French Politics

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 223–236 | Cite as

Not just about Quebec: accounting for Francophones’ attitudes towards Canada

  • Mike MedeirosEmail author
Original Article


The present study seeks to empirically explore the influence of language on attitudes towards one’s country. Canada is used as an exploratory case. Though language has played a prominent role in the country’s politics, its role on attitudes among Francophones remains markedly unknown. Using original survey data gathered from Francophones in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba, the study specifically explores the influence of linguistic factors on Francophones’ attitudes towards Canada. The results reveal that being from Quebec (or not) is in fact an important determinant in attitudinal differences towards Canada among Francophones. However, this result is tempered by the fact that other variables demonstrate a greater influence. Notably, perceptions of French being threatened significantly lead to more negative attitudes towards Canada.


Language Attitudes Threat Quebec Canada Francophones 



I am grateful to Prof. Patrick Fournier (Université de Montréal) and to this journal’s anonymous referees for their help and suggestions. I am also thankful for the financial support provided by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – société et culture (FRQSC).


  1. Arsenault, B. 2004. Histoire des acadiens. St-Laurent: Les Éditions Fides.Google Scholar
  2. Aunger, E.A. 2002. Obsèques prématurées: La disparition des minorités francophones et autres illusions nationalistes. Review of Constitutional Studies 7: 120–142.Google Scholar
  3. Baer, D., E. Grabb, and W. Johnston. 1993. National character, regional culture, and the values of canadians and americans. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 30: 13–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Béland, D., and A. Lecours. 2005. The politics of territorial solidarity nationalism and social policy reform in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. Comparative Political Studies 38: 676–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Billiet, J., B. Maddens, and R. Beerten. 2003. National identity and attitude toward foreigners in a multinational state: A replication. Political Psychology 24: 241–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blais, A. 1991. Le clivage linguistique au Canada. Recherches Sociographiques 32: 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bourhis, R.Y., H. Giles, and D. Rosenthal. 1981. Notes on the construction of a ‘subjective vitality questionnaire’ for ethnolinguistic groups. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 2: 145–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, R., and M. Hewstone. 2005. An integrative theory of intergroup contact. In Advances in experimental social psychology, ed. M.P. Zanna, 255–343. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  9. Burgess, M. 2001. Competing national visions: Canada-Quebec relations in a comparative perspective. In Multinational democracies, ed. A.G. Gagnon, and J. Tully, 338–365. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cenoz, J. 2001. Basque in Spain and France. In Multilingual matters: The other languages of Europe, ed. G. Extra, and D. Gorter, 45–58. London: Cromwell Press.Google Scholar
  11. Chaput-Rolland, S. 1990. La loi sur les langues officielles et le nouveau visage du Canada. In Langue et identité: Le français et les francophones d’Amérique du Nord, ed. N.L. Corbett, 183–188. Quebec City: Presses de l’Université Laval.Google Scholar
  12. Depositario, D.P.T., R.M. Nayga Jr., X. Wu, and T.P. Laude. 2009. Should students be used as subjects in experimental auctions? Economics Letters 102: 122–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dyer, D., J.H. Kagel, and D. Levin. 1989. A comparison of naive and experienced bidders in common value offer auctions: A laboratory analysis. The Economic Journal 99: 108–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Elkins, Z., and J. Sides. 2007. Can institutions build unity in multiethnic states? American Political Science Review 101: 693–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fishman, J.A. 1989. Language and ethnicity in minority sociolinguistic perspective. Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  16. Fournier, P., and M. Medeiros. 2014. Unis par la langue? Les opinions et les perceptions des Franco-Québécois et des Franco-Ontariens. Journal of Canadian Studies 48: 198–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frenette, Y. 1998. Brève histoire des Canadiens français. Montreal: Boréal.Google Scholar
  18. Gidengil, E., A. Blais, R. Nadeau, and N. Nevitte. 2004. Language and cultural insecurity. In Québec: State and society, 3rd ed, ed. A.-G. Gagnon. Peterborough: Broadview Press.Google Scholar
