Updates from March, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 23:36 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    Justin Trudeau got the better of his Tory boxing opponent in a charity fight Saturday night. Good description of the fight and its resonance. Photos.

    Patrick Brazeau, the opponent, is a Conservative senator and only 37 years old. I always thought senators were almost by definition the elders of our society. How does someone who hasn’t reached 40 get into the upper house?

  • Kate 17:46 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    Was looking up something else and found this article on the novelty of espresso bars in Montreal… in 1980? Didn’t we have an espresso culture long before that?

    Still, it’s interesting, because most of the places mentioned are gone, except for Café Union – now on Jean-Talon rather than downtown – and the place the article calls “Cafe Melias” which has also moved, both down the street and up the scale.

    • Blork 18:24 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      I remember walking up The Main in the late ’80s wishing there was a place to sit down and read while sipping a nice coffee. At the time the only choice was the Van Houtte on St-Laurent just below Ave. du Pins. There might have been a handfull of places that had expresso machines but were otherwise not functioning as a café, but there was (from what I could tell) no coffee culture. (Little Italy notwithstanding…)

    • Blork 18:25 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      (I should add that I was never a fan of Van Houtte, even when it was the only choice. Thus my wish for something else/better.)

    • Doobious 19:25 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      I was away for most of the ’80s, so I can’t speak to the coffee culture of those days, but I can’t help posting to recommend the good folks at Cafe Depot. It’s damned hard to get a bad espresso allongé from them, no matter which outlet you’re talking about. And they’re always, always, hot, hot, hot, which is super great if you’re one of those weirdos (like me) that puts cream in their espresso.

    • David Tighe 10:30 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      When I came to Montréal in 1962 there were a number of coffee bars, La Paloma on Clarke and Pam Pams for example. Similar ones had spread throughout Europe, even to Ireland, in the late ’50’s, where even drinkable coffee was exotic. The Montréal ones were on the European model, expressos and cappuchinos at reasonable prices. I suppose the American ones started coming in in 1980, Starbucks etc, overpriced and oversized. They are not coffee bars at all, in my opinion. I wonder are there any of the old style left

    • Robert J 11:54 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      There’s much better espresso now in Montreal than there used to be 30 years ago. Go to Café Neve on Rachel for just one example.

    • Kate 13:16 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      I was chatting with Blork about this last night. I think Montreal must have had some Italian espresso bars for a long time, but not downtown. From what I can gather, after the mid-1950s we had an influx of Mitteleuropa migrants who opened places like the Pam-Pam and the Coffee Mill and offered real coffee and excellent desserts. Those places have pretty much all disappeared although some might remember Café Toman on Mackay, a late lingering example of the genre. It’s still found in some listings on the web, but I think it must have closed around 2004.

      I guess the second wave was Second Cup, Starbucks and the like – espresso drinks but often very indifferent espresso and not much quality control. (A friend laughed once when I described the table of old dudes at Caffè Italia as the QA department, but it’s true.)

      Now we have some examples of what’s sometimes called “third wave” coffee places – Caffe in Gamba on Park, the Pikolo on Bleury and Café Myriade, not far from where Café Toman used to be. Also Café Neve, I guess – haven’t tried it yet. The format is a little slavishly U.S. west coast but it’s undeniable the standards are high and that’s a good thing for all espresso fiends, like yours truly.

    • david 10:30 on 2012/04/02 Permalink

      No decent coffee in Montreal in the late ’80’s? Van Houtte the only option? You obviously didn’t live in the neighbourhood. Off the top of my head, walking North from Prince Arthur in 1989 on the main you had Euro Deli, the Bifteck, Cabane, Bar St. Laurent, Cafe du Poete, all before hitting Duluth. On the side streets there was also Kachina on Roy and Cafe Portugal on Duluth.
      Mile End had Open da Night and Romolo’s at the very least.

    • Robert J 10:52 on 2012/04/02 Permalink

      Just to get one thing straight, I like the more traditional Italian and european places too. But I think when they were established in the post-war period there wasn’t much of a network of distributors of high quality artisanal coffee. A lot of what was sold was packaged, imported european stuff.

      When I say the 3rd wave places or overall better, I’m talking about the fact that they pay really close attention to the quality of the roast and train their barristas really well. The atmosphere of the older Italian cafés is probably more authentic and overall less pretentious, but they are often less interested in bringing in high quality coffee. I particularly like the one that’s near the corner of Beaubien and St-Dominique.

