Eric Amber says he’s sorry


 

Via Pat Donnelly at the Montreal Gazette, here’s Eric Amber’s (bilingual!) letter of apology for, well, you know:

To whom it concerns,

There has been much media activity in recent days that began with an email that I sent to the theatre’s mailing list. Les Sages Fous were upset after receiving an all-english message regarding Zoofest programming as part of the Just For Laughs festival.

I reacted inappropriately to their request to receive emails only in French and for this I would like to apologize. However, I would like to explain that I did so not simply due to this one response, but rather because I often receive a disproportionate amount of negative feedback whenever I promote English events that are hosted at Theatre Ste Catherine.

Although it is true that I lost my temper, it must be said that it was in no way an attack on Quebec or French-speaking Canadians as was implied by some of the media covering this story. As I myself am French Canadian and a francophone from La Beauce region of southern Quebec, to hate French culture would be to hate myself.

I truly regret offending any of my French brothers and sisters, however I do not believe this would have become an issue if certain media had not sought to create discontent. As such, this situation has been blown out of proportion to the point where it now stands. Unfortunately, not only has this resulted in negative publicity for both Theatre Ste-Catherine, Zoofest and the Just For Laughs Festival, but as my personal information has since been released, I have received hundreds of hate letters including several death threats.

Due to the actions of certain individuals who fanned the flames of hate within a community of extremists, a great hurt was inflicted upon me personally that I fear could threaten the harmony of Montreal. I am upset with the intolerance that I receive on a daily basis as displayed by the many hateful emails that have been written. I also believe that the French language and culture is alive and strong, and need not be afraid of others.

When I first opened the theatre five years ago, which I myself built in what was a very troubled neighbourhood, my intention was to create a venue for people of every culture to come together for the celebration of art and unity. It would be regretful to have to shut the doors to those who have come to make Theatre Ste-Catherine their home and meeting place.

Again, I would like to sincerely apologize to Les Sages Fous, The Just For Laughs Festival, Zoofest, all of Theatre Ste Catherine’s company members as well as anyone who has been affected by this situation.

I wish I had addressed this issue sooner because of the hurt it has caused.

Sincerely,

Eric Amber

Theatre Ste. Catherine

THEATRE STE. CATHERINE

www.theatrestecatherine.com

264 Ste. Catherine E. (Montreal)

(514) 284 3939

METRO: Berri/UQAM

**************

À qui de droit,

Depuis quelques jours, bien des médias et sites Internet s’attardent sur un courriel envoyé récemment par moi-même à un inscrit de la liste d’envois électronique générale du Théâtre Ste Catherine. Je répondais alors à un message provenant de la troupe Les Sages Fous, qui protestait avoir reçu un courriel en anglais concernant la programmation anglophone du Zoofest dans le câdre du Festival Juste Pour Rire.

Ma réaction face à leur demande, de recevoir une version française de ce même courriel, fut inflammatoire et non justifiée et pour cela je voudrais sincèrement m’excuser. Ma réplique très agressive s’explique en partie par le fait que Le Théâtre Sainte Catherine est toujours ciblé par des messages francophones très négatifs et diffamatoires concernant nos évènements anglophones et ce, tout au long de l’année.

Malgré l’important manque de jugement dont j’ai fait preuve, il se doit aussi d’être clarifié qu’en aucune façon, mes remarques visaient le Québec ou la Francophonie, tel que certains médias l’ont laissés entendre cette semaine. Étant moi-même francophone ayant grandit et provenant de la région de La Beauce, dans le sud du Québec, d’émettre de pareilles insultes envers la Francophonie serait contradictoire et impensable.

Je regrette sincèrement avoir offensé mes propres frères et soeurs Francophones, mais suis tout à fait convaincu qu’une couverture médiatique alarmiste et sensationnaliste n’a fait qu’aggraver la situation. Cette réaction incroyable de la part des médias provoque non seulement une publicité extrêmement négative pour Le Théâtre Ste-Catherine, mais engendre également une campagne négative envers le Zoofest et le festival Juste Pour Rire. Il est aussi important de noter que je fais personnellement maintenant face à des menaces de mort et insultes personnelles très inquiétantes.

