Although Bill 96 was passed in May and came into effect in June 2022, it has already led to the creation of a new political party in Quebec. The new party’s name is Le Parti canadien du Québec. It is the name, or nearly so, Pierre-Stanislas Bédard gave to his nationalist party in the early 1800s. Bédard was elected to the Assembly of Lower Canada in 1792, a year after the Constitutional Act was passed, and he created his Parti canadien, the very first Canadian party, at the turn of the 19th century. In 1806, Bédard also started a newspaper, Le Canadien.
The motivation to secede was informed by the “Rights of Englishmen,” but it also justified leaving the independent United States, no longer ruled by Britain. After the fall of Nouvelle-France, citizens of the Thirteen Colonies could move north to Britain’s new colony, the former New France. These individuals did not differ substantially from secessionists. Canadiens were not equal to Englishmen. They spoke French, the language of Britain’s main rival, France, and France had lost the Seven Years’ War. Moreover, the French in North America were Catholics.
The Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the vast Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada. Upper Canada would be home to English-speaking Canadians, but United Empire Loyalists settled the Eastern Townships of Quebec, where I was born. The Eastern Townships is a bilingual area of Quebec, within limits. Bill 96 further narrows the limits determined by Bill 101, passed in 1977. Bill 96 also restricts access to English-language Cégeps. Many Québécois attend English-language Cégeps, a two-year pre-University programme, to learn English. English is the currentlingua franca, the language of success.
In Fréchette’s poem, we sense a solid will to remember the Rebellions of 1837-1838. (Les Rébellions de 37). The Rebellions took place in both Canadas, where patriots sought responsible government. They attacked the state: Britain. The rebellion was more intense in Lower Canada than in Upper Canada, and repression was more severe. Most convicted patriots were hanged or exiled to Australia, and some, to Bermuda.
After Canadiens read Lord Durham’s Report on the Rebellions of 1837-1838, they founded two literary schools, one in Quebec City and, the other, in Montréal. Louis-Honoré Fréchette (1839-1908) was a prominent member of l’École littéraire de Montréal. I have found an ebook edition of Jean Charbonneau‘s L’École littéraire de Montréal. Louis-Honoré Fréchette was in favour of annexation with the United States.
The Atlantic Revolutions
I have already mentioned the Atlantic Revolutions. The Rebellions of 1837-1838 are currently considered one of several attempts to create republics. A Patriot War was waged within the Rebellions of 1837-1838. It took place between December 1837 and December 1838. The Patriot War was an ideological war mostly. It promoted republicanism. William Lyon Mackenzie proclaimed the Republic of Canada on December 5, 1837, but the Patriot War started in Vermont, and the Patriots were defeated.
I believe the survival of the French language in Canada is threatened. Confederation led to the creation of “uniform” schools in every province of Canada, except Quebec. When immigrants arrived, they attended “uniform” schools. This policy originated in Macaulayism. Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) was a fine gentleman, but the sun never set on the British Empire which could lead people astray. The English Education system would be used in Britain’s colonies. Moreover, English would be the language of instruction in higher education in India and in post-Confederation Canada. The French could not be educated in French outside. They had to stay in Quebec. Immigrants who arrived in Canada were educated in “uniform” schools. It created an imbalance, that cannot be redressed easily and it should not demand that every Canadian learn French and English. That would be unrealistic. However, it should be possible to learn a second language in schools. Following the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1969, French immersion schools were established.
Ottawa has a Commissioner of Official Languages, and Pomquet is not the only Acadian village to boast une école acadienne. I taught Second Language Didactics at McMaster University and served as President of l’Apfucc, l’Association des Professeurs de Français des Universités et Collègues canadiens or Canadian Association of University and College Teachers of French. I also served on the board of directors and the executive of the Fédération canadienne des Études humaines, now renamed Fédération canadienne des Sciences humaines. These were my better days. I have investigated second-language teaching/learning.
I will close by saying that language policies protecting the French language in Canada should not lead to chicaneries and threaten Canadian unity. (to be continued)
Michel Ducharme’s Closing the Last Chapter of the Atlantic Revolution: The 1837-38 Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada is also an internet publication, but I may not use it without the author’s permission. It can be found under the Rebellions of 1837-1838.
