The Quebec people are white wool endangered French bagel baking poutine eating wine guzzling square-headed hockey loving tête à claques listening to Marie Mai, street protesting Stanley Cup rioting pastagaters and busters of English parrots, pothole filling corrupt construction workers speaking French on the job, political foot-in-mouth referendum questioning smoked-meat eating Tam-Tam playing on
ski hills with Laurentian foliage.
All sarcasm aside, Quebec is a beautiful place with rolling hills, green river valleys, and communities with hundreds of years of history. Unfortunately it's being spoiled by lingual and religious feuding as well as bipartisan politics. For the last 47 years there has been a political movement that wants to separate Quebec from Canada, just so that the "pure" French people can have freedom from the "English oppressors". However they conveniently forget the fact that without the English, Quebec would not have become the economic powerhouse that it was following World War I.
After the initial surge of the separatist movement and the adoption of laws to promote French at the expense of other languages, scores of English-run businesses and individuals left the province. The economy tanked and has never fully recovered. Today the English speakers who remain are subject to all manner of indignities:
- Services can be refused if one doesn't speak French.
- English lettering on signs must be half the size of the French letters.
- An official language police force busts restaurants for having "Pasta" on the menu and pet stores for having parrots that speak English.
- Toy stores must have French versions of all toys and games.
- Employees of companies with more than a certain number of workers must speak French in the workplace or else.
- Web sites of businesses based in Quebec must have a French version.
On top of all that, upcoming generations of young people won't understand how lucky they are to be in a place with the kind of opportunities they have. Students "strike" in protest against every proposed tuition fee increase, forgetting that even with a modest increase Quebec still has the lowest tuition fees in all of Canada. Those same students will also protest governmental austerity measures and other related plans.
I often ask myself why I stay here.
The more time that has gone by, the harder it has been to find a convincing answer.