      I know the cafés I’ve been to in Italy resemble the Italian cafés here in appearance, but on the continent they seem to have a better grasp of the distribution and produce a better cup of joe.

      But hey, prove me wrong. I’d love to discover a new place…

    • k.c. 11:33 on 2012/09/10 Permalink

      Glad that someone (david commented above) remembers old Cafe Kachina on Roy St. in Montreal back in the late 80’s…I worked there pulling allonge’s non-stop, and met some amazing folks who came in for coffee very regularly. It was a great vibe in the hood back then..even Leonard Cohen stopped in…

  • Kate 16:56 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    I’m so happy that the Quebec government is thawing a bit of its hiring freeze to take on 43 new language inspectors and telling them to be aggressive and not wait for citizen complaints. Maybe I should apply.

    Incidentally, great headline/image combo here on the Global TV website:

    • mdblog 19:56 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      I’d lament the fact that my taxes go towards paying these salaries but I’m sure someone would tell me that if I don’t like it I should move to Toronto. Just sad.

      Given the linguistic tensions that are afoot these days, Taylor Noakes has a good piece on his blog that I think every Montrealer ought to read:


    • Emily G. 09:42 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      Thanks for the link, mdblog.

    • qatzelok 12:43 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      I find the language laws much more humane than smallpox blankets, for example.

    • Kate 13:32 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      It’s verging on the troll to compare an incident (which has never been conclusively proven – there’s evidence it was discussed but smallpox is quite capable of propagating on its own) from the 1760s with how people treat each other now.

    • Chris 18:23 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      mdblog, everyone’s taxes pay for things they don’t support. I wish mine didn’t pay for fossil fuel subsidizes and wars, but…

  • Kate 16:47 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    The Plateau has imposed a development moratorium in the Mile End east of the Main, where the old industrial/garment area is fast being snapped up by developers. But the moratorium’s only for a year and Radio-Canada helpfully also spoke to the czar of the Chamber of Commerce who helpfully said that developers deserve their chance too.

  • Kate 16:13 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has closed or converted 19 of the roughly 30 illegal parking lots that it catalogued in 2007.

    • Chris 18:26 on 2012/04/01 Permalink

      Ferrandez is anti-car! Oh wait, this is the central city… :)

  • Kate 10:19 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    Transport minister Pierre Moreau says transit needs to be more sexy, and he proposes ferry boats and cable cars to the South Shore. No, April Fool’s is not here yet.

    Later: Thoughts on these ideas from Quel Avenir.

    • Samuel Wood 10:51 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Cable cars sound fun!

    • Blork 11:01 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      I’ll take “less expensive” over sexy any day. While it’s true that it’s inexpensive if you get a monthly pass, it adds up very quickly if you’re an occasional pay-per-use rider.

    • Blork 11:11 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Somebody in the comments linked to this monorail website. That looks amazing! Monorail FTW! http://www.trensquebec.qc.ca/

    • mdblog 11:25 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Did someone say monorail? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEZjzsnPhnw

      I couldn’t help it…

    • Jack 12:39 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      He is doing a hell of a sexy job on Turcot.

    • Raoul 13:10 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Why are they wasting time with this? didnt they already perform a dozen studies to put an LRT on the champlain bridges’ estacade?

    • Raoul 13:29 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      personally speaking, if busses and metros could run on time, they’d be sexy enough in my books :p

    • Kate 16:04 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Blork, we’ve looked at that technology once or twice before on this blog (ant6n: “That’s just silly!”). But it would be fun, if not actually sexy.

      mdblog: it was inevitable.

  • Kate 10:17 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    I’m doing a little news curating today on OpenFile: news bulletin morning file and additional reading. Back soon!

  • Kate 07:26 on 2012/03/31 Permalink | Reply  

    There’s one feeble gleam of light in the gloomy news from the federal budget: the string of new prisons promised to meet the Harper Tories’ desire for longer and stronger punishments isn’t going to be built this year.

  • Kate 22:00 on 2012/03/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Metro’s website has just undergone a redesign, with an agreeable serif font for headlines now and more white space generally. At the moment, however, every link I have ever made to a Metro article is broken. I hope this problem gets fixed, but it’s not unheard of for media sites to break with their own history sometimes.

  • Kate 21:43 on 2012/03/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Montreal’s Autumn Kelly has just given the Queen her second great-grandchild – although far be it from me to contradict the Ceeb, I don’t believe our Ms. Kelly is technically a princess, as the man she married is just called “Mr. Phillips”.

    Saturday morning: I see the CBC changed their princess headline.

