Friday, June 09, 2006

Where Are All The French Blawgers?

The most recent issue of The National, the magazine of the Canadian Bar Association, features an article that asks why there seem to be so few French-speaking law bloggers in Canada (Peu de blogueurs - Les juristes francophones ne blawguent pas = "Few bloggers - Francophone jurists are not blawging" - on page 14 of the April-May 2006 issue).

It can't be lack of time (who has time in other provinces?) or lack of familarity with computers.

Pierre Trudel, law professor at the Université de Montréal, is quoted as saying "many francophone jurists are uncomfortable with the idea of criticizing a law or a judicial decision (...) In many ways, Quebec society, for example, has stayed very close to what it was like under Duplessis".

Maurice Duplessis, of course, is the name of the late Premier of Quebec who died in 1959 and whose long years in power were known as "La Grande Noirceur" or "great darkness", a time of pronounced social conservatism, fairly rigid control of education by the Catholic Church in its pre-Vatican 2 Council incarnation, and authoritarian disregard for civil liberties.

I found Trudel's comment extremely surprising. It is not as if today's Quebec lawyers (or law librarians) are shy, wimpy little wallflowers. I think a better explanation may have to do with the smaller population size of the French community in Canada, based mostly in Quebec.

If blawgs can be seen as a form of legal marketing, as a means of getting ideas and commentary across, perhaps francophones don't need them as much because other tools are more familiar and more immediately available.

In Quebec, there is a tight little media world and any lawyer who attracts attention can easily and quickly get invited to all the major TV and radio studios, most of which are located within a 10-15 minute taxi ride of each other in Montreal (with perhaps a handful in Quebec City), and become known as an authority on an issue. They might even give you your own newspaper column or ask you to guest host a show segment (civil libertarian Julius Grey seems to be on Marie-France Bazzo's morning show Indicatif Présent on Radio-Canada almost every other week). Who needs blawgs?

That might be very pre-Web2.0 but that would be my theory.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:40 pm


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