Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23: missing news - and half wit headlines...

For weeks, while most of Canada has been ignoring it, the Quebec government has been brewing a massive list of amendments to its language legislation - amendments which virtually make it a crime to speak English in Quebec. They guarantee the destruction of an English community that has lived in Quebec for some 250 years.

Any employer who requires an employee to speak English will have to provide evidence it was absolutely necessary - and the employee will have the right to sue. French chidren will not be permitted to go to English schools. Indeed, everything will be done to ensure they never will be required or able to speak English. Virtually all English public institution, such as school boards, social work agencies will be required to work in French. (The latter has been going on for some time. I belong to a museum group, a museum founded by English Montrealers, supported by them, and with a largely English membership. For over a year, I have been receiving communications from it in French only.)

This is not legislation designed to protect the French language. It is designed to destroy the English language, and to keep most French Quebeckers unilingual.  Tell me again how the English minority of Quebec is the best-treated minority in Canada.

Oh, yes, the French private schools will be permitted to continue to offer excellent English training. So the rich French will continue to dominate the province as they have for two centuries. Screw the poor.

New Brunswick is not perfect on the language issue. But it is probably by far the leading province in Canada on the issue of language. Quebec is barbaric. And that barbarism poses a severe threat to this country.

This is a fundamental change in the nature of Canada - and perhaps in Canada's chances of survival as a nation. More likely is that most of Canada will be further divided, then absorbed into the US. At that point, the survival of the French language in Quebec will be cancelled by the overwhelming Englishness of North America.

This is especially important for New Brunswick because, as I have noticed, Quebec nationalists are very active in spreading their message among Acadians. And that would be disastrous for Acadians.

The Moncton Times and Transcript  has yet to say a word about what is happening. That might suggest the barons of New Brunswick would have no objection to being absorbed into the US. Indeed, the political corruption of the US, and its descent into a police state, is a billionaire's dream come true.

But, as I say, that's not the big news in the TandT.  The big news is "Events centre funds in budget?"  The budget referred to is the federal one. And the answer is that the TandT has no idea what the answer is. As I read the story, the money set aside in the budget would come nowhere close to paying for the centre; most of it is allocated in categories that almost certainly would not even include the centre; and, in any case, the sum is intended to be spread all over Canada, not just Moncton. So why run this silly story?

Because it keeps the propaganda pot boiling, that's why. Try this guess. The origin of the events centre was not the hockey rink. The origin was was the desire of the owners of Highgate square to sell their land without first having to pay millions to get rid of the pollution in it. That might explain why the provincial government has never put pressure on them to clean it up as they are supposed to.

The hockey rink was piggy-backed onto that to please the owner of the hockey team. And, when that idea didn't catch on with the rate-payers, some genius came up the the "events centre" label.

So, with the world in the midst of the worst economic crisis it has ever seen, with our major customer sinking ever deeper into, and with unemployment and povery reaching for record levels around most of the world, we are getting conned into a scheme that will do nothing but cost us money. It may have a use, though - as the world's most expensive shelter for the homeless.
There are only two stories worth reading in the rest of section A.

On A6, there is a picture of a toilet-in-a-box that you can buy for only 89.99. In the long run, that's cheaper than kitty litter.

On A9, there's a story that the YMCA will no longer get a $30,000 grant for an award-winning literacy programme it has been running. Well, that just shows they aren't asking the right way. Jamie Irving just got 2 1/2 million for exactly such a programme - even though Jamie Irving has no credentials to show he knows anything about it.

By the way, so far the total story on this two and half mill has been just half a sentence. Exactly what is this programme? What budget is the money coming from? Exactly where is it  going to? How can you spend two and a half mill on volunteers?

More important, does young Jamie's deal allow him to interfere  (be a P/P/P) in our education system? Why are we going to a private contractor when we already have thousands of people who know something about teaching reading?   Exactly who approved this extraordinary deal? And when will we taxpayers be allowed to know what's going on with our money?

You know, it's things like this that make the public wonder whether the TandT is an  honest newspaper, or just a propaganda agent for the Irvings.
NewsToday has no news today. However, it does, on p. D4, have a headline that suggests some unfamiliarity with the meanings of words.  "Protests flare up in Egypt". Ever heard of anything that flared down?
Bill Belliveau can do a good column if it's criticism of the Conservative party, especially in Ottawa. This one is a good column. He's quite right. The budget is probably the most useless and unealistic one ever produced by a Canadian government.

