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"Visible minority" does seem a very odd category. I assume it was driven by the Anglos v French thing.

Lorenzo - "I assume it was driven by the Anglos v French thing."

I can't find any explicit connection, though can come up with two possible ways it could be connected.

I guess the Anglo/French thing created a language of "linguistic minority" and "religious minority". From there to "visible minority" might seem logical.

Also, the earlier report of the Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism from the 1960s took quite a negative attitude towards the phrase "ethnic group". They write:

We have already stressed in our General Introduction the Ethnic origin and danger of using ethnic origin as the basis for a simplistic distinction "ethnic group" between the two "founding peoples" and the members of "other ethnic groups."' On the basis of such a distinction, the members of nonBritish, non-French cultural groups may feel that they are denied access to the country's spheres of influence, or that they are considered "second-class citizens." We repeat that we accept the words "race" and "people" only in their traditional sense-meaning a national group, with no biological significance-and we prefer to emphasize the facts of language and culture rather than the concepts of "race," "people," or even "ethnic group."

My own theory right now is that there was a small collection of people in government/sociologists/government consultants who were using the phrase at the time - terms and ideas tend to kind of go in and out of fashion in Ottawa like that. it's used here, for example:

D'Oyley, Vincent, and Carl James. Re-Visioning: Canadian Perspectives on the Education of Africans in the Late 20th Century. North York, Ont.: Captus Press, 1998.

The classification of visible minorities is definitely one of the most absurd aspects not only of federal data collection but of the public service. During my brief employment with the federal government, I met a woman who had successfully grieved that having a paternal grandparent from Spain made her a vismin. But you're right about the politics: it's far too toxic (or, more accurately, anyone trying to deal with it rationally would easily have their work poisoned by rent-seekers), and those who benefit from it will work hard to keep it, compared to the general public who may see it as absurd but have no time to challenge it or support its removal.

I guess the unfortunate thing about the practice is that its originators recognized its limitations and even latent absurdity, but were making a reasonable effort at the time to understand a problem. Their insights clearly have been gleaned by only a few.

Interestingly, I was reading the other day who Europeans traditionally viewed East Asians (Chinese and Japanese) as white, until the late 18th century when attempts at scientific racial classification began to emerge. Only then did the "yellow" label start to stick, but prior to that Europeans seemed to recognize an affinity with East Asian society. Just shows you dramatically these things can change.

In contemporary American nomenclature, there's "person of color".

Shangwen - "scientific racial classification" -

- and even though books like The Mismeasure of Man have had a pretty thorough go at showing how absurd the whole scientific racial classification exercise was, and idea of race has been pretty much discredited among social scientists, it still underlies the concept of visible minority. We don't *say* we're asking about race, but what is white/non-white if not a racial distinction?

" Europeans seemed to recognize an affinity with East Asian society"

At a personal level, many still do!

Leo - "there's "person of color""

Which is basically another way of saying white or non-white. But what does white/non-white mean? At what precise skin tone does a person switch from being "white" to a "person of color"? John Hodgeman a few years ago had this most amazing sketch on the Daily Show where he talked about racial classifications using the kinds of words found on paint chips, e.g. "tawny rose" or "havana mist" or "ecru" or "forget me not". He ended up by concluding that in 200 years everyone is going to be "pale pumpkin." I've not ever been able to find a version I could access on-line from Canada.

This is not to say skin colour doesn't matter. E.g. in India and other countries women face intense intense pressure to have light-coloured skin - there are even skin-lightening products for one's private parts. Seriously. But it's not a simple white/non-white distinction.

Frances: that's exactly it. We have policies that are not only explicitly based on a largely outmoded idea, but that further entrench it. It has almost no foundation in science, no usefulness, and no long-run merit. Result? People love it. Even the "we believe in science" left are heavy exploiters of this fallacy, just as much as the "race realists" of the far right with their passive-aggressive white supremacy. The fact that this is painted as mere pencil-necked data collection by the government in the name of a vague "equity" makes it even more insidious. (Sorry for all the scare quotes, just turned out that way....)

