Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Parti Québécois has jumped the shark

Quebec has jumped the shark
In case you didn't feel that thud on your ass this morning, it was the terminus of the slippery slope that Quebecers have been gingerly moving towards for the last 40 years.

In today's newspapers, there are reports that the Parti Québécois is considering preventing citizens from running for public office--provincial and municipal--if they don't speak French sufficiently well.

Anyone wanting to run for public office in a Quebec led by Pauline Marois will have to prove they can speak French first, the Parti Québécois leader said as she announced her latest language-related campaign promise Tuesday. The PQ leader said anglophones, allophones and aboriginal people will be forbidden from seeking municipal or provincial office unless they have an appropriate knowledge of French. 
Source: Globe and Mail

From 1974 onward, successive Quebec governments have enacted laws, slowly making the use of English abnormal. Like smoking and drunk driving. Always couched in the language of preservation of the French language, the effect of the laws was to limit the use of English in ever-decreasing areas.

The goal was to change the language reality of Quebec. The idea is that by pretending that English wasn't a common language, and passing laws to stop it from being so, the fairy tale would become true, in time.  Parents were prohibited from choosing their preferred school for their kids based on a law that discriminated against people who had the wrong grandparents. Merchants were prevented from communicating on signs with their customers in a language other than French (later amended to allow some English, provided it knew its subordinate place). All outdoor billboards and public transit ads were censored to allow only French words (with the exception of radio and tv stations and other cultural institutions).

At every point, the English-speaking community believed that the new restrictions were stinky, but more-or-less went along with it to humour the French-speaking majority who had been convinced into believing that the language of 82 percent of the population was in danger.

Today, August 22, 2012, in the middle of a Quebec election campaign, the party leading in the opinion polls is recommending---in all seriousness--to thwart the democratic process by barring the wrong kinds of people from seeking political office. Instead of letting voters decide, the PQ thinks it should decide.

It must be said that this is consistent with their policies about prohibiting college-age students from picking a CEGEP or parents from picking a school for their kids. It is consistent with legislating the use of French on commercial signs instead of letting the market penalize merchants who don't offer good services. It is consistent with the sick and unhealthy political society where the freedom of the individual is made subordinate to the dictates of illiberal government.

In Quebec, the government decides for you.

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