  • Kate 21:32 on 2012/03/30 Permalink | Reply  

    The feds may be trying to take the opportunity of the replacement of the Champlain bridge to shake off the responsibility of owning and managing the Mercier and the Jacques-Cartier as well, a change that might bring in tolls to support those bridges.

    • Robert J 08:18 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Here in France, many highways are private, and they are pristine. The tolls can be costly, but I don’t really see the disadvantage. Even the trucking industry will probably, in the long term, prefer to use fast, efficient highways that seldom break down then free, public highways that are dangerously neglected.

      Of course I don’t know if there are other factors at play that would make this a less good option in Canada. I do know that the best highways in France are often very heavily used (more users = more revenue for the owner) so I presume privatizing the bridges would be a great start to generally improving the existing infrastructure on the island.

    • Marc 09:28 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      The Golden Gate Bridge is a fabulous example how why the bridges need tolls. They have a dedicated crew of folks who baby the thing. As soon as anything is wrong it fixed, properly, without delay.

    • Clément 09:44 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      The problem I perceive is that I’m not sure private bridges will behave like the rest of the free market.
      In the private sector, an owner is motivated to maintain its property because if it is run down, client (revenue) will go to another vendor. For example, if a telephone company neglects its network and customers start loosing calls, they may want to take their business elsewhere.
      I guess that model probably works on roads, because there’s usually an alternative road available nearby. In fact, that was part of the motivation for toll roads in the 70’s. Highway 15 was a toll road because 117 was an alternative and highway 10 was also a toll road because 112 was an alternative (there were other motivations, of course).
      However, if Mercier, Champlain and Jacques-Cartier all become toll bridges, commuters are left with few alternatives and the bridge owners have little motivation to upkeep the bridges as they are dealing with a very captive customer base.
      I’m not familiar enough with the Bay area. Are there alternatives to the Golden Gate bridge? If not, what’s the motivation for the operator to maintain the bridge?

    • Raoul 13:16 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Well the champlain and J-C had tolls for a long time. If thats what it takes to pay for a new bridge, why not? Its abit unnerving to be sitting on the RTL-45 and reading articles off your phone stating that engineers think the bridge is unsafe lol.

  • Kate 21:27 on 2012/03/30 Permalink | Reply  

    A law student at the UdeM tried to persuade a judge to impose an injunction to end the student strike, but the judge wasn’t having it.

    • Raoul 13:17 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Basically the judge sided with the strikers because he knows the law student has a future even if he has to repeat a term. lol.

  • Kate 08:26 on 2012/03/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Yikes. Early Friday morning a man slipped off a staircase in the Plateau and impaled his leg on an iron fence. Firefighters had to saw through metal bars to extract him.

    • Raoul 10:32 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Weird the CBC said he fell off a balcony this morning.

    • Kate 11:06 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Language crisis!

    • William 13:36 on 2012/03/30 Permalink


    • Charles 14:33 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Just like that scene on The Walking Dead…

    • Clément 14:44 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      You’re on to something Charles. I think it’s our own version of the zombie apocalypse about to happen. A drunk guy walking down the streets attacking people using pieces of our landmark staircases. He approaches someone and says “Braaaaiiiiinnnnns”, to which the other guy responds :”Hey tabarnak, en français !”

      Friday afternoond: Any reason to procrastinate…

    • Kate 16:08 on 2012/03/30 Permalink


    • walkerp 16:55 on 2012/03/30 Permalink


  • Kate 08:14 on 2012/03/30 Permalink | Reply  

    The Gazette’s Linda Gyulai is receiving spontaneous Twitter kudos this morning from other journalists for persisting in getting documents from the city showing the financial fiasco of the 2005 FINA aquatic competition. The city will be hosting the event again in 2014.

    • Michel 08:54 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      If there’s one thing that can be said about Linda Gyulai, it’s that she’s an amazing researcher. The way she could dig up (in a good way) dirt about our elected officials is a thing of wonder.
      I remember when she uncovered all the crap that Bourque was into in the 90s. I don’t read her anymore, because I don’t read the Gazette, but it’s nice to know that she’s continued in the same vein as she did at the Mirror.

  • Kate 22:58 on 2012/03/29 Permalink | Reply  

    A family whose elderly relative is at the Royal Vic has had to pay for an interpreter so she can be served in French. Le Devoir’s Josée Boileau sounds the trumpets against a general slippage in the direction of tolerating English.

    You know, years went past on this blog with virtually no language grief stories at all. What happened?

