Monday, January 14, 2008

The English Patience

The Journal de Montreal has produced an "article," by Noée Murchison about the availability of french service in businesses in Montreal's downtown core. I can only wince at the trouble this will stir up in the next few weeks, but that aside, I'd like to see if I can make a bit of sense of the issue.

Québecois culture is a big thing for the vast majority of the people in this province, and rightly so; I've said on a number of occasions that it is a culture which deserves preservation, if it does not quite require protection. Language is a part of this; French is beautiful and expressive and is at the core of much of Québec's cultural identity.

So this isn't an argument against French or Québecois culture.

Instead it's a plea for a bit of sanity (I seem to do that a lot, I think). This is a problem for the economy to take care of on its own, not for government intervention; let's face it, the OLF (OQLF, according to the Journal) is a fascist, anti-individualist organization which imposes culturally-, politically- and ideologically-driven rules on private organizations which should not have to deal with the bureaucratic nitpicking of that hateful and ironically named organization. If the OLF does decide to hang back (it won't), then most businesses will likely exercise their prerogative and staff themselves with employees appropriate to their clientele, which is as it should be.

If a business sees a lot of francophone custom - and those in the downtown core do - then that employer has a vested interest in ensuring that there are always enough french-speaking employees on the floor to deal with the demand; that being said, stores like Chapters in downtown montreal, which is a predominantly anglophone bookstore, can reasonably maintain an almost unilingual staff without a significant loss of business, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

For those of you who think there is something wrong with that, that's okay too; you don't need the government to exercise control over businesses, all you need is your hard-earned dollar and the discretion about when & where to use it. Voicing the reasons for your choices is the key and, trust me, just like businesses have listened to the Green Movement, they'll listen to you: it's Capitalism 101.

Which is why I applaud the Journal's decision not to reveal the identities of the businesses which they singled out as "too anglophone," it's one of the few good decision that filthy rag has made in a long time (it's really just a tabloid legitimized by wider circulation).

My prediction for all of this? The OLF is going to go apeshit in the next few weeks.

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