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Quebec Brownshirts Intimidate Minorities

March 17th, 2013 · 16 Comments

It’s on!  The Part Quebecois government has begun actions that will  encourage even more non-Francophones to leave Quebec … so any new referendum would have a better chance of passing.

Government brownshirts, from l’Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise, have started harassing businesses that show English , even on menus now. The only legal exemption..   proper names like McDonald, Tim Horton etc!

At Joe Beef … one of Montreal’s oldest, most famous restaurants,   near the historic Youville Square  fire station, the brownshirted INSPECTORS paid a visit, took photos (crime scene?)  and ordered the eatery to take down a unilingual ANTIQUE SIGN on the wall, because it was in English. Helas!!! And another ANTIQUE “Exit” sign, salvaged from a beach in Prince Edward Island, also had to go. Talk about rewriting history…or obliterating it!

And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day … although not YET a crime to celebrate it in Quebec … the owners of McKibbin’s Pub were ordered to take down VINTAGE Guinness ads and decorative signage.

Need more?

A Quebec government language inspector ordered the  Italian restaurant Buonanotte to remove the words “pasta” and “antipasto” from the MENU, because that’s Italian,  “not French”.

A Montreal bistro was told to cover up the words On/Off on the microwave machine … and the words “Redial” and “Hold” on its phone. (Honest, I’m not making this up!)

And two coffee bars, Caffe Gamba in Montreal and “Caffe Conti in Quebec City, were told to remove one of the “f”s from their names.

Let’s recognize this for what it is: RACISM directed against anyone in Quebec who is not francophone.  I believe the Parti Quebecois wants them …. AND ESPECIALLY THEIR CHILDREN after they grow up  ….to leave … plain and simple.

And I suspect the PQ believes it has the support for this from many, many Francophone Quebeckers who, as I’ve outlined on this blog previously, have an unfortunate recent history of being unwelcoming (to put it mildly) to not only the English, but other Europeans, Jews, Asians, Muslims and blacks…. really anyone who is not French Canadian Catholic.

The brownshirts …. nicknamed “tongue troopers” by Montrealers … are part of a “Raus mit dem auslanders!”  campaign by the separatists to intimidate and make feel VERY unwelcome non-Francophones.  The ultimate aim is to get them to leave, and boost the odds if another referendum is held … even if it’s some time down the road.

And Quebec’s public unions have backed the xenophobic attacks: appearing at legislative hearings into proposed legislation to make things even worse for non-francophones, with a litany of complaints, ratting on their own members who showed compassion:

A fully bilingual clerk at Revenue Quebec was CAUGHT discussing tax questions in English, the language preferred by those he was dealing with; a clerk handling health benefits was asked by a Quebec firm to submit an ENGLISH version of a form for its office in Winnipeg, where they do not understand French;  and a clerk at a rental board had the audacity to help people who do not speak French by translating important passeges for them!!!

That’s it … Quebec’s language will DIE if kindness and being considerate is to be allowed!

This is Quebec today .. sorry, aujourd’hui!

Readers of this blog will recall I predicted exactly this last September, when I wrote “PQ’s Next Step: Ethnic Cleansing” after the separatists won the provincial election.

Now, it’s happening.

And it’s being financed partially by YOU: thanks to Equalization Grant Funds Quebec receives from BC, Alberta, Ontario etc.  the PQ was able to increase it’s language police budget to $24 million a year!!  Without, of course, so much as a “merci” to us.

The good news is that, this time, many Quebecois … Anglophone, Allophone and Francophone … are fighting back: ignoring the “orders”  (Take me to court!) and speaking out publicly.

Felix Gagne, manager of Maison Publique, a restaurant co-owned by world famous chef Jamie Oliver,  went on the record accusing the OQLF of totally unnecessarily dredging up old problems and issues.

One “offender” covered up his establishment’s English sign with a paper sheet, in French,  “Warning: Non-French sign underneath: Read at your own discretion”.  It has become more noticed and more popular than ever.

