Excerpt of a Letter to Alliance Quebec by René Lévesque

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This is an excerpt from a November 5, 1982 letter from René Lévesque to Eric Maldoff, lawyer and president of Alliance Quebec, pressure group formed in 1982 which claimed to defend the rights of English speakers in Quebec.

It is important that the French visage of Québec be before all else French, if only not to resurrect, to the eyes of newcomers, the ambiguity on the character of our society which prevailed before, ambiguity which has given us heart-rending crisis.

It its own way indeed, each bilingual sign says to the immigrant: "There are two languages here, English and French; one chooses the one he wants." It says to the English speaker: "No need to learn French, everything is translated." It is not the message we want to give. It appears vital to us that all be conscious of the French character of our society. However, apart from the exterior signage, this character is not always obvious.

[...] According to us, a too large opening to the usage of English beside French in outside signage would, considering the North-American context, quickly lead to generalized bilingualism in this field, at least in the center of Montreal, that is to say where the majority of our new citizens settle. It is therefore prudence and not, as it was too easily claimed, a spirit of revenge, which led us to adopt, for outside signage, the rule of the exclusive use of French.

Source: Plourde, Michel (1988). La politique linguistique du Québec, Québec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 143 p. ISBN 2892241030

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