Legault to Trudeau on French

François Legault has written an official letter to Justin Trudeau about the decline of French in Quebec and claiming that Quebec has the power to unilaterally change the Canadian constitution.

I heard Christopher Skeete talking on CBC radio on Friday. His cite for the decline of French in Quebec was from the OQLF, which I suppose will soon be elevated from a mere Office to a Ministry. Forgive me if I tend to feel that OQLF workers have a vested interest in stoking the belief that French is under constant attack in Quebec: I’d like to see some more objective studies. Of course politicians have to take it as a matter of faith, strategically, but I’m not sure we all do.

Arguably, Bill 101 worked. More immigrants learn French, more children are educated in French, almost all signs have been in French since the bill, and so on. Look at photos of Montreal streetscapes before that time. There are French signs but there are also a lot of signs in English, which we don’t see any more. There are not many left to be rooted out.

On the other hand, some experts think Quebec is under-counting English speakers because the official numbers are based on mother tongue, the initial language spoken at home.

I went to buy a few plants on Friday at the market. I always speak French to people there. Sometimes they catch my accent and reply in English. I don’t need them to, but it’s a simple fact of sales life: if you talk to the customer in their language, you will sell more stuff. Can you change this global rule by fiat?

As an example of what the OQLF gets up to, it recently investigated a complaint that two hospital workers spoke to each other in Creole. I think we’ve seen stories like this before but can’t find them.