Territorial bilingualism or independence | Another magazine
The French language has been in crisis in Canada since the 1960s. The crisis is linked to Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Blinded by his desire to subvert the French-Canadian nationalism that had become Quebecois, Trudeau steered Canada away from the only policy that could provide the French with an enviable future at home: territorial bilingualism as found in Switzerland or Belgium.
It should have been otherwise. Researchers from the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (CRBB) have dispelled the illusion of a vibrant francophone population from coast to coast. Engineer Richard J. Joy presents the Commission with a century-long analysis of censuses since 1867. Languages in Conflict: The Canadian Experience (1967).
He describes the increasing urbanization and assimilation of Quebec’s non-border French-speaking minorities and concludes that “ two languages of unequal power cannot be intimately connected; the weakest must inevitably perish ” (I translate).
At the same time, the demographer Robert Maheu presented his master’s thesis, which he later delved into Francophones in Canada, 1941-1991 (1970). He also predicts that francophones will gradually concentrate in Quebec. In short, the linguistic reality calls for a policy of territorial bilingualism that primarily seeks to strengthen Quebec’s French character.
However, Trudeau and his mentor, CRBB member Frank Scott, ensured that territorial bilingualism was rejected. ” [Dans] In modern North America, the population is so mobile that it seems unrealistic to adopt such a rigid principle. was considered desirable » (Report CRBB, vol. 1, 1967: my emphasis). According to the commission, the mobility of individuals trumps its cause, which is to make the French language safe! Instead, he advocates free language exchange, meaning the free individual choice of English or French, and the free movement of people from coast to coast.
Trudeau concretized his rejection of territorial bilingualism in 1969 by beginning to transform Hull into a carbon copy of Ottawa. CRBB reiterates that only the Capital Region is eligible for the policy” effectively provides maximum freedom in choosing a place of residence without encountering linguistic concerns » (Reportvolume 5, 1970: I translate and underline).
In 1973, Trudeau commissioned Douglas H. Fullerton, the outgoing president of the National Capital Commission (NCC), which oversaw the redevelopment of the Outaouais’ identity, to study how to better manage the Ottawa-Hull region. A draft of a federal district similar to Washington is in circulation. The CRBB specifically claimed that “ The capital territory would pave the way for complete linguistic equality » (at the same time.). We cannot wait for an intimate relationship between Francophones in Hull and Anglophones in Ottawa.
Released in late 1973, data from the 1971 census revealed the increasing anglicization of francophones in Ottawa and even the fragility of French in the Outaouais. This surprises Fullerton, who is aware of Joy’s work. In his report Canada’s capital: how to manage it (1974), he rejects the idea of a federal constituency and recommends a language policy based on the principle of reasonable concentration, which consists mainly of promoting the territorial regrouping of Francophones.
” Quebecers in the region are rightly concerned, From the threat to language and culture posed by the “occupation” of the Outaouais, with the mass influx of Englishmen working in the new federal buildings in Hull and the number of Englishmen buying or renting houses on the Quebec side […] the principle of reasonable concentration it may seem scary at first glance. We will see where we are trying to tear down the walls. I would answer that the establishment of mutual understanding between cultures is possible when the parties feel a sense of security about their identity, a society can only grow and develop if it is not afraid of anything. concentration or regrouping is the best way to resist assimilation ” (underlining).
There are honest Anglophones. Concentration actually reduces the contact rate. ” Good fences make good neighbors We say it with the language of joy. Good fences make good neighbors.
NCC immediately rejects Fullerton: Greater interaction on both sides of the river would hasten the arrival of a Capital City more representative of Canadian society, based on the principle that close economic and social ties can only strengthen cultural identity. » (The capital of tomorrow, 1974). Intimacy again. That is, the melting pot.
The fortress of independence is drying up
A growing sense of alienation among the French-speaking population contributed to the election of separatist MPs in Hull and Gatineau in 1976. The occupation stands dead. Well aware of anglicization in Montreal and the Outaouais, the Lévesque government introduced French-language trademarks in 1977, as well as the Quebec clause. Welcome to Anglo-Ontarians who accept French as their common public language. And those who are willing to enroll their children in a French school… in a French school.
Trudeau responds immediately. Such a territorial policy would be the end of Canada (National Choice: A Government of Canada submission for a National Language Policy, 1977). It is clear that he intends to sacrifice the French on the altar of Canadian unity. This is the real reason why he hates territorial bilingualism. It will take ten years to let the cat out of the bag.
Ottawa and its Supreme Court then struck down key territorial elements of Bill 101. In particular, Constitution Act 1982 Quebec replaces the clause with a Canadian clause, inviting all the Michael Rousseaus of the world to come and behave in Montreal and the Outaouais as if they were in Ontario.
For a while longer, the fervor for independence kept interprovincial migrants insensitive to Quebec’s French character. But the floodgates are now open. Between 2016 and 2021, more Anglo-Canadians entered Quebec than Anglo-Quebecers. Another historic first.
Since the work of Joy and Fullerton, an additional half-century of censuses has confirmed the Anglicization of Canada and Quebec that is evident today. Trudeau’s policies proved toxic to the French. There are only two solutions to his hyper-aggravated crisis. Or Canada is reshaping its politics on a territorial basis and participating in the Frenchization of Quebec’s public space. Or Quebec empowers itself to make French the common language.
The French language is stifling. It’s been a long time. For a long time. For it to finally flourish, Quebec and the rest of Canada must have a separate room in one form or another.