Norbert is back to writing a column with four, quite different and unrelated topics, and none of them of any significance.  Well, at least he can be sure that Mr. Irving won't be upset at it.

I gave up on Brent Mazerolle half-way through. I have no idea what his point is; nor can I see any reason why I should care. This is just mindless babble.

Gwynne Dyer is very worth reading. This one is about banking in Cyprus, it's a an excellent example of the mishandling of most banks around the world. Many of them, even the big and trusted names, are corrupt and out of control - and they have enormous influence on governments - and are looking for even more political clout. Canada is not exempt.

The Faith page. Lord, tap-dancing Jesus. Another squishy-squashy sermonette with no connecton whatever to the world we live in. And this one repeats the old bromide that Jesus died to save us.
Please. We are no longer, I hope, a primitive people who believe in sacrificing oxen or throwing virgins into volcanoes to pay for our sins.

Do the Christian churches have nothing whatever to say about this very unChristian world we live in, and how we should deal with it?

And if they don't, could we please have the occasional sermonette from a Jew or a Moslem?

In other missing news, American business leaders have screwed up royally in pushing the US into their wars. Africa is now knee-deep in weapons, what we call extreme Islam has attained a degree of power and unity in Africa it never had before, the US is close to intervening in Syria, which will make all the above worse. (Actually, it was US intervention that was a major factor in starting the civil war -though most North American newspapers have failed to mention it.) This is very likely to blossom into a crisis that will involve both China and Russia, who both have strong interest in the region.

Business people have surely by now proven that they are as incompetent in shaping foreign policy as they are in shaping domestic policy. So why do we let them do it?

To start close to home, exactly what is this gift of two and a half million to Jamie Irving all about?

Got a column on that, Norbert?


  1. 2 and a half mil? That's peanuts. It's peanuts compared to how Sean Graham has further crippled NB with his stolen $50 million in the Atcon deal for his dad's friends. Graham got a whopping $3500. fine for that one! (.007/1% or 7/100th of 1 percent)

    I wonder what 2 and a half mil will get you?

    As it's been said many times, "Society's examples are set from the top on down."

    Now that its obvious Stephen Harper is an out-and-out fascist with his latest crimes against free speech - muzzling librarians and archivists we will only witness worse crimes, or less accountability (if that's even possible) in the near future.

  2. Boo hoo hoo, les pauvres anglais. What has always annoyed me about english quebeckers is this theory that english will be destroyed. I'm not against the english language, but I am against english language bigots who compare the marois government to the nazi regime and so on (I am not a quebecker at all by the way, I am from NB). I am also not for quebec nationalism, but j'vais toujours prêcher pour ma paroisse as they say.

    What seems to be forgotten is that French Canadian is only spoken in Canada. I have seen entire francophone villages in minority areas assimilated. Everybody is named Boucher, Faubert and so on, but not one of them speak french really. Why is that? It is directly associated to anti-french laws in the 19th and 20th centuries. I have never seen however a traditional anglophone village in Quebec where english is still not spoken. I'm thinking of those towns along the NH and Vermont borders.

    Quebec nationalism has not highjacked NB politics, contrary to popular belief. Most Acadian leaders are born and raised in the province. If a form of nationalism exists, its because it is a natural reaction to anti-bilingualism in the very anglophone south. The COR occupied the official opposition only 20 years ago and disbanded officially not long after. But they are alive and well. Mike Allen, a Conservative MP in the province, is the son of the founder of the party. Let me tell you that we still have a long way to go.

  3. I want to add as well, canadian french, is only spoken in Quebec and some pockets in Ontario and so on. If it were to disappear, its gone for good. Assimilation rates in Ontario are very high, up to 80 % in some cases, meaning that 8 in 10 kids will abandon french, in spite of being their mother tongue and being educated in the language. Meanwhile, North american english is spoken all over. Suppose that english in Quebec were to disappear (which it won't), the language will continue to evolve outside of the provinces borders, the same cannot be said for french.

  4. This is responded to under your original post to my blog of March 23.

  5. Like you, I dislike prejudice. That's why I felt uncomfortable at reading your comments. Prejudice got so much in the way that you didn't even understand what I wrote. The tone was like reading a letter by an English bigot.