Now, as you say, differences in appearance can have very powerful social effects, in particular those linked explicitly or vaguely with ethnic traits. Interestingly, they are primarily within-group effects rather than attempts to join another. Skin lightening among dark-skinned groups is usually about in-group status, not becoming white. Likewise, surgically created eye-folds among East Asians (or, more hilariously, the use of a special eyelid glue) yields results visible only to other Asians. The fact that most white people can't notice a difference doesn't matter to the women who get the procedure. In the case of federal vismin, the beneficiaries are departmental managers who can show high numbers of social justice in their hiring ratios.

Before we get too wound up, the Federal Government's Employment Equity Act only applies to the Public Service of Canada (big in Ottawa, but not anywhere else, and small in comparison to the general workforce) and the Federally-regulated private sector, which is 10% of all Canadian workers in railways, interprovincial transportation, telecom companies and uranium mining and processing.

The EEA has no effect whatsoever in most businesses in Canada as labour regulation is a matter of Property & Civil Rights and is thus a provincial matter.

Lastly, the EEA is near to being brought into disrepute as women are set to exceed their proportion of the population and labour force as a share of the federal Public Service. Yet there is no mechanism in the EEA to declare success and stop.

I really like "Yet there is no mechanism in the EEA to declare success and stop."

If I had to best describe a government, that would be it!

Shangwen: and when Japan became more economically developped in the '60's and '70's, South Africa ( masters in these matters...), reclassified Japanese as whites, thus joining blacks with foreign passports. Beginning with the U.S., some anti-apartheid countries took the habit of sending black personnel to their embassies, just for the fun of tweaking the South African government who had to treat them with all due respect. Not an easy posting but usually good for your career.

Jacques Rene - I was told when I was down there that Toyota continued to export cars to South Africa right through the Apartheid era - the economic ties with Japan were important to the regime during the economic sanctions.

The apartheid museum in Johannesburg has some fascinating examples of the arbitrariness of racial categorizations in South Africa. E.g. a person who played football (soccer) would be classified as black, but a person who played rugby would be classified as coloured. One reason there was a correlation between race and economic status was that race was *defined by* economic status - more economically successful people were more likely to be classified as coloured rather than black.

Determinant: I knew that any reference to the PSC would get you going! Yes, I was aware of that scope. My point--congruent with Frances' I think--is that it is outmoded and has taken on a life of its own, such that it no longer serves any purpose other than as an ideological showpiece for those who either sanctify the civil service or despise it.

The part of the issue that does apply Canada-wide is that it's apparently the same method used to classify all citizens of Canada. It's even more absurd in trying to codify the ethnic makeup of our immigrants. Consider the region of the Middle East and West Asia. Out of the dozens of countries there, only a handful are true (ethnic) nation-states: Iran, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Egypt, for example. (Oh, and Israel too--can you imagine what PSAC and the United Church would have to say about that appearing on a census form?) Many Arab countries are randomly assigned coalitions of clans and tribes, not nations. This is an old observation better made by others, but I mention it because it means that the state is not necessarily measuring what matters to some of those individuals, who identify with their ethnic rather than national origin. In early 18th-c Quebec, it's possible many of the residents would have identified themselves as Norman. Why are they now lumped in with the Languedocians?

Frances: I don't know much about South Africa, but the story makes me thing of how, in the early 1980s, the Chinese Communist Party responded to a period of social upheaval and ethnic strife by reviving the ancient cult of the Yellow Emperor, declaring that all people within the borders of China, not just the Han ethnic group, were his descendants. Of course, if there's anything you'd expect a communist party to do, it would be to reboot the religious worship of a mythical feudal monarch. The Han/non-Han distinction in China is a powerful and discriminatory one. Telling Uyghurs and Tibetans that "you're actually one of us" is an ominous message, not a welcoming one.

"helping those who are seriously disadvantaged, whoever those may be."