In Chapter X/IX of Les Anciens Canadiens, monsieur d’Egmont speaks about an Iroquois who does not like a building located in New York. In the large building an Iroquois examines, “sauvages” who have not paid the white man are incarcerated and cannot therefore catch beaver pelts to repay their debt. Their hands are tied. However, I have not quoted the Good Gentleman’ full statement. The bon gentilhomme believes that civilization thwarts the human mind, in which the novel uses the myth of the Noble Savage :
Une chose m’a toujours frappé : c’est que la civilisation fausse le jugement des hommes, et qu’en fait de sens commun, de gros bon sens, que l’on doit s’attendre à rencontrer dans la cervelle de tout être civilisé (j’en excepte pourtant les animaux domestiques qui reçoivent leur éducation dans nos familles), le sauvage lui est bien supérieur. En voici un exemple assez amusant. Un Iroquois contemplait, il y a quelques années, à New-York, un vaste édifice d’assez sinistre apparence ; ses hauts murs, ses fenêtres grillées l’intriguaient beaucoup : c’était une prison. Arrive un magistrat. – Le visage pâle veut-il dire à son frère, fit l’Indien, à quoi sert ce grand wigwam? – C’est là qu’on renferme les peaux-rouges qui refusent de livrer les peaux de castor qu’ils doivent aux marchands.
[“It has always struck me that civilization warps men’s judgment, and makes them inferior to primitive races in mere common sense and simple equity. Let me give you an amusing instance. Some years ago, in New York, an Iroquois was gazing intently at a great, forbidding structure. Its lofty walls and iron-bound windows interested him profoundly. It was a prison. A magistrate came up. “‘Will the pale face tell his brother what this great wigwam is for?’ asked the Indian. The citizen swelled out his chest and answered with an air of importance: “ “‘It is there we shut up the red-skins who refuse to pay the furs which they owe our merchants.'”]
One can understand that Aubert de Gaspé (1786-1871) would look upon Amerindians with kindness. Le bon gentilhomme is a fictionalized Aubert de Gaspé. Aubert de Gaspé was too generous and did not realize at which point he started loaning money he did not have. Had monsieur d’Egmont not given his entire property, within ten years, one of the houses he owned would have repaid his debt in full. Authorities waited before incarcerating Aubert de Gaspé, but he was imprisoned and unable to help his two sick children. He was careless and wanted to repay authorities. However, in 1841, after nearly four years of detention, he was heard by authorities and released.
Aubert de Gaspé was not a seigneur during the years he spent in a prison. His mother was the seigneuresse de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. Quebec had its nobility and many feared being sent back to France. Several died when l’Auguste, a ship, sank as a storm raged. However, Aubert de Gaspé would be a seigneur after his mother’s death. He would be the last seigneur of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. The Seigneurial System was abolished in 1854, before Aubert de Gaspé published his book (1863).
Interestingly, Aubert de Gaspé fictionalized himself as le bon gentilhomme, the Good Gentleman, the man who was too severely punished, and, as Jules, an image of innocence. It is as though le bon gentilhomme, monsieur d’Egmont, had seen Jules loan money he did not have to a person who had kicked him. To help Dubuc, Jules borrows money from Madeleine who has a debt of gratitude, but gratitude is rare.
The novel is historical and autobiographical. But it is also a cautionary tale. Le bon gentilhomme wants to tell his story to Jules, so Jules’s generosity does not lead him astray (II: pp.22… )(I: 22-26). (Aubert de Gaspé experienced rulings that did not take into account his good character and extenuating circumstances. In 1841, Aubert de Gaspé was freed after nearly four years of detention. His conviction was not legally unjust, but it was “unfair” and disloyal. Therefore, Aubert de Gaspé uses the myth of the Noble Savage, a soul untainted by civilization. Moreover, the bon sauvage is at hand. Nouvelle-France was home to Amerindians.
Incarcerating a good man, monsieur d’Egmont, le bon gentilhomme, is discordant. Discordant is a term I have borrowed from Maurice Lemire, the editor of my copy of Les Anciens Canadiens.In Les Anciens Canadiens, the uncivilized are Europeans, not the natives of New France. One remembers the Jesuit Relations and Lahontan‘s Noble savage. Les Anciens Canadiens attacks civilized men. Montgomery who orders Arché to burn his friends’ manoir is inferior to the “Noble Savage.” Aubert de Gaspé’s fate, imprisonment, may be legal, but it is disloyal, and given his fault, detention is discordant. We can therefore situate Aubert de Gaspé’s novel among literary works pertaining to the myth of the Noble Savage. It is close to the Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau viewed man in the state of nature as good, at times because of a Social Contract, but Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathanpictured man in the state of nature as a horrible zoomorphic serpent.
