Rants Of The Week

Useless ad campaigns

by Joseph Ste. Marie

As I waited on the platform in Metro Place-Des-Arts one day, I noticed a billboard with the Quebec government’s campaign to Gallicize Montreal. It stated, “Un Détaillant Qui Commerce En Français, J’Aime Ça!” and included along the bottom, “Merci De Me Servir En Français.” Basically this campaign is geared towards Allophones and Anglophones; however, here is why I am opposed to the Quebec Liberals’ latest attempt to pander to Francophone voters while insulting our intelligence at the same time.

For starters, every store employee in the province is required to speak French first to customers. Everyone knows that, so why does the government need to waste thousands of dollars to emphasize it when Allophones and the most clueless tourist knows that as well? There are a lot of places in town where employees switch to English if they notice that the customer has a hard time communicating in French. My French is really terrible, but I still try to speak it when I’m buying something or need to ask a question. Most times, the store clerk switches to English because they notice my poor French, and they don’t seem to mind at all.

Two, the campaign is purely for political purposes to score points with nationalist Francophone voters. It’s mostly geared to those who feel the French language is endangered in Quebec. To those reading this who feel that French is threatened dans la belle province, there’s nothing to be worried about. The French language will survive for many decades to come, and if it does become endangered, it won’t be because of an influx of Allophones or Anglophones; it will be because of a public system that has been disrespected for a long time… Education.

The worry has been that Allophones have not been trying to integrate into Quebec society and are not learning French. Yes and no. There are Allophones who are trying to learn to the language, but the problem is the lack of funding and resources from Quebec City. They have contributed, but it’s not enough if there are still people waiting to attend a French course. I remember one person telling me a few years ago that she waited two years to attend a French class for new arrivals. I was stunned to hear that. I don’t know what it’s like now, but that’s what the money should be spent on instead of a public relations campaign that no one will remember in two months.

Premier Charest, this is not the solution to this issue! Billboards telling people what they already know will not preserve the French Language in Montreal in any shape or form, only a better education system and more inclusiveness will.

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