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Two and a Half Solitudes: Shared Language Versus Shared Geography in the National Capital Region

Two and a Half Solitudes: Shared Language Versus Shared Geography in the National Capital Region

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Published by: Roberta Pennington on Oct 22, 2012
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05/31/2014

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Jack  Jedwab   October  2012      

—  Does  the  possession  of  a  common  language  trump  geography  when  it  comes  to  issues  of  

identity,  intergroup  relations  and  perceptions  about  the  condition  of  minority?  Rarely  is   the  question  subjected  to  a  better  test  than  in  the  Canada’s  National  Capital  Region   where  francophones  live  in  relatively  close  proximity  across  the  Quebec  and  Ontario   borders  where  in  former  the  French  language  population  represents  the  majority  in   Gatineau,  Quebec  and  the  minority  in  the  Ottawa,  Ontario.  Very  often  separated   geographically  by  only  a  few  kilometres  francophones  on  either  side  of  the  Ontario/ Quebec  border  live  under  different  legislative  regimes  when  it  comes  to  language.  Not   only  does  the  legislation  differ  but  the  message  directed  towards  language  communities   is  also  different  and  this  is  also  the  case  for  immigrants  and  ethnic  minorities  as  regards   their  respective  process  of  adaptation.  The  degree  of  commuting  between  the  groups   across  the  provincial  border  makes  perhaps  for  the  most  mixed  of  messages  when  it   comes  to  issues  of  language  and  cultural  diversity  and  it  also  gives  rise  to  divergent   perceptions  around  the  condition  and  presence  of  English  and  French  respectively   depending  on  where  one  resides  and  how  they  understand  their  surrounding   environment.  Does  a  shared  language  trump  geography  when  it  comes  to  the   perceptions  of  francophones  on  opposed  sides  of  the  provincial  border?  As  we  shall   observe  it  does  on  matters  of  national  identity  as  well  as  on  language  issues  but  to  a   lesser  degree.  The  study  is  important  not  only  as  an  example  of  how  minorities  and   majorities  share  a  common  space  but  also  in  the  Canadian  context  over    how  well   bilingualism  works    in  the  capital  part  of  the  country  which  in  effect  possesses  symbolic   importance  for  the  rest  of  the  country  as  regards  the  importance  of  official  languages.    

—  The  survey  was  conducted  via  web  panel  by  the  firm  

Leger  Marketing  for  the  Association  for  Canadian   Studies.  Some  627  respondents  were  surveyed  in  the   National  Capital  Region  with  some  350  anglophones   on  the  Ontario  side  of  the  National  Capital  Region,   100  francophones  on  the  Ontario  side  of  the  NCR  and   150  francophones  on  the  Quebec  side  of  the  NCR.  The   survey  was  conducted  in  the  first  week  of  July,  2012.   As  it  was  conducted  via  the  web  panel,  the  margin  of   error  is  probabilistic  and  thus  an  equivalent  telephone   survey  done  in  the  national  capital  region  would  have   a  margin  of  error  of  5.9  points  9  times  out  of  ten.    

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Please indicate whether you feel very attached, somewhat attached, not very attached or not at all attached to each of the following: / Canada Somewhat attached Total Attached Very attached 19.9% 40.4% 60.3 71.2% 59.6% 70.1% 23.3% 23.4% 23.4% 94.5 83.0 93.5%

Having a bilingual National Capital Region is an important source of pride Strongly agree 37.1% 17.2% 56.3% 21.2% Somewhat agree 35.8% 25.0% 29.2% 25.4% Total Agree 72.9 42.2 85.5 46.8

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Everyone in the NCR should speak both English and French Somewhat agree 23.7% 19.1% 22.9% 19.5%

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 53.9% 12.1% 54.2% 16.3%

Total Agree 77.6 31.2 77.1 35.8

Everyone in the NCR should understand both English and French Somewhat agree 28.3% 23.8% 27.7% 24.2%

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 59.9% 13.0% 57.4% 17.4%

Total Agree 88.2 36.8 85.1 41.6

Not enough is being done in the schools in the NCR to help children learn the other official language.

Quebec

French English French Total

Strongly agree 42.8% 17.0% 33.3% 18.6%

Somewhat agree 33.6% 25.5% 29.2% 25.8%

Somewha t disagree 8.6% 20.5% 16.7% 20.1%

Strongly disagree 3.3% 18.6% 2.1% 16.9%

I don't know 11.2% 15.8% 16.7% 15.9%

Ontario

To be successful in the NCR it is essential to learn the other language.

