Lisée: Quebec’s plan to eradicate English

Clever piece but unlikely to convince many:

It’s much worse than everything you’ve heard. The assault on the Anglo minority in Quebec has been best summed-up by Marlene Jennings: it is, she said, a “perfect formula” for “eradication.” She should know. The former Liberal MP headed until recently the Quebec Community Groups Network, spearheading the fight against François Legault’s many-pronged and still evolving eradication plan.

The numbers don’t lie. Quebecers who have English as a mother tongue account for 8 per cent of the population. But what of the ability to attract newcomers into the Anglo fold, given the enormous power of attraction of French on the continent? The proportion of Quebecers that uses English more than French in their daily lives is only 14 per cent. That doesn’t even double the count. Granted, 44 per cent of all Quebecers do speak English as do close to 80 per cent of young francophone Montrealers, but that is poor consolation.

Case in point: Quebec’s intolerant immigration policies has only let into the Montreal area about 90,000 unilingual English-speaking newcomers in the last three years — since the election of the governing CAQ — which barely adds 14 per cent to the Anglo population, so you can see where this is headed.

Everybody knows that the CAQ language bill, now in effect, will crack down on any doctor or nurse who would dare speak English to anyone not member of the “historic Anglo community,” meaning those who attended school in English. The actual text of the law tries to hide this fact by stating that French is required “except in health,” and then a specific section gaslights jurists by saying it specifically does not apply to the general statute on health and social services. 

Don’t be fooled by the fact that other law compels hospitals in all regions to set up English speaking access plans and to render services in English for anyone who asks for them. In reality, Anglo Quebecers have little other resource than to rely on the 37 institutions of the English public health network, which barely employs 45 per cent of the Island of Montreal’s health workers. 

Outside that small cocoon, English speakers needing medical care will be lucky if they fall in the hands of the puny proportion of French doctors that actually speak their language: 88 per cent. It is clear to anyone who follows these issues that French Canadians outside Quebec would revolt if their access to health in their language was that dire.

It’s even shoddier, of course, in the labour market. Toronto readers know, thanks to Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne, that “the law prohibits the use of any language but French in the province’s workplaces, large or small, public or private.” Specifically, the new law extends to mid-sized shops, the regulation having existed for 35 years in larger ones. 

The damage is already done: in the last census, the proportion of workers in the Montreal area who used mostly English at work was down to 20 per cent, those who use it regularly down to 49 per cent. Why aren’t all these people fined by the language police? 

Corruption, laziness and incompetence, endemic in Quebec as famously reported in Maclean’s magazine, are surely the only explanation for this lack of enforcement, hidden perhaps behind a slew of exceptions enabling anyone to speak any language to clients, suppliers, the head office, or colleagues, provided French is the “usual and habitual language of work.” Usual and habitual, which are, of course, code words for intransigence. Now if someone would be foolish enough to impose, say, English as the “usual and habitual language of work” in Toronto or Mississauga, all hell would break loose.

In Quebec, only 14 per cent of management positions are held by the 8 per cent of Anglos, which gives them a ridiculously small systemic advantage. Thank God for the rebel CEOs of Air Canada, SNC-Lavalin, the Laurentian Bank, the Canadian National and Couche Tard, proud unilingual Anglos, who enable all their senior staff and secretaries to revel in English, whatever their linguistic background. That’s inclusion.

Language oppression is Quebec is particularly offensive in education. René Lévesque’s Bill 101 famously took away the linguistic choice for K-12 to all, except Anglos and immigrants going to English schools prior to 1977, who retain the right to choose and pass it to their descendants for all eternity, and any English-Canadian of any background schooled in English moving to Quebec anytime and their descendants, for all eternity. Appalling.

Granted, the 8 per cent of Anglos have access to 17 per cent of spots in colleges and 25 per cent of universities, with 30 per cent of research grants. The new law would actually cap the Anglo Cegeps at merely double the presence of Anglos in the population. Not only that. These institutions of higher learning used to properly shun Anglo high schoolers that had lesser grades and give their spots to French students bright enough and bilingual enough to enrol there. The anti-Anglo nationalist government now forces these colleges to give precedence to Anglo students in enrolment, thus forcing Anglo institutions into debasing themselves by catering to lesser Anglos. Shameful, really.

Now for the coup de grâce. The inward-looking Quebec government seems to have it in it’s head that Anglo kids should be proficient enough in French to succeed in a work environment where French is still, alas, unavoidable. By law, all Anglo high schoolers with diplomas in hand are deemed bilingual. So why bother asking them, in college, to hone this skill? This idea is so bonkers that when the Quebec Liberal party proposed that Anglo students attend three classes IN French, (alongside their French colleagues who follow ALL classes in English), the scandal was enormous. 

The federation of colleges announced that a full third of Anglo students would fail. Not fare badly, but fail. Pretending that a bilingual person could actually read texts, attend lectures and render a paper in another language is of course nonsensical. One Anglo CEGEP director, Christian Corno, hit it on the nail by writing, in French, that this abomination was motivated by a willingness “to make Anglo students atone for the sins of their ancestors” (who may or may not have oppressed the French in the past, a debatable assertion). 

The fallback position has been to increase the number of French classes that these poor students should take, from two to five. This, also, puts their grades in jeopardy. Forcing students to learn the language of the majority of the population where they live and will work is an unacceptable imposition, surely unheard of anywhere else in the world.

