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Non to anglais

Francophone kids in Quebec will still not be allowed to go to English schools, according to the Supreme Court decision that came down today:

The Quebec government is welcoming two Supreme Court decisions on the province’s language laws.

The court ruled against an attempt by francophone parents to win the right to free access to English public schools.

This is an English-rights issue in a way… but in reverse. It’s not anglophones in Quebec who are the second-class citizens here, it’s francophones. The oppressive language policy allows us English kids to become fluently bilingual in grade school, but doesn’t allow French kids to learn English at an early age and become fluently bilingual. That’s why so many people feel stuck in Quebec – especially those who live outside Montreal, where English instruction in French schools is often of poor quality.

Quebec is my home but it’s also a very closed, defensive society. Paranoia about English means that restrictive legislation designed to “protect” French actually holds Quebec Francophones hostage here. It’s a policy of fear with no basis in reality, since all evidence indicates that learning a second or third language at a young age helps, rather than hurts, kids’ language skills in their mother tongue.

And of course all the politicians who merrily protect these laws don’t care; they send their kids to private schools, where many of them do learn to be fluently bilingual.

There was a bit of a silver lining, as a second ruling tried to make it easier for immigrants to have access to English schools. I predict that the legislation will be reframed to avoid that as well.

And so, Francophone parents will continue to be restricted by policies intended for the “common good”. Not much changes.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Dave 04.01.05, 6:00 PM

    A quick question, from someone who’s from Ontario and is not very familiar with the language laws. Does this policy apply to all schools, or just public schools? Could francophone parents send their kids to a private school for instruction in English?

  • segacs 04.01.05, 6:56 PM

    Yes, French parents can send their kids to an English private school. The policy only applies to public schools. Many politicians use that loophole for their own kids, in fact. Ironic, ain’t it?

  • half canadian 04.01.05, 7:39 PM

    Isn’t this a bit like saying “You belong to me”? That’s a rather dictatorial position to take.

  • Hanthala 04.02.05, 2:36 AM

    That’s OK though. At least they will be spared being told, before they understand why but while still getting the pity in the look (ie. quite condescendingly) how “lucky” they are to speak English (especially when their English rivals that of “native” speakers) (and especially when they are being told this by profs who are…um…east European in origin).lol.

  • Hanthala 04.02.05, 2:44 AM

    But yeah, Parizeau, of all MoFos sent his kids to Lower Canada College..en anglais. I went to anglais school too, half WASP, and was repeatedly told how “lucky” I am. Makes me laugh, lucky enough to understand the slurs against my people made in my presence when no one suspects? Lucky enough to be called a “maudite anglaise” by the quebecoisE who know where I went to school? Its a bit like Jews and Arabs. Ouch!

  • Montreal Children's Art Dude 05.13.05, 12:09 AM

    I am back in Montreal after a 13 year absence (I was only here the first time for two years, in any case), and I must say that I have found the atmosphere generally a lot less charged. There is no pop song with the Chant “Bill 101, Bill 101” being played anywhere, for example!

    Is this, do you think, because low unemployment makes for happy camp dwellers? (Unemployment was 11 % when I left!) Is it because M. Parizeau is gone? Is it because of the 1995 referendum (that I completely did not know the existence of, having spent ’94-’01 off the continent?) Thoughts?

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