Flanders: French-speaking mayors blocked from taking up public office

Recent news from Belgium has been encouraging as the Flems are increasingly seen standing up to the French-speaking mafia ruling the country behind the scenes:

Flemish regional authorities have blocked three French-speaking mayors from taking up public office since they were elected in January 2007 in the Brussels suburbs of Linkebeek, Wezembeek-Oppem and Kraainem. Marino Keulen, the Flemish Interior Minister responsible for the ban, remained defiant and announced he will stick by his decision to outlaw the elected mayors."Flanders has not been convicted. Only a court can impose a conviction," he said. "I would have preferred a different decision, because this will hit the international headlines, but the real impact is nil." Mr Keulen insisted that the three mayors did not respect Flemish linguistic legislation that prohibits French election literature even though the suburbs they represent, while geographically in Dutch-speaking Flanders, are mainly inhabited by French speakers. The COE [Council of Europe] has demanded that the mayors be immediately appointed and called for a review of Belgium's linguistic laws that have been used by Flemish nationalists to ban the use of the French language in municipalities around Brussels, home to the EU. Damien Thiéry, the banned mayor elect for Linkebeek, told human rights watchdogs in Strasbourg that a legal appeal in Belgium could take five years. "You are our last recourse. Without you the democracy will die out in our towns," he said. The COE's intervention has stepped up the long-running row between Belgium's two main communities, the richer Dutch-speaking northern region of Flanders and the poorer francophone Wallonia region in the south. Flanders, where 60 per cent of Belgium's 10.5 million people live, has sought more regional powers leading to a political impasse that means Belgium has been without government since inconclusive elections in June 2007.
03 Dec 2008
Bruno Waterfield

This news story is also interesting in that it mentions only three municipalities as having elected a French-speaking mayor in Flanders even though the Francophones often claim that most communes located between Brussels and Wallonia are inhabited by a majority of French speakers and should be annexed to Wallonia in case of Flanders seceding from the Belgian Kingdom.

"in 2011 French will be history"

Looks like the Rwandans mean business. Way to go, Rwanda!

    KIGALI, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Rwanda's schools will cease the use of the French language for instruction in two years, the country's Education Ministry announced Thursday. The private Rwanda news agency quoted Mutsindashyaka Theoneste, state minister for primary and secondary education, as saying that in 2011 French will be history. "After that time, only French will be taught in French, "said Theoneste amid laughter from the audience at the on-going national dialogue. He said that by adopting English, Rwanda was simply joining the international system.   The Rwandan official said that starting with next academic year, all science subjects will be taught in English, adding that by the end of 2010 all schools will be English speaking.  However, the decision to drop French made in August has attracted heated debate. Some quarters have linked it to the severing of relations between Rwanda and France. In November, 2006, Rwanda cut diplomatic ties with France after a French judge called for Rwandan President Paul Kagame to be tried over the killing of a former leader 12 years ago.


Fire bomb attack against a French language institute

French official culture doesn't seem to command the respect it used to:

Athens braced Friday for further protest demonstrations as violence continued in the city with a fire bomb attack against a French language institute. Eyewitnesses said around 20 masked protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at the institute in central Athens and then escaped down a narrow street. The incident continued nearly two weeks of severe unrest which was triggered by the shooting death of a 15-year-old youth by police on Saturday, Dec. 6.


Can French compete with France's local tongues?

The French elites love posturing as protectors of language diversity on the world stage, but everyone knows that there is nothing they fear more than competition, starting at home:
Right after the French Academy strongly denounced a constitutional revision recognizing linguistic diversity as part of France’s heritage, the French Senate voted 2-to-1 to kill the measure. Article 1 of the French Constitution defines France as an indivisible, secular, democratic republic. On May 22, the French National Assembly voted all-but-unanimously – there was one negative vote – to modify that formula by adding the nation’s many local languages to the short list of constitutionally-protected civic virtues: “[France’s] regional languages belong to its patrimony.” But on Monday the Académie Française rejected any attempt to constitutionalize local languages as “an attack on French national identity.”  Article 2 of the French Constitution clearly states, “The language of the Republic is French.” As the Academy reads it, the national identity can only be expressed through French. 
 In an uncharacteristic comment on pending legislation, the 40 Immortals of the French Academy called constitutional recognition of regional languages “an attack on national identity.” While France has always been a linguistically-diverse country – the nation is even named after the Franks, a medieval Germanic tribe – the French government has often denied that heritage, preferring the myth of one nation speaking one language. After the French Revolution, the government actively sought to eradicate local patois, replacing them with French. But at the start of World War I, French army officials were shocked to discover that many of their new recruits still could not understand the language of command (as Monty Python might have asked, how do you say, “Run away,” in French?).

