I am a few minutes away from publishing a post on La Fontaine., but …
The events of the week kept away from you. A vein broke near my eyes. My eyes were filled with blood and one eye went from deep green to blue, but I’ve recovered. It didn’t hurt and I am recovering.
The Project: no Language Laws
I will first get in touch with Champlain-Lennoxville, the Advantage programme. Reforms are necessary, and French-speaking students have been enrolling in English-language Cégeps for several decades. It’s their English-language immersion finishing schools and there is no tuition fee. I must then talk to Justin Trudeau and François Legault. Attending a Cégep after grade eleven does not threaten a student’s knowledge of French.
The more difficult step is convincing French-speaking students to have anglophones as their classmates. A few changes are needed. As a university teacher of second-language acquisition, four years at McMaster University, and I wrote articles on the subject, I have the necessary background. I have also edited books on this subject.
Interestingly, people have realized that Internet Archives, Gutenberg, Wikisource have published a wealth of free books including audio texts. I have used these to write articles of every play Molière wrote. Henri van Laun is a scholar.
I am returning to the fables of La Fontaine, but I will be busy working on a better relationship between English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers. There has to be trust that the French will not lose their language. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham took place a long time ago. We are now a free people, and our official languages are French and English.
The conversation begins. Cégeps are the starting point. French-speaking students themselves have used Cégeps. We keep this alive.
Wherever I phone, I hear: English will follow.
Here is an introduction to Lori Weber. She speaks four languages and is an author.
Once again, I made mistakes. I’m ageing and, perhaps, exhausted.
I wrote “learning English as a second language” instead of “learning French as a second language.”
My text should read:
In this respect, I would like to repeat that, in Quebec, learning French as a second language should be in the curriculum. Moreover, I would not prevent French-speaking students from enrolling in an English language CEGEP, a two-year post-secondary programme, or similar institutions. Finally, I would recommend improvements in teaching French as a mother tongue.
Micheline Bourbeau-Walker was my name for a very long time.
I wrote a long post on the background of Quebec’s “Language Laws.” The post is too long and language laws will not yield a positive result. If a new language law is passed, Anglophones are perturbed, and many leave Quebec, which hurts Quebec. Several Quebec Anglophones are the descendants of United Empire Loyalists. The Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec were given to them. It became their home.
In the 19th century, the British Empire was at its apex. So, Thomas Babington Macaulay recommended that the language of higher instruction in India be English. His policy, called Macaulayism, spread to other British colonies. Thomas Babington Macaulay was a fine man, but Britain’s success in accumulating colonies led to a belief that English was a superior language. One can understand Thomas Babington Macaulay’s belief, but it is not necessarily accurate. Macaulay was a product of his time.
I would recommend that language laws be abolished and that anglophones study French. However, if the teaching of French became compulsory, anglophones may think their rights and values are scorned. Quebec has bilingual areas. The Eastern Townships of Quebec are bilingual, and many Montrealers are anglophones. Bill 96 further restricts the use of the English language in these areas. Business must be carried out in French to a greater extent and more documents issued by the government of Quebec will not be available in French. Restrictions also include medical care, which is very personal.
As well, Bill 96 affects francophone students. French-speaking Québécois often enrol in an English-language Cégep to learn English. Cégeps offer a two-year programme following secondary school. Access to English-language Cégeps will be restricted.
The number of students in English-language CEGEPs, as a proportion of overall students, can’t be higher than it was the school year before and cannot surpass 17.5 per cent of the overall student population in Quebec.
When New France fell to Britain, at the Treaty of Paris, 1763, its governors were directed to assimilate the French, but it could be that they could not assimilate the French. The Act of Union (1840) was a purposeful attempt to assimilate the French, but Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine built a bilingual and bicultural Province of Canada. However, John A. Macdonald favoured schools where the language of instruction was English, “uniform” schools. French Canadians had to remain in Quebec to be educated in the French language. Therefore, immigrants and refugees who arrived in Canada, the prairies mostly, attended “uniform” schools or schools where the language of instruction was English. This created an imbalance that may not change, and which is reflected in Quebec’s controversial language legislation. The term “uniform” is not mine, but it was used in the literature I read.
So, John A Macdonald minoritised French Canadians. Quebec was the only province where French-speaking Canadians could be educated in French. Therefore, Quebec passes language laws that irritate its anglophone citizens, which summarises the “Quebec” question. The governments of other Canadian provinces do not pass language laws. The English language is not a threatened species and French can be learned at school. Finally, minority language rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
[t]he school is the single most important institution for the survival of the official language community, which is itself a true beneficiary under section 23 of the Charter (Arsenault-Cameron at paragraph 29; (CSF de la C-B 2016, at paragraph 367).
I will publish my long post, but the above suffices. In my opinion, language laws deepen the rift between francophones and anglophones. The alternative to language laws is bilingual education. Anglophones could encourage their children to learn French. Learning a second language benefits a child. However, anglophones cannot be compelled to have their children educated in a language other than English. It will not work. Ideally, one should wish to know French.
French is one of Canada’s two official languages, which does not mean that every Canadian should know the two languages. But Quebec anglophones cannot ignore Canada’s officially bilingual and bicultural status. I no longer want to hear someone boast that his or her nephew or niece studied at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, or a Montreal university and managed not to learn a word of French. One does not boast about such a relative. Failure to learn French while living in Quebec is not an achievement. I took courses in musicology at Bishop’s University. It’s a fine school.
Harvard University will now offer a course on francophonie. This, I believe, is a step in the right direction. A similar approach could be offered in Quebec’s English-language universities. It may lead to an understanding of Canada’s Official Languages Acts.
Yes, anglophones in Quebec have a right to live in English. I suppose that during the decades I lived outside Quebec, I also had the “right” to speak French, but English was my everyday language. In Antigonish, Nova Scotia one speaks English. Fortunately, I was a university teacher of French, which allowed me to express myself in my mother tongue.