An excellent point. The absurdity of the "visible minority"/"majority" distinction always strikes me when listening to discussions in Toronto around improving the performance of black students in our public schools(most recently the opening up of "afro-centric" schools - we'll see how that works). While that's certainly a legitimate concern, I'm always struck by the fact that on most measures of academic performance - graduation rates, test scores, etc. - black students weren't the only group at the bottom. Students of Portuguese decent, collectively, do equally poorly. But they're rarely part of that discussion.

I've never quite been able to figure out why this is - Toronto's Portuguese community is about the same size as its Jamaican community - but my suspicion is that it is linked to the origins of the "visible minority"/"majority" distinction in discussions around systemic (racial) discrimination (e.g. the Abella report). If that's you're preferred explanation for systematic underperformance in school (and the reason d'etre for whole departments at the school board), then underperformance amongst "white" Portguese students is a source of considerable embarassment (as it raises the possibility that underperformance might be due to other, non-discriminatory, factors - culture, parental infuence, etc.). Indeed, on the "visibible minority"/"majority" metric, the school board might not even be that fussed by Portguese underperformance since they are, ironically, invisible amongst the broader "white" group.

Better to do away with the distinction entirely and focus one improving the performance of all students.

Bob - That's an interesting observation - that discrimination against "non-whites" is a less threatening explanation for poor performance (and one that's potentially easier to deal with) than some other explanations.

To take another similar example, Pendakur and Pendakur's work has found that the earnings penalty associated with being of Greek origin is really quite large - one of the largest ones they estimate (with the usual cautions about statistical significance etc). Phil Oreopoulos has also been doing some work on Greek-Canadians. Does this mean Greek Canadians should be considered a visible minority?

This video, coming from an Asian-American perspective, makes some interesting points in a not-too-serious way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWynJkN5HbQ

Point of disagreement, Shangwen, Israel is not a nation-state, neither is Egypt. Israel has a significant Arab and Druze minority. Egypt has the Copts. In both places, it's not ethnicity that is the point of distinction, it's religion. Israel still uses the Millet system inherited from Ottoman times. Everyone in Israel is assigned to a Millet, a "community" based on religion. There is a Jewish millet, a Christian millet, a Muslim millet and a Druze millet. Only members of the Jewish millet are conscripted, for example, and the law of marriage that applies to you (and the availability of divorce) is based on your millet. There is no civil marriage in Israel.

I had a friend in university who was from Israel.

In New France, it was loyalty to the King, as expressed through loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church, that was the determining factor. That is why the Royal Proclamation of 1774 which restored French Law and re-established the Catholic Church in Quebec (in lieu of the icky Protestant Anglicans) was so important. It said that you could be a loyal subject of the English crown yet still speak French, adhere to French law and be a Roman Catholic (the UK still had extensive laws against Catholics at the time). A great deal of Canadian political culture directly stems from this understanding.

In Egypt the Coptic Christian/Muslim divide is sharper than many ethnic divides in other countries.

Frances: "That's an interesting observation - that discrimination against "non-whites" is a less threatening explanation for poor performance (and one that's potentially easier to deal with) than some other explanations."

It's certainly an easier explanation, although I'd suggest that it's an explanation that makes poor performance HARDER to deal with if it isn't the underlying explanation.

But I think you're right that it's an easier explanation for members of the professional anti-racism caste. Cynics might suggest that the ever more convoluted conceptions as to what constitutes "systemic" discrimination is a response to this difficulty. Think about it from their perspective, if group difference persists after decades of cracking down on ever more refined instances of discrimination, one is left with the possibility that either (i) such discrimination is hard-wired into the brains of the majority, albeit in some somewhat kaledoscopic array of prejudices (we discriminate against Greeks and Portuguese, but in favour of Jews and Japanese?), hence the inane "White Privilege" campaign at Queens (after they launched that compaign, I asked them to rescind my degree so I could deny being a Queens graduate), or group differences are intrinsic and the racists are right. That's a depressing choice.