It should be noted, moreover that the wars Nouvelle France fought with or on behalf of Amerindians were exhausting. Our visitor to New York is an Iroquois, an Amerindian confederacy allied to the British. The French were allied mostly to the Hurons-Wendats. In chapter VII/VI, le capitaine d’Haberville is described as battled wearied:
Le seigneur d’Haberville avait à peine quarante-cinq ans, mais il accusait dix bonnes années de plus, tant les fatigues de la guerre avaient usé sa constitution d’ailleurs si forte et si robuste : ses devoirs de capitaine d’un détachement de la marine l’appelaient presque constamment sous les armes. Ces guerres continuelles dans les forêts, sans autre abri, suivant l’expression énergique des anciens Canadiens, que la rondeur du ciel, ou la calotte des cieux ; ces expéditions de découvertes, de surprises, contre les Anglais et les sauvages, pendant les saisons les plus rigoureuses, altéraient bien vite les plus forts tempéraments.
[The Seigneur D’Haberville was scarcely forty-five years old, but the toils of war had so told on his constitution that he looked a good ten years older. His duties as captain in the Colonial Marine kept him constantly under arms. The ceaseless forest warfare, with no shelter,104 according to the stern Canadian custom, except the vault of heaven, the expeditions of reconnoissance or surprise against the Iroquois or against the English settlements, carried on during the severest weather, produced their speedy effect on the strongest frames.]
We meet our first Amerindian, a Huron, at Trois-Saumons River. When he arrives at monsieur d’Egmont’s cottage, he is ill. Monsieur d’Egmont and André Francœur look after him for several weeks. Four years later, when he has nearly been forgotten, he visits Monsieur d’Egmont carrying a fortune in pelts, moccassins, and other valuable products the French cherished.
Ce n’était pas le même homme que j’avais vu dans un si piteux état : il était vêtu splendidement, et tout annonçait chez lui le grand guerrier et le grand chasseur, qualités inséparables chez les naturels de l’Amérique du Nord. Lui et son compagnon déposèrent, dans un coin de ma chambre, deux paquets de marchandises de grande valeur : car ils contenaient les pelleteries les plus riches, les plus brillants mocassins brodés en porc-épic, les ouvrages les plus précieux en écorce, et d’autres objets dont les sauvages font commerce avec nous. Je le félicitai alors sur la tournure heureuse qu’avaient prise ses affaires.
[“I had entirely forgotten my Indian, when about four years later he arrived at my door, accompanied by another savage. I could scarcely recognize him. He was spendidly clad, and everything about him bespoke the great hunter and the mighty warrior. In one corner of my room he and his companion laid down two bundles of merchandise of great value—the richest furs, moccasins splendidly embroidered with porcupine quills, and exquisite pieces of work in birch bark, such as the Indians alone know how to make. I congratulated him upon the happy turn his affairs had taken.]
– Écoute, mon frère, me dit-il, et fais attention à mes paroles. Je te dois beaucoup, et je suis venu payer mes dettes. Tu m’as sauvé la vie, car tu connais bonne médecine. Tu as fait plus, car tu connais aussi les paroles qui entrent dans le cœur: d’un chien d’ivrogne que j’étais, je suis redevenu l’homme que le Grand Esprit a créé. Tu étais riche, quand tu vivais de l’autre côté du grand lac. Ce wigwam est trop étroit pour toi : construis-en un qui puisse contenir ton grand cœur. Toutes ces marchandises t’appartiennent.
[“‘Listen to me, my brother,’ said he. ‘I owe you much, and I am come to pay my debt. You saved my life, for you know good medicine. You have done more, for you know the words which reach the heart; dog of a drunkard as I was, I am become once more a man as I was created by the Great Spirit. You were rich when you lived beyond the great water. This wigwam is too small for you; build one large enough to hold your great heart. All these goods belong to you,’]
Le bon gentilhomme is moved to tears. Gratitude is a quality lacking in the individuals to whom he loaned money. Our Noble Savage, returns to the Trois-Saumons River carrying precious gifts: pelts, moccasins, and other goods. Monsieur d’Egmont could build a much better wigwam by selling the pelts and other riches the Noble Savage has brought. But he chooses otherwise. A priest will distribute among the needy the riches the grateful Amerindian has brought to thank the God Gentleman.
Ironically, le bon gentilhomme’s cottage will be home to the d’Habervilles after their manoir is destroyed by fire and Quebec City house, destroyed. Arché’s superior, Montgomery, orders Arché to set fire to every house.
– Mais, dit le jeune officier, qui était Écossais, faut-il incendier aussi les demeures de ceux qui n’opposent aucune résistance ? On dit qu’il ne reste que des femmes, des vieillards et des enfants dans ces habitations.
[“But,” said the young officer, who was a Scotchman, “must I burn the dwellings of those who offer no resistance? They say there is no one left in these houses except old men, women, and children.”]