Let me quote Lord Durham (John Lambton, 1st Earl of). John Lambton was asked to investigate the Rebellions of 1837-1838 and to present a report and recommendations. He wrote the following:
I entertain no doubts as to the national character which must be given to Lower Canada; it must be that of the British Empire; that of the majority of the population of British America; that of the great race which must, in the lapse of no long period of time, be predominant over the whole North American Continent. Without effecting the change so rapidly or so roughly as to shock the feelings and trample on the welfare of the existing generation, it must henceforth be the first and steady purpose of the British Government to establish an English population, with English laws and language, in this Province, and to trust its government to none but a decidedly English legislature.
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.
Jules d’Haberville, a seigneur‘s son, and Arché, Archibald of Locheill, a Scot, are close friends. Both are studying at the séminaire (college) in Quebec City and Arché spends holidays with the d’Haberville family. When Jules and Arché leave the séminaire, the two friends join the military and are enemies during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Jules is very angry. Arché had to burn down the Seigneur d’Haberville’s Manoir. The two reconcile. Jules will marry an English woman, but Blanche, Jules’s sister, will not marry Arché. These are the two faces of “Canada” after Nouvelle-France‘s defeat. One turns the page, but one remembers. Les Anciens Canadiens is an instance of anamnesis, but it proposes a union between French-speaking Canadiens and English-speaking Canadians.
The former citizens of New France were governed, first, by James Murray and, later, by Sir Guy Carleton, 1stBaron Dorchester. We owe Sir Guy Carleton the Quebec Act Act of 1774, a recognition of French-speaking Canadians. The Quebec Act did not fully cancel the Royal Proclamation of 1763, a recognition of the rights of Canada’s First Nations, but it ended a will to assimilate French-speaking British subjects. Similarly, the Constitutional Act of 1791 did not fully repeal the Quebec Act of 1774. Quebec retained its Seigneurial System, which was not abolished until 1854. Moreover, French-speaking Canadians could still speak French, practice their religion, keep their Code Civil, and run for office. However, the Constitutional Act of 1791 reduced the size of the former Province of Quebec and it separated Canada into Upper Canada and Lower Canada (lower down the St Lawrence River).
I quoted the Preface to Sir Charles G. D. Roberts‘ second translation of Les Anciens Canadiens in my last post, but my quotation disappeared. The image of Cameron of Lochiel (Arché) had been placed at the foot of this post without reference to Cameron of Lochiel.
Sir Charles G. D. Roberts belonged to a group called the Confederation poets. These poets supported Canadian unity which was dealt a blow by Confederation. However, this could not be discussed in 1905, despite Confederation occurring in 1867. At that point, no one knew to what extent Residential Schools would harm Amerindians. Moreover, in 1905, the imbalance between English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians could not be assessed. But we read, in Charles G. D. Roberts’s Preface, that “there is afforded a series of problems,” which is a signal.
In Canada there is settling into shape a nation of two races; there is springing into existence, at the same time, a literature in two languages. In the matter of strength and stamina there is no overwhelming disparity between the two races. The two languages are admittedly those to which belong the supreme literary achievements of the modern world. In this dual character of the Canadian people and the Canadian literature there is afforded a series of problems which the future will be taxed to solve. To make any intelligent forecast as to the solution is hardly possible without a fair comprehension of the two races as they appear at the point of contact. We, of English speech, turn naturally to French-Canadian literature for knowledge of the French-Canadian people. The romance before us, while intended for those who read to be entertained, and by no means weighted down with didactic purpose, succeeds in throwing, by its faithful depictions of life and sentiment among the early French Canadians, a strong side-light upon the motives and aspirations of the race.
Sir John A. Macdonald and his followers created the “Quebec Question.” The children of immigrants to Canada who settled in provinces outside Quebec attended “uniform” schools. They learned English, and many grew to believe that Canada was an English-language country. Québécois have been addressing this imbalance by passing Language Laws, one of which is Bill 96. Bill 96 threatens what has long been a reality confirmed in the Official Languages Act of 1969. Canada is an officially bilingual and bicultural country.
These laws have been a source of tension between the two “solitudes,” francophones and anglophones. Hugh MacLennan published Two Solitudes (1945), depicting Canada’s profoundly divided anglophones and francophones. This problem was investigated by the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963-1969). However, Language Laws, Bill 96, perpetuate the division between anglophones and francophones. They also project an unfavourable image of Quebec. Moreover, language laws misuse the policy of multiculturalism, first expressed by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, in 1971. Multiculturalism, or pluralism, is not a cancellation of the Official Languages Act of 1969.
The term multiculturalism is descriptive. It recognizes the presence in Canada of persons originating from many lands, but Canada remains a bilingual and bicultural nation. Multiculturalism cannot be used not to learn at least one of Canada’s official languages. Nor can it be used as a promotion of unilingualism (French or English) on the part of individuals and a government. Moreover, since the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1969, government services should be provided in the two official languages. For instance, a francophone should not be tried in English, nor should an anglophone be tried in French. Finally, Bill 96 cannot compel individuals in Quebec to use French only. If so, it breaches the Official Languages Act of 1969.
Multiculturalism was recognized in Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982). But, interestingly, New Zealand born and educated Peter Hogg, CC QC FRSC, 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.)
In a post entitled On Language Laws in Quebec (18 November 2021), I wrote that last November, Air Canada‘s CEO (PDG), Michael Rousseau, who had lived in Quebec since 2007, addressed the Montreal Chamber of Commerce in English. He made Air Canada look like a foreign corporation where business was conducted in the English language. Michael Rousseau’s snafu could be interpreted as a breach of the Official Languages Act, passed in 1969, fifty-three years ago. A friend reminds me that in Canada, French is not a foreign language.
In the 1960s, my father, a favourite guest of talk shows in Vancouver, would be told that the French in North America had lost the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1859), which had settled matters once and for all. Such a comment used to sadden me. We are now in the 2020s. It has also saddened me to hear relatives praise a student who attended university in Quebec managing not to learn French. He or she may not have found time to study French and missed an opportunity to do so. Moreover, my career was affected by Quebec’s language laws. I was expected to explain Quebec, which I could not do. Nor could I provide a method of teaching that led to a quick mastery of the French language.
I do not support Quebec’s language laws. They further separate Canada’s anglophones and francophones and create polarisation. People dig in their heels endangering the French language and Canadian unity.