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 42.8% 29.5% 56.3% 32.2%

Somewhat agree 34.2% 32.8% 29.2% 32.4%

Somewhat disagree 14.5% 20.5% 8.3% 19.3%

Strongly disagree 2.0% 12.5%

I don't know 6.6% 3.8% 4.2%

11.2%

3.8%

Speaking both official languages is important when seeking employment in the NCR Strongly agree 62.3% Somewhat agree 29.1% Somewhat disagree 5.3% Strongly disagree 1.3% I don't know 2.0%

Quebec

French

Ontario

English French Total

40.7% 66.7% 43.3%

35.7% 27.1% 34.8%

9.9% 4.2% 9.3%

10.4%

2.4% 2.1%

9.3%

2.3%

Only those who grew up in a French environment will ever become proficient enough to meet the bilingualism criteria of the federal… civil service

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 21.1% 22.6% 29.2% 23.3%

Somewhat agree 43.4% 27.8% 16.7% 26.7%

Somewhat disagree 21.7% 24.5% 35.4% 25.6%

Strongly disagree 7.9% 20.0% 14.6% 19.5%

I don't know 5.3% 3.8% 2.1% 3.6%

French is on the decline in the NCR

Quebec French Ontario English French Total

Strongly agree 19.2% 5.9% 19.1% 7.2%

Somewhat agree 49.0% 17.3% 25.5% 18.1%

Somewha t disagree 14.6% 30.7% 34.0% 31.1%

Strongly disagree 2.0% 26.2% 6.4% 24.3%

I don't know 15.2% 17.3% 12.8% 16.8%

More than ever, I hear French spoken in Ottawa Strongly agree 3.3% Somewhat agree 19.2% Somewhat disagree 51.7% Strongly disagree 17.2% I don't know 7.9%

Quebec

French

Ontario

English French Total

19.4% 12.5% 18.7%

35.7% 29.2% 35.0%

21.7% 29.2% 22.5%

8.7% 8.3% 8.7%

12.3% 18.8% 13.0%

More than ever, I hear English spoken in Ottawa

Quebec

French

Strongly agree 27.3%

Somewhat agree 45.3%

Somewhat disagree 18.0%

Strongly disagree 8.0%

I don't know .7%

Ontario

English French Total

5.4% 17.0% 6.6%

15.5% 25.5% 16.5%

20.7% 14.9% 20.1%

21.6% 6.4% 20.1%

33.9% 34.0% 33.9%

More than ever, I see French on public signs in Ottawa Strongly agree 3.9% Somewhat agree 19.1% Somewhat disagree 39.5% Strongly disagree 18.4% I don't know 12.5%

Quebec

French

Ontario

English French
Total

25.5% 19.6% 24.9%

25.5% 39.1% 26.8%

22.9% 19.6% 22.6%

8.3% 6.5% 8.1%

15.6% 13.0% 15.3%

More than ever, I see English on public signs in Gatineau

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 22.0% 2.8% 8.5% 3.4%

Somewhat agree 30.7% 9.4% 19.1% 10.4%

Somewha t disagree 35.3% 24.8% 17.0% 24.0%

Strongly disagree 1.3% 32.3% 4.3% 29.5%

I don't know 9.3% 28.1% 46.8% 29.9%

I am concerned about the condition of the French language in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Quebec

French

Strongly agree 48.0% 9.4% 39.1% 12.3%

Somewhat agree 30.9% 13.6% 21.7% 14.4%

Somewhat disagree 11.2% 26.8% 17.4% 25.9%

Strongly disagree 5.3% 40.7% 10.9% 37.8%

I don't know 2.0% 8.5% 6.5% 8.3%

Ontario

English French Total

I have not encountered problems in getting federal government services in my official language

Quebec

French

Strongly agree 38.2%

Somewhat agree 35.5%

Somewhat disagree 19.1%

Strongly disagree 2.6%

I don't know 3.9%

Ontario

English French Total

49.4% 48.9% 49.4%

28.4% 34.0% 28.9%

10.2% 10.6% 10.2%

7.3% 2.1% 6.8%

3.8% 2.1% 3.6%

I have not encountered problems in getting provincial government services in my official language.

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 61.8% 52.0% 36.2% 50.4%

Somewhat agree 21.7% 25.8% 38.3% 27.0%

Somewhat disagree 11.2% 7.6% 17.0% 8.5%

Strongly disagree .7% 6.4% 4.3% 6.2%

I don't know 3.3% 7.3% 2.1% 6.8%

I have not encountered problems in getting municipal government services in my official language.