The relentlessness of Quebec’s assaults on minority and religious rights extracts a heavy toll on its international reputation and attractiveness. Last year, only 177,000 foreign temporary workers and students were in the province. Yes, it is triple the usual amount and an all-time high. But just think of those who didn’t come. 

Foreign investment is repelled by the current intolerant climate. FDI in the Montreal area only jumped 69 per cent to a record high of $3.7 billionlast year but this is only attributable to Quebec boasting a recent growth rate greater than that of any G7 countries, Canada included. The fact that these newcomers and investors came to Quebec after the controversy and adoption of the secularism bill and during the language bill controversy simply points to the paucity of information available to them.

Thankfully, for the first time in history, the number of Ontarians moving to Quebec outpaced the number or Quebecers moving to Ontario. It used to be that, each year, 3,000 to 9,000 more Quebecers would leave for Ontario than the other way around. But given the new toxic environment, the flow has flipped and, last year, almost a net 800 brave Ontarianscrossed the Ottawa River to settle in Quebec. (In total, an astonishing 29,000 citizens moved from the Rest of Canada to Quebec in 2021.) Not for lower housing prices or better services or job outlook, but simply, surely, to contribute in defeating the eradication plan afoot. More will be needed. 

Please, come in droves! Hurry, before the last English word is ever spoken in Quebec.

Jean-François Lisée is an author, a columnist for Le Devoir and a former head of the Parti Québécois. This text may contain traces of irony. One may find his rants at

Source: Quebec’s plan to eradicate English

Raj: NDP puts minority rights aside as it courts Quebec

Of note:

The federal NDP and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May voted to endorse the use of the notwithstanding clause and Quebec’s controversial Bill 96 Wednesday, by supporting Bloc Québécois legislation that strips the rights of non-francophones in the province.

The Bloc sought to amend several pieces of federal legislation to impose French as the dominant language in the province and tried to prevent Ottawa from contesting Quebec’s contentious language moves.

Its bill C-238, which was defeated Wednesday, would have changed the Citizenship Act so that Quebec residents can only become citizens if they have “adequate knowledge of French.” Everywhere else in Canada, residents must only demonstrate they speak either French or English. 

The bill also amended the Canada Labour Code, the Official Languages Act, and the Canadian Business Corporations Act by subjecting them to Quebec’s French language charter. 

Whatever the government of Quebec put into its charter would tie Ottawa’s hands.

This is concerning when you consider the nationalist Coalition Avenir Quebec — which is likely to be re-elected with a sweeping majority Monday — passed Bill 96 earlier this year. That legislation amended the French language charter to prevent many English speakers from speaking to each other in English at work (or in a language other than French); made it difficult for employers to require employees know any language other than French; and banned many people from accessing government services in English — even when they are available. It even gave the province the right to enter private businesses without a warrant to ensure emails, for example, are being sent in French and gave individuals the right to seek damages in court if their language rights are breached.

Quebec’s charter also imposes unnecessary hardship on newcomers, forcing them to learn French within six months of their arrival — after which the government only communicates with them in French. Expecting new arrivals to learn a language in six months is not only unrealistic but sets them up for failure.

And yet, this is what NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his MPs voted for Wednesday. This from a party that prides itself on standing up for minority rights.

Quebec Premier François Legault has pre-emptively used the notwithstanding clause twice now to avoid legal challenges arising from obvious reaches of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, most recently with Bill 96 and previously with Bill 21, a law that prevents Quebecers employed in certain professions such as teachers, judges, and police officers from wearing religious symbols. Just last year, an elementary teacher in Chelsea, Que., was removed from her classroom for wearing a head scarf.

It’s hard to believe this is the kind of behaviour the NDP — or Elizabeth May, now a candidate for the leadership of the Green Party — wants to be associated with.

The decline of French in Quebec is a real concern. It is one shared by many allophones and anglophones in Quebec too. But subjecting federal laws to a provincial government, especially one that has questioned publicly why it should be subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is another thing altogether.

And while the NDP wants to have it both ways — by claiming it is standing up for the protection of the French language and respecting anglophone minority rights — its actions this week show it isn’t doing both. It also raises questions about whether the party is ready to contest for power if it is unwilling to assert Ottawa’s jurisdiction.

New Democrats note that they’ve always supported the idea that federal institutions operating in Quebec should be subject to the province’s language charter. The NDP’s only Quebec MP, Alexandre Boulerice, noted last spring that it made little sense for credit unions in the province to operate under different laws than federally-regulated banks. Bill 96, however, has changed that conversation.

Language is touchy in Quebec. The vast majority of Quebecers support Bill 96. Most of the province’s political parties do too. In fact, Quebec Liberals are polling in the single digits with francophones, likely due to their opposition to Bill 96 and Bill 21. 

For nearly two decades now, the NDP has embraced asymmetrical federalism with Quebec, including supporting the principle that 50 per cent plus one vote is enough to split the country. That position is credited for the party’s big win in 2011. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that yet again the NDP places chasing francophone support in Quebec above all else.

Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who helped convince his own caucus and lobbied opposition MPs to vote against the bill, said he was “very relieved” by its defeat. “Using the notwithstanding clause to deny people rights … is just very alarming,” he told the Star.

The silver lining in Wednesday’s vote came from the Liberals and notably Conservative MPs who unanimously stood opposed. Just 18 months ago, on a similar motion, all but one Conservative voted with the Bloc.