– Il me semble, monsieur, reprit le major 265 Montgomery, que mes ordres sont bien clairs et précis ; vous mettrez le feu à toutes les habitations de ces chiens de Français que vous rencontrerez sur votre passage. Mais j’oubliais votre prédilection pour nos ennemis !
[“I think, sir,” replied Major Montgomery, “that my orders are quite clear. You will set fire to every house belonging to these dogs of Frenchmen. I had forgotten your weakness for our enemies.” “Every house you come across belonging to these dogs of Frenchmen, set fire to it. I will follow you a little later.”]
– Voilà donc, s’écria-t-il [Arché] avec amertume, les fruits de ce que nous appelons code d’honneur chez les nations civilisées ! Sont-ce là aussi les fruits des préceptes qu’enseigne l’Évangile à tous ceux qui professent la religion chrétienne, cette religion toute d’amour et de pitié, même pour des ennemis. Si j’eusse fait partie d’une expédition commandée par un chef de ces aborigènes que nous traitons de barbares sur cet hémisphère, et que je lui eusse dit : « Épargne cette maison, car elle appartient à mes amis ; j’étais errant et fugitif, et ils m’ont accueilli dans leur famille, où j’ai trouvé un père et des frères », le chef indien m’aurait répondu : « C’est bien, épargne tes amis ; il n’y a que le serpent qui mord ceux qui l’ont réchauffé près de leur feu. »
[“Behold,” said he, “the fruits of what we call the code of honor of civilized nations! Are these the fruits of Christianity, that religion of compassion which teaches us to love even our enemies? If my commander were one of these savage chiefs, whom we treat as barbarians, and I had said to him: ‘Spare this house, for it belongs to my friends. I was a wanderer and a fugitive, and they took me in and gave me a father and a brother,’ the Indian chief would have answered: ‘It is well; spare your friends; it is only the viper that stings the bosom that has warmed it.’]
Jules and Arché (Cameron of Lochiel)’s friendship will survive the War. However, Aubert de Gaspé needed the bon sauvage. New France’s Amerindians were friends of the French, but there is no entity called the Noble Savage. It is an image and a wish. However, Amerindians have a great deal of common sense. I quite agree with the Jesuits who saw Amerindians as good persons who did not need to be converted. Yet, they continued their work as missionary and a few fell victims to the Iroquois who, as noted above, were friends of the British. La Grande-Loutre is an Iroquois. The Iroquois confederacy were allies of the British and protected by the British. The French were allies of the Hurons-Wendats and protected the Hurons-Wendats.
Aubert de Gaspé went further in the rehabilitation of the defeated French. Not only did he feature the Noble Savage, but he created Cameron of Lochiel, a Scot, whose father fought at Culloden. Arché will move to Canada and have a house built, half of wish will be Dumais’s home. He saved Dumais ‘s life who saved Archie from torture and death when the Iroquois captured him. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 will be the Amerindians’s “precedent,” and is included in the 1982 Constitution Act, Canada.
As for the Quebec Act of 1774, it constitutes a “precedent” to a bilingual Canada. The French in America did not attempt to assimilate Amerindians. Monsieur d’Egmont and André Francœur have in fact left France, Europe being too civilized, to live among natives. Jules and Cameron of Lochiel will remain friends. Some of Aubert de Gaspé’s children would marry the Scots, or the English. It is not treason, but a legitimate and realistic wish to take part in the political life of Canada. Finally, persons whose origins are not the same may fall in love. The French in Quebec were happy to have escaped the French Revolution. This reaction, however, was often dictated by the clergy and the seigneurs. At any rate, Canadians must clean up a mess: Residential Schools, the remnants of Imperialism.
I will write briefly about the Battles, but I have already done so in Canadiana.1. I must include Les Anciens Canadiens‘s Plains of Abraham.
Canadiens (French-speaking Canadians) did not own businesses…
options: colonisation & émigration
As depicted in Louis Hémon‘s Maria Chapdelaine, a novel written in the winter of 1912-1913, landless or unemployed French Canadians, called Canadiens, could be “colonisateurs” or emigrate. Colonisation, making land, was the patriotic choice but tens of thousands, nearly a million by 1890, chose to work in the United States. It is unlikely that Maria Chapdelaine’s Lorenzo Surprenant, one of her three suitors, is affluent but he is employed. Matters would change after 1929, during the Great Depression. My grandfather left Quebec’s Eastern Townships (les Cantons de l’Est) in approximately 1926, and found work. When my mother located him, in the mid-to-late 1940s, he owned a large farm in Massachusetts and lived in a well-built Colonial house. I do not know how he escaped the Great Depression of 1929.
