In the 1930s, the U.S. Federal Reserve implemented a restrictive monetary policy in response to the Great Depression of 1929.
At the risk of oversimplifying matters, years later, it was concluded by economists, coupled with an admission from the Fed itself, that the imposition of a tight money policy was a misguided approach.
In fact what they should have done was to introduce a much more expansionary policy in order to get the economy going again.
It has been 30 years since the Charter of the French Language, affectionately known as Bill 101, was introduced by the Parti Québécois.
It is now time, one generation later, that the PQ and all Quebecers admit that while there have been small victories, the law itself has been an abject failure in its restrictive policies that have decimated the anglophone community to the point of disrepair.
As an alternative, it should have introduced measures to encourage and promote the use of the French language.
If I hear one more political commentator philosophize on how Bill 101 brought about “social peace” to the province, I may have to dust off my Aristotle and Plato.
The “social peace” brought about by Bill 101 is the work of a Machiavellian mind where the decimation of the anglophone community, which manifested in the loss of 150,000 pupils from its school system and over 400,000 of its English citizens, did not seem to upset this balance, yet a “torrent” of 54 students flooding into the English school system, as would seem to be the direct result of the recent striking down of Bill 104, would be deemed as disturbing this delicate balance.
Nonsense, the scales through which this balance is measured needed recalibration so long ago to the point where we now have no idea what we are measuring anymore.
The better analogy is that of a pendulum that swings in one direction only — such an instrument would defy the laws of nature just like Bill 101 itself.
If I were a young francophone, I would most likely be a defender of the goals of Bill 101 — the right of a francophone to be served by all levels of government in their own language, the right of workers to carry on their activities in French, the right to be informed and served in French and the right of persons to receive instruction in French.
Problem is, I’m a (kind of) young anglophone and I have witnessed the devastating effects of the measures of this undemocratic, repressive, segregationist, and racist law in a province and a country that pride themselves on being above reproach.
The irony of the law is the fact that a young bilingual francophone on a career path up the hierarchy of a major corporation in Canada now has to head westward to Toronto in order to reach the pinnacle because, lo and behold, that head office relocated from Montreal 29 years ago with the introduction of Bill 101.
Allow me to make something perfect clear. This is not an indictment of the French language.
Many of us speak it everyday. We either work in it, play in it, we certainly do business in it, it is unquestionably the language of the majority of the province, as long as that province does not include the island of Montreal, whether the Sociéte St. Jean Baptiste acknowledges it or not.
What I resent is the generation of self-righteous cowards that this legislation has empowered, those who believe that measuring the size of the letters on a sign or insisting on serving customers in only one language is acceptable behaviour in a civilized society.
Yet we stay. We stay for reasons of family, friends, community, opportunity and geography. I’m not sure whether the language of the majority even ranks our top 20, if at all.
As we gather for the holidays, whether it is for Rosh Hashanah or Thanksgiving, the debate is not even relevant anymore.
We have internalized the anglophone narrative.
We have lost our will to fight as evidenced by the demise of the Equality Party and Alliance Quebec, as well as by our inability to protest as demonstrated by the most recent purge of our anglophone representatives in government.
Truth is that we simply don’t matter anymore, politically or economically.
Even more revealing is the fact that the majority of our holiday guests in 2007 are former Quebecers who now live elsewhere and for whom this debate simply doesn’t have any resonance.
What our community needs right now is an immediate repeal of Bill 101 and an apology that the law was the wrong measure introduced at the wrong time.
Truth is though, we shouldn’t hold our breath for either, that is if we have any left.
David Lisbona is the Chief Investment and Taxation Officer at Nellie Capital, a Montreal private equity company and can be reached at investing@thesuburban. com. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are provided for informational purposes only. They are meant to stimulate and challenge your financial advisor/broker/lawyer and/or accountant to examine the issues raised and to determine whether they can be used in your best interest.
The Suburban, Quebec’s largest english newspaper