And the PQ did back down…the publicity was so negative, the government ruled “pasta” is ok!!!   Felicitations!!!

In a minority government position, it will be very difficult for the PQ to step up its xenophobic legislation right now: the Liberals and Coalition Action Quebec have opposed making things even worse for Quebec’s minorities. But that’s not the real goal …at this time: it’s to make non-francophones more uncomfortable … and it’s working!

Sadly, noticeable in their silence …as usual … in the face of the brownshirt attacks on the minorities,   are our federal MPs and parties.

Human rights are a FEDERAL issue as much as a provincial one.

Does anyone reading this believe that our federal “leaders: would stay so silent if BC or Alberta or Ontario, passed legislation … and sent around brownshirts ordering ANY signs in French to be taken down inside pubs or restaurants or any business????

If you really care about human rights (and not just mouth the words), why not call your MP and ask why are federal ” leaders”  have abandoned Quebec’s language minorities.

We should DEMAND they say, do something to express our disdain for such racist actions.

And let’s put our money where our mouths are: DON’T make any vacation plans that include Quebec,  until their minorities are granted respect, dignity … and human rights.

Harv Oberfeld

Tags: British Columbia · National

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 RS // Mar 17, 2013 at 8:55 am

    de honte!

    (Response: For those who do not comprend francais … honte … is shame, disgrace. Bien dit! h.o)

  • 2 13 // Mar 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Harvey, that drunken slob said it years ago when he blamed the minorities (English speaking) for ruining Quebec. Its pathetic that we have to listen to this endless stupidity from a group of racists bent on the destruction of our country.

    Fear not the NDP will step up and call for an end to the seperatist agenda.
    Fear not the Liberals under Justin Trudeau will step up and call for an end to the seperatist agenda.

    The sad part of this bilingual nation is that because of multicultural rights the rest of Canada is in need of some brownshirts. Drive through Surrey and you will see municipal signage in a language that I do not understand. Furthermore there is no sign next to the one I cant read in any other language that I could read if I wanted to.

    Ive sat through a CAW union meeting where an executive board proclaimed that “IF you cant speak East Indian dont bother to seek a position with the executive”.

    Because of the charter that we have hung around our necks like a boat anchor this country will never have any control over signage . It seems if you want to be rid of English in Quebec its your right. If you want to make punjabi the official language of your union local its your right. If you want to put up street signs in any language you choose , its your right.

    I can hardly wait for Justin to wade into these muddy waters and make them clear.

    (Response: The language situation here is also quite interesting but very different. Yes, there are some ethnic shops … usally Asian … that have signage in their language, but not in English. This is repugnant to me …and glad people are complaining. But they are just dumb businesses …if they restrict their client base by restricting their ads to only Punjabi or Chinese….kind of like the way the English used to be in Quebec 60 years ago. But here, there is no government legislation prohibiting virtually ANY unilingual foreign language signs … and I’d never want to see that. h.o)

  • 3 bob // Mar 17, 2013 at 10:14 am

    As it becomes clearer that Harper is a western separatist and won’t interfere in Quebec’s independent aspirations we can expect to see more of this from the PQ.

    (Response: I think ALL the feds are afraid of saying anything to criticise Quebec: it’s as if they all know MOST Quebecois are xenophobic so our “leaders” … to their shame …. place votes before principles. h.o.)

  • 4 Larry Bennett // Mar 17, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    I have been following this on SunMedia, and I am glad to see that you, at least, have taken notice, if I’m not mistaken you lived in Montreal? Part of this is because of the open-door immigration we have, and Quebec has always been the most xenophobic of all the provinces. We’ve heard of the raid by border police on a local construction site that netted a number of illegal workers, and that is just scratching the surface, and our southern neighbour is going through the same drama, without the guts to do what must be done. Forget the UN and other agencies that tell us what we should do. There are hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants waiting their turn. Ship the others back!

