Whatever anyone’s opinion of loi 21, the stark terms in which a significant number of English Quebeckers define their opposition—who more than Hampstead’s controversial mayor? (Calls for…, April 10)—predispose them to sentiments of self-exclusion, alienation from the francophone majority and leadership, and disregard of anglophone leadership that seeks to bridge the complex lacuna between Canada’s inherited British and French mores and laws—viz. Charles Taylor.

Whereas many English and some allophone Canadians are predisposed to see prejudice and favoritism in the legislation, many French and allophone Canadians focus on the francophilic principle of laïcité. Certainly Quebec is distinct from France, yet also is in Confederation a distinct society reflective of French heritage and the deep rootstock from there and then to here and now.

Recasting the legal and cultural premises of Bill 21 as insufferable obstruction of guaranteed freedoms rather than acknowledging that this interpretation, however valid, ignores the valid premises stemming from Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité as upheld through much of the Francophonie guarantees perpetuating the two solitudes to the loss of the great and good opportunities of Canadian French-English cooperative development.

Certainly, if I had to choose between the CAQ and the distinctly (prejudicial?) anglophile populism of Ontario’s Conservatives, I’d not blink twice. And what’s the Québecois idiom there?

Jonathan Rau Chaplin


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