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

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.)


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

  1. Hothead   June 22, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    H*LL next election -have it now !

    spoken from the heart !

  2. Kenneth T. Tellis   June 22, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    What the Liberal Party of Robert Bourassa and the Federal Liberal Party Pierre Trudeau attempted to do on June 22, 1974 was to pass Bill 22, to limit people from using ENGLISH in Kebec. But along came the Neo Fascist under Rene Levesque who wanted to force their Joual-Language down the throats of Kebec’s minorities by the passage ofBill 101 in August 1977. Thes moves were racially based and not unlike those of NAZI GERMANY during the 1930s.

    The Nazis used their Brown Shirts to intimidate minorities and the Parti Kebecois used rabble like the Patriotes to push their agenda. Both, were vicious in their methods and got the minorities angry enough to oppose them. You cannot enact laws on common sense any more than you can coece people to become intelligent, that was the mistake of the Nazis and the pequistes.

  3. Heather Wilkins   June 22, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    Bravo Jamie! Thank-you for telling it like it is. Referendum? Bring it on!!

  4. Louise Dubois   June 22, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    I agree bring on a referendum right now but make sure everyone across Canada knows just what bilingualism is all about and what the repercusions are bound to be!!!

  5. Laura Lee   June 22, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    If we are to offer bilingual services in Ontario, let’s adopt Quebec’s best practices. They require 50% of the population to be a minority in order to provide bilingual services ON REQUEST ONLY.

  6. admin   June 22, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Hi Laura, how about not working to the lowest common denominator. How about if two candidates are truly equal the one with the extra language gets the nod?

  7. Robert K. Monckton   June 22, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    New Brunswick was made an official Bilingual province by the Liberals without the consent or input of the people.

    In May 2011, NB Liberal Opposition house leader Bill Fraser admitted that the majority were against New Brunswick’s Official Languages Act.

    ” Bill Fraser, the Opposition house leader, said Alward should be leading, not deferring to the public.

    “We’re elected as MLAs to make difficult decisions and make decisions on behalf of New Brunswickers. People put their trust in us to do that,” he said.

    “If politicians hide behind referendums every time a tough decision needs to be made, I’m not sure how far the province is going to move forward.”

    Fraser says the latter vote was heavily influenced by those with large resources, while the landmark – and contentious – Official Languages Act wouldn’t have passed a public vote.”

  8. Laura Lee   June 22, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Let’s lobby the Ontario Conservative government-in waiting to scale back McIdiot’s crazy expansion of French services. Dolt tripled expenses on bilingualism using our “health premium”. Making French language and wind mills a priority is an insanity.

  9. admin   June 22, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Laura you just exposed yourself. So sad….

  10. G. Lawson   June 22, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    YES, of course we need a vote on this OBTUSE waste of money which trudeau slipped in on a late Friday move! The people of Canada should be asked if they would like to continue to waste Billions of $ on a language that is about as relevent in 3/4 of the country as Latin is, instead of hospitals, or the homeless, the hungry or a living pension for the aged. The money wasted by the fed’s in an attempt to buy votes in quebec, on the backs of the non-french speaking people who use to live in quebec should also be considered a CRIME! We should also have a vote to see if we would like to continue to be the bank for some 3rd rate francophony commonwealth which was also a real sleezy trick which that thing trudeau was so very good at. If we do not get a vote on this garbage, then the west should stop sending money to Ottawa, & keep the money here to build & supply new hospitals, house the homeless, feed the hungry, & take care of the aged people with half decent pensions. We coulod supply free higher education for the kids in the west. The money saved should also be used to help the Indian Nations have clean water, and houses that are not falling down. They also deserve good medical care & education which we could fund. All this should be done instead of funding a dying language that is of no value & completly useless to 3/4 of the population, or used to pay for the establishment of a facist style Gestapo language police. I am fed-up with my tax money being sent to Ottawa so a politician can turn it right over to quebec in a vain attempt to stay in power!

  11. Laura Lee   June 22, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    If I exposed myself, you exposed yourself, too, Jamie admin.

  12. admin   June 22, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    Yes, Laura, but I wasn’t the one name calling and be abusive. This isn’t CFRA or the Standard Free Holder. CFN actually aspires to have a higher level of debate and discussion.

    If you can’t defend or promote your position without being abusive I don’t think you have much of a position.

