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.