29 JUNE 1918, Page 11


[To THE EDITOR or THE " SPECTATOR.") SIR,—I have just lead with interest Mr. IV. Peterson's loiter fruits Montreal, published in your issue of the 8th inst., under the title " Ireland's Selfishness," and I would be grateful if you would allow sue space for a few comments upon his references to French- Canadians.

Your correspondent suggests that my compatriots forgot, in

the early stages of the war, the world's agony, and concentrated their thoughts on their school grievances in Ontario; and hac•uuse of that, he would have it that we are endowed with a " mentality " different from that of the rest of the Canadian people, meaning the British-Canadians. Mr. Peterson is quite right. On certain vital questions of national policy wo possess a " mentality " totally different from that which is betrayed by the legislative action of Ontario and Manitoba, in respect of the French language and French-Canadian school rights. For just limp. Fiend's Canadians in Quebec would never proscribe the English language as though it were a foul disease, to be extirpated from the station at all costs. Yet Ontario and Manitoba treat the Frensh language asthey weed(' the plague. It would never occur to DS ill QDCIVPe to imitate—as do Ontario and Manitoba Britishers—the Prussian eontempt for national pledges, and treat as mere despicable scraps of paper the Constitutional guarantees given to the minority living among us. We would never be guilty of passing laws to dispossess British settlers in Quebec from all their property. should they want to have English taught to their children. Such laws have recently been enacted in Ontario against French- Canadian settlers who remain loyal and true to our mother- tongue. On all such fundamental questions, our mentality is, thanks be to God, different from that of the British-Canadian Fraucophobes who plague every province of the Dominion with their Hunuish hatred of everything French. I exult in this dif- ference between our sense of national honour and theirs, and my compatriots feel as I do on that point.

As to the charge that at the beginning of the war we " forgot

the world's agony " and did not rush to the colours, it should never have been made, even by implication. Mr. Peterson knows as well as I do that everything was done by the authorities to discourage and hamper enlisting in Quebec. Our feelings were wounded, not only by the proscription of our language, hut by a steady and never-ceasing torrent of abuse, threats, and misrepre- sentations, at home and in the Press of the British Isles. It was- calculated that resentment would keep thousands of our young men from enlisting, and thus furnish the aroma' for further attacks upon our rights. Other methods were also employed. which have been denounced time and again in our House of COM- MODE and Senate. It is a wonder that so many French-Canadians did enlist, in spite of all official handicaps, to fight for justice in Europe, when justice was denied to our race in Canada. The word seems to have been given lately to put a stop to the campaign of defamation of our race, and due consideration is at last !mime shown by the Ottawa Government for our national feelings. As a result, French-Canadians are heartily joining np—as we always said we would if Canada voted for Conscription and we were treated with anything like decency. But although we aeeept Con- scription, it does not mean that we submit to the proscription, of our language and denationalization of our children. Our enemies make a fatal mistake if they entertain such a wild hope•. Never will we surrender our rights to speak and learn French, never will we consent to our children being turned into Anglo-Saxons. Indeed, Canada will not know racial peace so long as the persecu- tion directed against our race and language is persisted in.—I am.