The thing is, what the Portuguese (or Greek) examples make clear is that group differences need not be(and likely aren't) racial differences, and therefore are not suspectible to racist explanations. On the contrary, many group differences (both in terms of under-performance and over-performance) are likely to be cultural differences. If they're perceived as racial differences its only because race and culture, particularly in the Afican-American context which dominates the debate, is closely correlated. We have no problem accepting, for example, that the over-representation of say, Asians or (historically, at least) Jews at Ivy league universities is a function of cultural difference. No one would seriously suggest that discrimination explains the relative accomplishment of those groups (though no doubt there are the odd KKK oddball complaining about Jewish conspiracies). Yet, when it comes to under-performance, it's systemic racism.

Now, I'll concede for a second that cultural difference can result in systemic discrimination (our student hiring committee still cringes at the memory of the time they unwittingly took a candidate, a Hindu candidate, out to dinner at a steakhouse), but cultural differences can also lead to behaviours or attitudes which are not likely to be conducive to success (unless we adopt a purely relativist worldview). Take the US literature on the phenomenon of "acting white". Otherwise smart black students who engage in what are seen (incorrectly) as "white" activities "including enrollment in honors or advanced placement classes, speaking proper English, wearing the wrong clothes from the wrong stores, or wearing shorts in the winter" risk being ostricized by their peer group. Faced with that cost, they're less likely to engage in "white" activities, which hampers their future opportunities (see, for example, http://www.nber.org/digest/jan06/w11334.html). Now, it may well be that in, say, an inner-city school, "acting black" (i.e., whatever "acting white" isn't) is the dominant cultural strategy, but it probably isn't a successful strategy in many other instances. And that's a good example of why "culture" as an explanation mattters, because it identifes a problem that the usual solutions to perceived racism can't address.

The upshot is, once you focus on culture, rather than "visible minority" status as an explanation of group over/under performance, you can actually tease out traits that explain that over/under-performance and you can do something about them (i.e., in our case, make it a practice of checking on the dietary preferences of our candidates to ensure we avoided a repeat of that experience), as opposed to trying to address them through the crude metric of "visible minority" status.

And since I can tangent on Quebec, (hehehe), the bulk of the settlers in New France came from Normandy and Brittany, with a few from Paris, notably the Filles du Roi, the King's Daughters, ladies of the lower middle class sent to balance out the gender ratio and populate New France (a successful policy too). Very few came from the other provinces of France, though the Acadians did,

We also understand from historical records and accounts that New France settled down into the "first edition" of what we now know as Quebec French by c.1720. This was actually ahead of France which didn't become the monoglot nation we know today until c. 1810 after the Revolution and Napoleon.

Quebec French is basically Court French, the proper French of the clergy, the Royal Army officer corps and nobility, which didn't survive the Revolution (both as a dialect and as a class) laid over Norman and Breton French. The standard dialect of France is that of bourgeois Paris, which was and is different.

English Canadians who learn French are essentially taught basic French (which is international and standard) and then proper Quebec French (as exemplified by Radio-Canada and the Montreal French dailies). We turn heads when we go to France and speak French because we're clearly using our second language yet we use a strange French that can't be placed. It's great. Especially when you let loose with classic Quebec idioms. Vive le Canada Francais!

Bob: inasmuch as my ancestors identified themselves as Norman ( Normandy has been integrated into the Royal omain ny the 1300's), languages and customs soon merged as the Filles du Roy brought their Parisian upbringing and dialect with them. And so we came to speak almost court french by the 1680's, so much so that Montcalm in 1759 could say that he had no difficulty speaking with canadian peasants unlike his soldiers who were from the pre-linguistic-unification provinces.
So culture trumped ethnicity.
My ancestors came in 1630 ( on my mother's side, the land is where Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré's Basilica stand now) and 1660 on my father's. My 13th degree cousin still farm that plot on Île d'Orléans. We called ourselves Canadian till the 60's then switched to Québécois. My father distinguish between his political loyalty (Canadien or Canadien-Français) and his cultural identity (Québécois)

As for "acting white" there is also litterature who shows that it depends on the community. The poor one whrer there is not much escape possible tends to adhere to that notion. Those where middle-class life is a distinct possibility seems not to disparage scholastic achievement.

