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SAINT-SIMÉON, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, 1938 (Google)

Country vs Province

The Official Languages Act: 9 September 1969 (Liberals)

Quebec is a Canadian unilingual (French) province located in an officially bilingual (French and English) country. Consequently, Quebec does not comply with the Official Languages Act of 1969. The Official Languages Act put French and English on an equal footing in every province of Canada, regardless of demographics. In 1969, the citizens of 9 out of 10 provinces were predominantly English-speaking Canadians. When the Official Languages Act was passed, French-speaking Canadians could, at long last, be educated in French outside Quebec.

To Francophones living outside Quebec, the Official Languages Act seemed a miracle. Until then French-speaking Canadians, Catholics predominantly, could not attend a public French school. Typically, if financially possible, French-speaking Canadians enrolled in English-language Catholic private schools. My parents enrolled me at St Ann’s Academy, an all-girls Catholic private school in Victoria, British Columbia.

However, in 1974, five years after a “dream come true,” Quebec, under the leadership of Premier Robert Bourassa‘s Quebec’s Liberal Party[1] declared itself a unilingual province. It passed Bill 22. There was an exodus of English-speaking Canadians from Montreal, not to mention head offices or headquarters.

Bill 101: 1977 (Parti québécois)

In 1977, when Quebec elected the Parti québécois, under the leadership of its founder René Lévesque, the province passed Bill 101, which enshrines the Charter of the French Language.

Education being provincial legislation, under Bills 22 and 101, immigrants to Quebec were required to enroll their children in French-language schools. They were not invited to do so, but compelled, in an officially unilingual province located in an officially bilingual Canada. The birth rate had declined in mostly French-speaking Quebec. So, immigrants would give Quebec French-speaking children. In fact, as soon as they arrive(d) in Quebec, immigrants (young adults and adults) who did/do not speak French, took and still take, French courses. Matters remain as they were in the 1970s. Demographics have not been kind to Quebecers.

English being the global lingua franca, there was resistance to educating children in French, exclusively. Consequently, French-speaking immigrants, such as North Africans, settle(d) in Quebec.

Despite unilingualism, children born to English-speaking Canadians living in Quebec can study in English-language school.


Horace imagined by Anton von Werner (Wiki2.org.)

“The aim of the poet is to inform and delight.”

Quebec’s Referendums

Do not remove this video. The CBC is a public service.

At no point, have Quebecers given their province a clear mandate to separate from Canada. Quebec has sought sovereignty through two referendums. The first took place in 1980, when René Lévesque was Premier of Quebec. The second was held in 1995. A little less than half of Quebec’s citizens said ‘no’ to sovereignty, and a province’s sovereignty is too important a matter to be decided in a 50/50 referendum. Canada passed its Clarity Act (Bill C-20). Quebec is not a country. It is a province.

The Constitution Act of 1982

Not only is Quebec an officially unilingual province, but René Lévesque did not sign the Constitution Act of 1982, nor have subsequent Quebec Premiers. Yet, Quebec, led by George-Étienne Cartier, was one of the four original signatories of the Constitution Act of 1867. Once again, at no point have Quebecers given their province a clear mandate to negotiate sovereignty.

For my own safety, I would not visit with members of my family living on the west coast without first taking a private insurance. Yet I am a Canadian and, as a Canadian, my Health Insurance Card should be valid everywhere in Canada: banana leaves and wet ceramic floors!


Premier Couillard’s Quebec Liberal Party erased Quebec’s deficit and Quebecers are employed. There has to be a reason to defeat a leader and a reason to elect a leader. There was no reason to defeat Dr Couillard and no reason to elect François Legault. Under monsieur Legault’s Coalition avenir Québec (Coalition for the Future of Quebec), the province will remain unilingual. Quebecers whose French is impoverished will blame others: les Anglais. The Constitution Act of 1982 will not be signed. While monsieur Legault prospers, Quebec’s social programmes will be endangered: “austerity,” he says. More autonomy for Quebec is an objective, and a door will be slammed to curb immigration. (See Coalition avenir Québec, Wiki2.org.) Just who was behind this “victory?” On October 1st, 2018, reason took a leave in Quebec, or so it appears.

As a university teacher, I taught French as a second language and French literature to English-speaking Canadians. Concerning ‘unilingualism’ in Quebec, it is useful to read Wikipedia’s entries entitled Official Language Act and Charter of the French Language.

Section 1, which provides that French is ‘the official language of the province of Quebec,’ is misleading in that it suggests that English is not also an official language in Quebec, which it is by virtue of Section 133 of the BNA Act and the federal Official Languages Act. … No legislation in the National Assembly proclaiming French the sole official language in the province can affect these bilingual areas protected by the BNA Act.

(See Official Language Act, Wiki2.org.)


Love to everyone 💕
[1] Quebec’s Liberal Party has been independent of Canada’s Liberal Party since 1955.

LAFRESNIÈRE, PREMIÈRES NEIGES, Marl-Aurèle Fortin, c. 1923-1928 (Galerie Klinkhoff)

© Micheline Walker
8 October 2018