Il m’attriste donc de constater que suite aux actions marquées de quelques individus qui avaient pour but précis d’encourager la haine et l’extrémisme, l’harmonie culturelle de notre ville de Montréal est affectée. Je suis déçu par le niveau d’intolérance présent dans les centaines de courriels et de lettres que nous avons reçus cette semaine, surtout parce que je suis profondément convaincu que malgré ces incidents isolés, la culture Française est essentiellement forte et inclusive au Québec.

Lorsque le Théâtre Ste Catherine a ouvert ses portes, il y a cinq ans, un théâtre que j’ai moi-même fondé et bâti dans un quartier très désavoué de Montréal, mon rêve était de créer une scène, un endroit où tout le monde pourrait se réunir, quelle que soit leur culture, pour célébrer l’art et la communauté. Aujourd’hui, ce théâtre est bel et bien vibrant et il serait dommage de devoir fermer ses portes au public et aux artistes qui le fréquentent maintenant en si grand nombre.

Je souligne donc à nouveau mes excuses sincères envers Les Sages Fous, Le festival Juste Pour Rire, Zoofest ainsi qu’envers tous les membres de la communauté du Théâtre Ste Catherine et tous ceux et celles qui sont affectés par cette situation.

En regrettant de ne pas m’être prononcé plus tôt sur ces évènements importants,

Sincèrement,

Eric Amber

Théâtre Ste. Catherine

THEATRE STE. CATHERINE

www.theatrestecatherine.com

264 Ste. Catherine E. (Montreal)

(514) 284 3939

METRO: Berri/UQAM


 

Eric Amber says he’s sorry

  1. There is a serious, serious problem with anti-anglophone bigotry in Quebec. A guy sends a rude email to a theatre group and he gets death threats? In a first world country?

    • what anti-anglophone bigotry in Quebec? Do tell.

      What death threats? Do tell.

      Why should the francophones accept being told to fuck off and being told that they should speak English.

      If anything, Amber has anti-French bigotry. The francophones are simply standing up for themselves.

      • The death threats are referenced in the above letter. As to anti-anglophone bigotry in general, it's a fact of life for every anglophone in Montreal; you can't walk down the street speaking English without getting funny looks. There's also a party in the National Assembly that routinely scapegoats them, and much of the Quebec press discusses the problem of preserving French as though the Quebec anglophones were actively trying to harm it.

        "Why should the francophones accept being told to fuck off and being told that they should speak English."

        They shouldn't, but that is a rather insane assessment of what Amber's email said. As he states in this apology, he was not intending to be rude to all francophones, merely to the Sages Folles (wrongly, as I'm sure we almost all agree). But to go from that to sending the guy death threats — not to mention reacting as you reacted to my comment — is a sign of serious mental disease.

        • "Why should the francophones accept being told to fuck off and being told that they should speak English."

          They shouldn't, but that is a rather insane assessment of what Amber's email said.

          I agree almost entirely with what you're saying Jack, but I don't think that sentence exactly constitutes an "insane assessment" of what Amber's email said. It's almost verbatum what Amber's email said. Amber's email said "You obviously can't read in english because you are an uneducated bigot. Go F_k yourself". Isn't that pretty much EXACTLY in line with Antonio's assessment above. Certainly Antonio's assessment isn't "insane"! Obviously any threats are well beyond the pale and should be prosecuted criminally, but that doesn't change the fact that the first person to go over-the-top in overreacting to something was Eric Amber.

          • That's a good point, LKO, you're right; but I maintain that one can be offensively rude to a particular person in general terms without intending, at the time, to apply the general terms to the generality. It would be awfully hard to be offensively rude to someone if one had to stick to their particular characteristics. But I agree the interpretation is not insane, just a little inhumane; and of course the problem goes away if one is not offensively rude to strangers, by email, on highly explosive subjects.

  2. I never understand why people who are on the receiving end of hate mail don't *first* think to publish those (minus details that will identify the sender too specifically) and then react officially, if public reproval hasn't already done that for them? And, needless to say, all death threats should be forwarded to the police.

    The mainstream media in this country does have a lot to answer for in this, respect though, especially conglomerates, of which this magazine is a part.

    • Conglomerates are responsible for what people write in the privacy of their own home? Are people ever responsible for themselves or are we all controlled by media/conglomerates/illuminati?

