SHOULD THERE BE MORE MONEY FOR BILINGUALISM?

Former New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord has given his language report to the Harper government.

He recommends that support for bilingualism be hiked to a billion dollars over five years with special attention to French minorities outside Quebec and the English minority within Quebec. Lord especially wants more emphasis on language training in early school years.

Naturally Quebec separatists are outraged by these proposals. They charge it is an attempt to make Quebec bilingual which, of course, it officially is.

However there is strong support for official bilingualism right across the country from a low of 53 per cent in Alberta to a high of 85 per cent in Quebec.

Do you agree there should be more support for Pierre Trudeau’s dream that Canada become a bilingual country.

27 Comments »

  1. 1
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “However there is strong support for official bilingualism right across the country from a low of 53 per cent in Alberta to a high of 85 per cent in Quebec.”

    I question these numbers…. I’d love to know what the question was that resulted in this outcome.

    For instance, if you ask ‘do you support bilingualism’ most canadians will answer yes. But if you tell them what the cost/benefit trade off is I think most would answer NO! It costs SO MUCH and produces SO LITTLE!

    “Do you agree there should be more support for Pierre Trudeau’s dream that Canada become a bilingual country.”

    Hell no! We’ve wasted more than enough money on this FAILED idea… aren’t we ever going to learn?!

  2. 2
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil wrote: “…Quebec separatists …charge it is an attempt to make Quebec bilingual which, of course, it officially is.”

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. Quebec has only one official language, according to its own legislation: French. The only thing officially bilingual about Quebec are a result of the provisions of the BNA Act which require that all printed laws and proceedings be published in both English and French, that both languages can be spoken in provincial assembly and the courts, and that publicy-funded schools be available in both languages (this latter provision amended about 10 years ago to reflect languages instead of religion). All of these bilingual requirements imposed upon Quebec are met grudgingly, reluctantly, and only to satisfy the letter of the constitutional law.

    Please clarify.

  3. 3
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Only New Brunswick is a constitutionally bilingual province since it said so in its own constitution adopted some years ago. Québec has inscribed the right to English schools and health and social English services in its health and social services act and in its education act. In matters of provincial jurisdiction documents must be available in English on demand. In matters of federal jurisdiction, English documents are mandatory. For matters of provincial jurisdiction Quebec law states that, although English texts are available, the French text only has legal value.
    As for bilingualism progress, as numbers show, it progresses with every new generation and, when dinosaurs of my generation will have become extinct, it will probably be better accepted.

  4. 4
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil writes: “Do you agree there should be more support for Pierre Trudeau’s dream that Canada become a bilingual country.”

    If by “bilingualism” you mean “official language status” then you are ONLY talking about the language of services provided by government. Then my answer is “no”. As long as Quebec is not officially bilingual and Bill 101 remains on the books, no further promotion of the two official languages should occur elsewhere in Canada, either on the federal or provincial level.

    If by “bilingualism” you mean the ability of individuals to speak English and French then my answer is: it is none of the government’s business what individuals decide to do in their private lives. Indeed, the argument can be made that those provisions of the Official Languages Act that deal with encouraging the use of either French or English in any settings other than governmental services is unconstitutional.

    Why? Because this would be discrimination on the basis of “language”. 300+ languages are spoken by individuals within the borders of Canada and you can’t single out any one or two languages for special treatment. This holds especially true for the English and French languages which by virtue of their official language status get an automatic boost in the non-governmental sector. For that reason along, they should be at the bottom of the list of languages for consideration of any special treatment.

    Of course, that is the reason why “language” was never included as a prohibited base of discrimination in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; doing so would have probably rendered those provisions of the Official Languages Act dealing with non-governmental services discriminatory. But there is now some question whether the Charter provisions on discrimination nevertheless applies to unlisted bases such as “language”.

    Ironically, the one province’s rights charter that DOES include “language” as a prohibited base is Quebec which, of course, does discriminate on the basis of language (i.e., much of Bill 101).

    Let’s all remember that there are 51 aboriginal languages spoken within the borders of Canada, of which about 48 are on the verge of extinction. Some have 100 speakers; others have a dozen; several have one or two speakers left… in light of this fact, any talk about promoting bilingualism is truly obscene, Eurocentric, and, yes, downright racist.

  5. 5
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “As for bilingualism progress, as numbers show, it progresses with every new generation…”

    Where do you get your stats from???

    The numbers released by Bernard Lord indicate that the numbers are GOING DOWN, not UP! O.B. has been an utter failure, and an expensive one too!

  6. 6

    So far as I am aware, the federal bilingualism act applies in Quebec.