By 1930, one quarter of the French were still speaking a regional language, and even today, a good 10 million of France’s 60 million residents don’t speak French at home. Not counting the languages of immigrants, there are 29 local languages spoken in the Hexagon, as the French call mainland France.  (Another 45 or so native languages are spoken in current French territories and in its former colonies.) According to Ethnologue,the regional languages of France include Alemannisch, or Aslatian (1.5 million speakers); Auvergnat, or Occitan (1.3 million); Breton (500,000); Provençal (250,000); Romani (about 50,000); Corsican (340,000) and Yiddish (numbers not available). Historically, students in French schools were punished for speaking Breton, Alsatian, and Occitan (while speakers of Yiddish were simply deported), and France is one of the few nations refusing to sign the European Union’s charter giving legal rights to minority-language speakers. Linguistic diversity in the Hexagon The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Parliament to support regional-language protection, as did many community activists.

Even the rigid national educational system makes allowance for linguistic diversity. According to Radio France, on Tuesday almost 6,000 students took their Baccalauréat, or national high school exit exams, in a regional language. But the senators were not convinced, and on Wednesday they shut down the regional languages protection clause with a resounding “Non!”   Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a prominent Socialist Party senator who opposes constitutional protections for regional languages (photo: Le Figaro) While both the Senate and the Académie admit that other languages are spoken in France, they insist that constitutional recognition of this fact would imperil national unity and subvert the principles of the revolution, which sought to subsume individual variation in order to achieve liberté, égalité, and fraternité, a process which caused many French citizens to lose their heads. The French newspaper le Monde editorialized that living languages don’t need constitutional notice in order to exist, and opponents of regional language support observed that regional languages, like a religions, were a matter of personal choice, not something to be privileged in the Constitution. Others mocked the language proposal by calling for constitutional recognition of France’s highly-regarded regional cuisines. And several argued that instead of quibbling over the rights of Breton or Auvergnat speakers, France needed to unite under the banner of French to fight the real linguistic danger to national identity, world English. Of course none of the defenders of French against the onslaught of both local and international languages acknowledged that English managed to achieve the status of a world language without constitutional recognition in either the United States or Great Britain. 

English wasn’t even a regional language when it started out, just an insignificant dialect spoken on a tiny island off the coast of Europe. It grew to its present position not through legal protection but through the power of guns, dollars, computers, and rock ‘n’ roll. French was the language on every cultured European’s lips when the English were still wondering whether their language was mature enough to have grammatical structure. But today French itself has become one of the world’s regional languages, with fewer speakers than Chinese, Hindi, English, Spanish, or Russian. Clearly the Académie Française and the French Sénat think that French needs all the constitutional help it can get, though the editors of le Monde must surely realize that, just as living languages don’t require constitutional protection to exist, constitutional privilege can’t protect French as it competes against the living languages of France, not to mention the languages of the rest of the world. 
UPDATE: On Monday, July 21, the French Senate reconsidered and passed the Constitutional reform package, which includes recognition of regional languages, by one vote more than the required 3/5ths majority. Article 75.1 of the Constitution now reads:"Les langues régionales appartiennent au patrimoine de la France."

