2/07/2009

Bill 101 Has Failed

Even the Angry French Guy has to concede defeat: the unilingual Anglos are back in business in Quebec, especially in Montreal. Enjoy the bitterness of the post:

English is Back in the Québec Workplace

with 233 comments

anglo exodus montreal

“I just love Montreal”, I overheard a lady tell her friend in Avenue Video in Montréal. “I’d live here if I spoke French.”

“I don’t speak French”, scoffed a passerby. “Don’t worry about that.”

English is getting stronger in Montreal. I’m not the one saying it. The Montreal Gazette is saying it. There’s just no way around the numbers. Québec’s English-speaking population rose by 5.5% between 2001 and 2006 according to StatsCan.

How did this happen?

“The easy answer to the question of why young anglos aren’t leaving Quebec like they did a generation ago”, writes David Johnston, “is that they speak better French, and aren’t being chased away by political uncertainty.”

You will all remember that the “political uncertainty” started in the 1950’s and 1960’s when francophones started asking why they were paid less than any other nationality in Québec, why no francophones held any management position in Canada’s banking and finance industry and why they were forbidden to use their language to speak to each on the shop floor.

English-Canada’s business elite responded by moving the country’s entire financial sector and 800 000 jobs from Montreal to Ontario where discrimination against French-speakers was allowed.

But a more important reason, according to the Montreal edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, is that it’s getting easier and easier for English-speakers to live and work in Montreal because there has been a “cultural shift” that has made English “acceptable” in the workplace.

“By the 1990s”, continues our man, “speaking English had become more acceptable in Quebec as firms came to see the need to improve the capacity of their workforces to operate in English. This created new opportunities for anglophones.”

As if English had ever disappeared from the Québec workplace! As if the French-speaking majority of Québec that had been forced to work in English for 250 years suddenly found itself unable to communicate with the outside world in the international language of business after bill 101 gave them the right to work in French!

The failure of Bill 101

When I was a truck driver satellites communications between French-speaking drivers and French-speaking dispatchers had to be in English so the English-speaking security team in Toronto could understand what was going on.

In 2005 the Metro chain of grocery stores bought A&P Canada and Christian Haub, the CEO and chairman of the board of A&P got a seat on the Québec company’s board. Thirteen Francophones and one Anglo. Guess what language the board meeting are in now?

Yep. Even when the French businessmen win, they lose.

That’s the way the modern workplace functions. It is entirely structured around the needs of the less qualified people. French-speakers in Québec, and all non-English speaking people around the world, are required to acquire additional language skills so that unilingual Anglos won’t have to.

Québec briefly tried to change that with the Charter of the French language, but the truth is that the rules that were supposed to protect the right of Québec workers to work in their language are broken. They don’t work anymore.

They were designed for businesses that could be contained in a building, to make sure that the 15th floor would communicate in French with the 6th and 2nd floor, all the way down to the shop floor.

But businesses don’t work like that anymore. Management is in Toronto, accounting’s in Alberta and IT is in Bangalore. Toronto’s and New York’s business culture is once again being imposed on the workers of Québec, and the entire world, actually.

Québec’s workforce has always been the most multilingual in Canada, and probably one of the most linguistically versatile in the World. Québec’s business culture did not change, it’s the world’s business structure that changed.

And once again, after only a brief interruption, unilingual Anglos can come back to work in Montreal.

And just in time, as the stellar generation of brilliant financial minds that left Montreal a generation ago have now managed to completely scrap Ontario’s economy and is now ready to come back home.


Hat tip: Edward J. Cunningham

17 comments:

angryfrenchguy.com said...

I haven't quite conceded defeat yet. And bill 101 has been a tremendous success in many respects, notably in education and integration of immigrants.

Snake Oil Baron said...

I would hardly say that English were less qualified people if they decide not to spend their time learning a dieing language or one of the 6000 non-global languages on the planet but instead focus on acquiring marketable skills and educations.

But then, as someone who sees the acceptability of English in the Quebec workplace as something disturbing AFG must have a different definition of "qualified" than I do.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

In all due fairness, French is no more dying out than Icelandic or Japanese. What is happening is that the French language's status as an international lingua franca is declining. I'll comment later about Québec and the English language.

In the meantime, Angry French Guy, bienvenue to this blog. Please feel free to argue with Unfrench Frenchman in French. You do NOT have to post in English for the sake of Anglophone posters such as Snake Oil Baron and myself---we can both use Google Translate.

Ronduck said...

Peter Brimelow wrote a good article about quebec many years ago and had it republished here on his website vdare.com. Here is a gem from the article:


If Quebec can't be persuaded to secede from Canada, it should be expelled.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

"V Dare"? I will have nothing to do with that racist web site. But I do believe that there was another Canadian who wrote a similar article along the lines of "kick out Quebec" and there's a link to it somewhere in this blog...

