I'm a trilingual Quebecer and I'm bitter - Macleans.ca

I’m a trilingual Quebecer and I’m bitter

If this province doesn’t grow up, I might leave


Alexis Gravel/Flickr

As a Montrealer of Greek origin who is fluent in Greek, French and English, I look at Quebec and all the incidents that have occurred in the past few months and I ask myself this one, simple, question: what the hell is going on?

But there’s another question Anglophones and Francophones should be asking themselves: why can’t we embrace bilingualism in this province? Why can’t we accept that Quebec is a province of two official languages and both will be equally represented from now on? Why do we insist on pointing fingers at each other and accusing the other side of undermining the other’s language?

Since the election of the PQ government, things have seriously worsened. The Office quebecois de la langue française found new life after receiving unnecessary funding from the provincial government and put it to absolutely no use by attacking restaurants like Buonanotte, ultimately making fools of themselves and of the PQ in the process. These are old-school techniques that the younger, more open-minded generation of Quebecers simply doesn’t appreciate.

We’ve come an extremely long way since the creation of Bill 101, and the last thing we need is for Premier Pauline Marois to reignite that good-for-nothing fire. (Bill 101, passed by the PQ in 1977, limits the use of the English language commercially and restricts enrollment in English schools.) No matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you push, Quebec has unofficially been branded a bilingual province over the years. All Marois is doing is further tarnishing her party’s image.

The younger generations have accepted the fact that Quebec is and will be an open-minded province accepting of two official languages. There certainly remains an older generation that’s bitter towards each other, but like it or not, they will disappear as the next generation comes along.

What really presses my buttons, however, is the fact that Quebec has the potential to be the greatest province in Canada if we set our mind to it. Imagine a Quebec where everyone is bilingual and most are trilingual, considering the fact that we already are a melting pot of diverse cultures. Imagine the businesses we could attract, the growth we could instigate and the money we would save by exterminating useless organizations like the OQLF, not researching the possibility of separation and stopping the creation of discriminatory bills such as Bill 14, which will add new restrictions to the use of the English language.

I am a bitter Quebecer and I’ve had enough. I’m bitter, not against the French or the English specifically, but bitter against the tension that still lies between them after all these years. To all who still have a problem, grow up, embrace your neighbour and work on living in a bilingual Quebec.

If I am forced to order pasta in French and forced to walk because I won’t order a metro ticket in French, then so be it. I will walk straight out of this province to one of the open-minded provinces and states that surround Quebec, just like so many did after the referendums. Quebec is coming dangerously close to that once again. It’s time for the younger generation to put an end to this.

George Menexis is opinions editor of The Concordian newspaper, where this was first printed.


I’m a trilingual Quebecer and I’m bitter

  1. I could never figure it out, why language creates such a problem in Quebec. It’s just a means to communicate. It has no significant use other than communications. People from throughout the world immigrated to Canada and learned the language of their new home so they could talk to each other. Quebec never appears to get it right. If they want to remain small town with small town objectives stay ignorant, if they want to grow and prosper, learn the language of business and the language of the world. Remember when Montreal was the financial capital of Canada. Now it’s a have not city in a have not province. What a waste, one of the most beautiful and cultural provinces in Canada is wasting its value.

  2. I agree 100% that it would be nice for everyone to get along, no matter what language they speak, but I think the Parti Quebecois has already gone too far, and their reputation is already so tarnished that as long as they run the province, there will be tension and bitterness. They appear unable to “grow up” as you put it. They are perpetual, petulant children who demand their way and, like the spoiled brats that they are, the grown-ups will leave them in their room, and go elsewhere for some peace and quiet.

