Hugo Rodrigues Here Are Some Truths About Bilinguaism in Canada by Jamie Gilcig JAN 25, 2015

jg2CFN – Hugo Rodrigues, editor of the Standard Freeholder and President of the CAJ, recently wrote an article about bilingualism.

I am a refugee of Quebec.   I left, and most likely will never return simply because of the fact that the people of Quebec, after nearly sixty years of their Quiet Revolution do not support the values that Mr. Rodrigues supports in his column.

Canada is one of the kindest and considerate countries in many ways, but since the days of Pierre Trudeau there has been a Pax Francophonie across this country that has not turned it into some idealistic bilingual Mecca, but has simply given huge advantages to one segment of society over another.

Is that right?  Has it helped Canada?     In my opinion it hasn’t.   The investment this country has made in Francophone services, education, etc has been a very costly social experiment, but essentially a pointless one.   If Quebec itself, with its majority French population, doesn’t support bilingualism what the heck is the rest of Canada doing and why?

In a country with two official languages, fluency in both is always an asset, even if you’re living somewhere where one of them is rarely ever heard. Knowing any language that is present with any significance in your community is always a powerful asset too.

Sorry Hugo.  The only advantage to being bilingual in Canada is to gain employment because of artificial barriers created by government agencies.  Isn’t that nuts?  Our Tax dollars creating limits to employment and giving one segment an advantage over another?

In Quebec you really don’t get an advantage if you are a Francophone that speaks English.   Bill 101 and other laws that wouldn’t pass the sniff test at the United Nations push for 100% French work places to the point where we have seen grocery stores sanction employees for chatting with each other in English.

In Quebec the Civil service and other government agencies essentially discriminate against English speaking citizens as the numbers clearly show.   This sadly has encroached into health care where there have also been cases of EMS staff refusing to speak to patients in English.

There is no organic economic spin off for Canada to be bilingual.  Our biggest trading partner is the US.  French in the US  offers no Economic advantages.   Spanish does.  Heck Chinese does.  French, not so much.

The response on our comment boards was disappointing – which is quite the statement if you read through them often. We clearly have readers who cannot let go of a distaste for decisions made almost two generations ago and speak from a position of ignorance that being an Anglophone in this community allows them.

Ouch.  Hugo the Canadian people were never put to the question about bilingualism in Canada.  It essentially was a linguistic coup d’etat.   Let go?  Of a gross social injustice that has fractured families and nearly led to the dissolution of our great Country that has survived in spite of official bilingualism?

Yet the proof is in the pudding. Across Canada, even in those areas where French is rarely heard, enrolment in French-language education programs is steady or growing while overall enrolment shrinks. Why?

Well Mr. Rodrigues, I would wager school enrollment is up because many parents justifiably so wish their children to gain access to jobs artificially mandated to be bilingual including our military where it’s very hard to get a promotion past Major without being bilingual.

We are a bilingual region in a bilingual province and country. If we could choose to learn something at a reasonably easy cost that gives us an advantage, why wouldn’t we? To argue against someone else being able to do so, or get angry when the advantage it gives them benefits them is beyond silly.

Hugo we are not a bilingual province.  We in Cornwall live in an area that has a larger French population chiefly due to our location close to the Province of Quebec.

Quebec does not allow certain inter-provincial trade and has linguistic laws that make it very difficult for many Canadian companies from Ontario to work in the province.    Ontario does not have those road blocks which is why you see so many Quebec companies working on projects in Cornwall, especially in construction for example.

It’s time to admit that bilingualism is holding back our great country.     Quebec is a French Province.   The Rest of Canada clearly is predominately English and English should be the official working language as French is in Quebec. There just isn’t any reason to support a policy for a small portion of the population at great cost when the reciprocal isn’t being done in la belle province.

The lines should be clear and we really should stop spending billions of tax dollars trying to change the reality.

To suggest that uni-lingual French people should have the right to all services in French in every place across Canada just doesn’t make sense, especially when Quebec seems to make a point of refusing to offer English services to people that didn’t wander into Quebec, but for many were a huge part of its growth in cities like Montreal.

If we are going to have National policies like Bilingualism they have to be observed Nationally.  That is not happening, and clearly never will.

So Hugo I think you owe Ontario an apology for saying we’re a bilingual province when we’re not.     Cornwall btw, isn’t a bilingual city either.   And it probably never will be.

That being said I have no problem with any culture supporting and advocating for itself.  When the Richelieu Society wanted to pay for a flag pole in Lamoureux Parc at its own expense I was a full supporter of their initiative, but it’s time for the countless agencies and groups that are publicly funded on the tax payers dime to stop getting our dollars.  It’s time for our government to realize that they can offer services in 2015 to unilingual French speakers who chose to reside outside of Quebec without huge swathes of Federal, provincial, and even municipal workers having to be bilingual.

And the sooner we make these lines clear the sooner we can invest those dollars in health care, education, and infrastructure instead of a dream that never will come to be of value.

And it’s time to truly consult the people of Canada about bilingualism.

And Hugo if you’d like to have an on camera debate about official Bilingualism I’m game if you are.

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  1. Well, I can see that both of you raise deep and profound points that would frustrate Hegal. If we go back to the context in which some of these rules came about I think it would be easier to understand. Our educational system has been shooting some blanks there. Have you ever met a high school graduate under the age of 35 who ever heard of The October crisis or was aware that Canada underwent Martial Law or the Platinum record sales of Quebecois music? Katimavik was a fine and proud government program for youth which went a long distance to enhance and correct some billingual problems, prior to its gutting. Maybe some of us should re-watch a great Canadian play called Balconville and put on our history hats.

  2. Good points admin. I’m with you on this one. We cannot afford this multicultural luxury experiment anymore. The billions spent on French could serve seniors, veterans, health care etc.. You spelled park wrong, Son.

  3. Amazing that within an hour of Mr jamie challenging Hugo at SF
    He “ran away” closed the comment section without replying to anybody
    He is probably on twitter acting like Bill O’Reilly talking down to us “little folks”
    He claims to know three languages…wonder how you say CHICKEN in all of them???

  4. Never been this upset with an SF editorial
    Jamie label me a racist fool etc etc
    I lived and worked in Montreal in the 1970’s
    Still love the place with all my heart
    But now HATE that I can’t even understand the road signs and it seems even school kids have been scared/brainwashed into not speaking a word of English to a person lost in that great city.
    It is a part of Canada they need to save their language but on our side of 401 there are TWO sets of signs…would be nice if the same could be said about Quebec

  5. While I really have little issue with official bilingualism on a federal level (of course where numbers warrant) on a provincial level I can offer no support, it simple makes no sense. The FLA addresses the needs in more than an adequate fashion and often results unfortunately in reverse discrimination (hiring practices at the CCH for example).

    While my Parisian french is coming along I find the Quebec slang harder to learn or listen to.

    I would endorse that any resolutions made with regard to language on a provincial level be determined by referendum in conjunction with an election. Politicians would not likely truly and fairly represent the majority.

  6. Well Wow! If you and 99 others would sign up as VIP subscribers for $250 per year, which is less than $1 per day, we’d have more resources to cover more material. Today I have a writer that may be doing a series on CAS across Ontario…

  7. I believe it’s Poulet en francais and Pollo a espanol….I could be wrong and if Hugo wishes he can of course post a comment here correcting my linguist skills or lack thereof….

  8. As mentioned above, I find it very frustrating that I can’t read and signs in Quebec. I mean at least have navigation signs in french and english. I was once scolded by a Quebec police officer, he told me if i can’t speak french that i have no business being in Quebec. I was only asking for directions.