20 Jun 2008

Edited Date: 23 Jul 2008

France's Double Defeat in the Heart of Africa

French judicial arrogance toward Rwanda may backfire and cannot mask the fact that the recent Great Lake wars have seen France defeated twice by African armies: in Zaire and Rwanda. Times have changed, and French politicians should take these defeats as a warning: if they insist on prolonging colonial rule in disguise, the French could face an African Dien-Bien-Phu in the future:   

'Tiny' Rwanda was one of the first bitter lessons that were to force France to reconsider its neocolonial project in Africa. On the 1 October 1990, rebel Rwandan soldiers who had been refugees in Uganda -- and many of them part of the Uganda NRA army (National Resistance Army) -- launched [an] attack on Rwanda with the aim of returning to the country where their parents had been forced into exile as a result of genocide aided and abetted by the Belgians and the French. It was a David and Goliath battle and no one gave the rebels any chance. Even their only backer Uganda initially believed that the military pressure was necessary to force the Habyarimana government to negotiate with the rebels, integrate them into the army, and stop the government from discriminating against its own citizens or killing them. No one thought that the RPF/RPA could ever capture power. Hence the negotiations for peace under the auspices of the OAU in Arusha. It was a painstaking process but by the time the final documents were signed in Arusha both the political and military situation had overtaken the negotiations. Extremists within the Akazu (family cabal) that Habyarimana was hostage to accused him giving away too much. There were divisions within the ruling MRND (Mouvement républicain national pour le développement et la démocratie) and the various ruling cliques. It was the blasting furnace of a house divided against itself that Habyarimana was returning to from Arusha (with Burundi's president) when his plane was brought down with parts of it falling on his luscious presidential gardens. Within hours genocide against the minority Tutsi population and non-genocidaire so-called moderate Hutus including the prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and other prominent Hutus began and in 100 days 1,000,000 Rwandans had been slaughtered by the Interahamwe militia with the full backing and orchestration of their own leaders. The state was against its own people. Against all odds the RPF/RPA ended genocide, defeated the army that was backed by France, Belgium, and some African countries in June 1994. To forestall total defeat the French launched Opération Turquoise which provided the defeated army opportunity to regroup while the Interahamwe was able to march people from Rwanda into the Congo. Fugitives and refugees came together and the former held sway in the camps but also had the support of the crumbling state of Mobutu. France could not forgive the RPF/RPA in Rwanda and two years later another French ally, Mobutu, (supposedly leading the largest francophone country in the world!) was removed from power by a coalition of regional military alliance led by Rwanda and Uganda. France could neither save Habyarimana nor Mobutu. Meanwhile post-Cold War winds of democratic change were sweeping across the rest of Africa, including former French colonies, making France unsure of its role. It lost its nerves and was no longer able to proclaim its idealism of égalité and fraternité drowned as it was in the blood of innocent Africans as a result of its alliance with some of the most brutal regimes across Africa. Instead of reading the signs of the times it fell back on the colonial default of rivalry with the British and their American cousins. It could not accept that African armies defeated it in both Rwanda and Zaire and was therefore of the view that it must have been the CIA and the British, a smokescreen that many Africans unfortunately swallowed. This is not to say that the British and the Americans and other vested interests were not involved, but the essential root and initial solution to the conflicts were dictated by Africans. The politics of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ later propelled different kinds of convenient alliances. But both Mobutu and Habyarimana were consumed by the fires of xenophobia and genocide that they ignited.


Pambazuka News

November 13, 2008

--Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is general secretary of the Global Pan-African Movement, based in Kampala, Uganda, and is also director of Justice Africa, based in London, U.K.

France might prefer to refuse to apologize for organizing the Rwandan genocide in the 1990's, but it would seem in its best interest to at least keep a low profile. The unwarranted arrest of Rose Kabuye might turn into a golden opportunity to show the world the ugly face of French imperialism in Africa:  

As France prepares to try Rose Kabuye, judge Bruguière's "case" is falling apart.

France is in a fix on the Rose Kabuye issue.

Jean Louis Bruguière -- the judge who in his vendetta-fevered mind went as far as gathering "testimony" from the likes of Theoneste Bagosora and Hassan Ngeze to "prove" that members of the current Rwandan administration killed Habyarimana -- finally got one leader (out of a possible nine) arrested on his concocted charges.

But now it looks more and more like the fellow's arrest warrants have become boomerangs that could do more damage to him and his government than the intended victims.

In the few weeks since President Kagame's chief of protocol Rose Kabuye was arrested in Frankfurt and transported to Paris, Bruguière's case, if it can be called that, has been falling apart spectacularly.