"As for "acting white" there is also litterature who shows that it depends on the community. The poor one whrer there is not much escape possible tends to adhere to that notion. Those where middle-class life is a distinct possibility seems not to disparage scholastic achievement."

I don't disagree. Then again, I'd suggest that there are probably real cultural differences between, say, a poor, black community and a middle-class black neighbourhood (ironically, a much more pronounced difference than would have been the case 60 years ago, when racial segregation, where legal or de facto, was the driving force behind community formation. On that theory, the collapse of the American Black underclass since the early 1960s is not unrelated to the rise of the Black middle-class.

This ties back to one of Frances' ealier post about why culture isn't a great explanation, and one of my comments to it. To my mind, this is an example which illustrates precisely why it's useful, relative to the usual explanatory factors of race or racism. Either you think that the "acting white" phenomenon is a cultural phenomenon on it's own, or it's a symptoms of, or a response to, an underlying economic phenomenon (perceived lack of opportunity, say), but in either case it's a phenomenon that has to be addressed, and we can think about mechanisms of doing that. If your only lens for looking at group underperformance is the race/racism lense, you're missing that whole story.

And using a different version of a language can bring misunderstandings.
"Race" in old french means "family" especially noble ones. "Je suis de la race des Montmorency." Hence "racé" (elegant, well-bred, well-clothed, haughty) and the english "racy" ( the kind of off-color behavior that an aristocrat can get away with.) So the National Assembly in Québec City is "Le Salon de la Race.". Count on the Gazette to misinterpret that...
"Butin" means "what is mine". So a wife wishing to leave a party would tell her husband "Ramasse notre butin" ("Gather our things") So when Duplessis said that Québec wanted its butin, the English media would translate it as "booty" and claim Québec had some pirate mentality. Trudeau (who refused to speak Québec french )famously said that "Québec, that little people of blackmailers...)

Interestingly, the Affirmative Action programme has its blind spots too, language is the biggest one. It's not a factor and I don't know why.

Anglophones as a percentage of the federal Public Service in Quebec are chronically below their portion of the population and labour force, 8% when they should be 13$. Part of the explanation is that competition for federal jobs in Quebec, especially Montreal is intense. Another part is that there is an unfortunate tendency for Francophones to want to work with Francophones, as an extension of the annoying and unfortunate phenomenon that one Anglophone in a group of Francophones turns the Conversation into English (rather like grammatical gender in French). This is doubled in Montreal as Montreal is THE French metropolis in Canada and French-speakers will do anything to work there.

The third part is not getting past the testing phase because you get really poor English translations. BBB English (mid-level) is not enough to write a technical document or ensure that your reading and writing fully expresses the nuance you intend, and conversely cannot ensure you can understand the full nuance of an English passage, or read/write technical English. In other words, it results in a GIGO problem, garbage translation in, garbage response back, and the Anglo fails the merit examination. Which means that Quebec-based federal offices come up short on their English capacity.

I have seen examples of English translations produced by Quebec-based federal offices (not in Gatineau, that doesn't count, that's the National Capital Region) that range from could use improvement to downright deplorable.

But language in Quebec is not a subject we're supposed to talk about.

Bob - on culture, the point is that it's something to be explained, not a deus ex machina to explain or all phenomena.

Jacques Rene - that's fascinating.

Frances, please don't cite "The Mismeasure of Man". Gould was not at all a reliable source on the subject, as domain-experts had noted at the time and more recent scholarship has made clear: http://johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/meta/gould-morton-lewis-2011.html

As for how scientists conceive of race nowadays, I recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates' interview with Neil Risch as a good intro for laymen. None of this to say that government categorization has to make any sense.

