Have any of you been to Ottawa or Toronto over the last few years?
Did you drive or simply fly on a government jet, be picked up in a limousine subsidized by the Quebec taxpayer, and taken directly to your destination?
Did you actually look out the window?
Did you SEE what is happening?
Did you actually pay attention, or was it just so much noise?
Did you see the skyline in Toronto?
Did you walk on the streets?
Did you hear the multitude of languages being spoken?
Did you see the International Big-Name designer shops lined up along Bloor Street, all full with paying clients, or notice that they are moving into larger and larger premises to accommodate the booming local market?
In looking out the windows from my corner unit on the 34th floor at the corner of Bay and Bloor, my view is increasingly blocked by the sea of mind-numbingly expensive condos being built on every street. Many start at the staggering amount of $6 million, and go up exponentially the higher the floor, and the larger the unit. There isn’t one, but a multitude of them, and more being started as far as you can see, and I can see for miles and miles in several directions, as I look out over the north and western parts of the city.
The city is awash with massive construction cranes, some areas such as the Harbourfront are wall to wall construction cranes and massive new towers.
Walking on the street in Montreal one hears what has to be some of the most appallingly spoken French in the world, yet we continue to pass restrictive laws to protect it, all the while, business is following the path of least resistance, and is heading to Toronto in droves, where it flourishes in a multitude of languages, without the constant cost and aggravation imposed by the ludicrous and restrictive language laws in Quebec. Why on earth should a Chinese company employing Chinese speaking people be legislated to do business in French because they employ over 50 people? Well, not in Toronto, they are open for business, and language is NOT an issue.
I am in Toronto monthly, and due to the nature of my business, find myself constantly in a new area of the city. Every time I am amazed at the exponential growth and wealth in the city. Coming back to Montreal all one sees is decaying bridges and roads.
The shops on Bloor are so populated at times, that they actually run out of stock of the ‘hot’ items, yet these same shops no longer have a presence at all in Montreal which speaks volumes as to the disappearance of wealth from the province.
Montreal used to be the Banking centre of Canada, and now all the head-offices have relocated to Toronto, not having to worry about protectionism, and free to do business. Instead of French, one goes to an ATM and sees Cantonese, Mandarin and a variety of other languages, to serve their clients, depending on the area of the city. It can just as easily be Portuguese as anything…
Tourists and residents in Quebec are treated poorly by surly public servants and obnoxious shop clerks who want to assert their right to speak French, yet don’t think that the person in front of them could be a wealthy tourist, or even better, a wealthy individual looking at the city with an eye of moving and investing in it, opening a business, creating jobs. This short-sighted behaviour has them all scurrying down the 401 to more pleasant climes, and cities that are ‘open for business’ regardless of the language. As the old adage goes, money talks and money walks, and it hasn’t just walked but run away from this province.
When is someone going to wake up and make Quebec a pleasant, happy, multilingual place to live and do business, where we encourage new business and innovation, without outrageous and outmoded language legislation?
Why can’t we follow the EU model, and have a population speaking 4 languages…..or even more….multilingualism certainly hasn’t harmed the hundred million or more people in the European Community….