Tougher language laws in Quebec? Oh joie…

Diane De Courcy likes blue. (Photo/Canadian Press)

Diane De Courcy likes blue. (Photo/Canadian Press)

Quebec’s minister in charge of language is reported to have said that Quebecers should expect tougher language laws if the Parti Québécois wins a majority in the next election. Diane De Courcy didn’t even say “new and improved,” so you know she’s not fooling around.

Clearly, Quebec’s language laws have been too lax of late, as evidenced by people more or less getting along (unless you’re unfortunate enough to be wearing a hijab). Instead of taking the broad view, a majority PQ government is likely to narrow its focus on language. Yes, a more narrow-minded approach is exactly what we need.

So just what could these tougher laws look like?

  • The word “Canada” will be banned from use. Even words containing “can” will be forbidden. Le Canal de Lachine will be known as “Le Quebal de Lachine,” ducks will become “quenards,” and of course les Cantons de l’Est will be referred to as “les suburbs.” If necessary, Canada will be described as “the great mass of land that surrounds us, except for the U.S., who are just fine,” or “that country our betraying athletes competed for in the Olympics, but good job nonetheless, everyone,” or simply as “the oppressor.”
  • English public schools will continue to exist, except they will be French schools.
  • Sales staff in retail stores will be required to ignore customers in French only.
  • Quebec’s official greeting will be the scowl.
  • Non-French Quebecers will no longer be allowed to greet each other with a two-cheek kiss because, honestly, who are they trying to kid?
  • New immigrants to Quebec will be required to wear nametags that read “Trainee.”
  • The Ministry of Education will change the name of its controversial “Ethics, Religion and Culture” course to “Ethics, Religion and Shunning.”
  • Health care services will no longer be available in English, as opposed to the current situation where health care services have a slim chance of being available in English if you’re lucky.
  • Bill 101 restricting access to English education will be extended to Quebec Cégeps because it is important for francophone students to experience underage binge drinking in their mother tongue.
  • In dealing with tourists, Quebec businesses will be encouraged to communicate by grunting and pointing.
  •  Book clubs will be required to feature books by Quebec authors only. Books by English Quebec authors will be allowed in translation, except for that Mordecai Richler guy, because we still haven’t forgiven him for that New Yorker piece. Wait, he’s dead? No matter; we must relentlessly instruct our children and the children of their children regarding the suffering to the collectivity caused by this great humiliation.
  • Crying out the Lord’s name during passionate lovemaking must be done in French only. How Quebec will enforce this rule, you don’t want to know.
  • The motto of the City of Montreal will be changed from “Concordia Salus,” meaning “salvation through harmony,” to “Pas Bilingue de Tout.”
  • Municipalities whose English population falls below 50 percent will lose their bilingual status, meaning public notices will be completely incomprehensible in French only.
  • Eyebrows need to be trimmed to 2 millimetres in length. This has nothing to do with language; it’s just something that’s been bugging the PQ for some time.
  • All complaints about oppressive and draconian language restrictions will be addressed by Jean-François Lisée who will personally call you up and tell you to relax, everything is fine, get over it.
  • All “for sale,” “going out of business” and “looking for drive to Ontario” advertisements must be printed in French only.
  • More sign inspectors! Because we don’t want the rest of the world to think that Rob Ford is the only idiot in Canada – er, I mean “the oppressor.”
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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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59 Responses to Tougher language laws in Quebec? Oh joie…

  1. markbialczak says:

    I am an American. I shall let you all sort out this problem, Ross. Excuse me. I’d like go brush up on my Spanish.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Yes, nothing has quite the universal blogger appeal as a regional issue involving a language that most of the English-speaking world doesn’t speak.
      Actually, this post originally appeared in a Quebec newspaper; I hoped the hyperlinks might help. Thanks for plowing through.

  2. Ned's Blog says:

    After reading this and educating myself on the issues by reading the links, let me see if I’ve got this straight:

    Your Canadian?

  3. Twindaddy says:

    Does Quebec still want to secede? What’s the deal up there?

  4. El Guapo says:

    As long as the troubles don’t affect production of these delicious crepes.
    (The Montreal bagels can go though.)