  13. former Kebecer   June 22, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    What did Laura say?
    Make English Canada as French as Kebec is English. English signs twice as big as French, communities have to be 50% francophone to qualify for services, etc. etc. Bilingualism ONLY works if it start with and IN Kebec. Period.

  14. Laura Lee   June 22, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    I see you hold Patrick’s et al’s outrageous lies as the CFN high standard. Au revoir.

  15. admin   June 22, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Again you prove my point Laura. You were challenged for being abused. Your reaction was to lash out and throw a hissy fit. You obviously can’t defend your position. You do your point of debate a huge disservice.

    If you actually read this piece I think my position is quite clear and my own.

  16. Barry Renouf   June 22, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    One thing is for sure, it is great that you have good newspapers in Cornwall. Language issues are virtually extinct in the Irving owned newspapers! in N.B.

  17. Hothead   June 22, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    The government should respect its population and allow a vote on referendum:
    If we are to believe that we are in a democracy -our government should let us vote on this:
    Government jobs all people should have that opportunity but because Im not french.
    I don’t have a right-I do pay taxes to my government I still don’t have a right to work for my own government!

  18. Bud   June 22, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Politicians have divided the entire country into two groups. It makes it easier for the french versus english social engineering scheme.

    The majority of the country may speak english, however we are made up of over 100 cultures.

    Why is a Chinese person called an englishmen because they speak english. If this was truly the case, wouldn’t the majority of french people who CAN speak english be called english people as well?

    You see if everyone’s true cultures were respected, french wouldn’t be the minority… god what would they do then.

    Until we all are respected for our individual cultures this facade will continue.

  19. Eric   June 23, 2012 at 5:35 AM

    Intelligent, calm discussions towards actual need, definitions, hiring expectations etc. should be first, however I would go along with a Canada wide vote to suspend language acts till that time.

    If you a government a chance to make a department, it will expand, create work for it’s self and do very well with self promotion….

  20. Eric   June 23, 2012 at 5:37 AM

    If you GIVE a government a chance to make a department, it will expand, create work for it’s self and do very well with self promotion….and spending our money!

  21. Mare   June 23, 2012 at 6:08 AM

    Today’s Globe and Mail (front page) is also looking at this issue, asking: On the eve of Saint Jean Baptist Day is bilingualism relevant in an era of rising multilingualism?

    If we look at some Canada’s major cities, many Canadians would be far better off learning Punjabi or Cantonese.

    One of my own family-members is fluent in Chinese and has had great educational and career advantages as a result.

  22. Mare   June 23, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Does anyone have a copy of the French test required of nurses?

  23. admin   June 23, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Mare the testing is done by a company from Ottawa; usually verbally via tape or cd. We have yet to see a written test.

  24. Highlander   June 23, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Mare; Here’s a link to the Globe & Mail article

    “Is Bilingualism Still Relevant in Canada”

    Let Canadians decide,not politicians!

  25. Highlander   June 23, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    take a look at this –

  26. Highlander   June 23, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    Even Quebec politicians refer to Quebec a a country!!

    yet all in Canada must speak french to work for their own country!


  27. Randy R   June 23, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    It’s time for a national referendum on Bilingualism adn the Official Languages Act. Canadians have paid far too many billions , maybe trillions, of tax dollars into promoting this policy that benefits Quebec and francophones–and a few bilinguals outside Quebec. A Law and policies that does not benefit the majority of Canadians is a Law and policies that need to be abolished!!


  28. Jessie   June 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    I 100% agree with Robert k. Monckton’s post. Just like the rest of Canada, New Brunswick was made bilingual without any vote or consultation of the people of this province. The reality of this crap hole is that as a Anglophone, you will NEVER get a good paying job government or even private sector now no matter how educated you are unless you’re French. Our government believes that woman deserve equal pay as men and if not then its discrimination yet pay companies subsidies to pay 2.00-5.00 more per hour than the English colleague doing the exact same job ( or more than French like my work) how is not paying woman the same as men discrimination but paying a francophone more than a Anglophone is not????? This province is Bullshit. Alberta is looking better and better ( for all you tenuous politicians wondering that can’t figure it out on their own; THAT’S why people leave here for Alberta. Has NOTHING to do with no job availability..there’s plenty of jobs! But only if you’re a Frenchman. If you’re English you get to work in a call center or restaurant for the rest of your life.

  29. Erin O'Connor   June 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    admin I agree with Laura

  30. Mare   June 23, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    People should try to refrain from using Nazis in relation to what’s happening in Canada along linguistic lines. The comparison is flawed on many levels and lessens – almost to the point of being obscene – the horrors experienced by victims of that regime.

