Thursday, June 9, 2016

Allophones who are really anglophones

Lately thinking about all things problematic going on in Québec, maybe it might be too petty to pick on the allophones. But then I run into one or two of them throughout the day and I’m reminded how silly the whole thing is and feel compelled to have my say. Ever since I came to Montréal, I had been surrounded by a species of people who only seem to exist in Québec—I am talking about the allophone! Now, if you’re not from Québec, you may be wondering what in the world is an allophone? Short answer is this: an allophone is a person in Québec whose mother tongue is neither French nor English. 

Here’s the way I see it. 

Having always disliked the politically correct term allophone, as it doesn’t do much besides distort the Montréal’s linguistic statistics, I suppose that you’ve got to say something for addressing the phenomenon of anglophones who are the children or grandchildren of Italian or Greek immigrants running around claiming to be allophones. These allophone shenanigans especially come up when you ask them why they don’t know anything about Québec, despite having spent their whole lives here. What's more, on the statistics side of things, certain allophone groups can be considered, for all intents and purposes, francophone or anglophone. 

Think of people from the Maghreb, Haiti, or even the Vietnamese from a few decades ago—these people function in French in Québec. As far as I am concerned, they are francophone. On the other hand, you got these “allophones” from India, Pakistan, Nepal or Jamaica who function in English in Québec—and usually only in English. For all practical and every day purposes, they are anglophones. But they get counted as the elusive “allophone” in statistical counts. I wish these people would just own their anglophone-ness and stop referring to themselves as allophones. 

It has been my experience that many of the faux-allo anglos, when spoken to in French, will freak out and tell you that they pay their taxes and therefore don’t need to be integrated or whatever. They will tell you to not patronize their businesses if you have the audacity to speak in French, all the while claiming to be speakers of some other language. They do this thinking they will be forgiven for acting like the historic Québec anglophone stereotype. Perhaps from a strict libertarian point of view, one could justify such assholery. But I, for one, would like to see Montréal keep its uniqueness as a francophone city. Furthermore, it’s really just common courtesy and only normal to speak French. Most of them are ill informed and will repeat the old “Canada is bilingual” line. Doesn’t matter what the laws really are, they will continue spouting that excuse for their own laziness, lack of interest and closure to the world. The worst part is that many francophone Quebecers have internalized this way of doing things and just let it keep happening. 

Then there are those faux-allophones who were “born and raised in Montréal,” (they just love saying the “born and raised” bit) with real immigrant family members from a generation or three ago. I usually find myself coming back to the faux Greeks and Italians. Montréal is full of them. I used to know a guy named Mike, who claimed to be Italian. He didn’t speak Italian. He had never been to Italy. He did speak French as a second language though, with English as his first. So that being said, what makes this dude an Italian? With that logical output, I could claim to be a Quebecer-Norwegian, since my mother’s ancestors were something around 80% from Québec. However, I am always referred to as American. But anglophone Mike from Montréal, he’s an Italian, as illustrated by one of his silly friends on the street who referred to Mike as “that Italian guy!” WTF? Similar stories abound in offices that I used to work at where this other anglophone girl was referred to as that Greek girl. 

When I bring all this up to them, they usually come back to me with some sob story about how they or their parents were refused access to French schools and how the Québec people were mean to them or something like that. They act like the pre-loi 101 reality of 1968, when 40% of Montreal’s Saint-Léonard were Italian immigrants, most of whom sent their children to English school, had nothing to do with it. Some say the French schools refused the Italian immigrants, but I find that suspicious when everybody knows that the vast majority of immigrants wanted the English schools, not the French ones, as was typical of immigrants of the time. 

They act like there was never any good reason for the existence of the Mouvement pour l'intégration scolaire. They ignore that the Italian reaction to francization was by opening clandestine English-language schools schools in private homes that lacked basic supplies (although Montréal anglophone networks were providing some financial assistance). People in crass coffee shops on rue Jean-Talon near métro Fabre will tell you stories about how much they wanted to go to French school, but the mean francophones wouldn’t let them and the civilized Protestant (English) school board would. Anyway, none of that matters anymore. When the faux-Italians and faux-Greeks don’t speak French or don’t want to, they just use their “I’m Italian” or “I’m Greek” to justify their worldview of Québec indifference. After all, like that crazy dépanneur dude from India said in the link above: they pay their taxes, so shut the eff up and spend your money elsewhere! 

