In a rare speech before France’s Academie Française — the body charged with protecting the French language in its home country — one of Quebec’s top ministers said that Canadian multiculturalism is a thorn in Quebec’s side.
The province’s premier later said he supports this view and that "we oppose multiculturalism."
What people are failing to see, argued Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette in a high-profile speech in Paris, is that Quebec’s controversial recent laws, whether language law Bill 96 or securalism law Bill 21, are themselves about protecting a fragile culture.
The "diversity of cultures is becoming just as threatened as the diversity of fauna and flora," he said in the Thursday speech — referring to Quebec’s French-speaking culture.
Jolin-Barrette is Quebec’s minister of justice and also its minister for the French language, making him deeply involved in both pieces of legislation.
In the lengthy speech, he went over the history of Quebec, from its founding as a French colony to the Quiet Revolution and beyond.
But one thing is a particular problem, he said: ensuring that newcomers to Quebec learn to live in French.
"One of our greatest challenges is to involve immigrants in our national project," he said.
"We are the neighbours of a great power, the United States, and we operate within a federation with an anglophone majority. The continental and global linguistic dynamic favors English in every way."
He heaped criticism on Canadian federal law that protects individual rights, calling this emphasis on the individual "nearly absolute," to the detriment of Quebec’s collective rights.
"Although our project is thwarted by Canadian multiculturalism, which finds an equivalent in what you call communitarianism and which combats the claims of Quebec to constitute itself as a distinct nation," Jolin-Barrette continued, "the French language must really become the language of use of all Quebecers."
Despite earlier laws forcing all children of immigrants to attend school in French, he said it hasn’t been enough, leading the current government to clamp down on English in post-secondary colleges by stemming their growth with enrollment caps.
"Upon graduating from high school… an alarming proportion of students, especially those whose first language is neither English nor French, rush into the anglophone network to pursue their studies," he said.
He also explicitly linked Bill 21 with the same struggle. Arguably the current government’s most controversial bill of their four years in power, it banned certain public servants, including teachers and police, from wearing religious symbols at work.
In practice, it affected female Muslim teachers most heavily, preventing school boards from hiring or promoting any hijab-wearing teachers.
Challenges to Bill 21 are still before the courts and are expected to end up at Canada’s Supreme Court.
"Law 96 on the French language does not come alone," said Jolin-Barrette.
"It was adopted after Law 21 on secularism, which I also had the honour of piloting, always with the same idea of strengthening the autonomy and personality of the State of Quebec."
When asked about Minister Jolin-Barrette’s comments in Paris, Premier François Legault said later Thursday that he is opposed to putting "all cultures on the same level" and stressed the importance of having a "culture of integration" above all else.
"So that’s why we oppose multiculturalism. We prefer to concentrate on what we call ‘inter-culturalism’ where you have one culture, the Quebec culture, where we try to integrate the newcomers, but we want to add to this culture," the premier said.
"I think new people coming to Quebec — they add to our culture. But it’s important to have a culture where we integrate, especially to our language."
Legault also argued this is in direct opposition to the Canadian model of multiculturalism.
"I see that Mr. Trudeau is pushing for multiculturalism, so he doesn’t want us to have a culture and a language where we integrate newcomers," the premier said.
In his speech, Jolin-Barrette addressed criticism that embracing English and bilingualism is a way of being open to the world, whether you see it as the language of Shakespeare or "Silicon Valley."
But that’s a misplaced idea, the minister argued.
"What is presented as an openness to the world too often masks acculturation, which comes with a significant loss of memory and identity," he said.
He said gone are the times when people can request to be served in English or French in Quebec, as in a "self-service business."
And Jolin-Barrette made a special point of attacking English Canadian media’s coverage of Bill 96.
"Recently, defamatory articles against Quebec have been published with too much complacency in American and English Canadian newspapers," he said.
"Lazy authors depict our fight from the most denigrating and insulting angle, trying to pass it off as a rearguard fight, a form of authoritarianism."
"Our fight for the French language is just, it is a universal fight, that of a nation which has peacefully resisted the will to power of the strongest."
For a large portion of the speech, Jolin-Barrette spoke of the time before the Quiet Revolution, when, he said, French was being lost in Quebec.
"A vulnerable proletariat was born, whose contaminated language quickly switched to Franglais," he said.
"The English-speaking oligarchy, heir to British power, imposed its language and its imagination….in the 1950s, French-Canadians lived in towns where commercial signage was often in English."
At another point, he called French the greatest of the Western languages, with the greatest literary influence.
In those earlier decades, "French Canada was one of the very few places in the world where the French language was a sign of social inferiority," he said.
One of the two men acquitted in the notorious 1985 Air India bombings was gunned down in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, prompting mixed reactions from the community.

The Bank of Canada’s aggressive one per cent rate increase on Wednesday caught many by surprise and will likely have a considerable financial impact for many Canadians, says one economist.

A little more than a month after pausing the measure, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced Thursday it will be re-implementing random COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated air travellers arriving into the country at four major Canadian airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.

A refugee family who has been stuck in a Canadian hotel for nearly 11 months after fleeing from Afghanistan says a temporary house they were being offered to live in was overpriced and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

A House of Commons committee will hold a special meeting this morning to discuss Canada's controversial decision to send repaired parts for a Russian natural gas pipeline back to Germany.

