As a Montrealer of Greek origin who is fluent in Greek, French and English, I look at Quebec and all the incidents that have occurred in the past few months and I ask myself this one, simple, question: what the hell is going on?
But there’s another question Anglophones and Francophones should be asking themselves: why can’t we embrace bilingualism in this province? Why can’t we accept that Quebec is a province of two official languages and both will be equally represented from now on? Why do we insist on pointing fingers at each other and accusing the other side of undermining the other’s language?
Since the election of the PQ government, things have seriously worsened. The Office quebecois de la langue française found new life after receiving unnecessary funding from the provincial government and put it to absolutely no use by attacking restaurants like Buonanotte, ultimately making fools of themselves and of the PQ in the process. These are old-school techniques that the younger, more open-minded generation of Quebecers simply doesn’t appreciate.
We’ve come an extremely long way since the creation of Bill 101, and the last thing we need is for Premier Pauline Marois to reignite that good-for-nothing fire. (Bill 101, passed by the PQ in 1977, limits the use of the English language commercially and restricts enrollment in English schools.) No matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you push, Quebec has unofficially been branded a bilingual province over the years. All Marois is doing is further tarnishing her party’s image.
The younger generations have accepted the fact that Quebec is and will be an open-minded province accepting of two official languages. There certainly remains an older generation that’s bitter towards each other, but like it or not, they will disappear as the next generation comes along.
What really presses my buttons, however, is the fact that Quebec has the potential to be the greatest province in Canada if we set our mind to it. Imagine a Quebec where everyone is bilingual and most are trilingual, considering the fact that we already are a melting pot of diverse cultures. Imagine the businesses we could attract, the growth we could instigate and the money we would save by exterminating useless organizations like the OQLF, not researching the possibility of separation and stopping the creation of discriminatory bills such as Bill 14, which will add new restrictions to the use of the English language.
I am a bitter Quebecer and I’ve had enough. I’m bitter, not against the French or the English specifically, but bitter against the tension that still lies between them after all these years. To all who still have a problem, grow up, embrace your neighbour and work on living in a bilingual Quebec.
If I am forced to order pasta in French and forced to walk because I won’t order a metro ticket in French, then so be it. I will walk straight out of this province to one of the open-minded provinces and states that surround Quebec, just like so many did after the referendums. Quebec is coming dangerously close to that once again. It’s time for the younger generation to put an end to this.
George Menexis is opinions editor of The Concordian newspaper, where this was first printed.