A new leader and a 2021 election that saw the Conservatives’ hopes for a big win in Quebec dashed seem to have contributed to an epiphany. That or Pierre Poilievre realized there are more votes to be had fighting the notwithstanding clause outside Quebec than endorsing it inside the province.

Source: NDP puts minority rights aside as it courts Quebec

Quebec tells federally regulated firms to guarantee use of French among employees

Federal response has been weak to date. Will be interesting to see the results of expected court cases:

The Quebec government is giving companies in federally regulated sectors one month to begin complying with new requirements to guarantee the use of French in their workplaces.

The move comes as Ottawa’s plans to modernize the country’s Official Languages Act, which will include new rules for federally regulated companies, are still being debated in Parliament.

Federally regulated sectors include banking, telecommunications and transportation, which were not under the legal purview of the Quebec government until the recent adoption of a new language law known as Bill 96.

Source: Quebec tells federally regulated firms to guarantee use of French among employees

Tom Mulcair on Legault’s multiculturalism remarks

Of note:

The weather is getting better, the Canada Day long weekend is just around the corner and we could all use a break…so Francois Legault decided it’s the perfect time to attack multiculturalism!

Last weekend, the Quebec premier had this to say: “It’s important that we don’t put all cultures on the same level; that’s why we oppose multiculturalism…We prefer to concentrate on what we call interculturalism, where we have one culture, the Quebec culture…”

Legault, of course, is just repeating something that has become commonplace in Quebec: the notion that multiculturalism is a threat.

That’s one of the reasons why Legault has been fighting for full jurisdiction over the choice of immigrants to his province, especially the family-reunification category.


Not content to just tell people what language they should speak at work, he’s taken to musing about the language people should speak at home. He apparently doesn’t want families reuniting if they are going to be speaking a language other than French in their own house!

For forty years, Canada has had constitutionally guaranteed official bilingualism within a framework of multiculturalism.

The old “two founding peoples” vision (English and French) was replaced by a view that Canada is enriched by the vibrant diversity of all cultures present, and that irrespective of national origin, certain rights to services in both official languages were to be protected.

Things like access to official language minority schools have been guaranteed. That means, in turn, that the English-speaking community of Quebec and the French-speaking minority of, say, Manitoba both have the constitutional right to control and manage the Boards that oversee the schools their kids can attend.

Other language rights are protected by the Canadian constitution. For example, English and French must be used at all steps of the legislative process in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick (the only officially bilingual province) and the right to use both languages is guaranteed in pleadings before the courts of those provinces.

In order to change the constitution in a way that affects guaranteed language rights, the 1982 Constitution Act says explicitly that you need a joint resolution of the House of Commons and the Senate. That’s what Quebec did when it replaced religion-based school boards with language-based institutions. Lucien Bouchard was the premier, I was in the Liberal opposition and both parties worked together to modernize the system.

Resolutions were obtained in both houses of the Canadian Parliament authorizing the change and It has gone into effect and worked since. Problem is, Legault has also attacked (with Bill 40) the right of the English-speaking community to control and manage its own school boards. The courts have had to intervene to enforce the constitution and stop him.

Since that rebuke, Legault seems to have resolved to never again let the Canadian constitution interfere with his plans to remove minority language rights. With Bill 96, Legault is now claiming to have unilaterally changed the B.N.A. Act, the founding constitutional law from 1867, to remove language guarantees for equality of English and French in official legal documents and before the courts.

No resolution of Parliament was required, in his view, and neither Justin Trudeau nor his Justice Minister David Lametti have stood up to defend the Canadian constitution or the citizens whose rights are being removed.

Those rights have been reinforced through a series of Supreme Court decisions and the bilingual nature of the courts and legislation in Manitoba, Quebec and New Brunswick are constitutionally sacrosanct. Lametti seems to be unaware.

After Bill 96 was enacted at the end of the legislative session in Quebec City, anglophone Quebecers woke up to the fact that they could no longer get a marriage certificate in English and an English birth certificate from B.C. may as well have be from the other end of the world. You need to have both officially translated – at your own expense! Of course this flies in the face of the constitution. But Trudeau and Lametti don’t want to make waves in the province where they both get elected, so they do nothing.

I was working in the legislative branch of the Quebec Justice Department in the late ‘70s when the Supreme Court ruled that the failure to respect the B.N.A. Act’s bilingualism obligations meant that all Quebec legislation could be struck down. A mad scramble ensued and the legislation was all reenacted, in both official languages, the next day.

Manitoba stonewalled but was eventually compelled to produce a full bilingual version of all of its legislation and the forms that come with it. I also worked in Manitoba for a couple of years to oversee that translation.

Imagine for one second that a Manitoba government would claim to be able to unilaterally amend the Manitoba Act, that mandates this official bilingualism! That was in fact a key argument the Manitoba government has tried in the past and it was rejected conclusively by the Supreme Court. If it were tried again, the Federal government wouldn’t waste a second challenging it.

Why then won’t the feds lift their little finger to protect the same right to use English in the courts in Quebec?


When the constitution allows for a difference for one province, it does so explicitly. For example, there is a different rule for access to English school in Quebec which is baked right into s. 23 of the 1982 constitution. There is, however, no difference allowed when it comes to the requirement to enact legislation, every step of the way, in both languages in Quebec. The use of both languages in legal documents before the courts is also guaranteed. So why this inertia in Ottawa?

