02.13.2011 09:43 AM

In today’s Sun: Who speaks for Canada?

Here’s a little Canada quiz. Who said this?

“French will survive if Quebecers cherish it and want to preserve it; it will flourish if Quebec becomes a freer, more dynamic and prosperous society; it will thrive if we make it an attractive language that newcomers want to learn and use. Not by imposing it and by preventing people from making their own decisions in matters that concern their personal lives.”

Did Pierre Trudeau utter those stirring words? Sir John A.? Jean Chretien? None of those men said that. But you can easily picture any one of them doing so.

How about this equally memorable quote: “It’s important that Quebec remain a predominantly French-language society. And ideally, everyone in Quebec should be able to speak French. But we should not try to reach this goal by restricting people’s rights and freedom of choice.” Did John Diefenbaker say that? Stephane Dion?

31 Comments

  1. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    Up until now he has taken his re-election for granted. I would fine tune that political strategy, if I were him. When Paradis failed to defend Bill 101 in the Commons, in its proper Quebec context, the damage spread to other vulnerable Conservative ridings.

    Here’s an idea: why don’t Max and Cheryl team up as national campaign co-chairs! Guy Giorno can run the campaign along with Jenni Byrne while these two can serve as symbols of what is to come under the next Conservative government…when one fails to return someone to cabinet, one forfeits any reasonable chance at personal political containment.

  2. Tiger says:

    Maxime Bernier speaks for Canada, that’s who!

    As for his re-election — his dad was returned after being booted by the Campbell PCs for being under indictment. Chretien had to give him an ambassadorship to free up the seat for a Liberal.

    Bernier has the luxury of a relatively safe seat with constituents who like him. Means he can say what he really thinks.

  3. Peterb says:

    Although some pundits and politicians try to twist the argument, that to oppose Bill 101 is to repudiate bilingualism in this country, the fact and undeniable truth is the exact opposite. Can anything be more obvious and conclusive ? that it is the support of Bill 101 that is a repudiation of bilingualism and minority rights in Canada . To demonize opponents of Bill 101 as unpatriotic, or guilty of not upholding or opposing the constitution is a losing argument that would only be advanced by a moron.
    I think the question that politicians and political pundits should be answering is
    Do you think Bill 101 infringes on freedom, infringes on individual rights as guaranteed Canadians by the constitution of Canada?
    Let?s separate the chaff from the wheat and get a simple answer to that question, and then ask whose rights are they prepared to infringe upon next and not defend?
    Why would they think that the people whose rights are guaranteed by the constitution and are being trampled on , should not react, and demand protection by their government, if it is not a banana republic.
    Isn?t it strange how they can give us contradictory positions and double talk when it comes to minority rights, insult our intelligence and treat us like turnips?
    If politicians choose to pull a Neville Chamberlain and travel the country, waving a piece of paper and pronouncing peace in our time, and we choose to follow rather than address the injustice and discrimination, we will end up with the same disastrous results Chamberlain had, make no mistake.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      Apart from your cereal box in the morning, where do you ever EVER encounter forced bilingualism in your day to day life Gord? I don’t give a crap if some bureaucrat can speak both languages, it’s no skin off my ass. Having a chip on your shoulder about it is about wanting to have a chip, not about the issue itself.

      • Pete says:

        Wrong. The intent of official bilingualism was to make all of official Canada available to francophones wherever they happen to be living or travelling across the land. Quebec tried to change that fact and make it unfriendly for anglophones in Quebec and those who may want to move there.

    • TDotRome says:

      It’s ridiculous to continue to think that learning English & French is “forced bilingualism”. Do you even know what year this is?

      Teaching kids two languages makes them officially smarter. That’s a good thing. Why does anybody still cling to the idea of monolingualism? Most countries find this preposterous.

      Heck, in Finland, they teach their children five languages………FIVE!!! And, you complain about a little bit of French. Yeesh.

  4. Davey says:

    Congrats on a good article Warren. Much better than I would expect from a Liberal hack. But you are the one who is kookie if you still think climate change is created by humans. You should read a few things other that the UN’s IPCC documents, and watch something other than “An Inconvenient Truth”, both of which are just propaganda endeavours.
    Both are seriously flawed, if not outright misrepresentations, like the “hockey stick” graph. Remember CLIMATEGATE?
    Still, not a bad article from a pit bull…

  5. jStanton says:

    … It’s a typically one-dimensional world view of (c)Conservatives, that market forces should decide who we are and how we live. Is it because they have no creative imaginations, are they not very bright, or are they simply using a ploy to somehow benefit themselves?

    One has only to look to science to see that the maintenance of French language is a pre-condition for the existence of Quebec, and that without Bill 101, the French language in Quebec will wither away to nothing, due to the strength of outside forces.