  9. Here we go again. Driving in Quebec requires a rudimentary basic knowledge of French to understand the traffic signs. Driving in the rest of Canada, all the way to the west coast, requires a rudimentary basic knowledge of English to understand the traffic signs. The people who want to whine and chew about this “hardship” have no idea how lucky they are to live in Canada.

  10. Yes Furtz. We all truly are lucky to live in Canada. That being said wrong is wrong and right is right. And my friend it was Hugo that stirred this pot. I just shot down his pile of rhetorical poo.

  11. What the hell is wrong or right, Jamie? We live in a country where two languages prevail. What’s so godam difficult about that to understand? By all means, go ahead and stir this over-cooked pot of poop yet again if that’s what you have to do to get your numbers up.

  12. Furtz forcing Canada to speak French makes about as much sense as forcing everyone in Quebec to speak English. Heck Quebec itself just went to the Supreme court to fight French schooling in other provinces because it doesn’t want to allow the same right in Quebec. Honestly, there’s no Economic benefit or frankly reason to add to the burden of challenge the average Canadian faces outside of Quebec. Sure, it’s great to speak both languages, but let’s stick to reality instead of partisan politics.

  13. Not to add to your apparent disdain in addressing the issue of language in your country Furtz but french only prevails I believe within the Nation of Quebec. In Ontario for example a case could be made for Chinese as a second language although that would not make any sense either. In Europe speaking 3 or 4 languages is common place and common sense. Learning other languages is not commonly legislated by government action but rather achieved by a need and desire to communicate. Had our federal government applied the act as intended (where numbers warrant) chances are we would not be in the mess we are in and struggling with the debt that forcing language integration has caused all taxpayers.

  14. Its way more than a minor problem to get around a place that I used to love to visit. Its also dangerous as often signs are about serious traffic issues. People coming from Quebec get signs in both Languages I want the same and to feel good when i visit Quebec. Still part of Canada Furtzie

  15. I agree with David Oldham. I gov’t royally screwed this up. Not helping is a Quebec gov’t that thinks they can make and break laws as they see fit.

  16. Furtz I think the topic is Hugo’s position and insulting an entire segment of a community. Now the question will be whether he accepts the glove slap and debates or not.

  17. I just reread Hugo’s piece. What he seems to be saying is that being fluent in two or more languages is personally enriching, and it opens more doors to employment opportunities. Makes sense to me.

  18. Fair assessments Admin, thank you.

    The SF article offers no solutions in bringing peace to the language issue, other than if you don’t agree with more French, just suck it up.

    Anytime you create a government department because a law was put in, they will grow and expand the concept based on complaint. Since Ontario changed the definition of Francophone in 2009 to incorporate more people over night, a steady procession of laws, acts, and regulations can be seen. No discussion of actual need or associated costs, both human and financial, just add more French. Elections Ontario, LCBO, Francophone Immigration percentage increased, Justice and several more French language advisers bring the numbers up to several dozen.

    Learn and speak as many languages as you can, provide a basic level of service, but let’s talk about real need and costs from specialized money give a ways to 4 school boards. From front line services to providing 3rd party Frenchification. I think we can all live better without so much government, most people want to get along, just let us be.

  19. Well said Jamie. i applaud how you tackle Hugo who clearly has no comprehension of what bilingualism is about and how it is dividing this great country. Your style of writing, grammar and understanding says volumes in your clear and concise way of presenting the facts.
    I note the usual oppositionists like Stella-not-so-bright, selfish and conceited are still around presenting their tunnel vision of bilingualism that benefits them and only them.

