Are relations between anglophones and francophones getting worse, or getting better? It depends who you ask.
A new Leger poll for the Journal de Montreal found that one in three anglophones believe relations with francophones are mired in conflict. Almost half of those under the age of 35 share that belief. But some were shocked to hear those numbers.
READ MORE: Young anglophones want out of Quebec: poll
“I wouldn’t call things hostile from my perspective,” said Patrick Panet-Raymond, a bilingual university student who grew up on the north shore .
PR professional and Montreal Gazette columnist Dan Delmar does not necessarily believe that aspect of the Leger poll.
“It was a very surprising stat,” Delmar told Global News. “If anything you’d think young people would be more open to other communities, but that’s not what the survey found.”
Jennifer Drouin runs a group called Anglophones for Quebec Independence. She was also taken aback by the poll findings.
“We found the results really surprising. They don’t really reflect the reality we live every day,” she told Global News.
But there is little dispute over the poll’s finding that 60% of anglophones have thought about leaving Quebec to move to another province.
“As soon as I graduate, I’m starting my masters in Toronto,” said McGill engineering student Emmanuel Saratonis. “There’s way more opportunities there.”
Saratonis said he believes potential employers in Montreal are more interested in French skills than engineering skills.
“I’ve tried so many times to apply here. People who are finished their bachelor’s in engineering, they’re having a hard time finding jobs in Montreal,” he told Global News.
Delmar says he’s seen half of his friends leave Montreal for Toronto over the years.
“Some people have had entire graduating classes head to Toronto, a dozen people at a time. We’re seeing full friend groups re-assembling in Toronto,” he told Global News.
Some students who have come to study in Montreal from abroad say because of language, they can’t even consider staying after graduation.
“I’m planning to get a job, but not here,” said McGill student Evgenia Pateras, a native of Greece.
“I’m actually going to be moving to Toronto,” said Shu Aibo, a Chinese McGill student. “If you want to find a job here and you don’t speak French, opportunities are very limited.
The survey also found anglophones hesitate to speak French because of their accents.
“I agree, I’m one of them. I’m also afraid of speaking French in public,” said Delmar.
Some believe the solution lies in better French education.
“Have the same French test in the French CEGEPs and the English CEGEPS, so when you graduate from a place like Dawson, you can go apply for a job in French and be fully qualified,” said Drouin.
Emmanuel Sarantonis, the engineering student heading to Toronto, hopes to return someday.
“I wouldn’t say I’m giving up on Montreal. It has a place in my heart,” he told Global News.
But like many others, staying in the province just doesn’t make sense right now.
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