The most annoying thing is when they use it as an excuse for not knowing how to speak French, despite many years and decades of living in Québec. Once, I was at one of those Chinese restaurants on rue de la Gauchetière in Montréal and, while paying for the meal, the woman at the register spoke to me in English. I responded in French. She responded in some Asian language. I then asked her in French if she spoke French. She retorts by asking me if I speak Mandarin. (WTF?) I told her that we are in Québec, not China, so why the hell should I speak Mandarin Chinese? Eventually, she ended up serving me in French. Aha! The old bag did speak some French after all. Lady, why didn’t you just do it from the get go? Maybe the stereotype that some people in Asia think that all European languages are the same is true in her case? But it does go both ways. I once asked some silly guy in Minnesota what language his asinine oriental-language-character tattoo was and he told me it was “Asian.” Then he got upset when I told him there is no language called “Asian.” 

It’s weird, because in the grand scheme of things, these “allophone” people end up being not much of anything, blended as they are in the Canadian/North American multicultural feces-brown blob. They don’t want to be Quebecers and keep saying they are from this or that nationality—even when they are not. No real Italian would consider Mike a fellow countryman. They might say that they are “Canadian” in some way—whatever that means. When I lived in Minnesota and met Canadians, I asked them how they distinguished themselves from their USA counterparts. They usually repeated the tired old socialized healthcare bit. And they can’t even use that one anymore, cos those lucky Americans have now got the likes of Obamacare! 

Anyway, the allo-anglo situation isn’t getting any better in Montréal’s climate of anglophones telling stories about how awful they got it in Québec. Sometimes the STM tortures them. Sometimes there are stories that will make you think paramedics are eating children like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. Sometimes their brethren from other provinces chime in. Could you imagine the reaction in the anglo media if a francophone talked like that guy? 

Now before all the anglophones send me a bunch of negative comments, talking about their rights and blah blah blah, take note that I am merely pointing out that all you fake allophones should just fess up, stop calling yourselves allophone and say what you really are—an anglophone, none too different from any other, usually oblivious to Québec and all that goes with it, while using the language of your ancestors to justify your mediocrity. 

To end on a positive note, there are some anglophones in Canada starting to wake up and recognize that Québec was right all along regarding language, identity and society. 

Let’s hope more of the “allophones” will take heed.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Québec anglophones will vote OUI after reading this.

I’m not sure why the truth hasn’t been told to people in Québec. The immigrants, for example, who are after wealth and not integration have somehow been convinced by English Canada that it’s in their interest to stay in the poorest province per capita (I’m talking about the actual money you have to spend) in Canada. So they come here and run around talking about how great all the anti-colonial movements were in their countries, but then prevent us from doing the same thing. By calling its own shots, Québec could provide the possibility of generating much more wealth than it is currently in this Canadian federal regime. 

Since racism is attacking people for their race and not for what they actually do, I don’t need to excuse myself merely for saying what I see. Of course it’s fashionable among SJWs to say I am “privileged” because of supposed past wrongdoings. Before some start bringing up First Nation genocides to shut up Québec nationalism, I’ll just get it out of the way that Québec never massacred Amerindians. So, in today’s Québec, to immigrants, I say: “You do realize that you force us to stay in Canada and prevent us from acquiring the wealth that is ours and would also be yours? You force us to give them taxes and soldiers to bombard your brothers and sisters. Why believe the lie that it’s in your best interest to vote NON?”

Nobody seems to realize how rich Quebec is, including Anglophones who almost unanimously vote NON and Liberal, no matter what the Liberals do. They blindly give them carte blanche every time.

