Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weak cultures should die!

In their latest attempt at propaganda, the Anglo-supremacist Facebook group Put Canadian Flag Back In Quebec Assembly makes the point that other ethnic groups like the Chinese or Italians do not require government assistance in order to protect their culture or language. So, why do “French-Canadians” need this type of protection? The followers of this group provide us with an answer: It’s a weak culture that deserves to die and the government has no business in propping it up!

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Cultural protectionism

One obvious problem with this argument is that it can be applied to Canada as well. Canada, of course, also engages in cultural protectionism. Canadians have legislated to protect their culture and their cultural institutions; they have used public funds to subsidize artists and artistic endeavors in every domain of cultural activity.

The federal government of Canada has always seen a role for itself:
  • in direct support to artists and artistic endeavors (via the Canada Council and other federally-funded granting programs such as book publishing).
  • in the creation of national cultural institutions like the CBC, the National Arts Centre, and the Canada Council.
  • in law and regulation (e.g., the Canadian content rules on radio, the cultural property export review law, the laws on ownership of newspapers and TV/radio).

In 1972 the CRTC introduced Radio Regulations which stipulated that commercial radio stations had to ensure that at least 30% of their broadcasted popular music selections were Canadian. The primary objective of these regulations was to encourage increased exposure of Canadian musical performers to Canadian audiences and to strengthen the Canadian music industry. These regulations had a direct impact on the availability of Canadian musical selections. The CRTC‘s Commercial Radio Policy, revised in 1998, increased the Canadian content to at least 35%. Basically, the Canadian government stepped into the cultural marketplace and regulated a place for Canadians.

The CBC's current funding is roughly $750 million annually and it's estimated that the Canadian government spends a total of $4.2 billion on culture. Why does Canada spend so much tax-payers' money on culture? Americans don't need to invest this kind of money and effort protecting and promoting their culture. Does Canada have a weak culture which would die without government support?

The fact is, with a thinly scattered population, Canada needs to overcome vast geographical distances. Sharing a common language with the Americans and living within easy reach of the border, Canadians could easily begin to identify more closely with their neighbors directly to the south of them than with people living thousands of miles away. Therefore, both transportation and telecommunications have been prioritized in order to provide Canadians with a sense of unity and identity, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Canadian cultural protectionism is in essence a form of Nation-building which is the process of constructing or structuring a national identity using the power of the state.

You would think that a nation that engages in its own cultural protectionism against a bigger, more dominant culture could understand Quebec's need to protect its culture from the overwhelming dominance of English on this continent. You would think that, but you would be wrong. Anglophones in Quebec and in Canada routinely go into hysterical convulsions whenever the application of Quebec's language laws seems frivolous. They hold up these incidents as proof that this protectionism is unnecessary, petty or oppressive. However, if we applied the same level of scrutiny to Canada's cultural protectionism, we could also find cases to make it all seem unnecessary, petty or oppressive.

For example, the CRTC recently cracked down on a number of porn channels for not showing enough Canadian content. Does anyone really care if 35% of their porn is made in Canada? Will the national identity of Canadians really be threatened if 35% of the people having sex on their screens aren't Canadian? See, it's not hard to do...

Conflicting visions of Quebec

We have gone from being one of the founding nations of Canada (at least, that's how we saw it) to an ethnic minority similar to groups of recent immigrants. Oh! So you think you're more special than Chinese-Canadians or Italian-Canadians, do you? No, it's not that... But let's be honest, Italian culture is not being created in Canada. Italian culture is a living, evolving culture in Italy, not in Canada. Immigrant communities are simply holding on to the culture of the old country and then trying to pass it down to the next generation like some kind of family heirloom. But despite these efforts, each generation usually becomes more and more assimilated into the dominant culture of the host country.

We are no more French immigrants than Brazilians are Portuguese immigrants. Our culture is a 400 year old French-speaking, North American culture. It (or remnants of it) can be found all over this continent. Today, however, it is only in Quebec that it is a living culture that can evolve and integrate newcomers. The name of this culture and of the people who belong to it was for a long time Canadien but since that name was hijacked by another nation we decided to go with Québécois or Quebecers in English. But regardless of what we call ourselves, we are a distinct nation, not just an ethnic group in an Anglo dominated Canada.

According to Trudeau's vision, Canada is just that, a single nation-state with a multicultural mosaic of ethnic groups, each one making up a piece of the whole. What is meant to bind this mosaic together isn't very clear. You'll often hear nonsense like "shared values". In reality multicultural Canada does have a dominant culture. It's simply a local variation of American culture (which seems to need a lot of government protection). And this culture has a dominant language: English! Canadians feel that Quebercers should accept their place as a piece of this mosaic, in other words, accept to be just another ethnic group in their nation. The Canadian Flag group are essentially expressing their frustration at our refusal to go along with this vision.

The old French-Canadian nationalism of the days when Canada was seen as a "bi-national" country has largely been replaced by a Québécois nationalism which sees Quebec as a separate and distinct nation that is open and democratic. Unlike Canada, we cannot pretend that there is no dominant culture and language, we don't have that luxury. We have to manage our situation and go against the current. We have to put some effort into making a French-speaking society in North America viable. It is a collective effort. Many immigrants to Quebec have understood this and have joined us in building this nation. But until Quebec becomes an independent country, these two opposing visions of Quebec will always be a source of conflict and for an immigrant to join our side will be seen by some as a subversive act.

Quebec nationalists like myself obviously consider people like Amir Khadir and Maka Kotto as being far more Québécois than Jean Chrétien or Stéphane Dion. However, to the people of the Canadian Flag group, they are the worst kind of traitors because they have chosen the Québécois nation over the Canadian one.

Exhibit C:

Amir Khadir recently spoke about free education in front of a school which caused an uproar on the Canadian flag page. He was called everything from a traitor to a terrorist. Why a terrorist? Because he's from Iran. Racism is OK in Canada when it is directed at us and Mr Khadir is one of us by choice.

Foreign terrorist destroying Canada


  1. Please read and comment on the article "French Is Isolating Quebec" by Stephen Jarislowsky (you can google it; it was published in the Globe and Mail last year).

    Basically, Mr. Jarislowsky argues that the PQ is not just interested in promoting French; they are also aggressively suppressing English, which is in turn causing a communication barrier between Quebec and the outside world.

    He also points out that Swizterland, which has four official languages (German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romance)extensively uses English, and has a thriving economy with a low debt rate and low unemployment. Quebec, on the other hand, is arguably as indebted as the PIIGS countries in Europe, and has fairly high unemployment.

    1. Jacques, Jarislowsky's article is idiotic. First of all, English proficiency is much higher in Quebec than in most countries around the world. Secondly, why is French holding Quebec back but Danish isn't holding Denmark back? Wouldn't it be so much more convenient for everyone if they all just spoke German in that part of the world?

      As for Switzerland, The existence of fairly sharp linguistic boundaries separating corresponding language region means that, with the exception of a limited number of municipalities, there is no official bilingualism at the local level. Switzerland may be quadrilingual, but to most intents and purposes, each point of its territory can be viewed as unilingual.

      Correspondingly, living in Switzerland means living entirely in German, in French or in Italian. The case of the much smaller Romanche-speaking areas, actually language islands almost entirely surrounded by German-speaking areas, is less clear-cut; a longstanding pattern of language attrition has resulted in a strong presence and visibility of German even in the core of the traditional “Romanche territory”. In other words, bilingual areas (German/Romanche) are gradually becoming Germanized.

    2. Veritas: thanks for your reply. I think that what Jarislowsky meant was "French unilinguialism is holding Quebec back." He perceives that many people in the PQ are hostile to English, and that English proficiency in Quebec, outside Montreal at least, is steadily declining.

      It's true that American "English Only" unilingualism is damaging to the U.S., but not to the same extent that Danish or Finnish unilingualism would be in their respective countries, because English is very widespread and is the main global lingua franca. If Danes or Finns didn't have a good general command of foreign languages (especially English, but also German, French, Swedish, Russian, etc.), then unilingualism would indeed hold Denmark or Finland back.

      I recall that Jacques Parizeau did have an excellent command of English, but do you detect the sort of general animosity towards English amongst other PQ members, of the sort that Jarislowsky describes in his article? Thanks.

    3. Veritas: by the way, what did Mr. Khadir say which angered many Anglo Canadians, concerning free public education? Also, does he see himself as a Quebecois patriot, nationalist or separatist? Thanks.

    4. Jacques, everyone is virtually bilingual in Québec, it's a non-issue. Marois was not representative of her own troops by being so little proficient in English.

  2. I made a typo: "Switzerland." One might also add that only about 2 percent of Swiss speak Rhaeto-Romance (or "Romansch") as a first language, but not only is it not threatened by English, it's not even threatened by German, French or Italian.

    Personally, I'd like to see a Quebec in which French is predominant, but where other languages (such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali, Tagalog, Inuit, Cree, Mohawk and so on) are also strongly encouraged and allowed to thrive alongside French.

    1. Indigenous languages are a special case, they need affirmative action to survive. But for foreign languages, we simply think they sould not undermine our efforts to maintain the power of the French language. If we did anything less, we would end up like the Franco-Americans. All foreign languages are lawfal, they are just required to put French along other languages on the signs !

  3. Non mais il faut répondre en Français a sa! Meme ci pauvre est le mien je vais me risquer pareil! Un sans génie qui écrit en haut de page que l'ont na pas une culture forte puis que l'ont devrai s'éteindre ; Ont est Québécois ont a plus de culture et de connaissance que la moyenne des pays du globe ! Ont a des tetes dirigeante dans les plus grosse compagnie et CA du monde. Oui ont chiale, ont chiale cette culture américaine et son pauvre language (you know what i mean umhh?)qui nous écrase petit a petit le cul pendant que l'ont regarde l'Europe dont l'atlantique nous sépar. Ont est la pour rester cervelle de linotte, ont va continuer de chialer pour nos frontières notre parler notre argents et notre savoir. Malgré notre air borné nous sommes bon vivant et accueillant, ouvert d'esprit et sur le monde.

  4. C'est un fait que beaucoup de Canadiens anglais considèrent les Canadiens français (incluant les Québécois) comme un groupe ethnique au même titre que les Chinois ou les Indiens et qu'ils ne devraient pas davantage bénéficier de reconnaissance. Aux dires de certains, pourquoi devraient-ils accorder des privilèges à la minorité francophone et non pas, disons, à la minorité hispanophone? Bien sûr, cette logique ne s'applique pas quand il est question de la minorité anglophone du Québec (si on peut l'appeler ainsi puisqu'elle reste une majorité au niveau national et continental). Quiconque s'informe un tant soit peu sur l'histoire de ce pays versera bien peu de larmes sur le sort des anglo-montréalais qui continuent, somme toute, à faire l'envie de biens des minorités de ce monde.

  5. The attack on M. Khadir is all about his support for the terrorist Paul Rose. apart from this his idea's are no more disagreeable to me than the PQ, OLFQ or the SSJB.

    1. Those comments were from February, before Paul Rose's death. The Flagheads were accusing Mr Khadir of using the children as props for his political message. In reality Khadir simply stopped in front of the school. He did not manipulate or direct the children in any way. The "terrorist" accusations were entirely about his ethnicity.

    2. You call Paul Rose a terrorist, but did he continue to commit any terrorist acts after his time in jail ? Do you only see in that guy what he did, and not who he was ? You are being essentialist with him. It's no different than labelling all muslims "terrorists".

  6. It is clear that the idiots on that page are ignorant (lol, whowodatought) of the official statistics from Statistics Canada, which says that by the 3rd generation, something like 90% of immigrants have lost their mother tongue because of incomplete transmission and irrelevance. These racist idiots need to shut up.

    1. "Very few grandchildren of 1981 immigrant mothers had the same mother tongue as their grandmothers

      To determine the transfer of language over three generations, the change in the rate of language transmission between generations must be examined. In 1981, 41% of women had passed on their mother tongue to their children. A quarter century later, in 2006, 23% of first-generation immigrant women who had been transmitted their own mother's mother tongue would in turn have passed it on to their own children. In all, 10% (or 41% multiplied by 23%) of the grandchildren of the 1981 first-generation immigrant mothers would have the same mother tongue as their mother and grandmother.

      Two language groups stand out from the others from the standpoint of intergenerational transmission. In the Punjabi group, one-third of the grandchildren of 1981 women would have their grandmother's mother tongue, whereas in the Greek group, the proportion would be one-quarter (Table 4). The latter result is noteworthy in that Greek-speaking people comprise a population that has been settled in Canada for a relatively long time. In contrast, the intensity of transmission to the third generation would be below the 10% level for the German, Portuguese, Polish and Hungarian language groups, which are also long-settled groups. One factor explaining the difference between the language groups is the level of endogamy (with respect to mother tongue) in the second generation. Thus the proportion of endogamous couples for Canadian-born women with Punjabi or Greek as their mother tongue would be 83% and 56%, respectively. However, the endogamy level would also be fairly high for women in the Italian (55%), Portuguese and Chinese (46%) groups, for whom intergenerational language transmission to the third generation is considerably lower than for women in the first two groups (data not shown)."

      Source :

  7. What a piece of shit, that Facebook page "Put the Flag back...".

    There is no Italian culture in Montréal. This author's article says it succinctly when he says that people of Italian or Greek origins, if they pass anything down to their chilren, it is like a family heirloom.

    Even though there's an Italian language bookstore in petite italie, the majority of the "Italians" are/were in St-Léonard, and they're today just anglophones, often rather tacky.

    Yeah, I know there are plenty of what could be considered "colons" in Québec, but like he said, there's no living Italian (or Greek) culture here.

    A dumb parade with Italian flags where they all speak English is not Italian culture.