Jim Duff, Editor In Chief of the Montreal Suburban Weekly Newspaper has been busy congratulating Quebec’s English Language Rights Advocacy, “Alliance Quebec” in his recent editorial columns.
What has Duff so pleased is Alliance Quebec’s decision to help nurses whose first language is not French, pass the compulsory French language exam that allows them to work in the Quebec medical industry in English hospitals.
Without passing Quebec’s French proficiency exam, the world’s greatest healthcare provider would not be allowed to practice in Quebec. And to Duff, that is obviously not such a bad thing. Imagine that?
In Nazi Europe, there were no shortage of influential members of the Jewish community who insisted that Europe’s Jews must be more accommodating to the culture of their majorities. It only made sense to them to pander to anti-Semitism.
After-all, to demand equal rights invites a backlash from the majority, and only brave people would be willing to do that. Unfortunately brave people always seem to be in short supply while cowards of the same community who shoot them down are aplenty.
Instead of fighting for absolute equal rights, these Jewish community leaders worked diligently to convince their coreligionists to accept their place in society as second class citizens.
The philosophy of most European, Canadian and American Jews during the pre Israel era was “Shah Shtill – Zug Gornisht” which is Yiddish for “Stay Quiet – Say Nothing”.
The result was horrific.
Quebec isn’t Nazi Germany. And French Quebecers are not the Gestapo. But the mind-set between standing up to be an equal citizen in all regards, compared to surrendering ones rights on the alter of appeasement is a worldwide commonality that can not be ignored.
Quebec used to have two linguistic (cultural) definitions of its hospitals. There were French hospitals where mostly French people went for medical attention. And there were English hospitals where everyone else went for medical attention, including many French speakers.
In the French hospitals, it was rare to find doctors, nurses, nurses aids and orderlies who could speak adequate English, if any English at all. And there was generally no linguistic back-up. There still isn’t.
In the English hospitals, it was unlikely to find doctors, nurses, nurses aids or orderlies who couldn’t speak French to some level of competence. And if they couldn’t, there was always someone who could. Lots of back-up.
The Montreal Jewish General Hospital boasts with great pride that they have people on staff who can collectively provide services in more than 3 dozen languages. Yet; two of the Jewish General’s nurses were fired just a few weeks ago because they could not pass a Quebec French language test.
Let me tell you about the test.
It had virtually nothing to do with nursing and the medical industry. The tests were to see how fluent these nurses were in their daily lives outside the hospital environment. And they didn’t pass.
In the waning years of the 1990’s, an American born and trained doctor who specialized in pediatric anaesthesiology was told by the Quebec government that he couldn’t continue to practice in Quebec because his fluency in French (outside of the workplace) was not sufficient.
But; being a specialist in pediatric anaesthesiology, compared to being “just” a nurse gave the doctor some privilege, since his specialty was in huge demand, and there were (are) very few doctors of his profession anywhere in North America who were available to replace him.
So instead of just firing him like they did the nurses, they gave him more time to bone-up on his French language fluency.
But this doctor wasn’t interested in boning-up. He left.
He came from the USA with his American wife, because both of them wanted a whole new lifestyle. They embraced Quebec’s culture and the French language. And did everything they could to be part of the Quebec experience.
But to no avail.
He pointed out that his income in Quebec was a fraction of what he could earn in the USA with less effort. But worth staying in Quebec because of his fondness for Montreal and its linguistic duality.
He also made it clear that his ability to speak French to his young patients and their parents was more than adequate. And if he was doing his job properly, his patients were asleep and had no use for communication. And if he could communicate with them during surgery, he and his patients would indeed be in big trouble.
It must be noted that this specialist practiced at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, which is the English language equivalent to the Montreal French speaking Hôpital Ste Justine. Also for children.
Therefore; it wasn’t mandatory for French speakers to bring their children to the English Montreal Children’s Hospital for treatment, since there is a French language equivalent where they could go. And Hôpital Ste Justine is an excellent facility.
Along the linguistic time-line in Quebec, English language hospitals became bilingual hospitals where a need to provide adequate French language communication became mandatory. And now, according to the Quebec government, there are no English language hospitals.
All hospitals in Quebec must be French only or French first. And all hospital employees must pass a French fluency exam if they were trained in any other language but French.
There are more than several instances where French speakers whose mother tongue is French, but who were educated in English institutions failed the French language proficiency test, even though they were as French as the person who administered the test.
Talk about ethnocentricity to the max!
For English language hospitals to recruit doctors, nurses and qualified medical technicians; they must first find professionals who can pass a French language test before a medical competency test.
And it isn’t happening.
Doctors from around the world learn their skills in the English language, or in the language of their homeland. Very few who are really competent and willing to immigrate to Canada speak French. Not that French speaking doctors are not competent. It’s just that they’re not leaving France to come to Quebec.
And do you really want a Moroccan, Algerian or Haiti trained doctor making life and death decisions for you simply because French is their first language?
What makes this situation even worse, is that many medical graduates from English language McGill University in Montreal do their post graduate work, internship and residency in Montreal, only to leave for greener pastures in other parts of Canada or the USA at their first opportunity.
Even French speaking graduates from Quebec institutions such as the Université de Montréal are leaving Quebec for economic and social policies that are friendlier elsewhere.
When people like Jim Duff write that it is a good thing that an English Rights Advocacy Group, the likes of Alliance Quebec decides to defend English rights by helping Quebec’s English minority loose more of its identity, it doesn’t take a great thinker to understand that the mind-set of Duff is far more a reason for the problems facing Quebec’s minority communities than it is the solution.
What Duff doesn’t tell you, is that his newspaper (the Suburban) caters mostly to the Montreal Jewish community, which is the oldest (in average age) collective community in North America, with a devastating lack of population replacement simply because the Montreal Jewish community is leaving Quebec in droves, primarily because of Quebec’s language laws.
I truly believe that Quebec has crossed the linguistic and cultural rubicon way back when the minority and majority communities didn’t stand together to fight racist language laws first imposed by Robert Bourassa with his Bill 22 in 1974.
Since 1974, the Anglo and Ethnic critical mass has evaporated in Quebec with the departure of an estimated half a million people. With these people went their money, entrepreneurial spirit, and most damaging of all; their children.
To compensate for this huge exodus of Anglos and Ethnics (the largest peace time exodus in world history), successive Quebec governments with acquiescence from Ottawa passed even more draconian anti-English language laws, and replaced REAL Quebecers with immigrants who have no intention of becoming Québécois.
By all statistics, Quebec is losing population while Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia can’t build homes and infrastructure fast enough to accommodate the enormous influx of new residents to their provinces.
It is indeed remarkable how people with the mind-set of Jim Duff think that pandering to ethnocentric language laws by a supposedly pro English language group (Alliance Quebec) is a good thing, and a step in the right direction.
Here’s a news flash to Duff and all the others who share his opinions.
Anne and I live in a small (mostly French speaking) community just on the Ontario side of the boundary with Quebec, which is growing through Quebec emigration. But the Quebecers who are leaving Quebec to come to Ontario are not the Anglos and Ethnics. Some are. But most are French Quebecers who leave Quebec’s high taxes, poor social services, in-your-face bureaucrats, and its big brother philosophy.
If Quebec continues to push its ethnocentric nationalism without opposition as Jim Duff seems to think is a good idea, Quebec will soon enough be a province completely devoid of the movers and shakers every society needs to be successful.