SHOULD THE QUEEN COME TO QUEBEC?

Preparations are now in high gear for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City next summer.

The Pope has been invited. So has the President of France. And the heads of every two-bit French colony on the planet are expected. Everyone except Canada’s head of state, the Queen.

In fact both the city of Quebec and the Quebec government asked the federal government to invite the Queen for this event of major national significance. And the Harper government has turned them down flat.

Why? Is Harper afraid he would lose votes in Quebec if he invited the Queen. Or does Harper think he is protecting the Queen from a boorish separatist fringe by keeping her out?

If so, Quebec minister Benoit Pelletier has the answer for that: “We know there would be controversy if the Queen came to Quebec. But this controversy would be provoked by a minority of people, and we can’t be at the mercy of these minorities.”

By not inviting her to Quebec, Harper is also keeping the Queen away from Nova Scotia which this summer is celebrating its 250th anniversary of representative government, a commemoration important not only to that province but to the entire Commonwealth.

Surely our national government shouldn’t quake at the thought of a rag-tag bunch of separatists upsetting things.  This snub is all the more ludicrous when you realize the American government invited the Queen to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown colony earlier this year.

Would you agree this is a snub to the monarchy?

Do you think the Queen should still be invited to Quebec?

22 Comments »

  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    I believe that, yes, as you observe above, Harper is afraid of losing votes in Quebec. This is the same man who said upon ascending to the Prime-Ministership that he will do nothing to alter Bill 101. So he is very much intent upon currying votes from Quebec and is being very sensitive about his perception with Quebec Nationalists.

  2. 2
    Joe Agnost Says:

    I agree with Tony – Harper is afraid of losing votes is quebec… and that’s both sad and pathetic!

  3. 3

    Tony:

    You mention that Harper did nothing to alter Bill 101. Neither did Clark, Trudeau, Turner, Mulroney, Campbell, Chretien or Paul Martin.
    The reason is pretty simple. Bill 101 was well within the legal purview of the Quebec National Assembly.

  4. 4
    Joe Agnost Says:

    Why the feds would continue to WASTE billions of dollars on bilingualism – while quebec (with bill 101) actively works at discriminating against english – is beyond me!!

    If quebec wants a bilingual country then they should be willing to accept english in quebec…

    I’ll never understand how we let Canada fall, so completely, for the bilingual nonesense… it’s brought nothing but wasted money, divisions between french and english speakers and last, but not least, a frenchification of the federal gov’t and public service.

    What a disgrace and embarassment!

  5. 5

    Joe,

    I am afraid I disagree profoundly. We have a blessed and unique country where the languages of the founding partners are both used and respected. Every poll shows that official bilingualism has strong national support.
    I am English. I live in Quebec. We are not discriminated against although the language of the vast majority is given a special place just as it is in every other province.

  6. 6
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Every poll shows that official bilingualism has strong national support.”

    I’ve seen similar polls – which is why I said: “I’ll never understand how we let Canada…”.

    English speakers are too complacent.

    And I dispute the polls that allow bilingualism to hold a warm and fuzzy place in the gov’t’s heart (that it doesn’t deserve!).

    Here is what I have noticed about poll questions: they are leading to a conclusion simply by the wording.

    Something like “do you agree with Canada being bilingual?” – yes or no.
    Or “do you support the efforts to make canada bilingual?” – yes or no.

    But most canadians would answer YES to these questions – because they are ignorant to what bilingualism is costing canada in both money and jobs!

    More and more cities in ontario (mostly along the border to quebec) are becoming officially bilingual and forcing more and more unilingual anglophones to have to move (since the jobs end up going to francophones) – this is a real problem facing ontario!

