Canada: Group dreams of French only city

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Jun 14 14:09:26 UTC 2006

 Wednesday  June 14  2006

Group dreams of French-only city: Bilingualism the enemy; Nationalists
launch new movement to curtail English

The Gazette

Monday, June 12, 2006

Alexandre Boucher, 4, and father Jean-Francois listen to Jean Dorion of
the Societe St. Jean Baptiste de Montreal denounce what he sees as
creeping bilingualism in the city during the inaugural meeting of the
Mouvement Montreal francais yesterday.  A new organization has a solution
for reconciling Quebec's "two solitudes"  - severe curtailment of the use
of English in the province. Yesterday marked the first meeting of the
Mouvement Montreal francais, a group determined to install French as the
only language of government, education and employment in Quebec. The MMF
is affiliated with the Societe St. Jean Baptiste de Montreal, a
sovereigntist-nationalist organization.

It was Jean Dorion, SSJBM president, who mentioned Quebec's "two
solitudes," a phrase expressing the divide between French and English
speakers. He was one of several speakers to address a crowd of about 200
gathered at l'Universite du Quebec a Montreal's Judith Jasmin Pavilion.
"In Ontario or the United States, new inhabitants adopt English. In
Portugal, it's Portuguese. But in Quebec, we must content ourselves with a
half-empty glass," Dorion said, referring to the use of English as well as
French. He pointed out that today, as many as 56 per cent of new
immigrants to Quebec learn English as a second language, rather than

"In order to ensure the survival of the French language, that number must
rise to 90 per cent," Dorion said. Novelist Yves Beauchemin spoke out
against bilingual signs, posters, and commercial packaging. "These signs
suggest to anglophones and new immigrants that it's okay not to
integrate," he said. He pointed to the fact that children attending French
public schools in Quebec will now begin learning English in Grade 1
instead of Grade 3 as further cause for concern. "Language is our
culture," Beauchemin said. "Montreal is slipping away from us."

Farid Salem, a representative of Solidarite Quebec-Algerie, urged support
for one common language as "the only guarantee of peaceful coexistence
between different communities." Bloc Quebecois MP (Ahuntsic) Maria Mourani
spoke on behalf French-speaking immigrants to Quebec who often face
unemployment if they do not learn English. "(Bilingualism) is not a
marginal concern. It affects people of all different origins, the young
and the old," she said. Although the issue of Quebec sovereignty was
raised at several points, Dorion stated that preserving the French
language alone was the issue at hand.

"If a few federalists join our cause, all the better," Dorion said. "It's
a question of saving the French language, nothing else," he added. As a
new organization, MMF has no official count of its members. However,
spokesperson Mario Beaulieu said the group has about 300 "sympathizers."
On the Fete nationale, June 24, supporters will march under a banner
bearing the group's name, handing out stickers and pamphlets.

klunau at

 The Gazette (Montreal) 2006

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