Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mr. Bilingualism?

Official languages commissioner, Graham Fraser, has some kind words for Stephen Harper, which seems inappropriate, given the record:
Harper "Exemplary" In Fostering Bilingualism"

Canada's new official languages commissioner says Prime Minister Stephen Harper's own role in fostering official bilingualism has been “exemplary” but his government's actions have undermined the Official Languages Act.

Mr. Fraser says cuts by the Conservative government to a range of nine different programs have undermined progress in promoting linguistic duality and developing minority language communities.

He's particularly hard on the Tory decision to axe the Court Challenges Program, which pulled the funding rug from under 40 language cases currently before the courts.

The prime minister, who begins most of his speeches in French, was praised by Mr. Fraser for setting a personal example of how to employ both official languages.

Im confused, Stephen Harper is the leader of government, and yet Fraser seems to look at Harper as seperate entity. You can't criticize government action and then praise Harper at the same time, that is just illogically. Fraser is critical of Stephen Harper's policies, which is far more relevant than how he starts his speeches.

Stephen Harper starts his speeches in French because of political calculation. An easy way to appeal to Quebecers, it says more about ambitions than commitment. If anyone questions that conclusion, then it should be supported with substance, which isn't the case. In fact, the record demonstrates a hostility, not support, which further exposes Harper's real motivations for the French-first approach. Is Mr. Graham naive?

And let's not forget the paper trail:
"It is simply difficult – extremely difficult – for someone to become bilingual in a country that is not. And make no mistake. Canada is not a bilingual country. In fact it less bilingual today than it has ever been... So there you have it. As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions."

- Stephen Harper on bilingualism, Calgary Sun, May 6th 2001.

Defenders will say that was then, this is now. I would counter "now" necessitates a transparent tactical outreach, which by Fraser's own admission isn't supported by real action. This government has turned the Official Languages Committee into a sideshow.


Jeff has problems with the logic as well.


Paul Wells doesn't mince words, Stephen Harper is a LIAR.


Anonymous said...

I am glad someone is standing up for unilingual anglophones in the federal civil service and elsewhere.
Canadians who dont speak french fluently, the majority have suffered under the Lieberals official bilingual policy which continues to this day. Phooey to those who dont stand up for majority rule such as the Lieberals and NDP www.languagefairness.ca/

Steve V said...

"Phooey to those who dont stand up for majority rule"

So you approve of the opposition's actions in committee, given the majority and all?

Anonymous said...

Your missing the point steve v
Unilingual anglophones are the majority - do you approve of their discrimination in the hiring and promotional opportunities in the federal civil service, RCMP, Military and elsewhere.
Why course you do, your a Librano.

Gayle said...

There is no excuse for anyone in this country to be unilingual. It was made clear to me as a child, growing up in Alberta, that we live in a bilingual country. I studied French for 6 years while at school. (Sadly, I cannot claim to be bilingual since I managed to lose almost all my French as an adult). Not only are French classes available at most junior and senior high schools, but many school districts (at least in Alberta) offer French language schools.

Anyone who otherwise qualifies for public service is also capable of learning both official languages. If you do not bother to do that, when you know it is a requirement, then it is your own failure.

knb said...

Typical tortured logic from our anon friends. If you want to work as a civil servant, learn French, period. It's part of the job, just like requirements for any other profession.

Steve, I would agree that the wording used by Fraser was a big mistake. That is all the con's will quote while ignoring the rest of the report.

With any luck, he'll come out again and make his case clearly.

What a friggin mess this thing is. Shutting down the committee, imagine.

This government is unraveling like an old sweater.

Steve V said...

"This government is unraveling like an old sweater.'

And to think, a couple months ago they were being applauded for the competence and steady leadership.

Vicky said...

unfortunately... they were never applauded for transparency...

Canada's new-ish government is the same as any other government.. secret agendas and all...

just more of the same...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Fraser felt he had to say something positive about Harper or it would look partison or something. He actually trashed him.

Now that Fraser brought out some negative comments about Harper - how long before he suddenly resigns.

Sudden resignations of those who had criticized Harper:

Ethics Commissioner
Environment Commissioner
Elections Canada president
sorry - I can't think of anymore at the moment.

ottlib said...

Hopefully, Paul Wells is marking a beginning of a trend.

The MSM was more than happy to claim the Liberals were corrupt so I would expect them to be just as critical of Stephen Harper and his Ministers whenever they lie outright to Canadians.

I am not holding my breath.

Steve V said...


That was a great smackdown by Wells, and it's all true to boot :)

ottlib said...

Conservatives are fond of calling Liberals "Lieberals".

So now that Stephen Harper and his crew have shown Canadians how it is really done what funny little name should be give them?

CONservatives works but I am not really happy with it.

Any suggestions?

lamarion said...

Like it or not, what Harper said in 2001 is how the majority of Canadians felt at that time and still think today. Do we not live in a Country where majority rules? No one answer that. Not one of us could live long enough to provide a thoughtful and complete reply.

I am confused and surprised that Liberal supporters would chastise Harper for beginning his talks in French. Aren't Liberals concerned about national unity? In view of the strong support they express for bilingualism, I venture to say yes. Then why criticize when you know his action works toward the unity goal? Surely you have enough ammunition to bash him on other issues.

Give credit where credit is due, is all I say. I'd do the same for a Liberal politician.

Steve V said...

"what Harper said in 2001 is how the majority of Canadians felt at that time and still think today. Do we not live in a Country where majority rules?"

"Plenty of support for bilingualism: poll
Last Updated: Sunday, February 4, 2007 | 10:11 PM ET
CBC News
It has taken four decades and sometimes a lot of argument and bitter feelings, but according to a new poll commissioned by Radio-Canada, official bilingualism is finally a hit in Canada.

The CROP poll shows 81 per cent of those surveyed support the idea that Canada is a bilingual country.

An even larger majority, 91 per cent, said the prime minister should be able to speak both English and French"

Miles Lunn said...

I think the criticisms were fair. I also think Harper is only committed to bilingualism as much as is necessary electorally rather than out of any genuine principle.

Finally no one is forcing anyone to become bilingual. Unilingual anglophones have plenty of rights and have every right to only speak in English. We are only talking about ensuring all Canadians have access to government in their language of their choice.

Anonymous said...

Unilingual anglophones have been discriminated against ever since the fiberals implemented their minority language policy. The following blogsites list complaints of same. But Lieberals arent interested in the truth. their still in denial.

Louise said...

In my view, it makes no difference if Harper is committed to bilingualism or not, or what his real motives are. The fact remains what he is doing advances the cause of national unity. I would think Liberals would be pleased with this outcome. Yet I admit it is difficult to be non-partisan, no matter the issue. :)

Steve V said...


You conviently leave out the fact that the majority of Canadians support bilingualism, which I cited above. National unity would seem to find enhancement through majority opinion, wouldn't it? Partisan is right, and once again Conservatives assume their narrowism is mirrored by most Canadians, it isn't :)