Multiculturalism is for others


After the last election campaign in Quebec, Bernard Landry told me:

My personal position is that Quebec is not multicultural and should not be. The Canadian constitution – which we never signed – should not be applied here. No Quebec government is favourable to multiculturalism.

It struck me then that, despite all the hoopla around “reasonable accomodations,” there had been no virtually no discussion of the role multiculturalism should play in Quebec, if any at all. Pauline Marois raised it (somewhat tangentially) after taking over the PQ by calling for Quebec to repatriate full control over immigration from the federal government because too many immigrants “believe that they are settling in a bilingual state. It’s not true. Quebec is a francophone state that respects the rights of its anglophone minority.” Otherwise, there’s been nary a peep about multiculturalism as official (and sancrosanct) Canadian policy.

Until now. The Bloc Québécois is now trying to formalize the PQ’s rejection of multiculturalism with a private member’s bill that would absolve Quebec of any responsibilities under the federal Multiculturalism Act. Pierre Paquette detailed the plan in an op-ed in Le Devoir late last week (a bit of a rough translation, I know, but bear with me):

In effect, Canada’s policy of multiculturalism serves two functions: it negates the national and civic character of Quebec by confining the Québécois nation to an ethnic status and it perpetuates the process of minoritization of this nation within Canada.

The Québécois nation has an identity that is proper to it. It needs control of the levers that are essential to the complete deployment of its integration model. An amendment to the Canadian Multiculturalism Act would suffice to ensure that the signal sent to new arrivals is clear and coherent with the integration desires of the Québécois nation.

It’ll be interesting to see what the federal Conservatives do with the bill, considering a good chunk of their base isn’t exactly crazy about multiculturalism either.


Multiculturalism is for others

  1. Perhaps we should consider that, as long as people require either english or french to comunicate with teh province, and french to do everything also, particularily once one gets north of the cities, nothing will change. Let us look at the only completely bilingual province in Canada: Nova Scotia. (Don’t tell my father I said that, he stubbornly clings to “L’Acadie” although his family was deported over 200 years ago.)Nova Scotia has some towns that are completely french speacking. There is even the only completely french university (others have french-immersion programs, but still offer english classes) outside of La Belle Provence. It would seem magically, francophone and anglophone communities co-exist in peace. Not to mention that they accept the idea of a multicultural society. Why are we so upset about not signing the constitution? No seperatist government is oging to sign a CANADIAN constitution, because they seem to have a hard time admitting that we are still part of Canada, and even if we disn’t sign said constitution, we still have to abide by it’s laws.

  2. Actually, the only bilingual province is New Brunswick! But your point is well taken, Marie-Claire, that those of us outside Quebec who speak French (I’m the son of a lost Acadian and have become bilingual as an adult; my kids go to French school in Ontario) are proud of the bilingual nature of this country and want nothing more than for the 2 founding peoples to coexist side by side. And why does multiculturalism threaten the essential francophonie of Quebec? Immigrants there need to adopt French to flourish, and produce some great parts of the Canadian mosaic in doing so. (Just watch kids singer Carmen Campagne’s video for “Gino parle italiano”).

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