Harper government divide and conquer – stirring up the language pot from the Nation’s Capitol – July 30, 2011 – Editorial by Jamie Gilcig

Cornwall ON –  The Harper government seems to be tinkering with its divide and conquer policies in Canada, this time doing in our Nation’s capital, Ottawa.    Media reports state that the Federal government has hired secret shoppers to see if businesses are serving consumers in French.

While I 100% support people being served by the government in the language of their choice, across Canada is it the government’s place to force businesses to provide language support in both languages?  Isn’t Mr. Harper’s party about less government intervention, not more?

The root of this type of media report is of course to cause division at a time when Canadians don’t really need to be divided.

There is a root language issue in Canada.    And of course the spin on the latest media report are the comments that I’ve read in some of those stories; essentially if Ottawa should be checked for French service why not Gatineau for English, which brings the eye back to Quebec and that my dear viewers is what this is all about.

Even though la Belle Province clearly voted Federally in the last election and the ghost of Separatism is all but dead; most Quebecers did not vote Conservative, because most Quebecers are not Conservative.   They like the Arts, healthcare, a good quality of life, and the ability to retire with some degree of respect and comfort.   Most Conservative governments in Canada and around the world don’t support those areas.

So the results are the divide and conquer story.    Mr. Harper during the last election sure raised a stink about a possible opposition coalition sanctioned by the Bloc, but he sure has so issue stirring up the pot in Quebec if it could serve his purpose of keeping the opposition divided.

Canadians are great people generally.   We’ve gotten along through thick and thin for over 200 years without a civil war.    We do need language reform and evolution in this country.  Thing can be better, they just don’t need spin and being divisive.

Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News

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James Moak


  1. The Quebec language laws are crazy! If they permitted some English signs on highways and in tourist-areas, I’m sure their income would grow from tourism. I heard of a Maple Syrup producer who had to take down his website because it was in English, aimed at the eastern USA where much of his sales came from.

    I agree that the people of Canada generally get along and can fumble through language barriers pretty nicely. I’ve been at Quebec flea-markets and other venues where there was very little English spoken, yet I was able to be understood and to understand the merchants, because everyone make an effort to communicate. What irks me is when the government decides that signs in one language only should be allowed in an area that is used by French and English alike.

    I was in Aylmer once, and there were some no-parking signs that said something like “No Parking – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between November and April between 8:00 and 10:00 am, and between 15:00 and 18:30 pm” but only in French. (of course, the sign would have had to be MUCH larger to accommodate both languages) There was no possible way I could figure out whether to park or not while whizzing along in traffic, but our governments do cause frustration with language through laws like this.

    I once read that the people of Northern Ireland had gotten along until activists created a dislike for their neighbors, based on religious ground. We all know what followed. Could it happen in Canada, if enough pot-stirring caused French and English to lose their tolerance for one another? I certainly hope not, but we’ve had our close calls – such as when the FLQ was in power, responsible for over 160 violent incidents which killed eight people and injured many more, including the bombing of the Montreal Stock Exchange in 1969. It all culminated in 1970 when British Trade Commissioner James Cross was kidnapped and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte was murdered by strangulation.

    My wish is to see a country that remains close-knit and where French and English (and other cultures) can live in harmony. The sign laws must be amended for starters. Politics should never get between citizens, as a way of creating division for the gain of a party or leader. Hopefully we’ll continue to have a peaceful country that becomes more unified with every passing year.

  2. Ah, Jamie, it’s disgusting. This man will stick at nothing in his lust to reform the country in his own image.

  3. I do not see how this is designed to divide Canadians, unless they ordered Mr Thibodeau to order a 7up in French on Air Canada, or force the Russell Township politicians to create a sign bylaw.

    A big problem with the Official Languages Act is that over the years it changed to give government employees the choice to work in the language of THEIR choice.
    Where numbers warrant, bilingual service should be given, sure, but keep the government out of private business and provide the same opportunity for employment where numbers warrant.

    The 2006 census listed a number beside the combined Ottawa / Gatineau. That must have been done to skew the numbers since they are 2 different cities in 2 different provinces.

    The Official Languages Act is over 40, how many 100’s of millions have been spent and the percentage numbers have not changed in Canada. And besides, why does Ontario and the rest of Canada have to change when Quebec does not give a inch?

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