At the beginning of the campaign, party leaders talked a lot about the state of French in Quebec but very little about its situation in Canada. The topic deserves more attention, because French does poorly here too. Very bad.
Posted at 5:00 am
Warning: Across Canada, francophone minorities fight and fight every day to live in French. Your courage is immense. Your fight is essential. Your fight is ours. Quebec must support them strongly. But respecting their struggle doesn’t change any particular reality. I want to speak to you about this reality.
In Canada excluding Quebec, that is, out of 30 million people, there are 532,000 people whose dominant language at home is French. I choose this indicator because it represents the core of people outside of Quebec for whom French is not just a means of communication but the vector of a culture. For example, in English Canada today, only 1.8% of people have French as their predominant language at home (i.e. 98.2% of people do not). That’s almost half of what it was back then Official Languages Act1969
French performs poorly in itself, but also in relation to other languages. It’s not even the second most spoken language at home anymore.
In Canada outside of Quebec, there are now many more people (861,000) whose dominant language at home is Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese). Within a few years, Punjabi and Tagalog, two rapidly growing languages, would also overtake French.
The situation in the big cities is a rather cruel illustration of the importance of French: In Vancouver, it’s the 11the position and in Calgary, in the 12the. For the record, in June this year, a Scotiabank branch in Toronto was criticized for posting on its front door in 14 languages: ” We speak your language “. French wasn’t there. That’s the Canadian reality, French is at 17e Ranking of the most spoken languages in metropolitan Ontario.
In 2022, French is no longer part of everyday life for English Canadians outside of Quebec.
Latest data: The number of bilingual French and English is increasing in Quebec but decreasing in Canada. In Canada outside of Quebec, only 6.2% of the non-French speaking population can hold a conversation in French (therefore 93.8% of people cannot).
Ottawa, the officially bilingual federal capital, is actually only 36.4% bilingual, while Quebec, our state capital, is 42.7%. The cities of Montreal (60%), Laval (60%), Gatineau (58%), Longueuil (52%), Sherbrooke (46%), Terrebonne (45%) and Lévis (38%) all have more bilingual populations than that from Ottawa.
Bilingualism is more of an issue for Quebecers than ever.
The political battles over French currently being waged in Canada also illustrate the immense defeat of French across the country.
You have to fight for the head of state (the king’s representative) to speak French, which should go without saying.
We must fight for Supreme Court justices and senior federal officials to speak French, which should be the norm.
You have to struggle to be served in French by Air Canada, which should go without saying.
Recently, Minister François-Philippe Champagne, a federal minister, was criticized for speaking mostly in English outside of Quebec. He likes federal officials with ambition, he writes his memos in English. He likes companies that want happy customers, he speaks to them in their language.
The reality is crystal clear: across the country, France is losing both its demographic and symbolic struggles.
This total decline of French occurs in the utter indifference of English Canada.
Have you heard English Canadians rip their shirts to defend French? Demand strong actions? Are you calling for a specific vision of a bilingual Canada? no Not a word. total silence. The federal and state governments smile and do nothing.
While knowing the solution is there, Canada has never met its goals for francophone immigration outside of Quebec since adopting them in 2003. Never reached. Not even close. I suspect bad faith.
I suspect bad faith because the decline of a language is not inevitable, but a political choice. Thanks to Bill 101 and a good deal of courage, Quebec has been able to make a sea change. With Law 96 he is still trying to help the French.
What is Canada doing? He mobilizes against Bill 96. At the risk of sounding divisive, I would like to say that Canada protects its language, not ours. What are the chefs thinking?
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