A new study paints a cheerless picture of the state of anglo Montreal. The Report of the Greater Montreal Community Development Initiative Steering Committee is so alarming that many anglophones will have trouble recognizing themselves in it.
The report, fruit of a project by the anglophone confederation called the Quebec Community Groups Network, symbolizes that organization's interest in Montreal Island.
To be sure, many of the QCGN's organizations operate, and even have headquarters, on the Island. But the angryphone-vs.-lamb lobby battles of the late 1990s left Montreal a devastated no-man's land for would-be anglophone leadership. While off-island anglos profited from the loose links among QCGN units - Community Newspapers Association, Anglophone Heritage Network, North-Shore Community Association and 20 others - Montreal anglos have been a disorganized bunch.
That's partly because Island anglos have little sense of being a threatened minority. It's also because, as this study notes, no official-language minority in Canada is more diverse than Quebec anglos - Montrealers especially, we believe - in place of origin, religion, visible minority status and the like.
There isn't one anglophone community in Montreal, there are many, so varied that nobody dares to presume to speak for all of them.
That's what makes doubly sad the erosion of anglophone political representation in the Quebec cabinet and in the federal and provincial legislatures, where even some ridings with many anglophones and allophones might now have a francophone MP or MNA.
To be sure, office-holders elected to speak for everyone cannot be merely anglo advocates. Still they have, to a degree, provided a community focus. But there are fewer of them now, and they're often tongue-tied about anglo interests, as with Bill 104. So who can lead?
Perhaps that's the wrong question. What if we asked instead "what needs to be done?"
The study committee found a worthwhile cause in what we might call the Montreal Island anglo underclass. Anglophone greater Montreal has an alarming jobless rate of 9.2 per cent, largely because 245,000 of the 699,000 metropolitan anglos are unilingual. This, too, is Montreal.
Focusing on helping these people would be a worthwhile project for all of Quebec's anglophones. Sure enough, one recommendation of the committee report is for anglo school boards to provide more language training for jobless or under-employed adults.
Instead of fretting about who should be the leader, anglophone Montreal should roll up its sleeves and tackle this problem.
Forget leaders: Anglos need to get to work
Anglophone greater Montreal has an alarming jobless rate of 9.2 per cent, largely because 245,000 of the 699,000 metropolitan anglos are unilingual.