To find an answer, it’s good to start with Bill 21, the Quebec law that openly discriminates against religious minorities generally and Muslim women in particular.

That law, like Bill 96, is so patently unconstitutional that Legault has preemptively used the notwithstanding clause to say that it applies despite the Charter of Rights.

Since that law was enacted, we’ve had various degrees of dithering from the different Federal parties, including Trudeau’s Liberals. But Trudeau is the Prime minister. Only he can refer these issues directly to the Supreme Court. Problem is, he won’t, because he’s terrified of Legault. As a result, the first time in our history, we have a federal government that refuses to defend the Canadian constitution.

In the meantime, religious and linguistic minorities are being left to fight the discriminatory and unconstitutional Bills 21 and 96 on their own. It’s a shameful abdication of responsibility by Trudeau and Lametti but such is the state of play when it comes to defending the rights of Canadians who happen to live in Quebec.

Against that backdrop, the Trudeau government has introduced language legislation to shore up the ageing Official Languages Act. Quebec has taken to sending in missives to the Feds telling them what changes have to be made to their law to harmonize it with Quebec’s language laws. This is very complex and detailed handiwork that appears to be beyond the grasp of the team Trudeau has tasked with shepherding the file through Parliament.

As a result, the fall session in Ottawa will no doubt see more than its fair share of debates on language.

For now, whether at the lake or in a local park, let’s just give ourselves that break and enjoy this weekend’s celebration of our fabulous country where, despite these ups and downs, we’re all so lucky to live together. Happy Canada Day!

Source: Tom Mulcair on Legault’s multiculturalism remarks

Khan: I thought the Charter protected Canadians’ fundamental rights, but I was wrong

Another good column by Sheema Khan:

Like you, there have been many times I have felt proud to be Canadian. For example, our government’s principled refusal to join the immoral invasion of Iraq. Attending citizenship ceremonies, where new Canadians remind us of the deeper meaning of citizenship. Being told by one of my Harvard professors that Canadian students were the best prepared – a testament to our excellent public education system. And of course, the 1995 Unity Rally in Montreal, on the eve of the Quebec referendum, where Canadians joined hands peacefully to express our heartfelt love for Canada and Quebec.

The contentment has been punctuated by instances of profound doubt, when I wonder what we really stand for. For example, the longstanding Canadian project to inflict cultural genocide on Indigenous communities. Just read the summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report to get a shocking glimpse into the depravity of our country’s official policy: Last year’s gut-wrenching announcements about the unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the grounds of former residential schools. And let’s not forget the complicity on the part of government agencies in the rendition of Maher Arar to torture in Syria.

Post 9/11, our courts served as a check on government overreach on basic civil liberties. I grew to love our Constitution, which replaced hockey as a central feature of my Canadian identity.

I am not a historian. Nor am I a lawyer. I am, simply, a Canadian citizen who cherishes our Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a safeguard for fundamental rights and freedoms.

Imagine, then, the gut-punch upon discovering that the highest law of the land – to which new citizens pledge allegiance – makes no such guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms whatsoever. All owing to the notwithstanding clause, which is enshrined in the Charter.

For years, I saw the “notwithstanding clause” as a polysyllabic legal term, bandied about by constitutional experts. I didn’t know what it meant. Mainstream media clarified it as a right, given to provincial and federal governments, to suspend Sections 2 and 7 to 15 of the Charter. All of this still seemed abstract. Until it wasn’t, after reading those sections.

In a nutshell, the Charter grants governments the right to suspend basic individual freedoms that we all take for granted. Namely, freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression, as well as freedom of the press, peaceful assembly and freedom of association. We aren’t talking about emergency measures, nor reasonable limits that are justified in a democracy. No, we are talking about a constitution that makes it perfectly legal to suspend basic human rights, as a matter of governance.

It does not stop there.

A number of basic legal rights can be suspended. These include the right to life, liberty and security (barring some exceptions, such as the prison system); requirement of warrants for search and seizure; the right to be informed why one is being detained; the right to a lawyer upon arrest; the right against unlawful imprisonment; presumption of innocence until proven guilty; and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. The clause allows suspension of the right of every individual to be equal before, and under the law; and suspends the right to equal protection of the law without discrimination based on race, ethnicity, colour, religion, sex, age or disability.

This needs to be spelled out: our Charter makes it perfectly legal to gut basic rights. There is no need for a coup, no need to politicize selection of judges, no need to gerrymander, no need to use a loophole. The potential for abuse is encoded into law. There is no other constitutional democracy that allows for the gutting of basic rights as a matter of governance.

Much has been written about the history of how the notwithstanding clause came to be: a compromise between federal and provincial powers; a balance between elected representatives and unelected judges. Yet, this does not explain how basic human rights were used as a bargaining chip, rendering our Charter of Rights and Freedoms hollow.

When it was introduced, the thought was that it would be rarely used. Some termed it the “nuclear button.” For decades, that was the case. However, within the past three years, it has been used twice by Quebec and once by Ontario. Quebec Bills 21 and 96 unequivocally suspend individual and legal rights of minorities. Conservative Party leadership candidates Jean Charest, Pierre Poilievre and Patrick Brown have promised to strike down the recent Supreme Court decision on sentencing, using the clause.

It’s time for each Canadian to engage in a conversation about who we are as a country, given that our Charter allows for cancellation of basic civil liberties.

