Language Battles Heating Up in Canada – Does Canada Need a Referendum? Editorial by Jamie Gilcig – June 22, 2012

CFN – Language is a hot topic again in Canada this summer and I have a hunch as our economy slithers down the loo as resource prices tumble we’ll see it get even hotter.

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

(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.)



  1. Alright Folks. I’m challenging Stella and Patrick here….

    Ok guys. I will be in Cornwall for the week of August 5. I would be very proud to meet either of you. Perhaps you’ll be kind enough to teach me some French so that I’ll have a better chance at success inthe world of work? What lame excuse would you use this time? If you do believe in bilingualism and you have advocated here pretty strongly that you do, would you be so kind as to teach a poor soul such as myself the way? We could meet at a Tim Hortons or another public place? THis is my way of extending the olive branch and making amends for some of the not-so-honourable things I’ve said to either of you.

    So, what say you?

  2. Stella are you trying to misdirect the conversation? So typical of someone who is losing an argument.

    “Quick, look at that pink elephant over there!”

  3. CFRA website informal poll today – we once again face the threat of Quebec separation, should Canadians do as much as we did in 1995 to fight for the federalist cause?
    No, is listed at 82.8% of 845 votes.

    The power has shifted in Canada and people are growing tired of the continuous whine of demands.

  4. Author

    Now Eric CFRA’s audience is kinda one sided…. 🙂 That’s not really a surprising result.

  5. Author

    Yes Robert, we can set up polls and petitions.

  6. Them may I suggest a referendum on Official Bilingualism.

    As in

    Are you in favour of a referendum on Official Bilingualism ?




  7. Does the more then $57 million from the Prov and Fed gov towards immigrants a benefit to most Canadians? I am sure that many Canadians won’t be happy with these funds going towards immigrants especially when many are losing their jobs because of cutbacks and closures. READ MY LIPS… happens all the time where funds are allocated to groups where, as a tax payer, we don’t reap the rewards nor do we benefit. As for Moncton…..let them deal with their own problems……we have enough of our own. Question: How many bloggers have been to Moncton…..just wondering.

  8. Since Micheal Harris left CFRA it is even more conservative, right you are Admin.
    I believe CFRA has some kind of poll blocking though, one computer address allows only one vote.

    stellabystarlight, no one has complained on here about the Ontario Trillium Foundation (Ontario Taxpayer funded) providing over 23,000 dollars to the Francophone monumnet on Water. Or that the school board (taxpayer funded) supplies the flags. We often complain there is no money to help seniors or others, or complain of high tax, but the money needs to be spent better as we can not be a parent to the world much longer.

    I was through New Brunswick, love the Covered Bridge chips, but stella, NB and Ontario have much in common.

  9. Not recently…last time was about 25 years ago.

  10. Cory, with respect, nope. I don’t wish to meet you. Your too condescending, plus, you want to meet me so I could teach you french. You have said that you are fully bilingual many times, that your university educated….good for you. You have said that you are biter and been passed over for high paying jobs because of language…If you speak both languages, and are university educated. Maybe language isnt the problem for you .Meeting you would probably be a colossal waste of time..for me.

    I agree with admin again. Man, I don’t believe i said that. CFRA is very biased, and if you listen to the lowell green show, every caller with the exception of a few agrees with him.
    Chretien was assertive and direct. A career politician, he saved our country from going bankrupt. He made tough decision, and is one of the founders of the charter of rights and freedoms, and the repatriation of the constitution. People judged him for his heavy accent, but, I bet that to some here, chrétien s english is better then their french. Jean Chrétien didnt have the trudeau charisma but he had heart..and did a heck of alot better job then the dolt we have now as PM.
    I’ll agree in part with cory on the Québec issue. Québec has every tool to succeed on it’s on, but i prefer it to stay in Canada. A strong Canada, alot of diversity, protected by our Constitution.

  11. The Dominion Day survey conducted by Abacus Data provides some unique insights into how Canadians view their country on the eve of a national hoedown to celebrate 145 years of Confederation. Abacus polled 1,008 Canadians on June 20-23 to learn which provinces rock and which flop.

    Quebec came out of the poll jilted, scoring a failing grade in three areas – worst managed (47%), worst place to open a business (25%), and home to the least friendly people (45%).

    “Quebec’s brand outside the province is very weak,” said Coletto. “No one really wants to visit,” he said of the province mired in a corruption scandal and still reeling from student protests.

  12. Hey Patrick…though you may be mean… the very least nobody here can say you’re dishonest with your opinions. I guess you have that going for you, no? As far as condescending. You’re absolutely right and correct in that assertion. Trouble is friend, which one of us is not admitting to being that way? (See comments directed towards me – as they leave much to be desired).

    You wrote: “I don’t wish to meet you. Your too condescending…”

    Now friend, which one of us is say, ‘condescending’?

    Too bad though, I tried extending the olive branch and meant it too. I guess open dialogue is one way in which to try and see eye-to-eye with someone you don’t agree with. Diplomats, nations, groups and individuals try to do it all the time. (sign) Oh well!

    Tell me the truth, Patrick. Do you really not want to meet me as you say ‘with respect’. Because if I were to write that, I would mean it. Much like I meant when I wrote of the desire to meet. And I really do write these things with much respect.

    Do you feel others here are condescending as well?

    With Kindest Regards,


  13. First off, you weren t extending an olive ranch, maybe one with alot of thorns. You are condescending, you keep saying your university educated, quoting googled searches, and, this is supposed to be all in defense of bilingualism..and the discrimination that you were a victim of….even though you are fully bilingual….in one post you said that you felt sorry for us..if that isnt condescending ..what is ?
    To answer your question, some have been mean, calling me an ass hole, idiot and a moron. I have done no such thing to them..nope on all the post i have read that were directed to me…your the only one that has been condescending.
    I do agree with you that an open discussion is a good thing. I’ll add an open and respectful discussion is even better.

  14. Time to make all these great related articles easier to find..

    MP Guy Lauzon & Minister Moore Confronted by Cornwall Ontario LFA Protest in Chesterville by Don Smith HD VIDEO

    LFA: Language Fairness Group Hosts First Official Public Meeting by Don Smith

    Language Fairness for All – New Organization & Website in Cornwall Ontario

    Language Battles Heating Up in Canada – Does Canada Need a Referendum?

  15. I am happy to congratulate Cornwall Free News for not being afraid to discuss the sacred cow of bilingualism. They will be known as heros in the english campaign to regain their rightful place in their own country. Thank you CFN – you are respected and appreciated. Got a sibling you could coerce into joining us too? LOL

  16. The BILLIONS of $ WASTED on this bilingual garbage would be a lot better spent on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, making sure kids have a decent luch in school, or hey, how about building residences for the aged. Gee you might even consider building new hospitals with modern equipment staffed by nurses & Dr.’s making sure the native’s have good housing & clean water, or even having the money wated on bilingualism kept in the provinces which pay for this propping up of a dying 3rd world nation, which less that 1/4 of the population even cares about! Get rid of this OBTUSE waste of money, and start spending the BILLIONS on something worth while and will benifit over 3/4 of the population!!! If not, the western provinces should simple STOP sending any money to Ottawa so it cannot be wasted on garbage like this, & we’ll spend it on our citizen’s for hospitals, and feeding them etc., etc., etc!

  17. To Patrick: If you can’t see that I’ve extended an olive branch in your direction then there is no hope for you to see what we’ve been trying to explain to you for months now. That our Canadian laws are unfair to a majority of it’s citizens….

    Now, why would I want to meet you in person, sir. Because lol hahahah alot can be learned through body language that can’t be learned through blogging or even telephone conversations! Excuse me for attempting to truly understand where you are coming from. It was done (again: I, as of now no longer care what you think), with the best of intentions. I would judge from your body language how you truly feel about this issue. But I must add, nice of you not to want to meet me. I guess you answered my questions without having to meet you in person.

    Tipping my tophat to you and adjusting my monocle,
    And not that warrant it,
    But I honestly mean it to say, “Have a good day”

  18. For one thing, Latin was compulsory as a second language, not French. This only changed when Trudeau came into power. Not all of us were privileged to learn a second language at home. Also, when seeking a job we should be judged on our ability to do the job, and know how to read, write and speak good English which most French can’t do as they study English in the French language, Englais. That is not learning proper English. So let us be like the States and speak one Official Language which is English. The government should stop kissing Quebec’s butt and let them suffer. Stop all money taken from other provinces and going to Quebec. If they want to separate, then let them. They don’t deserve our help and it, the money, should go into our Healthcare system and other areas where needed.

  19. Yes, we most certainly need a Referendum across the country of Canada and I can see having Bilingual services where numbers warrant ! but the issue that I have a problem with – is the French testing of the English folks – apparently alot of the French folks wouldn’t be able to pass them either. If they had the SAME kind of English testing of the French folks, there’s a good bet that very few of the French folks would be passing these tests !! for bilingual job positions. For the most part, there’s is certainly no need for everyone to be bilingual in all job positions !!! From my experience in New Brunswick, there’s certainly no equality between the English and the French there at all, they’re only interested in turning that province into another Little Quebec !! so intent are they to not be assimilated by the English language – as if !! and now we’re seeing the same thing happening here in Ontario . . .

  20. And a good day to you as well cory, I’ll repeat what you said once and…we will agree to disagree. Barbra, I have no interest in becoming the fifty first state. And, you wrong that we are all taught anglais, check with most french schools in Cornwall. THere are different kinds of english courses for french speaking students. It all depends on the level of proficiency us francophones have.
    To have the ability to do the job, if you can’t talk to one third of the population of Cornwall, then you don’t have the ability to do the job.

  21. Patrick, you wrote:

    And a good day to you as well cory, I’ll repeat what you said once and…we will agree to disagree.

    Thank you Patrick.

  22. We need a vote to dump bilingualism, transfer payments to QB and even to dump quebec altogether. LET THEM EAT FRENCH!

  23. The Official Languages Act is an act of Genocide against the English speaking, Canadian majority. A brilliant plot indeed that is being financed by the intended victims.

  24. Yes a referendum is needed … people if that happened what do you think will happen .Sad to say french is a lost cause when they cant teach it to their own.

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