To begin with, no independent investigation offers a lead as to who the real culprit in the shooting down of the aircraft carrying Juvenal Habyarimana and his friends was or were. Secondly, Mrs. Kabuye never was anywhere near Mr. Kagame when the latter allegedly planned the assassination. Thirdly, Abdul Ruzibiza the principal witness of Bruguière has come out of the woodwork to categorically state all the things he said concerning Habyarimana's death were lies; concoctions to get a conniving judge like Bruguière help him go to Europe. Possibly for a better life (though Ruzibiza doesn't say so).

Bruguière has sold his government a bum steer (as the Americans say), but since he has retired as a judge and actively is in politics -- which he always was even under the guise of a judge -- other poor magistrates are saddled with the task he originally set himself. To try to pin a crime, using a monstrous falsehood, on a bunch of people who actually stopped a genocide that was planned and was the handiwork of the dead Habyarimana and cohorts like Bagosora. You can't begin to think of such a plotline if you were writing a book of fiction.

The judges who have to pick up after Bruguière can't bring themselves to try Rose Kabuye so they are offering her bail on the following condition: she can walk about freely in France and even return to Rwanda if she so wishes.

It is as if these people are saying, please just go back home and forget the whole thing and we will let it drop quietly.

Rwanda however wants the lady tried. They basically are saying, go ahead and we will expose your shame-faced falsehoods; you began this thing and therefore it has to come to its logical conclusion. Which is recall and refute your bogus indictments and warrants, and while you are at it how about a few words of apology to Rwandans for participating in the 94 Genocide?

French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner has been quoted in his country's media saying Mrs. Kabuye's trial will "improve relations between his country and Rwanda." Rwandans checking in by email are unanimous in calling this "the usual French arrogance."


Everything indicates Rwanda is about to inflict a humiliating judicio-diplomatic defeat on a powerful former colonial master of much of Africa.

A few days back it looked to any Parisian (who normally follows politics) that the trial of a high profile Rwanda government official could only lead to one thing: badly restricted movement for a good number of its officials who either currently or formerly served in the military and that any judge in France or elsewhere in Europe could wake up to issue indictments against any African as they so wish.

This perception no longer is there. Instead it looks more and more like France's strutting around Africa like some colonial lord all these years after colonialism will reduce, significantly.

In international diplomatic [circles] it is known France punches above its weight and it claims "great power" status due to the influence it still exerts over huge swathes of the continent known as Francophone Africa and the favorable trade, commercial, and cultural advantages it extracts from those poor countries.

Should the French lose in the Kabuye court case it will be a tough psychological blow to recover from. It will mean any African country can openly challenge them; call their bluff, fight them in court and choose its path to future development and in so doing prove you don't have to depend on France to survive.

This is what Mr. Kagame and his government have been doing for the past 14 years.

To break free of French influence; such an example to the rest of Francophone Africa is what Paris has been dreading for a long time, and it is one of the two major reasons Paris has been so hostile to this government for the past 14 years.

Gerald Prunier, a Franco-Canadian academic writes in *The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide*, his seminal work on the 94 Genocide, that French dread and resentment of anything perceived to be a threat to the French language and culture knows no bounds.

He continues that in no other circumstance is this resentment greater than when the perceived enemy speaks English, other than French.

The other major source of French hostility to President Kagame and his government is the fact -- well-documented now in a number of scholarly and journalistic works, and the independent commission set up to probe France's role in the Genocide -- that they intervened to prop up a genocidal regime and actively participated in planning (and even in a few cases executing) the Genocide, but despite these efforts the RPF defeated their client regime.

