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Qu’est ce qui est arrivé durant les quelques années suivant l’arrivée des Britanniques au Québec? (#379)

Il y a plusieurs billets, je vous ai offert une vidéo d’un discours qu’a tenu Jason Kenny lorsqu’il était ministre fédéral Conservateur de Citoyenneté et Immigration Canada : Funny what gets dragged from the attic when politics get involved.  

C’est une vidéo qui a fait jaser au Québec.  Dans cette vidéo, il parlait de sa manière de voir le rôle qu’a joué les Britanniques et le multiculturalisme dans le contexte du transfert de la Nouvelle-France.

La vidéo a tant fait jaser que Rad-Can sentait le besoin de mettre les choses au clair il y a un couple de jours.

Comme j’ai souligné dans le billet ci-dessus, je ne suis pas d’accord avec la caractérisation que nous a présenté Kenny sur les origines des politiques du multiculturalisme moderne du Canada.

Toutefois, ceci étant dit, j’ai mentionné que l’approche Britannique quand-même se basait sur une idéologie assez laissez-faire (même malléable et ductile) quant à leur système de gouvernance au cours du siècle suivant le transfert du pouvoir (du moins dans le contexte de l’époque, et surtout comparé aux autres systèmes ailleurs au monde).

J’ai mentionné que cette approche elle-même a pu poser les fondements sur lesquels on a pu bâtir un bon nombre de projets de société… des legs dont on ressent toujours, et dont on ne devrait pas considérer sous un angle négatif.

C’est une époque dont on ne parle très peu, et qui est très mal comprise.

Nous sommes tous le produit de notre passé.  Et l’ère des britanniques fait autant partie de notre passé (et de notre identité collective) que l’époque coloniale française, ainsi que tout le kit qui nous est arrivé au vingtième siècle jusqu’au présent – tant au niveau de la société que personnel.

Le voici le récit de Rad-Canada.  Je le trouve assez intéressant.


(Voici le lien pour l’émission complète:  http://ici.radio-canada.ca/emissions/les_samedis_du_monde/2015-2016/chronique.asp?idChronique=386638)


With so many languages out there, which one(s) to learn? (#378)

With so many languages out there, how can one chose which one(s) to learn?

This is one of those never-ending questions that you hear others endlessly ask themselves.

I personally do not think there is a right or wrong answer, but perhaps there are better answers than others.

I was lucky that I had both English and French from almost the beginning.  Yet I realize that others in Canada do not necessarily have the opportunity to receive a footing in both languages so early on and at the same time.

However, I too had language-learning experiences with other languages as an adult.  In addition to the above two, I dabbled in four others, exploring whether or not I would like them, and if I would find them useful.

I studied and used Chinese for many years (in fact the majority of my adult life), I studied Arabic for a couple of years, I gave Spanish a shot for a couple of years (a few lessons, but mostly concentrated on reading the news for a year), and I gave Portuguese at shot at the same time as I tried Spanish.

Yet, I dropped Arabic owing to the fact that it would require a huge continued effort (a part-time job in and of itself) – time which I simply did not have owing to the fact that I was already concentrating on Chinese and my career.

I also dropped Spanish and Portuguese because of a lack of time.  Yet I was happy with the progress I made within a year of studying them.  My French gave me a huge jump-start on Spanish and Portuguese.  It allowed me to rapidly make progress in reading them (to the point that I do not have many difficulties when reading a newspaper in Spanish or Portuguese).    I’m cool with that, and I don’t have any burning desire to take them further.

What langauge(s) would I recommend to Canadian Anglophones who wish to learn a second or third language?

As I said above, I do not think there are right or wrong answers, but there perhaps are better answers than others.

First and foremost, I recommend you learn what interests you.  If you do not have an interest, you will not feel stimulated in your studies, and it simply won’t fly.

The unique situation with learning French in English Canada:  

Yet, if you’re Anglophone in Canada, I would recommend you explore French before looking at other languages.  You have more French language-learning materials and cultural references available to you in Canada than for any other languages – making French an easy(er) moving target to tackle than other languages.

