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ROC loves our “intolerance”

by Archives April 8, 2008

Quebec has been getting it bad lately. With the whole reasonable accommodation debate, the rest of Canada (ROC) now thinks French Quebecers are a bunch of intolerant complainers who don’t understand the glory that is multicultural Canada.
Just recently, a Léger poll showed that Quebecers were “not as open as the rest of Canada.” The backing of this conclusion lays in those ubiquitous statistics gathered through oft-conflicting surveys.
According to the poll, 42 per cent of Quebecers prefer to live in neighbourhoods with people of the same ethnic origin, three times the level in British Columbia. Twenty-four per cent of Quebecers are more comfortable with people of their own ethnic origin – double Ontario’s numbers. And 38 per cent of Quebecers “really like” foreign cuisine, the lowest level in the country.
The numbers prove it: Quebec is intolerant. I can just imagine the glare emanating from the ROC upon us for not being more “Canadian” about the whole thing. The rest of Canada has been having a heyday with our multicultural woes, especially since Bouchard and Taylor traveled la belle province. Honestly, the numbers aren’t flattering. What’s wrong with Quebec?
Well, for any Quebecer, this might seem pretty obvious – French Quebec’s language and culture are in peril and immigrants have no interest in speaking French.
It’s easy for English Canadians to say they don’t mind living, working and eating around other cultures because once they get to the ROC, they speak English. They talk the talk and eventually begin to walk the walk.
That’s the dream for them, to live well in Canada. That’s the dream for us, to be multi-ethnic Canada. In Quebec, the French are not in a comfortable enough position to fall off into this sort of dream.
Safeguarding the French language is priority number one, and although legislation and subsidies has done an excellent job aiding this – the ROC looks to Quebec with a type of reserved and refined animosity that is a unique by-product of accepting ideologies to which Canada so strongly and constitutionally abides.
Sometimes I wonder if what truly unites Canada is the fact that we’re not American and that we all have disdain or reservations about Quebec.
I wonder if, when the poll was conducted, the ROC was speaking with that “truly Canadian” tone of acceptance we have been taught is our noble duty. I know what it’s like to be called “not open” in Canada, it’s one of those things that you might be, but you just don’t want to be pigeonholed as.
Quebecers are honest and proud of their culture. I’d expect the same from anyone else. The numbers coming from the Léger poll point not to an intolerant culture, but rather one that is in fear of loosing its identity. The numbers are concerning, because they come from a concerned population.
Too many proud, multi-ethnic Canadians are quick to think of Quebec as being intolerant, instead of seeing through it all and realizing that sometimes concern is necessary. The ROC just can’t get it, simply because it is not English, but French that is threatened.
Numbers are cold, unforgiving, too easy to understand and even easier to misunderstand. Without introspection, they don’t change a thing, but merely reinforce the contrived notions we have. We like easy answers – numbers provide them, but don’t always provide the right ones.

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