An open letter to Jean-François Roberge, Quebec’s minister of the French language

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Tuition hikes for out-of-province students like me will not solve the decline of the French language.

My name is Lucas-Matthew Marsh.

I am the Managing Editor of the Concordian, News Director for CJLO radio, and one of the  English-speaking out-of-province students that would be affected by the Quebec government’s decision to increase tuition rates. Had this policy been implemented a semester earlier, I would not have been able to complete my undergraduate degree due to financial constraints.

When I immigrated to Quebec in the fall of 2018, I did so with the intention of staying in the province after I graduated. I remember the night of my first snowfall in Montreal. I walked down Joseph St. and looked into the warmly lit townhouses. I fantasised about buying one of those houses and the future that awaited me here.

Six years later, this announcement has only solidified my decision to leave the province after I graduate in the spring of 2024, to start fresh where life doesn’t have to be so unnecessarily difficult.

When it comes to preserving the French language, I am probably the most sympathetic anglophone there is. Time and time again, I have defended this province to my so-called Quebec-bashing friends and family. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to do so when legislation such as this makes it explicitly clear that I am no longer welcome here.

For as long as I have lived in Montreal, it’s been a hallmark of your administration to play on longstanding language divides for political gain. The CAQ has avoided full scale sovereignist rhetoric while making life for its anglophone and non French-speaking citizens as difficult as possible. I am tired of having to work twice as hard to get my foot in the door when my limited French skills would be an incredible asset anywhere else.

During my undergraduate degree, I have worked as a meat clerk, call centre agent, jeweller’s assistant and barback. At each of these positions, within a month I learned enough French to sufficiently communicate with my clientele. I am among the thousands of other English-speaking out of province students in Montreal that are a vital fabric of this province’s economy. If you push us out, you will miss out on some of the most hardworking and determined workforce in the country. 

Imposing financial constraints on hardworking students such as myself will not solve the decline of the French language in the province. The only impact that these policies will have is discouraging a large number of young people from studying in the province. It also forces those who are already here to spend their invaluable time doing low paying menial labour—time that would better be spent studying, working internships, contributing to the province’s artistic community and most importantly, learning the French language.


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