  31. Cory Cameron   June 23, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Jessie unfortunately it’s true! No amount of propaganda seems to convince me otherwise. It does seem that way! If you’re French, you’re in; anything else get out!

    But it seems that even if you do speak, read, or write French or all three; you’re still marginalized by the civil service and now, increasingly the private sector as well. This has got to stop as any non-French, educated person is being forced into artificial poverty for no other reason than a perceived lack of knowledge of a language! Not democratic in any way, shape or form!

  32. Laura Lee   June 23, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Mare, who did that? (using Nazi as a refrain to what’s happening with bilingualism?).

    But I see admin has no problem with Komorowsky comparing Ezra Levant to Goebbels and Harper to Hitler and throwing other vile insults at PM.

    Talk about admin’s selective sensibilities.

  33. stellabystarlight   June 23, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Thank-you for the laughs!!!!

  34. Tom   June 24, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Baby, Komorowski’s Korner blog on Jamie’s website is not about bilingualism.

  35. admin   June 24, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    Tom it’s Richard’s column; not his “blog”.

  36. mariah   June 24, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    We need a referendum,it should have been done in the beginning of this tyranny,It’s shameful & very disrespectful to 80% of the population of Canada that politicians will do anything to win Quebec votes on the backs of seniors who don’t all have enough to live on,mental issues,poverty,healthcare & food issues with out harmful toxins.
    All this forced bilingualism should be halted til a referendum is done.We voted this gang in we could vote them out,however,what else is there? These giants PC’s ,NDP with Lib trailing,ironic isn’t it that the one that began this wasteful mess is trailing now.A big thank you to CFN for printing the truth,better to light one candle than to curse the dark.

  37. Darcy Neal   June 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Language is perpetuated in our homes. We learnt our languages from our parents and we teach our children to speak our mother tongues. Some of us were privileged and exposed to a second, third or more languages due to our community environments. Some of us were granted language learning opportunities by our parents decisions to immense us in said learning opportunities. Individuals who wish to promote and develop any language be it Cantonese or C++ may offer their services in the open competitive free market environment. When governments take resources from the free market and allocates some of those resource including granting monopolistic powers to one or more special interest groups such as Christians, it distorts spontaneous market order.

    Language was created by free people exchanging sounds during voluntary exchanges within non regulated market environments. When our European ancestors conquered this lands, they imposed their mother tongues upon the native peoples. However, without any language protections (actually language suppression) some of our native languages have survived within their respective community environments.

    As a representative of the Libertarian political parties, we approve of individual choice, family choice and community choice regarding language options. All languages shall be voluntarily accepted by willing learners consenting under their own terms. No language should ever be imposed or coerced upon individuals. Language choice belongs to the people not the governments.

  38. silent majority 2   June 24, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    This happens much more then people realize-hundreds of thousands of times .

    If a hospital administrator really cared about the community they served they would have a high standard of excellence in hiring policies.
    Since the introduction of the FLSA at CCH & many other hospitals, the level of excellence has all but disappeared.Now people are hired only because of ONE requirement- LANGUAGE!!!!!
    Please read LTE from a gentleman from New Brunswick, another
    perfect example of discrimination happening in our country.
    He’s good enough to fight & die for his country,but not he’s not good enough to work in his OWN country.

    Language discrimination at Oromocto Public Hospital

    Letters to the Editor:

    My name is John Lowther and I am a retired military medical radiation technologist with more than 29 years experience in the X-ray field.

    I have been deployed to Afghanistan, Bosnia and was recently in Haiti after the earthquake devastated their country.

    Serving as chief technologist on all these deployments, I’ve worked on NATO and coalition forces as well as with civilians.

    Retiring in 2005 and relocating to Oromocto, I began working at Oromocto Public Hospital as an X-ray technologist, first as a casual and now as a permanent part-time employee.

    Recently we had a full-time position become available but apparently I am not qualified enough to work at OPH as I do not speak French.

    In the 6.5 years of working here, I have never had any problems being able to communicate with my patients.

    A recent competition for this job went out to the technologists within the Horizon Health zone three area. There were four techs who applied for this position.

    A tech with 20 plus years, one with 17 plus years, myself with 29 plus years and a tech with six plus years.

    The tech with six plus years was awarded the position as she was French. She later turned down the position.

    It is apparent that experience is not a priority. The position then should have gone to the tech with 20 plus years as she has the most seniority within the network.

