Doctoral candidate in Economic History at the London School of Economics
For some time, there has been a chorus of calls to curb the number of immigrants admitted annually into Québec, in the name of protecting the French language. These demands are based on a belief that the French language is threatened. These fears were fed by appointments of unilingual Anglophones, as a judge of the Supreme Court, as Auditor General, and as a senior manager of the Caisse de Dépôt et Placements du Québec. According to the adherents of this proposition, reducing the number of immigrants would help to better integrate those who have already arrived. Thanks to an agreement between Québec and the federal government that allows it to select immigrants according to its own needs, such a reduction in the number of new immigrants would in fact be possible.
However, closer study of the facts should make us more optimistic and less likely to see immigrants as a threat to the future of the French language. After all, immigrants, who rarely have French or English as a mother tongue and who are therefore “allophones”, have never been so numerous in preferring French as their language of use and language of instruction. Knowledge of French has also advanced among people with English as their mother tongue. These advances are due to the economic and social attraction that French exerts in Québec.
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