    Naysayers are simply anti-Quebec.

    • George says:

      jstanton that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve read so far. Kinsella “one-dimensional” – seriously? You’ve obviously got your mind made up and lumping anyone with a contrasting opinion as “anti-Quebec” is not just typically one-dimensional but myopic as well. Hey, but keep those blinders on and the rest of Canada will just bend over.

      • Namesake says:

        speaking of blinders, George of the Bungle, jstanton’s 1:41 pm “1-D” comment about market forces not being the right factor to determine constitutional issues was obviously directed at Gordon Tulk’s 12:30 pm one, not at WK, but thanks for weighing in. (Now watch out for that…. tree.)

    • Steve T says:

      Without Bill 101, French would “wither away to nothing” ?? What a ridiculous statement – you know that isn’t true. However, if Bill 101 were the only thing holding French in Quebec, then perhaps it should die. With legislation like Bill 101, you could make any language widely spoken. Latin, Esperanto, Swahili – if you force it onto the population, is that really a sign of a “culture”, or just of government intervention?

    • Loraine Lamontagne says:

      It

      • Loraine Lamontagne says:

        It is of interest to the citizen and to the government that they can communicate with each other in a language that they both understand. That’s the reason why we have two official languages.

  6. Terry says:

    I’m not sure if they’re anti-Quebec or just don’t understand it very well.

    Thirty years ago I would have agreed with Bernier, but now I agree with you, those outside forces have become just too powerful. The use of French would never wither away to nothing, mind, Quebecois are way too proud for that, but it would be greatly diminished … and that way lies separatism, as we all know.

    There are those who would argue that this is merely about individual rights, but Quebecois probably remember the revenge of the cradle and don’t want to see it used against them. Warren probably hates the music, but Robbie Robertson wrote a Canadian classic about those bad times …

    Here performed by Grand Dérangement, a N.S. I’d never heard of till now.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6usT3_7QTCs

  7. Terry says:

    Bend over? Y’all have been so hard done by by Quebec?

    Curious, was it the coureurs des bois or the financiers who first opened up this country that most screwed you over?

    Another song Warren probably hates, but that you should maybe ponder on …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzo6Otpgj-E

  8. Peterb says:

    The simple question is that if Quebec wants no part of bilingualism why would the rest of Canada spend billions of dollars on paying for bilingualism. I would expect either Canada wants it or not and they should make up their mind.

  9. jStanton says:

    George, you don’t speak for the rest of Canada, just for yourself. And nowhere did I call Kinsella one-dimensional.

    I refer to the (c)Conservative view-point as one-dimensional, because it simply reflects (c)Conservative opinion, rather than an attempt to understand what the larger issues are, or any science-based reasoning.

    It’s this type of infantilism that cannot grasp that Canada is a cybernetic community that includes a French-speaking Quebec. Canada is not words on a document, it is the sum of its parts, and those parts consist of each and every Canadian, in all their variety and complexity, and, of all the parts, 25% are Quebecers.

    When I refer to (c)Conservatives, by the way, I don’t include Mr. Bernier, who represents a party of one. As the silver-spooned son of an apparently accomplished father, Mr. Bernier was inadvertently positioned to be used by Mr. Harper simply to bolster Mr. Harper’s presence in Quebec. That Mr. Bernier so misunderstood his role, tells us all we need to know about him … and about Mr. Harper.

    Now, in the throes of terminal hubris, Mr. Bernier, I imagine to seduce Conservative crackpots everywhere, has the effrontery to undermine Quebec’s language policy, because he actually believes it will help secure him the party, and then government leadership. He is no doubt buying the best PR flacks his father’s money can afford, to come up with this stuff. Unfortunately for him, it’s going to backfire.

  10. allegra fortissima says:

    After many years in Canada I am bewildered how many Canadians don’t see Canada’s bilingualism as a true cultural enrichment. Given the fact that there are fewer Francophones than Anglophones, I think that Loi 101 makes sense. It declares French the official language of Quebec and prevents Quebec’s French heritage from becoming an “endangered species”.
    Language and culture are not two seperate elements – alors, quand en Quebec, faites la bise (unless you’re from Calgary and prefer a handshake – I don’t think that’s against Bill 101).

  11. PoliticalPundit says:

    All Bernier is asking for is freedom of choice for all Quebecers – Francophone, Anglophone, and Allophone. Anything else is discriminatory! But nationalists and secessionists justify this discrimination with the rather weak argument that French Canadians are a minority in Canada and North America and therefore they should be allowed to deny freedoms of choice to immigrants and to the Francophone majority of Quebec.