    Whatever the ins and outs of various laws (including Bill 101 which helped keep Quebec in Canada), Quebec, by any criterion, is the most practically bilingual province in Canada.

  7. 7
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil:

    Of COURSE “the federal bilingualism act applies in Quebec” as far as federal government services are concerned; this is the case for all 10 provinces across Canada.

    The confusion is that you stated that Quebec was officially bilingual which of course it isn’t.

    As far as Bill 101 keeping Quebec within Canada, you’re probably right.

    But, you see, this is a price that a growing number of Canadians aren’t willing to continue paying. I don’t speak for only a few Canadians when I say that we don’t WANT Quebec within Canada anymore.

    Quebec: OUT!

  8. 8

    Quebec under Bill 22 is officially French. It’s what gives the OLF state police the right to harass people. In the streets of Montreal, we are proficiently bilingual – elsewhere we are not. But notice our “leaders” and their rhetoric about this. It’s a problem for them.

    There is no doubt English texts are available so the Quebec government gets “A” for effort there.

    Some realism is needed here: forcing people to learn, I assume, French in B.C. is of little practical value to them. They are better off learning a Chinese or Indian dialect. It seems to me the best thing we can do is just ensure Quebecers are serviced well across the country and that should be the extent of it. Beyond this is social engineering.

    French is valuable within the borders of Quebec. Beyond that it’s a cultural luxury. I welcome learning many languages but at what cost should this be? Focus on immersion schools. This seems fair to all. If citizens feel it is necessary they will use it. If not, they have spoken. Move on. We have bigger problems to deal with.

    Paul, true. But I think this will lead to multi-lingualism at which point French will have to compete with many languages. You can legislate tp protect and force up to a point. I am guessing here.

    I agree mostly with…Mr. Kondaks.

    It’s wasted money to fill a dream.

  9. 9
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I’m all for competition, it is healthful and immersion courses in whatever language is a worthy way to go.

  10. 10
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Let’s speak the truth that no one dares to speak:

    French is a folk language of little use beyond Chicoutimi, Quebec City and some parts of Three Rivers.

    If it wasn’t, why else would there be a Bill 101?

  11. 11
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “French is a folk language of little use beyond Chicoutimi, Quebec City and some parts of Three Rivers.”

    Totally…

    The language of business THROUGHOUT the world is english. I work for a large (60,000+ employees) french company. The HQ is in france and you’ll never guess which language is the official language of this company…. that’s right – it’s NOT french but english.

    This silly social experiment (attempting to keep french relevant) is a waste of time and money… and isn’t doing a damn thing.

  12. 12
    jim Says:

    As far as I know, only the Federal Government is bilingual in English and French, not the the country.With the passing of that law it turns out that now the French Canadian is disproportionally represented in Ottawa.However everyone should learn a second language if only to broaden their own horizons. But if one really wants to get the biggest bang for the trouble of learning a second language, that second language should be Spanish. As it now stands if one wants to be global and wants to communicate with the greatest number of people, they should learn English and Spanish. (Mandarin isn’t global and French is way down the list). I think that the French Canadians could take over Canada some day, as at the present time they are the largest voting block at about 25%. All that have to do is keep doing IT and get the head count up to about 40% and then they could have it all. Has anyone noticed that 40% the population in Toronto was not born there. Also that 50,000 French Canadians have left Quebec. I think the biggest influence for non-english to learn English is television from the States.Just jottings folks…..

  13. 13
    Cornelius T. Zen Says:

    Good day, all! Tony makes the point most relevant: The French language in North America is a minority language, and ranks behind Spanish as a first or second language of choice. The people of Quebec cannot make themselves understood in Paris or the countryside of France anyway. It is not French, it is Joual, and protecting the language by forcing non-Joual speakers to learn it, or use it in business or government service, is merely indulging European liberal guilt at its worst.
    More money for bilingualism? Better yet: privatize it, and let the market dictate the nature, availability and quality of language instruction. Quebec already dictates the agenda in Ottawa. The tail already wags the dog. Perhaps we should all learn sign language. CTZen.

  14. 14
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    The great human rights activist Howard Galganov claims that appeasing Quebec and official bilingualism has already cost Canada $1 trillion.

    I can’t account for his figures but even if the cost is 1/10th of what he claims, his arguments certainly make alot of sense:

    http://www.galganov.com/editorials.asp?ID=973

  15. 15
    Chimera Says:

    Just where is Bernard Lord planning to “find” this billion dollars he wants to spend, anyway?

    Not in MY pocket!

    He’s the premier of the only bilingual province in the country, and it works there, so he figures it will work everywhere.

    He’s wrong.

