Ah! The official languages!
The whole family had a good laugh when I read the news. From London, Thierry Henry, former French international and world champion, hailed the rebranding of the Montreal Impact major league soccer club into the Club de Foot Montréal, a change that would symbolize Montreal "the only French-speaking city in MLS" (Francophones actually represent less than half the population), for a team where the majority of players don't even speak French - and don't even try to learn it any more than they do with the Canadiens - in a country where no one understands the word "foot", a diminutive that refers to football – or “soccer” elsewhere in North America. If I were being sarcastic, I would say that that pretty much sums up our situation.
At the same time, Rafael Payare, the new - Venezuelan - conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra is already able, in three months, to answer simple questions in French, at a time when we have a new federal minister (of transport) who, although living in Canada for more than 30 years, doesn't speak a word of French. Look for the mistake. The same Liberal Party of Canada that "defends" French by appointing unilingual ministers wants to "modernize" the Official Languages Act to allow linguistic minorities (Anglophones in Quebec, Francophones elsewhere in Canada) to develop.
I observe a certain contradiction in wanting to improve the situation of the two official languages, as if they were equal - and on paper they are - when it is obvious that in reality they are not. Speaking of facts, let's stick to the facts; and there is no question of taking anything away from Anglo-Quebecers. The latter, numbering just over one million, constitute 13.5% of the population of Quebec. Francophones outside Quebec, for their part, represent between 0.6% (Newfoundland and Labrador) and 31% (New Brunswick) of their province's population, for a total of more than 1 million, to which must be added the 6 million Quebecers... but they are in fact drowned in the dominant culture of 300 million Anglophones.
Canada has made the choice (largely debatable, considering the historical importance of Aboriginal languages) to have two official languages, English and French. On this basis, and failing to seek to make the population fully bilingual in all sectors of activity and at all levels, one would expect everyone to have access to educational and health institutions in their language; that would be the minimum, wouldn't it? There isn't even one French-speaking university or hospital per province! Of course, there are a few colleges and "bilingual" universities everywhere (with a Francophone department or campus), but well, nothing like what Anglo-Quebecers have at their disposal...
Last week's press release from the Quebec Community Groups Network is sympathetic and positive, but why would giving special status to French, in order to make up for the obvious gap between the two official languages, be at the expense of Anglo-Quebecers? One only has to look at where the current Official Languages Act has led us to understand that there is objectively a problem. Perhaps one day we will have to decide whether we really want a bilingual country or simply avoid French becoming a folk language.