  3. I’m a quadralingual Canadian, no longer living in Canada and I reaslised that knowing “only” four languages was the minimum to be marketable internationally… Hopefully one day our “Two Solitudes” will resolve this silly language issue and move on…

  4. God, the last part “If I am forced to order pasta in French and forced to walk because I won’t order a metro ticket in French, then so be it” made me want to cry. How is it even possible for a province to be so discriminatory?! Loved this article. I refuse to go anywhere near Quebec because of its stupidity. Wanna separate from the WONDERFUL country that is Canada? Good! Go for it… God, if only it were that easy.

  5. Quebec is like the lazy bitter employee who visits your desk at work trying to start a union drive. These people will never agree to anything, you are dealing with a 2 year old.

    Why doesn’t Canada separate from Quebec? I’d vote a resounding yes. French would be a dead language if they didn’t stomp their feet and await our tax money support.

    What a waste of a culture and an embarassment for Canada.

    P-A-S-T-A! People Against Stupid Treament of Acronyms!

  6. While i am not a quebecor but have studied french in quebec i can tell you that langauge is so much more than just a means of communication. It is ultimitaley an expression culture. However in an attempt to preserve the quebecois culture, the people of quebec(politicians and citizens alike) have made it an incredibly difficult place to do business. Compund this with the international business community’s fluency of english and quebec faces a not so bright economic future.

  7. I respect the efforts of Quebec to maintain their language. As Zach Peters pointed out accurately language is more than a means of communication – it’s an expression of their culture…and culture’s important to all of us (including the author who waves his Greek heritage for all to see). So would you all PLEASE stop your incessant whining because Quebec wants to keep their rich culture alive! We’re not a melting pot like the USA, we’re supposed to be all about treasuring multiculturalism. Immigrants tend to maintain much of their culture when they make Canada home. Therefore I must ask, why does the article’s author, Menexis, who claims to be trilingual, find it so bloody onerous to order a friggin pizza in French…in Quebec! I mean, big deal! ORDER the damn pizza in French and quit your belly-aching. Heck, look at it as keeping your fluency in French sharp in our one and only predominantly French province (where you chose to live). I’m not a Quebecer, I hate the short-sighted separatist cause and I certainly dont want Quebec to leave Canada (the best country on the planet bar none!). Canada’s just far better together than we are as separate parts. In fact, how tough would it be for conversational French to be taught to ALL Canadian children, from coast to coast? Children are hard-wired to learn language so effortlessly and painlessly. Afterall, our kids wouldn’t be diminished by becoming effectively bilingual~indeed, their education and employability could only be enhanced! Achieving that worthy goal would kill the separatist cause by making Quebecers feel at home in any part of their country. I wish all you complainers would consider how you’d feel if you lived in the only predominantly English-speaking province in Canada. Of course you’d want to maintain your heritage! Dont be such morons ~ is it really such a big deal?

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  10. Before comment: What is te f— pourpuse of sign with twitter/yahoo/facebook if you have to sign for a new account anyways.

    Well, as I read in several comment, I will explain why language cause such a problem in this province.
    Before explain, I have to clarify: I’m a Mexican immigrant who speaks both languages, I am not fan of Quebec culture nor Partie Quebecois or separatism, even if I live well here.

    The explanation is very simple: in the middle of 20th century, Quebecer coundn’t have access to jobs if they doesn’t speak ENGLISH. That’s all. The companies where owned by anglophones and demand all quebecers to speak english. So the problem of languages was stared by ANGLOPHONES !!!

    Asking thet question: why can’t we embrace bilingualism in this province? I will answer with another one: why at that time company owners couldn’t embrace bilingualism instead of demand to francophone Quebecers to speak english ?

    Ask every old person who was born at the beginning of the 20th century: they considered themselfs FRENCH-CANADIENS not Quebecois. But quebecers used the language affaire to retake control of their own province.

    Another question: does the rest of Canada embrace bilingualism, I mean, in every day life ? Nop, and If you ask me, they don’t have any obligation and I ok with that.

    Bottomline: anglos started the problem several years ago and now are crying because they are treated in the same way. The problem is not so simple as ” Quebecers, embrace bilingualism and that’s it !! “