I’m generally loathe to waste time and energy discussing or writing about French language supremacists like the SSJB or Impératif Français: groups that are stuck in a 1970s mindset that no one serious especially takes seriously. Similarly, I don’t dedicate much energy to the remaining Galganov-style Angryphones who are still fighting the battles of the 70s, but with a 1950s mindset that English should still reign supreme.
But there was a development last week that I found quite heartening: The utterly pointless and misguided “we want more English at Fairview” protests were roundly ignored by all but the most extreme fringes of media and society.
For the record, I maintain that Bill 101’s stipulations on signage are fine by me exactly as is. I have no issues with the legislated predominance of French on our signage, whether it’s in Rimouski, downtown Montreal or the West Island. That some stores at Fairview Pointe Claire aren’t posting bilingual signs is a simple business decision and changes nothing in terms of the price of a pair of shoes or the quality of service one received. If you’re offended by “Chaussures à moitié prix” or a big red sign screaming “SOLDES!” through a window, then I suggest you review your priorities.
I couldn’t possibly care less if I’m greeted with “bonjour,” “bonjour/hi,” or “hello” when I walk into a store or a restaurant. Thanks to Bill 101, the great, vast majority of Anglo Quebecers speak and understand French fluently and thanks to the fact that it’s late 2013 and not 1974 anymore, the great, vast majority of urban Francophone Quebecers can at least get by in English.
The bottom line is that we understand each other and that’s the most important thing.
So I was encouraged to see that other than the usual suspects in the media who have a vested interest in encouraging antiquated thinking and a few hardline groups on either side, these foolish protests were basically ignored.
It’s almost 2014 – it’s time to move Quebec forward and leave the debates of the past where they belong: In the history books.