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The politics of smoked meat and Bill 101

The Story


Schwartz's is world famous for its smoked meat sandwiches. The humble deli has been a Montreal landmark since it opened in 1930. But the name synonymous with smoked meat is facing an uncertain future. Under Bill 101 the "apostrophe s" in the sign hanging over Schwartz's shop is against the law. Schwartz's is not alone. As heard in this CBC Radio clip, many English businesses are nervous about their place in Quebec under the proposed language bill. If the new language bill is passed, everyone must comply with Quebec being a French-only province. That means no more English on commercial and road signs and no more English schools for immigrants. French would be the prevailing language on the province's merchandise, and in government and the workplace. Critics describe the PQ's language bill as fanatical and mean-spirited. But supporters say the bill is necessary in order to preserve French language and culture in Canada. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: May 1, 1977
Guest: Daniel Latouche
Host: Bronwyn Drainie, Warner Troyer
Reporter: Terence McKenna, David James
Duration: 19:17

Did You know?


• Schwartz's kept the offending "apostrophe s" but added Charcuterie Hébraïque de Montreal on its sign.

• Fans of Schwartz's legendary smoked meat sandwiches include singer Céline Dion, hockey player Guy Lafleur and former prime ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien.

• Montreal writer Mordecai Richler in his book Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! (1992) wrote that René Lévesque, in fact, expressed fears that Bill 101 imposed too many restrictions on Quebec's anglophones but didn't insist on amendments.
Levesque


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