Let's embrace our "bonjour" because it is the only metropolitan in North America where you will get it.
It affects how we interact with the world.
The National Capital Region will soon welcome a new CFL football club. At the time, Franco-Ontarian football fans (and those in nearby Gatineau, QC) expected a club in financial trouble would make efforts to reach as many supporters as possible, including 250,000 Francophones in the region. Fat chance. The Renegades even failed to include French on their official website.
To be prime minister of Canada you have to know French. To be governor general of Canada you have to know French. To be chief justice of the Supreme Court you have to know French. This is an awful lot of power to concentrate in just 17 per cent of the population. There is a Marie Antoinette-like bit of victim-blaming ("Let them learn French!") popular with segments of the Canadian elite who simply can't fathom why more peasants can't find the time to study an exotic dying language utterly irrelevant to their daily lives.
In free societies, people must be free to speak any language they wish. Quebec will not make French stronger by trying to weaken English. All people should be proud of their language and speak it well, and all people should recognize that it is an advantage and an enviable condition to speak more than one language. As Paul-Émile Cardinal Léger put it, "It will not be by laws, regulations, fines, and harassments, that a language is promoted. It is by speaking your language in a way that to hear it, others will wish to speak it also."
We all know that Quebec is sensitive on language issues. But Pauline Marois' plan to require anyone running for public office to be proficient in French should outrage everyone who believes in democracy. It's fine to expect anyone applying for a government job in Quebec to be competent in the official language of the province. But to restrict running for elected office to only French-speakers is arrogant, dictatorial and unnecessary.
As Christmas approaches, what will be the topic of discussion around the kitchen table across Canada? Will it be the language proficiency of the auditor general or will Canadians be ticked off with having to pay far higher prices than Americans for the same items?
English-speaking Canada is often guilty of painting Quebec as a tantrum-throwing child. Now, I'm not one to deny that my province can be quite vocal and even unreasonable at times, but asking for important federal positions to be filled with bilingual candidates is not unreasonable.