November 30, 2008


French Down from Second to Fourth Place in Cyprus' Schools

In Cyprus education, French is in steep decline while Spanish is booming:
Three out of ten students choose Spanish
By Claudia Konyalian
But could Latin American soap operas really be behind the trend?
THE CURRENT school year has brought with it a new wave of interest in Spanish, with over a third of teenagers opting for the romantic language in the last two years of lyceum.
While English continues to be the most popular, and is considered the most important among the foreign languages to master, numbers this year show a drop in the popularity of both English and French, as trends are shifting. Assistant Director of the Education Programming Unit of the Ministry of Education, Charalambos Hadjithomas believes that there are several factors causing these shifts. “By the time students reach the second and third year of lyceum, they have already been studying French for four years. Those who feel they have gaps in their knowledge and don’t want to continue may drop French at this stage. “But these last two years also offer the opportunity to study a whole new language from scratch,” he said. Hadjithoma added, “It seems students view Spanish and Italian as ‘easier’ languages than French and German. But I also think that the popular Spanish language series on TV account for the increased interest we are seeing.”
This effect of the popular media is an opinion shared by other experts in the field. A private Spanish language tutor fromNico sia referred to the recent wave of Argentinean teen television soap operas ‘Rebelde Way’ and ‘Floricienta’. “Teenagers love these shows, which are on during the afternoon, just after they get home from school. They relate to the characters and they like to discuss who is the most attractive, and so they become interested in learning the language, and one day visiting Spanish-speaking countries,” she said.
Director of the Hispalingua Spanish language institute in Nicosia, Miguel Matayoshi referred to the prevalence of Spanish songs being played on popular radio stations. “Maybe Russian and Arabic would be more strategic languages to study, considering the economic links in Cyprus, but I think teenagers are attracted by the sound of the Spanish language, which has also become trendy somehow,” he said.
In fact Spanish is used by some 400 million people in the world and competes with English as the second most commonly spoken language by native speakers. The study of foreign languages has become increasingly important in the school curriculum with Cyprus’ accession to the EU, with French and German being added in 2001, Russian in 2002, and Turkish in 2003.
In accordance with the national curriculum, students have to study two foreign languages out of a choice of seven in the last two years of secondary school. The statistics of the Educational Programming Unit of the Ministry of Education reflect the recent changes in teenage tastes and trends.
For students in the second year of lyceum, French language used to be the most popular after English, but since last year now ranks fourth. 62.96 per cent chose English this year, down from last year’s 66.71 per cent, while only 12.65 per cent of students chose French, compared with 16.21 per cent last year.
Meanwhile the number of students choosing Turkish language is steadily increasing, with only one per cent in 2003, when it was first introduced into the curriculum, compared with today’s 7.76 per cent.
German and Russian remain the least popular at 2.81 per cent and 3.50 per cent respectively, while Italian remains extremely popular – consistently second only to English it is chosen by over one in two students.
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008
Dec 14th, 2008



Spanish Now Second-Most Studied Language

The French like to claim that French is the second-most taught language in the world, and this might have been true a while ago. However, some now contend that Spanish has taken up that position due to both the rise of Spanish and the decline of French:

According to Spain's 20 Minutos, there are now more than 14 million people studying Spanish in 90 countries in which Spanish is not an official language. According to the Director of the Instituto Cervantes -- the Spanish organization that looks to promote the language all over the world -- one of the main reasons that people are choosing to study Spanish is because they believe that it willprofessionally benefit them in today's global economy. He also pointed to Brazil's decision to make Spanish an mandatory subject in schools as an example of the growing importance of Spanish in the world. There are currently one million Spanish speakers in Brazil butMolina estimates that in 10 years there will be more than 30 million Spanish-speaking Brazilians, adding to the already 500 million Spanish speakers in America and Spain, making it the fourth most spoken language in the world, after Chinese, English and Hindi. Brazil's new Spanish initiative will call for 210,000 Spanish teachers to teach the language. Molina, speaking at a language school conference in Coruña, Spain, also said that the United States -- currently with (according to his estimate) 36 million Spanish speakers -- is the frontier that must be conquered, calling it "a decisive platform for Spanish to reaffirm its role as the second language of international communication."

Illusory Bilingualism

Mandatory bilingualism is spawning a lot of fake French in Canada:

J'ai reçu comme tous mes concitoyens l'invitation de Statistique Canada à participer au recensement.

La lecture de la phrase «veuillez remplir votre questionnaire par [sic] le 16 mai» amène la question suivante: pourquoi dépenser des fonds publics pour un recensement dont les résultats permettent principalement au lecteur aguerri de constater le déclin du français au Canada? On arrive à moindres frais à la même perception en lisant cette invitation. L'examen des enveloppes vendues par Postes Canada où l'inscription «jusqu'à» apparaît au lieu de «destinataire» est tout aussi éloquent. Ottawa aurait-il pris la relève de Toronto en matière de qualité du français?