    • walkerp 06:20 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      What a mess. So does that mean a qualified nurse who doesn’t speak french can get a job at the Royal Vic? I have to say that in this case, I agree that the government should be having a big problem with this. Imagine if an anglophone went to the hospital in Vancouver and had to pay a translator so they could be treated in english?

    • Raoul 07:43 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Im too lazy to scroll back – but didn’t i say when the huntingdon story broke that it was going to kick-off another language sh!tstorm? lol. QC politics, ever so predictable.

    • Carrie 07:43 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Re the family having to hire a translator for their elderly relative at the VIC. Insert big sigh here. What did they do? Hire the translator and then call Le Devoir? I find it unbelievable that there wasn’t one person available to speak French. No, make that implausible.
      I wonder why the MUHC doesn’t have translator services available like most major academic hospitals in this country do. On the other side of the coin, on many occasions while accompanying an ill relative at the Montreal Chest Hospital, the nurses didn’t speak English at all. I thought at the time that that was a travesty. In healthcare, this is inexcusable in whatever language you choose to complain in.
      Once again, the pettiness over language rears its ugly head. Its a diversion from the many, many social ills that beset Quebec and sadly, appears it will never go away. Shame.

    • Kate 08:00 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      walkerp, CBC news this morning says there’s an investigation afoot. But you’re right, it’s impossible to work as a nurse here without passing some quite difficult French language tests. I don’t doubt there’s more to that story we haven’t heard (it’s a very elderly patient who may have trouble understanding anyone, especially if their accent is that of someone whose first language isn’t Quebec French).

      Carrie, all hospitals have some interpreters on hand.

    • Marc 08:09 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Two things. I’ve been a RVH patient for ages and have never come across anyone who doesn’t speak French. In fact I hear lots of languages spoken there.

      And on the OLF’s crooked French test, not everyone has to take it. An anglo who did their high school here, even whose sole exposure to and use of French was in the classroom, is exempt. The test is for those who didn’t go to school here. The only exception to that is if you did you post-secondary education all in French.

      There are lots of native Quebec anglos who graduate from school not knowing more than six sentences of French.

    • Raoul 08:14 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      When your multilingual you tend to think of both camps as equally retarded and ignorant. I have french friends who won’t go into the western part of the city, and english friends who don’t know their way around the eastern part (and most of the 450). And despite this total lack of exposure both camps seem to know enough about the other to pass judgement.

      Divide & conquer. While were busy debating what language the municipal newsletter should be in, were not getting ahead on any other subject, as if we didn’t have bigger social and economic problems right now.

    • Kate 08:18 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Raoul, those are wise words. Marc, I recall my sister having to work extra hard to study and pass French exams to get her nursing license here – she went to school in English, all in Montreal. Has that changed?

      In case anyone thinks I’m defending this situation, I will say it clearly: I think everyone offering health care in Quebec ought to speak French. But in the traditionally English-language institutions in Montreal it’s also natural that they should be able to communicate in English.

    • Raoul 08:29 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Ive also noticed a lot of shops closing in my small towns’ downtown in the last three months. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It's_the_economy,_stupid)

    • Kate 08:32 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Raoul, does that follow from the language story originally posted in this thread?

    • Clément 08:37 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Quote: “You know, years went past on this blog with virtually no language grief stories at all. What happened?”. You tell us, you’re the one curating this blog!

      Ok, on a more serious note, it’s obvious we don’t have all the facts about the Royal Vic, so until we do, it’s kind of hard to pass judgement.
      Yet, at the same time, I can’t help but smile when I think about what happened at a hospital in Cornwall, Ontario a while back. Cornwall is essentially a bilingual city, like Montreal. When they placed a job add asking for bilingual nurses (not unilingual French, just bilingual) in order to better serve the population, local anglos started protesting against the move, saying that the quality of healthcare would suffer (wtf???). I know I’m comparing apples and oranges, but still, I’m just saying we (both anglos and francos) are a lot more tolerant here and I’m happy we’re here.

      Raoul: I can’t help but notice that you keep saying we have bigger social and economic problems right now, yet you are most active on this blog when commenting on language issues.

    • Raoul 08:38 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      The parallels are striking yes. We’re less than a year away from election and there’s all this language crap all over the media, again. The political machinery is obviously gearing up to obfuscate the real issues. And they know older voters eat up this language crap.

    • Raoul 08:40 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      When we get real news ill comment on it. Right now i might as well be living in my parents’ time for all the novelty these issues present us.