    (Response: Yes, i was born, raised and educated in Quebec right up through university. I was just there in December. You’re right about their xenophobia: I have since also lived in not only BC, but Saskatchewan and Ontario and I have never seen in any of those the racism that still inflicts so many Francophones in Quebec. Ask the Asians, Muslims, Jews, blacks how welcomed they are in Quebecois social circles. Yes, there are exceptions ..but the majority are still living back in the racist society of the 1950s. And no one (where ARE our federal “leaders”?) dares stand up or speak out about it. h.o)

  • 5 Howard // Mar 17, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Your dismissive response to “13” saying that the situation regarding foreign-language-only signs is “very different” here, suggests that you don’t recognize that the common denominator is ethnic prejudice regardless of sources or manifestations. You say you wouldn’t want to see legislation prohibiting unilingual foreign language signs? Seriously? Just for the sake of fast reporting of fires, crimes, etc., English language inclusion on business signage is
    indispensable. You say “some ethnic shops” have signage only in “their language”? There are STRIPS in Burnaby/Surrey/Delta/Coquitlam, etc. that have virtually no English language signage. Maybe it’s time for you to take a field trip so you can keep it real.

    (Response: you must have missed the part where I called it REPUGNANT and DUMB! And said it reminded me of the situation that existed in Quebec 60 years ago (when the English did the same, ignoring French). Did you read my whole response? But let’s keep it real … there IS a BIG difference between stupid businesses that ignore a large potential customer base and a GOVERNMENT that passes actual laws OUTLAWING minority languages. h.o.)

  • 6 Crankypants // Mar 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Maybe the real story here is the fact that the PQ have a minority government yet seem to be able to do whatever they wish. Why aren’t the other parties dealing with this situation. I know that the Liberal Party in Quebec just chose a new leader to replace Charest but does their internal situation trump the needs of the whole province.

    (Response; As mentioned in the piece, the Libs and CAQ have already opposed making the language laws even more restrictive. But the existing law is so bad, the government and its bureaucrats have lots of leeway to make any minority’s lives very miserable … remember the law allowing civil servants to wear/display ONLY crucifixes in provincial offices … thereby shutting out observant Jews, Sikhs, Muslims from any provincial jobs. TOTALLY one-sided racism! It’s all designed to get more to leave. h.o.)

  • 7 RS // Mar 18, 2013 at 7:56 am

  • 8 Robert // Mar 18, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Great read as usual Harvey. I didn’t realize it was THAT bad. I live in New Brunswick, a rather poorer province than most but we still have clean air and we, by law, are a bilingual province. Signs in both English and French. So why can’t Quebec?

    Don’t like their (Quebec’s) agenda at all and should be abolished at the Fed level tout de suite!

    (Response: Thanks. I, of course, have nothing against bilingualism: I worked very hard to learn French in Quebec at a time when les Anglais were proud NOT to speak it. Terrible. And I support French immersion education and official bilingualism across the country …although I think there is a GREAT deal of waste and overspending on the French side of Radio Canada in BC etc. But in Quebec, IT’S not about bilingualism…to the contrary, it’s about demeaning, disrespecting, discouraging and OUTLAWING equal use of Canada’s second language. That is the disgrace…made all the more so when Ottawa (where is the federal language commissioner!!!!!!) stays silent and inactive. h.o)

  • 9 Scotty on Denman // Mar 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Keep your shirt on, Harvey, the PQ are tweaking noses, doin’ the ol’ el Harpo kick in the nuts whilst their rivals are weak and pushing some buttons (including yours, apparently) to make themselves look strong despite their own inherently weak minority position. Ah, but that’s politics and in Quebec, as you know, they do it with de Gaul gall.
    In this instance they would their provocateurs rankle at once every federal party as well as their provincial rivals or, in (en) strategic (-ique) parlance, a spoiling action intended to provoke a reaction they can then exploit; the ducks happen to be lined up in a row, a rare opportunity savvy Quebecois politicians were sure not to miss. Your own reaction is somewhat illustrative of PQ intent, if only in heartfelt miniature. You got goaded into lining up a few canards of your own.

