Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The cover of the latest issue of the Quebec magazine L'actualité is so incendiary that it could be seen as a call to war – a language war, that is.

It shows a frog carrying a sign reading, "Ici, on parle English" (Here, we speak English), with two displays of text: "French Montreal? It's over! say 77 per cent of young anglos," and "Unilingual English bosses? Get used to it! say 74 per cent of young anglos."

The topic is about a CROP survey that presents Quebec's anglophones as indifferent and even hostile to the future of French, although the magazine acknowledges their high level of bilingualism. Quebec's anglos are no longer guilty of ignoring French; they're now guilty of not embracing the fight for the supremacy of French.

Story continues below advertisement

There's been countless wildly alarmist reports in the Quebec media about the "threat" of English, but L'actualité's article is a first of its kind: Whereas the "enemy" used to be the English language, now the "enemies" are the anglophones themselves, even if they speak French fluently. This is the implicit conclusion drawn from an unusually small sample of 560 people, interviewed on the Internet, who were asked to respond to a series of statements to which they had to agree or disagree.

The "young anglos" referred to on the magazine's cover amount to 129 people, including recent immigrants and foreign students.

Needless to say, the Parti Québécois enthusiastically leaped on these "findings" to proclaim that, once again, French is being mortally threatened in Montreal and that the situation calls for a strengthening of the language law. The L'actualité article reinforced the PQ's current strategy of playing on visceral nationalism and linguistic insecurity – a sure, albeit questionable, way to attract francophone voters.

Interestingly, the article's author, who also collaborated with CROP in formulating the questions, is Jean-François Lisée, a well-known writer and journalist who served during the past 20 years as an adviser to most PQ leaders, including the current one, Pauline Marois. He also worked as a speechwriter for Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.

For some years, he has been pressing Ms. Marois to take a harder line on identity politics. Mr. Lisée also sits on a committee set up by the PQ to devise a winning strategy for a referendum on sovereignty. Readers of L'actualité, however, were not told of Mr. Lisée's political affiliations.

According to the CROP survey, a majority of "anglos" don't believe that "the predominant position of French is the key component of Montreal's originality" or that it's their "duty" to ensure that "French remains the most important language here." Half of them never had a "meaningful conversation with a francophone," whatever "meaningful" means.

The only disturbing finding of this so-called survey is that 63 per cent of respondents agree with the damning statement that "large corporations should be allowed to hire unilingual anglophones as managers, even if it means that French-speaking employees have to work in English."

Story continues below advertisement

Never mind that 83 per cent want their children to be fluent in French – this is not enough. They're even chided by L'actualité for not listening to francophone pop singer Marie-Mai. (I confess I don't, either. What does that make me?)

Nowhere in L'actualité's issue on "the future of French" is there a word about the main reason of the (relative) decline of French in Montreal: the fact that the French-speaking middle class is leaving the city in droves to settle in the nearby suburbs.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies