Dear Editor, Sherbrooke Record
Last week’s announcement by the Quebec government that tuition will be increased for out-of-province and international students attending English-language universities in Quebec as a way of protecting the French language is just one more example of how xenophobic and narrow-minded the CAQ has become. As the son of an immigrant who came to Montreal in the 1940s to study medicine at McGill (on a full scholarship), where he also met my Quebec-born mother (another McGill student), I find this latest Quebec plan especially loathsome.
You see, my dad (Dr. Harry Farfan) chose to stay in Quebec after he became a doctor. He learned French and practiced orthopedics here his entire 40-year career. He spent his professional life helping his thousands of patients (French and English); fighting in court for those injured in the workplace; and expanding his surgery skills. He was especially interested in the lumbar spine, and it was in that area that he devoted his clinical research, making a name for himself across Canada and internationally, thereby bringing credit to the hospitals with which he was affiliated, as well as to his adopted city, province and country. It was also here in Quebec that he founded the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS), recognized to this day as the preeminent body in the world devoted to the lumbar spine. He refused many offers to move outside of Quebec to practice medicine.
The implication, then, that students coming to Quebec for their education in English are somehow a threat to the survival of French, and that these people should be penalized with even higher tuition than they are already paying, is garbage. These people should be thanked for coming here, not punished, and perhaps those who are so worried about the survival of French should rather watch less American TV and make more babies instead of victimizing others.
Like many other students, Dad stayed in Quebec because he wanted to. He could have gone anywhere, but he wanted to give something back for the education he received. He raised his family here. And he spent his life helping his fellow Quebecers, advancing science, and elevating the quality of the medical profession in this province. He also, incidentally, paid more in taxes than he would have done in any other jurisdiction in Canada. Quebecers are damn lucky he stayed, and 30 years after his death his family are still hearing from people he helped.