Spanish Eclipsing French in Eastern Europe and Morocco

The French knew it would be an uphill battle for their language in Eastern Europe when the EU was enlarged to include countries such as Poland or Cyprus. Whereas French had hardly recovered any of its prewar influence since the fall of the Iron Curtain, English was already far ahead in 2002 as a lingua franca from Tallinn to Nikosia. But who would have thought then that Spanish itself would leave the Gallic tongue in its wake in the new, unconquered polyglot markets of Eastern Europe? The rise in interest for Spanish in Morocco is even more of a humiliation for French culture nationalists.    
Spanish on the rise in Eastern Europe
Thursday July 3, 2003
Looking for a place to practice your Spanish? Think Eastern Europe. According to a report issued this week by the Instituto Cervantes, Spanish is growing in popularity among students in places such as Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The interest in Spanish is most spectacular in Poland, where the number of people studying the language is up 158.5 percent in the past four years. The report also mentioned Morocco, where Spanish has risen to second place in foreign languages studied, behind English.
 Instituto Cervantes says that the typical student studying Spanish in Eastern Europe is a female between 17 and 25 years of age, most often choosing Spanish for personal reasons such as interest in tourism, culture or romance. The situation is different in Morocco, however, where Spanish is frequently studied as a means to obtaining employment.
Articles (in Spanish) on the report can be found in today's editions of at least two Madrid newspapers, La Rioja and El Periódico.

No Luck For Haute Couture

French cultural domination is being eroded in all fields. In The End of Fashion, How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever, published in 2000, Teri Agins shows how even French Haute Couture has ceased to set the tone. The end of French cultural relevance is one factor explaining the decline of French as a lingua franca.

The time when "fashion" was defined by French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by elite has ended. Now designers take their cues from mainstream consumers and creativity is channeled more into mass-marketing clothes than into designing them. Indeed, one need look no further than the Gap to see proof of this. In The End of Fashion, Wall Street Journal reporter Teri Agins astutely explores this seminal change, laying bare all aspects of the fashion industry from manufacturing, retailing, and licensing to image making and financing. Here as well are fascinating insider vignettes that show Donna Karan fighting with financiers, the rivalry between Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and the commitment to haute couture that sent Isaac Mizrahi's business spiraling.

Quebec's Lib Gov't Deceives Francos to Relax Anti-English Laws

Quebec's Franco bloggers are fuming: the team currently running the Quebec administration is more concerned with saving la Belle Province's economy than propping up what passes for French there. In order to undo the harm done by the fanatics previously in government, ministers like Christine  Saint-Pierre are seeking to surreptitiously relax the worst provisions of the infamously xenophobic Bill 101. To help Francos swallow the bitter pill and save face, government makes up figures suggesting that French-language decline has been reversed  in Montreal when the opposite is true and claims on the strength of these fake figures that Bill 101 is a success and therefore needn't be toughened. As a result, desperation pervades French online rants such as this one from earlier this year: 
Pourquoi suis-je ainsi en furie après la ministre libérale, me direz-vous? Parce qu’elle a eu le culot de dire que son gouvernement ne durcira pas la Loi 101 afin de redresser la situation du français au Québec, dossier qui a été ramené au devant de la scène par l’enquête effectuée par une journaliste du Journal de Montréal dernièrement. Les libéraux disent qu’ils comptent tout simplement faire de la sensibilisation auprès des commerces montréalais qui s’entêtent à fonctionner en anglais au Québec, dans un pays français. Quelle bande de baveux! Mais qu’y a-t-il de si étonnant à ce que les lâches que sont les libéraux ne fassent rien pour sauver la langue française, me répondront certains. Considérant leur triste bilan en la matière (enseignement de l’anglais en 1ère année, coupures importantes dans les programmes de francisation des immigrants et hausse des taux d’immigration par exemples), l’on ne pouvait après tout s’attendre à rien d’autre de leur part. Effectivement! Mais alors pourquoi suis-je autant en colère?

Je le suis, et profondément, parce que Christine-Saint-Pierre-la-traîtresse a osé balayé du revers de la main tout durcissement de la Loi 101 en arguant qu’une étude de l’Office de la langue française avait démontré à l’automne 2006 que 90% des commerces à Montréal fonctionnaient déjà en français. C’est ce que l’OLF avait fallacieusement indiqué dans un communiqué diffusé en janvier 2007 afin de convaincre les Québécois que le français se porte bien au Québec. Par conséquent, ajoute la ministre, nul besoin d’agir de manière drastique dans ce dossier.