At the very minimum, you at least would be able to rapidly come to the conclusion whether or not French interests you for continued studies.

Building on this, it is sometimes easier to take an interest in French than other languages because, contrary to other languages, you can consider yourself to be learning “your own” language if you take the plunge with French.

Because French is one of our country’s two languages, as an Anglophone Canadian, you would not be learning a “foreign” language.  You are able to immediately embrace the fact that you are learning your country’s own language.  You can claim ownership over it, and be proud of learning and speaking it.

At the end of the day, you can say “This too is my, and my country’s language”.  Other languages do not afford you that “feeling” (learning languages and emotions are closely linked… You have to feel good and proud about what you learn).

French also opens the doors wide-open to Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, and Romanian right from the beginning.  If you can attain an upper-intermediate level of French, you should be able to quickly learn to read the above other languages within a year or so.

Beyond French, I would also consider the following options in deciding what language to tackle:

  • Do I still have an interest in other languages, and which one?

Even if you are interested in a little-spoken language, such as Latvian or Faroese, you still may be fascinated by the learning it.  Thus why hold back if that’s what you get off on?

  • Do I think I would use it often?

Most Arab-speaking people I know who (or those who I am likely to run into) already speak English or French.  Therefore I felt it kind of negated the “need” for me to learn it, and my interest sort of dropped off.

Yet in the case of Chinese,  most people who I would be interacting with (and do interact with) in Chinese would / do not speak English or French.  The need for me to speak Chinese has always been there (for personal interactions, career, and relationships).

From my travels in Mexico and South America I quickly came to the realization that most people there also do not speak English or French – hence making it obvious to me that Spanish and Portuguese would be useful languages to learn.

  • What resources are available to learn the language?

If I were to suddenly find myself in a love-affair with Dzongkha (the national language of the country of Bhutan), that may be fine and dandy.  But if it were impossible to find find comprehensive learning and practice materials in Canada, then it would make the task all that more difficult.

In the end, owing to a lack of available materials, I could end up wasting precious time (perhaps years and years) learning the language, whereas I could have possibly mastered another “material-ready” language in half the time.

These are just my few thoughts on the issue.

Again, for those in English Canada, I would certainly encourage you to at least explore French as a list-topper.  It will open a billion doors for you in Canada (employment, full participation and a feeling of cultural ownership over your own country, travel and relocation opportunities, etc, etc.).  In addition, it will make learning many other languages much easier.

I firmly believe that knowing other languages has afforded me more opportunities than any single university degree could have ever afforded me.  I would have never done what I have done (or what I am doing) without having both English and French.

Adding a third language on top of that (Chinese) pushed the global-envelope open even further.

Hopefully this helps to serve as a bit of encouragement in your own language-learning adventure.   Sometimes it takes hearing about others’ stories to help find that little bit of extra “footing”, “context” and “incentive” in the realm of language learning.

HARPER finally makes his début on Québec’s talk show variety TV! – Part 2 of 2 (#377)

This is the second in a two-part post.

If you want to skip the blah-blah-blah… scroll down straight to the video.

Yesterday, in post 1, I informed you that Prime Minister Harper was playing political “catch-up” in Québec against the other party leaders.

He could see how other leaders’ consistent appearances on Québec’s talk TV and TV variety circuit were serving them well.

It was helping to tear down the walls between the political beast and the the human face behind the political role, and obviously Harper’s political team said “We want some of that too!!”

With the Liberals rising in the poles in Québec (rather quickly, within just a matter of a week or two), and with only a fraction of the campaign left in which the Conservatives could try to stop the Liberal rise, Harper did what he has never done before (and what he has always resolved to never do)…

Last night he appeared on Salvail en mode, Québec’s equivalent of Jimmy Fallon.

Eric Salvail said the entire thing was organized within 24 hours at the request of the Prime Minister’s office (translation:  they felt they might actually lose the election, and desperate times call for desperate measures).

I got home last night just in time to watch it at 10pm.

