Last August, the president of the Commission of the Estates General on the Situation and the Future of the French Language in Quebec, Gérald Larose, an ex-union leader and PQ apparatchik, presented his report to the minister of culture and to the media. This commission was created in June 2000 by then-Premier Lucien Bouchard to calm down the PQ radicals of Montreal who were concerned about the erosion of the French language on the Island of Montreal. In fact, with massive immigration, the low birth rate of French Canadians and their exodus from the island to the suburbs, the French-speaking people constitute now just 55 per cent of Montrealers. In a few years, the French-speaking people will be a minority in the new megacity of Montreal. This is a real danger for French- Canadian nationalists. They know that when they are a minority in Montreal, the battle will be lost for Quebec survival and independence, since half of Quebec’s population lives in greater Montreal and economic life is concentrated there.
Instead of facing the real demographic problem of a dying French Canadian nation, the Larose Commission proposed a new notion of citizenship, an “inclusive” Quebec citizenship. The Quebec government would create a Quebec citizenship in order to integrate immigrants to the French-speaking community. It was the old dream – to save French culture in Quebec through immigration. In 1977, the purpose of Bill 101 was to impose an artificial French façade on Quebec and to oblige the immigrants’ children to attend French schools. These authoritarian solutions have proved to be insufficient to save the French culture. Polemics against” evil” Canadian citizenship that creates confusion in the mind of the “good” immigrants is also a useful diversion from the real issue. The “bad” federal system is always the culprit.
Contrary to the PQ ideologues, University of Montreal demographer Jacques Henripin has proclaimed since the 1970s that there is no future for French Quebec without a revival of the birthrate. He affirms: “To use immigration as a substitute for a weak fertility, is to give an essential function to something that should have an auxiliary function. When the immigrants substitute births in a massive way, the host society will gradually be replaced by the newcomers and will eventually disappear” (Naître ou ne pas être). In fact, even the PQ project of the integration of the immigrants is impossible without a critical mass of French Canadians to integrate them. In Montreal, where all immigrants arrive and live, this critical mass is now lacking.
Gérald Larose, a defrocked Redemptorist priest, won’t recognize the real source of the language crisis in Quebec: the victory of the culture of death. Even the Quebec bishops do not dare speak about these real and fundamental problems: family crisis (Quebec has the highest rate of divorce in Canada), abortion (38,000 in 1998, the result of a steady increase in the number of annual abortions since 1970), the contraceptive mentality (lowest birth rate in Canada), and suicide (highest rate for young men in Western World). The solution is simple; as Pope John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its own children has no future.” The PQ leaders cannot see the evidence that Quebec is following a path to cultural genocide.
The present government is still very proud of its progressive “family policy,” adopted under Premier Lucien Bouchard, with its $5-a-day daycare policy which discriminates against women who choose to stay at home to take care of their children (their allowances were cut to fund this service).
It is ironic that the most nationalist Quebec governments were the most harmful for the survival of a French- Canadian culture. When the PQ took power in 1976, Henry Morgentaler declared that Montreal had become the “Mecca of abortion in Canada.” Surprisingly, the Liberal premier Bourassa tried to increase the Quebec birthrate at the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s with bonuses for the birth of Quebec babies, particularly the third and the fourth child.Since the Quiet Revolution, Quebec has been a flock without shepherds. For an ex- “priest-ridden province,” (as the radicals used to say) the shock was terrible and will be, perhaps, fatal. We could compare Quebec with other Catholic nations in the world such as Spain, Italy and Portugal. Adaptation to post-modern culture has been particularly difficult for these societies without the support of a strong church and a Catholic state. Is there a future for the French culture in Quebec and in Canada? I dare to say against the “multiculturalist” visionaries of the Larose Commission that it depends firstly on the capacity of French-Canadian culture to undertake a moral and intellectual reform towards the victory of the culture of life in Quebec.