My first encounter with the term "visible minority" was rather ironic; a Canadian acquaintance of mine described himself as one (why it seemed worth mentioning is irrelevant here). I hadn't previously thought of him as any kind of minority, and looking at him in light of this new self-description, I was unable to determine what ethnicity he was likely to be (he shaved his head, so no clues from hair, his skin was tan, but not especially dark, and none of his facial features provided any clues I was able to pick up on). However, I didn't voice my doubts about the adjective "visible" in his case.

Wonks - that Ta-Nehisi Coates interview was interesting, thanks for the reference.

Aaron - sounds like a typical Canadian experience!

B.t.w., I'm talking about this on the CBC radio show 180 on Friday at 1:00 (1:30 in Newfoundland).

Frances: on the Québec meaning of "race", this letter in today's Le Devoir by writer Claude Jasmin
"I am proud of my race."

For the fun of it, my reference to the Montmorency family came naturally as my alma mater is Université Laval


established as a learning institution in 1663 by Msgr. François de Montmorency-Laval and elevated to university in 1852. Its arms are those of the Montmorency family with the colors of the charges and field inverted. The moto is that of the family "Deo favente haud pluribus impar" ("By the grace of God, to no one equal".) We always feel a little snooty toward UdM... Does Stephen feel a little bit of that extra pride?

Determinant: the really important documents are produced in Ottawa and I feel the best translators work there and their output is more closely watched. I think that's true in both directions. Is it also possible that it is often more important for the french side to have a translation than the reverse and that as a result translating is more highly valued and attract better people in the english-to-french direction? Would be fun to check that hypothesis.

It still remains today that higly qualified Montreal anglos have more opportunities overall as they have access to the whole canadian market ( among other factors)and so would they be less interested in the civil service, at least in Montreal, they trying to go to better posting in Ottawa? Another thing to check.

It depends on the Department and what you define as "important". Acts of Parliament are written by the Department of Justice in Ottawa and generally very well done, as are regulations.

Departmental websites, regulatory guides, and the other day-to-day products that make Acts of Parliament and Regulations into effect can be authored anywhere. The Department of Health had a particularly bad run in Jean Chretien's day as their website and information support team was moved to Shawinigan. The English translations that team produced were by all reports poor to horrific.

A merit test given to candidates will be based on the website and documents on the website, so quality can and does vary. GIGO.

I lost a PS job to a horrid English translation (I have the test to prove it). The passive reflexive does NOT translate well into English.

IME the worst translations are written in offices that have BBB English and no native English speakers. BBB is enough to have a conversation and write a memo, it isn't enough to write a clear official document in technical English. Somebody passes off the English translation to a person with BBB English, there is no editor and nobody is there with sufficient fluency to challenge the version that gets produced. And this is how **** translations happen.

That problem afflicted the new Quebec Civil Code too, though that is a provincial effort. Under Section 133 Quebec had to produce an English version, which was produced, but upon review Quebec's English bar found the first English version problematic to poor. A volunteer team of English-speaking lawyers took the Code in hand an corrected it. Their effort eventually received provincial financial support.

FWIW I cannot produce a clear document in technical French either, but I know that and I would be asking for editorial help if I had to write in French.

Secondly, spotting grammatically incorrect English versions of commerical websites in Quebec is a hobby of mine. They are a dime a dozen, you can't through a e-baseball in Montreal without hitting one. Some are annoying, some are so bad the thought pops into my mind "why should I do business with you?" The worst was a pharmacy I was thinking of using if I moved to Montreal, which I still hope to do.

It still remains today that higly qualified Montreal anglos have more opportunities overall as they have access to the whole canadian market ( among other factors)and so would they be less interested in the civil service, at least in Montreal, they trying to go to better posting in Ottawa? Another thing to check.

The "rich anglo" trope is dead in Quebec, for Quebec Anglophones in total. In aggregate English speakers earn less income than French speakers currently.

Determinant: for bilingual-bicultural people, such as us, trolling through web sites and technical documents is a sad part of life. The QC Civil Code was a mess.Does it realte to my point that translation is not a high-profile job? Already, in my professionnal youth, it was referred to as a "girl's diploma" and still is, with all the implications...
Anyway, the french version is barely better. When I was a young political attaché at the National Assembly decades ago , it was already well-known that the science of the "légiste" (law-writing) had died with Prof. Pigeon.

