Canada’s largest record label Universal Music recently came under fire for its exclusion of French-language music in its Canada 150 compilation and has issued an apology as follows.
Unsurprisingly, the CBC, in an attempt to soften the seriousness of the omission, mentioned the complaints coming from Quebec only. In fact, they came from Anglophones outside of Quebec as well. Count us among them.
We would go beyond the status quo of shallow standards to say that any playlist, compilation, or “best of” Canadian music list that excludes Franco works is anti-Canadian. And, no, we do not believe that this is too strong a statement. Francophones make up 22% of our population and create some of the best music not only in Canada but the world at large. Beyond being mindful when compiling music lists, national events like the JUNO awards must include a French-language performance at its main televised gala, as well the Grey Cup half-time show. Both Anglo and Franco songs ought to be played in arenas and during breaks in play of hockey games at home. A couple of Franco songs must grace the playlists of all English-language conducted radio stations and be included in Canadian television and movie soundtracks regardless of the language of dialogue. We must adopt a zero-tolerance policy to those who make Francophobic comments. We cannot refer to Anglophone artists as “Canadian artists” while calling Francophone artists from Quebec as “Quebec artists”. We either call all Canadian or specify the provincial or local origin of each. We cannot move forward as a country that claims to espouse federalism with francophobia intact.