Thursday, 17 January 2013

Man At The Quebec License Bureau (SAAQ) Humiliated In Front Of His Family For Speaking English

Born and raised in Egypt, Mohamed Amin was excited to come to Canada 1.5 years ago to begin his life with wife Camilla. Weighing his options, Canada seemed to be the best fit for his life and family. Mohamed decided that Quebec would be the province he would settle into. His wife had convinced him that Canada was a place where freedom of choice and liberty were paramount.

Not too long after Mohamed began his life in Montreal, he quickly got a sense that something was very wrong. From being ignored by the bus drivers, to being talked down to by the metro workers and store clerks, he began to feel that speaking English in Montreal was not going to be an option.

Mohamed then enrolled in French courses offered by the government and was put into level two French. Mohammed struggled through the course as the teacher was unable to speak to him in English to facilitate his learning. When he asked for explanations in English, the teacher promptly told him, “On est au Québec, on parle français.”

Along the way, Mohamed was reminded of this very fact over and over again. Mohamed remarked, “It started to feel like the teachers took a course on how to repeat this same sentence over and over again as if to brainwash us new immigrants. I have heard it too many times to count.”

Recently his experience took a turn for the worse at the SAAQ (Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec), located at 6900 Décarie, in Côte St. Luc, QC, when transferring a vehicle license. After having waited for their number to be called up, his wife Camilla approached the attendant and  first spoke to them in English. The attendant replied back to her in French. The couple made their best efforts to understand the contract and fine print legalities in French. When asked to have one part explained in English, they heard “the famous line” yet again, “Ici on est au Québec, on parle français.”

A confused Mohamed asked why he couldn’t get services in both official languages as he had understood when accepting his Canadian citizenship. At this point the SAAQ attendant pressed the NEXT button ignoring Mohamed completely and failing to provide the service his tax dollars pay for.

According to Mohamed, this experience left him feeling humiliated in front of his wife and daughter. It disappointed and ruined his day. He could not believe what had happened to him and reflected on all the experiences of discrimination he had endured this past year and a half in what he would describe as “A culture of hate.”

Mohamed told us, “I feel that in Quebec, the only way you can feel normal or fit in is if your first language is French. That is the only way to feel normal, if your first language is not French you are made to feel like an outcast. When I am repeatedly told I must speak french because I am in Quebec,  it’s as if I am being told we serve only whites here. I cannot believe this is happening in 2013 and in a free country like Canada.

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  1. This is really sad ..but am sure there is some legal action that can be taken?

    1. Where do you live? This IS the law. Born here 70 years ago there has hardly been a day without an incident of this sort for my family since 1976.

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  3. French speaking people from Quebec are stupid that is why

  4. Imagine a French-speaking immigrant moving to Toronto, and being supprised that parking atendants and bus drivers in Toronto won't speak French to him, and some even daring to inform him that most people in Toronto speak English. Oh the horror of it...

  5. There are some problems with this story. First of all, we're told that this guy arrived here a year and a half ago and we are also told that he has already received his Canadian citizenship. This is impossible seeing as you have to have been a resident for at least three years before you can apply for citizenship. Secondly, speaking as a former language teacher, I can tell you that insisting that the target language be the only language spoken in the classroom is standard procedure. Here it is presented as some weird, intolerant, Quebec thing. I seriously doubt that his teacher would justified it with "Ici on est au Québec, on parle français."

    So, either this guy is a liar and a person who sees discrimination in everything or this is a badly conceived (and written) propaganda piece. In any case, the official language of Quebec is French. If you immigrate to Italy and go to the Italian version of the SAAQ, you may find someone willing and able to help you out in English but don't count on it. It's up to you to learn their language. The same thing goes for Quebec and French.

    One thing is certain, if you are a one-language type of person and you don't give a rat's ass about any other languages then you'd better be an Anglo from English Canada. No one bothers a unilingual Anlgophone in Ontario but a unilingual Francophone in Quebec is by default an intolerant racist. That has been the propaganda line used by Anglo supremacists for a long time. The Anglo supremacists wants Quebecers to be an ethnic minority tolerated within the great Canadian mosaic. The fact that we aspire to be more than that is intolerable to them. The need to denigrate our legitimate desire to be an independent nation and make it seem as something reprehensible.

    You could easily find immigrants or Native people in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary or Vancouver that would gladly tell you about the racism they face on a daily basis but no one really cares. The Anglo supremacist certainly doesn't. He is only interested in racism when he can use it to tarnish Quebec and if an immigrant dare to join the ranks of Quebec sovereignist then the Anglo supremacist has no problem spewing his racist hated against them as people like Makka Koto or Osvaldo Nunez have seen many times in the past.

  6. When I was in Germany, and the rent contract for a room was only in German, I didn't ask for a French version, I just signed it. How come he has been in Montréal for one year and half and didn't learn basic French yet? Just get an interpreter then.