Doesn’t anyone ever ask why we have several enormously high bridges crossing the Saint Lawrence? It’s because of the huge vessels that pass through our territory, toll-free, from and to Ontario and the ocean. The new Champlain Bridge is supposed to cost us around $5 billion. Even though this bridge falls under the responsibility of the federal government, they want to make it a toll road. And who’s going to be crossing that bridge? Why Québec taxpayers of course! Certainly not anyone from the supposed have provinces (since they say Québec is have-not in federalist Newspeak). Doing a little math, the bridge will probably cost between $1,200-2,000 for each person paying taxes in Québec, depending on how expensive it actually ends up being. Regardless, it will cost a fortune because it has to be of a certain height for passing ships.

Next to the Champlain Bridge there is a much lower and unnoticed two-lane bridge, the Estacade du pont Champlain, which is a great deal less expensive. Let’s say that constructing a similar bridge, with six lanes, as is planned for the new Champlain Bridge, would be more in the ballpark of $1.5 billion. That being said, since the $1.5 billion would cover the needs of the average Montréal commuter, wouldn’t it be fair to say that the $3.5 billion difference ought to be paid through tolls of the passing ships? That’s not what our dear federalist friends tell us though. Oh no. They say that we are going to pay for it all! However, we don’t need a bridge that high. The ships do. And they pass through our territory free of charge!

I am not saying to shut down the Saint Lawrence Seaway, but tolls, taxes or whatever else on English Canada to move their products is what should be paying the enormous difference in price for that bridge, not us. And that us includes our fellow anglophone citizens from the West Island as well.

An independent Québec will be able to control the strategic geographic position of the Saint Lawrence as well as having the right to impose or to not impose a toll to cross through our territory as is done in every other country, such as the Suez or Panama canals. In 2013, the Suez Canal generated $5.5 billion. Currently, the Saint Lawrence Seaway has less activity because of the deindustrialization in the Great Lakes region (except of course the paradox that is Toronto—where wealth is arbitrarily concentrated in the Golden Horseshoe for political reasons, certainly not because of its geography).

Landlocked territories, without access to the ocean are generally poorer. Look at Laos, Bolivia, Mali, Mongolia… even in Canada, Alberta has its tar sands, but Vancouver is the one always cited as having the best quality of life on tons of lists. Montréal has a navigable access to the ocean, but is poorer than Toronto. And no, it’s not because of sovereignty movement or the French language, as the distributers of the federalist kool-aid love to say. It’s because Canada has made a political decision that Toronto will be its metropolis and Montréal will become a satellite city of that metropolis, like all the other Canadian cities.

Political and economic sovereignty, however, would transform Montréal into a financial metropolis on an international level, with large multinationals headquartered there again (and the huge salaries that go with it). Montreal’s airport would be an international hub instead of having to go to Toronto for everything. Quebec City would greatly benefit from becoming an international capital—imagine the 30-40 embassies that would spring up and the wealth it would generate. For a city with such an inferiority complex with Montréal, vote OUI and watch Quebec City renovate itself into a capital on an international scale.

No country has ever regretted attaining its sovereignty.

It’s becoming clear that the old victim discourse (the historic betrayals of English Canada that are usually the backbone of independence arguments) isn’t reaching Québec’s youth anymore. The younger generation has pretty much moved on from the victim phase and they want to hear a positive message about how independence would benefit them by defending their values and economic interests. It’s things like having a population that is 50 times superior to that of, say, Prince Edward Island, but having more or less the same amount of political power as that tiny island that seem ridiculous.

Furthermore, independence would eventually bring back those $150,000 salaries from Toronto to Montréal, because Montréal would once again become the great financial metropolis of an independent country instead of an outpost of Toronto—Canada’s chosen metropolis. Montréal will regain its Stock Exchange, as it was moved/merged with Toronto’s purely for political reasons, despite what our federalist friends will tell you when they blame nationalism.

Look at cities like Oslo. Norway has a population of about 4.5 million and they have a stock exchange. So do the other Scandinavian countries. Imagine if the three Scandinavian countries were one united country, since their languages are 90% similar and they share a common history, do you think Oslo would have the same importance that it now has as an international capital?

