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David Frum: The dénouement of French Canada

posted Mar 18, 2012, 11:31 AM by Milorad Borota   [ updated Mar 18, 2012, 11:32 AM ]
David Frum  Feb 11, 2012 – 10:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Feb 10, 2012 5:25 PM ET National Post (blog)

The 2001 and 2006 Censuses showed sharp declines in the relative size of the population that claimed French as a “mother tongue,” down to barely more than one-fifth.

The 2011 census, once its results are made fully public, is likely to show another and probably even sharper drop. The first release of census data this week already shows that the total population of Quebec — including all linguistic groups — continues its rapid decline relative to the rest of Canada. It’s a good guess that the French-speaking population will report the steepest decline.

The statistics tell only part of the story. A 35-year-old Québécois who moves to Alberta in search of work, and there meets and marries a girl from a Chinese immigrant background, will probably bolster the national statistics for “French as mother tongue” sometime into the 2060s. But he won’t be speaking French at work. He probably won’t be speaking very much French at home. And it’s even more doubtful that his children and grandchildren will report French as their “mother tongue.”

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