  5. colemining says:

    The bit about the ‘Trainee’ nametags made me lol. The rest made me shake my head and sigh in resignation. You’ve hit the whole tension between the ‘funny ’cause it’s true’/’not funny in the least because it’s true’ smack on the head.

  6. Love this post. I will, however, never think of the phrases “Oh Dieu” or “Mon Dieu” in the same way….EVER!!

  7. Yahooey says:

    Reminds me of the Royal Canadian Air Farce’s skit ‘Quebec Language Police’ and the Richard Taché

  8. Kay Metviner says:

    When I lived there English just had to be a certain percentage smaller than French – has that changed, or is the PQ just dreaming about banishing English even further?

  9. ksbeth says:

    ever see, ‘canadian bacon,’ ross? pretty dumb movie but one of the funniest parts was the running gag about canada and it’s dual language issues.

  10. peachyteachy says:

    Damn, I love Quenada!

  11. Paul says:

    “Origin of the Name Quebec: The name Quebec comes from the Algonquin word meaning narrow passage or strait.” – http://canadaonline.about.com/cs/provinces/g/quebec.htm

    Ironically, it seems that the name “Quebec” is not French. How could this possibly be!? If de Courcy really wants to make Quebec French she will have to re-name it. Or she could fold it up from the borders inward until it disappears from existence – that would solve the problem too. They could exist in their own parallel universe in which they are totally separated from reality – oh wait, maybe they’ve already done that? Or, failing all that, she could just emigrate to France, then she could be French as opposed to Canadian or Algonquin, as the name suggests.

    As much as your post is hilarious (love the “moving to Ontario” signs in French!) Ross, I have to say, I find it hard to comment in the light, humorous tone in which you created this post. This fact alone fills me with awe at your quite considerable skills. Your ability to mock the Algonquin Party is second to none in my experience and, having lived on one side or the other of Quebec (New Brunswick and Ontario) for most of my life, I’ve experienced the best. My ex was north shore Acadian and they have, among them, some Quebec mockers extraordinaire. On hot summer holiday nights, they would gather in large family groups on the beach with a bonfire, sing songs of mockery, telling mocking stories and aim raspberries at Quebec, just across the water.

    So, keep up the good work Ross – even if some of your neighbors threaten you (or shoot at your colleagues, as they did at De Courcy’s celebration party), keep a stiff upper lip. We other Canadians are in the process of setting up an underground railroad (with CP – CN’s headquarters being in Montreal makes us hesitant to employ them –they may have been infiltrated). As soon as it is in place we’ll send a coded message and you can start the evacuation – I can’t stress enough that secrecy is the key to this non-French resident escape plan – Mum’s the word!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Ha. That’s some thinking in there. And I must now reply in the typical Quebec resident fashion (though I’m still probably a Nova Scotian at heart, but who knows) and say that Quebec really is a wonderful place, my French and English neighbours and friends rise above the politics in day-to-day life, communicate well and try to transcend the stupid politics. THEY would like us to leave but WE ain’t. Cheers!

      P.S. We could go back to calling it Nouvelle France…

  12. Paul says:

    Yeah, as a Quebec neighbor for 40 years I love the place, the people, the culture. I always recommend it to visitors. Montreal has more joie de vivre than any North American city I’ve ever visited (and as an ex-trucker, I’ve visited most). I’ve always found individuals friendly, open, and extroverted (and the ladies – Oh La La!). I have also found the politicians arrogant, incompetent, hateful of outsiders, and often criminal. It is a mystery how the very worst in Quebec seem to end up in politics. Que sera, sera.

  13. List of X says:

    This post was tres bien. (I assume I’m supposed to follow your new laws even if comment on a Quebec blog)
    And I like how your Quebec’s prime minister congratulated Quebecois hockey players who won the gold medal while playing for some hockey team.

  14. Addie says:

    I speak flawless Southern, and, when traveling with my Mother, have had to call upon that skill in order to translate for her in other parts of the country. The weeks we spent in Boston still haunt my nightmares.

  15. cat9984 says:

    Finally! Job security for language majors.

  16. benzeknees says:

    I didn’t think the language laws could get much more draconian without saying French ONLY!

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