Canada is a very long and narrow east-west strip where 85% of the population resides. For political unity, to make this costly arrangement work they try to push economic trade in and east-west direction, instead of the more natural north-south axis, as 70% of Québec’s exports are to the United States. When counting trade with the rest of the world, that doesn’t leave much activity for the ROC east-west thing. Hydro-Québec was probably created with the north-south axis in mind, as it sells a good part of its electricity to the New England region.

What about the deplorable state of our roads? The Maritimes move the product by truck, and a truck can do as much damage as 10,000 automobiles on our roads—and they pass through our territory free of charge! The enormous wear and tear of truck transport coupled with our Québec winters means that the cost of our road maintenance will always be high. However, we in Québec rarely traipse around the Maritimes or Manitoba; we don’t need to pass through their territory. But they do in ours. Could that be one of the big reasons why our roads are worse off than theirs? Why are we letting this go on?

What about the whole Equalization payment comedy? They portray it as if Canada gives poor Québec a gift of around $9-10 billion every year. They call Québec a have not. If we were really such a heavy burden for Canada, wouldn’t they be happy to get rid of us? Yes, Québec receives a sum around those figures, but it isn’t as if Québec doesn’t pay equalization payments too. The federal government admits that Québec pays 18% of it. With that, the “gift” gets reduced to around $6-7 billion. It’s also organized as if there were only ten provinces, without counting the northern territories, in the Territorial Financing Formula (TTF). That’s another huge sum to subtract. There are also three times more Amerindians in English Canada than in Québec, many more millions that we pay and from which we benefit nothing. Québec’s 8 million population is the second largest in Canada, and the amount in equalization payments per person in 2014-15 was around $915 as opposed to Prince Edward Island’s $2,320 per person. The federal “gift” is enormously less than they are claiming in the media, especially considering the many millions we forego by not managing our own affairs. Is their “gift” worth it? The Saint Lawrence Valley currently generates little wealth for us, when it ought to be producing a lot more given the traffic going through it. The mirage of equalization makes people in Québec think they are receiving handouts. The reality is that Canada is organized in such a way as to take what is ours. They don’t give us anything.

What about the environment in all this? Look at it this way: Alberta produces expensively extracted oil from the tar sands. Alberta has no access to the ocean. British Colombia refused a pipeline. For political reasons, they are obliged to pass through the Saint Lawrence Valley. Not only should Québec impose a passage toll, as is done everywhere else on earth, the wealth generated could, for example, finance our existing electrical transportation network. The big picture is that Québec produces cleaner hydroelectricity, which currently equalizes dirtier petrol based energies coming from other provinces. Québec makes Canada look good environmentally. Without Québec, Canada would be seen more as a polluter and would perhaps even be pressured by the international community to pay carbon credits to Québec—the UN initiative currently acting on a local level that gets big polluters to pay money to smaller polluters. Whether or not it’s a scam of the “New World Order” approach, it’s an interesting way to look at ways Québec could benefit.

What about the “dreaded” 3rd referendum? Well, is democracy good or bad? If you believe democracy good, referendums are a much better way to measure what a given population wants about a specific thing, rather than some election on vague and unimportant stupidities like the candidate’s hair. As a superior form of democracy, referendums win with 50% +1 on a specific issue, instead of something like 30-40% of the voting population with an election. When federalists say that they don’t want another referendum, what they are really saying is that democracy is harmful—so we should just eliminate elections all together because the separatists are crazy! Rather than convincing the population that federalism is superior, federalists have decided to destroy their own patrie with massive immigration that is already preventing them from demographically defending themselves. They even put forth the idiocy that the Syrians coming to Montréal should be allowed access to English language schools with the idea that they have already suffered so much that it would be cruel to impose French upon them. Studying in French is a form of torture, you know.