  3. I never understand why people who are on the receiving end of hate mail don't *first* think to publish those (minus details that will identify the sender too specifically) and then react officially, if public reproval hasn't already done that for them? And, needless to say, all death threats should be forwarded to the police.

  4. As suspected, there was something additional that precipitated his email "I often receive a disproportionate amount of negative feedback whenever I promote English events that are hosted at Theatre Ste Catherine"

    And, as suspected, he has been the subject of a significant amount of abuse because of rude email (I suspect Les Sages Fous have received no negative reaction for their abhorrent behaviour, apart from some comments from myself and others on Mr Gohier's blog).

    And I agree with Jack Mitchell, there is a significant amount of anti-English bigotry in Quebec. I am from Quebec and I have experienced it myself (I was punched in the face one time by someone who could see I was an Ontario resident, amongst other incidents), and witnessed it worsening over the years, although the city of Montreal remains a tolerant place, for the most part.

    • Hey, you two finally found something you can agree on! ;-)

      • Yeah, we disagree most of the time but it's good to agree once in a while and I think there have been a few occasions of agreement.

  5. Ah, you're an anglophone, eh? Riiiiiiight.

    • "Ah, you're an anglophone, eh? Riiiiiiight. "

      You don't believe that I am anglophone? Then why don't you ask anglophones, Martin Patriquin and Philippe Gohier on what they think about perceived ant-English bigotry in Quebec. Or you don't think they must be anglophones either?

      • I'd be delighted to hear what our Deux Maudits Anglais have to say on the subject, but it doesn't make you an anglophone, as one can plainly tell by the dozens of francisisms in your posts (not to mention the assimilationist POV, which would be, let us say, a novelty in a Montreal anglophone).

        • as one can plainly tell by the dozens of francisisms in your posts

          Which francisisms?

          "(not to mention the assimilationist POV, which would be, let us say, a novelty in a Montreal anglophone)"

          I am not saying that anglophones (of which I am) should give up on English. I am saying that they should know French and use it and particpate in Quebec.

          Do you know who is being assimilated? – francophones outside Quebec. That is an problem that is irreversible. Considering that there are 300 million anglophones on this continent, it is very hard for anglophones to be assmilated in Quebec.

  6. I grew up in MOntreal and I agree with Jack, and so do many of my friends in Montreal. It's true there is a lot of English spoken downtown – the funny looks happen in certain neighbourhoods. The fact that you think there is no bigotry because people are actually allowed to speak English, that speaks for itself. Wow.

    As for anglophones that refuse to speak french, as far as I know I have never met such an anglophone. In fact, Amber himself, as you can clearly see, is fluent in french.

    The fact that you think that English institutions could be shut down by the government shows how warped and bigoted the attitudes in Quebec have become. Can't wait til we see the office de la langue francaise in the bedrooms of English speakers, handing out fines.

    • I think part of the the disconnect may be referring to "Montreal" writ large. If someone lives and spends most of their life downtown I think they could easily have Antonio's viewpoint. I went to McGill and lived on the Plateau, and spent a lot of time in NDG, and in those areas I tend to agree that you'd basically NEVER get funny looks or anything similar for speaking English. In fact, while this may be changing, in NDG I almost never heard French. One the other hand, the east end of the island is a whole other thing all together. I wouldn't say I ever got any "dirty looks" but you can definitely run in to difficulties being unilingual in many parts of the city.

      • "One the other hand, the east end of the island is a whole other thing all together. I wouldn't say I ever got any "dirty looks" but you can definitely run in to difficulties being unilingual in many parts of the city."

        OF course you would run into difficulties. An unilingual anglophones trying to interact with francophones would be difficult. I live in St-Léonard which is in the east-end too, and I interact just fine with francophones. Probably because I speak French to them. Francophones have no problems welcoming anglophones as long as they speak, or try to speak to them in French. This is not bigotry.

        When you are in Quebec, you speak French.