    And here’s a little snapshot of the problem. A suburb of Ottawa (nowhere near Orleans, which is heavily french canadian) is trying to set up a french-only community center. Fine right? Right. But where I get pissed off is that these same people spend every effort ensuring EVERYTHING in Ottawa is bilingual – and then (having succeeded in that task) have the nerve to ask the city for many millions of dollars to fund a french-only center. They also ask the feds for $8 million.
    FOR A FRENCH ONLY CENTER!!! The latest census figures show there are only about %10-15 french speakers in this community – but they want tax payers to fund there little french-only center.
    Did I mention that everything ELSE must remain bilingual – but not this community center.

    It’s unbelievable to me……

    “I am English. I live in Quebec. We are not discriminated against although the language of the vast majority is given a special place just as it is in every other province”

    Huh? Quebec is the ONLY province with such a “special place” given to one language. The ONLY one. And when you have something known as the “language police” roaming the street of quebec making sure english is held down – well, it’s a pretty ridiculous thing. Thanks bill 101.
    Bill 101 is a disgrace to canada.

  7. 7
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil, You are correct when you list the long line of PMs who, like Harper, did nothing to correct the wrong of Bill 101. My invoking Harper was not meant to be an exhaustive list but only because he was the Prime Minister of concern at the moment and mentioned by you in your editorial.

    You are also correct when you write “Bill 101 was well within the legal purview of the Quebec National Assembly.” But it is not correct to assume legislation such as Bill 101 is the EXCLUSIVE purview of a provincial legislature. Recall 1974 when radio broadcaster John Robertson rallied a petition of 600,000 signatures demanding that then-PM Pierre Trudeau disallow the rights-violating Bill 22 which had just been passed into law by Robert Bourassa’s Liberal government. Disallowance, reservation, and several other powers in the BNA Act were specifically given to the federal division of powers at the time of confederation to provide a veto power so as to hold in check abuses by provincial legislatures.

    Bill 101 and its predecessor, Bill 22, were perfect examples of such abuses and were ready candidates for veto which, sadly, they were not.
    A reading of the Confederation Debates — the record of discussion of the Fathers of Confederation from around 1865 regarding their vision of the country they were then embarking upon creating — is replete with promises and compacts that declared that it would be the responsibility and obligation of the central government to exercise the aforementioned federal powers to protect linguistic and religious minorities should provincial governments ever use their power to restrict their rights. Again, sadly, there is not one instance in Canadian history since its founding in 1867 in which the federal government ever used that power to protect provincial minorities when they needed such protection, be it the New Brunswick School Act of the 1870s against Catholics, Manitoba in the 1890s against francophones, Ontario in the early part of the 20th century against francophones, or in Quebec against the anglo minority numerous times since Bill 22 in 1974.

    Indeed, I regard this inaction on the part of the federal government as the explicit breaking this sacred promise of Confederation. And what happens when you break the promise of a contract? Why, you break the contract itself.

    And that’s why Canada will, ultimately, fail. Harper, like the long line of predecessors you list, through his inaction in this area, has helped to break the very fabric of our country.

  8. 8
    Chimera Says:

    Neil: I was going to run a rant on the “strong national support” of official bilingualism in this country, but Joe nutshelled it for me. The only province in Canada in which official bilingualism works is New Brunswick. And it works there because they did it on their own, without the force of federal law. It was a voluntary decision on the part of New Brunswick citizens. The feds had nothing to do with it.

    Back to the topic of the post:

    Whose party is it? If it’s Quebec City’s party, and they want the queen to attend, why aren’t they sending her the invitation themselves? Why are they allowing the federal government to dictate to them who they will and will not be allowed to invite?

    Tell them to tell Harper to siddown and shaddap, already.

  9. 9
    Joe Agnost Says:

    Hey Chimera – you’re from the Ottawa area right?? How about that TOTAL-ASS (I can’t remember his name) who is suing OC_Transpo because the bus drivers say “hello” to him and not “hello, bonjour”!

    This toad is FULLY bilingual – but says he’s offended that more bus drivers aren’t bilingual!

    You think this law-suit won’t go anywhere?? Not so likely – this is the same goof that SUCCESSFULLY sued air canada several years ago because he couldn’t order his ‘7-up’ in french!! Did I mention that he speaks english well?

