Claude Lorrain (c. 1600 – 23 November 1682)Photo credit: wikipaintings.org (Lorrain); www.britannica.com (Sir George-Étienne Cartier)
Yesterday, I wrote a blog on the subject of Bill 14, now under discussion in the Quebec Legislature,[i] but did not post it. I needed to “sleep on it” and did. If enacted, Bill 14 would make Quebec communities where the percentage of English-speaking citizens falls below 50% into French-speaking communities, but it is more complex. It would also put limits on the number of French-speaking Québécois who attend Quebec’s Cégep (grades 12 and 13). After obtaining their DEC Diplôme d’études collégiales) or DCS (Diploma of College Studies), students may enter graduate programs, such as Law and Medicine.
A will to remain within Canadian Confederation
When Jacques Parizeau, a former premier of Quebec, lost the last referendum on sovereignty, held in 1995, he commented that the Parti Québécois had lost because of “money and the ethnic vote.” This cannot be altogether true. Among the c. 51% of the population who voted against sovereignty, there were many French-speaking voters. There are French-speaking Quebecers who wish to retain a close partnership with Ottawa. In fact, this percentage has grown significantly since Madame Marois has become the Premier of Quebec. She leads a minority government and has effected cutbacks and disappointed students. I can state, therefore, that there is, among Québécois, a will to remain within Confederation, a closer bond than that which unites the United States.
French-Canadians Studying English
An excellent indication of this will is the large number of French-speaking Québécois who enrol in English-language Cégeps as well as institutions such as Bishop’s University, in the Eastern Townships, where I reside, with the purpose of learning English. English-speaking Quebecers are willing to accept compromises and, among French-speaking Québécois, many wish to learn English. Because of the operations I have undergone in the last five months or so (cataracts and bunions), I know that it is entirely possible in Sherbrooke, Quebec, to receive medical attention in Canada’s two official languages. For instance I was provided with information on the removal of cataracts in a bilingual booklet. As well, when my second bunion was removed, there were Anglophones waiting for surgery and they were addressed in fluent English and in a friendly, caring manner by French-Canadian doctors and the hospital’s staff.
Bilingualism is not an evil. On the contrary. It is as a student at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, and Marianopolis College, in Westmount (Montreal), that I studied French systematically. These were English-language institutions. As a result, I know that in English one “makes a decision” and that in French one takes a decision (prendre une décision). In other words, although French is my mother tongue, I perfected my knowledge of both French and English taking courses intended for English-speaking students. I studied French as a second-language. Later, after finishing my PhD, I taught applied linguistics, or what is involved in the teaching and learning of second or third languages (second-language didactics), at McMaster University, in Ontario. I love studying languages.
Opposing Bill 14
Now that Bill 14 is being discussed, I wish I could provide the Legislature with my personal testimonial. I can do so in fluent and correct French. Consequently, I am opposed to a Bill that would further limit access to the study of English to French-speaking Quebecers. One has to be realistic. If Québécois do not learn languages other than French, English in particular, they will be facing obstacles that have nothing to do with their being part of the Canadian Confederation. They are citizens of the world.
I am also opposed to Bill 14 because it takes away from English-speaking Quebecers the rights I enjoyed in mostly English-language provinces of Canada. The majority of French-speaking Canadians live in Quebec, but there are a great many French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. They have their schools or they may enter a French-immersion program. Canadian Parents for French remains a strong lobby and several members of this association look upon French-immersion schools as the better public schools or private schools within the public system.
The French-Canadian Legacy
French-speaking Canadians outside Quebec can listen to French-language radio and watch French-language television networks from coast to coast and they are respected by English-speaking Canadians who have been flocking to French-immersion schools from the moment Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his Liberal Party implemented official bilingualism. It is no longer possible for me to speak French at a restaurant table in Toronto or Vancouver expecting that no one will understand what I am saying.
In other words, the battle has been fought and won. I have mentioned Pierre Elliott Trudeau‘s government, but he had predecessors who paved the way for a bilingual Canada. Among these leaders are Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, KCMG (October 4, 1807 – February 26, 1864), Sir George-Étienne Cartier, 1st Baronet, PC (September 6, 1814 – May 20, 1873), a father of Confederation, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, GCMG, PC, KC, (20 November 1841 – 17 February 1919). It’s time to cease and desist. If not, more English-speaking Quebecers will leave their province as well as French-speaking Québécois many of whom had moved to Quebec from France, Belgium, and other war-torn countries. A large number left in the 1970s. They had fled strife.
Strife is what Lord Durham, John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, GCB, PC (12 April 1792 – 28 July 1840), observed and noted in the report he submitted after investigating the mostly misunderstood Rebellions of 1837-1838 (entry from the Canadian Encyclopedia). Lord Durham commented that French-speaking Canadians were “without history and without literature” and recommended that they be assimilated, but this recommendation was never put into effect. Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, a French-Canadian, was Prime Minister from September 26, 1842 – November 27, 1843. His term began a year after the Act of Union (1841), also recommended by Lord Durham, was proclaimed. Responsible government became the more important objective, as would extending Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
The Rebellions of 1837-1838
Québécois who study the history of Canada should be taught that the Rebellions of 1837-1838 occurred in both Canadas (see Upper Canada Rebellion, Wikipedia). There were patriots in Toronto and rebels were hanged in the current Ontario (Toronto and London). Recently, I met a lady who told me she did not know about the Upper Canada Rebellion and was sorry she had not been taught Canadian history in a more accurate manner.
It would be my opinion that souverainistes are now “fighting windmills” (Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes). They are also harming all French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. Above all, consider the benefits of living harmoniously and in prosperity.
My featured artist is Claude Lorrain, the byname of Claude Gellée (born 1600, Champagne, France—died Nov. 23, 1682, Rome [Italy]), whose landscapes may have been an inspiration to Whistler in that they are lyrical and an earlier expression of a degree of tonalism.[ii]
RELATED ARTICLESUpper Canada Rebellion (Wikipedia) Upper and Lower Canada (michelinewalker.com) The Rebellion in Upper Canada: Wikipedia’s Gallery (michelinewalker.com)
Upper Canada Rebels who died by hangingPeter Matthews (1789 – April 12, 1838; by hanging [Toronto]) Samuel Lount (September 24, 1791 – April 12, 1838; by hanging [Toronto]) Joshua Gwillen Doan (1811 – February 6, 1839; by hanging [London, Ontario])
REFERENCESCTV News (François Legault) CBC News (Coalition Avenir Québec, François Legault) CBC News (Dawson College, Cégep, priority to Anglophone students) The Montreal Gazette Loss of identity)
Quebec’s main political parties and their leaders (le chef) are:Le Parti Québécois (Pauline Marois, chef) Coalition Avenir Québec (François Legault, chef) Le Parti Libéral du Québec (Philippe Couillard, chef) _______________________________ [i] Called “Assemblée nationale” by “indépendantistes” parties. [ii] “Claude Lorrain.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/120438/Claude-Lorrain>. art: Claude Lorrain composer: Johann Pachelbel piece: Canon (Arr.: Louis Ablazzo, Ed. Mathun)
performers: Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra conductor: Bemhard Giiller © Micheline Walker 27 April 2013 WordPress Trees, by Claude Lorrain, 1669