[lg policy] Fraser: Let=?windows-1252?Q?=92s_say_=91oui=92_to_Macdonald=92s_?=dream of French and English in Canada Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Fraser+Macdonald+dream+French+English+Canada/5189020/story.html#ixzz1TsbaqTpz
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Tue Aug 2 13:57:00 UTC 2011
Fraser: Let’s say ‘oui’ to Macdonald’s dream of French and English in Canada
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Fraser+Macdonald+dream+French+English+Canada/5189020/story.html#ixzz1TsbaqTpz
Re: "7Up ruling proof it's time to let Quebec go," Brian Purdy,
Opinion, July 22.
I was intrigued and not a little perturbed by Brian Purdy?s assumption
that a judge's ruling that Air Canada should treat its passengers with
respect as far as their language rights are concerned is a reason for
breaking up the country. He concluded that Canada's language policy is
an imposition on the rest of Canada by French-speaking Quebecers who,
he claims, "are not like you and me." Purdy presents a vision of a
country that speaks only one language, suggesting that a national
dream and a national ideal can only be possible under that condition.
Let me present an alternative view.
Canada does have a dream and an ideal. It is different from the
American dream, but no less valid. It was articulated by Sir John A.
Macdonald, before Confederation, when he wrote: “No man in his senses
can suppose that this country can for a century to come be governed by
a totally unfrenchified Government. If a Lower Canadian Britisher
desires to conquer, he must ‘stoop to conquer.’ He must make friends
with the French; without sacrificing the status of his race or
lineage, he must respect their nationality. Treat them as a nation,
and they will act as a free people generally do — generously. Call
them a faction and they become factious.”
This vision of accommodation, generosity, compromise and respect has
characterized the policies of Canada’s successful prime ministers ever
since: Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mackenzie King, Louis St-Laurent, Lester
Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Stephen
The prime minister who first articulated the policies that laid the
groundwork for the Official Languages Act was not Trudeau, but
Pearson. He established the policy that Canadians should be able to
expect service from their government in the official language of their
Two facts that should be kept in mind. First, there are four million
French-speaking Canadians who speak no English. Second, those
Canadians who learn the other official language do not, as a result,
lose their language rights.
Purdy calls Quebec “this discontented, ungrateful, unpatriotic
province.” The performance of Quebec athletes at the Vancouver
Olympics — and the pride that Quebecers felt in the success of all
Canadian athletes — along with the courage that the Royal 22nd
Regiment displayed in Afghanistan are only two examples that suggest
that he is wrong. This spring, Quebec voters overwhelmingly supported
federalist parties, and the outpouring of support for Jack Layton
since he announced his battle with cancer has been moving. When they
are treated with respect, Quebecers respond with pride in Canada.
Macdonald’s analysis still applies.
Purdy also misses a key fact. Michel Thibodeau does not live in
Quebec. He describes himself as a proud Franco-Ontarian. He is one of
almost a million French-speaking Canadians who do not live in Quebec
and who have a constitutionally guaranteed right to be educated and to
receive services from the federal government in French. This is a
Canadian issue, not a Quebec issue.
Let me correct another point Purdy made. The Official Languages Act
only applies to federal institutions, but it applies in Quebec just as
much as in any other province or territory. Albertans who arrive at
Trudeau International Airport in Montreal have every right to be
served in English — and we seldom receive any complaints in this
The value that underlies the Official Languages Act is respect:
respect for citizens, respect for Canada’s two official languages, and
respect for minority communities. Thibodeau’s complaint, like many of
the complaints I receive, is that he was treated with contempt — and
it was that attitude, as much as anything else, that shaped Federal
Court Judge Marie-Josee Bedard’s decision.
Respect for linguistic duality, for the fact that Canada has two large
and vital language communities within its borders, is one of the
values that have enabled Canada to welcome newcomers so effectively.
It has made Canada a desired destination for visitors, immigrants and
This reputation is something to be proud of. It reflects our history
and our future; it is our own national dream and national ideal.
Graham Fraser is the Commissioner of Official Languages.
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Fraser+Macdonald+dream+French+English+Canada/5189020/story.html#ixzz1TsbUc2xH
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