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  20. Hugo should spend less time insulting his readers instead check his news stories
    They ran a story on the failing Massena Mall not a single word on why its going belly up. Canadians staying home.
    Target just gave some senior employees Bonus Che ques yet our civic leaders seem to escape criticism for allowing huge warehouses or call centres that are So very easy to pull up stakes leaving families in this town devastated.
    News stories about store openings on the same page as a paid ad. Not even Mom and Pop stores but big chain franchises.
    Councillor Claude McIntosh wasn’t wrong when he said Pierre Karl Péladeau had destroyed Sun Media. Four or Five reporters and they still lag behind CFN.They don’t even tweet or report half the weekend.
    Hugo come on down lets debate…especially your condescending bullship ” speak from a position of ignorance that being an Anglophone in this community allows them.Well Hugo the stress trying to learn two languages in SD&G is something I will always regret putting my children through.Net benefit to them -10

  21. Imposing a “cultural identity” on a people who don’t embrace it is exactly the same as propping up a failed economic policy by printing money when there is no gold in the bank.

    Except for, (as you said quite well), meeting an artificial standard of employment, Canadians, -whether they live in Quebec or the rest of Canada, have no interest in being bilingual, -period. Moreover, it’s a nuisance.

    While I readily concede that knowledge of another language is beneficial in some esoteric circumstances, by referring to over 80% of this area’s citizens as being “ignorant” for not buying into a divisive and exorbitantly expensive scheme foisted upon all of us by politicians, he tips us off as to the attitude behind this very persistent, creeping, juggernaut: We are the unsophisticated rabble that must be guided, kicking and screaming into enlightenment.

    Hugo Rodrigues is a bourgeois snob and, in calling all us Anglophones “ignorant”, has set The Standard Freeholder in a very dangerous position in a business where advertising dollars pay the freight.

    Personally, I do very little advertising anymore but I guarantee that none of it will be in The Standard Freeholder until Hugo Rodrigues has left town.

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  22. Well said Jamie, you and a great many from Montreal have experienced discrimination through language policies. Hugo has never experienced this government sanctioned discrimination,fortunate from him ,not so for his readers as it appears he is ill informed with the subject matter.

  23. Editors Note Please observe our Comment Policy.

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  24. I am disapointed seeing this subject upon us again.. I lived in QC for 65 years then came here 5 years ago. I love Qc and I love two languages or more. What is wrong with a bilingual Canda. I have two grandchildren in French school here. I guess according to some people on here they are wasting their time and education by doing so. I wanted my children to be educated in French and they were and are all bilingual.. What happens in Qc when you are really bilingual you get really good jobs as my son did. What is wrong with a bilingual Canada.
    Most travel info places in Canada are bilingual, I can go on and on as a Canadian am for it being bilingual and I truly do not understand why in Cornwall all the bitching over a language. Which is beneficial for all. I see Mr Cameron is at it again. My goodness folks we live in the a great country.

  25. Jane, If you’re not whining and chewing about something, you aren’t a true Canadian, or at least a true Anglo Canadian.

  26. Jane Doe, it is not only Cornwall where we see issues over language. Sure, there is nothing wrong with learning more than one language, but why so much money being spent on it? 4 school boards (2 English 2 French)in Ontario, government departments, a few hundred Francophone associations being funded by taxpayer dollars, the majority of which comes from English speakers.

    The Official Languages Act has been around since 1969, have we not given this failed social experiment enough time? Canadians don’t want it or we would see more than 17% being bilingual, the majority of them are in Quebec by the way.

