiment of belonging to the province of Quebec.  My Home.  “Notre Home”.

Now back from our Notre Home tour in the Gaspé, I am most impressed by the resilience and the strong sense of belonging that young Gaspesians have towards their region. However, this part of the country is far away from major centres, so the youth, and in particular English-speaking youth really need to find new ways in which to celebrate their culture and history. 

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Quebec community groups fear Bill 14 will ghettoize English CEGEPs

Elysia Bryan Baynes, Global News

Critics say Bill 14 will restricts access to English CEGEPs for francophones. Karol Dahl / Global News

MONTREAL – The government’s plans to restrict access to English CEGEPs is raising concerns.

“I think it’s bad. They should just let people make their choice. Would they not allow anglophones to go to French schools?” says 2nd year Vanier student, Frank Prak. He’s a francophone and under the new law would have to wait to see if there were any spaces left after anglophones are admitted.

The Minister responsible for anglophones Jean-Francois Lisée says giving anglos priority to English CEGEPs is a way of protecting them.

“English speaking institutions should be first and foremost for English Quebecers,” Lisée told reporters Monday morning.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) has concerns about Bill 14 in CEGEPs.

 ”If this law passes it would reduce the bilingualism of students and the academic levels of our CEGEPs.”

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Blogue de François Cardinal: Quel avenir pour Montréal? Guest blogger: Sylvia Martin-Laforge

Sylvia Martin-Laforge: «les langues s’additionnent, sans se chasser»

Chaque lundi, un blogueur invité a pour mandat de nous dire de quoi Montréal a besoin. Cette semaine: Sylvia Martin-Laforge, directrice générale du Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

De quoi Montréal a-t-il besoin? Voilà une question en apparence toute simple, mais la réponse demeure complexe. Concentrons-nous sur ce qui importe aux Montréalais : vivre dans une ville essentiellement française qui a l’avantage d’être un unique creuset culturel et linguistique, et profiter de ce riche héritage.

Montréal doit absolument reconnaître que les identités s’additionnent. Une personne peut être montréalaise, canadienne et québécoise, tout en étant née en Jamaïque de parents britanniques et indiens. D’ailleurs les langues aussi s’additionnent, sans se chasser. Vous pouvez apprendre l’anglais et ne jamais devenir un citoyen d’expression anglaise. Pourquoi certains présument-ils que l’apprentissage de l’anglais par des enfants d’expression française leur fera nier leur langue maternelle? La vaste majorité des jeunes «Anglos» ont appris le français, sont aujourd’hui bilingues, mais ils n’ont rien perdu de leur identité. En apprenant une troisième langue, nos enfants ne deviennent pas hispaniques, chinois, italiens ou allemands — ils deviennent multilingues. C’est une richesse que nous devons célébrer, à l’aube du 375e anniversaire de la ville, tout comme Montréal doit s’enorgueillir de son identité multilingue et multiculturelle.

Les interactions entre Montréalais multilingues et d’origine ethnique différente ont lieu partout : dans nos quartiers animés, nos écoles et nos établissements. Le français est essentiel à la vie de tous les jours et constitue la langue la plus répandue dans le milieu culturel et dans celui des affaires. Ceci étant dit, la réalité fait en sorte que quotidiennement les Montréalais communiquent dans une multitude de langues. Notre diversité est un atout culturel et économique, qui permet de rivaliser sur la scène nationale et internationale. Notre ingéniosité, notre capacité d’innover et notre savoir-faire sont des facteurs déterminants qui font de Montréal le lieu par excellence pour vivre, travailler et s’amuser.

Montréal doit établir un lien direct entre sa diversité et sa prospérité. Nous sommes la somme de toutes nos parties, et nos dirigeants doivent faire preuve d’une plus grande vision. Pour ce faire, les Montréalais ont besoin de s’impliquer. Nous devons participer, voter et demander aux politiciens de se montrer plus ouverts pour que nos projets, nos politiques et nos programmes municipaux reflètent une image de Montréal qui traduit fidèlement la diversité de cette métropole singulière.