On 24 June, Québécois celebrated la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Quebec’s national holiday. The celebration is rooted in la Saint-Jean, a celebration of the summer solstice. Canada day is celebrated on 1 July, today. There have been sinners on both sides of Canada’s linguistic divide, but I am celebrating Canada Day.
Less than two weeks from now, Canadians will celebrate what is viewed as their birthday. In 1867, the Province of Canada, future Quebec and Ontario, and two maritime provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, confederated. This year, Canada’s birthday follows the passage of language laws in Quebec. Bill 96 was voted into law on 24 May 2022 and took effect on 1st June. It has generated controversy, so details cannot be revealed accurately. English-speaking Quebecers will lose “rights.”
In earlier posts, I noted that Canadian Confederation eliminated instruction in the French language in Canadian provinces outside Quebec. One often reads that Confederation ended Catholic public schools, but the French were Catholics. They were the product of French absolutism, a form of centralisation demanding that the French speak one language, practice one religion, and be governed by one king: Louis XIV. After the fall of Nouvelle-France, the French language and devotion had waned in a province that would later be described as “priest-ridden,” but remedies were at hand.
First, the Quebec Act of 1774 restored former Seigneuries, and Catholics had to pay tithe (la dîme) to the clergy, which “habitants” protested. However, the Quebec Act allowed French-speaking Canadians to enter the civil service and run for office without renouncing their faith. Second, England asked the bishopric of Québec to welcome émigrés priests. Fifty-one (51) priests travelled to the former New France (See French immigration in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia). I have mentioned l’abbé Sigogne in an earlier post. L’abbé Sigogne was an émigré priest who worked in Acadie, the current Nova Scotia. He was rather harsh on Acadians, his flock, but very loyal to Britain, the country that spared him the guillotine. He spoke English and befriended Thomas Chandler Haliburton. After the French Revolution, Lower Canada also welcomed a few émigrés families and Count Joseph-Geneviève de Puisaye attracted forty people to York, north of the current Toronto, Upper Canada. (See French immigration in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)
Émigrés priests revitalised waning Catholicism in the former New France and they founded colleges (Séminaires). Many graduates of these colleges became priests. Others usually entered a profession. They were lawyers, notaries, medical doctors, and teachers. The majority of graduates were conservative, but higher learning often leads to liberalism. (See L’Institut Canadien, Britannica.) Liberal-minded graduates of colleges opposed Ultramontanism, but ultramontanism remained the dominant ideology in the province of Quebec until the late 1940s. It ended with the publication of Refus global (1948), a manifesto written by artists, and the Asbestos strike (1949). Refus global and the Asbestos strike were the turning point.
Throughout the 19th century, as industries developed, the Church in Quebec recommended compliance on the part of workers. So, factory workers, including the Irish, lived on a small salary and were not promoted. In the eyes of the clergy, living in poverty could guarantee salvation. Jansenism exerted considerable influence in Quebec. The more one suffered, the better. However, during the Asbestos strike, the archbishop of Montreal, Joseph Charbonneau, sided with the strikers, some of whom were severely beaten. This had not happened before. Monseigneur Charbonneau was “exiled” to Victoria (B. C.), by Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis. Monseigneur Charbonneau died a year before the beginning of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, la Révolution tranquille.
According to Raymond Tanghe, Canadian Prime Minister (1896-1911) Sir Wilfrid Laurier tried to pass a motion favouring a degree of tolerance regarding instruction in the French language. Sir Wilfrid Laurier‘s motion was defeated and Sir Charles Tupper called for an election. Priests told Quebecers not to vote for Liberal candidates (the party). If they did, they would commit a “mortal sin.” Rome ruled in favour of a separation between Catholicism and politics.
Let us return to Confederation (1867). To a vast extent, Quebec’s language laws stem from John A. Macdonald’s categorical refusal to allow the creation of “separate” schools, i.e. French-language instruction outside Quebec. However, Quebec had not entered Confederation unreservedly. It was allotted a province where French-speaking Canadians could maintain their language and their faith, which Québécois remember. Moreover, an alliance with Britain could preclude annexation by the United States. Living in the British Empire promised safety and the prospect of election to the Assembly. Confederation would stretch Canada from sea to sea, a lovely vision. Railroads were being constructed.
However, in 1867, when British North America became the Dominion of Canada, several anglophones, many of whom were former citizens of the Thirteen Colonies, still entertained such notions as the Rights of Englishmen.
During the late 18th century and most of the 19th century, the British Empire was at its zenith, which reinforced placing the British in a superior position. The Rights of Englishmen was a concept that could justify seeking independence from Britain, the motherland. The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) created the independent United States of America, a republic. However, the same motivation, the Rights of Englishmen, could lead the inhabitants of the former Thirteen Colonies to move to a British Colony where they expected to be treated as Englishmen. United Empire Loyalists left the United States to settle in British North America where they were given large lots:
The Crown gave them land grants of one lot. One lot consisted of 200 acres (81 ha) per person to encourage their resettlement, as the Government wanted to develop the frontier of Upper Canada. This resettlement added many English speakers to the Canadian population. It was the beginning of new waves of immigration that established a predominantly English-speaking population in the future Canada both west and east of the modern Quebec border.
As of Canadian Confederation (1867), Quebec would have French-language and Catholic Schools, as well as English-language Protestant schools. But as immigrants settled in other provinces, they had to attend non-confessional English-language schools. Outside Quebec, most French-speaking Canadians were assimilated. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then prime minister of Canada, oversaw the “addition” (The Canadian Encyclopedia) of Alberta and Saskatchewan to Confederation. The only compromise he could reach was the Greenway-Laurier Compromise (Manitoba), which wasn’t much.
The Laurier-Greenway compromise was a regulation on schools named after Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and Manitoba Premier Thomas Greenway. This compromise came after the adoption in 1889 of the notorious Official Language Act, which made English the sole language of Manitoba government records, minutes, and laws. Other laws abolishing French in all legislative and judicial spheres followed, leading to the disappearance of Catholic schools.