    The first is, of course, your reactionary use of the word “RACISM” where the term “nationalism” is appropriate. The allusion to Nazi Brownshirts again completes exactly PQ designs to paint themselves as the only party to protect la Belle Province from external hostility. The PQ notion is as odious, I know, yet they do only the same as Harper brazenly did during his minorities: rush around the schoolyard kicking the leaders of every clique in the balls, then backing off to await any reaction that might be exploitable. The tactic is dangerous for a minority but PQ reading of their rivals’ disarray and/or reluctance is an astute calculation of risk/benefit. The “pasta”/”pate” gong show indicates they have penetrated as far as spoilage allows and have retreated to receive the fruit.

    The second is your challenge to put words into action by expressing righteous outrage to our respective federal representatives that they will then convey to Parliament in Ottawa, as per PQ design, where they will do precisely as they are whipped. While we might soberly consider PQ pugnacity, we will certainly be apprised of the Constitutional “notwithstanding clause” of which Quebec has availed itself (with regard to language rights in the Charter) ever since becoming non-signatories to said Constitution. Crazy, isn’t it?

    So lets not forget the Constitution and the fact that Quebec’s most essential policy, with all its hot buttons, is aimed not at skin colour but at language, that is, it is a nationalistic, not racist policy.

    (Response: You’re wrong. Nationalism would promote the nation of Quebec ..but when they say people born and whose families have lived in Quebec for many generations ….even more than 100 years …. are nor really part of the “nation” ..”pure lain” …because they are not white or Catholic or of Francophone ancestry that’s racism …plain and simple. As for not saying or doing anything…that’s what they said in Germany too when picking on particular people WITH LAWS began. We must stand up against that kind of crud IMMEDIATELY whenever it rears its head. Hard to believe I still have to explain that in 2013! h.o)

  • 10 OldIslander // Mar 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    This is an important blog entry today Harvey; many thanks for posting it.

    This Quebec language law is essentially the suspension of one of our basic rights and the cornerstone of democracy — the right to free speech. A business owner in Quebec could apparently go to jail for communicating with his customers — via a posted sign — in English. This is a form of censorship. Over one hundred thousand Canadians died in two wars, to protect our right to free speech.

    Correct me if I’m wrong; this law was considered by the Supreme Court of Canada many years ago, and quite rightly, ruled unconstitutional. Quebec thumbed their nose at this ruling, and invoked the ‘Not Withstanding Clause’, which essentially permits them to overrule or ignore the Supreme court.

    If they hate us that much, maybe it’s time to let them go.

    (Response: But I don’t think most Quebecois hate us: as usual it’s the militants who are most active on such matters and make the most noise ..and with a separatist PQ in power, the brownshirt mentality has been unleashed with official sanction. The danger is when every decent person stays silent or fails to see the danger. Where is Haprer and, more significantly, where is MULCAIR???? h.o)

  • 11 e.a.f. // Mar 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    The PQ ought to get a grip. You go anywhere in the world and you will be able to find english speakers. No one else’s language feels endangered.

    Of course some may feel they have to go the extra mile to keep french as their language. However, this is a free country and we do have a multi cultural policy. So why can’t other cultures speak their language in Quebec. The not with standing clause. The federal government has a legal obligation to provide services in both languages. So if in Quebec they are refusing, there is a legal problem. Don’t expect stevie to deal with it. He doesn’t care about Quebec. It is not part of “his vision”. I don’t expect the feds to do anything about what is going on in quebec.

    If they are successful in getting non francophones to leave and they vote to seperate, Quebec will still have the problem of there goes the federal money and First nations who may not choose to leave Canada or set up their own country.

