Greg, a few comments:
1- English is taught from grade 1 in all French schools since 2006. Private English schools are available to anyone who is willing to pay for it. Even taking into account this cost, I think it’s obvious that raising a kid in Montreal is a lot cheaper than in SV. So really, no problem here.
2- Montreal is not the capital of the largest European nation, of course. And we can do better, for sure. However, Montreal is known for a lot of things in tech. Montreal was #1 for VC capital in Canada last year ($633M+), getting almost as much VC money as Toronto and Vancouver together. This is pretty good since 10 years ago, in 2006, there was virtually zero VC activity in the city. Ask Sylvain Carle how much progress we’ve made as a community in 10 years, he has written about this a lot.
Montreal is also on its way to become a major machine learning hub, thanks to a $93M initiative lead by Yoshua Bengio at UdeM. Local industry is pouring hundreds of millions in this, we have not seen the effects of this yet.
I’ve heard a talk this week on KQED (Bay Area) with 2 amazing women entrepreneurs (recorded at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View). Both women had studied at McGill and talked about Montreal. This tells me we’re on the map, even in SV, and not for the reasons you mention.
3- I’d like us to retain more McGill graduates, but I’d like even more if we could get more graduates from MIT, Stanford, CMU, Georgia Tech, etc. to move here. At Hexoskin we’re getting resumes from these US universities, and getting a visa is the #1 hurdle to hiring them (a Canadian problem, not a Montreal problem).
I’m not sure why you wrote this post, do you have any suggestions for the problems you perceive?