Consider it the great Francophone conspiracy. According to Statistics Canada, thousands of Francophones lied about their English skills on the 2006 Census in an effort to secure more federal dollars for government programs. The coordinated falsehood is believed to have originated in an anonymous French-language email urging people to hide their English-speaking abilities. The result: an inexplicable drop in bilingual Francophones. In Ontario, for instance, the number of bilingual Francophones, which had risen between one and three percentage points since 1991, dropped to 88.4 per cent from 89.4 per cent. As Jean Pierre Corbeil, a chief specialist in the language statistics section puts it, “How can you explain people living in a minority situation, even in really strong minority situations, that they would become less bilingual? This is almost impossible.” Though lying on the Census is punishable with a $500 fine, such cases are rarely prosecuted.