15

CEGEP Screwballin’


 

Just over two years ago, this corner wrote a piece about how the sovereignist movement was becoming so weak that its principals were beginning to eat one another in the usual fashion: its hardliners complained loudly and often that the moderates were too soft, the moderates didn’t fight back against the dogma so as not to appear too un-québécois, and the ensuing public feud made the whole lot seem terrifically unbalanced.

Anyway, the piece quoted former PQ MNA Yves Michaud, a not-uncharming firebrand who, like most retired PQ politicians, likes to tell the party what to do. In this case, Michaud said the PQ should make several “acts of sovereignty”, chief among them would be to make in mandatory that all immigrants attend French CEGEP (the two years after high school). “Half of the immigrants go to English CEGEP. They might speak French, but how many of them would vote ‘Yes’?” Michaud said at the time. Michaud’s message: indoctrinate the suckers, for the sake of the country.

Now, Michaud is a basically a professional crank who, it might be said, can easily be dismissed as much whenever he opens his trap (which is often.) I mean, what political party would endorse a scheme that would see many of Quebec’s recent arrivals being able to vote, buy liquor and join the army but not take college courses in the language of their choice? Crazy!

Er, not so much. It seems many within the PQ want just this. The idea, of course, is patently absurd, practically and legally: I asked Dermod Travis, he of the Larose Commission on the State and Future of the French Language, about the viability. “The requirements of Bill 101 regarding school eligibility don’t just apply to immigrants, which is the first problem in extending the requirements because it also means barring francophones from English CEGEPS,” Travis said. “It’s one of the reasons why the representative stakeholders are opposed to the idea.”

“The second major issue is that many CEGEP students are adults and it will be legally difficult, if not impossible, to extend Bill 101’s requirements to individuals over 18.”

Tellingly enough, though, Marois hasn’t said no to the notion. She likely will in the future–she is smart enough to know what Dermod Travis knows–though the fact that she didn’t say something like, “Jesus and Mary Joseph, that’s a stupid idea” is once again indicative of the power and sway of the party’s hardline faction. She even talked up the idea of language restrictions in kindergartens. (It’s easier to start on the other end of things, I guess, when the students in question can’t vote. Or dress themselves.) The reason: she’s trying to avoid a chicane en publique, like the ones that undid the tenure of this guy. And this guy. And this guy. And this guy.

Oof.


 
Filed under:

CEGEP Screwballin’

  1. Encore!!! When will Quebecers realize or at least "la class politique" that the survival of the francophone cause has to fought inside and outside Québec??? You can pass all the laws to force one to learn a language but the allophones must be convinced that French has a future outside of Québec as well as inside of Québec. In their efforts to thicken the Québec borders the nationalists (abadonistes) are cutting off a vital source of potential and very real strength. They have to stop "regarder leurs nombrils"…#$%&

    • I don't think the uber-nationalists have much interest in Canadian francophones outside Quebec beyond insulting their heritage and pretending they don't exist. Although I'm not sure they have much interest in anything other than wishing the rest of the world away and worshipping their nombrils. Unfortunately, this last trait seems to have spread to certain other political ideologies.

      • From personal experience and talking with other Canadian francophones who were born outside Quebec but moved to Montreal, the uber-nationalists are very happy to treat us like "traitors to the French cause" and second class citizens. Either that, ignoring us entirely, lie to our faces about our own history, or talk in all seriousness about invading New-Brunswick's francophone area after separation.

      • From personal experience and talking with other Canadian francophones who were born outside Quebec but moved to Montreal, the uber-nationalists are very happy to treat us like "traitors to the French cause" and second class citizens. Either that, ignoring us entirely, lie to our faces about our own history, or talk in all seriousness about invading New-Brunswick's francophone area after separation.

  2. Never underestimate the ability of the separatist to design and promote a thoroughly inclusive, secular and cosmopolitan social design — as long as it's purely pure laine.

  3. “Half of the immigrants go to English CEGEP. They might speak French, but how many of them would vote ‘Yes'?”

    I thought the whole point of these laws was to preserve the French culture. Now it sounds like xenophobia most of the time.

    • The dream of the separatists is to have the immigrants vote "yes" since they are not able to get more "pure laine" to vote the way they want them to.

      • No way! Those nasty separatists are actually trying to get more people to side with them? What gall. I mean, imagine if the Conservatives/Liberals/NDP were actively campaigning to get people to vote their way—it'd be anarchy!

        • Well, the comment seems odd, it's more than what you characterize. You are simpifying things.

          Theoretically, bill 101 and the rest of these laws are meant to preserve the french language and culture. Here he is is saying "They might speak French", which is essentially saying that is not the point at all. He says "how many of them would vote ‘Yes'?", which is saying he doesn't care about the preserving the language, what he really cares about is separation. Yet, he seem to be arguing that the way to lead them to that goal is to force them to do his bidding, to force them to live their entire lives in French.

          He is saying he doesn't really care if they speak French or not. He wants them to stop speaking English, at all times, whether in school or at home, and by forcing them to live their entire lives in French, he will convert them to the cause of hating the English speaking Canada enough to desire separation.

          That's what it seems like to me, anyway. It doesn't make sense otherwise. If they all speak French, what other issue is there?

        • Yeah, I see I didn't write my last sentence correctly, sorry long nights of essay writing is getting to me.

          I think it is not as much as trying to get the immigrants votes but rather the feeling of entitlement from the Bloc and PQ, they seem to believe that Bill 101 is there to not only preserve French language and culture but to also promote the sovereignty agenda. Maybe it's just from the experience from growing up in Shawinigan and now living in Montreal or maybe my English university converted me but by the reactions from PQ members, they seem to think that immigrants should only vote for them.

          • s_c_f and Fred_Moro: That's a fair point.

            It's no doubt a little baffling to old-school PQ members that Bill 101 can be such a cultural success (to the extent its aim was to expand the use of French in business, education, etc.) while at the same time being such a failure on a political level (support for sovereignty hasn't shot up as a result). I just don't find it ridiculous that types like Michaud are suddenly asking themselves, however clumsily, "how come so few French-speaking immigrants are sovereigntists?" In fact, that strikes me as exactly the kind of question they should be asking themselves because it lies at the heart of the PQ's modern malaise. I think the fact their first recourse when promoting sovereignty is to go straight to beating the same Bill 101 drum is a testament to just how shallow their vision has become. I'm wholeheartedly in favour of Bill 101, as are most Quebeckers. That fact strikes as the best reason NOT to change it.

        • I know this is a late reply, but:

          Trying to get votes by persuading voters through open debate is one thing.

          Trying to get votes by indoctrinating children in schools is another.

  4. Please read Lysiane Gagnon's column in La Presse this morning about urban sprawl in Mtl and how that, more than anything else, is contributing to the decline of French speakers on the island. The whole sovereignty mouvement is in a steep decline and their only hope for survival is to revive the fear of disappearing by painting themselves as the only party willing to defend the French language. The measures proposed are as desperate as their cause is. They say a wounded animal is much more dangerous tha a healthy one.

  5. For those who can read French and have an open mind, this article talks about minority languages and education in Europe:
    http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/274366/

    Basically, it says that for Catalans in Spain, Flemish in Belgium and in Germans cantons in French Switzerland, pre-college education (which would include CEGEP in Québec) for immigrants has to be given in their language, and not Spanish or French, (the language of the majority in their country). What happens in Brussels (immigrants choose French over Flemish) is very interesting to understand the situation in Montreal.

Sign in to comment.