    I would ask you first, then, to read my post and understand what I actually said.
    As well:
    1. you seem to understand very little about history. Almost all conquering nations impose their language on the conquered. William the Conqueror did it to England - and it lasted for centuries. Richard Coeur de lion, couldn't speak English at all. That's why the English language today is full of French words. That's why I could travel in Tunisia using only the French language, and why one of my students became ambassador to Algeria - partly because of his flawless French.
    Your Acadian ancestors imposed French on native peoples - who later got English imposed on them. Native peoples' languages, unlike French, disappear completely when that happens. Have you been active in the struggle to preserve native languages?
    Quebec is, in fact, one of the very few conquered areas that was permitted to keep its language and institutions.
    2.You do not appear to know the difference between a language and a dialect. A "French Canadian" language - if there is such a thing - is not a language, it is a dialect.
    Shiac is a dialect, too. Have you been active in the struggle to preserve Shiac by demanding government services and schools in Shiac? Or are you prejudiced against Shiac? There is also more than one "French-Canadian" dialect in Quebec.
    3. You also seem shaky on your knowledge of Quebec. In fact, most villages and towns in Quebec that were English are now French. It was a process that began, with the help of the church, about the 1840s.
    Ever visit Riviere du loup? Hear much English? Ever notice that the main street is rue Fraser? Ever wonder why the main street has an English name?

    Much of what you say comes from Quebec nationalist propagandists. I've heard it all before. And I'll bet you even believe the English of Quebec are all rich, and the French all poor. In fact, Quebec English were largely at the bottom of the working class. That's what I come from. I'm also an historian who has studied all the census figures going way back.

    I'd be happy to discuss all this with you. But first, read what I said again, and this time understand it.
    I don't like bigotry of any sort any more than you do. It's an ugly thing that turns into a form of racism - no matter what language you speak.

  6. Well first of all, I'm a bit disapointed by your response. For someone who criticizes certain judgements, you've certainly made a few about me.

    1. The very fact that you say that the language laws are designed to destroy the english is proof to my eyes that in some ways you are no better than I am. Like I said, english will never be destroyed, at least not in the short or medium term, because it is not only spoken in Quebec. Lets suppose that english completely disapeared in downtown Montreal, or Shawville or Campbells Bay or Gaspé, it will continued to be spoken in Ontario, New Brunswick, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire etc.

    You seem to be contradicting yourself a bit with your views on culture. I may be wrong, I frequently am, but if I speak about a French Canada, it is because I am implying that there a far and few differences in general in the spoken french between regions. Sure there are some variations, you mention chiac, but it isn't something that can't be understood by someone who has basic education. Quebec has a lot of people of Acadian descent and vice versa. Most Franco-Ontarians are of Quebec descent and so on. I also never mention the word dialect at all.

    You're right, I'm not a PHD in History, i'm not even a B.A in history. I am a big history buff though.

    I don't know much about M.Fraser, only bits and bribes that I've read here and there in the past, wasn't he a business man? I know that theres the domain Fraser.

    I know that this language war won't lead anywhere, because neither you or I will ever be right nor have the answer.

    I understand that conquerers impose languages, but if we were to go far back, I should still be speaking an old european tribal language related to the Gauls. Hell, I might as well just be grunting.

    In Caraquet and around the Bay of Chaleur, commerce was long controled by the Robin family, originally from Jersey. Basically you can say that they were the Irvings of the time. Glad we got rid of the bastards. Either way, it led to the development of cooperatives (which are in trouble nowadays...). See, I know some things?

    And no, I do not fall into the stereotype that all english are rich and so on. although we could argue that all anglophones who live on X street in westmount are rich. thanks for asking.

  7. Oh and here is my would be position, I don't agree with the language laws in the sens, go ahead and write Pasta and so on on your business window and I have cousins, francophones who studied in english Cegeps and are very proud to speak french and english, that is why I disagree with it. I do however believe that as a majority speaking french province, that french should be present on all signs.

    If you disagree with me, lets take together a trip to Richmond, British Columbia. Only the other day, I heard a report on the CBC, that some citizens are now reclaiming that the city impose a language signage law to prevent people from putting up commercial signs in mandarin (which are about 50 % of the population).

    One politician even said, I used to hate Quebec for the bill 101. Now i'm beginning to understand why it exists.