  27. Bravo, Jamie, for responding so well to Hugo Rodrigues’ article and pointing out how wrong Hugo is. Bravo also to Eric for stating the obvious i.e. there has never been an assessment as to the NEED for such a divisive policy. The OLA was a piece of legislation that was passed ONLY at the federal level but not at the provincial level. Does Hugo know that language is the prerogative of the provincial government? That is why Quebec was able to declare itself unilingual French and pass such disgusting anti-English legislations like Bills 22, 178 & 101. New Brunswick is the only province that has passed legislation to make itself officially bilingual. With barely 4% French-speakers in Ontario, the disastrous Wynne government would do the same in Ontario if English-speaking Ontarians continue to be asleep at the switch. After over 40 years of pro-Quebec governments (mainly Liberal but also Conservative under Quebecer Brian Mulroney), the French-speakers all over Canada have been given plenty of money and support from the courts to push their agenda. Unfortunately for them, the number of bilinguals in Canada have not increased in any substantial number. Jack Jedwab, President of Canadian Studies, wrote in the Gazette in 2011, “Canada’s bilingual? Whom are we kidding? After 42 years and billions of dollars, just 7 per cent of anglophone Canadians can carry on a conversation in French”. This came from an article by Marian Scott, The Gazette November 22, 2011. Jack Jedwab’s study revealed that only about 12% of Canadians can be said to be “officially bilingual” which makes that small number of Canadians very highly sort after. However, if your qualification is less than the best but you are part of that small proportion of Canadians, you will naturally get the job. But the job is not necessarily based on your merit, merely your linguistic skills in English & French. That is why those who are bilingual support this policy – they belong to that small pool of people who get the jobs. Sadly, most of them are French-speakers to begin with – this leaves the English-speaking majority out of luck!!! People like Jane Doe thinks this is OK because her children are beneficiaries of this failed social engineering policy. It is very sad to see such selfish people think that government policies are good if they themselves benefit when government policies should be for the good of the majority – that’s how democracy is supposed to work!!!

    Kim McConnell – President of Canadians for Language Fairness

  28. Amazing how this comment section is still open days later. Bravo Jamie
    Hugo closed his down once people got wind of his one sided University Prof editorial and it started to take “incoming rounds”
    It is probably going to take him a week to think up another gem
    Maybe he should start using the photo of himself in a white tshirt again…it could also serve as a surrender flag. Can’t imagine he hasn’t heard flack from some major ad clients.

  29. Yes Mel. We keep comments open. If someone is causing a disturbance or doesn’t follow the rules they get bounced.

  30. Kim McConnell, I just clicked on your web site. The home page seems to be focused on those Franco-Ontario flags. It’s a tough life for sure, but I hope you don’t expect to be taken seriously with silliness like that on the main page of your web site.

  31. Furtz, if you’ve taken the trouble to visit our web site, did you also take the time to read the actual article? The Franco-Ontarian flag has violated Canada’s flag protocol. Unless you are a Quebecer who consistently insults Canada by denying the Canadian flag its proper place in your Parliament, you should understand that Canada is a serious country with a serious flag protocol. The Franco-Ontarian flag clearly violates that protocol. What is sad is that so few people even know this or maybe they just pretend ignorance. Lucky for us, there are some members of our media who have taken note. Here is Steve Madely and John Robson on CFRA commenting on this issue:

  32. Kim surely you know by now that most of the CFRA crowd are a shade circus like and hypocritical? Look at the way Nick Vandergragt puckered up about certain issues because he’s tight with Tammy Hart. Until partisan political types can be honest there is no hope for any issue. It’s just a big ol tug o war without the war really mattering much.

  33. Kim. It wasn’t a huge effort to click on your name, which is a link to the site. What I saw was a bunch of belly-aching and whining about Franco-Ontario flags. No, I didn’t explore the site any further. Why would I? If you have legitimate issues about language “fairness”, and want to be taken seriously, best to not clutter your site with asinine BS like that. On the other hand, if your mission in life is to squawk chew in the wilderness, keep doing what you’re doing.

  34. Well Mr Jamie I haven’t seen any reply from Hugo anywhere and tonight he wrote about the cost of rink rental so I am willing to bet he gets his usual one or two comments.
    Strange I am not proud that his editorial upset me so much.But it seems “out to lunch” in my humble view to label people like Hugo chose to do. I rebuild old computers and give them away to new Immigrants to Canada who have left everything behind in war torn countries.Not looking for a pat on the back but neither do I want a kick in the privates from a wet behind the ears Journalist.