The anglophone labor market in Montral is highly-bimodal. If you are a recent immigrant from the anglophone parts of the Caribean or Africa, life is no better than if you are a francophone coming from HaÏti or Sénégal. If you are from the old Anglo-Saxon stock or the long assimilated (Askenazi Jews, Italian and Greeks,)(Sephardic Jews, the Portuguese, South American and North-Africa-Middle-East veer toward french), life is more than ok. Whatever they may rant in the Letters section of the Gazette, life in DDO,Pointe-Claire, Hampstead and Kirkland is as sweet as it is in Nepean or Markham. Each time I visit the part of my family living in Pierrefonds, I fail to see any more distress than in Blainville.

The link to Frances' commentary is available here:


Nice commentary Frances. An additional factor that occurred to me while listening (I think you've posted on this before) is inter-ethnic or interracial marriage. As per this StatsCan report:


The total headcount of official vismins would be increased by intermarriage; in effect, by the "dilution" of the north european gene pool as it were. So an Irish woman marries a Chinese man born in Halifax, and this produces a family of 3 vismins. (Had she married a much more exotic Bulgarian, where the haplogroup mix starts to look pretty west Asian, the result would be nil.) Over time, there is more dilution of the within-country haplogroup mixes through intermarriage, whereas the concept and counting method of vismins implies a dramatic growth in the "minority" population. This is almost the complete opposite of what is happening genetically.

Determinant: for bilingual-bicultural people, such as us, trolling through web sites and technical documents is a sad part of life.

That's the second-nicest thing somebody has said to me this year, and it's only second because it came along second. The first was the casual conversation I had in French with some of the NPD's Quebec delegates at the NDP Convention in Montreal. I was approached, started talking in French, and they continued in French, and I said several paragraphs worth of conversation in French. Unlike the habit where one Anglo turns the conversation English (like French grammatical gender), it stayed in French. I passed. I felt proud of myself for that.

The QC Civil Code was a mess.Does it realte to my point that translation is not a high-profile job?

That's my point, it's not a high profile job in Quebec City (Ottawa is better at producing bilingual legislation) but both language versions of the Code are official. This is retail law, the stuff everybody uses for ordinary purposes, and that's dangerous. Better English was the one way the Civil Code of Lower Canada was better, and only because the CCLC was co-drafted.

Already, in my professionnal youth, it was referred to as a "girl's diploma" and still is, with all the implications...
Anyway, the french version is barely better. When I was a young political attaché at the National Assembly decades ago , it was already well-known that the science of the "légiste" (law-writing) had died with Prof. Pigeon.

Life in Markham isn't that sweet, the cumulative effect of decades of economic change have seen to that, nor in Peterborough, where unemployment hovers at 10%. In both places if you're young you're lucky if you have a precarious contract job.

Anyway, speaking of Anglo Quebeckers and the Public Service, my intuition is that Anglo-Quebeckers go to the Federal government exclusively. Montreal, Gatineau and the Eastern Townships are designated as Bilingual regions for Language of Work purposes, and you have the right to use English both in recruitment phase and at work without restriction. Mind you, this doesn't help if the Selection Board's English is shaky, as I noted above.

Anglophones almost never work for the Quebec Public Service. Under Quebec's own more restrictive definition of Anglophone (first language learned and still understood), only 0.8% of Quebec's Public Service in Anglophone, whereas under this definition Anglophones comprise 8% of Quebec's population. Under the Fed's more comprehensive definition (official language used most often), the ratio is 2.8% in the Quebec Public Service vs. 13% of the population.

This is entirely a result of the fact that the Public Service of Canada permits you to work in English, the Quebec Public Service does not and uses French exclusively.