Source: I thought the Charter protected Canadians’ fundamental rights, but I was wrong

Analysis: Quebec focuses on French speaking immigrants as companies plea for workers

More coverage:

Quebec’s plans to attract more French-speaking newcomers are unnerving some business owners who say they need immigrants from varied backgrounds to address a tight labor market in the Canadian province.

Unlike other provinces, Quebec gets to choose its economic immigrants. The government previously lowered the number of new permanent residents it brings in, relying more on temporary workers, and says it has increased the francophone share of economic immigrants.

Premier Francois Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is determined to protect French, which he says is vulnerable in mostly English-speaking North America, ahead of an Oct. 3 election.

His government announced a new minister for French and passed a sweeping law requiring, among other things, newcomers to receive most non-health services in French after six months in the province.

While Legault campaigns on attracting more francophones, some business owners warn the move could put off immigrants with critical skills. Quebec has Canada’s second-highest job vacancy rate among provinces.

Montreal entrepreneur Vince Guzzo, whose businesses include restaurants and movie theaters, said he is desperate for dishwashers no matter what language they speak.

“I would download an app … and my phone would translate it in Punjabi if I had to,” Guzzo told Reuters.

According to Statistics Canada data from the fourth quarter of 2021, Quebec accounts for almost 40% of Canada’s estimated 81,000 vacant manufacturing positions. Manufacturing accounted for 12.6% of Quebec’s gross domestic product in 2021 – higher than any other sector.

“We’re not saying that French isn’t important. But it does become a limiting factor when we’re looking to attract the best people and talent that we need,” said Veronique Proulx, president of Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters.

She called Quebec’s shift toward temporary work a “band-aid” for manufacturing’s labor shortage. “We have some companies that are thinking of shutting down production lines.”

Quebec minister Jean Boulet, who is responsible for labor and immigration, said via email that his government has taken steps to attract foreign students and lure workers in priority sectors. He said the new law would include services making it easier to learn French.

Quebec plans to take in more than 71,000 permanent residents in 2022 after immigration numbers fell to 25,225 in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Boulet said CAQ deliberately brought in fewer new permanent residents after coming to power in 2018 to help newcomers integrate, and that it is making efforts to better recognize foreign credentials.

Quebec’s share of Canada’s total new permanent residents dropped to about 12.4% last year from 21.3% in 2012, according to government data.

Quebec also risks losing newcomers to other Canadian regions. About 16.3% of immigrants who came to Quebec in 2009 had left for other provinces by 2019, nearly double that of Ontario, according to Statistics Canada data.


Quebec has historically been a popular destination for immigrants to Canada. But changing criteria for making temporary residents permanent and long waits to gain residency could discourage newcomers, said Montreal-based immigration lawyer Rosalie Brunel.

Boulet said 84% of economic immigrants admitted in 2021 spoke French, compared with 56% in 2019.

His office said Quebec increased its francophone share through selection of applicants in certain immigration streams and by making French programs accessible to temporary residents.

Legault wants Quebec to choose people who immigrate to join their families – a power held by Canada’s federal government – so it can select more French-speakers.

The head of one manufacturer said the government wants companies to recruit French-speaking workers.

Quebec said companies can also turn to alternatives such as automation.

“The dream is to have well-trained workers who are French speaking, but that’s not always realistic,” said Technosub Chief Executive Eric Beaupre. Technosub, based in rural Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, produces and repairs pumps for mining and other sectors.

With limited local labor, Technosub is taking on more temporary workers from Latin America and the Philippines who have needed skills and learn French on the job, he said.

Emmanuel Suerte Felipe arrived at Technosub as a temporary worker from the Philippines in 2018. His French is good enough for the job but he worries about it passing muster for permanent residency as he wants to bring his family to Quebec.

“I would love to stay here,” he said. “I found my dream job.”

Source: Analysis: Quebec focuses on French speaking immigrants as companies plea for workers

Immigrants in Quebec could struggle to have rights respected under new language law

Of note:

Groups helping immigrants, migrant workers and refugees in Montreal say their clientele will struggle to have their basic rights respected under Quebec’s revamped language law.

Bill 96, the province’s overhaul of the Charter of the French language, was adopted into law at the National Assembly Tuesday. The law’s wide scope limits the use of English in the courts and public services, and imposes stricter language requirements on small businesses, municipalities and CEGEP students.

One of the law’s clauses calls on newcomers to learn French within six months of arrival, after which they can no longer access most public services in another language.

Community workers say that could make it difficult for their clientele to access justice and even complete daily errands, pushing some further into isolation and vulnerable situations.

They believe Quebec is creating a two-tiered immigration system, where people fleeing strife who speak only rudimentary English could be discouraged from coming to the province despite growing labour needs. Meanwhile, the province is relying on an increasing number of temporary foreign workers in low-wage jobs to fill significant labour shortage gaps.

“We really feel discriminated against,” said Evelyn Calugay, who runs PINAY, a Filipino women’s rights group.

Filipinos coming to Quebec are often compelled to fill precarious jobs, such as domestic work, leaving them little time to learn French, Calugay explained. They already come from a country with eight major dialects, she noted.

Calugay, who is 76 and came to Quebec in 1975 when the province was desperate for nurses, said it took her a year of full-time French classes to get to a point where she could understand and be understood in French.