    • Carrie 08:50 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      I still think that the chronic, small-minded bitter attacks on English in Montreal is indefensible and archaic. Its borderline paranoia. As an Anglophone living in North America, not just Quebec, I genuinely feel sorry for those who can’t speak English and I am always surprised when I come across people who can’t. All I can think of is how much they miss. Beyond these borders, this whole language debate is laughable just about anywhere you go.

    • Raoul 08:56 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      @Carrie small minded yes, but also strategic. The PQ knows their attacks on english will provoke loud, public reactions from anglos. The PQ uses those reactions to rile up their supporters and instill siege mentality. Anyone who’s lived here long enough can smell the manure miles away lol.

    • jeather 08:57 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      If you finished high school in Quebec after 82 or so, you are considered bilingual for some purposes, including many but not all professions. Earlier than that, you have to pass a test.

    • Clément 09:03 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      On the subject of borderline paranoia, was it just suggested that this 80 year old lady who has 18 months to live is actually just a pawn in an elaborate PQ-Le Devoir conspiracy?

    • Kate 09:03 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Clément, honestly there were years when hardly any language stories broke the surface and when they did they were so negligible I didn’t feel the need to look at them. But as a Montreal blogger I can’t ignore them now, there are language grievance stories every week. There may be some truth that the PQ and its supporters are stirring that pot as one of the stronger elements of their impending bid against the Liberals.

    • Kate 09:05 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Clément, not as such, but it seems to me the PQ is latching onto any and every story they can get in which French is not correctly served, and pushing it to the media. Hell, it’s what I’d do in their shoes, it always gets a reaction.

    • Clément 09:17 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      I agree with you Kate, the PQ will do anything for exposure and the language button is a sure way to get people to pay attention. René Lévesque would be so disappointed by what has happened to his party nowadays.

      But in all fairness, the Gazette will do the exact same thing whenever English is not correctly served just to sell more copies.

    • Raoul 09:21 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Why is it every time one questions political motivations you’re suddenly a conspiracy nut? I suppose you still believe the poles burned down the reichstag, or that Franco was an nice guy.

      What is so unreasonable about a political party pushing every story that gives them headlines before an election? Most people who voted PQ in the past wouldn’t necessarily do so today because no one wants to talk about referendums except marois and a few supporters who wont be around many more elections. So, how do you get your supporters to actually go out and vote? You tell them that french is disappearing and the ROC is about to invade.

      Thats why young people dont care about politics, they can see the needle stuck in the groove.

    • Clément 09:27 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Raoul: Really?

    • Raoul 09:37 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      fo’ shizzle my whizzle.
      Show me a party that wants to govern for all its residents. weve had like 40 years of divisive politics in quebec and now it’s catching on with the CPC. And what do they have to show? two failed referendums and a booming commercial sign industry lol. Something tells me they wouldn’t get it right the third time either. When a woman tells you “no means no” you dont have to ask her three times.

    • Carrie 09:49 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Quebec has this uncanny ability to shoot themselves in the foot time and time again. The PQ’s focus on referendums and language are a case in point. They’re grasping at straws to the detriment of every human being in this province. Limit the ability to learn English and they get a lock on those votes. It is very tiring and Clement, you are right on the money about the Gazette. They leap onto every language story that comes out however small and insignificant. I’m convinced that under the guise of Montreal’s only English paper, they wouldn’t have anything to write about without the language issue. It’s their bread and butter. And then they go and put a paywall up to limit access. Idiots.

    • Rosco 11:03 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      I’ve worked on 5 floors in the RVH. Depending on the unit, approximately one-third to one-half of the nurses there are Francophone or Allophone with better French than English. Every single nurse I have worked with has had passable French, mine being among the worst of the lot (and I get no complaints).

      The only non French-speaking workers I have encountered there have been residents from the Arabian Peninsula and some residents from Ontario and the West.

    • Robert H 11:53 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      @Carrie, the chronic, small-minded bitterness you lament about the petty anti-anglo attitudes in Montreal are replicated among anglophones in the ROC (and many here) toward francophones. As Raoul implied, there’s plenty of tête-de-béton to go around with each group repeating time-warp opinions in its separate echo chamber. I feel sorry for people who live in Québec but can’t speak French. All I can think of is how much they miss. And I don’t doubt that all those people outside Quebec laughing at the language tempests here would behave exactly the same were they the object of demonization for the language they used, or if they perceived their language and culture to be threatened. It’s truly a contextual conundrum: anglophones in Quebec and francophones in Amérique du Nord. The storm will calm and start again later, just a part of life in La Belle Province.