  8. Well, you still obviously have not even tried to understand what I said. It is not at all what you seem to think I said.
    1. I believe all official signs in Canada should be bilingual. This is supposed to be a bilingual country.
    2.I think private business should put up bilingual signs in any region where both languages exist. I would, however, offer incentives for business to do it.
    As to Chinese being banned from being used on its own - it is so banned in Quebec. It is even forbidden to issue a Chinese menu. It must be in French - with any Chinese in smaller letters.
    2. You obviously detest Chiac. Why? It is the language (or dialect) of a large number of people in this province; and it is a dialect of French. Do you feel superior to people who speak Chiac?
    Of course you do. There's a language snobbery among Acadians in NB. You can see the same snobbery within French Quebec. And, in fact, you will find that snobbery in any country I have ever heard of.
    3. I never said the new language bill was designed to destroy English. I said it was designed to destroy the English community in Quebec. When you set out to destroy a community, that is not just attacking a language. It comes closer to racism.
    4. I know you never mentioned the word dialect. That was my point. You don't know the difference between a language and a dialect.
    5. Fraser was not a businessman. He (it) was a Scottish regiment of the British army. In fact, I am a member of what is left of that regiment. The regiment (about a thousand men) was disbanded in Quebec. The men settled, and built a town called Fraserville. They intermarred with the French. In time, they became French speaking, and the name of the town was changed to Riviere du Loup.
    The original anglo settlers were mostly rural and small town. That was true until 1900. The English language has long ago disappeared from most of the areas they lived in.

    6. legislation will not protect the French language in Quebec. The danger doesn't come from Quebec. It comes from the US. The PQ once tried to ban movies (mostly American) in English. They had to back off because of complaints from the French middle class.
    7. Please note I did not use the word culture. that's because nobody knows exactly what it means. There is no such thing as a French Quebec culture or an Acadian culture, or an English Canadian culture, or a New Brunswick culture.
    In Quebec, the French are culturally divided by social class - as are the English. I grew up hating the rich English as much as any French kid did. And I loved Maurice Richard. Culturally, I had more in common with working class French than I did with middle class English.
    7. As to the rich English living in Westmount, I suggest you check out the census. For that matter, there is an huge French "Westmount" called Outremont. Funny how nobody ever mentions that. Where do you think a Trudeau grew up?
    8. I detest prejudice because I lived most of my life in it - with prejudice among both the English and the French. I detest the English prejudice I have seen in New Brunswick. I don't like the prejudice I sometimes see among Acadians any better. And I dislike the snobbish prejudice against Chiac.That's the difference between us. I hate prejudice. You hate it only when it's English.

    Now, please read my original blog and try to understand what I really said.

  9. I thought I published your most recent reply. but I must have pushed the wrong button. You have started a useful discussion and have provided intelligent comment. Could you please send that comment again so I can publish it properly this time?

    The point you have missed is that these language laws are damaging to the French in Quebec - and will destroy them.

    The French kids I grew up with never had a chance in life. French public schooling ended at grade nine, and was mostly catechism. They could never hope to get ahead.

    Rich French kids went to private schools (as Trudeau did). They got excellent educations, went to university, and learned excellent English. They became leaders in business, professions and politics. (Every premier in the history of Quebec (and most cabinet ministers) have been private school products. That includes Levesque, though he didn't finish private school.
    And big business at the top levels in Quebec still works in English, despite the laws. When the PQ told Bombardier to operate entirely in French, Bombardier told it to go to hell, and that it would move out of the province if necessary. To this day, the only English children from outside Quebec who are permitted to attend English schools are the children of high level business executives and technicians.

    Language laws destroy the English community. (This is real people, and I care more about people than I do about vague - and wrong - notions of what culture is.) At the same time, it does nothing to help most of the French. It is still the bilingual products of the private schools who rule.
    Ultimately, this will mean the loss of French population for Quebec. (In fact, they have been leaving for over one hundred and fifty years - many Decaries among them.

    The Catholic church in Quebec was protected and encouraged for centuries to preserve an aspect of "Quebec culture".

    And look what happened.

    You think it's important to keep French children from learning English? (That's part of the new legislation.) Well, tell it to Pauline Marois and all her private school comrades.

  10. I should add that the only answer to language inequality is to make sure that people of both languages have the same rights.
    Taking rights away from either can only be destructive. But the Marois legislation is entirely about taking rights away.