Montreal a threat to survival of French: lawyer
CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2007
QUEBEC — Guy Bertrand, the flamboyant Quebec City lawyer and hockey fan, took a run at Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu Tuesday for failing “to respect the right of Quebecers to be served in French.”
Mr. Bertrand appeared at the Bouchard-Taylor commission on the integration of immigrants and said he fears Montreal will turn mostly English, as immigrants choose English over French.
“Our survival is threatened by Montreal,” Bertrand told the commission, which extended an open invitation to all interested parties to present their views on accommodating minorities and Quebec's identity.
Later he explained that 40% of immigrants choose English and Montreal now is only 53% French-speaking.
“If we lose Montreal, I am sure it is the end of French Quebec,” Bertrand said. “It is the end of the dream of independence.”
Turning to Mr. Koivu, Mr. Bertrand told reporters that the Finnish player presented a video, introducing his teammates in English only for the Oct. 13 season opener at the Bell Centre.
“I have the right to be served in my language,” he said.
“He has been playing for 12 years (for the Canadiens),” Mr. Bertrand said. “He is married to a francophone. It demonstrates contempt for our language. It is not respectful.”
In fact, Koivu's wife Hanna Norio is from his hometown of Turku, Finland.
“Several people have told me this would not happen in Finland, or in Italy,” Mr. Bertrand continued. “In soccer if you play for Italy, you have to learn the language.”
Mr. Bertrand said he favours immigration, but at present newcomers in Montreal are creating “a new anglophone community of immigrants.”
He cited the existence of Dawson College and Concordia University as places where newcomers can be educated in English.
He also singled out the proposed new McGill University teaching hospital, saying it was “for all the anglophone communities of Montreal.”
In fact the McGill hospitals have French-speaking personnel and serve all Quebecers, regardless of language.
Mr. Bertrand said the only hope for French Quebec is independence and that accommodations for newcomers in an independent Quebec will be decided “in conformity with universally recognized values and principles.”