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Andy Riga reports on the STM’s English-language policy and its possibly simplistic interpretation of language law. Same story on Global but with lots of live links, a much better presentation than from the newspaper’s site.
Doobish, No\Deli, Kate, and 5 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
He quotes Article 46 of bill 101 which states “An employer is prohibited from making the obtaining of an employment or office dependent upon the knowledge or a specific level of knowledge of a language other than the official language, unless the nature of the duties requires such knowledge.”
The STM has their own Article 46.b which states: “An employee is required to embarrass, abuse or physically smack about the head, anyone heard speaking a language other than the official language, unless the nature of the duties requires such knowledge.”
Yeah… The STM needs to hire a new legal team. As far as I’m concerned, public transit employees who deal directly with the public fall under that exception.
My reading is that the STM legal team *didn’t* give that opinion, Marc, since the FOI request specifically asked for either any in-house or external legal opinion and they said no such opinion exist. The question is, what can the public do when the STM spokesperson doesn’t just mislead, but flat out lies to the public..
@ Dave M: You boycott. And you write the STM a note telling them why you’re doing so. And you encourage your friends to follow your lead. If STM employees want to host their own little personal bigotries on their own time – that’s fine. But if they want to make it institutional – if they want to deny the reality of the demographics of their ridership? They can take that shit back to Hérouxville.
The STM just points to the law as their excuse for poor customer service – but doesn’t actually check with lawyers? If nothing else, that’s distinct; you can’t find many other places in the world where a metropolitan transit authority could get away with that.
[How much money does city transit get from the province? Could this partly be an appeasement policy on their part, in order not to be tsk-tsk’d by nationalist cheque-writers?]
Interestingly, Riga found that the ATM, a province-level agency, has a policy that some of its workers should be prepared to speak English, whereas the STM is a municipal-level entity and does not.
I still think the crack in the STM policy will be via the need to make the city more tourism-friendly, and that means speaking English occasionally, at least in downtown metro stations and bus routes. Unfortunately, that means native-born anglos might occasionally get to have a question answered in English. I don’t know how you’d sort that out.
No\Deli: boycotting the transit system isn’t an option for most users.
Yes, part of the “encourage people to use public transit” plan has to include “encourage public transit employees not to be assholes”. (I’d even be okay with grandfathering in current employees, and requiring bilingualism for some jobs — certain bus routes, all metro booths — only for new employees.)
Kate: I didn’t realize that’s where the ATM got its funding. Well then. Hm.
Here (pdf) is the STM’s 2012 budget (summary of revenue on page 14). Their single largest source is directly from fares. Which is why a (vocal, coordinated) boycotting campaign will be likely get their attention. As for it ‘not being an option for most users’ – such an action wouldn’t require anything resembling a majority.
I keep trying to imagine parallels in American cities, but it’s not easy. Even in the most “English-only” of climates (Phoenix, Arizona for example) urban transit is bilingual. And can you imagine if an MTA employee put a handmade ‘speak English’ sign in their window? There’d be a firestorm.
So why save a seat on the bus for the STM’s political baggage? There’s no room.
I dialed AUTOBUS the other day and pressed 8. All I heard was hate. Pure unadulterated hatred, emanating from an ignorant insecure undersupervised fuck that should have his or her head shoved under the rear wheels of the next bus. Somebody, anybody, find this person for me. I’ll do the shoving part for free.
Uh, other than that, I hope everybody’s been having themselves a great day. Mine was quite nice.
Wait a sec, you pressed 8 for English and then made the selection to speak to a live person, but when you got hold of someone and asked a question, they insulted you?!
No, it’s not like that. I just pressed 8 for english, and got the automated hatred. Try it and you’ll understand.
You’ve lost me. I press 8 and I get a recorded voice in English offering me various button options, do I want bus schedules, etc. – am I missing a joke here?
Ah, nevermind, it’s back on line. For the last couple of days, pressing 8 gave “pas disponible”. Maybe it wasn’t intentional and was just a coincidence after all. Like the white fireman’s club.
Is learning French an option for local residents, or should we expect bus drivers to be multilingual before we hand them our three dollars? I realize that the tourism industry is super-important, and that this is a good reason to eliminate what makes us unique.
Taylor Noakes talks about the issue here.
I think it’s significant the STM has a perfectly good English website and you can get English-language information from AUTOBUS. It’s not organizationally hostile, it simply follows Bill 101 where it says it can’t oblige workers to speak any language other than French.
I’m not so sure about that, Kate. Call me paranoid, but on January 2nd, a work day for many of us, me included, the STM was running Sunday service on the West Island. No express buses, 0 rush-hour trains and 30 minutes between 211s at 7:00 in the morning. Needless to say, it was a mess.
Sure, it could be that there’s an “Einstein” in charge of scheduling “holiday” service. Or it could be the work of some hate-filled fuck with a huge anti-anglo chip on his or shoulder that knows exactly how much evil can be gotten away with and takes full advantage.
I’ve lived in this society nearly all my life and I’ve seen a lot of anti-anglo sentiment fomented by the separatists. I’m not irrational, I don’t hate the French, nor do I have a persecution complex. But I still think the second scenario may very well be the one in effect that day.
If anyone else has transit horror stories from January 2nd from other parts of town, I’d be interested in hearing them.
January 2 is generally regarded and scheduled as a holiday. Not sure why, it’s evolved that way in recent years.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
Following that aphorism, I’m content to claim that the STM is incompetent at functioning as the transit authority in a multicultural society. How’s that? :-D
I noticed that the budget was all presented in English, too. And for whom? Not the feds, surely.
“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence”
I like that. Dunno if I’ll ever fully subscribe to it, but I like it.
How this for another for example: I work in a sweatshop. It’s run by an Arab-Canadian. Apart from the boss and me, there are 7 other employees, 4 Arabic immigrants, 2 South Americans (I think), and the Bourkinabe kid.
I’ve been there for about 2 months, doing my best with the cast-off and borrowed tools made available to me. The fourth Arab dude was hired last Friday. Lo and behold, Monday morning, the boss showers us with new tools he “somehow managed to find the time to stop by Scrap Tire for”.
Just another coincidence, right? Right.
Don’t kid yourself. No doubt there’s incompetence aplenty in this world, our particular corner of it especially. But there’s malice and evil aplenty, lurking in every other corner. Most of us on this here forum are educated and open-minded, and we tend to expect normalcy from the humans around us, by default. You’d probably have to actually work in a sweatshop (or perhaps at the STM) to appreciate this, but the human mind can and does shrink to incredibly small proportions. Sadly, in my experience, it’s not that rare of an occurrence.
But I can’t really complain. The odd big-hearted God-like smart types are out there too, and I’ve been lucky enough to collect up a handful of them to deal with on a daily basis too.
As for January 2 being a de-facto holiday, that likely comes from the fact that 20 or 25% of Quebec’s population is directly or indirectly employed by the state. If you had 12 paid sick days to abuse every year and 5 weeks of paid holiday to fuck with, you’d probably look at January 2 as an automatic holiday too. I sure would.
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