Old myths about anglos die hard in Quebec

In truth, plenty of people who study these things have understood for years now that anglophones in Quebec are no rich elite.

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Francophones, it turns out, have higher-paid jobs than anglophones in Quebec. Who knew?
In truth, plenty of people who study these things have understood for years now that anglophones in Quebec are no rich elite. But the survey results reported on The Gazette's front page yesterday demonstrate that the realities about language and income in Quebec surprised quite a lot of Quebecers, and especially francophones.
The survey, conducted by Léger Marketing, found that 39 per cent of francophones believe that anglophones earn more; only one francophone in 200 realizes that the reverse is actually true.
Figures from the 2006 census, the most recent available, show that the average francophone made $2,000 a year more than the average anglophone that year. While anglophones are more likely to have university education, and less likely to be high-school dropouts, they are also less likely to have skilled-trade certificates, which can open the door to well-paid work.
We can understand why francophones earn somewhat more, and we see no cause for alarm in the fact - although it certainly explains why anglophone school boards are focusing more and more on true fluency in French.
What we find more remarkable than the financial facts are the sociological and political ones. How is it that many francophones understand the facts so poorly?
"Old myths die hard," noted Jack Jedwab, the industrious executive director of the Association of Canadian Studies, one of the poll's sponsors. And pollster Christian Bourque of Léger told The Gazette that "it's part of popular culture among francophones to harken back to the era when there was a class system in Quebec that was partly based on language. The image of the English boss maintains a powerful hold on the popular imagination." This survey confirms that.
So why is Quebec's political culture based, to a damagingly large degree, on old grievances and obsolete perceptions (and not only francophone ones), instead of today's real situation? One reason, surely, is that Quebecers are burdened with a whole major political party which profits from nurturing the old stereotypes of anglophones as an alien overclass - and from creating new ones such as the argument that French is being extinguished in Montreal.
Jedwab's think tank and the Quebec Community Groups Network, a coalition of anglophone groups, have performed a valuable service by commissioning this survey, which reminds us of the realities and exposes the startling tenacity of the myth.

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