Considering his level of French, I asked myself how the heck this interview was going to fly (Harper’s French level is similar to former Prime Minister Chrétien’s level of English, but perhaps a bit worse than Chrétien),

  • The crowd cheered his entry.
  • During the first few minutes, I thought he actually was doing quite well, and that he seemed relaxed while both the Éric Salvail and Harper joked with each other.
  • Salvail put him on the spot with some questions many of us wanted to know.  Salvail asked him what was going on in head as he made certain decisions regarding strategy and other topics reporters never have the opportunity to ask him (other reporters have to get straight to the point when they ask him questions because Harper never allows time for the “flowery and secondary” stuff).   But… thanks to this interview, we now we know that his hair is real and not a toupee, but that there is someone usually standing by to give him a fresh cut.
  • Then came the “sideline” questions.
    • At one point Salvail noted the announcement of one of Laureen Harper’s pregnancies was made in Québec.  Salvail asked Harper if that meant that Harper and Laureen had sex in Québec, and if his child was “Made in Québec”.  That’s when the awkwardness seemed to begin (at least for Harper).  I had the feeling it set the tone for the rest of the interview.
    • At another point in the interview, Harper said he was always at home in Québec.  Therefore Salvail pulled out a “Two Solitudes question” (HA!!!) and asked him if he knew who Marie-Mai is (she is Québec’s equivalent of Justin Bieber, and one of the best known people in Québec, especially for under 40s).  Harper didn’t seem to know who she was – and out came the editing job (the joys of pre-recording).  It was quite obvious they cut out follow-up questions (and continued awkwardness).
    • They threw in a few awkward photos of Harper and the Bonnehomme de carnival in strange positions.
    • They dragged out a photo of Harper from his first campaign when he was known as “Steve Harper”, and when he looked like he was a kid from the Adams family.
    • He was asked why he’s so frigid and won’t appear on camera, and they give him “loooong silence” which forced him to a longer answer.
    • He was told that he always says “erection” in French when he means to say “election”.  He was given the opportunity to show the world he can actually say the word “election” – and the crowd cheered and applauded when he said the word correctly.
    • He was asked if he would work better with Conservative-supporter Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto (who very publicly just gave Harper a very big dose of support), or Liberal support Denis Coderre (the very popular mayor of Montréal and former cabinet minister in the Chrétien government).  Well, can you say awkward?   But Harper’s answer was very good… He would only work with Denis Coderre because he only works with “current” mayors, but he said he currently has disagreements with Coderre.

Then came the monkey-show highlight of the evening:  Harper played the piano and sang for the audience, Québec, and all of French Canada, in both English and French.   I don’t know why it looked and felt strange, but it sure was different.  Yet Harper seemed in his element.

The final dig from the host was left to the very end.

Salvail said how great it was for Harper to finally appear on variety TV and to give Québec a live performance.  Salvail told Harper that it was because of such beautiful moments that Harper should not cut the culture budgets in Québec.   Harper, caught of guard, let out a laugh and shrugged it off with a brush of the hand.  (HA!!!)

All-in-all, I wish we saw more of these types of things from our politicians, and it is unfortunate that Harper never let his guard down like this in the past.

Yes Harper’s appearance felt awkward on more than one occasion in this interview, but…  yes he held his own and he navigated through it.  I thought the Prime Minister actually did OK.

Nothing incriminating came out of it, and I’m sure he would get better at these sorts of interviews and appearances if he were to have done them more frequently (all politicians do get better at these… unless you’re Sarah Palin of Jean Chrétien).

This interview will be front-page news and talk of the town all day today in Québec, and likely through the weekend, right up to Monday evening.   It is a thunder-stealer (that’s what people in political circles call “s-t-r-a-t-e-g-y”).

It will remain to be seen if having Harper’s “performance” front-and-centre in everyone’s mind’s (eclipsing last week’s platform talk on the part of the other leaders) will make a difference at voting time.

Who knows – it might.  The Liberal climb and the NDP drop-off in the polls were quite sudden, so there is no way to know what other sudden changes may occur.

But we will only know at erection… er… election time.

Here is the circus interview (click the image below):


Oh, and one more thing…

If you were hoping that Harper would also dance, no fat chance.