The Laurier-Greenway compromise contained a provision (section 2.10) allowing instruction in a language other than English in “bilingual schools,” where 10 or more students in rural zones and 25 or more in urban centres spoke this language.
is remembered, however, for the elimination of minority educational rights for Roman Catholics; the MANITOBA SCHOOLS QUESTION dominated provincial and federal politics during his years as premier. He remained leader of the provincial Liberals until his election as MP for Lisgar in 1904.
The MANITOBA SCHOOLS QUESTION migrated to provinces other than Manitoba and it resulted in a mostly unilingual Canada. In fact, the “schools question” became “la question du Québec,” the Quebec question. As I noted above, immigrants to Canada who settled outside Quebec were educated in “uniform” schools, or schools where the language of instruction was English. Therefore, outside Quebec, most Canadians were anglophones. This created a malaise in Quebec and this malaise led to both the Quiet Revolution and the establishment, by Prime MinisterLester B. Pearson, of a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (19 July 1963-1969).
The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
to inquire into and report upon the existing state of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada and to recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian Confederation on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding races, taking into account the contribution made by the other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada and the measures that should be taken to safeguard that contribution.
The Commission was co-chaired by André Laurendeau, publisher of Le Devoir, and Davidson Dunton, president of Carleton University. The Commission recognized, officially, that Canada was a bilingual and bicultural country. Canada’s founding nations, other than its First Nations, or Amerindians, were France and Britain. The work of the Commission led to the Official Languages Act of 1969. However, its findings could not justify the creation of French-language schools across Canada. These were created in Acadian communities and in certain districts. During the century separating Confederation (1867) and the Official Languages Act (1969), Canada became a largely English-language country. Yet, in the 1970s, French immersion schools were created, as well as summer immersion programmes. English-speaking Canadians also formed an influential association: Canadian Parents for French.
Bilingualism has its advantages. It can lead to a fine position in the Civil Service, in the Military, in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and elsewhere. I taught French to civil servants. At first, some expressed reticence. French was being “thrown down their throat.” Two weeks later, or by coffee break, these students enjoyed learning French.
History could not be rolled back, but the Official Languages Act of 1969 was a blessing. It recognized that Canada’s founding nations, other than its First Nations, were France and Britain. However, French-speaking Canadians had been recognized earlier. Governor James Murray refused to assimilate Britain’s new subjects and, as noted above, Sir Guy Carleton negotiated the Quebec Act of 1774 which restored the Seigneurial System. Habitants would work for their seigneur and provide tithe (la dîme) to the clergy. The Test Act was no longer required for an applicant to join the Civil Service or to run for office as a member of Parliament. The arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in British North America changed matters. So did Confederation. French-speaking Canadians were a minority and most lived in Quebec.
Quebec’s Language Laws
Five years after the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1969, Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa‘s Liberal Government passed Bill 22. In 1974, Quebec declared itself a unilingual province. In 1977, Quebec passed Bill 101, the Charter of the French language. Bill 101 dictated unilingual posting and the enrolment of immigrants in French-language schools. English-speaking Canadians of British ancestry could be educated in English-language schools. Other English-speaking Canadians could not. (Education is a provincial portfolio.) Bill 22 did not please English-speaking Montrealers, nor did Bill 101. Many anglophones left Montreal and Toronto gained status. Moreover, Quebec’s language laws often affected the life and the career of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. These individuals had to explain Quebec and compensate for language laws. Teachers had to create French-speaking Canadians. Besides, where would immigrants find refuge? Most immigrants are seeking a peaceful environment. During WW II, several French-speaking European royals lived in Quebec.
Bill 22 and Bill 101 created tension, and so did Quebec’s two referendums on sovereignty: the 1980 Referendum (20 May 1980; defeated by a 59.56% margin) and the 1995 Referendum (30 October 1995; defeated by a 50.58% margin). The first referendum took place four years after René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois was elected (1976). Both referendums proposed sovereignty (independence), but the wording of the 1995 referendum included a reference to a “partnership” with Ottawa:
Do you agree that Québec should become sovereign, after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership, within the scope of the Bill respecting the future of Québec and of the agreement signed on 12 June 1995?
I wish Sir John A. Macdonald had not created the “schools” question. Sir Wilfrid Laurier might have been able to support the re-introduction of French as a language of instruction had the French not linked language and faith inextricably. But I doubt that religion played as important a role as the language of instruction:
Despite Macdonald's reluctance, Manitoba entered Canada as a province. English and French-language rights were safeguarded in the new legislature and the courts. Protestant and Roman Catholic educational rights were protected, but the right to education in either English or French was not.(See Manitoba and Confederation, The Canadian Encyclopedia.) Bold characters are mine.
As you know, I spent forty happy years in English-language provinces and had decided never to return to Quebec because of disputes between anglophones and francophones. I knew I could not survive in such a climate. Truth be told, I am not doing very well.
Canada’s two founding nations were separated for a century to the detriment of French-speaking Canadians and Canadian unity. How would French-speaking Canadians save their language? Quebec passed language laws, and these have generated acrimony. I have heard Canadians express pride because a family member was educated at an English-language Quebec University without learning French. Anglophones can live in Quebec without using French. The Eastern Townships is a bilingual region of Quebec because it was settled by United Empire Loyalists. My grandfather, who was born and raised in the Townships, could not speak a word of French. However, Quebec’s language laws erode what English-speaking Canadians view as their rights. As for Québécois, they monitor the survival of the French language, which they view as their right. They pass abrasive language laws. Quebec is a unilingual province inside a bilingual Canada.
It could be that such a notion as the Rights of Englishmen had survived in the collective memory of Quebecers of British origin. As for French-speaking Canadians, I would not exclude the negative consequences of being “conquered.” They may look upon themselves as a defeated people.
La rébellion de 1837-1838 est la preuve irréfutable que les Canadiens français sont capables de tout,voire même de fomenter leur propre défaite.
Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine built a bilingual and bicultural Canada. English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians are compatible and equal. English-speaking Quebecers do not have to learn French. Fortunately, many anglophone Canadians have attended and still attend a private French school or are sent to a French school in Switzerland. Enrolment in a private school can be costly. These individuals have “grace.” I’ve known many and married one.