    (Response: The PQ will not change…they have a goal and getting rid of those who will not endorse and stand in the way of that goal is fair game to them. And unfortunately, they KNOW most Quebecois quietly share that xenophobia. Name ANY other supposedly secular country in today’s civilized world where BY LAW, ONLY a crucifix can be worn/displayed by public servantsand in public buildings … to keep observant Jews, Muslims, Sikhs from ever applying to work there? It boggles the mind ..and worse, the majority have gone along with it. h.o)

  • 12 Larry Bennett // Mar 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    I really don’t think that the “Catholic” tradition of Quebec is a big point here. They use and abuse Catholicism because the Church urged the Quebecois to “get along” with the Anglos, so long as they could practice their faith in peace. The Church in Ireland was blamed for the same thing, even though their were priests who took up arms and joined the IRA. There is no respect for any kind of religion except in the rural areas of Quebec, but the symbolism of Catholicism they use as a kind of anti-Anglo trademark. The insistence that the crucifix stay in the Legislature, is purely symbolic, few of them have any Catholic scruples and it shows. it being the most liberal province in Canada on socio-spiritual matters.

    (Response: I don’t blame any one entity for Quebecois having developed the way they have: I suspect there are many factors, from linguistic isolation in a sea of English; voluntary religious isolation as a way of protecting faith and culture; and anti-French discrimination by the English ruling class for a hundred years or more. The world was a very different place in the last century than it is now and most developed societies have opened to former “outsiders” …BUT Francophone Quebec,especially off the island of Montreal, remains considerably closed, bigotted and unwelcoming to non pure-lain. Time to call it for what it is…and stop it. h.o)

  • 13 dan // Mar 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

    “I don’t blame any one entity for Quebecois having developed the way they have: I suspect there are many factors, from linguistic isolation in a sea of English; voluntary religious isolation as a way of protecting faith and culture;” (snip)

    Also a way for the church and state to keep its people highly ignorant and by extension bigoted and un-educated, both of which Quebec is well known for.

    A continuation of this particular church and state working together against their own followers since the Borgias or earlier.

  • 14 D. M. Johnston // Mar 19, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Well, after 40 years of pandering to Quebec and the separatists, look where we are at.

    Didn’t Munich and “Peace in our time” teach us anything? Obviously not as all the major federal political players are genuflecting to Quebec demands.

    Welcome to civil war and ethnic cleansing, coming to a province, much sooner than anyone thinks.

    (Response: Civil war? No …because I really believe MOST Quebecois dont want to go: they just know by THREATENING, their politicians have won much more than their fair share of attention, spending and power in Ottawa. And the rest of Canada is so tired of all the pandering (Hear that, Mulcair?) I don’t think they care anymore if Quebec wants to go. Just welcome all the best-educated Quebecois…Anglophone, Allophone and Francophone …. who will leave too and bring with them their businesses, talents and investments … leaving Quebec with almost nothing economically …. except THEIR share of the national debt. h.o)

  • 15 teririch // Mar 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm


    What is your take on Richmond City Council’ s decision to not have Enlgish included on current Chinese only language signs?

    I read Stephen Hui’s blog on the Georgia Straight site and wow, talk about ‘reverse racism. He refers to the 1,000 petitioners requesting inclusion in the city they live in as ‘racist’ for suggesting the signage be changed so that all can understand. In other words, he is behing the city council decision.

    I find it somewhat ironic as the BC Libs are under fire for the outed ‘ethnic vote plan’ and the practice put forward by Richmond City Council is out and out discriminatory.

    I guess the Ricmond Mayor and City Council know which side of the ‘ethnic vote bread’ their side is buttered on. Pandering.

    (Response: I don’t like the idea of “legislating” language controls … but I think Cuoncil could have URGED the Asian community to consider the rest of their possibled clients. I just wouldnt shop at a store that ignores or disrespects me. And I believe business and community ASIAN leaders should be stepping up to the plate and do some of their own work on this BEFORE it gets out of hand and there’s a big backlash. h.o.)

  • 16 Henri // Mar 19, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Ah that old cliche someone should do something about dem dare guys sure is being bantered about.
    The simple answer is, do nothing, like a spoiled child, let them think you will give in once again.
    Once they realize you don’t give a rats ass about their whining-crying, they will curl up and go to sleep in a corner somewhere, problem solved.