The francophones are coming! - Macleans.ca

The francophones are coming!

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You can hardly blame the Montreal Gazette‘s editorial board for riffing on this study that found francophone Quebecers earn more than anglophone Quebecers:

“It’s part of popular culture among francophones to hearken back to the era when there was a class system in Quebec that was partly based on language,” Bourque said. “The image of the English boss maintains a powerful hold on the popular imagination.”

But lower wages for English-speakers are the norm across the province – even though anglophones are better educated on average than francophones, Jedwab said.

Anglophones earned a median wage of $24,617 in 2006 compared to $26,388 for francophones.

The kicker, as Léger’s Christian Bourque puts it above, is that francophones overwhelmingly think the opposite is true. According to Léger’s poll, only one out of 200 francophone Quebecers (0.5 per cent) thinks francophones earn more than anglophones (39 per cent mistakenly believe their tea-sipping, Union Jack-worshipping counterparts take home more money). Oh, conventional wisdom based on age-old stereotypes, why do you insist on making such fools of us? What next—a Le Devoir headline revealing us francophones didn’t, in fact, sleep with your wife?

What really got my attention, though, was this little nugget buried way at the bottom of the story:

While francophones earn more than anglophones on average in almost every region, the wage gap is particularly wide in Westmount ($42,171 for anglos age 25 to 44, compared to $56,799 for francophones in the same age range), Town of Mount Royal ($36,888 compared to $50,235) and Dollard des Ormeaux ($29,974 compared to $38,030.)

Those of you familiar with Montreal (12.5% anglo, median household income: $38,201) will recognize Westmount (54.1% anglo, median household income: $79,466), Town of Mount Royal (21.8% anglo, median household income: $86,743) and Dollard-des-Ormeaux (44.8% anglo, median household income: $65,046) as some of the wealthier anglo enclaves in the city. As a former Montrealer, they aren’t the places I would have guessed would have the sharpest divides.

What the study suggests is a barbarians at the gate-type scenario: as francophones become wealthier, they’re moving into areas that were traditionally associated with the anglo bourgeoisie. The anglos, meanwhile, are staying put (or perhaps moving there), no matter what their financial status may be. In other words, to the anglos, Westmount, DDO and (to a lesser extent) TMR remain anglophone neighbourhoods, but not necessarily wealthy ones, while for francophones, they’re wealthy neighbourhoods, but not necessarily anglophone ones. It used to be that assuming one meant assuming the other, but it appears that’s no longer the case.

What I’m finding most amusing about all this is the idea that wealthy francophones are effectively gentrifying the gold-plated ghettos of English Montreal. Forget keeping up with the Joneses. The challenge from now on is keeping up with the Jean-Guys.

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