Official Bilingualism could be compared to a ‘smoke ring’. This ring in Ontario, centered around Ontario’s French Language Services Act, included 22 designated areas of the province, and has gradually spread outward taking in more and more areas. Recently it was revealed that there are now 25 designated areas, which encompasses almost all of our province. This ‘smoke ring’ was puffed out by Premier David Peterson’s Ontario Liberal government in 1986, with no mandate from the people, and, due to miniscule media coverage, was unbeknown to most residents of Ontario, until it affected them personally.
This situation is presently being felt in Cornwall, Ontario, where the smoke ring is closing in on English-speaking nurses at the local Cornwall Community Hospital. They are being denied access to jobs and career advancement due to the imposition of official bilingualism!
It would appear very few, residents of Ontario are aware of the manner in which the French Language Services Act was passed, and no wonder! Anyone in Cornwall who is not familar with the details, might like to check the Hansard Report, under the date of November 18th, 1986, the date this Bill was passed. It should be available at your local library. The sole purpose of a Hansard is so that the electorate can be informed as to what has gone on in their Legislature.
The French Language Services Act, also known as Bill 8, was passed by only 55 members of the 125-member Ontario Legislature, not even one-half of the members in attendance, which certainly cannot be considered as being “passed unanimously” by the full Legislature. The 70 members who absented themselves presumably did so to indicate their disapproval. They would represent a huge majority of residents of Ontario who had absolutely no say in the passing of this Bill. It was passed almost entirely in the French language for the approximately 95% English-speaking residents of Ontario, and there was no recorded vote.
Many Canadians are of the misguided understanding that we live in a democracy, which in effect means that “the right to govern is derived from the consent of the governed”.
With almost nil media coverage prior to the passing of this Bill, one has to ask, if it was such fair and equitable legislation why were the details not made public? A well-respected Ontario Conservative MPP is on record as referring to the fact that there was no meaningful public discussion of the French Language Service Act, and no reference to a standing committee to look at what the implications of the legislation would mean to Ontario. He went on to say that the wholesale extension of French language services in Ontario represented a HORRENDOUS waste of taxpayers’ dollars, whose passage in l986 marked one of “the blackest days” in the history of the Legislature.
Unbelievable as it may seem, only after the Bill had been passed, and after permission had been granted to circumvent the rules, was an English translation of second and third reading provided, and this translation was hidden away under a different date!! (After much searching, it was found in the Hansard Report of November 24th, 1986).
Initial criteria for providing services “where numbers warrant” was soon neatly and unceremoniously disposed of.
A salute to the Cornwall public officials, including Mayor Bryan McGillis, of South Stormont, and Dr. Tombler, who have indicated their
Personal bilingualism may be a worthwhile personal pursuit, but ‘Official bilingualism’ is bilingualism enforced by law, with the astrnomical costs picked up by taxpayers!
Keep in mind the statements made, on November 13th, l982, to the Acadian Association of Nova Scotia by former Secretary of State Serge Joyal, (now a Senator)….quote “Everything we undertake, and everything we are doing to make Canada a French state is part of a venture I have shared for many years with a number of people”. He went on to say, “The idea, the challenge, the ambition of making Canada a French country both inside and outside Quebec … is something a little beyond the ordinary imagination”.
Does that not ring a bell as to what is presently taking place in our country?
(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)