Volume 90, Issue 61

Tuesday, January 14, 1997



French or English? Duh, je ne sais pas, mon ami

Re: Fairness is a two-faced coin, Nov. 26

To the Editor:

I was reading the editorials and found myself angered by the words of a fellow student. The issue was about the separation of Quebec and was itself in response to another article in a previous issue of The Gazette. Mr. Ruby told his story of not being served in English in Montreal, where he is from. Boo-hoo, Bud. In Ontario, for example, do I have a right to believe that I should be greeted in French if the employee of the restaurant/store that I am patronizing knows that I am francophone? Are we in Ontario not greeted in English first and then in French, if a French greeting is offered at all? The law that states that customers must be greeted in French first is simply an attempt to treat everyone equal, not an attempt to force the French language on the anglophones of Quebec. It's an equality thing.

Sure, Canada is a bilingual country. But would it be more fair for Mr. Ruby's father to have an English-only sign outside his office/business? No, I think not. Ever wonder why your father's employees and customers are mostly English-speaking? Look in the mirror, Bud, discrimination is everywhere.

B.C. has a population of less than 0.5 per cent French Canadian and British Columbians learn French in their schools. What does that prove? Are they fluent enough to hold a steady conversation in French? On the most part, no. No disrespect to those who are trying to learn French, I know it is not easy to learn a second language. In Quebec, where the population is 8:1 French, everyone learns English. Are they fluent enough to make a conversation in English? On the most part, yes. Of course, there are a few who cannot, but the percentage is relatively low. See the difference here? What is the inclination of French Canadians to learn English? The answer is simple, Canada is a bilingual country and the French Canadians know that at some point in time they are going to meet an anglophone who does not speak French. A point of interest here is, if you lived in Europe, which I have for four years of my life, would it not be beneficial to learn the local language? I mean, you are certainly going to run into one of the locals some day and it's nice to be able to say hello. Heck! In Europe they go so far as to force their students to learn several languages, to the point of being able to converse in any of them, even though they may never need some of the languages in their lifetimes.

I am tired of hearing people say that they are tired of hearing the plea of the Quebecois. Perhaps they should listen to the plea instead of just hearing it, then maybe they will then understand what the Quebecois are trying to accomplish. It is not about separation, it is about being recognized, across Canada, as equals. The French were allowed, by the British way back in 1867, to live in the province of Quebec. Quebecois no longer want to simply be allowed to live there. They want to be able to look out at the rest of Canada and feel that they are equals, not second-rate people simply allowed to live on foreign land.

The mirror is a wonderful thing. If you look closely enough, you can see your own true reflection in it. Maybe some people should take a closer look instead of just glancing and saying that they have looked. The hypocrite may not be who you expect it to be.

Marc Comeau
Engineering Science I

To Contact The Letters Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca