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Signs of the times in Quebec

The Story

The sign issue under Bill 101 continues to get folks hot under the collar. Over an intimate dinner, four prominent Quebec journalists discuss the politics of bilingual signs. Anglophone journalist Nick Auf der Maur, a columnist for the Montreal Daily News, tells CBC's Terence McKenna that the fuss over signs is largely symbolic. "Whether it's a haberdasher in English or a couturier in French, does it really change anything significantly what the hell a sign says?" Auf der Maur is backed by William Johnson, a columnist for the Montreal Gazette. But Lysiane Gagnon of La Presse and Jean V. Dufresne of Le Devoir say some restriction of English is necessary. Gagnon points out that since Quebec is the only French-speaking society in North America, its language and culture need protection. The discussion comes on the eve of the long-awaited Supreme Court decision regarding signs under Bill 101. 

Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Dec. 12, 1988
Guest(s): Nick Auf der Maur, Jean V. Dufresne, Lysiane Gagnon, William Johnson
Reporter: Terence McKenna
Duration: 9:26

Did You know?

• The sign debate was rekindled when Hans Marotte hung a pro Bill 101 flag over the cross atop Mount Royal. The sign which read "101" was removed after a young anglophone firefighter volunteered to take it down.
• Lysiane Gagnon, now a columnist for the Globe and Mail, was a vocal critic of Mordecai Richler's article in the New Yorker which was an except from his book Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! Gagnon wrote that Mordecai's article had been nasty, erroneous and sloppy.


Fighting Words: Bill 101 more