    Wake up english speakers!!! We’re losing the country!

  10. 10
    Joe Agnost Says:

    Oh yeah – I agree with chimera…. why does quebec need Harper to ask the queen. If they want her shouldn’t they ask?

  11. 11
    Chimera Says:

    Joe: I’m not from Ottawa, although I have visited, many years ago. Not a place I’d choose to live, quite frankly, unless my only other option was Toronto. I’m safely insulated from Canada right here in the Lower Rainland of British Columbia ;). But if that bus rider wants more than one language from his drivers, he can come here — our drivers will greet him in any of several languages, including Urdu, Swahili, Italian, Cantonese, Portugese, Mandarin, Spanish, Gaelic, Hindi, and others. One even speaks Latin and Esperanto. It’s a polyglot’s world out here.

  12. 12

    Tony:

    Do I remember John Robertson’s and George Springate’s and Gord Sinclair’s 600,000 petition against Bill 22 in 1974. I was doing editorials on CJAD at the time and resolutely refused to get on the bandwagon. French Quebec is an island of seven million French speakers in a sea of more than 300 million English speakers in America. I thought then and I think now that the French language in Quebec deserved special consideration.

    Chimera and Joe:

    I am pretty sure protocol dictates that such an invitation must come from the federal government which is why Quebec asked the feds to do it and were refused.

  13. 13
    Chimera Says:

    Protocol should also dictate that the feds accede to the wishes of the people hosting the party and invite the guests they were asked to invite!

    It is NOT up to Harper to tell the Quebec citizens who they may have at their party!

  14. 14
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    …and how, then, do you feel about the 52 of 55 aboriginal languages of Canada that are on the brink of extinction? In total, their numbers taken together — let alone one of them — don’t even reach 1% of the 7,000,000 speakers that the French language has; not one of them is an official language in which the legislature, the courts, the schools, and institutions conduct their affairs in that language and have public funding to support them. Yet French in Quebec and in many parts of Canada have all of those protections.

    Some of these 52 aboriginal languages have only 100 speakers left; others a dozen or so, several one or two speakers left.

    Yet according to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms dicsrimination on the basis of language is prohibited. Speakers of all languages are equal before the law. Languages of so-called “founding partners” are not singled out for special treatment.

    So, tell me, Neil, why is it that you put French at the front of the list for “special consideration”, as you put it, when there are many aboriginal languages in much, much greater need?

    The 7-million-in-a-sea-of-English is a statistical red herring used by members of the White European Descendants’ Club who look the other way when it is pointed out to them that non-white, non-European cultures and languages also exist in equality here in Quebec. The sea surrounding each and every aboriginal language is a much greater and harsher sea than the one you invoke for the French Quebecer.

    The only legitimate justification for giving French “special consideration” is to appease the quebecois so that he doesn’t separate and break up your country. Let’s be honest about it, shall we?

  15. 15

    Tony:

    I’m afraid we must agree to disagree on this one. It is sad but probably inevitable that the native languages are disappearing. In order that does not happen to the French language (seven million is a critical mass) certain measures have been put in place. Thank goodness they are working.

  16. 16
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil, why do they have to disappear? We can make Huron the official language of Quebec instead of French. Certainly, that will boost its numbers, no?

    Oh, and you are aware, aren’t you, that when the first habitants paddled their way up the St. Lawrence River some 450 years ago that wherever they landed in what is now the province of Quebec that the MAJORITY LANGUAGE was a native language? And you’re aware that said habitants DID NOT RESPECT that majority language? That, indeed, the newly-arrived immigrants forced both their minority-language and their minority-culture and their minority-religion upon the majority population…often at the end of a musket barrel?

    Why shouldn’t the French language be accorded the same treatment and respect that its speakers handed out to the original majority language speakers, which is namely none at all?

