April 2013 Archives

Lesson 101: How to Oppress

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Image Source: Flicker--caribb

What do you believe is being covered by the red tape on this sign? If you guessed the English translation of the French word 'arret'--the word 'stop'--then you guessed correctly. While this image implies that there is no need for the English language on signs of public administration in Quebec, this implication is false insofar as Quebec is a Francophone province in an Anglophone country and, furthermore, insofar as there is a substantial English minority in Quebec. Although you would not be able to determine these facts by examining the signs of public administration, such as this stop sign, as they are exclusively in French, you may be able to determine that Quebec is culturally diverse by examining the advertisements found in this province. However, your examination should lead you to pose the following questions: why are all advertisements in Quebec either exclusively or predominately French and, in the latter case, why is the secondary language displayed substantially smaller than the French language? The response to these questions is that advertisements in Quebec are merely conforming to the regulations of Bill 101--the Charter of the French Language. 

While Bill 101 has more than 200 provisions in a sum of six titles--or sections--the simple description of the provisions found in its first and second titles discloses its oppressive nature towards the English language. The first title--Status of the French Language--defines French as "the official language of Quebec" and stipulates that advertisements in Quebec must be exclusively or predominantly in French (Bill 101). Although the second title--Linguistic Officialization, Toponymy and Francization--has been mostly repealed, the chapter on the francization of enterprises, which oblige business in Quebec to operate in French, remains prevalent. While I concede that it is the Charter of the French Language, and is therefore biased towards French, Bill 101 oppresses the English language by imposing regulations on English businesses, making it difficult for them to thrive in Quebec and discouraging new English businesses from investing in our province.

An Average Opinion on the Student Crisis in Quebec


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Image Source: Flicker--scottmontreal

On March 18th, 2011, Raymond Bachand, Quebec's Minister of Finance, announced that Quebec intended to raise post-secondary tuition fees in September of 2012. Quebec's intention was to increase "tuition by $325" per year over a period of five years (Canadian Press). The total increase would "amount to an additional $1,625," an increase of nearly 75 percent, boosting annual tuition in Quebec "to $3,793 in 2017" (Canadian Press; Tuition hike).

Considering that tuition rates in Quebec have essentially remained unchanged over the past 40 years, the proposed increase in tuition is not extensive (Quebec students). The average annual tuition rate in Canada is $5,600 and, even after the proposed increase, Quebec would remain the province with the lowest annual tuition rate in the country (Tuition hike). Furthermore, Quebec taxpayers assume the larger part of tuition, as student pay "only 17 per cent of the total cost" of their post-secondary education (Massive student).


Image Source: CBC News

Despite these facts, according to some students in Quebec, the proposed increase in tuition would "limit access to higher education" and "result in crippling debt levels" (Tuition hike). Accordingly, these students boycotted educational institutions and protested in the streets; they disturbed classes, damaged property, disrupted society and disregarded injunctions. In response to the student protest, the provincial government of Quebec resorted to emergency legislation and assented to Bill 78, which has been declared by some as overly harsh and evidently unconstitutional.

Remaining Anonymous

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Image Source: Flicker-- the|G|™

While the opinions of celebrities and professional are valued, their publically provided opinions do not necessarily reflect their personal convictions insofar as their convictions, if revealed, may damage their social image or incite aggression. Celebrities must be vigilant in expressing their convictions, as that which they express is limited by the social consequence of their statements; their reputation is at stake. Similarly, professionals are constrained by the beliefs of their profession and could be persecuted for contradicting them; could you imagine a minister preaching atheism? That minister would likely be excommunicated. The publically provided opinions of celebrities and professionals, therefore, may not be entirely theirs--consisting partly of the publically accepted view--or may not be theirs in entirety--providing only a part of their conviction. Accordingly, I sought out a common individual to provide me with an uncensored account of a controversial law--Bill 78: An act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institution they attend. Furthermore, in an effort to gain true conviction and to avoid inciting aggression, I guaranteed the individual anonymity and so she shall be referred to as Anonymous. Anonymous is the ideal subject for the interview that will follow insofar as she worked her way through law school and struggled by herself to raise two children, each of whom attended a university in Canada.

Bill 14: An Act to Remember



Image Source: Flicker--Parti Québécois

While she was campaigning for provincial government, as the head of Parti Québécois, Pauline Marois "promised to widen the scope of Bill 101 (...) with the aim of further protecting the French language" (PQ pitches). Marois is attempting to make good on that promise by promoting Bill 14--An Act to amend the Charter of the French language, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and other legislative provisions. As the name suggests, the objective of Bill 14 is to modify both the Charter of the French Language and Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in a manner that is explicitly related to the promotion of the French language in Quebec.

Since its legislation, Bill 101--the Charter of the French Language--has been amended many times. Some of these amendments were the result of a provision of the Bill violating an article of either "the Constitution Act (1876) or, after 1982, the new Canadian Charter of Rights" (Bélanger). Other amendments were willingly made by the English and French in an effort to reconcile their positions (Bélanger). Bill 14, the amendment that is currently being proposed, however, is neither the effect of a violation nor the result of reconciliation; rather, it is a blatant attack on English businesses and communities by Pauline Marois and her Parti Québécois minority government.

Paying a parking ticket.


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