    This was not always their point of view. French-Canadian liberal neo-nationalists led by Andr

    • Loraine Lamontagne says:

      Bernier has chosen to practise politics at the federal level. If he truly believes that a right is a right, and that the state has no place in dictating that you get a right only after the state has counted you and deemed that there’s enough people like you around to justify recognizing your right, then he should act on his belief. He should campaign for changed to S. 23 of the Constitution Act of 1982.

      A person who truly believed in this, to his last breath, was Jean-Robert Gauthier. Somehow I don’t think Mr. Bernier would be ‘liberal’ enough to hold such a view.

      • PoliticalPundit says:

        Hello Loraine,

        See my full comment below. It was cut off for some reason. Not censorship, I hope.

        Bernier is a self-styled Libertarian who is probably a social conservative and an 19th century laissez-faire Liberal. Very much in the tradition of the Union Nationale and the Railliement Créditiste that ruled much of small town rural Quebec beginning in the 1930s.

        Cheers,

  12. Steve T says:

    Best article since you began at Sun Media, Warren.

  13. Pete says:

    I agree except for one point. Quebeckers have become the most liberal province in the Country on a lifestyle and cultural basis. The vote for the bloc is a vote for Liberalized policies although the bloc is more left than the Libs.

  14. PoliticalPundit says:

    THE FULL VERSION OF MY COMMENT:
    All Bernier is asking for is freedom of choice for all Quebecers ? Francophone, Anglophone, and Allophone. Anything else is discriminatory! But nationalists and secessionists justify this discrimination with the rather weak argument that French Canadians are a minority in Canada and North America and therefore they should be allowed to deny freedoms of choice to immigrants and to the Francophone majority of Quebec.

    This was not always their point of view. French-Canadian liberal neo-nationalists led by Andr

  15. PoliticalPundit says:

    FULL VERSION OF MY COMMENTS! THIS SITE CANNOT HANDLE ACCENTS!
    All Bernier is asking for is freedom of choice for all Quebecers – Francophone, Anglophone, and Allophone. Anything else is discriminatory! But nationalists and secessionists justify this discrimination with the rather weak argument that French Canadians are a minority in Canada and North America and therefore they should be allowed to deny freedoms of choice to immigrants and to the Francophone majority of Quebec.
    This was not always their point of view. French-Canadian liberal neo-nationalists led by André Laurendeau and Gerard Filion and new liberals lead Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Gerard Pelletier realized in the 1940s and 1950s that the only way to save their language and culture was to gain economic power. They called upon French Canadians to create a modern Quebec state that would help modernize their society and help its new middle class and an emerging bourgeoisie to gain control over the economy of Quebec. Economic power would bring cultural and social power. Being economic master in their own house would also ensure that the vast majority of Francophones and a good percentage of non-Francophones could and would work in French while having the choice to become bilingual. There would be no need for coercive and discriminatory language laws. Both neo-nationalists and new liberals supported positive, non-discriminatory language laws at the federal level, that is, the Official Language Act, 1969.
    The Quebecois radical neo-nationalists and secessionists rejected outright this reasonable and moderate approach. They wanted much more. They campaigned for a homogeneous French-Canadian culture and society that would be able to integrate linguistically and then assimilate culturally all the immigrants, parents and children into their way of life. They rejected the model of pluralism and multiculturalism and called for Francophone conformity, tarted up as interculturalism.
    The radicals used a trumped demographic statistics to argue that the large numbers of post-war immigrants posed a threat to the future of the French-Canadian society. Why? Because most of whom opted to send their children to the Protestant School Board of Montreal to learn English because they wanted to find jobs in Quebec, Canada or the U.S. A. Radical nationalists and secessionists called for and got language laws, Bill 22 in 1974 and then Bill 101 in 1977. These language laws, supported by most Liberal and all PQ MNAs declared French the only Official Language of Quebec, made French the language of all the public sector and much of the private sector including commercial sinage, and streamed all immigrant children into French language schools.
    Bill 101 has been very successful in bringing about Quebecois control over Quebec’s economy and ensuring that they can work in their own language in the public and private sectors. As an instrument of social and economic promotion for the Quebecois middle class, Bill 101 has been very, very successful. Most members of this new Quebecois middle class are highly educated and bilingual.
    Alas, Bill 101 has not been very successful for the social and economic promotion of the vast majority of working class Francophones many of whom still live and work in communities outside of Greater Montreal, Bernier’s baliwick.
    In fact, bilingual Anglophones, and often trilingual, Allophones have experienced greater social and economic promotion than unilingual Francophones, allophones and anglophones. Multilingualism is a key to financial success and social promotion.
    All Bernier is asking for is an open and honest debate on Bill 101. He is arguing that language laws, once a great asset for Francophones, have now become somewhat of a liability. Let’s hear him and others like him out. A healthy democracy must never make any aspect of public policy closed to discussion. The Catholic Church of Quebec practiced censorship for over two centuries and its behaviour almost destroyed the French-Canadian society.

