In 1964, the writer from Montreal, Hugh Maclennan, published the novel Two Solitudes, which told of the relationship between the two major linguistic communities of Canada. Maclennan presented Francophones and Anglophones as sociocultural groups which only looked at themselves, in the defensive. The Quiet Revolution which was brewing during the decade of the 60’s in the previous century created the discursive foundation of a new linguistic policy based on territoriality. For the Anglophones what was theirs, and the Francophones theirs, with the shared premise of excluding the "indigenous": American Indian, Inuit and mixed races.
The crude reality the visitor perceives is that Anglophones constitute a perfectly integrated community in the life of their neighbours to the south, the United States, including its suburban organisation and its individualist mentalities. Overcoming the old solitude, the Canadian Anglophone community is today clearly self-sufficient with respects to its Francophone "compatriots". English is the local and global world which completely satisfies their communication needs. Francophones, on their part, constructed solid institutions during the Revolution and a certain autonomy in the management of various social spheres which go from the energy of education and cultural industries.
Well considered, the distinction between Quebec and the Canada is the sociocultural and political Francophone organisation born from that "revolutionary" commitment. Nevertheless, the most urgent challenge to viability (national and sociolinguistic) of the Québecois movement is its sustainability and, all the while, the brain drain (because of the high taxation necessary to maintain the social fabric) towards Anglophone Canada or the neighbouring US, after spending so many years of education in the Francophone territory. A territory, on the other hand, receptive to the communication flows arriving by land, cable and satellite from the United States. The "virtue" of the public Québecois policies is today, at the same time, its main enemy and therefore the dilemma.
I have enjoyed the beautiful serenity of the cities of Quebec, "place where the river narrows", in the Algonquin language. But it seems to me that even Montreal, the second Francophone city in the world after Paris, assists in the linguistic use of American English in certain fields: mass communication, business and sports. The French refuge in Vieux Montreal or the Haute Ville of the city of Quebec does not forebode anything good, beyond the theme park whose frigid authenticity is only a lure to the tourist. The (Francophone) future of Quebec depends on the socioeconomic and cultural changes, a second Quiet Revolution?, which my imagination does not begin to see. Although Cirque du Soleil, Céline Dion, Denys Arcaud and Robert Lepage help mitigate the solitude.
Journalist and author of the book Manual de sociolingüística