    Trudeau was wrong.

    Passing laws that say we are bilingual does not make bilingualism a reality. Those laws are all unenforceable, and they’re an embarrassment to us as a nation.

    I’d love to speak a second language again. But it would not be French. And it would definitely not be that bastard-cousin-of-French that Quebeckers claim is so precious…that cannot be understood beyond their own borders.

  16. 16
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    In all my 77 years I’ve never read nor heard so much hatred, condescension and prejudice as I have on this site since this morning. I feel sorry for all of you guys.
    Fortunately there silent others out there who are silent and less bigoted.
    Over and out.

  17. 17
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “In all my 77 years I’ve never read nor heard so much hatred, condescension and prejudice as I have on this site since this morning. I feel sorry for all of you guys.”

    Who do you feel sorry for? Your post doesn’t make it clear…

    And where is this “hatred, condescension and prejudice” you speak about??

    “Fortunately there silent others out there who are silent and less bigoted.”

    Why is it “fortunate” if they’re “silent”?? How does that help ANYBODY?

  18. 18

    Quoting Howard Galganov on bilingualism is like quoting the KKK on racism.

  19. 19
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Thank you Neil.

  20. 20
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Paul:

    I challenge you to cite one instance of hatred that you read here this morning, please.

    Neil:

    The KKK is much closer to the Liberal Party of Quebec, the PQ, and the federal government when it comes to racism and discrimination than any position Howard Galganov may have taken.

    —-

    The days when the politically-correct try and pull the wool over everyone’s eyes by claiming that those who oppose legislation such as Bill 101 and the official languages act are somehow intolerant and racist are over. Indeed, it is THEY that are the intolerant ones and the racists and it is those that oppose language legislation that are the equality-minded ones. They know it and we know it.

    The jig is up.

  21. 21

    Quite frankly, I am surprised that the word “racism” is being thrown around here. It’s a civil discussion where I think the proper questions are being raised.

    If Galganov is compared to the KKK, I shutter to think what the government of both “Canada’s” can draw comparisons to.

  22. 22
    Chimera Says:

    Paul: What hatred? What condescension? What prejudice? Where?

    What are you guys talking about?

  23. 23
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    J’y renonce. Si vous ne voyez pas la haine dans un commentaire comme: “Quebec out”. Si vous ne voyez pas le dédain dans les commentaires sur la langue des québécois ni les préjugés que ces commentaires charrient, alors la situation est inextricable. Lord Durham doit être, dans sa tombe, un homme heureux.
    Quant à moi, je crois qu’il est temps d’arrêter ce dialogue de sourds.
    Au revoir.

  24. 24
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Quoting Howard Galganov on bilingualism is like quoting the KKK on racism.”

    What an unbelievably offensive statement… at least I no longer have to take anything Neil says seriously – he obviously left reality long ago.

    Paul: Way to ignore my points (and Tony too)…

  25. 25
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Paul wants us to believe there is “hatred” in the opinion I expressed when I wrote “Quebec: OUT!”.

    Well, Paul, what does that say about 60% of all quebecois-de-souche who voted “yes” in the last referendum? You see, they also want “Quebec out!” of Canada.

    Are those several million people also full of hatred?

    You’re going to have to do better than that, Paul. Wanting Quebec to separate is recognizing that there are two separate and incompatible visions currently residing within the bosum of Canada which is, simply, untenable.

    I, too, am a separatist for that very reason. And I want Quebec to separate INTACT. And have held that position for the past 20 years.

    Please see the following: http://tinyurl.com/yovzr4

  26. 26
    jim Says:

    Does anyone recall Galganov comparing the Quebec language office
    to the KKK?

  27. 27
    Chimera Says:

    For everyone else who is not bilingual, the non-English diatribe from the suddenly sensitive Paul translates as:

    “I give up it. If you do not see hatred in a comment like: “Quebec out”. If you do not see scorn in the comments on the language of the inhabitants of Quebec nor the prejudices which these comments cart, then the situation is inextricable. Lord Durham must be, in his tomb, a happy man. As for me, I believe that it is downtime this dialogue of the deaf. Goodbye.”

    If it’s not accurate, blame Babelfish for not being able to recognize it as French. Or Joual, for not being French.

    There are probably more people in this country who speak lolcat or leetspeak with fluency than proper French. Should we make them official and mandatory languages, as well? Or perhaps we should find a language that does not allow for dissent and differences of opinions. Chinese (mandarin or cantonese — take your pick) comes to mind.

    And I had to look up Howard Galganov to find out who he was and why his name conjured up such a fuss. Way to get obscure, guys! Jeez!

    Ev’body on the rag, or what?


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