In any case, I think I’m going to have to do a part II to this article. For now, let me close with this: some say that we need to reinforce the Québec state before concerning ourselves with independence. Just the opposite is true! By using the enormous benefits of independence, we could finally address the problems that are currently plaguing us. The polls show that the majority of Québec youth consider themselves Quebecers first. Younger and older, whatever language, we just need to realize that independence really pays.

It’s not radical, nor extreme. It’s just moral.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How is immigration in Québec really turning out?

I recently spent a weekend in Montréal with two friends of mine from a South American country. I had met the woman in France while doing a sort of stage in Lyon. Her husband came to visit and, while a very nice guy, conversation was somewhat limited as he spoke solely in Spanish. She spoke French rather fluently and had good English too. All in all, we got along well and kept in touch when our short working stint was over.

A couple of years later, I was living in Montréal and I had the occasion to visit them in their country. I knew that they didn’t want to stay there because so many things were going wrong—what with food shortages for the most basic items, like chicken. I talked about my experience with the Skilled Immigrant paperwork and process for Québec Immigration. I mentioned (to her mostly, as we spoke to one another in French) on numerous occasions that they should consider moving to Québec as skilled immigrants, being that I thought they could easily fit in.

They eventually filled out and sent in the Skilled Workers immigration paperwork, but his language abilities were not up to par. Their dossier was rejected. Later on though, she was accepted into a program at the Université de Montréal and was able to secure for herself a student visa as well as papers for him. So, they came here last summer. I went around with them the first few days, somewhat showing them the city and helping to find an apartment. They ended up choosing one in Côte-des-Neiges. Not the best neighborhood for any meaningful integration—even though large francophone institutions like the university and Sainte-Justine are nearby. But where they decided to live wasn’t my choice.

I had trouble hiding my distaste of the dwelling itself and especially when I saw that the building’s owner was some old-stock anglophone that didn’t speak French and looked at me funny when I spoke to him in French. The woman who collected the rent was some older Portuguese immigrant that only spoke in a broken English with a few words of French. I thought: how are they going to integrate when this is their first impression of Montréal? Yes, she would be a student at the francophone Université de Montréal, but what about him? I then gave them all the information they would need to enroll him for francization classes, offered free of charge by the government. Some of these courses were even being held just a few blocks from where they were going to live.

Anyway, fast-forward a year. He still has not learned to speak one word of French. His English isn’t very good either—maybe functional on a very basic level—but French ought to take priority. They have neighbors from Alberta and plenty of acquaintances who speak Spanish. She told me that her part time job was almost always conducted in English. As for him, he found a job at a sausage-casing factory where there are a handful of Spanish speakers. When he needs to speak to non hispanophones, he may do so in his basic broken English. He complains that jobs here are usually advertised to require knowledge of both languages. Just that in itself is ridiculous—why should someone working in a factory making sausage casings need to have functional English in a supposedly francophone society? But Philippe Couillard, for example, seems to think this kind of bilingualism is oh-so-necessary in case Americans (or Canadians?) ask the workers questions.

When large amounts of immigrants are hired somewhere, to get the ball rolling and getting them to work, those immigrants will usually do whatever is easiest, which usually does not involve using French in the workplace. Anyway, why should the people running these places care about things like community, language, way of life and society? I know that business exists to generate monetary wealth. I get that. People need money and those who are indifferent to the fragility of French in Montréal will merely say that these workers are just adapting themselves to the reality of the situation in order to make ends meet. 

So, he feels a bit stuck. He is not, however, making any effort to learn French.

I told them that it might be better to move to Ontario or somewhere else where the language situation is more straightforward. Still their response was that they like the quality of life in Montréal and want to stay. I then told them that learning French is imperative and that it is generally looked down upon to not know French and continue to live here—except of course by indifferent francophones, anglophones and “allophones” (I really gotta write a new article regarding these allophones in Montréal).