As an émigré to the United States, my grandfather was a loss to Canada. He had to leave because he could not earn a living in his country. If I use the 1900 American statistics, most Canadians lived in Massachusetts and Michigan. The people who left Ontario settled in Michigan. My research has led me to unsuspected destinations: English-speaking Canadians were also leaving Canada. This matter I will not discuss, except to say that many worked part of the year in the United States and then returned to Ontario, where they spent their money. These were not “good” émigrés (MacLean) because they were not naturalised Americans. My grandfather was a naturalised American. He may have missed his family, four children, but when we met him, he had bought land and he lived simply but comfortably with Nanny, the woman who became our finest grandmother. They had seven cats, a Border Collie, hens, a cow, four vegetable gardens, and a beautiful flower garden, the fifth garden. However, he still went to work at a factory.
Les P’tits Canadas
French communities in the United States
Alexis de Tocqueville visits Lower Canada (1831)
Other émigrés to Massachusetts were not as happy as my grandfather who was an Anglophone French Canadian. His mother was Irish. Others, however, were Francophone émigrés. They missed Canada and created P’tits Canadas, communities where they had a church, a school, and a newspaper. I remember that during our visits to Massachusetts, we attended Mass and the priest spoke French. As a member of le Conseil de la Vie française en Amérique, my father was in touch with several émigrés groups in New England and elsewhere in the United States. Many voyageurs retired in Minnesota. They had first lived in Canada, but when the border between Canada and the United States was traced, after the War of 1812, formerly Canadian fur-trading posts were situated in Minnesota and were not moved north.
Laurent-Olivier David quotes an émigré, a priest, who writes in L’Étendard national (Worcester, Mass, le 21 mars 1872, p. 1), that émigration was due to a lack of railroads, land, and factories in Quebec.
Ce n’est ni le drapeau rouge ni le drapeau bleu qu’il nous faut, c’est du progrès, des chemins de fer, des terres et des manufactures.
Laurent-Olivier David in Textes de l’exode.
[We need neither the red flag nor the blue flag, we need progress: railroads, land, and factories.]
Alexis de Tocqueville
In 1831, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited Lower Canada, he noticed that French-speaking Canadians lived in relative prosperity, but that money, la grande richesse, was in the hands of English or American merchants. Canadiens were farmers, called “habitants,” not businessmen. Moreover, the only professions were law, medicine or the priesthood. Families expected one son to become a priest and one daughter to enter a convent. Sons who went to work in factories were never promoted and their priests looked upon their meagre salary as a good sign. They were on the road to salvation. The citizens of New France and their descendants were Jansenists. Moreover, their well-educated priests, many of whom had fled the French Revolution, sided with the boss.
Si les paysans sont prospères, la grande richesse, elle, appartient aux Anglais du pays. Tant les frères Mondelet, rencontrés à Montréal le 24 août, que le marchand anglais anonyme de Québec, le 26 août, indiquent à Tocqueville que « presque toute la richesse et le commerce est dans les mains des Anglais. » ( Claude Corbo & others)
Alexis de Tocqueville
[Even though the peasants are prosperous, the real wealth is in the hands of the country’s Englishmen. The Mondelet brothers, whom Tocqueville met in Montreal on August 24th, as well as the anonymous English merchant he met on August 26th, reveal to Tocqueville that, “almost all the wealth and commerce is under English control.”]
There are several political parties in Quebec, but I am told that in this part of Quebec, the Eastern Townships, most Quebecers support sovereignty for the Province of Quebec. Monsieur Legault is a former member of the Parti québécois. The PQ has been home to Quebecers seeking sovereignty: les Péquistes. As the statement above indicates, les Caquistes, members of Coalition avenir Québec, support increased sovereignty. So does Québec solidaire and other parties. You may remember that, when Pauline Marois was elected Premier of Quebec, someone tried to shoot her. The person who jumped forward to stop the gunman was killed. (See 2012 Montreal Shooting, Wikipedia.) The shooter was an Anglophone.
Quebec has language laws, which, enforced rigidly, are stifling. More importantly, these language laws cannot fully protect French-speaking Quebecers. They may, in fact, lull French-speaking Quebecers into thinking their language is protected. Well, their language, my mother tongue, isn’t and cannot be protected unless there is sufficient emphasis on learning to speak and write French correctly in Quebec schools and in Quebec homes.
Moreover, I wonder if Quebecers are taught Canadian history. If so, it seems lessons prepare students to believe that we, “poor French-speaking Canadians,” have been persecuted by English Canadians.
Yes, Orangemen prevented French-speaking and Catholic Canadians from going to Western Canada and being educated in their language. They killed Louis Riel, and, after his death, French Canadians living west of Quebec had to enroll their children in English-language schools. But a few French-speaking communities survived, and, in September 1969, the Official Languages Act came into effect. Matters have been corrected.
