As a former Quebecer, who was amongst the provinces more significant leaders in the battle for equal language rights; I am stunned by Stéphane Dion’s call for bilingual provinces.
In my quest to win equal language rights within Quebec for all people, as the founder and president of QPAC (Quebec Political Action Committee), I had to endure death threats and threats to my property, which culminated in having 24 hour armed security on-property for months on end. This went on intermittently for the better part of four years.
All I asked, was for the Province of Quebec to respect the rights of all people to chose which of the official languages they wished to use. I never suggested that Quebec didn’t have the right to mandate the use of the French language on signs, public documents etcetera. Only that individuals and businesses could use other languages as well. And no less prominent than the French language. But this was asking far too much.
As a result of this simple demand for equal rights, Stéphane Dion, Jean Chrétien and Roy Romanow took to the air-waves to publicly beg me not to take this fight outside of Canada. On the other hand, Quebec government Separatists, including then Premier Lucien Bouchard, actually threatened to harden Quebec’s language laws if I went out of the country to air their dirty laundry.
And speaking of dirty laundry: Bernard Landry, Quebec’s current Premier told the English speaking community of Quebec: “that if my demands, that stores post bilingual signs in accordance with Quebec’s Bill 86, which allows for bilingual signs in some cases, as long as the French is at least twice the size, or twice as many as all the other languages, would become successful: he would revoke the law”.
Imagine: obey the law, and lose the law because you obeyed it. This is Quebec.
Years later: here comes Dion – again. This is the same Stéphane Dion who believes that Quebec’s racist language law, Bill 101, which forbids the unrestricted use of the English language, is indeed, in his own words: “a great Canadian law”.
Stéphane Dion has never repudiated Bill 101, and doesn’t suggest that Quebec should become bilingual. Instead, he says that officially bilingual provinces would encourage Quebecers to want to become more bilingual. Especially if Ontario led the way. However; he doesn’t suggest, or even hint that Quebec should become bilingual itself, or remove its odious Bill 101.
But in his thinking; it would be nice if the rest of Canada would be so generous as to turn itself inside-out linguistically, in order to appease a province where the French population, in addition to the rest of Canada’s French speaking communities, account for less than than a quarter of the entire Canadian population. However; in keeping with current federal policy, it would be the Canadian thing to do.
Stéphane Dion, and others like him, who either can not see the problem, or do not have the courage to fight for equal rights for all Canadians are the reason I left Quebec to start a new life in Ontario. I don’t need the likes of Stéphane Dion to import his Québécois language sickness down the 401.
The last time I looked, it was only Quebec that had a law restricting the use of a language. The rest of Canada is fine.
My wife and I live in Alexandria Ontario, amongst a French speaking population which comprises 70% of the people, where everyone gets along and seems oblivious to the linguistic sickness a few miles down the road. And I would like to keep it that way.