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Use of French at home is only one indicator of language health: Quebec demographers

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MONTREAL — Language and immigration politics were back at the forefront in Quebec’s national assembly last week, as Premier François Legault drew criticism for sounding the alarm over a decline in the number of people who speak French at home.

Legault declared on Wednesday that “nobody could deny” French is in decline, saying fewer Quebecers were speaking the language at home as well as at work.

His comments — which came after a weekend speech in which he said the survival of the Quebec nation depended on the province gaining greater control over immigration — sparked fiery rebukes from opposition politicians, who accused him of scapegoating immigrants who might speak their first languages at home even if they’ve learned French.

Demographers who spoke to The Canadian Press agreed that French is declining slowly but said the portrait is complex and reversing the trend is even more so.

Liberal immigration critic Saul Polo urged Legault to retract his statements, saying “the language spoken at home should not be the premier’s business.”

“Go tell the Armenian community, which is here for five generations, that fled a genocide; go tell the Lebanese community, which fled civil wars; the Cambodian community, the Colombian community, who don’t have French as a first language, that we represent a threat to Quebec,” he said in the legislature.

Legault, meanwhile, said the language spoken at home is one indicator his government considers, insisting his government’s sole goal was to ensure French remains Quebec’s common language.

“If there’s nobody in Quebec who speaks French at home, it means French will eventually disappear,” he told a news conference in Quebec City.

Alain Bélanger, a demographics professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, says it’s clear that the number of people who speak French at home is declining because of an increasing number of immigrants who are allophone — whose mother tongue is neither English nor French.

He said that while it’s an indicator of French levels, a far more important measure is whether children of immigrants integrate into French or English.

“It’s not so bad if allophones, whether Spanish, Arabic, Punjabi or Tagalog, continue to use their language at home,” he said. “What’s more important is the second generation that has to choose between English and French.”

Bélanger says that while more immigrants are choosing French than English — about 60 per cent — it isn’t enough to maintain the linguistic balance in the province, which could require closer to 90 per cent.

He said the result is an overall decline in the French language — one that is very slow but is tough to reverse.

“Demographics are like an ocean liner, not a canoe,” he said. “It doesn’t turn on a dime.”

Calvin Veltman, a retired sociolinguist and demographer who taught at Université du Québec à Montréal, takes a more optimistic view. While he agrees French has declined slightly since 2001, he believes the integration of immigrants into French-speaking society has been a “remarkable success.” A large part of that success is due to Bill 101’s requirement that children of immigrants attend school in French.

He takes issue with how many people analyze language data, saying they tend to exclude from the francophone group allophones who speak French as well as their first language at home.

He said the oft-cited 60 per cent number of immigrants who integrate into French includes those who arrived long ago and their children. By his calculations, about 75 per cent of the immigrants who have arrived in the province since 2001 have chosen French over English — which is probably as high as it will ever get, in his opinion.

Statistics Canada found that as of 2016, 94.5 per cent of the Quebec population was able to carry on a conversation in French. The number of people who spoke French at home was 87.1 per cent, similar to the previous census, but the survey also reported that families were increasingly likely to speak another language as well.

However, projections released in 2017 found that the proportion speaking French at home could go from 82 per cent in 2011 to around 75 per cent in 2036. Meanwhile, English spoken at home could rise from 11 per cent in 2011 to 13 per cent in 2036.

Both Veltman and Bélanger noted that official statistics don’t always present a clear picture of what’s happening.

Veltman said there is a large group of people who speak both French and English at home and who can be hard to categorize.

“We’re becoming a much more bilingual society,” he said. “If that’s dangerous to French, I don’t know.”

Bélanger, for his part, questions the 94.5 per cent French rate. He noted that there was widespread opposition in the anglophone community to a recent proposal requiring students at English-language junior colleges to take three of their core classes in French — which suggests the bilingualism level of many English-speakers isn’t very high.

Marc Termote, a retired professor at Université de Montréal, believes the fundamental problem of language decline will be nearly impossible to avoid because French Quebecers have so few children.

However, he said the process will take centuries, not decades, because of the strong measures in place. He said it’s “unthinkable” that Quebec will become another Louisiana, where French has all but disappeared — a comparison evoked by Legault last week.

“I can’t imagine he really thought that in 50 years we’ll be at two per cent of francophones in Quebec,” he said of Legault.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2022.

 

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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How to play online casinos with minimal investment

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If you walk into a traditional brick-and-mortar casino, you have to buy a minimum number of chips. Similarly, in online casinos, you need to deposit a minimum amount to begin playing. Some casinos have a minimum low deposit, known as the minimum deposit casinos that remain on top of the players’ list. A minimum deposit casino is the one that charges less than 10 units of any currency, be it euro (€), dollar ($), or pound (£).

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Best for the new games and new gamers

Gambling carries an element of risk. The more you play, the more are your chances of losing money. With minimum low deposit casinos, you can play more for less, and would be saved from blowing all your bankroll in a single session. Also, look at online reviews of the casinos by real users, and be careful about withdrawal requirements. Avoid casinos that have a low minimum deposit but high withdrawal requirements. You will certainly not like to lock your money because of the casino’s wagering requirements. You can play plenty of games on the low minimum deposit casinos without worrying that there is a lot of money that you can’t withdraw. You can have more fun and games playing for real money without risking too much. Minimum deposit casinos are best for those who are new to the world of online casinos and online gaming, and want to test the waters.