  35. Mel I believe that Todd Hambleton wrote the Ice story. And Hugo isn’t wet behind the ears. I think we all journalists can sometimes cross the line. A good journalist always pushes the envelope.

  36. Poor Hugo, things are so bad that yesterday the Standard-Freeholder printed the last page of the paper twice… way to pad out the news fellas.

  37. Mr Jamie
    Hugo wrote a tues editorial to go along with Todds story.When I made the wet behind the ears it was about the fact that Hugo took a year off to go back to school after winning some award Also he was low man in the deck and had his job eliminated before finding the Freeholder gig. Third he committed the big Journalistic “sin” of burning a source unlike Washington Post Bob Woodward who kept deep throats secret for over 20 yrs.
    For a laugh you should go back and read some of Todd’s right wing editorials.A few years back he showed his Sara Palin type love for Pres Ronnie Regan, when SF let him write non sports columns
    TODD made Sean Hannity look like a lefty

  38. Kim McConnell you might want to check your facts,”Canada is a serious country with a serious flag protocol”. The first part of your statement is purely subjective and the second part is unfortunately merely guidelines with no legal ramifications.

    When Pearson’s pennant (the 1965 Canadian flag) was adopted the laws protecting the Canadian Flag were never transferred to apply to the replacement (I would bet most Canadians do not know how many flags have represented Canada). There are no regulations/laws that say the flag cannot be flown in tatters or that it must fly above all other flags or that it cannot be burned in public. Nothing. As far as protocol is considered these are guidelines and not protective laws.

    In Canada you have the right to fly the Canadian flag any way you want or another flag entirely. I personally would prefer having a law protect the flag but that is not likely to happen for a number of reasons.

  39. David Oldham, from reading these comments and being directed to the fairness website by comments from Furtz, I get the impression this is bout the Franco Ontario emblem. Looks like many monuments have been put, including Cornwall, that have one flag pole. I would think that if you are taking public money and using public land for signs of affection, Canada, provincial and city flags should also be there.

    So lets get the laws changed, if none exist. I believe there were about 4 different ensigns David, is that close to the number you have?

  40. Eric, for the last few years, I’ve noticed that you get quite agitated about the presence of those green Franco-Ontario flags. Have you ever considered moving a little further away from the Quebec border where you will be less traumatized by the local culture? Life is way too short to be living where you don’t want to be.

  41. Furtz, I appreciate your compassion towards others. My passion for the subject comes from hiring managers telling me I am qualified to do the work, however,our staff are French and you can not work here.Yes in Ontario.

    I in no way think this represents all Francophones, like many, I have grown up with and have amazing friends / relatives who have French backgrounds. The majority of people in any group are not the problem.I just think the level(s) of government need to reduce the speed and amounts of money being thrown at this minority group.

    People waiting at hospitals must see the numbers of Quebecers also waiting, but say nothing to their government. All Canadians should get health care of course, but should your own province not take care of you properly?

    But Furtz, after reading the comments for years, are you no closer to understanding the expense and issues caused by language laws?

  42. Eric, I’m not denying that there are some issues about unfair hiring practices and such. However, when people get all bent out of shape over green flags, bilingual roadside signs, being spoken to in French in the Timmins post office, and nonsense like that, they just look like whining fools and their legitimate concerns get buried in BS. Kim McConnell’s asinine CLF website is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

  43. Hiring practices?? Aren’t they fun? I remember back when I was working for the federal gov’t (1974 – 2011) they had some strange hiring practices. Back in the late 80’s and 90’s it was not uncommon to see qualifiers on competition posters basically saying white males need not apply. They were looking for the visible minorities to fill their quotas. And not able to speak French I’m sure didn’t help me. Having visible minority quotas to fill jobs may be right in some circles. But I don’t care who does the job, I just want them qualified to do said job. I don’t care if they’re white, black, yellow, pink or purple. Having a visible minority person doing a job they aren’t qualified for makes no sense.

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