“We learned English in school because it was taking from the American system, so the language was imposed on us, and before that our ancestors were forced to speak Spanish,” said Calugay. The Philippines was a colony first of Spain, then the United States until it gained independence after the Second World War.

Calugay said she appreciates the importance of preserving the French language, and following the laws and customs of Quebec and Canada, but that the revamped language charter now feels coercive, rather than a way to promote French.

“We don’t even encourage temporary workers to come to Quebec for now,” she said.

Legault shifting focus to immigration

Premier François Legault told reporters Tuesday after the law passed that he wanted to turn his focus to making sure a larger number of immigrants accepted into the province already speak French, noting he would be making it a campaign issue in the upcoming election.

He said his government has increased the proportion of its selection of immigrants who speak French from 55 per cent to 84 per cent, but that the proportion of French-speaking immigrants accepted into the province by the federal government was only about 50 per cent.

While Quebec manages economic immigration to the province — a power other provinces and territories in Canada do not have — the federal government is responsible for the admission of refugees.

Calugay points out that if Quebec’s powers are extended to include refugees, the province could effectively limit admissions from certain countries based on their French proficiency, while bringing in more temporary foreign workers, who mostly hail from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

“Because that’s cheap — what does a capitalist want? Cheap labour, of course,” she said.

Mostafa Henaway of the Migrant Workers’ Centre agrees with Calugay that the government appears to be prioritizing temporary migrant work in order to appease its voter base.

“There’s this idea that they want a temporary and sort of disposable, flexible workforce,” Henaway said in a phone interview.

“So, the CAQ can say it reduced permanent migration. Then at the same time, they can say they increased the number of temporary migrants and protected the French language.”

He said the six-month clause means vulnerable workers and immigrants in all kinds of situations could have trouble understanding and making themselves understood when it comes to denouncing abuse.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far rejected Legault’s calls for Quebec to have complete control on immigration into the province but has pointed to Bill C-13 tabled by the federal Liberals, which in part aims to increase immigration from French-speaking countries.

In a statement to CBC News, Jean Boulet, the provincial minister responsible for immigration, labour and francization, said prioritizing French-speaking immigrants is important for Quebec, “given the French character of Quebec and the issues in sustaining the official language of Quebec.”

“Temporary workers are essentially the responsibility of the federal government and there is no threshold limiting the arrival of this category of immigration,” Boulet said.

In 2021, nearly 24,000 temporary foreign workers were employed in Quebec, the highest number yet in the province and up from about 17,000 the year before. Quebec announced last year it had signed a deal with Ottawa for companies in the province to hire up to 20 per cent more than that.

When children are the translators

For Rose Ndjel, the director of Afrique au Féminin in Montreal’s Parc-Extension neighbourhood, the challenge posed by the extended language restrictions will be on people who have already lived there for years and may not have easy access to French courses because of time and cost.

Ndjel helps run a local bank of interpreters who speak many of the more than 130 languages present in Park Ex, such as Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Lingala, Urdu and Tamil.

Ahead of the law’s adoption, she said a local school board employee contacted her asking for interpreters to translate teacher meetings to parents.

“The people who speak French in Parc-Extension are people who moved here from other neighbourhoods,” Ndjel said, referring to the growing gentrification in the area.

“Otherwise, it’s the children who go to the elementary and high schools in French who speak the language.”

She said children sometimes miss school to help translate services, such as at doctor’s offices, for their parents or grandparents.

“That will happen even more with this law,” Ndjel said in French. “Parents won’t be able to do anything without their kids. Unfortunately, that’s where we’re at. Children’s health is at stake.”

Source: Immigrants in Quebec could struggle to have rights respected under new language law

Rioux: Retour de balancier

Rioux rails against “les élites multiculturalistes” and celebrates counter-reactions, even if “souvent déroutantes et parfois extrêmes.”

Ceux qui se souviennent de l’extraordinaire fierté qu’avait suscitée l’adoption de la loi 101 en 1977 auront compris que nous ne sommes plus à cette époque. Difficile de trouver la même ferveur chez ceux qui ont adopté cette semaine le projet de loi 96. La loi 101 avait alors fait parler d’elle dans le monde entier. Dans l’univers anglophone, on avait évidemment dénoncé dans des mots souvent outranciers une loi brimant les droits de la « minorité ». Mais ailleurs, l’écho était différent. Le journal Le Monde avait évoqué une « revanche historique ». Lors de son adoption, le quotidien avait repris les mots de ses auteurs selon qui le but de cette loi était de « rendre la province “aussi française que le reste du Canada est anglais”. »

Lors de mes premiers reportages à l’étranger, on me parlait spontanément de la loi 101. En France, dans les milieux informés, elle jouissait d’une véritable aura. C’était aussi le cas ailleurs en Europe, comme en Catalogne, où les nationalistes au pouvoir ne cachaient pas leur admiration pour la détermination dont nous avions fait preuve. En 2012, le linguiste Claude Hagège avait même soutenu que la France devait s’inspirer du Québec afin d’imposer l’unilinguisme français dans l’affichage. À voir les Champs-Élysées aujourd’hui, on déplore qu’il n’ait pas été entendu.

« Ce que l’on conçoit bien s’énonce clairement », disait Boileau. Ce principe s’applique à toutes les grandes lois, qui sont généralement des lois simples qui reposent sur un principe immuable. Au lieu de se perdre dans un fouillis administratif et des contorsions juridiques (comme les complexes tests linguistiques de la défunte loi 22), elles proclament une vérité essentielle que chacun est à même de comprendre. C’est ainsi qu’elles imposent le respect.

