“A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of Rose instead”?
I trust Billy Joel, maybe my favourite musician, singer and lyricist will permit a one-time minor poaching of the opening line of his classic pop rock anthem, Italian Restaurant.
Trust me Billy, I have both cause and reason for so doing.
For the second time in just days, Quebec language coppers, newly emboldened by the presence of a minority Parti Quebecois government occupying power in the “National Assembly”, descended on a popular Italian restaurant waving their ‘French language primacy cheat sheet’ to denounce officially the spelling of the trademarked name “Conti Caffe” in Quebec City. Mais non! Against the law. “Cafe” must have only one “f”. The French spelling. The double-f version is Italian.
It’s not just “Caffe” which raises the hackles of les Gendarmes de la langue francais. Try being a patron of a certain old Montreal tavern. You know what’s consumed at old Montreal taverns, don’t you? Copious amounts of “les suds Molson, Labatt, etc”. Eventually that leads even the most stout of bladder to the water closet, woops WC, woops “toilette”. Oui indeed, les troopers de la langue Francais demanded the letters WC, be removed from this tavern’s relief station and be replaced with “toilette”. Perhaps I should cut the language coppers a tiny bit of slack here. They might have decided “pissoir” to be the required verbiage. A “pissoir” is a public urinal, after all.
This most recent round of language correction began with the now infamous objection to the use of the word “pasta” on the menu of the locals and tourist-favoured Montreal eatery known as Buonanotte. Never mind Montreal has a significantly large community of Italian heritage among whom the Buonanotte pastagate caper generated non-stop angry commentary, the PQ sponsored crackdown on menu usage of “pasta” also resonated throughout the motherland, as Italian media alternated between outrage and derision.
So who could really be to blame for international attention to Quebec’s application of French language primacy legislation? Why, English language media are behind the fuss, seeking to discredit the legitimate aspirations of Bill 101, at least according to the Mouvement Quebec francais president Mario Beaulieu, as reported by Sun Media’s Eric Duhaime.
Of course, we members of English language media have little better to occupy our microphones, laptops and cameras with than reporting on the most recent OQLF (Office Quebec de la Langue Francais) capers. Paranoia can be such an accommodating sidekick.
Madame Marois and her compatriots have tossed the “bits of red rag” as a former PQ Premier once described our national flag into the discard pile in a room where official government trash is kept. Simultaneously they plot strategy for “le prochaine fois”, aka the next referendum on Quebec sovereignty.
Madame Marois, place your ear to the ground. That rumble you’re hearing from locations both East and West of Quebec is the growing voice of Canadians proud of their nation. Canadians who respect and love the principles of freedom enshrined in our Constitution. Canadians who as recently as 1995 massed in Montreal pleading with Quebecers to remain within the national family.
That rumble, Madame Marois, is now those very same Canadians, plus a few more increasingly siding with your objective of a Canada without Quebec. Canadians tired of supporting a bankrupt Quebec economy through billions of sneered at transfer dollars. Canadians who are frankly prepared to wave adieu.
Too bad, really. Canada is a fine country. One which serves as a model for many millions globally. They would love to call Canada their home and queue for years to do so legally.
Quebecers have a decision to make and they should and quickly. Before the rest of Canada does it for them.
Roy Green is the host of Corus Radio Network’s national show – The Roy Green Show, heard locally on weekends on AM900 CHML.