Quebec

French

Strongly agree 66.0%

Somewhat agree 26.1%

Somewhat disagree 3.3%

Strongly disagree .7%

I don't know 2.6%

Ontario

English French Total

52.1% 31.9% 50.1%

24.8% 29.8% 25.3%

6.6% 19.1% 7.9%

9.4% 8.5% 9.3%

5.7% 8.5% 5.9%

I have not encountered problems in getting retail and hospitality services in my official language

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 19.9% 47.3% 21.3% 44.7%

Somewhat agree 43.7% 28.6% 34.0% 29.1%

Somewha t disagree 25.8% 11.8% 23.4% 13.0%

Strongly disagree 5.3% 7.6% 10.6% 7.9%

I don't know 5.3% 3.1% 6.4% 3.4%

I have not encountered problems in health care services in my official language.

Quebec French Ontario English French Total

Strongly agree 50.3% 53.1% 31.3% 50.8%

Somewhat agree 32.5% 23.3% 37.5% 24.8%

Somewha t disagree 11.9% 9.7% 22.9% 11.0%

Strongly disagree 2.0% 7.5% 4.2% 7.2%

I don't know 2.6% 5.4% 4.9%

I regularly commute between Ottawa and Gatineau.

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 50.0% 8.7% 21.3% 10.0%

Somewhat agree 29.6% 14.9% 29.8% 16.3%

Somewhat disagree 14.5% 22.9% 21.3% 22.7%

Strongly disagree 4.6% 48.1% 25.5% 45.9%

I don't know .7% 3.1%

2.8%

I prefer to live in an area where the majority of people are part of my language group

Quebec

French

Strongly agree 45.7%

Somewhat agree 36.4%

Somewhat disagree 9.3%

Strongly disagree 3.3%

I don't know 5.3%

Ontario

English French Total

24.8% 27.7% 25.1%

33.0% 27.7% 32.5%

25.2% 31.9% 25.9%

10.4% 4.3% 9.8%

4.7% 4.3% 4.7%

I prefer to work in an area where the majority of people are part of my language group

Quebec

French

Strongly agree 40.4% 26.2% 30.4% 26.7%

Somewhat agree 37.1% 30.3% 32.6% 30.5%

Somewha t disagree 11.3% 25.8% 26.1% 25.8%

Strongly disagree 4.0% 11.3% 8.7% 11.1%

I don't know 1.3% 4.5%

Ontario

English French Total

4.1%

In the last five years, relations between English and Frenchspeakers in the NCR have worsened

Quebec

French

Strongly agree 8.7% 11.3% 6.4% 10.9%

Somewhat agree 29.3% 24.3% 21.3% 24.0%

Somewha t disagree 29.3% 26.0% 25.5% 26.0%

Strongly disagree 6.7% 15.6% 10.6% 15.1%

I don't know 26.0% 21.0% 34.0% 22.3%

Ontario

English French Total

Most Francophones I know feel positively about Anglophones

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 9.3% 9.7% 18.8% 10.6%

Somewhat agree 36.4% 27.7% 47.9% 29.8%

Somewhat disagree 37.7% 26.3% 16.7% 25.3%

Strongly disagree 7.9% 19.9% 2.1% 18.1%

I don't know 8.8% 16.4% 14.6% 16.2%

Most Anglophones I know feel positively about Francophones.

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Strongly agree 9.9% 10.1% 12.8% 10.4%

Somewhat agree 29.1% 34.2% 42.6% 35.0%

Somewha t disagree 33.1% 30.4% 21.3% 29.5%

Strongly disagree 15.2% 14.9% 10.6% 14.4%

I don't know 12.6% 10.4% 12.7% 10.6%

Immigrants to the NCR should give up their customs and traditions and become more like us Strongly agree 32.5% 22.7% 23.4% 22.8% Somewhat agree 22.5% 25.8% 21.3% 25.4% Somewha t disagree 29.1% 24.6% 38.3% 26.0% Strongly disagree 5.3% 21.6% 10.6% 20.5% I don't know 10.5% 5.2% 6.4% 5.4%

Quebec Ontario

French English French Total

Ottawa  and  Gatineau  should   should work together to develop programs and policies when it comes to immigrant integration Strongly agree 38.2% Somewhat agree 38.2% Somewhat disagree 7.2% Strongly disagree 6.6% I don't know 9.9%

Quebec

French

Ontario

English French Total

25.7% 36.2% 26.8%

36.8% 36.2% 36.7%

15.3% 10.6% 14.9%

10.4% 2.1% 9.6%

11.8% 14.9% 12.1%

Ottawa and Gatineau should work together to develop programs and policies when it comes to promoting cultural diversity Strongly agree 38.2% Somewhat agree 33.6% Somewha t disagree 15.1% Strongly disagree 3.9% I don't know 9.2%

Quebec

French

Ontario

English French Total

23.9% 40.4% 25.5%

39.2% 31.9% 38.5%

15.6% 10.6% 15.1%

11.1% 6.4% 10.6%

10.2% 10.7% 10.2%

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