    With all due respect, Neil, I suggest that policies that incorporate racism and colonialism are not the ones that you want to support.

    Instead, I suggest that you adopt the policy of freedom: free speech and freedom of association. French is no better than any other language and to accord it the special consideration that you are so intent upon according it is most definitely a policy and worldview seeped in racism.

  17. 17
    Alex Thomas Says:

    If the Queen has NOT been specifically invited by Quebec City, so what? She’s not welcome there, because the oh-so-entitled and oh-so-coddled Francophones regard her as a symbol of the oppressive presence of Les Anglais. Je me souviens, indeed!
    Merde! The French sold Quebec to the English in 1763, because it was more trouble than it was worth. The Joual of La Belle Provence is not even understood anywhere in France, anyway. The French we Anglais had to learn is Parisian, not Quebecois — in other words, too much money and too much time spent on promoting a language that is not even used in dat dere place, eh?
    Tell the amphibians not to let the screen door slam their slimy butts on their way into oblivion. After all, it’s their swamp.
    My name is Alex Thomas. Joyeux Noel, eh?

  18. 18
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “In order that does not happen to the French language (seven million is a critical mass) certain measures have been put in place. Thank goodness they are working.”

    Excuse me…. “they are working”??? Are you serious? Have you not read the latest census figures which CLEARLY shows that OB is NOT working…. and do you know what the bilingualism advocates are saying about it?? Well, they are saying (admitting) that it isn’t working – but they blame it on a lack of funds! They say MORE money is needed to ensure it’s success, as it is clearly failing at the moment.

    Oh – and that guy who’s suing OC_Transpo, when asked if he wants bilingual bus drivers in Gatineau (across the river from Ottawa), he said NO! He said french bus drivers are all that quebec needs but the rest of Canada should have bilingual ones because of the special status of french.

    You know – it’s not french I object to. I think learning many languages is a good thing, french included. It’s the hypocracy of quebec that gets my goat – and the total WASTE of money on a project that is doomed to fail. Does anyone believe that legislation can keep a DYING language around artificially?? Get real – the language of business ALL OVER THE GLOBE is english…. why are we holding ourselves back like this?

  19. 19
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Tell the amphibians not to let the screen door slam their slimy butts on their way into oblivion. After all, it’s their swamp.”

    And yeah – like Alex I’ve had enough… I’d be MORE THAN happy to watch quebec seperate. I would quite enjoy watching them crumble when they realize they can’t run their own provence (country?) without the money from the rest of (english) canada!! Good luck with that!

    That would indeed be a Joyeux Noel!

  20. 20
    Joe Agnost Says:

    Here is an article (Neil) that discusses the census figures and bilingualism failing…

    http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Columnists/Clancy_Roy/2007/12/05/4708493-sun.php

    Here’s a quote from the article to whet your whistle:

    “Census figures released yesterday reveal that, despite billions spent trying to make Canadians proficient in both official languages, anglophones’ knowledge of French outside Quebec increased a minuscule amount, from 7.1% to 7.4% between 2001 and 2006.

    More tellingly, the proportion of bilingual teens dropped from 16.3% to 13%, despite the 300,000 students outside Quebec who are enrolled in French immersion.”

    So the young (teens) aren’t retaining their french – how is that supposed to save this language?

  21. 21
    Joe Agnost Says:

    Another article on the wasted money spent on the failed bilingualism program. This one’s from today’s Ottawa Citizen:

    http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=e96d9573-a33a-4a65-a083-816796b04a6d&k=47938

    From the article:

    “Mr. Fraser made the comment following the release of 2006 census data that showed bilingualism is going down, not up, among teenagers — despite a multimillion-dollar federal action plan that aims to make half of all high school graduates bilingual by 2013.”

    You can’t legislate a dying language back to life!! It’s just a waste of time and MONEY!

  22. 22
    deetz Says:

    gawd, y ur all up in arms about the gov’t and the languages? Just give them a rest and focus on the one thing we can change, the environment.


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