The Michael Russo case had the unexpected side effect of uniting Anglophones and Francophones in a linguistic case – a rare event, by the way – because Anglophones are disgusted with Rousseau’s words and position.
All the English speakers I know want the French to thrive. In fact, for most English speakers who grew up under Bell 101 (since 1977), French is an important part of their identity. This desire, not only to survive but to develop the French language, is part of the reasons Anglos is so concerned about Bill 96. Because public discussions on the bill focused on a single data point, a small percentage drop, but were ignored. Other important data shows that French does well in Quebec.
Using census data from Statistics Canada, the Society for Canadian Studies produced data comparing the 10-year period from 2006 to 2016. In Quebec, during this period, the English-speaking population (measured as the only language spoken at home) increased 5.07% to 782,185, an increase of 37,755; At the same time, the French population (measured in the same way) increased by 5.77% to 6,375,670, an increase of 347,940.
In households speaking only one language, French rose from 81.1% to 79.0%; However, this is not due to the growth in English but rather to the growth in languages other than French and English, which increased by 13% to 585,885.
Importantly, when the figures are included for people living in households that speak both an informal language and French, during the same ten-year period, the population increased by 111.67%, increasing from 119,285 to 226,100, reflecting the assimilation of immigrants .
The 10-year increase of 467,225 people in Quebec who reported French as their mother tongue (347,940 francophones plus 119,285 non-Francophones) indicates that French is more than just surviving in Quebec.
Quant à la région de Montréal, le pourcentage de personnes vivant dans des ménages uniquement francophones est passé de 67,8 % à 65,9 %, alors qu’il ya eu une augmentation absolue de 238 147 personnes qui ne parlent que le frança the home. On the island of Montreal itself, the decline in French-speaking households was 0.7%, but with an increase of 4,000 speaking only French at home. However, there was an increase from 2.35% to 5.3% of the population who spoke at least one other language and French at home, from about 42,800 to 101,000.
When this number is included, the proportion of Montreal residents speaking French at home increased from 55.2% to 55.3% over those 10 years. These numbers are stable because an increasing number of non-French speakers are not only learning French, but using it as a regular language in their homes. These are mostly the children of immigrants who, because of their education, speak, read and write French much better than the language of their parents.
There is no doubt that French language protections will always be necessary, and the vast majority of English speakers in Quebec share this concern (as indicated, for example, by their critical response to Rousseau). Additional analysis of census data shows that current measures are doing their job: in absolute terms, census data indicate that French is stable on the island of Montreal and is growing around Montreal and throughout Quebec. These statements should be part of the public debate on Law 96.
Christian Bailey Freelance writer, Ph.D. from McGill University
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