  19. Giles, H., and P. Johnson. 1987. Ethnolinguistic identity theory: A social psychological approach to language maintenance. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 68: 69–99.Google Scholar
  20. Hébert, R.M. 2004. Manitoba’s French-language crisis: A cautionary tale. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Karmis, D., and A.-G. Gagnon. 2001. Federalism, federation and collective identities in Canada and Belgium: Different routes, similar fragmentation. In Multinational democracies, ed. A.G. Gagnon, and J. Tully, 137–175. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kosterman, R., and S. Feshbach. 1989. Toward a measure of patriotic and nationalistic attitudes. Political Psychology 10: 257–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Langlois, S. 1999. Canadian identity: A francophone perspective. In Encyclopedia of Canada’s people, ed. P.R. Magocsi, 323–329. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  24. Levine, M. 1991. The reconquest of Montreal: Language policy and social change in a bilingual city. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Marchand, A.-S. 2004. La francophonie plurielle au Manitoba. Francophonies d’Amérique 17: 147–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Martel, M. 1997. Le deuil d’un pays imaginé: Rêves, luttes et déroute du Canada français: Les rapports entre le Québec et la francophonie canadienne, 1867–1975. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.Google Scholar
  27. McRoberts, K. 1989. Making Canada bilingual: Illusions and delusions of federal language policy. In Federalism and political community, ed. D.P. Shugarman, and R. Whitaker, 141–171. Peterborough: Broadview Press.Google Scholar
  28. McRoberts, K. 1997. Misconceiving Canada: The struggle for national unity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. McRoberts, K. 2003. Conceiving diversity: Dualism, multiculturalism, and multinationalism. In New trends in Canadian federalism, ed. F. Rocher, and M. Smith, 85–109. Peterborough, ON: Broadview.Google Scholar
  30. Medeiros, M. 2015. The language of conflict: The relationship between linguistic vitality and conflict intensity. Ethnicities. doi: 10.1177/1468796815608878.Google Scholar
  31. Medeiros, M., P. Fournier, and V. Benet-Martínez. 2017. The language of threat: Linguistic perceptions and intergroup relations. Acta Politica 52: 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mendelsohn, M. 2002. Measuring national identity and patterns of attachment: Quebec and nationalist mobilization. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 8: 72–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nadeau, R., and C.J. Fleury. 1995. Gains linguistiques anticipés et appui à la souveraineté du Québec. Canadian Journal of Political Science 28: 35–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nadeau, R., P. Martin, and A. Blais. 1999. Attitude towards risk-taking and individual choice in the Quebec referendum on sovereignty. British Journal of Political Science 29: 523–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pammett, J.H., and L. LeDuc. 2001. Sovereignty, leadership and voting in the Quebec referendums. Electoral Studies 20: 265–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Phillipson, R. 1999. Political science. In Handbook of language and ethnic identity, ed. J.A. Fishman, 94–108. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Riek, B.M., E.W. Mania, and S.L. Gaertner. 2006. Intergroup threat and outgroup attitudes: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Social Psychology Review 10: 336–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Savard, S. 2008. Pour «une politique globale, précise, cohérente et définitive de développement»: Les leaders Franco-Ontariens et les encadrements politiques fédéraux, 1968–1984. Politique et Sociétés 27: 129–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Seymour, M. 2001. L’état fédéré du Québec. In Repères en mutation: Identité et citoyenneté dans le Québec contemporain, ed. J. Maclure, and A.-G. Gagnon. Montreal: Québec/Amérique.Google Scholar
  40. Sorens, J. 2005. The cross-sectional determinants of secessionism in advanced democracies. Comparative Political Studies 38: 304–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Statistics Canada. 2012. French and the francophonie in Canada. Census in Brief. Ottawa: Government of Canada.Google Scholar
  42. Taylor, D.M., R. Meynard, and E. Rheault. 1977. Threat to ethnic identity and second-language learning. In Language, ethnicity, and intergroup relations, ed. H. Giles, 99–118. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  43. Ullman, S.H. 1986. The political attitudes of New Brunswick’s Acadians and Anglophones: Old wine in old bottles? American Review of Canadian Studies 16: 161–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Democratic CitizenshipMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations