While I have many personal feelings on this subject as a Quebec Anglo refugee living in Ontario who will most likely never live in Quebec again of course that slants me.
But now some of the bizarre banana republic laws and wants are creeping into Ontario in a big way.
Russell Township has spent almost as much taxpayer money as Howard Galganov and Friends have spent fighting a commercial sign language law. It’s stunning. How it’s got through the courts this far I have no idea. It’s enough to even have someone like me start to consider some of the language conspiracies hard right wingers and Libertarians love to talk about.
We live in an amazing country. Truly one of the best, but one that’s always been divided to a degree; but that divide is also something that’s made us special.
That has been at a cost that is now being used by the right to help solidify the Harper Majority and help them hold onto power.
This last election left the NDP Quebec centric as they recorded the most seats they’ve ever won by over twofold. Not an easy chore. Led by now leader Thomas Mulcair they are on the precipice of possibly even winning an election.
And that’s where the language war steps in. Most Canadians and I think deep down most Quebecers find many of Quebec’s language laws repugnant. You really can’t force people to embrace a language and culture. That only happens by choice; by wanting what’s there.
As a youngun I’d watch Hockey in French sometimes. I’d sneak and watch Bleu Nuit 🙂 Growing up in the 70’s I’d rebel against my dad and threaten to join the PQ and there was a part of me enjoyed a lot of what was happening.
But then as I grew older I hit those walls that only an Anglo Montrealer can empathize with. I like thousands of others made the choice to leave. Heck millions of French Quebecers have left too.
Now Eastern Ontario has become the new battleground. From the Bilingual Nurse issue here in Cornwall; to Commercial signs in Russell Township it’s creeping in.
Personally I don’t think anyone should ever be told what to put on their commercial sign. A commercial sign is what you choose to use to attract business. If you live in an area that is 90% English and want to put up a Chinese sign that’s your silliness. It’s up to customers to pursue your service or not.
Language of work and government services? English is the majority language in Canada by far. Do we really need to require Supreme court justices to be bilingual? Does that make any sense? We have technology now that can translate things quite well. It’s improving too. Where do we draw the lines? I live in a city with a nursing college where the grads have to leave to find jobs unless they are French or can pass ridiculous French tests that many Francophones could not pass!
In Montreal local McGill med students have had to agree to not practice in Quebec. This is utterly silly. It’s embarrassing. It’s not productive. It will not make people want to learn French or embrace the culture. Does the rest of Canada have any obligation even to help preserve the French language and culture? Should it not simply be Francophones who do that?
Should we offer French services in Hospitals and government services. Yup. I agree, but should people have to move from Ontario because they don’t speak French? Nope. Should people lose jobs that they’ve had for years as one woman I know here in Cornwall has experienced simply because she can’t speak French well enough in Ontario?
Even Quebec doesn’t agree with such policies as it has used the Not Withstanding law to avoid language fairness. Nobody in Quebec loses their job because they can’t speak English.
So we have two choices. We create a fair and even playing field where if we require true bilingualism we have to pay the cost to ensure that children graduate high school with the level of French and English that allow them to be employed or we come to some more practical solution.
English in provinces that chose that language; French in provinces that chose French; or Bilingual as is the case in New Brunswick. We have to decide if Language is truly the domain of the Federal government or Provincial ones. We have to stop spending millions wastefully; and we have to be fair to all Canadians from coast to coast.
In the meanwhile we need to be wary of politicians who would pit Canadians against one an other because of language. We need to unite and not divide. We need to listen to all concerned and at the end of the day give and take and show the world why Canada is so great!
We may just need a language Referendum in this country at the next election….
Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News
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