        • Actually, when you're a bilingual anglophone in Montreal (if not Quebec), you speak English, because unless you have a will of iron most francophone Montrealers will either assume you can't speak French or treat your French with contempt, i.e. they will not respond to you in French unless you absolutely refuse to speak English (which is a good strategy but takes guts). Then, of course, they turn around and tell pollsters that anglophones refuse to learn French. If one were, as you rather absurdly claim to be, an anglophone with a perfect Montrealer accent in French, I'm sure there would be no trouble; but if we set the bar at "must learn to speak accentless French" we have passed far beyond reasonable accomodation and deep into pure tribalism. Incidentally, my French-from-France friends often had people switch to English on them (which, to put it mildly, infuriated them): it's not so much an anti-English sentiment as it is a sense of "Ah, this person is not one of us; therefore s/he must be an anglophone." In other words, a sort of instinctive us-vs.-them. I should say that this is not generally the case with educated francophones, who (in my experience) tend to be full of good will towards those trying to improve their French (I assume both because they're more worldly than the man in the street and because they've worked out the logic that you can't wish more anglophones spoke French if you treat them with contempt when they do). Sorry for the rant but this basic issue of speaking French to anglophones is one of the major social stumbling blocks in Montreal and has serious cultural / political repercussions.

          • that is bull.

            Another typical stereotypical nonsense. You don't have to know perfect French in order to converse in French. The quality of French that many anglophones claim to have are intermediate at best and halting.

            I suspect that you have never been to Quebec and so you spout off this nonsense.

            Have you been to Quebec? Do you speak French fluently and converse with francophones in this language?

          • I lived in Montreal for five years, speak fluent French with a very mild anglo accent, and get switched all the time. (My French is good enough to have taken several literature seminars at the University of Montreal.) You're a proven liar, Antonio (see above), so what you say is bull and isn't bull, what is stereotypical nonsense and what isn't, has no relationship to reality. It's extremely presumptuous of you to pretend you know what being an anglophone in Montreal is like, since you aren't one, and then pooh-pooh the testimony of actual experience. Your sort of sophistry is why nobody can take the sovereigntists seriously anymore.

          • "I lived in Montreal for five years, speak fluent French with a very mild anglo accent, and get switched all the time."

            Somehow I doubt. Either you are not really fluent in French than you think, or you encountered francophones who wanted to practice their English. I fail to see how this is an example of anti-English bigotry in Quebec.

            "You're a proven liar, Antonio (see above)"

            You still have not proven that I am a liar.

            "Your sort of sophistry is why nobody can take the sovereigntists seriously anymore."

            I have demonstrated that you are the one that engage in sophistry. Another example is below:

            "That's a good point, LKO, you're right; but I maintain that one can be offensively rude to a particular person in general terms without intending, at the time, to apply the general terms to the generality. It would be awfully hard to be offensively rude to someone if one had to stick to their particular characteristics."

            What is that you are saying? You are saying that he may be rude but he is not rude just like you are saying that I may be anglophone but I am not anglophone. That is a perfect example of sophistry.

    • "As for anglophones that refuse to speak french, as far as I know I have never met such an anglophone. In fact, Amber himself, as you can clearly see, is fluent in french."

      I am now convinced that you have never been in Montreal. There are many anglophones, even those born in Quebec after Bill 101, that are still incapable of having a complex conversation in French.

      "The fact that you think that English institutions could be shut down by the government shows how warped and bigoted the attitudes in Quebec have become!"

      Anglophones get Quebec funding for Engish schools. hospitals and other instiutions? Anglophones are even getting funding for a super-hospital. Explain how this is bigotry?

      I think Quebec should eliminate funding for those insitutions and create one public system of schools hospitals and other insitutinos in which the language is French. Quebec would save a lot of money that can be better spent elsewhere and would eliminate segraegation and a true belonging to the Quebec community.

      "Can't wait til we see the office de la langue francaise in the bedrooms of English speakers, handing out fines. "

      yeah, whatever

      • Why would Québec save any money at all? They still have to serve the same number of people with the same services. Unless the Anglophones are no longer going to be there?

        Anglophones- like Francophones- have the constitutional right to receive services in their mother tongue whenever in a minority situation where numbers demand it, as is clearly the case in Montréal. Get over it and move on.

        • "Why would Québec save any money at all? They still have to serve the same number of people with the same services. Unless the Anglophones are no longer going to be there?"

          They save money by eliminating extra school boards and institutions. Considering that Quebec already pays high taxes, the saved money could be better used elsewhere. Furthermore, having everyone go to the same schools promotes social cohesion and participation in society. A single system would also help canalize goals, improving efficiency.

          "Anglophones- like Francophones- have the constitutional right to receive services in their mother tongue whenever in a minority situation where numbers demand it, as is clearly the case in Montréal. Get over it and move on."