Il faut toutefois savoir que l’étude dont se sert l’OLF pour prétendre une telle chose, il la garde secrète, la cache, la dissimule. Il ne veut pas la montrer à personne. (...)Mais ce qui devient carrément scandaleux avec cette fumisterie, c’est quand le gouvernement national des Québécois y réfère pour justifier l’orientation de ses décisions dans le dossier linguistique qui sont d’un laisser-aller navrant. Exactement comme l’a fait aujourd’hui Christine Saint-Pierre, cette grande colporteuse de mystifications, en nous proposant de ne rien faire pour empêcher le lent déclin du français au Québec, et ce, parce qu’une étude camouflée laisse faussement entendre que tout va bien à Montréal. link
15/01/2008 16:39

The Office Québécois de la Langue Francaise (OQLF), formerly used as a tool for persecuting Quebec's English speakers, is now key to the current government's efforts to cover up the decline of French in Quebec and the failure of decades-long paranoid anti-Anglo policies:

Something is rotten in the state of the Office québécois de la langue française. The chaotic sortie of its five-year report is one more sign of how disturbingly politicized it’s become over the years.

On Wednesday, OQLF president France Boucher released a 200-page report, 1,000 pages of studies and a mishmash of statistics. Although many statistics confirm data from the 2006 census showing a decline of the French language, especially on the Island of Montreal, Boucher refused to deliver any analysis or even qualify the state of the French language.

She even had the gall to ask ordinary Quebecers to read the studies themselves to make their own analysis. There was also her Soviet-style treatment of the members of the committee in charge of reviewing the report. She asked these independent academics to take a vow of silence, told them they’d be sent into a locked room to read the report with no cellphones, no computers and no documents of their own. They had to destroy their notes before they left.

The academics refused and denounced what they called the OQLF’s paranoia. The head of the committee, Simon Langlois, resigned over what he described as an abusive climate of distrust, excessive control and improvization. Boucher even refused to brief journalists before she released more than 1,000 pages of studies for them to go through in just a few hours.

In any normal government, she would have been fired on the spot for any or all of those things. But ever since Lucien Bouchard, who feared the language issue like the plague, turned the OQLF into a neutered extension of the premier’s office, Boucher’s silence and bullying tactics should assure her a long life at the head of the OQLF.

In fact, Boucher had nothing to say about French losing ground on the Island of Montreal and the suburbs, or about only 65 per cent of people working in French on the island, or about only 45.7 per cent of allophones choosing French as a second language, compared with the 54.3 per cent who choose English. No word, either, on the 40 per cent of allophone kids who went to French high school choosing to go to an English CEGEP.

Boucher is a problem. Parti Québécois language critic Pierre Curzi said Boucher is either incompetent or the victim of pressure from the premier’s office. Sorry, but it looks like both.

But the real problem behind the growing politization of the OQLF is its very nature. Contrary to what Language Minister Christine St-Pierre says, the OQLF is not independent from the government. You couldn’t tell by the power struggle between Boucher and St-Pierre, but the OQLF answers and reports to the minister by law. Part of its mandate is to monitor the language situation. So contrary to what Boucher contends, it the OQLF’s mandate to analyze.

Since it is not independent, the OQLF’s president is named by the premier’s office. This opens the door to nominations based on politicial affiliation, not competence. Such was the case for Boucher, a former Liberal aide.

Over the years, OQLF presidents learned quickly that if they want to keep their job - a lucrative five-year posting that can be terminated at any time - it’s crucial to reflect what’s politically desirable for their real boss, the premier.

It all makes one thing painfully obvious : The OQLF should be rendered as independent from the government as the auditor-general. This means making it answerable to the National Assembly and having all sitting parties choose its president based on competence, not based on the political masters he or she once served.

If the OQLF is not changed, it will continue to follow the whims of the government du jour and fail to inform Quebecers fully about the state of French.

It is absolutely irresponsible that the monitoring and analysis of what most distinguishes the Quebec nation from the rest of the continent - its language - isn’t handled by a competent and politically independent agency.


The Gazette (Montreal)
vendredi 7 mars 2008