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Before an election, a bit of language politics


 

Howdy. We’ll be getting to your irregularly scheduled not-yet-quite-an-election coverage shortly. First, though, I’d like to point out this nice little scoop from La Presse’s (absurdly well-connected) Denis Lessard today. It seems the conseil superieure de la langue française, the advising body to the minister responsible for the French language charter, has deemed that it would be a mistake to extend Bill 101 to CEGEPs (our finishing schools). That is to say, to make it mandatory that all Francophones and Allophones attend French CEGEP.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. The idea of forcing Francos and Allos into French CEGEP has been a bit of a warhorse for the PQ for quite sometime. When I wrote about it ages and ages ago, a few people bitched and moaned suggested I was out to lunch: mandatory French CEGEP, they said, was a fringe-y Péquiste thing that would never find its way into the welcoming bosom that is the party’s mainstream.

It did, of course, thanks mostly to this fellow. Pierre Curzi is the PQ’s resident language hawk who made mandatory French CEGEP his baby—necessary, he says, to stanch the burgeoning Anglicizing tide of English. PQ leader Pauline Marois, eager to appeal to the ever-skeptical hard sovereignists within her own party, endorsed the idea.

The Conseil’s decision is a slap in the face for the PQ for a couple of reasons. First, the body has overwhelmingly ruled in favour of restrictive language policies in the past—most recently with the suggestion that the government should apply Bill 101 to private schools in the province. To have it go against one of the PQ’s key ideas hurts the language hawks big time. It also makes a bit of a mockery of Curzi’s own report, which states that mandatory French CEGEP is crucial for the survival of the French language. That said, the conseil’s decision surely comes as a big relief to Sylvain Simard et Marie Malavoy who, as Lessard points out, were against Curzi’s plan—probably because it made the PQ less-sellable to the large soft nationalist vote.

If they don’t endorse the idea during their general assembly next month (and I can’t see that they will), it will mean  the party of Bill 101 will have sacrificed hardline language policy for the sake of electability. What a bunch of softies they’re becoming.


 
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Before an election, a bit of language politics

  1. mandatory French CEGEP, they said, was a fringe-y Péquiste thing that would never find its way into the welcoming bosom that is the party's mainstream.

    They've been saying that about every aspect of the province's language laws. I'm sure they would not have believed that there would be a police force that monitored the language of discussion in the provinces' workplaces and handed out fines. Or a police force that handed out fines based on the size of lettering on signs.

    I'm skeptical that there is any limit to how far they would go… the only thing stopping them from fining people for using English in any way, shape or form is that they might not win an election.

    I guess I'm repeating your point.

  2. mandatory French CEGEP, they said, was a fringe-y Péquiste thing that would never find its way into the welcoming bosom that is the party's mainstream.

    They've been saying that about every aspect of the province's language laws. I'm sure they would not have believed that there would be a police force that monitored the language of discussion in the provinces' workplaces and handed out fines. Or a police force that handed out fines based on the size of lettering on signs.

    I'm skeptical that there is any limit to how far they would go… the only thing stopping them from fining people for using English in any way, shape or form is that they might not win an election.

    I guess I'm repeating your point.

    • A police force that handles out fine? From what I know, this one is pretty far out. The Office de la langue française has nothing to do with the all-seeing Gestapo some imagine. This understaffed office acts only on denunciations; if one of its inspectors see a blatant violation of the law, that person can't do anything. And don't forget the law only applies to companies with more than 50 employees, needless to say, that leaves out many, many businesses (it would be too expensive to apply it all across the board).

      I personnally don't believe applying Bill 101 to all cegeps is a splendid idea. Too draconian, to quote Gérald Larose.

      Besides, personal experience has only taught me that language skills are invaluable. Being truly bilingual is priceless, and having a third one is even better, as you can acess other cultures much more easily.

  3. It's a good day to be alive when the PQ gets slapped in the face.

  4. It's a good day to be alive when the PQ gets slapped in the face.

  5. A police force that handles out fine? From what I know, this one is pretty far out. The Office de la langue française has nothing to do with the all-seeing Gestapo some imagine. This understaffed office acts only on denunciations; if one of its inspectors see a blatant violation of the law, that person can't do anything. And don't forget the law only applies to companies with more than 50 employees, needless to say, that leaves out many, many businesses (it would be too expensive to apply it all across the board).

    I personnally don't believe applying Bill 101 to all cegeps is a splendid idea. Too draconian, to quote Gérald Larose.

    Besides, personal experience has only taught me that language skills are invaluable. Being truly bilingual is priceless, and having a third one is even better, as you can acess other cultures much more easily.

  6. If you have to pass a law to force people to speak a language, then maybe they don't want it! Of course it's better to have 2 or 3 languages but this should be a choice.

  7. If you have to pass a law to force people to speak a language, then maybe they don't want it! Of course it's better to have 2 or 3 languages but this should be a choice.

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