          This is an artificial, silly right from the Constitution in which Quebec did not sign and therefore was imposed on Quebec. This consitutional right helps English make inroads in Quebec while it does not help French because everyone knows that the Francophone minority in ROC is minuscule and dying. This right therefore was a veiled attempt to promote English in Quebec in a goal for eventual anglicization of Quebec so that it can finally be part of a monolithic English-speaking country.

          This one of the reasons why Quebec should be independent. The francophones of Quebec should draw up their own constitution and impose it on their territory if they have any interest in promoting their language and culture which is threatened.

          • Pardon me, Antonio, but didn't you refer to yourself as an anglophone elsewhere in this thread?

          • "Pardon me, Antonio, but didn't you refer to yourself as an anglophone elsewhere in this thread?"

            Yes I did. So, what are you saying? You think it is impossible that an anglophone could possibly take the side of francophones of Quebec? It is true. There are other such anglophones like me although they are in the minority. This is because many anglophones live in a bubble in Quebec and do not interact with francophones and do not understand their point of view like I do. I blame this on the separate services that anglophones in Quebec enjoy. This causes segregation and the continuation of the two solitudes in Quebec. Quebec should abolish these parallel English services and force everybody to live together. It would be so much better for Quebec.

  7. There is not more anti-anglophone bigotry in Quebec than there is anti-francophone bigotry in the ROC. I know what I'm talking about, I'm a french-speaking Canadian living in the ROC. And the same happened to the french-speaking Éric Amber when he was growing up in Alberta (listen : http://www.radioego.com/ego/listen/2803).

    I've lived and travelled in many provinces and I heard mean things from both sides. The problem is political, that's it that's all! We just need to learn to put politics aside and get to know the people who make up this country, and to do so it might be a good idea to learn the other official language. (babbel.com)

  8. There is not more anti-anglophone bigotry in Quebec than there is anti-francophone bigotry in the ROC. I know what I'm talking about, I'm a french-speaking Canadian living in the ROC. And the same happened to the french-speaking Éric Amber when he was growing up in Alberta – listen : http://www.radioego.com/ego/listen/2803

    I've lived and travelled in many provinces and I heard mean things from both sides. The problem is political, that's it that's all! We just need to learn to put politics aside and get to know the people who make up this country, and to do so it might be a good idea to learn the other official language. – http://www.babbel.com

    • His apology was not to Les Sages Fous.
      But go and think what you will.

  9. Oh, and by the way, saying Quebec pays for X is ridiculous considering that these Anglophones pay taxes, too, for the very institutions that they use!

    • "Oh, and by the way, saying Quebec pays for X is ridiculous considering that these Anglophones pay taxes, too, for the very institutions that they use!"

      It is not just the anglophones that pay for them, but everyone else in Quebec. If Anglophones want these institutions, then they should pay for them out of their own pocket. Only a single school system should be publicly-funded, and the language of this system should be French.

      • The anglophones, through their taxes, also help pay for French-language services in Quebec, exactly as francophone taxpayers help pay for English-language services.

        • "The anglophones, through their taxes, also help pay for French-language services in Quebec, exactly as francophone taxpayers help pay for English-language services."

          Francophones are in the majority in Quebec so they have a greater burden in taxes towards English services than vice-versa.

          There should be only one publicly funded services for all in Quebec. The language for those services should be in French for the reasons that I have stated in a post above.

          • Interesting that you are also incompetent at basic math.

          • "Interesting that you are also incompetent at basic math. "

            Elaborate on what you mean

          • I'll let you ponder it.

          • "I'll let you ponder it. "

            Yeah

            You are not man enough to admit that you lost the debate.

            Chicken

          • [deep sigh]

            "Debate"? Give me a break. You're the most shameless liar I've come across on these boards.

            OK, here's the deal. The degree to which francophones taxpayers subsidise English-language services is inversely proportional to the degree to which anglophone taxpayers subsidise French-language services. Capisce?

          • "OK, here's the deal. The degree to which francophones taxpayers subsidise English-language services is inversely proportional to the degree to which anglophone taxpayers subsidise French-language services. Capisce?"

            No. Sophistry as usual.