    But to slap us in the face a second time, Horizon Health decided to run another competition but this time, extend it to the rest of the province.

    Apparently they had only had one applicant who happens to be French.

    The closing date for this competition was the April 27. This tech, who was a student, did not write her final exam until the May 15 and is still awaiting results.

    It seems Horizon Health has reserved this position for her and she will be starting a full-time position on the June 18.

    I think it’s time that the language commission takes a hike as it only serves one language.

    John Lowther

    Oromocto, N.B.

    2012 06 14

    People need to open their eyes & realize how oppressed our society truly is.
    Time for a national referendum!!!!

  39. bigfellow   June 24, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    After reviewing all the comment and news articles above,it’s plain to see were the problem lies, policies concerning bilingualism by the federal goverment ( MP’s all the way to the senate) of hiding their heads in the sand, allow the paying out billions of dollars and hoping the problem will go away.
    This problem stemmed from the avenging french bureacrats within the goverment, who have pressed their own button to satify thier own french satisfaction of completion of one language – their own.
    Have nice day,folks

  40. Robert K. Monckton   June 24, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    LANGUAGE LAW DISCRIMINATION RALLY ~ Fredericton, New Brunswick

    If you or someone you know has ever been discriminated against because you don’t speak French or can’t speak it well enough, then you need to join us on this day to tell the government that we have had enough. It is time for us to stand up for OUR rights as Anglophones and the majority! We will be protesting in front of the Centennial Building in Fredericton in hopes that our elected officials will listen to our concerns about the lop sided Official Languages Act.

    For the last 40 years there has been a steady systematic erosion of civil service position and public sector jobs for the majority in this province and country.

    On June 25th, concerned citizens, language rights groups & human rights groups will be rallying in front of the Centennial Building, 670 King Street, Fredericton from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm in an effort to bring attention and support to this issue.

    All concerned groups and citizens are invited to attend.

  41. Iva Odor   June 25, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    Please, let’s have the language refrendum NOW. Let’s cast off this yoke of French. Let’s return to a civilized thinking country where there is opportunity rather than discrimination by the French yoke. New Brunswick is getting poorer and porter because of the French problem and for no other .

  42. Eric   June 26, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    Of course a country can not be run in the same way a home is, however, very few home owners would continue to put money into a problem, without some kind of reassessment of needs.

    Any policy, law or Act that is 42 years old (or even over 10), should automatically have an unbiased appraisel to see if it is still needed, if it is creating more harm than good, has a non political steering committee and importantly, still wanted by the majority of voters.

  43. stellabystarlight   June 26, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    Geez……Monkton, can’t make it to the rally LOL Wondering how many bus loads are going from Cornwall? Please let “ALL” know how this “BIG RALLY” went.

  44. bella-b   June 26, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    stella, your roots are showing! lol you had best get some new schtick before you give yourself away by repeating the same drivel ad nauseam.

  45. Eric   June 26, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    stellabystarlight, any idea if the Richalieu Club still have the buses available for others to use? The ones used to bus seniors from Alexandria for a similar cause. Heck, maybe the same seniors are available….

  46. Patrick Boucher   June 26, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    No referendum, big waste of time and money. PLUS. the majority of canadians want bilingualism.

  47. Eric   June 26, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Patrick that link does not tell me what the question wording was, do you have that?
    I did enjoy the bottom of the link page that says “80% of complaints are filed by Francophones, especially from Ontario and Quebec, and particularly in the National Capital Region”

    So that is what Anglophones need to do, complain more, good advice, thank you!

  48. Lolochuck   June 26, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    The majority of Canadians do not want bilingualism. In fact, Quebec turned down bilingualism in favor of FRENCH ONLY. A breed that is dying off is trying to give the illusion that everybody is or wants to be bilingual in order to try and preserve what is left. There are way better ways to do this Patrick. Blatant discrimination will no longer work for the “REST OF CANADA”!

  49. admin   June 26, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Geez Patrick. Imagine if Canada had said that to Quebec twice 😉

  50. Patrick Boucher   June 26, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    I agree with you admin, it was a waste of time…at that time. But is there a sure way, or a better way for the french language to remain in North America since its been on a constant decline even in Québec.

    80% of the complaints come from francophones …well if the government is not fulfilling its obligations, complaints are good and if they are legit…changes, improvements are a good thing. But why dwell on that, did you read the whole thing ? The types of complaints, I have a feeling you missed a few sentences.

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