He leaves that to his wife and Canada’s “first lady”, Laureen (filmed yesterday in Brampton, ON — It’s worth watching — I think it’s great)…

Isn’t campaign season awkward fun !?


HARPER is about to make his début on Québec’s talk show variety TV! – Part 1 of 2 (#376)

This post perhaps will be irrelevant in a few days, but it does highlight the political power of Québec’s pop-culture scene.

A few days ago, I stated in another post that Prime Minister Harper never does the variety TV circuit, and it led to him to be generally labelled as a “chicken” in Québec (especially with his refusal to appear on Tout le monde en parle).

Well, the Liberals have been climbing in Québec’s pre-election polls… and climbing, and climbing.  The gains the Conservatives have made in Québec appear to be under threat by the Liberal climb.

What is Harper’s reaction?  (Brace yourselves!!)

Tonight he is going to make his first ever appearance on a French-language variety TV talk show!

That, my friends, is how you know the Conservatives believe their campaign is not going so well.

Harper will appear on the talk show named Salvail en mode, hosted by Éric Salvail.

In earlier posts, I have spoken to you about Éric Salvail. (Remember the Smirnoff shooters show where everyone gets drunk on TV?  Click HERE and HERE),  

Éric Salvail is sort of a Québec equivalent of Jimmy Fallon.  His show is quite popular.

His show airs on the “V” television network.  This means that, unfortunately, some regions of Canada risk not receiving it.

I do know that “V” is available all over Québec, in Ontario and New Brunswick, as well as in Winnipeg, but I am not certain of its availability elsewhere in Canada.

Regardless, tonight’s show with Harper should be more than interesting.  

I won’t be able to watch it live tonight (I have other plans, and Harper’s appearance on a variety TV talk show doesn’t exactly warrant me stopping my life for it).  However, wait a couple of days, and you (and I) should be able to view it online on the show’s website.

Here is the show’s website:  http://vtele.ca/emissions/en-mode-salvail/

And there y’are… the political and social power of Québec’s pop-culture scene.

More France / Québec dynamics, and plays on stereotypes (#375)

You may remember the post entitled Examples of Stereotypes France has of Québec, and vice-versa (#141) from back in January 2015.

That post has been quite popular.  I receive daily stats for my blog, and there has rarely been a day which has gone by in which it has not been read by at least someone in Canada, Québec or France.

Stereotypes are always a popular topic.  There are many types of stereotypes.  Some are played upon in not a nice light, but others are generally harmless and are played upon for the fun (and most people take them as such).

One such stereotype which falls into the latter (harmless) category — at lease more or less — has to do with an advertisement by a French company.   And, boy, has it been getting a good deal of attention in Québec, both by word-of-mouth and online in Québec’s social networks.

Orange is a major cell phone company in France.

They put out an advertisement in France in which a customer approaches an Orange representative because he lost his cell-phone.  However, the customer speaks with what is “presumably” a Québécois accent (although he’s a little off from nailing it).

He uses vocabulary and syntax which people in France would not necessarily understand (and several words are not used correctly or are not even used on this side of the ocean in French).  However, it would be generally understood on this side of the Atlantic.

Regardless, the punchline comes when the Orange representative speaks “Québécois” back to the customer so as to ensure the customer can understand him.  The narrator then said “We understand you better so as to serve you better”.


Is this grounds for controversy?

If someone were to ask me this, I would say “NO“.

Everyone knows the context, and I fail to see a “negative” context.

Granted, for someone in France who has never had contact with someone in Québec, it may lead them to incorrectly believe they would not be able to understand someone from Québec, but I doubt many people would view it as such.

Regardless, a good number of people on Québec’s social networks took offense to this advertisement, particularly in their vehement criticism that the accent and “vocabulary” is “off”.

My response to those few people in Québec who are complaining:

Don’t get your shorts in a knot.

How do you even know it’s even “Québécois” French?  Sheesh!

Perhaps it’s “Ontarien” French or “Prairien” French – You’re not the only ones who exist, so get over yourselves.   

Hahaha — I can be an ass!! — Hahaha!!