Thursday, October 22, 2009

Isn't Quebec the French Province?

The Supreme Court of Canada handed down a unanimous ruling on Thursday that will force Quebec to change a law that restricts the number of students who are allowed to attend the province's public English schools.

A class-action lawsuit brought forth by 25 families challenged a Quebec law which they say is unconstitutional because it forces many English-speaking students into the French language school system. Students must meet extensive criteria laid out by the provincial government in order to qualify to attend one of Quebec's publicly-funded English language schools.

Students who do not meet the criteria must either pay tuition at a private English-language school or else attend the publicly-funded French schools. The Supreme Court ruling has overturned this provincial law, and has given Quebec one year to come up with a new policy.

Maybe this is just the Anglophone in me, but isn't Quebec our french province? Its most basic reason for being is to preserve and foster the French culture. It was not created in hopes of being a place where English-speaking people can go about their lives as they would in Ontario or British Columbia. I am left with the question, why would someone who does not speak French and has no desire to be immersed in French move to Quebec? There are nine other provinces that offer publicly-funded English education; why are people targeting the one province with an actual justification for not funding English education? The number of people in Quebec who are fully bilingual is far more than any other province, except maybe New Brunswick, and clearly demonstrate that the French language system in place is not as negative as it is being made out to be.

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