            Inversely proportional in this context would mean that either francophones subsidize MORE English sevices in relation to anglophones who correspondingly subsize LESS French services or francophones subsidize LESS English services while anglophones subsidize MORE French services

            Which is it? What do you mean? How is it this way?

            You make no sense and are probably just obfuscating the issue.

          • "Inversely proportional in this context would mean that either francophones subsidize MORE English sevices in relation to anglophones who correspondingly subsize LESS French services or francophones subsidize LESS English services while anglophones subsidize MORE French services"

            You got it. It's both, since one implies the other. Both anglophones and francophones subsidise both English-language and French-language services at exactly the same rate, since they are taxed provincially at the same rate and services in both languages are funded by the province. An incredible concept, I realise, but they'll get to it when you hit Grade 9 math.

          • You are not making any sense.

            You still have not answered my three questions which, simply speaking, means that you still have not explained how this relationship of anglophone/francophone subsidization is "inversely proportional"?

            Instead of responding to that, you again go off on a mysterious tangent by saying that both subsidize at exactly the same rate. Unless you mean that they are 1:1 inversly proportional, which would mean that as one side increases subsidizing, the other decreases by the same amount, you don't know what "same rate" means. If they were to pay for services at the "same rate", then anglophones, who make up 8% of Quebec's population, should get 8% off all available funding to pay for English instiutions. Do they? No, they get at least 14 % of funding, sometimes higher especially in the cases of hospitals and universities. So, therefore, francophones and the rest of Quebecers have a greater burden in taxes in paying for English services than vice-versa. That is what I was talking about.

            Not only do you not know grammatical terms (you don't even know what the passive voice is!) but you know nothing about the concept of "rate" and "proportion". And yet, you think you can give me lessons. You are probably talking out of your arse because you know you have nothing to say. I give you credit for that but not for owning up to losing the debate and admitting it.

            I am done here with you.

          • How nice, to end with a francisism. Adieu, imbecile.

  10. Continuing from my last post,…..

    "It is very hard for anglophones to be assimilated in Quebec." The expression "it is hard for X" is not used with the passive voice. "It is very hard for me to cope with liars" would be fine, for instance, but you really require an intent on the part of the actor: "hard" implies focalisation, i.e. perception of the action by the doer of the action. Anyway, what you probably meant was "It is very unlikely that anglophones will be assimilated in Quebec" or "It is virtually impossible for an anglophone to be assimilated in Quebec" (which is quite untrue, incidentally, as a glance at the region where I'm staying right now, the Gatineau Valley, will tell you: most people with anglo last names are francophone).

    That is ridiculous. Not only is "it is hard for X" a common saying in English speakers (Google the expression) but it is also grammatically correct. Furthermore, the expression cannot be translated into French because the passive voice in French only works if the direct object is used as the subject in the passsive, not an indirect object or dummy pronoun like in English. So, I was not empolying a francism.

    "There is of course nothing wrong with making a few mistakes like this in a second language; but it means it is useless to pretend you are a native speaker. The bonus is that I therefore don't rebuke you for your orthography. May I say that your prose redoubles my resolve to protect the French language from the creeping threat of anglicism."

    Yeah, whatever you say. You still have not proved one instance that I used francisms in my last post.

    • LOL, why keep up this ridiculous charade?

      • "LOL, why keep up this ridiculous charade? "

        Explain why this is so or shut your mouth.

        • I've already patiently explained it. You are pretending to be an anglophone so as to discredit the experience of actual anglophones in Montreal. That you are not an anglophone is quite obvious from your prose, which contains numerous francisisms. (I am not going to waste my time explaining why "of which I am" is not grammatical English.) While I admire your ability to write very well in a second language, it is disingenous (to say the least) to pretend to be someone else in order to discredit the actual experience of actual anglophones. Shall I pretend to be a Lac St-Jean francophone and give the inside info on how surprisingly federalist everybody is in Jonquière? Will that impress anybody? Do yourself a favour and take off the cocktail dress.

          • "I've already patiently explained it. "

            And I have already explained that your claims of proof that I am not an anglophone is ridiculous. No more than your baseless and gutless accusations of rampant bigotry in Quebec

          • The next lesson will be on subject-verb agreement.

  11. I have also been on the receiving end of Amber's famous bad temper and I also see that his apology is total bull. He is a terrible shame to the Quebecois culture and is NOT a francophone Quebecois, but a redneck Albertan.