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Cablegate: Census Data Shows Quebec More Bilingual Since 1996,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

021807Z Apr 03



E.0. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Census Data Shows Quebec More Bilingual Since 1996,
Mostly Due to Montreal Demographics

This cable was jointly prepared by Montreal and Quebec City

1. SUMMARY: Statistics Canada (Statscan) has released
several tranches of 2001 census data in the last four months
regarding language usage and immigration, figures which are
closely watched in Quebec, by both the media and government.
The Statscan numbers show Quebec to be 3 percent more
bilingual than in 1996, but provincial statistics suggest
that bilingualism is mostly a Montreal area phenomenon. END

2. Statscan's 2001 census data, reveals Montreal was home to
12 percent of all new immigrants to Canada between 1991 and
2001. While Haiti was the top individual country of birth
for immigrants to Montreal in the 1990s, accounting for 6.6
percent or 14,200 of the immigrants arriving during the
decade, Arab countries were the birth places of 29 percent
of immigrants who settled in Montreal during the 10-year
period. Algeria, Lebanon and Morocco were the top three
countries of origin for immigrants to Montreal. While
Quebec as a whole admitted 37,498 immigrants in 2001, a 15
percent increase over the previous year, according to the
provincial Ministry of Citizen Relations and Immigration,
the provincial capital only received 1,500.

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3. The Statscan data also showed Quebec's population to be
40.8 percent bilingual, 3 percent more bilingual than it was
at the time of the 1996 national census, while French
language usage in Montreal also inched up. According to
Statscan, the 2001 Census data showed that French language
usage is rising on the island of Montreal, marking the first
upturn after a 30-year downward spiral. The proportion of
Montrealers who speak French at home inched up to 56.4 per
cent in 2001 from 55.6 percent in 1996. In comparison the
Anglophone population in Montreal decreased to 17.7 percent
in 2001 from 18.9 percent in 1996.

4. Jack Jedwab, executive-director of the Montreal-based
Association for Canadian Studies, told us there are a number
of reasons behind the shifts in language usage. First, he
believes young Anglophones are continuing to leave the
province in search of job opportunities where bilingualism
is not so necessary. Secondly, more Anglophones are
marrying into French-speaking families, and adopting French
as the language used at home. But most importantly,
according to Jedwab, there has been a sharp increase in the
Montreal allophone community's usage of French. (Allophone
is the term used in Canada to denote someone whose mother
tongue is neither English nor French.)

5. Statscan said that Allophones in Montreal increased to
29.1 percent of the population from 27.7 percent in 1996,
while both the French- and English-mother tongue populations
decreased accordingly. Among allophones, usage of French at
home has increased almost four percent to 20.4 percent in
2001 from 16.6 percent in 1996. Meanwhile, the use of
English at home by allophones dropped slightly from 24.1
percent in 1996 to 22.1 percent in 2001. These numbers
reflect the fact that in Quebec, children whose parents are
allophones are required to attend French language schools.

6. Bilingualism is not nearly as widespread in the
francophone heartland of Quebec, including the capital.
Institut de la Statistique du Quebec (ISQ) data shows the
level of bilingualism in Quebec City at only 5.6 percent;
the provincial capital is 96.7 percent French speaking.
According to 2001 ISQ figures, 44 percent of the population
in Northern Quebec is francophone, 3.4 percent is
anglophone, and 52.6 percent speaks another language, mainly
Cree or Inuktitut. With a population of less than 40,000,
the northern Quebec region (covering three quarters of the
province's land mass) remains first in Quebec in terms of
the proportion of people whose mother tongue is neither
French nor English. Of all the regions, the Saguenay holds
the highest percentage of population whose maternal language
is French at 98.6 percent.

7. In Quebec, 50.4 percent of Allophones are able to speak
both national languages. But Allophones also continue to
use their mother tongues. According to the 2001 census,
Italian is still the most popular third language spoken in
real terms, but Arabic saw the most growth. During the five
years between 1996 and 2001, the number of Arabic speakers
increased by 29 percent. And for the first time, Arab-
speakers surpassed Spanish-speakers in their numbers in
Montreal. The Arab/West Asian minority in Quebec has now
become the second largest minority after Blacks. StatsCan
counted 123,580 persons broadly-defined as Arabs living in
Montreal in the 2001 census, up from 96,240 in 1996.
However, the census permits respondents a wide range of
choices, including "Canadian," in identifying their origins;
we have seen widely varying estimates on the actual numbers
of Arab-origin Montrealers.

