Landry is out of touch

That's too bad, because neither part of his wistfully atavistic pronouncement survives comparison with the realities of Quebec in 2007.

L'acharnement "atavique" de la Gâzette

[Quebec is neither bilingual nor multicultural, former Premier Bernard Landry claimed this weekend->8489], and if you move here you are expected to leave your old culture behind. All home abandon, ye who enter here.
Speaking at a Sunday rally in support of the Charter of the French Language, Landry chose to throw another log on the already-blazing debate about Quebec identity. Speculation about why he did it should not obscure the fact he has shown himself to be badly out of touch.
Landry walked away from the job of Parti Québécois leader in 2005, and much of his behaviour since has suggested he has regretted his impetuous move. His successor, André Boisclair, having self-destructed, Landry then had to watch Pauline Marois take the job. But former PQ leaders - except Boisclair, so far - have a habit of staying in the public eye, and Landry is no exception.

That's too bad, because neither part of his wistfully atavistic pronouncement survives comparison with the realities of Quebec in 2007.
On language, Landry knows Quebec is constitutionally bound to publish its laws in English as well as French; that English may be used in the National Assembly; that English is used in the courts. As a former minister of revenue he knows very well however unilingual other departments of government become, income-tax forms are easily available in English. He knows Quebecers of all language groups share in North American popular culture, in English. He knows some health institutions are allowed to function in both languages. And he knows something like 560,000 Quebecers have English as a first language, another 50,000 claim English and French together as first languages, and that thousands more allophones speak English as well.
To be sure, Quebec's official language is French, and that status is entrenched and defended by law. Few anglophones challenge that. But it is alarming Landry feels free to dismiss Quebec's anglophone fact in such a cavalier way.
As for multiculturalism, Landry seems tranquilly unaware of how outdated he sounds. Is he running for mayor of Hérouxville? Perhaps he needs to spend a little more time in Montreal, or Laval, or on the South Shore.
No doubt Landry does, in fact, know the realities of modern Quebec. It's just that he doesn't like them. Late on the night of the 1995 referendum, he famously harangued an unlucky Hispanic hotel clerk who became the lightning rod for his frustrations: Immigrants like you are to blame! He was echoing his then-boss Jacques Parizeau, who had just blamed "ethnic votes" for blocking the independence of the pur-laine Quebec of his nostalgic imagination.
Quebecers - all Quebecers - are currently hypersensitive about group identity. Francophones, anglophones, allophone groups and communities large and small; we are all uneasily aware that difference, for all its richness, can also be a source of friction.
And so everyone in society has a responsibility to tread carefully. When the current debate, still gathering momentum, eventually blows itself out, we are all going to have to live together. Landry should have known better.

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