It appears that many new efforts are being implemented to even further promote the use of the French language, perhaps not throughout all of Canada, but certainly where it seems to count the most: mostly in Ottawa. Canada’s civil service. And in Montreal.
On the surface, this seems to be a neutral strategy. No big deal. After-all, Canada is an “officially” bilingual country, and Montreal is more or less a bilingual city; notwithstanding what the Separatists and ethnocentric Québécois nationalists seem to think.
So, what could possibly be wrong with promoting MORE bilingualism within Canada?
If it was simply just MORE bilingualism, I would say there is nothing wrong with the promotion of both languages. But, that is definitely not the case.
Canada’s perception of “official” bilingualism is the singular promotion of just the French language at the expense of English speakers, since there is no government promotion whatsoever of the English language anywhere within Canada.
The Official Languages Act of Canada, is effectively affirmative action for French speakers, and for a limited number of bilingual “Anglos”.
One has to be dumb, deaf and blind not to see that the vast majority of “bilingual” civil servants are French speakers who are able to communicate in the English language, opposed to English speakers who can communicate in the French language.
Even CBC Montreal, an English language broadcaster, features French speakers who can also speak English as on-air hosts, and French speakers in management positions. Why does this federally owned and controlled institution NOT hire “Anglos” to run their own media? You will NEVER see “Anglos” hired to equivalent positions on the French side of the CBC.
Canada is NOT a bilingual country. Approximately 25% of the entire Canadian population is comprised of Canadians who claim French as their First language.
Approximately 85% or more of those French speaking Canadians live within the boundaries of the province of Quebec. Therefore; if you take the province of Quebec out of the Canadian linguistic equation, the percentage of French speakers within the rest of Canada is relatively insignificant. Perhaps 1 million out of 26 million Canadians, apart from Quebec.
However; when looking at the federal government, the number of French speakers occupying the entire Federal Civil service is unbelievably disproportionate to the number of English speakers in the same Canadian civil service.
And if you only take the number of French speakers within the federal civil service located in the National Capital Region (Ottawa and Gatineau), plus Montreal, the disproportional number becomes even more incredible.
In the 1970’s, René Lévesque, Quebec’s first officially recognized Separatist Premier, used to say that Quebec should be as French as Ontario is English. I certainly didn’t agree with him then, but I do now.
I will be publishing several guest commentaries following this one, on Canada’s version of bilingualism.
The questions that I have been asking myself for several years, are:
Is the Official Languages Act really bilingualism? Or is it cultural appeasement for political purposes?
Is it fair to all Canadians? Or is it just French language affirmative action?
And, does Canada’s Official Languages Act discriminate against the vast majority of English speakers?
Since living in Ontario, and away from Quebec, it is much easier for me to see the forest for the trees. And my opinion to these commentaries soon to be published on Galganov Dot Com; and what I feel must be the next step in the Canada/Quebec and linguistic debate, might be somewhat shocking. My conclusion is not necessarily what you might think it will be.
Please read tomorrow’s guest editorial written by Robert Sauvé of Ottawa, formerly from Montreal.