He argues that Canada's complex national identity is made up of the "triangular reality" of the three nations that compose it: First Peoples, francophones, and anglophones. He emphasizes the willingness of these Canadian nations to compromise with one another, as opposed to resorting to open confrontations. In the same vein, he criticizes both those in the Quebec separatist Montreal School for emphasizing the conflicts in Canadian history and the Orange Order and the Clear Grits traditionally seeking clear definitions of Canadian-ness and loyalty. (See John Ralston Saul, Wikipedia.)
Isn’t it possible to study French or English at school, as a second language? It is not that old-fashioned an idea. After all, Quebec managed the Pandemic in both French and English.
 Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Récit d’Acadie : présence d’une absence », in Édouard Langille et Glenn Moulaison, éditeurs, Les Abeilles pillotent: mélanges offerts à René LeBlanc, Revue de l’Université Ste-Anne, Pointe-de-l’Église, 1998, pp. 255-275. ISBN 2-9805-909, ISSN 0706-8116
 Denis Monière, Le Développement des idéologies au Québecdes origines à nos jours, Montréal, Éditions Québec/Amérique, 1977, p. 209.
 Raymond Tanghe, Laurier, artisan de l’unité canadienne, MAME, Figures Canadiennes, 1960, pp. 48-49.
 Hubert Aquin, « L’Art de la défaite », Liberté, Volume 7, numéro 1-2 (33-38), janvier–avril 1965, p. 33.
The above is a copy of a Susor-Coté of still life entitled Nature morte avec oignons(Still life with onions). It is the work of Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, a prominent Canadian artist and a friend of my grandfather’s family. The legend goes that my grandfather met my grandmother when she was an employee of Suzor-Coté. She was an artist. Would that I could interview her. She died many years ago.
Medicine in Quebec
I have gone to a hospital emergency room five times. I did so whenener I felt I would go into cardiac arrest because my heart was queezed as in a vice and my blood pressurce was climbing rapidly. I am suffering from pericarditis, from inflamed muscles in the rib cage as well as a musculoskeletal condition on the left side of the rib cage including a damaged schoulder and pain from the shoulder to the fingers. Using a computer is well nigh impossible, but I will try to carry on as soon as I can use my left arm again. I am left handed.
My visits to Emergency Rooms gave me the opportunity to see that medicine in Quebec was facing great difficulty. At the time of the Quiet Revolution, a prosperous Quebec planned to be a Welfare State (un État-Providence). Canada could be described as a Welfare State. It should be noted that Welfare States cannot sustain their programmes without levying taxes, nor can Welfare States afford extremely high fees. When Quebec declared it would be unilingual, Bill 22 (1974), and passed Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977), affluent English-speaking citizens of Montreal left Quebec. I may be wrong, but I believe Quebec’s status as a unilingual province inside a bilingual Canada and ensuing laws caused well-to-do English-speaking Quebecers to leave. There cannot be a unilingual province in a bilingual Canada. It makes no sense.
My visits to the Emergency Room in Magog’s hospital provided me with an opportunity to witness what could be the impending breakdown of the medical system in Quebec. For instance, it surprised me not to be asked to remove my earrings and necklace when X-Rays were performed. Only one radiologist asked me to take off my jewellery. I could not lift my arms, so he helped me. I was also surprised that very scant attention was given to the severe pain I felt. If my mother had been subjected to this much pain at the age of 77, I do not think she would have survived. I have aged more slowly.
Yet, my worst experience was watching an old lady who had taken her number and was waiting her turn. At one point, she went to the wicket to ask when she would be seen. She was told that she would have to wait for her number and her name to be called. She sorrowly returned to her chair. Never in my life had I seen so immensely sad a face. What, in Canada? There are no doctors in Magog. The clinic closed when the doctors retired. If one is unwell, one must go to a hospital Emergency Room, take a number, and then wait, however dire one’s needs.
It could be that some doctors will attempt to leave Quebec, but one wonders whether doctors who do not hold a Bachelor of Science degree would be hired elsewhere. French-language universities do not require a Bachelor of Science degree for admission to a medical school. Future doctors spend two years in a Cegep: Grades XII and XIII, and then enter medical school. Yet, there are excellent doctors in Quebec, but many, if not most, are good technicians. They know how to send a patient for a test and probably count on the test to determine a diagnostic. They also have a book listing medications. As well, outside Quebec, a pregnant woman may be delivered by her obstetrician. In Quebec, one goes to a humble birthing-room, however complicated the pregnancy and childbirth.
I should also note that when a patient enters a hospital, he or she will not be treated by his or her doctor. Doctors do not leave their office. I have already mentioned that medicine is more successful if there is a trusting relationship between a doctor and his or her patients. One must be able to reach one’s doctor if a crisis occurs, such as the death of a child. There is no center in my depiction of medicine in Quebec.
Quebec’s Premier François Legault is trying to get doctors to work a little more, but they are protected by powerful syndicates and command very large salaries. I fear the premier will not succeed. It has been about fifty years since doctors worked under the best possible conditions.
I do not know what caused my sudden heath problems. It could be solitude and my not finding help to remove books from my apartment and settle comfortably. It has been a very stressful time in my life.
I wish to thank you for being my community. I hope to continue operating my weblog, but I will not be at the computer for as many hours as I used to. Lying down and using the swimming pool will now be more important. I will also require help performing household tasks. Everything has to be simplified.