I was refering to Markham as a generic suburb. You can find some similar stories in the West Island but, for various reasons, QC economy fared a little bit better than ON in the last few years. I wish ON was more prosperous.
Québec Public service works in french, the way SK works in english. But, having worked in the West Island and taught at an english cegep, read the Gazette and listened to CFCF, it is also obvious that for a large number ( not all but still) of Québec anglos, the Québec government is sort of illegitimate or at best irrelevant or an hindrance to their real life. Certainly not something to which you would swear an oath of office. Hospitals, schools and municipalities, yes. The QC government,no. There is for many a psychological barrier that is very difficult for an outsider to fathom but it is there.

Sovereignist Québécois have no cumpunction serving in the Federal Service, even in the military, with the tacit understanding that they will switch their allegiance if and when the time comes,meanwhile serving professionnaly, the way Slovaks and Czechs understood their regime. This is also a state of mind that is difficult for outsiders to understand( the National Post crew is both certain that QC soldiers would fire on crowds after a referendum while being utterly dismayed at the thought they wouldn't).

Québec Public service works in french, the way SK works in english. Citing Camille Laurin, are we? Quebec isn't Saskatchewan. It's more like a better version of Manitoba. And the QPS won't compete with the Public Service of Canada which offers the ability to work in English.

Quebec has far larger (2.5x the size) linguistic minority of any province other than New Brunswick. One that has been in Quebec for 200 years. Quebec was never a solely Francophone province, not since 1760.

The QC government,no. There is for many a psychological barrier that is very difficult for an outsider to fathom but it is there.

I fathom it perfectly, it's one reason my family left Quebec. Think Bill 14. The Quebec Government since the 1970's and Robert Bourassa's first term. The Quebec Government has treated its English minority with a varying mix neglect and disdain for 40 years. It has, at times, under both parties, removed children from English schools for flunking an English proficiency test, attempted to remove the entrenched constitutional rights to use English in the courts and the National Assembly, and engaged in what often appears to be petty squabbling (Pastagate). It also cut off the English minority from the rest of its community in other provinces by terminating the ability for interprovincial migrants to enrol in English schools (reversed over the Quebec government's wishes in 1982, at the same time a French mandate was imposed on the other provinces) and the current government ran on a platform of imposing French language tests on all immigrants to Quebec from outside Quebec in order to have the right to lodge a petition with your MNA. The last proposal was ridiculed as blatantly discriminatory by both the Journal de Montreal and La Presse.

Ontario managed to shove its unreconstructed Orangemen off the stage by the 1960's and Quebec seemed to reincarnate them in the other language.

Quebec has made clear it does not care about its English minority, so why should they care about Quebec?

Or as John A. Macdonald so eloquently put it, the best piece of Canadian political insight ever given:

Treat them as a nation and they will act as a free people generally do - generously. Call them a faction, and they become factious.

He was referring to French Canada but the same equally applies to English Quebec.

What is Matt Gurney's color?

A light brown, the colour of hyperbole, which that article was. Party colour? A Tory, as is the rule at The National Post.

But the Orange Lodge language-bashers, and their modern descendents, have no power in either the federal Conservative Party or the provincial PC parties. They are allowed the foam at the mouth in media editorial spots as a way to humour them and release pressure. They're like the Socialist Caucus (unreconstructed Trotskyites) in the NDP. They're the crazy uncle whom you invite to family dinners but who isn't allowed anywhere near family decisions.

Anyway, if Matt Gurney is the best you can do, I'll see you that and raise you the PQ's platform writers from the last election. As an Anglophone who wants to move to Quebec, loves the place, and who wouldn't benefit from the "grandfather clause" in the Quebec Citizenship test, I was personally insulted and offended. Please see Le Journal de Montreal for how bad the PQ's proposals actually were and their terrible connotations. I have already used one horrid connotation.

The platform writers are more odious because they were writing potential government policy.

Anyway, in contrast I savour the wonderful bilingualism that was the NDP convention in Montreal, and the fact that the PQ has a minority government. In a bow to "Yes, Minister", I love the fact that the PQ got elected and nobody (in other provinces and in Ottawa) cared. The only thing worse for the PQ than losing a Federal/Provincial battle is not having one at all.

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