  16. PoliticalPundit says:

    All Bernier is asking for is freedom of choice for all Quebecers – Francophone, Anglophone, and Allophone. Anything else is discriminatory! But nationalists and secessionists justify this discrimination with the rather weak argument that French Canadians are a minority in Canada and North America and therefore they should be allowed to deny freedoms of choice to immigrants and to the Francophone majority of Quebec.
    This was not always their point of view. French-Canadian liberal neo-nationalists led by Andre Laurendeau and Gerard Filion and new liberals lead Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Gerard Pelletier realized in the 1940s and 1950s that the only way to save their language and culture was to gain economic power. They called upon French Canadians to create a modern Quebec state that would help modernize their society and help its new middle class and an emerging bourgeoisie to gain control over the economy of Quebec. Economic power would bring cultural and social power. Being economic master in their own house would also ensure that the vast majority of Francophones and a good percentage of non-Francophones could and would work in French while having the choice to become bilingual. There would be no need for coercive and discriminatory language laws. Both neo-nationalists and new liberals supported positive, non-discriminatory language laws at the federal level, that is, the Official Language Act, 1969.
    The Quebecois radical neo-nationalists and secessionists rejected outright this reasonable and moderate approach. They wanted much more. They campaigned for a homogeneous French-Canadian culture and society that would be able to integrate linguistically and then assimilate culturally all the immigrants, parents and children into their way of life. They rejected the model of pluralism and multiculturalism and called for Francophone conformity, tarted up as interculturalism.
    The radicals used a trumped demographic statistics to argue that the large numbers of post-war immigrants posed a threat to the future of the French-Canadian society. Why? Because most of whom opted to send their children to the Protestant School Board of Montreal to learn English because they wanted to find jobs in Quebec, Canada or the U.S. A. Radical nationalists and secessionists called for and got language laws, Bill 22 in 1974 and then Bill 101 in 1977. These language laws, supported by most Liberal and all PQ MNAs declared French the only Official Language of Quebec, made French the language of all the public sector and much of the private sector including commercial sinage, and streamed all immigrant children into French language schools.
    Bill 101 has been very successful in bringing about Quebecois control over Quebec’s economy and ensuring that they can work in their own language in the public and private sectors. As an instrument of social and economic promotion for the Quebecois middle class, Bill 101 has been very, very successful. Most members of this new Quebecois middle class are highly educated and bilingual.
    Alas, Bill 101 has not been very successful for the social and economic promotion of the vast majority of working class Francophones many of whom still live and work in communities outside of Greater Montreal, Bernier’s baliwick.
    In fact, bilingual Anglophones, and often trilingual, Allophones have experienced greater social and economic promotion than unilingual Francophones, allophones and anglophones. Multilingualism is a key to financial success and social promotion.
    All Bernier is asking for is an open and honest debate on Bill 101. He is arguing that language laws, once a great asset for Francophones, have now become somewhat of a liability. Let’s hear him and others like him out. A healthy democracy must never make any aspect of public policy closed to discussion. The Catholic Church of Quebec practiced censorship for over two centuries and its behaviour almost destroyed the French-Canadian society.

  17. Namesake says:

    Not that this is the issue, of course, but:

    “Quebecers feel the preservation of the French language remains important at this time, and disagree with a former cabinet minister on the value of Bill 101, a new Vision Critical / Angus Reid poll conducted for La Presse poll has found.

    In the online survey of a representative provincial sample of 805 adults in Quebec, four-in-five respondents (79%) agree that Bill 101… is a necessity in the province.

    Seven-in-ten Quebecers (70%) disagree with the comment from Member of Parliament Maxime Bernier, who stated that Quebec does not need Bill 101 in order to protect the French language.

    More than half of Quebecers feel that American Culture (54%) and Multiculturalism in Quebec (60%) are threatening the French language in Quebec to a great or moderate degree.”

    http://www.visioncritical.com/public-opinion/5835/large-majority-of-quebecers-disagree-with-bernier-on-bill-101/

    • PoliticalPundit says:

      Bernier is fighting a very steep uphill battle, one that will keep him busy for the next decade.

      It took Levesque and his Parti Quebecois ten years to win power.

      This is no different with the very steep uphill battle the Reformers faced when Manning and Harper founded the Reform Party in 1986-87. They and Reform policies were universally condemned and now Harper is Prime Minister. It takes a lot of time, hard work, help from your political opponents, changed circumstances on the ground, and a little luck.

      But open debate and discussion is the fuel of a healthy democracy.

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