    • Carrie 13:02 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Point taken and accepted Robert, sadly. Clearly, we can’t fix everything.
      Given both of my parents are French Canadians, though I was educated in English (their choice initially), I have absolutely nothing against the French nor do I have any major qualms with the preservation of their language and/or culture. That said, I still feel quite strongly that some of the more radical measures taken towards the protectionism of the French language against the decades old threat of an English takeover can also be viewed as segregation towards the French, which I believe is morally unjust. I believe people must always be given the option to choose of their own accord, and exercise free choice, and free will be it education, healthcare, or the language you choose to speak. And that’s where I (and my French Canadian parents) had a problem with the language zealots. It seemed wrong then and it still seems wrong to me now. Its all about freedom, not limitation.

    • Clément 13:24 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      I believe some of the reasons discussions about languages are not easy are that, for one, language is very emotional. Language defines part of who we are as a person, whether we want to or not. We can have endless debates about the usefulness or relevance of one language vs another for education, health, the media, jobs, government services, etc.
      But I think that ultimately, whenever someone says something that we feel is threatening to our language (regardless of whether or not it is true), many people feel personally threaten as they feel it attacks who they are.
      If I’m a francophone, and I see in the media that an old lady did not receive medical services in French (whether it’s true or false), I emotionally feel threatened.
      If I’m an anglophone, and I see in the media that an old péquiste is trying to shut down McGill (whether it’s true or false), I emotionally feel threatened.
      If I’m an immigrant running a dep, and I see in the media that some people feel I don’t speak the right language (whether it’s true or false), I emotionally feel threatened.

      In Québec, language has always been and will always a hot button issue. It’s part of living here. And if so many people feel it’s important, then it must be!

    • Jack 14:36 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Clement thank you for your posts.One element that does need further thought is the idea of “emotionally feel(ing) threatened.” by these news stories. Our political and media class knows how to construct these anecdotes for that very reason.The media to sell papers or higher ratings,the politicians for votes.They know exactly what they are doing, we have to be better than them. The French fact of Quebec is what makes life here interesting and culturally rich, 82% of the population is French origin and 4.5 million are unilingual French speakers.Their is no threat to that predominance socially,culturally or economically.Except if you allow yourself to feel threatened.Clement I haven’t read the Gazette or listened to CJAD in twenty years, I find that helps.

    • Clément 15:25 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Thanks for your comment Jack. You’re right, we have to be better than the media and the politicians.

      Another easy route to follow is generalization. Some people are experts at taking an anecdote and using it to make broad statements about certain groups.

      A few months ago, a store owner in the West Island suggested I speak white to him. But it doesn’t mean all anglos are ignorant morons.
      In l’Actualité, they profile Toronto -> Montreal artist Sherwin Tjia, who’s proud to have been in Montreal for 10 years and not speak a word of French. But I know he’s not representative of the all Toronto expats.
      I have relatives living in Québec city who are afraid to come to Montreal because “Il y a bien trop de sortes de monde”. But it doesn’t mean all Québec city residents are bigots.
      I have encountered a few stubborn health professionals in various hospitals in Montréal, but I know most will go out of their way to serve you in your preferred language.
      Some francos refuse to learn English and it’s sad how much they miss by staying east of Saint-Laurent. But most francos I know are quite open minded.
      Some anglos refuse to learn French and it’s sad how much they miss by staying west of Saint-Laurent. But most anglos I know are quite open minded.

      And yes, I know that the reference to Saint-Laurent stopped being true about 50 years ago, but it’s still a great metaphor.

      More often than not, these discussions all start with some anecdote (often unverified, usually altered/transformed/distorted/manipulated) which is then used by some to make broad generalizations.

    • mdblog 16:21 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Clément, did that really happen?

      “A few months ago, a store owner in the West Island suggested I speak white to him.”

      Speak white? Like, really? That’s an old trope that’s best left in 1946 at Morgan’s department store. I find it hard to believe anyone in this day and age would say that to someone’s face. As racist as I find language laws to be, I have never actually been told fuck you Anglais to my face, so this is truly shocking.

    • Clément 13:16 on 2012/04/02 Permalink

      @ mdblog: Just noticed your comment. Unfortunately, yes, it did happen. Of course, there was a context which I don’t want to get into.
      Not sure however if he was the store owner or an employee. But he seemed old enough to have worked at Morgan’s!
      Having said that, I realize this guy was a dinosaur, not representative of the community, which is the whole point I was making.

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