Qu’exprimait l’esprit de la loi 101 sinon qu’au Québec, tous les nouveaux venus avaient vocation à s’intégrer à la majorité linguistique et culturelle par le truchement de son école ? Bref, à devenir des Québécois de langue et de culture française. Point à la ligne. Ce principe de l’intégration scolaire est d’une telle évidence qu’il mériterait d’être appliqué à tous les niveaux du réseau éducatif sans exception. C’est d’ailleurs ce que font depuis longtemps les Catalans en Espagne et les Wallons en Belgique, qui semblent avoir retenu mieux que nous la leçon de Camille Laurin. Nul doute qu’un jour, il faudra y revenir.

Mais nous avons changé d’époque. C’est ce qu’explique avec talent le jeune essayiste Étienne-Alexandre Beauregard dans son premier essai, Le Schisme identitaire (Boréal). L’ouvrage propose une description passionnante du cheminement idéologique du Québec depuis 1995. Beauregard décrit le passage de l’effervescence nationaliste que fit naître la Révolution tranquille à l’idéologie « post-nationale » qui domine aujourd’hui. Il raconte le ralliement de la gauche, au nom du progressisme, à l’idéologie diversitaire et sa déclaration de guerre contre ce que Fernand Dumont appelait la « culture de convergence ».

Avant 1995, écrit Beauregard, le nationalisme des historiens Lionel Groulx et Maurice Séguin exerçait une telle hégémonie intellectuelle que même le Parti libéral de Robert Bourassa fut en quelque sorte obligé de se dire autonomiste. D’où la loi 22. À l’inverse, la nouvelle hégémonie diversitaire pousse aujourd’hui les nationalistes dans leurs retranchements, les forçant à donner des gages à la gauche multiculturaliste qui exerce le magistère moral dans les médias et les grandes institutions.

Dans ces débats comme celui qui s’achève sur le projet de loi 96, il arrive que les nationalistes québécois se sentent à ce point isolés qu’ils se croient hors du monde. Il est pourtant frappant de constater combien cette nouvelle guerre culturelle que décrit Beauregard n’est pas proprement québécoise. Elle est même la réplique, à notre échelle, d’un affrontement qui se déroule partout en Occident. Partout où l’idéologie de la mondialisation heureuse, qu’est au fond ce rêve post-national et diversitaire, se bute au retour des nations.

Il y a quelques années encore, on pouvait croire que ces dernières n’étaient destinées qu’à se fondre dans des ensembles plus grands et multiethniques. Des ensembles dont le Canada se prétend depuis toujours le prototype achevé. Ce n’est plus vraiment le cas, alors qu’à la faveur des ratés d’une mondialisation aujourd’hui en déclin, on assiste au réveil du sentiment national aussi bien en France et dans les anciens pays de l’Est qu’au Royaume-Uni et ailleurs en Occident. Sans parler de l’Ukraine.

Partout, les coups de boutoir contre l’identité nationale imposés par les élites multiculturalistes font réagir les peuples qui ne sont pas prêts à troquer leur langue, leur héritage et leurs mœurs pour un grand melting-pot informe et sans substance. Comme l’écrit Beauregard, cette guerre va s’intensifier, et l’on voit déjà les forces politiques qui prétendent s’en tenir à l’écart se faire balayer. C’est un peu ce qui arrive chez nous au Parti québécois et qui, dans un autre contexte, a décimé en France le Parti socialiste et Les Républicains.

Cette reconfiguration du combat politique prend des formes diverses, souvent déroutantes et parfois extrêmes. Mais les mêmes forces sont à l’œuvre, qui mettent en scène de vieilles nations qui ne veulent pas mourir et qui n’ont pas dit leur dernier mot.

Source: Retour de balancier

David: La sécurité imaginaire [Bill 96]

One side of Quebec commentary on Bill 96:

Quand on est en politique, où l’horizon ne s’étend guère au-delà de la prochaine élection, il devient parfois difficile de distinguer le compromis, qui facilite la victoire, de la compromission, qui sacrifie l’essentiel.

« Une grande journée pour le français », a déclaré le premier ministre François Legault après l’adoption du projet de loi 96. Il doit surtout se féliciter de la levée de boucliers dans la communauté anglophone et au Canada anglais.

Même si les dispositions de la « nouvelle loi 101 » demeurent bien insuffisantes pour enrayer le déclin du français, la colère des anglophones, partagée tardivement par le Parti libéral du Québec, et la réprobation du pays apparaissent aux yeux d’une majorité de francophones comme autant de signes qu’elles vont dans la bonne direction.

Le sentiment de sécurité que peut procurer l’impression d’être en mesure de dicter les règles du jeu dispense d’envisager les moyens plus décisifs que nécessiterait la survie d’une société française en Amérique du Nord et permet de rationaliser le manque d’audace collective qui a causé la défaite du « oui » en 1995.

S’il a provoqué chez les représentants de la communauté anglophone des dérapages qui ont parfois frôlé le délire, le débat sur le projet de loi 96 n’a d’ailleurs pas eu chez les francophones l’effet galvanisant de celui qu’avait suscité l’adoption de la loi 101.
* * * * *
Dans un essai qu’il vient de publier sous le titre La nation qui n’allait pas de soi, Alexis Tétreault, doctorant en sociologie à l’UQAM, évoque la nouvelle « mythologie de la normalité » qui aurait remplacé la traditionnelle « mythologie de la vulnérabilité » dans la conscience politique québécoise.