Anonymous said...

Quebec faces such demographic challenges. Every census shows those in Canada with French as their mother tongue continues to decline at about one per cent in total per decade. In 1931, 31 per cent of Canadians said their mother tongue was French; in 2006, it was around 21 per cent.
And the figures are much lower for those under 15 years of age.
And with the population growth in Western Canada and Ontario, the relative size of Quebec in the federation becomes less. The redistribution of parliamentary seats is likely the first step which will see Quebec with only 15% of the total seats in the federal commons in 2050.
No wonder French Guy is angry.

http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/demo11b-eng.htm

Ronduck said...

At the time Brimelow wrote the original article he was working for a major financial magazine, very mainstream. Besides, Brimelow is an immigrant from Canada and lived there for many years.

Also, Vdare is an anti-immigration website, not a race site. I am not asking you to have anything to do with Vdare, just read the article.

Read the article and tell me what you think of it.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Where there's smoke there's fire. "Virginia Dare" is not only named after the first European born in British North America, but also from a story Peter Brimelow wrote about the last white woman in Los Angeles. (I'm assuming this is Brimelow's web site, and he isn't just a contributor.) I see a hell of a lot of smoke from Vdare.

Ronduck said...

I don't expect you to agree with everything or anything that is on Vdare.

The article about Quebec is relevant to the current post and I agree with Brimelow's position on Quebec. You don't even need to read the article, you can just read the title of it to get the gist.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Oh, I've read the article, and he makes some good points. But because it was written by Peter Brimelow, I'm taking it with a grain of salt.

One point he makes clear, (and the other "kick out Québec" article says the same thing) is that many English Canadians are fed up with their government constantly trying to appease Quebec whenever these language flare-ups occur. The problem isn't that most people in la belle provence speak French and take great pride in their language---it's that they insist on playing with different rules than the rest of Canada, which also pays Quebec's bills.

I would much rather read an article by Aurdou Debito (David Aldwinckle) who has a healthier attitude towards both race and immigration.

Anonymous said...

"Virginia Dare" is not only named after the first European born in British North America, but also from a story Peter Brimelow wrote about the last white woman in Los Angeles.

If no Europeans were born in North America then there would be no Cnada or USA. You may think that wonderful, but it does render any thoughts of yours on the status of French in Canada utterly redundant.

Anonymous said...

Ive been checking out your Debito guy. All very well, but the settlement of a few high IQ westerners in Japan has nothing to say on the invasion of the west by millions of 3rd worlders who arent asked to assimilate and dont want to anyway. What is more they are coming in such numbers that even if they do assimilate, the host society will be destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he should change his website from AngryFrenchGuy.com to just BitterFrenchGuy.com

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Two quick comments that have nothing to do with "VDare." First, I've heard that the only way to get a good job in the Québec hydroelectric industry is to be a Francophone Quebecois. How do we know it is they who are unqualified compared to Anglophone Quebeckers or other Canadians?

Secondly, I really would hate to be the only guy in a Québec boardroom who didn't speak French, forcing everybody else to speak my language---especially if I felt it would cause resentment. I'd prefer to wear an earphone that would connect me to an interpreter to keep me up to speed. If everyone else could understand English, I'd respond in my own language, but pepper my responses with as much French as I knew.

But then again, I'm assuming this is a big deal to the others. It may well be that they---as opposed to Quebecois nationalists like AFG---don't mind conducting meetings in English.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Don't know if this is worthy of a mention here, but here's an article in the New York Times about the numerous English-language bookstores in Paris. To be fair, I'm sure there are more French-language shops, but this is an eye-opener:

Paria has plenty to read (in English)

Tony Kondaks said...

Bill 101 should never have become law in the first place. Any law that is designed to force people to do things (attend certain schools, put up certain kinds of signs, etc.) is never going to succeed when it comes to culture or language which, by definition, must be kept in the realm of freedom.

Bill 101 gave and continues to give Quebec francophones a false sense of security for the French language: oh, the law will protect us; there's nothing that we have to do ourselves; let's be passive and have the law do everything.

The best way to protect the French language and culture in Quebec is not by violating human rights, as much of Bill 101 does, but by the natural protection that the boundaries of an independent nation will provide a culture and language...that's how real nations do it.

But an independent Quebec must be void of the hate law/race law that is Bill 101. See the following link for the only formula that will achieve Quebec independence:

http://www.WhyCanadaMustEnd.com

Unfrench Frenchman said...

I already knew the website and I quite agree with the solution proposed. Since most of Quebec's Anglos live in a defined area, an independent Quebec could easily give them full language rights and both the Anglos and Francos would gain. Even better would be an independent Quebec that would completely repel all language laws of course, because such laws are an abomination and private speech should be left free.