The Blacksmith’s Shop, oil on canvas painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 22 x 36 in, 1871, Art Gallery of Ontario
The above picture and the ones below are depictions of an older Quebec by Cornelius Krieghoof (19 June 1815 – 8 April 1872), a Dutch artist who immigrated to Canada, but first served in the United States army. He married a French-Canadian, Émilie Gauthier, and died in the United States where he had retired. The paintings depict bon viveurshabitants or descendants of habitants, the former tenants of seigneurs. The Seigneurial System or the Compagnie des Cent-Associés was created in 1627, by Cardinal Richelieu. The hundred associates were “to capitalize on the North American fur trade.” The Seigneurial System was abolished in 1854. Tenants were called habitants (literally, inhabitants). In 1645, the Company “sublet its rights and obligations in Canada to the Communauté des Habitants.” But, in 1663, the Société des Cent-Associés‘ grant was revoked, and, by the same token, so was the Communauté des Habitants. New France became a province of France.(See Compagnie des Cent-Associés, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)
Habitants, painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1852 (Wikipedia)
Habitants Breaking Lent (Wikipedia)
Mocassin Seller Crossing the St. Lawrence River (Photo Credid: Wikipedia)
Indian Trapper on Snowshoes, Photo credit: Amazon)
I cannot speak of serious current activities because I have not posted an article for two months, which has been my current activity for a few years. I could not write posts and turn this apartment into a home. However, I was not asleep. I waited for the first snowfall, a magical moment, kept an eye on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a fairy tale, and bought a Christmas cake, une bûche, a small one, at the Pâtisserie liégeoise and celebrated the twelve days of Christmas.
Books, but not just ordinary books…
There is no doubt that I wasn’t fit to move. However, I like my new apartment and, although there were too many books to unpack, a surprise awaited me. The books were not entirely mine. Many belonged to my father. In the 1990s, I starting housing his books and used them to write an article published in Francophonies d’Amérique, in 2002. When I moved to Sherbrooke, Québec, I was given more books and bought a bookcase where my father could find all of his books easily.
Browsing my father’s books helped me remember and understand that Canada did have two founding nations and that these two nations could live side by side, in harmony. Laurendeau and Dunton were a very compatible team. In other words, I understood, better than ever before, that as members of a founding nation, French-speaking Canadians had rights, such as the right to ask to be educated in French outside Quebec, if possible. The key words are founding nations, of which there are only two: the French and the British. Canada also has its First Nations, its aboriginals.
The Quebec Act and the Constitutional Act
The Quebec Act, signed in 1774 under Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, put on an equal footing French-speaking and English-speaking British subjects and, as expected, aboriginals and French-speaking fought the British in the American Revolutionary War. The Constitutional Act (1791) divided Canada into Upper Canada and Lower Canada, located closer to the Atlantic.
As for Royal Proclamation of 1763, it protected aboriginals. The Canadian Encyclopedia indicates that the Royal proclamation of 1763 was the Amerindians magna carta. With respect to Amerindians, the Proclamation, established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of treaties with the Aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada, and it is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Proclamation
established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of treaties with the Aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada, and it is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
In the case of French-speaking subjects, the Treaty of Paris 1763, was negotiated so that his “Britannick” majesty would protect his new French-speaking subjects. They should be at liberty to use their language and practice their religion. However, until 1774, contrary to the Aboriginals, French-speaking Canadians had no constitutional framework. The Quebec Act, 1774, would provide fill this gap. French-speaking Canadians would be at liberty to use their language and practice their religion. They could also keep their “thirty acres” (trente arpents) and their Seigneurial System.
In 1791, the Constitutional Act separated Upper Canada and Lower Canada. French-speaking subjects lived in Lower Canada, closer to the Atlantic Ocean, and viewed Lower Canada as their land, their patrie.
Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, was largely responsible for the Quebec Act, which helped to preserve French laws and customs (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-2833).
Religion and Education
In the province of Quebec, French-speaking citizens had the same status as English-speaking Canadian. However, East and West of the province of Quebec, they didn’t. For instance, in 1890, Manitoba abolished French-language schools. The Manitoba Schools Question is my best example, but I could also mention the New Brunswick Schools question. With respect to the establishment of French-language schools outside Quebec, the traditional excuse was that Catholic schools had to be private schools. This matter was a thinly veiled and unsavoury chapter in Canadian history.
To be perfectly accurate, as I read my father’s books, it became increasingly clear to me that governments outside Quebec may well have used religion, perhaps unconsciously,to deny French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec an education in French. Foi et patrie (faith and land or language)were inextricably entwined in the mind of French-speaking Canadians, but they were, nevertheless, a founding nation. As Alexis de Tocqueville stated, the people of New France were not conquered, they were abandoned by France. (See Related Articles, no 1.), Tocqueville concluded that it was nevertheless best for French-speaking Canadians to believe they had been conquered rather than abandoned by France, their motherland. Tocqueville pointed a guilty finger at Louis XV. But the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763), did protect England’s newly-acquired territories and its French-speaking subjects, without creating an assembly for French-speaking Canadians.
The Quebec Act and the Constitutional Act
The Quebec Act, signed in 1774 under Guy Carleton put on an equal footing French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians and, as expected aboriginals and French-speaking fought the British in the American Revolutionary War. The Constitutional Act (1791) respected French Canadians. In fact, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 protected aboriginals mainly if not only. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Royal proclamation of 1763 was the aboriginals’ magna carta. The same could not be said of the French-speaking citizens of Britain’s new colony. With respect to Amerindians, the Proclamation
established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of treaties with the Aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada, and it is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
In short, France chose to cede New France under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, but that it did so conditionally. His “Britannick” majesty would not take away from France’s former subjects their language, their religion and their seigneurial system. Under the terms of Confederation, Quebec also kept its Civil Code, which is still in place. Moreover, under the Constitutional Act of 1791, Quebec included Labrador. (See Labrador, Canadian Encyclopedia.)
The Labrador Boundary Dispute was one of the most celebrated legal cases in British colonial history. Though Newfoundland’s claim to the watershed of all rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean is recognized in the Constitution Act, many Quebecers still consider Labrador part of “Nouveau-Québec.”
Consequently, French-speaking Canadians’ magna carta was the Quebec Act of 1774 and the Constitutional Act of 1791. But they and the British lived for the most part in Lower Canada where facing the “schools question” was easier to deal with. Each nation had its land. Yet, the schools question, French-language schools that were also Catholic schools was a legitimate request on the part of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. They were Catholics, but first and foremost they were one of the founding nations of an expanding Canada. The French, the voyageurs, in particular, with the help of Amerindians, opened the North-American continent, but the French and Métis were Catholics and Manitoba, a French-language province.