It is not true, at least not altogether, that the Rebellions of 1837-38 opposed the English and the French. The Rebellions took place in both Lower and Upper Canada. Lower Canada’s Louis-Joseph Papineau and Upper Canada’s William Lyon Mackenzie did not want Britain to help itself to their money. Responsible government is what both Canadas, Upper and Lower (down the St. Lawrence river) wanted. Again, matters have been corrected.
However, the arrival in Lower Canada of United Empire Loyalists, people who fled the recently independent United States, was perturbing for the French-speaking citizens of Lower Canada. They had viewed Lower Canada as their Canada. A party was born, leParti canadien, and its members, not all, referred to themselves as patriotes. Welcoming United Empire Loyalists was not a ploy aimed at hurting French-speaking Canadians. It was history unfolding and a change in demographics that did not benefit French-speaking Canadians.
We must differentiate the two events: the Rebellions and the arrival of United Empire Loyalists.
Les P’tits Canadas
Several of these United Empire Loyalists settled in the Eastern Townships. In the villages of the Eastern Townships, such as Cookshire, where my father was raised, French-speaking Canadians lived in p’tits Canadas. For a long time, they called themselves Canadiens, as in the “Canadiens” hockey club. Those who spoke English were les Anglais. Beginning with the Révolution tranquille, the 1960s, French-speaking Quebecers, started referring to themselves as Québécois/Québécoises.
Canadians & Quebecers/Québécois
But what is very frustrating is dealing with a double identity. Quebec is a Canadian province. No referendum has granted Quebec a mandate to separate from Canada. But it is doing so, bit by bit. Quebec has not signed the Constitution Act of 1982.
So, the health-card used by Quebecers is not valid outside Quebec. It does cover the cost of a stay in a hospital. However, if one needs to be treated by a specialist, during a stay in hospital, he or she will send you his or her bill. I realize that Education and Health are provincial legislation, but to what extent, may I ask. Moreover, I pay taxes to both the Federal Government and Revenue Quebec. I am a Canadian whether I live in Quebec or in Nova Scotia. Unilingualism may be a way of promoting autonomy for Quebec, but it may also chase people away from Quebec.
But it gets worse. I now live in an anti-immigration province. Marine Le Pen is happy that Quebecers have elected an anti-immigration Premier. When Marine endorsed monsieur Legault, Premier Legault dissociated himself immediately from Marine Le Pen. The fact remains that, for the next four years, the government of Quebec will be an anti-immigration government.
Then comes secularism, or laïcité. There is, of course, laïcité and laïcité. Under its new Caquiste government, laïcité in Quebec will not allow the wearing of clothes and jewellery that reveal one’s faith: no little cross worn as a pendant. No veil. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly stated that women had the right to dress as they pleased. But Premier Legault plans to use the notwithstanding clause.
Quebec’s immigrants cannot break the law. The mutilation of female genitalia is forbidden in Canada, which includes Quebec. But forcing first generation immigrants from the Middle East to take off their veil may be imprudent. One must realize that first-generation immigrants are vulnerable. They have lost their country. Should they also feel unwanted? Canada has its first nations, its two founding nations, but people from all over the world live in this country and all of us must build the road to the future together, which means respecting differences. If we start building walls, we are lost.
I suspect that, during Premier Legault’s tenure, the parking fee will be higher. I also suspect the poor will be poorer and the rich, richer. We know that Monsieur Legault plans to give further autonomy to Quebec, which means, as mentioned above, that Quebec’s new Premier is unlikely to sign the Constitution Act of 1982, nor, for that matter, care for French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. He and his team will invest time and energy in providing greater autonomy for Quebec, which may lead to an exodus from Quebec. Quebec needs its immigrants and its taxpayers, but I dare not speak further…
Quebec had an excellent Premier, Dr Philippe Couillard. In no way did he and members of his cabinet deserve this slap in the face. Former Premier, Dr Couillard, will no longer lead Quebec’s Liberals.
Love to everyone 💕
I made some changes to my post. In an earlier version, I repeated myself (the Constitutional Act). Moreover I want to investigate Quebec’s unilingualism further. I don’t like it. It’s a danger to car drivers, it may be vindictive as well as impolite and petty. Yet, I am a former President of the Canadian Association of University and College Teachers of French: l’APFUCC (l’Association des professeurs de français des universités et collèges canadiens).
Léo Delibes: Lakmé – Duo des fleurs (Flower Duet), Sabine Devieilhe & Marianne Crebassa
These years were very stressful for certain French-speaking Canadians. At the time, my father was the leader of British Columbia’s French-speaking community. He fell ill.