 

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All three levels of government, police, organizers granted full standing on inquiry

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OTTAWA — The commissioner of the inquiry examining Ottawa’s use of the Emergencies Act to bring an end to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protest in February has granted standing to the organizers, police and representatives of all three levels of government.

The decision by Paul Rouleau means those granted standing will be given advance notice on information submitted into evidence before the inquiry, and also gives them certain privileges, such as the opportunity to suggest or cross-examine witnesses.

Those granted full standing in the public inquiry include the federal, Alberta and Saskatchewan governments, the cities of Ottawa and Windsor, Ont., the Ottawa Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police and the organizers of the convoy, including Tamara Lich, Tom Marazzo and Chris Barber.

Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly will be allowed to produce documents, make submissions on factual, evidentiary and policy-related issues and examine witnesses, and the Manitoba government has been granted permission to provide written submissions.

However, Rouleau denied standing to the Conservative Party of Canada and several participants of the protests, some of whom had their bank accounts frozen under the Act.

Rouleau said it is important that the inquiry remain an independent, non-partisan process, noting there is also the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the Declaration of Emergency reviewing the use of the Act’s powers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Ottawa police say they're ready to shut down Canada Day occupation attempts – CBC.ca

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Ottawa city officials say they are prepared for a “unique” Canada Day, with plans to keep anti-government protests from turning into another occupation.

The traditional nationally broadcast shows are returning for the first time since 2019, this time from the plaza in front of the Canadian War Museum because of ongoing construction on Parliament Hill.

Ottawa police say they expect more protests and larger crowds than usual during Canada Day celebrations as groups related to the Freedom Convoy continue to plan demonstrations. Some in those groups have indicated they’d like to protest through July and August.

“This is expected to be a unique Canada Day, with larger crowds and a larger event footprint,” interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell said during a Monday news conference.

WATCH | Interim police Chief Steve Bell talks about plans for Canada Day 

Police promise ‘swift and decisive’ action against any Canada Day occupation attempts

13 hours ago

Duration 0:37

Steve Bell, interim Ottawa police chief, says protesters will not be allowed to set up structures like sheds or tents, or have their own dance parties on city streets.

“We’ve developed our plans in the shadow of the unlawful protests and Rolling Thunder event. We’ve been speaking with community members and businesses and we’re very aware of the lingering trauma and concern about what they’re hearing after those events.”

Bell said officers will allow legal protests while shutting down illegal activities, including setting up structures or speakers without a permit and the threat of occupation, like on downtown streets in the winter.

He said police have been following online commentary and trying to talk to people who’ve said they’re coming to protest.

Two police officers escort someone away.
Police take a person into custody as they worked to clear an area on Rideau Street during a convoy-style protest participants called Rolling Thunder in Ottawa April 29, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

“[We’ve] planned, we’re prepared and we have the resources,” Bell replied when answering a question about whether police were ready to step in again like they did in late April, when attempts to gather near the Rideau Centre mall were shut down by officers.

Provincial police and the RCMP have offered help to shut down occupation attempts as long as there’s a risk, he said.

The Ottawa Police Services Board received an update on plans for Canada Day when it met Monday evening.

Bell spoke about the toll recent months have taken on officers, noting the demand is not “sustainable” and describing police as “fatigued” ahead of the long weekend.

“For this event we’ve actually had to cancel days off, we’ve cancelled discretionary time off, called people back from annual leave,” said the chief. “This is an all hands on deck event, but that has a cost on the health and wellbeing of our members.”

At least 5 days of traffic control

Last week, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told people thinking of coming to the capital “not to be intimidated by individuals who may be coming to Ottawa to cause trouble.”

He said Monday he wants this to be a safe, festive event for children and families and that people who “come to disrupt” will be dealt with, without a warning.

Bell told the police board that the force has been clear with its expectations for demonstrators, and that harassment won’t be tolerated.

“If there is a hate or bias crime incidents, if there’s intimidation or threats, we will actively investigate those,” he said, adding police know residents have “scars” from the occupation.

“I want to reassure you that those feelings, that trauma that our community has felt is front and centre in all of our planning efforts and will be front and centre in our response efforts.”

Overall, Bell said police are expecting hundreds of thousands of people downtown. For comparison, an estimated 56,000 people went to the shows on Parliament Hill in 2019 and that doesn’t count everyone celebrating nearby.

About 16,000 people attended the noon show on the Hill in 2019. (CBC News)

There will be the traditional Canada Day road closures Friday July 1 and early Saturday, though there are more closures near LeBreton Flats because of that change in show location.

But Ottawa police are establishing another “vehicle exclusion zone” — similar to what was set up in late April for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally — with no street parking at all and no protest vehicles allowed in from 8 a.m. this Wednesday until at least 6 a.m. on Monday, July 4.

A map of police checkpoints in Ottawa.
Ottawa police are controlling access to these parts of downtown, including two river bridges. All vehicles that aren’t involved in rallies or protests will be allowed in, the city says, but drivers cannot park on the street. (City of Ottawa)

Those plans may change if needed, officials said Monday. People are asked to plan ahead, expect delays and check city pages and local media for updates.

OC Transpo and Société de transport de l’Outaouais service is free July 1 and when it comes to OC Transpo, until 4 a.m. July 2.

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