One could argue that French-speaking Canadians, living in provinces outside Quebec could have been educated in their mother tongue, had they not insisted their schools also be Catholic schools. Yet, one could also take the view, expressed above, that authorities outside Quebec had an easy, but questionable and somewhat justification to deprive members of a founding nation of their right to have their children educated in the French language, if possible.
Consequently, “the schools question,” the creation of language schools that were also Catholic schools was a legitimate request on the part of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. They were Catholics, but more importantly they were one of the founding nations. The Manitoba Act of 1890, the abolition of French as a teaching language was
[a]n Act to Provide that the English Language shall be the Official Language of the Province of Manitoba.
What of the two founding nations? Was Quebec to be the only part of Canada where children could be educated in French?
The Official Languages Act of 1969
The work of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism resulted in the Official Languages Act, given royal assent on 9 September 1969. Most acts are amended, so there have been a few amendments to the Official Languages Act. In theory, the dispute is over or should be. Canada is officially bilingual. In other words, its official documents appear in the two languages and the federal government’s services are available in both languages.
By 1969, public schools were secularized in Quebec. The separation of Church and state has long been accepted. Until the 1960s, the people of Quebec had a French Catholic school board and an English Protestant school board. Problems arose after the Second World War. (See Laïcité, Wikipedia, note 7.)Laïcité would also have benefited Quebec during the years that followed the Second World War. French-speaking immigrants were not necessarily Catholics. Which school were parents and students to choose?
Motto of the French republic on the tympanum of a church in Aups, Var département, which was installed after the 1905 law on the Separation of the State and the Church. Such inscriptions on a church are very rare; this one was restored during the 1989 bicentennial of the French Revolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However, despite their rights, it could be said that, in practice, Quebec’s Official Language Act may have harmed the citizens of Quebec and French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. In 1974, Quebec declared itself a unilingual province, French, under Premier Robert Bourassa‘s, The Quebec government passed Bill 22. In 1976, Quebec elected its first separatist government under the leadership of René Lévesque, who had founded the Parti québécois. Quebec’s government passed Bill 101, or the Charter of the French language, in 1977, language bills. The face of Quebec had to be French and its immigrants would have to enter French-language schools.
In the 1980 referendum, 60% of Quebecers voted not to give the Quebec government the mandate it needed to begin negotiations that could lead to Quebec’ sovereignty. It was a “no” vote. A second referendum was held, in 1995. In 1995, the ‘no’ vote was 50.58% and led to the Clarity Act (2000).
An État providence or Welfare State
The goal of the Parti Québécois was sovereignty, but the goal of the Révolution tranquille was an État providence, or Welfare State, which could not be attained if language laws caused its most affluent citizens to leave Quebec.
Moreover, as early as the 1960s, separatists or sovereigntists had a terrorist branch: the Front de Libération du Québec, or FLQ. FLQ militants placed bombs in mailboxes, injuring postal workers, and they kidnapped British diplomat James Cross as well as Quebec’s minister of labour, Pierre Laporte, who was strangled. It could be that James Cross would also have been killed had Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau not invoked the War Measures Act. To civil libertarians, the War Measures Act seemed excessive, but James Cross was freed and acts of terrorism ended. These events are referred to as the October Crisis of 1970 and they would cause many to find Quebec an unsafe environment. That exodus was a loss for Quebec. Those who left were, by and large, affluent taxpayers. How could Quebec become an état providence, a welfare state, if taxes could not absorb the costs?
Bill 22, 1974 & Multiculturalism
With respect to Bill 22, it may have been passed to counter Pierre Elliott Trudeau multiculturalism, a notion that grew during the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. I remember clearly that during the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, many Canadians rejected Bilingualism and Biculturalism, from the point of view of demographics.There were more Germans, Hungarians, Italians, or Ukrainians in their community than French Canadians. Their language should therefore be an official language, which would mean that Canada could now have more than 200 official languages. They also said that New France lost the battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1759) and that the time had come for French-speaking Canadians to be told they lost the battle. Canada is increasingly multicultural and it will continue to welcome immigrants, but its founding nations remain France and Britain to this day. In Quebec, immigrants learn French because French Canadians no longer have very large families. In the rest of Canada, learning French is not necessary.
An Exodus from Quebec: the St-Lawrence Seaway or…
However, even if they were used to keep Quebec a French-language province, its Language Laws caused an exodus. Many argue that the opening of the St-Lawrence Seaway, which allows large ships to reach Toronto, provides a full explanation for this exodus. This explanation is not totally convincing. The October Crisis of 1970 alone would be disturbing and could result in the more affluent taxpayers leaving Quebec, Montreal especially.
An État Providence, a Welfare State
This matter is problematical. One of the goals, of the Révolution tranquille, other than secularization, laïcité, was the establishment of an État Providence, or Welfare State. Welfare States levy taxes that fund social programmes. Although Quebecers pay income tax to both their provincial and federal governments, I doubt that Quebec can be an état providence. I have not heard Quebecers complain bitterly. Students pay low tuition fees and day care costs are also inexpensive, but Quebec is not a Welfare State. In all likelihood, Language Laws have frightened citizens. It must be very difficult for Quebec to offer medical services that have become extremely expensive.
It must also be difficult for the government to pay high salaries. The harsh repression of asbestos miners, in 1949 (see Asbestos miners’ strike, Wikipedia), opened the way for the growth of strong labour unions. Employees would no longer be exploited by employers but a lot of Quebecers are syndicated, including part-time university teachers and university teachers.
According to sources outside Quebec, the province’s healthcare laws and practices “do not respect the principles set out in the Canada Health Act,” and amendments. Given that Quebec has not signed the Patriated Constitution of 1982, le repatriement de la Constitution, a Quebec healthcare card is refused by doctors outside Quebec. Hospital fees will be paid, which may not be enough. One could therefore state that Quebec’s healthcare laws and practices “do not respect the principles set out in the Canada Health Act” because it is not universal. Provincial healthcare cards should be valid everywhere in Canada and they should also buy you a bed in a four-bed hospital room and, if necessary, a two-bed hospital room.
