The language rhetoric that the Parti Québécois rode to a slim victory in last September's provincial election has stirred long-simmering feelings of resentment in Montreal among those who see the law as marginalizing, not just for for anglophones and immigrants, but for any Quebecers. The result is a growing level of engagement that is being felt on all sides, and in the wake of last year's student protests, which showed consistent, disruptive protests can and will get the government's attention, it appears as though public and reasoned opposition to any marginalization is beginning to take hold.
First the Equality Party 2.0 was born – not to be confused with the folded one, interim president Allan Finkelstein said. It's a reboot – and it's not just about anglophones, either. The party, which is in the nascent stages but hopes to tap into Montreal-area political malaise in time for whenever we head to another provincial election (given the way the minority-government PQ can't get out of its own way on seemingly any issue, would seem to be sooner rather than later).
The idea is that the way social media, the Internet, the 24-hour news cycle and the increased mediatisation of the world we live in has shrunk the world to a 'global village,' and Montreal-area residents recognize the ability to speak two languages instead of one or the other only benefits those who can speak both English and French – and increase their future earning power in the future.
To that end, Sunday's protest against Bill 14 in front of Premier Pauline Marois' offices in downtown Montreal was a step in the right direction for Quebecers of any background seeking to preserve a sliver of their individual human rights. For instance, although parents eligible for English education can choose to send their child to either French or English schools, parents who attended French schools are denied that right thanks to Bill 101, which many Quebecers blame for the continued drop of students in English public school boards, which nevertheless boast the highest success rates in the province, with less resources.
Recognition of the French language in Quebec is also different today than it was in the early days of Bill 101. As Baie d'Urfé mayor Maria Tutino indicated, the divisive nature of language politics can only harm people in the long run – and frankly, she said, that`s not the reality that West Islanders are currently living.
"We live together in harmony. There's no problem here. Why create one?"
And she's right.
Dividing the population has worked very well for a long time for the PQ, and we suspect that most of Bill 14 was created to pander specifically to the language hawks that make up some of the PQ's rank and file.
But yanking cities' bilingual status strikes us as the kind of legislation that was written in bad faith – but it's not like voters put all that much faith in anything the PQ says or does these days.