A controversial candidate running for Montreal mayor says he believes there is too much English in the city, and that still poses a threat to the survival of French in Quebec.
Michel Brûlé, an author and publisher running under the Intégrité Montréal banner, held a news conference this morning in French only, though he says he does speak English.
“On a symbolic level, it’s very important that the mayor of Montreal speaks French. That is clear,” Brûlé told reporters in French.
While the four main mayoral candidates identify as francophones, all speak English fluently. The four – Richard Bergeron, Denis Coderre, Marcel Côté and Mélanie Joly – participated in an hour-long, English-language debate hosted by CBC and McGill University this week.
Lack of anglophone support was one of the reasons cited by former mayoral candidate Louise Harel when she announced she would not take another run at the mayor’s job this election. Harel has taken lessons in English and, though not fluently bilingual, will respond in English to the media on request.
In contrast, Brûlé has been campaigning on a “100% Français, zero corruption,” platform. While he took questions in English at the news conference, he responded only in French.
Brûlé’s Intégrité Montréal party is running a total of 24 candidates. Brûlé has been fighting for years to protect the French language in the city, even starting a petition to push for more francophone music at Montreal Canadiens' games.
At today's news conference in his Montreal condominium, Brûlé said the majority of anglophones identify themselves with the English-American empire — and empires historically want to dominate.
He said francophones living in New England were forced, at times brutally, to assimilate, and English colonialists were responsible for one of the most significant genocides in history: the attempted elimination of aboriginal people in North America.
“It’s very simple. We live in a North American context where assimilation was destructive,” he said.
“All we want is to feel safe on a linguistic level and not be afraid to lose our language in 20 or 30 years. That’s the reality.”
'The word ‘youpi’ in French has only one ‘p’. The mascot Youppi has two ‘p’s. That’s the reality.”'- Michel Brûlé, Montreal mayoral candidate
He said anglophones aren’t interested in cultures other than their own, pointing to English-language bestseller lists which are dominated by English-language authors.
“There’s a cultural egocentricity,” he said. “If you don’t agree with that, you simply have your head in the sand.”
In Montreal, he pointed to the Montreal Canadiens' mascot, Youppie, as a symbolic example of the subtle anglicism in the city.
“The word ‘youpi’ in French has only one ‘p’. The mascot Youppi has two ‘p’s. That’s the reality.”
In French, "Youpi!" is an interjection similar to "Yippie!" in English.
In the last census, 226,433 Montreal residents identified themselves as anglophone, about 21 per cent of the city’s population.