1. On the one hand, he had to deal with individuals who could not understand why their language was not an official language. They lived in communities where the population consisted of immigrants or the children of immigrants who were more numerous than French-speaking citizens in their community. There may not have been French-speaking Canadians in their community. These people would say that Britain “won the battle.” This could explain why Pierre Trudeau was motivated to adopt multiculturalism as a policy.
2. On the other hand, my father had to face members of a French-speaking community many of whom wanted their French-language schools to be Catholic schools. For them, language and faith could not be dissociated. This question is central to the history of bilingualism in Canada, i.e. bilingualism outside Quebec. In Quebec, French schools were Catholic schools until the Quiet Revolution. English-language schools were Protestant schools.
Yet, had the French language schools or Catholicism been threatened, it is unlikely that the Province of Quebec (Canada East), led by Sir George-Étienne Cartier,PC, would have entered Confederation. The other three provinces, Canada West, future Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, that entered confederation in 1867 did not oppose Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s condition that Canada East retain its language and its religion, nor did London, the senior authority in the matter. It is as though the Quebec Act of 1774 had left a permanent imprint. However, when I was a student, Catholic schools outside Quebec were private schools.
When it entered Confederation, Quebec (Canada East) also kept its Code civil. In fact, if approved, Confederation would be an advantage for Quebec because it would rescind the Act of Union of 1841 that united Upper Canada (up the Saint-Lawrence River) and Lower Canada (down the Saint-Lawrence River).
“Maîtres chez nous”
“Maîtres chez nous” (masters in our own home)
the Language Laws
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day riot (1968)
the Parent Commission (education in Quebec)
During the not-so-quiet Quiet Revolution in Quebec, Quebecers were rebuilding their society and reorganizing their education system. The Parent Commission, named after its Président, Mgr Alphonse-Marie Parent, was established on 21 April 1961. Its mission, restructuring the education system in Quebec, and the passage of language laws in the 1970s, Quebec are separate issues. The video clips shown below are very revealing. It is stated quite clearly that education would be free. If students now go on strike, encourage civil disobedience, intimidate classmates and want to unionize, we can trace that behaviour back to earlier events.
But the “maîtres chez nous” ideology was soon expressed by the Front de libération du Québec. We have already discussed the October Crisis of 1970 and the bombs. It was quite ugly. I have a good friend who saw separatist leader Pierre Bourgault ask thugs to start or join a riot during the 1968 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day parade in Montreal. My friend was standing a few feet away. Pierre Trudeau, the main guest, was sitting on a platform of honour but he refused to be led away by his bodyguard. Ironically, Pierre Bourgault is credited for creating Quebec’s National Day.
24 June 1968 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Riot
Multiculturalism: a “descriptive ” term
Yet official multiculturalism did happen. As we will see, it was enacted by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1988. However, Canada’s two official languages are English and French. No other language is an official language. In fact, official multiculturalism has been viewed as formal recognition on the part of Canada’s Federal Government that the people of Canada originate from approximately 200 countries (See Multiculturalism in Canada, Wikipedia). As such, it is mostly “descriptive.”
At this point in history, the majority of Canadians are no longer of French and British origin. Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced in the early 1970s that Canada would adopt a multicultural policy. Multiculturalism was recognized in Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982). But, interestingly, New Zealand born and educated Peter Hogg, CCQCFRSC, Canada’s foremost authority on Canadian constitutional law,
“observed that this section did not actually contain a right; namely, it did not say that Canadians have a right to multiculturalism. The section was instead meant to guide the interpretation of the Charter to respect Canada’s multiculturalism. Hogg also remarked that it was difficult to see how this could have a large impact on the reading of the Charter, and thus section 27 could be more of a rhetorical flourish than an operative provision.’” (section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Wikipedia.)
I rather like Martha Nussbaum definition of interculturalism. She states that it involves “the recognition of common human needs across cultures and of dissonance and critical dialogue within cultures,” (Cultivating Humanity). We may differ in certain ways, but we are nevertheless all the same. Common affinities link humans to other humans. It is also very difficult not to rush to help another human being in distress. The manner in which we all became Charlie is an expression of commonality among human beings. Look at the Nepal tragedy. Kind souls have travelled long distances to help victims.
It would be my opinion that multiculturalism is a very short distance away from interculturalism. One cannot simply stand next to another human being. Canadian multiculturalism has been compared to a mosaic. At first sight, it may be. But Quebec does not want a mosaic. It wants an intercultural French-speaking society.