So, if Montréal’s quality of life is what interests them, which can be found nowhere else, isn’t it reasonable, if not obvious, to say it comes from the French factor? It seems to me that what really interests them is a Montreal with a very marginalized and folkloric French language. Why do they stay when paradise on earth is just a few hundred kilometers to the west (or to the east or the south)! Nevertheless, they want to stay in uniquely francophone Québec, a place unlike anywhere else in North America (or in the world really), without contributing to its preservation or helping it thrive. All they’re doing is contributing to Montréal’s anglicization, while finding the whole French thing to be just a cute detail. Can’t they see the contradiction?

Now, I know that my friends are just responding to the current reality of Montréal. The—what many would consider—dead end jobs do not require French and these seem to be the only jobs they can get, so they adapt to the requirements presented. Where is personal initiative? Where is the will to integrate into society? Why don’t they just admit the real reason they came here, as it clearly wasn’t for French Québec. It wasn’t for integrating into this society and trying to help make it better. It was purely for economic reasons as well as believing what they see in Hollywood films, which happens a lot more than most are willing to admit. I know because some of them have actually told me with a straight face that this or that Hollywood film gave them the idea to move to a certain place. Why not just throw darts at the map?

The more important questions is this: if Québec wants to not only survive and thrive, how can we afford something around 50,000 economic migrants every year, who are not at all motivated nor inspired by a Québec societal project ? 

And I don’t know what to tell my friends, because they are right when they say that they don’t need to use French for their work, so why bother learning it? She already speaks it and may have a better chance at getting a better job later on. I think they understand that getting a better job in Québec often usually means knowing French (in addition to English), but is that even true? She isn’t deaf and knows her colleagues don’t need French. I’m not saying she has that great of a job (some part-time office job downtown), though when I worked in the Peel/Maisonneuve area and in Ville-St-Laurent, I had what can be considered a good, well-paying job. And while being bilingual French-English was seen as an asset, French really wasn’t necessary. The project was done in English, most of the people with whom I worked were unilingual anglophones—usually 2nd or 3rd generation Greek or Italian anglophones, who tend to be pretty hostile towards French, or the occasional anglicized Chinese/Thai/Filipino person.

I know from my own experience that French wasn’t necessary and even somewhat frowned upon. Aside from the anecdotes I’ve already mentioned in my previous article, another one involved some black girl whose parents were from Nigeria. While talking about protecting French, nationalism and such, she smugly retorted: “Oh, then you must hate me then…” I think in Québec, the word hate, among others, has become a code word for anti-French, anti-nation and anti-Québec. Oh, you must hate me. You must be an idiotic racist, anti-Semitic bigot who can’t speak English. Seriously, do these types of clichéd insults to shut the other person up even work anymore?

Back to the topic at hand, my motivation in moving here comes from my will to help contribute to French Québec and make Montréal and in general Québec as francophone as possible—leading to a real diversity, strong and durable. With this in mind, why should someone coming from a poorer country that doesn’t speak French and doesn’t really want to, why should they go above and beyond just wanting to feed, clothe and entertain themselves with Made in China garbage? If knowing how to speak basic English can provide these vulgar, base-level needs, why bother taking the time to learn French and take part in Québec’s cultural life that they claim to like? Observing this multicultural environment in which we live that promotes mediocrity and citizen-of-the-world bullshit (basically the glamorous lie of a jet-setting anglophone), one can almost understand the actions of the typical immigrant. 

You’ve probably already guessed that I now regret telling them to come here. Even if they are both pleasant and dependable, I shouldn’t have just naïvely thought they would have the same interest for Québec and its North American French language society as I do. That not being the case, like most immigrants, they are leaving behind more difficult conditions in their real country, while not adapting themselves to their new host society. They often don’t speak French and if they speak white, it’s because speaking white means speaking money.

I don’t mean that these immigrants end up being rich, neither that their lives aren’t difficult. I am not saying that I necessarily want them to leave Québec. But I do want them to integrate. I want them to speak French. I want them to contribute to Québec society in ways going beyond just paying their taxes. In a strong and francophone Québec, people from other countries are welcome, provided that they want to help me as well as the rest of us build Québec. Even though we are individuals, I am not interested in extreme individuality, with a fuck all attitude to go with it.

Let the accusations of racism begin!