Ivana Trump, a longtime businessperson and an ex-wife of Donald Trump, has died in her home in New York City, the former President posted on Truth Social.

Today is the deadline for Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc. to reach a definitive agreement on the sale of wireless carrier Freedom Mobile.

As Canadian airports report increasing claims of lost or missing baggage, one traveller's experience tracking her bag using an AirTag has resonated on social media with others facing similar struggles.

Airlines are legally required to compensate you in the event that your baggage is lost or delayed. spoke with an expert on how airline passengers can go about claiming their reimbursement.

Ontario is now in a seventh wave of the pandemic and it is being driven by the BA.5 subvariant.

An 11-year-old Toronto boy says he is still in shock after meeting Adam Sandler and Drake by chance in the same night.

There are now more people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 than at any point since late May as a new wave of the pandemic driven by the BA.5 subvariant continues to worsen.

There are good reasons why the spouse of the man responsible for the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history should not face cross-examination when she testifies Friday before a public inquiry, her lawyer says.

COVID-19 has now been with us for close to two-and-a-half years. It’s still making people sick, and it’s still claiming lives. But just as the virus has changed – mutated, to survive – our response to it has also changed.

Nova Scotia is reporting an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, but a decrease in cases and deaths in the province’s weekly dashboard update.

A structural engineer and the city’s heritage planner have both weighed in on the plan to relocate the Fugitive Slave Chapel later this year.

Farmers around southwestern Ontario are beginning to grow anxious, as the hot dry summer puts this season’s harvest into question.

Charges have been upgraded following the death of a man who was on fire in east London.

Science Timmins is seeing a lot of interest in its science camp this summer, selling out all of its daily spots since kicking off earlier this month.

Local radio station Pure Country 91.7 raised more than $133,000 for the Maison McCulloch Hospice on Thursday.

A large interest rate hike is going to put more pressure on home affordability in Sudbury. Whether renting or looking to buy, it means people will be facing new challenges.

Lethbridge police say a woman has been arrested as a result of a 'high risk incident' at a law office in the city's south end.

Although many provinces across Canada now allow adults to book in for their second booster shot of COVID-19 vaccines, Alberta still has not expanded its eligibility.

Calgary fire crews were called to a fire Thursday night in the 2700 block of Fifth Avenue N.E., where there was a fire inside a building that stores various chemicals.

Police have charged a man with second-degree murder after human remains were found behind a Guelph business on Wednesday afternoon.

A Kitchener woman said she is disappointed her family doctor wouldn’t see her in person and instead told her to go the emergency room.

One of the two men acquitted in the notorious 1985 Air India bombings was gunned down in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, prompting mixed reactions from the community.

A routine request to review government polls commissioned to gauge British Columbians' thoughts on pandemic measures has resulted in renewed criticism of the BC NDP's information-snuffing tactics.

A fire burning near the Village of Lytton has grown to 75 hectares in size, and several First Nation reserves have been ordered to evacuate, B.C. officials said Thursday.

The upcoming Papal visit will cost millions of dollars. Here’s a look at how those costs break down.

Ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Edmonton, Maskwacis and Lac Ste. Anne later this month, event organizers held a press conference on Thursday to share details about the logistics of the trip. Here's what attendees, and residents of the Edmonton area, need to know ahead of the Papal Visit.

Pope Francis will travel to Lac Ste. Anne on the third day of his Canadian trip on a mission of truth and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people, but a Métis community in the area says plans for the visit will disrespect their ancestors.

Operations between Stellantis and Syncreon Automotive will eventually end affecting the lives of 280 employees and their families.

A downtown Chatham bakery is dealing with some not-so-sweet price increases while trying to stay afloat amid soaring inflation.

There’s been a breakdown in a downtown beautification partnership between the downtown business improvement association (BIA), member businesses and the city over the watering of flowers adorning parklette patios.

The first of two wakes planned for a Saskatchewan boy found dead after an 81-day search was held Wednesday night.

Federal Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, announced Ottawa’s funding plans to improve rail safety and efficiency in Regina and southern Saskatchewan at Intermobil terminal in Regina on Thursday.

Saskatchewan is working to extend Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine availability to children six months to five-years-old, in light of Health Canada's approval on Thursday.

The Glengarry Memorial Hospital has announced it has made the "difficult decision" to temporarily close the emergency department from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily, starting Friday at 6 p.m. looks at activities and events happening in Ottawa, eastern Ontario and western Quebec this weekend.

The Ottawa Senators have signed Josh Norris to a new eight-year contract, the latest in a series of moves to lock up the future of the club.

The first of two wakes planned for a Saskatchewan boy found dead after an 81-day search was held Wednesday night.

Saskatchewan is working to extend Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine availability to children six months to five-years-old, in light of Health Canada's approval on Thursday.

Morgan Buyaki is suffering from a rare condition called Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA) which causes inflammation in blood vessels, but the life-saving medication she needs is far too expensive, even with partial funding from the government.

CTV News Programs
Local News
© 2022 All rights reserved. Use of this Website assumes acceptance of Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Shop Sephari