The PQ: Better French than Chinese

A closer look at Jean-François Lisée’s claim that French has lost its place

PQ candidate Jean-François Lisée was on the radio today talking about how the Parti Québécois will ensure the survival of the French language in Montreal. Just a reminder: under the provisions of Bill 101, the children of immigrants must go to primary and secondary school in French. This apparently isn’t enough for the PQ because, as Lisée himself pointed out in another interview, “from the moment where there isn’t a majority of people whose first language isn’t French, it means there is no majority to defend it. We can be very attached to our second languages, but I won’t go protest to defend English or Spanish.”

Part of the PQ plan is to award more “points” (immigration-wise) to people who have French as a mother tongue. Lisée explained it this way:

And we said, we cannot allow French to be marginalized in our metropolis. We will take measure to ensure the future without removing anyone from anyone, of course, through the selection criteria of immigrants. Right now we give the same number of points to someone who says they speak French and the come from Shanghai, and someone who says they speak French and come from Bordeaux. But in Bordeaux, that person lives in French with their family, so we will give him a few more points.

Incidentally, I have a long piece in the mag about this coming out Thursday. Among other things I found out: Lisée’s contention that French is losing its place in Montreal is debunked by none other than the Office québécois de la langue française. That’s right, the language police.

Stay tuned.




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The PQ: Better French than Chinese

  1. Needless to say, if a BC politician had said that native English speakers should get extra immigration points vs non-native English speakers, that politician would have been branded racist faster than the speed of light.

  2. @Jim__R:disqus It’s even better than that. Not only would the BC pol have favour english speakers, he’d have to favour english speakers from England over english speakers from China to reach the same level of language lunacy.

    • well, i’d rather English speakers from England and their zero integration issues, personally. But besides that, regardless of how much separatists annoy you, it’s unfair to make comparisons between French and the all conquering globalizing English that dominates the North American continent. Socialist economic illiteracy amongst the “souverainistes” annoys me much more than people wanting to preserve their language.

      • It’s beyond just preserving the language when you start differentiating between French speakers and native French speakers, IMO.

    • That’s implied by the use of the qualifier “native” in “native English speaker”. E.g. someone fluent in English coming from China is unlikely to be a native English speaker; mother tongue (as the PQ puts it) being some form of Chinese rather than English.

  3. The interesting phenomenon going forward is whether we consider “Montreal” to be just the island or the whole urban area. Montreal island could be majority English-speaking again in 30 or 50 years as the old stock Francos keep moving to the suburbs in the 450, with the cultural and business elite of French Montreal somewhat of an island in Outremont, the Plateau, gay village and some of the downtown office towers. Anglo hipsters keep colonizing Rosemont, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Verdun, creating sort of a Berlin effect (Germans bitch about people not speaking German anymore due to influx of hipsters.) Lots of people will be some form of mixed-race bilingual or trilinguals. Lisee’s concerns are real, though one wishes he could see Montreal island’s reality as an interesting place worthy of its own merits, rather than something that needs to be changed or a fantasy that Montreal should be as French as Toronto is English. However he and his ilk are probably right in saying that without Bill 101 the island would have become a default English-speaking city years ago. It’s an interesting, if exhausting, balancing act.

    • But it was originally built and run by the Scottish.. default back to you mean

  4. 30% of the population are baby boomers & province is aging faster than the rest of the country. Everyone under 40 speaks French. 50k a tear of immigrants is a smaller % than the rest of the country but you need working age people to come here to pay for all those gazillion future pension liabilities. But where will you find people who speak French as a 1st language? France has its own demographic issues. Belgium? Swiss? Bottom line, the de souche vision of Quebec is doomed but that does not mean French is. It will just be a more tolerant Quebec that wants to also learn English in a globally competitive world while keeping its distinctive character. Time to move on on this issue. Tant pis!

  5. Shawn Dalton ==> youtube . com

    I’m writing a book about these touchy subjects. My debates are online including “The Death of Canadian Bilingualism”

  6. Statistics Canada 2011 Census ==> Quebec (79% French in the home) New Brunswick (27% French in the home) Ontario (2.2% French spoken in the home). All other provinces and territories French spoken in the home is less than half of 1%.

    2001 ==> 1.8 million students enrolled in French immersion programs

    2011 ==> 1.4 million student enrolled in french immersion programs

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