Anglophobia?

08.02.05

The Gazette published an editorial today by Don MacPherson in which it discussed results of a new CROP- La Presse poll stating that an Anglophone could never get elected Premier here in Quebec.

Excuse me for saying this… but duh!

Us make up less than 10% of Quebec’s population, we’re mostly concentrated in Montreal, and we’re not exactly what most people have in mind when they refer to the “Quebecois” culture.

MacPherson believes this is yet more evidence of the province’s oldest, and worst-kept secret prejudice: Anglophobia:

So the question of whether Quebec is ready for an anglophone premier is so hypothetical that it’s a wonder La Presse was willing to blow the cover of “civic” Quebec nationalism by having its pollster ask it.

The answers should have come as no surprise, since anglophobia is the one form of prejudice that remains socially acceptable in an otherwise tolerant Quebec, justified on the grounds of historic rivalry and a minority’s insecurity. And the opinion leaders in French Quebec who could lead the fight against this prejudice, as their counterparts have done elsewhere, instead, with few exceptions, feed and nurture it.

I would be the first to deny that there is a deep prejudice against English or English-speakers in this province. Anyone who has tried to apply for a job here – even with fluent French – has surely run up against it.

However, I don’t think I’d go so far as to claim that anyone who believes an Anglophone shouldn’t be premier is prejudiced against English. In a province where language has been the political issue for decades, is it so far-fetched to believe that people think the best person to lead a province is someone who represents most of the people on that particular issue?

I’m not defending Anglophobia. But it’s nonsense to claim it’s on par with racism or sexism. Those things have nothing to do with a person’s political leanings. Language, on the other hand, has everything to do with it here. Have we become so politically-correct that we are refusing to acknowledge this obvious fact?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John Palubiski 08.02.05 at 4:54 PM

Your skepticism vis à vis charges of anglophobia is quite understandable.

So let’s forget about becomming Premier.

However, what about an anglo mayor for Montréal? At the moment we account for about 25% of the city’s population, but until the 1920’s fully half of Montréal was anglophone.

There are also questions concerning our community’s legitimacy. If we are no longer electable at the helm of a city we’re largely responsible for building, then do we have any business here at all?

Perhaps francophones aren’t anglophobes, perhaps they just lack basic courtesy as well as ANY ability to understand and appreciate our accomplishments.

Yeah! That must be it!

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2 segacs 08.02.05 at 5:47 PM

Anglos were elected mayor before 1920, and even afterwards. The face of our city has changed, though, and you can’t possibly think that “we used to be a majority” is a legitimate basis for power.

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3 John Palubiski 08.02.05 at 7:13 PM

No Sari, I don’t think “we used to be a majority” can be a legitimate basis for power. I agree with you. In fact, if I were to disagree, that’d leave me in much the same position as the Péquists, wouldn’t it?

That said, only about 65% of Montréal is composed of francos, yet 100% of the mayors for the past 80 years have ALL been fancophone!

Surely there’s room somewhere for the occasional non-franco mayor! Why not an Italian or a Greek, or someone from the Jewish or Portugese communities?

A city whose mayoralty doesn’t reflect its cultural/lingusitic makeup has a probleme. I think that after an haitus of 80 odd years a non-francophone mayor is entirely in order…..francophone “sensibilities”be damned!

To boot, “sensibilities” anchored in little else than a fear of “the other” are to be discouraged at every turn, and a non-franco mayor would go a long way to that end.

Now, back to work!

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4 segacs 08.02.05 at 8:38 PM

I must say I’m surprised at your comments, coming from someone who usually leans fairly rightward on most issues (understatement? perhaps).

Why should we elect someone just because they’re from a minority linguistic or cultural background? What ever happened to voting for the candidate with the best qualifications?

Your comments sound an awful lot like people who criticize companies for having too few female executives, or governments for too few minority cabinet ministers.

It’s time we got past all that and just voted for everyone on equal footing. That – IMHO – would go a lot further towards promoting true equality than a policy designed to give people opportunties just because they’re from a minority background.

Anyway, politics is nothing but a popularity contest by its very nature. Of course the biggest group is going to be able to choose one of their own most of the time – or even almost all the time. Nothing all that shocking there.

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5 John Palubiski 08.03.05 at 4:01 PM

Your points are well taken, Sari, but I’m not claiming that people should be elected just because they’re from a particular ethnic group.

However, it’s fairly resonable to expect that majorities find, at times, the generosity within themselves to support and elect individuals from outside their ethnic/linguistic group. It’s perhaps the best indicator of a society’s maturity…..and its propensity for tolerance.

I’m far from arguing for some sort of quota systeme, here.

If an anglo speaks fluent French, is well integrated and is considered class “A” material, then why should francophones have a probleme supporting that anglo in his/her run for public office?

Why the waste of precious human resources?

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