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Richard Smith and Giuliano DAndrea

Richard Smith is a businessman, educator and former director of Alliance Quebec. Giuliano D’Andrea is a Montreal-area businessman, a former vice-president of the Canadian Italian Businessmen’s Association and former board member of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

Quebecers could benefit from a new linguistic social contract

  During the twentieth century, Montreal became increasingly shared between anglophones and francophones, the latter abandoning rural life in order to get work in the city. Add to this a constant influx of immigrants from all over the world, and it was inevitable that the questions would begin to arise as to how the city’s ethnic composition would impact language. As francophones began to fear that their language might come to be marginalized, they clamored for regulatory protection. Such was the backdrop for the passage of Bill 101 forty years ago this month. Consider the Anglophone community’s experience since then. Bill 101 ushered in a vision of Quebec as “unilingual” French, rather than the community’s preference then for bilingualism. Yet, Quebec’s English school system at that time was generating graduates, many of whom who were neither competitively bilingual nor bi-literate in French, so many of them were unable to thrive in either scenario. Since then the situation has evolved as anglophone bilingualism has improved significantly. Nevertheless, some of us have come to look for new approaches such as common bilingual French/English schools like that proposed by Julius Grey in a May 25 submission to the Montreal Gazette on Bill 101 (Also see It’s high time for bilingual schools by co-author Giuliano D’andrea in the Montreal Gazette August 24). Moreover, one can ask if the existence of linguistically–based segregated schools (even the French immersion programs) act to fracture Quebec society like religious-based institutions do in Northern Ireland. One way to address this issue and explore other new ideas would be to develop a new holistic language social contract which could comprehensively address how language groups in a more cosmopolitan twenty-first century now interact on all levels: business, social and educational. Imagine, for example, if the Montreal region had a level of autonomy where… Read More