Thoughts on the place of French in Quebec
Many people wonder whether Quebec should become an officially bilingual province or whether it should remain a primarily French one and continue to protect the French language. The current context isn’t reassuring. Quebec is surrounded in North America by English-speakers, French-speaking Québécois have a low fertility rate, and immigrants are assimilating at a low rate into the French-speaking group. If people were allowed the freedom to choose between French and English, the result would be the extinction of French in a relatively short time. The question should be reformulated and comes down to a simple choice between: a) eliminating French as fast as possible to make life simpler or b) protecting our French language to maintain our culture, which is linked to it. A language is not just a means of communication. It’s also a reflection of our culture and a vehicle to pass it down to future generations.
According to Équipe autonomiste, maintaining the French-language status of the province, to protect our language, is compatible with bilingualism for its citizens and respect for its English-speakers.
The opposing view is that French is an obstacle to Quebec’s economic development. This view doesn’t seem valid to us. When there is money to be made, businesses don’t worry about language. Just think about the plants that have relocated to India or Mexico. Our sluggish economic growth seems to be caused more by excessive bureaucracy, overly strong unions, too high taxes on individuals and corporations, a mentality that impedes development projects, and so on. If we can correct these irritants, we believe that the efforts to protect French will no longer be an excuse for Quebec’s weak economic growth.
Of course, if we decide to protect the French language, we’ll have to get organized to teach it correctly and make the people proud of their language so that they will use it correctly and maintain its quality. Maintaining a language or a culture is, above all, a societal project that everyone should take part in, and not a legally imposed theoretical principle. In this case, the laws will serve to support and sustain the “efforts” of the public.
The debate remains open. Do we protect our French language and culture? Or do we erase it as fast as possible and then move on?