Saturday, April 5, 2008

A (relatively) long way for nothing

Today I went across the Ontario/Quebec border to Gatineau to go shopping. I bought nothing in the end. I find going to Gatineau always feels immediately different, largely due to the Quebec law that signs must be in French.
Edited to add (and note I'm not a historian):
Quebec is where the bulk of Canada's French speaking population is concentrated. There are French speaking people throughout the country, but Quebec is where the original colonies of New France were situated, and French is very common there. However, since the French speaking population is vastly outnumbered by English speaking people in North America, the government feels that they need to protect their French language so that it doesn't get lost. As a result, they passed the infamous Bill 101, which requires that all signs be in French. (There may be other parts the bill). Since that would be against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they had to invoke the also controversial Not Withstanding clause. I don't remember the details of that, but basically a government can use it to pass a bill that would otherwise be against the charter. There are other stipulations. It has to be re-evaluated every so many years (5?), for example.
End result? Being Quebec is noticeably different that being in Ontario, even though it's only 25 minutes from my house.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Thanks for clearing that up, and teaching us a little Canadian history.