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A French city no more: Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo credit: Hamit Pena

Quebec: Both French and English in decline due to immigration

Due to demographic changes as a result of immigration, there are more people in Montreal whose mother tongue is neither English nor French.

Published: December 3, 2020, 6:20 am

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    Are French and English disappearing in Quebec? In recent days, the debate has been raging within the Canadian province, reported Courrier International.

    On November 28, hundreds of people marched in Montreal to protest against the decline of French in the city. Indeed, according to the demographer Marc Termote, the use of French there “is experiencing a more marked decline” than announced by the latest forecasts from the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).

    Citing statistics from 2016, he estimated that only 49,6 percent of residents of Montreal reported French as their mother tongue, a figure well below the provincial average of 78 percent.

    The observation was shared by the president of the Association for Canadian Studies Jack Jedwab. “The real change is that there is a greater mix of languages ​​in Montreal than ever before, with demographic shifts due to immigration. In other words, there are more people now whose mother tongue is neither English nor French,” he told CTV News.

    According to Courrier International, the Quebec government was therefore currently working “on an action plan to defend the French language”. In a recent editorial, the daily La Presse called on all parties in Quebec to agree to apply the province’s Charter of the French language including “all the large companies established in Quebec”. The newspaper criticized Premier Justin Trudeau for not supporting this call.

    But Canadians are far from unanimous on this. Liberal MP Emmanuella Lambropoulos thus called into question the decline of French in Quebec. “We hear that the French language is in decline in Quebec. I need to see it to believe it, ” she said in English, before apologizing on Twitter and “acknowledging” her glaring mistake.

    Political scientist Frédéric Bérard prefers noted: “Figures [from the OQLF] indicate that 94 percent of Quebecers are able to conduct a conversation in French.” He added that the percentage had remained stable.

    In any event, a reform of the Official Languages ​​Act in Canada will be presented next year. This federal legislation, which dates from 1969, established French and English as the official languages ​​of Canada. In particular, it obliged all federal institutions to provide services in English or in French depending on demand.

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