8. The Quebec government continues to try to attract more
immigrants and encourages them to establish outside the
Greater Montreal area. The outgoing PQ Cabinet Minister
Joseph Facal told us last year the province is trying to
increase its annual intake of immigrants to 45,000 over the
next 2-3 years. Presently, the volume of immigrants living
outside Montreal is only 15 percent but the aim is to
increase that level to 25 percent. Quebec targets
francophones from North Africa, Europe and Asia; however,
about half the immigrants who come to the capital are from
Eastern Europe. Jobs remain a problem but the Quebec
authorities are trying to place "visible minorities" in
government jobs, with a target of 33 percent for new hires
in Montreal, 25 percent in Quebec City and 8 percent
elsewhere in the province. Currently placement is around
3.4 percent of the province's 60,000 civil servants. The
further north, the less immigrants: Nunavik (Northern
Quebec), comprising 55 percent of the entire Quebec
territory, attracted the least number of newcomers in 2001-
02 with only 2 immigrants, followed by the North Shore (8),
and the Gaspe region (13).

9. Quebec immigration recruitment policies do appear to have
had a positive effect on the increase of French usage in
Quebec. The Census revealed that 49 percent of all new
immigrants to Quebec speak French or English, compared to
the Canadian average of 39 percent who speak either of the
two official languages. However, Alain Jean-Bart, former
president of S.O.S.-Racisme (the Quebec chapter of the
international anti-racism group), complained to us that the
Quebec government selectively recruits Francophone
immigrants (sidestepping would-be immigrants from West
Africa, for example) while recruiting so-called
"francophonisable" peoples in Latin American countries.
S.O.S. Racisme has worked to counter stereotypical notions
that Chinese and other immigrants are not francophonisable,
i.e. not integrating into or contributing to the life of the
province. An official from the Ministry of Citizen
Relations and Immigration recently confirmed that the GOQ
has focused lately on recruiting immigrants from Argentina
but he implied that the MRCI is merely exploiting the
difficult economic situation there to bring skilled,
educated workers to Quebec.

10. Despite successes in Quebec's efforts to attract French
speakers, Census 2001 revealed that Montreal remains third
after Toronto and Vancouver in attracting new immigrants.
Of the 1.8 million immigrants who arrived in Canada during
the 1991-2001 period, only 12 percent settled in Montreal,
while 56 percent went to Toronto and 20 percent settled in
Vancouver. Quebec continues to have difficulties in
retaining new immigrants. Statscan reported a net migration
loss for Quebec of 57,000 people from 1996 to 2001,
representing a net loss of 0.9 percent. While these numbers
may reflect migration that occurred following the 1995
referendum on Quebec independence, the population decrease
remains surprising given Quebec's economic resurgence of

11. Quebec had the sixth highest rate among Canadian
provinces of foreign born residents with 10 percent of its
population in 2001 born outside Canada. Quebec also has
fewer visible minorities - only 7 percent of its population
-- than the other high-population provinces. Quebec Premier
Bernard Landry, commenting on the Statistics data was quoted
as saying, "Quebec must have more immigrants, for obvious
reasons. The land is vast, our natural rate of growth is
low. So families, children, people are a priority for us,
including those families and people coming from

12. The Association for Canadian Studies' Jedwab believes
that for Quebec to both attract and keep immigrants, not
only does the economy have to continue strong, but the GOQ
needs to find more ways to involve immigrants in civil
society institutions such as city council, school boards and
the civil service. "Give these people [immigrants] a sense
that they have a meaningful role in Quebec," he says.
Minister Facal announced last month a plan to hold
provincial government agencies more accountable for minority
hiring. Under the new proposal, Department heads will be
required to publicize their hiring strategies and report the
results at legislative hearings.

13. Statistically, Quebec outperforms every other Canadian
province on bilingualism, with the second closest being New
Brunswick at 34.2 percent bilingual (the rest of the
provinces all have bilingual populations less than the
national average of 17.7 percent). Quebec's rate of
bilingualism at 41 percent is approaching the Western
European rate of 47 percent. As Jedwab points out, "without
the important numbers of bilingual persons in Quebec, the
rest of Canada would rank in the lower end of the spectrum
with the United Kingdom and the U.S." Ironically,
bilingualism has been a federal, not a provincial goal. The
Chretien government's recent announcement of a C$751 million
infusion into French language instruction throughout Canada
was met mostly with indifference in Quebec.

14. COMMENT: When you look at the political map of Quebec,
it is the central Quebec, francophone areas that remain the
most traditional and in the past, most tied to the Parti
Quebecois. Our contacts noted that, despite impending
provincial elections, the release of the 2001 statistics on
bilingualism did not create the same angst in the Quebec
media and among politicians as in 1996, when the statistics
came out a year after the 1995 referendum on independence.
In fact, Landry has publicly acknowledged that it has become
a rarity to see an anglophone less than age 50 who does not
speak French. While the province is not at the point of
embracing bilingualism as a goal, even the Parti Quebecois
realizes that for Quebec to sustain demographic and economic
growth, the province needs new blood, and not just in

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