L’Acte constitutionnel de 1791 avait pu donner pendant un temps l’illusion que la Conquête n’empêcherait pas l’ancienne Nouvelle-France de poursuivre son développement d’une façon à peu près normale. Après l’écrasement des patriotes et l’Acte d’Union, la conscience de leur vulnérabilité et la crainte de l’assimilation n’ont cessé d’habiter l’imaginaire de leurs descendants.

C’est toujours ce désir d’échapper au sort prévu par le rapport Durham et d’aménager un espace politique où leur situation majoritaire permettrait aux Québécois de retrouver cette normalité qui a largement inspiré la Révolution tranquille et le mouvement indépendantiste.

Malgré le coup de force constitutionnel de 1982 et l’échec du référendum de 1995, Alexis Tétreault constate le maintien « d’une hégémonie de l’imaginaire majoritaire et de la nouvelle mythologie de la normalité qui est, pour le moins, inconsciente du péril de la minorisation-assimilation ».

Son maître à penser, le sociologue Jacques Beauchemin, l’avait exprimé de la façon suivante dans Une démission tranquille : « À force de ne pas disparaître et de se maintenir, les Canadiens français et, après eux, les Québécois de la Révolution tranquille ont fini par intégrer la certitude de leur perduration. »
* * * * *
Il est sans doute heureux que les Québécois ne vivent plus continuellement dans la hantise de disparaître ni dans l’impression d’être « nés pour un p’tit pain », mais cette nouvelle sérénité ne doit pas se traduire en inconscience. La diminution du poids démographique du Québec au sein du Canada et celui des francophones au sein du Québec sont des réalités incontournables.

« Ce sentiment d’éternité fera-t-il long feu à mesure que s’effriteront cette stabilité démographique et cette rhétorique en inadéquation avec la tendance démographique et politique du Canada ? » demande M. Tétreault.

Les francophones acceptent volontiers, se réjouissent même de vivre dans une société diversifiée et acceptent, à ce jour, qu’elle s’inscrive dans le cadre fédéral canadien. Encore faut-il que les règles du vivre-ensemble soient compatibles avec la survie de cette « majorité minoritaire », qui marche elle aussi sur la ligne fine entre le compromis et la compromission.

Même ce que le premier ministre Legault estime « raisonnable », qu’on pourrait également qualifier de minimal, est remis en question. Le ministre fédéral de la Justice, David Lametti, a confirmé que le gouvernement Trudeau s’associerait à la contestation de la loi 21 sur la laïcité devant la Cour suprême, et ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant que la loi 96 se retrouve à son tour devant les tribunaux.

Il est clair que le grand débat sur l’immigration, que M. Legault annonce pour son deuxième mandat, provoquera un autre affrontement, qui pourrait être encore plus dramatique. Une sécurité imaginaire n’a jamais protégé qui que ce soit. Qu’ils le veuillent ou non, les Québécois devront un jour avoir le courage de regarder les choses en face.

Source: La sécurité imaginaire

Indigenous leaders say Quebec’s language bill colonial, paternalistic

Of interest and a reminder that Indigenous rights can collide with Quebec linguistic and other policies:

Indigenous leaders in Quebec say the government’s French-language bill is destructive, paternalistic and could put the survival of First Nations languages at risk.

Bill 96 would push Indigenous students to pursue higher education outside the province, Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, told reporters Tuesday in Quebec City.

“It’s a staggering irony, that the first inhabitants of the land in Quebec are being forced to study outside their territory; that’s something we find unacceptable,” Picard said at the legislature.

Bill 96 makes several amendments to Quebec’s signature language law, known as Bill 101. If passed, it would reinforce rules about the use of French in workplaces, the civil service and the justice system. The bill would also require students at the province’s English-language junior colleges to take three additional classes in French.

John Martin, chief of the Mi’kmaq council of Gesgapegiag, on the Gaspé peninsula, said many Indigenous communities were historically forced to speak English and that requiring young people to master a third language — French — would make it more difficult for them to succeed.

“If our communities are going to be able to flourish, education is a key component, but remember also that education has been used as one of the key factors in the assimilation of our people and the destruction of our cultures and the destruction of our languages, and that is why this government needs to sit down and listen to us,” Martin said.

“It is a destructive bill. It is a continuation of the kind of colonialism, paternalist and extinguishment activities that governments successively have conducted since their establishment on these territories.”

Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, grand chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, located near Montreal, said the bill could also impact access to justice.

“We do not want to see this bill move forward without any kind of exemption or consideration of Indigenous people, our languages, our cultures that have been here since time immemorial,” she said. “The way that this government is conducting itself is very dismissive and it disregards us and our long history and our presence on these lands.”

Sky-Deer said the Indigenous leaders want a meeting with Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the legislation. She said if the minister doesn’t meet with Indigenous leaders, community members will have to resort to taking other actions.

The Indigenous leaders were invited to the Quebec legislature by the opposition Liberals and Québec solidaire. While the Liberals have said they plan to vote against the bill, Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé said her party plans to vote for it.

Source: Indigenous leaders say Quebec’s language bill colonial, paternalistic