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French And English Relations In Canada - With A Free Essay Review
In the moment Jacques Cartier stepped onto Canadian soil, Canada was destined to be tangled in the endless rivalry between the French and the English. Before the creation of Canada, it was merely a colony that was stuck in a tug-of-war between the French and the British over its possession. The conflict was brought over from Europe to North America. The hostility between the two ethnicities shows no signs of cooling down even after the creation of the country of Canada. The French and English relations have always been strained and the tensions between the two groups have prevented the true unification of Canada. The main causes of this unending conflict are French nationalism, their policy on language rights, and the federal and provincial conflicts.
The French Canadians have always been a small island surrounded by an ocean of English-speaking people, but the French Canadians isolate themselves further with their strong nationalistic views (Behiels 383). The French voiced their opinions constantly throughout Canada’s history, one of which was the Quiet Revolution. The main slogan of the revolution was “Masters of our own house” and the French Canadians no longer wanted to be treated like second class citizens in their own country (Bélanger, Jean 1). They wanted equal status in Confederation because they were a minority against the dominant English speaking provinces. During the 1960s, the province of Quebec was trying hard to catch up with the rest of society by slowly shedding their strict traditional Roman Catholic views and becoming more modernized (Bélanger, Quiet 1). The Liberal government led by John Levage, promised to improve the economic and social status of Quebec and to gain the recognition for the French Canadians (Anderson 1). The irony of the name of the revolution was that it was not at all “quiet”. There were many violent displays of nationalistic views and the FLQ (Front De Libération Du Québec) were mainly responsible for these events. The FLQ was a revolutionary movement, led by people who wanted the separatism of Quebec from Canada and their goal was to promote the independence of Quebec by using terrorism (Laurendeau 1). They were accountable for several bomb attacks, most of which were aimed against federal government property (Behiels 206). The FLQ abducted James Richard Cross, a British trade commissioner, on October 5, 1970. Five days afterwards, they kidnapped Pierre Laporte, the Deputy Premier of Quebec, who was later assassinated by his kidnappers on October 17, in response to the federal government’s War Measures Act (October 1). The month of October of the year of 1970 is referred to as the October Crisis because of the panic it created inside the borders of Canada. The country was once again divided between the people supporting the FLQ, mainly the people in Quebec, and the people supporting the federal government for the War Measures Act, which was the rest of Canada (Behiels 213).
In hopes of filling in the barrier between the two languages, Canada became a bilingual country. After the Quiet Revolution, the Roman Catholic faith and spiritualism were no longer relevant to the modernized people of Quebec. The only remaining characteristic the French Canadians shared was their language (Coleman 183). They felt the need to defend the survival of the language from the dominant English society in order to preserve their identity (Bothwell 153). Canada is populated with roughly 20% of the population who are French Canadians, against the rest of the population who speak either English or another language. The issue of bilingualism is the fact that the whole country has to accommodate for the special one-quarter of the population. The Quebec Board of the French Language (OQLF) or nicknamed the ‘language police’ by the English media are probably the most feared people to business owners. In Quebec, all visible form of writing must be in French, there are strict laws that indicate that the French words have to be visually larger than any other language (Belhiels 403). Maintaining the two official languages do not come cheap with a budget of 2.4 billion dollars a year (Radia 1). Even Canada’s current Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented on the cost of bilingualism in a newspaper article back in 2001, before he was elected as the prime minister.
Many Canadians question the need to go to such extents to keep Canada as a bilingual country. In order to maintain their culture and their identity, the Québécois felt responsible to be the guardian of the French-Canadian identity and in order for it to survive, the French Canadians felt the need to separate themselves from the influence of other cultures (Coleman 77). The Parti Quebecois is an example of a political party that is committed in the independence of Quebec (Fitzmaurice 182). Despite the fact that the province of Quebec has always gotten special treatment, they were not impressed with the federal government’s attempts to please them (Bélanger, Quebec 1). The PQ came to power in the year of 1976 with René Lévesque as the leader. He aimed to overturn the English dominance over Quebec (Bothwell 160). Quebec wanted more provincial power such as having all taxes in Quebec be collected by the Quebec government. In 1961, the Maisons du Quebec was opened and Quebec’s intention was to sign cultural and educational agreements with France, the federal government quickly intervened. The tension between the federal government and the rebelling Quebec government became higher after this event (Deroucher 1). Since the majority of the French Canadian population lives in Quebec, they felt responsible for them. Quebec wanted to become the national government of the French Canadians (Bélanger 1).
Was the fate of the never-ending French-English feud decided when France was defeated by the British and Canada was handed over to British regime? Ever since then, the French Canadians were forever bitter about being under the shadow of the English. Their different views on nationalism, language and politics, resulted in a divided country. Canada can never be truly a country until the relationship between the French and the English resolve.
I found the first paragraph confusing because, on the one hand, you seem to want to claim that the tension between English- and French-speaking Canadians is rooted in a long history of acrimony between the English and the French, whereas on the other hand you seem to want to lay blame for the tension predominantly on today’s French-speaking Canadians. A similar kind of problem can be seen shortly thereafter: on the one hand, the French Canadians are victims (they are surrounded by the English-speaking people and allegedly treated like second-class citizens) and on the other hand they are the cause of the problem, with their “strong nationalistic views.” The value of these opening several sentences is that they have a reasonably strong argumentative quality. What they implicitly show is the complexity of the issue, even if some of the sentences (identifying the French Canadians unambiguously as the guilty party) seem to deny that complexity.
From that point on the essay loses its strong argumentative drive and devolves into a more or less desultory presentation of historical facts whose significance you generally leave your reader to decide. You have a long passage on the FLQ intended to demonstrate the role of radical nationalism in the perpetuation of tensions between the two Canadian cultures, but you don’t explain how extensive support for the FLQ was in Quebec, or make any specific claims about how the actions of the FLQ helped to foster distrust or animosity between the French- and English-speaking Canadians. Your section on language is even less explicitly related to your argument concerning the continuing tensions. You make several factual claims, but you don’t explain their significance to your reader. Is the fact that some businesses in Quebec fear the OQLF related to the general tensions between French- and English-speaking Canadians? How does the fact that Prime Minister Harper commented on the cost of bilingualism help a reader understand those tensions?
Generally, then, your argument seems incomplete: you present factual claims in the form of evidence but don’t explicitly link the evidence to the argument you want to defend. I should also note that I think your argument appears to be a bit tendentious (especially when you say things like “the province of Quebec has always gotten special treatment”; even if that kind of statement were true, it wouldn’t necessarily help advance understanding the nature of the conflict. You do not need to inform your reader of your personal feelings about Quebec; all you need to do, and should do, is make a straightforward, methodical, rigorous, and neutral argument.