In short, I doubt very much that bilingualism and biculturalism were the goals pursued by Quebec’s Révolution tranquille “nationalists.” That was happening mostly outside Quebec and may not have been perceived as protection of the French language by Quebecers. Their objective was to protect their own language, an objective akin to the goals of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism.
Consequently, in the 1960s and 1970s, Québécois were not good candidates for biculturalism or multiculturalism, a federal project. They wanted to be “maîtres chez eux,” masters in their own home. But the declining birthrate that began in the 1960s motivated Québécois to integrate immigrants, who had to learn Quebec’s official language, French, which was interculturalism.
However, failure to learn English is not an option in this world. It could be that Québécois are too afraid of losing their language. Yet knowing English and other languages can improve one’s self-image and definitely benefits the human mind, not to mention, ironically, knowledge of one’s mother tongue.
Besides, in 1969, while Québécois were restructuring their education system, Canada did pass its Official Languages Act, reaffirmed by the 1988 Official Languages Act, which protects the French language and cannot possibly harm Quebec.
1885 photo of Robert Harris‘ 1884 painting, Conference at Quebec in 1864, to settle the basics of a union of the British North American Provinces, also known as The Fathers of Confederation. The original painting was destroyed in the 1916 Parliament Buildings Centre Block fire. The scene is an amalgamation of the Charlottetown and Quebec City conference sites and attendees. (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)
The French Language in Canada
My next post is about the controversial language laws passed in the Province of Quebec in the 1970s: Bill 22, the Official Language Act, Quebec (1974), and Bill 101, or Charter of the French Language (1977). However, it would be useful to know how many citizens spoke French in the years that followed what many Quebecers still call the “conquest” until the last census.
2011: 7.3 million
According to Wikipedia, the population of New France was 3,000 in 1663. It grew to 20,000 in 1712 and then jumped to 70,000 in 1760, the year the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1760) was fought. (The plains belonged to an individual named Abraham.) At the moment. At the moment, “French is the mother tongue of about 7.3 million Canadians (22% of the Canadian population, second to English at 58.4%) according to Census Canada 2011.” (See French language in Canada, Wikipedia.)
This information takes us to and beyond the Official Languages Act (Canada), which recognized Canada as an officially bilingual country. The Official Languages Act became effective on 9 September 1969.
Although it ceded New France to Britain, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris (1763), France did not do so unconditionally. The inhabitants of New France would continue to speak French and practice their religion (Roman Catholicism). Moreover, they would retain their Seigneurial System, which was not abolished until 1854. (See The Royal Proclamation of 1763, Wikipedia.)
General Sir Guy Carleton(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
British soldiers and Provincial militiamen repulse the American assault at Sault-au-Matelot, Canada, December 1775, by William Jefferys(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Quebec Act of 1774
Benefits to Quebec
England could have reneged on its promises, but its Thirteen Colonies, running down the east coast of the current United States, were threatening to become independent of their motherland, Britain. The Declaration of Independence was promulgated on 4 July 1776 and, in 1783, the Thirteen Colonies won the American Revolutionary War, with the support of France.
General Sir Guy Carleton, 1st baron Dorchester
Guy Carleton, 1st baron DorchesterKB, may have felt Britain could need the help of Quebecers and their Amerindian allies in order to fight rebellious “Americans.” This could be the case, but the status the “Quebec Act” gave French-speaking Canadians tends to outweigh other considerations. Moreover, the Act was unsolicited.
Be that as it may, in 1774, the “Quebec Act” was proclaimed. The “Quebec Act” was a British statute which “received royal assent 22 June 1774 and became effective 1 May 1775.” As defined in the Canadian Encyclopedia, the “Quebec Act:”
expanded the territory of the Province of Quebec;
guaranteed religious freedom;
provided a “simplified Test Oath, which omitted references to religion, enabl[ing] them to enter public office conscientiously;”
“restored French civil law;”
“provided for the continued use of the Seigneurial system.”
According to Wikipedia, the following are the principal components of the Quebec Act:
It restored the Catholic Church’s right to impose tithes.
“It would be easier to buy Canada than to try to conquer it.” Benjamin Franklin
Rebellious “Americans” did attack in 1775, but “the francophone upper classes allied themselves with the British. As a result, despite the capitulation of Montreal, the siege of Québec failed, prompting Benjamin Franklin’s famous statement that it would be easier to buy Canada than to try to conquer it.”
Until the Révolution tranquille, the 1960s, a very high birthrate, the revenge of the cradle(s)(la revanche des berceaux), and “colonisation,” settling north, also ensured the survival of French in Canada. But it is unlikely that a vibrant French Canada would have developed had it not been for the “Quebec Act” of 1774.