An Anglo in Québec

Christopher Hall [Google translation] is a popular Québécois comedian. Although his mother tongue is English, he earns most of his living in French.

August 26th, 2007 marked the 30th anniversary of the Charter of the French language. Mr. Hall was invited to participate in the commemorations that marked the event. Here's an excerpt of what he said:
"I remember when it came into force because we had just arrived in Montréal; my father had accepted a job at McGill. We were living in Westmount and some people came at the door asking us to sign a petition against Bill 101. My father told them he wasn't interested because he felt it was normal for Québec to ensure the perpetuation of French.

They were flabbergasted; they just couldn't believe that he would say 'no'. That's when I learned the meaning of the word 'ostracized'. After that, not even Jehovah's witnesses came ringing at our door.

Of course, my father was right to do this, but I must say his commitment started way before that when we were living in Saskatchewan. He, and my mother, co-founded Saskatoon's French school 40 years ago and counting. They didn't want their children to have the same handicap they had, being English-speaking unilinguals.

I'm real happy for their ideal, but, for me, it was a 'pain in the ass'. I was getting kicked around by everyone. For Anglos across the street, I was a 'fucking frog'. For the Fransaskois I attended school with, I was a 'fucking bloke'."
Click below to watch his speech [only in French] and learn how he takes a crack at how we speak French in my part of the world.

Of course, he may come across as "colonized" to some, but I love the way he takes the heat out of the linguistic duality of my hometown.


Comment of the day

A recent Globe and Mail article entitled "Looking for the cracks in medicare? Try the Ontario-Quebec border" takes a look at the effects of different provincial regulations on its respective residents. The story prompted this reaction from a reader:
"While Quebec wishes to exercise its autonomy from the rest of Canada, the rest of Canada is implementing its autonomy from Quebec.

Autonomy is a two way street."
Click here for more from the author of this comment.


Duceppe in Europe

Gilles Duceppe continues his pilgrimage in favor of Québec's sovereignty. In a recent stop in France, he crossed politicians with a much more level-headed perspective on the project than President Sarkozy did in early 2009, when he hinted that sovereigntists were sectarians.

Click here for the full story.


Mordecai Richler's legacy

On July 3, 2011, Mordecai Richler will have passed away 10 years ago. Many people recognizing his talent are pushing for a way to commemorate his legacy. Two Montréal city councilors have started an online petition calling for a street to be named after the celebrated author.

Others see in Mr. Richler's work, a skewed vision of Québec's French-speaking society. The president of Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Mario Beaulieu, has said that Montréal should never extend an honor to Mr. Richler such as naming a street after him. "For us, he's an anti-Québec racist because he denigrated French Quebeckers."

For his book Sacré Blues – An Unsentimental Journey Through Quebec, Taras Grescoe met with Mr. Richler to confront him with his views on the Québécois. Here's an excerpt of what Mr. Grescoe had to say about the author's legacy:
Thanks to Richler, the few Americans who can tell you anything about Québec tend to tell you what a small-minded, anti-Semitic culture it is. The Columbia Journalism Review, surveying major articles on Québec in American magazines between 1977 and 1994, pointed out that half had been written by Richler.Click here for more.