Advisory board tells Quebec to harden its language stance

The Gazette, Lynn Moore

MONTREAL — Rising levels of bilingualism in Quebec workplaces should be offset by tougher French language requirements for small businesses, an advisory body to the Quebec government says.

As it revamps the Charter of the French Language, the Parti Québécois government must adopt a hardline approach if French is to be the common language, the Conseil supérieur de la langue française said Wednesday.


Also advocating more conciliatory language laws is the Quebec Community Groups Network, a not-for-profit organization with 41 English-language community groups under its umbrella.

“We would rather see more cooperation and less coercion in achieving the goals of the Conseil,” network president Dan Lamoureux said.

Anglophones and new immigrants to Quebec “are all here because we believe in Quebec and we all want to be here, but it would be nice if both the government and the council recognized the fact,” he said.

“Proactive” measures such as free French courses would help as would assistance to small businesses “which don’t have the time or the money to deal with the increased red tape,” he said.

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PQ Language Bill Likely Won’t Pass

Giuseppe Valiante, QMI Agency (Sun News)

MONTREAL – Quebec’s second opposition party will likely ensure that the strictest parts of the Parti Quebecois’ language legislation will not pass, according to a leaked draft memo obtained by a Montreal news organization. The spokesman for the Coalition Avenir Quebec, Guillaume Simard-Leduc, confirmed to QMI Agency Wednesday morning that the leaked memo was real, but only a draft.


Dan Lamoureux, president of the anglophone-rights organization, Quebec Community Groups Network, said Wednesday he was relieved when he heard about the leaked memo. However, he said Bill 14 should be defeated in its entirety. “

(The bill) does not demonstrate to us as a community that we are valued,” he said.

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Chartre de la langue française: La CAQ va exiger des modifications au projet de loi

Louis Gagné, Agence QMI

Même si la Coalition avenir Québec ne fera connaître que mardi sa position à l’égard du projet de loi 14 visant à modifier la Charte de la langue française, on peut déjà prévoir que le parti n’appuiera pas la loi modificatrice telle qu’elle a été proposée par le gouvernement Marois.

Une lettre a été envoyée aux bureaux d’association des députés de la CAQ, a confirmé cette dernière.


Soulagement chez les anglophones

Le président du Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), Dan Lamoureux, s’est dit soulagé d’entendre que la CAQ allait s’opposer à plusieurs dispositions de la loi 14. Il a toutefois ajouté que le projet de loi devrait être rejeté dans son ensemble.

«Le projet de loi ne nous permet pas de nous sentir valorisés en tant que communauté», a dit le président du QCGN, un organisme voué au maintien de la vitalité de la langue anglaise au Québec.

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QCGN President interviewed on CBC regarding CAQ’s intentions towards Bill 14

QCGN President Dan Lamoureux reacted yesterday to the Coalition Avenir Québec’s leaked memo that mentioned that the party would oppose to most of Bill 14 provisions, but that it would possibly suggest changes to the bill. Lamoureux says that even though the CAQ is looking at proposing modifications to the bill, he maintains that Bill 14 should be defeated.


Le prochain psychodrame

Michel David, Le Devoir

Le ministre Pierre Duchesne racontait qu’il ne lisait plus sa revue de presse tellement les pronostics concernant le Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur étaient d’un pessimisme déprimant. Force est de reconnaître que M. Duchesne, qui était devenu la cible privilégiée de l’opposition, s’en est bien tiré. 

Une autre ministre recrue sera sur la sellette au cours des prochaines semaines. Les « angryphones » ne casseront peut-être pas de vitrines, mais la ministre responsable de la Charte de la langue française, Diane de Courcy, aura fort à faire pour éviter que les audiences publiques sur le projet de loi 14 – la « nouvelle loi 101 » promise par le PQ – ne provoquent un autre psychodrame.

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