René Lévesque and Pierre Elliott Trudeau were at loggerheads between 1980 and 1982, the year the Patriated Constitution was signed. In 1980, when the first sovereigntist referendum took place, 60% of Quebecers voted against given the René Lévesque’s Parti Québécois a mandate to renegotiate Quebec’s partnership with Ottawa, the federal government. Would that Quebecers did not have to pay the price! The Quebec government’s refusal to sign the Patriated Constitution did lead to what can be viewed as the erosion of the Canada Health Act.
Healthcare in Canada is universal but Quebecers’ Healthcare card is not valid outside Quebec, except in a hospital. I am a Canadian and so are other Quebecers. The Quebec health-care card is universal but only in Quebec. Quebec accepts the Healthcare cards of citizens living outside Quebec. Quebecers are therefore footing the bill. Yes, Quebec authorities should have signed the Patriated Constitution of 1982, because the people of Quebec are still Canadians. Are authorities outside Quebec treating Quebecers as though they were not Canadians. If so governments outside Quebec may be seen as complicit in the erosion of Healthcare in Quebec, a Canadian province.
I hope Quebec will sign the sign the Patriated Constitution of 1982 as quickly as possible and that it and other Canadians will not use unfortunate historical events to perpetuate quarrels and, unconsciously, participate and be in fact complicit in the estrangement of Quebec. It may be injudicious on the part of Ottawa not to ensure the welfare of Quebecers. Many Québécois wish to separate. Quebecers are Canadians. I realize that Education and Health are provincial responsibilities, but must a Quebecer who faces a health catastrophe outside Quebec, his province in Canada, pay the cost?
I would so like to know why Quebec’s refusal to sign the Patriated Constitution of 1982 has led to the erosion of universal heathcare in Canada. Quebec is a province of Canada. If he knew the consequences of his actions, René Lévesque, the then Premier of Quebec, may well have failed voters by not signing the new Constitution. Or was Pierre Elliott Trudeau forgetting the people, ordinary people?
Opening boxes of books was a challenge, but it became informative. However, discarding books had become more complex. My father’s books will be adopted by Sherbrooke’s Historical Society and the University of Sherbrooke. But these libraries need lists and will not pick up the books. That will be my duty. My father’s writings have been collated. He wrote editorials for Le Franc-Contact, a periodical published by the now extinct Conseil de la vie française en AmériqueFR. University research centres have replaced le Conseil de la vie française en Amérique.
Again, a belated Happy New Year to all of you and apologies for not posting for two months. Combining posting and settling in a new apartment was not possible.
Love to everyone♥
____________________ Unconsciously, perhaps, the Quebec Act embodied a new principle in colonial government – the freedom of non-English people to be themselves within the British Empire. It also began what was to become a tradition in Canadian constitutional history – the recognition of certain distinct rights, or protections for Quebec – in language, religion and civil law. (Canada, a Country by Consent.)
Canada’s two official languages are French and English. However, since 1974, by virtue of the Official Language Act (Quebec)(Bill 22) the children of immigrants who choose to live in Quebec must attend a French-language school. Bill 22 was replaced by (Bill 101) or Charter of the French Language, a stiffer language law passed in 1977 by the Parti québécois (Parti Quécébois in English). Under Bill 22 and Bill 101, only children born to a Quebec English-Canadian parent and a French-speaking Canadian could attend an English-language school. This law was amended to include an English-Canadian parent born outside Quebec.
The main purpose of Quebec’s Bill 22 and Bill 101 was to ensure that the children of immigrants to Quebec enrolled in French-language schools. Given its rapidly decreasing birthrate, Quebec began transforming immigrants into Québécois. This movement started in Saint-Léonard with the closure of an English-language school attended primarily by the children of Italian immigrants. People protested, at times violently. Bill 63 gave citizens the freedom of choice, causing indignation on the part of a sizable group of French-speaking Québécois.
Quebec held two referendums on a renegotiation of Quebec’s ties with the government of Canada, or souveraineté-association (sovereignty-association). The first took place in 1980, two years before Quebec failed to sign Constitution Act of 1982. The second was held in 1995 but the result was too close to represent a clear “yes” or “no.” More than 49% of the population of Quebec voted “yes.” The response of the Federal government (Ottawa) was the Clarity Act. The Clarity Act “was passed by the House on March 15, 2000, and by the Senate, in its final version, on June 29, 2000.” (Wikipedia). The Quebec Government’s response to Ottawa’s response was the Act respecting the exercise of the fundamental rights and prerogativesof the Québec people and the Québec State, passed two days after the Clarity Act.
InFrench, the motionread: “Que cette Chambre reconnaisse que les Québécoises et les Québécois forment une nation au sein d’un Canada uni.” (See Québécois nation motion, Wikipedia). This does not differ much from the souveraineté-association concept put forward by the Parti Québécois.
Bill 101 has been deemed unconstitutional and an infringement of Human Rights, but it has not been rescinded and schools are filled up with French-speaking Quebecers originating from various countries.
Bills allowing education in English in Quebec have been passed. One such bill is Bill 115, passed in 2010. However, I am excluding discussion of Bills making access to English-language schools easier from this post because I need to close it. All I will write is that Bill 101 has been amended six times and that Bill 115 facilitates an English-language education.
We live in a world where business is often conducted in the English language, which does not mean that one has to unlearn French. I know people who spent a lifetime being impeccably French in an English-language milieu.
Immigrants to Quebec have to attend French-language schools, which seems perfectly acceptable. Quebec needs Québécois. But this does not and should not preclude learning English. English is taught in French-language schools. Why should Quebecers isolate themselves?
Learning other languages is not necessarily detrimental to mastery of one’s mother tongue. Québécois live in French-language milieu. No one has to leave that milieu. In fact Quebec offers two main milieu: a French-language milieu and an English-language milieu. In this regard, Montreal is la crème de la crème as an environment. It is home to thousands of immigrants from all over the world.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Quebec built the Manicouagan Reservoir and there is further untapped wealth in Northern Quebec. Moreover Quebec has large enterprises, such as Bombardier and SNC Lavalin.These have offices abroad.
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.
Sir George-Étienne Cartier
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]