It doesn’t take much to rile up Quebec’s anglos. Nor does it take much for riled-up anglos to rise to a challenge, often with tongues firmly planted in cheeks.
CJAD broadcaster Aaron Rand has come up with a tongue-in-cheek response to, as he puts it, the “CAQ’s poke in the anglo eye:” He has created the Historic Quebec Anglo T-shirt, in a variety of colours and designs. It is available on Rand’s newly launched Historic Quebec Anglos website, “the unofficial site to help you determine whether you are in fact a historic Quebec anglophone.”
Rand figured this might help deter historic anglos from becoming “hysteric anglos.”
There was much gnashing of teeth and consternation last month when the CAQ government let it slip that anglos would still have English-language access to provincial government services like electricity bills and automated telephone menu options — provided they were part of the “historic English community.”
But where would the burden of proof lie?
I mused this might entail having to produce documentation of having ancestors who fought alongside English Major General James Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham in the Seven Years’ War — which began in 1756 — to qualify. Or perhaps the solution might be in having historic anglos tagged with an ‘A’ on their drivers’ licences or health-care cards, or having their homes dotted with an ‘A’ at the entrance.
Quebec Liberal MNA Carlos Leitão wondered whether historic anglos might have to receive a secret password or handshake from the provincial government.
Montreal comic David Pryde figured this medical affliction could offer all the proof necessary: “A family history of nearsightedness from decades of squinting to read English signs in Quebec.”
CTV’s The Beaverton satirical news gang felt this might do the trick: “Anyone who can prove they are a direct descendant of the angel-faced Irish Orphans from the Heritage Minute.”
Colleague Josh Freed created a quiz that would demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt what constitutes an anglo. To wit: “How many words were in Quebec’s second referendum question?” Answer: “More than six of the 10 Commandments combined, but less than the Declaration of Independence.”
The uneasiness really grew when Simon Jolin-Barrette, the CAQ minister responsible for the French language, vaguely mentioned last month that a “list” would soon be compiled to determine who is part of this historic English community.
Premier François Legault later sought to mollify the situation by saying: “If your parents went to English school, you have rights in Quebec and we will respect those rights. If you’re a new immigrant, you have to talk to (provincial agencies) in French.”
Curiously, there has been precious little talk of lists and the like of late. But Rand points out that the situation is still somewhat murky: “What if you can’t find your parents’ certificates of eligibility? Do you then have to go back to the English school boards to try to find proof? And what if your parents were English-speaking immigrants and didn’t go to school here?”
Rand, who has proof he is an historic anglo, notes that when this issue surfaced reaction was swift:
“Anglos as well as many francos were going: ‘What, are you kidding me?’ They realized what a half-baked idea this was. Then the list never came up again, and when asked about it later, Jolin-Barrette said there was no list.”
Callers to Rand’s afternoon-drive show were generally outraged: “They felt it was beyond silly. Insulting, in fact.”
So Rand decided to have a little fun with this, registered a website and designed a T-shirt, which might help the government recognize who is a historic Quebec anglo.
In just a few weeks, business on the T-shirts is beginning to take off. The T-shirt sells for $20, and all proceeds from sales — after production costs — go to the Gazette Christmas Fund.
Among those sporting the T-shirts are Liberal MNAs Greg Kelley and Leitão. And while he is not wearing it, Christopher Skeete, the CAQ point-man on anglo affairs, can be caught holding it in a photo.
Cracks Rand: “That’s one small step for anglo-kind … “
For more information about the Historic Quebec Anglo T-shirt, visit historicanglos.com.