Where Do We Go From Here
Date: Wednesday, January 18 2006
Commentary by L. Sebastian Anders
PO Box 46
Email: commentary at rogers dot com
11 February 2005
Where do we go from here?
For some time I, and other defenders of the rights of English-speaking Canadians, have been saying that there are official, concerted efforts at all levels of governments bent on making Canada French.
We were told that it is not true, that we were paranoid; that all the French community wants is to be treated equally and have equal opportunities and access to all services everywhere in Canada, but in French. We were told that it is about putting into practice the equality status of both languages, that it is really about "bilingualism and biculturalism".
In a Senate document entitled: "Development and Vitality of the Francophone and Acadian Communities: A Fundamental Obligation for Canada", by the late Senator Jean-Maurice Simard, there is a frequent reference to section 23 of the Charter of Rights, which is in reference to education in English or in French, depending on which is the minority language of the province of residence. This is the clause that has permitted the French community to make great gains across the country, because the Charter gives them the right to do so. As for the rights of the English-speaking citizens of Canada, they exist on paper, but there is no one at any level of government with the courage or the fortitude to stand up for those rights, for fear of being labelled anti French.
Although education is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, Trudeau's Charter obliges the provinces to provide education in the minority language, "Where Numbers Warrant". For the French, however, Where Numbers Warrant could mean whatever they want it to mean. But in Quebec, " ...According to section 59 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the right of persons whose first language is English, who wish to have their children receive English-language instruction, does not apply in Quebec until permitted by the legislative assembly or government of Quebec... " So there, again, English-speaking Canadians have no rights, in spite of the Charter's guarantee and protection. It is left up to the magnanimity of the province whereas in other provinces, the Charter rules.
Recently, I read the transcript of a Senate Committee debate on the above Senate document. One of the speakers was none other than Jean Poirier, president of ACFO Ontario, the "Pit Bull" as he was referred to when I was invited to debate with him on a Hull Radio Talk Show last October. When he spoke to the Senate Committee, Mr. Poirier repeatedly referred to people like me, Canadians for Language Fairness, Language Fairness National, and English Language Advocates, Association for the Preservation of English in Canada (now defunct), and all other English rights Groups or individuals as "pyromaniacs". He was frustrated, exasperated and angry at having to "put out the fires" that the "English Language Rights Advocates" were setting by speaking up for their rights, which he understood to be nothing else but attempts at denying French-speaking Canadians theirs.
Mr. Poirier does not consider himself to be "... just a bilingual person, but rather a 'Francophone' bilingual person who has the right to live in his language in every aspect of Canadian society anywhere in Canada". In other words, he expects to be able to work, be served, attended to and spoken to in French everywhere and anywhere in Canada (outside Quebec). It is offensive to him to have to speak or hear English. He remembered the horrible hardships he had to endure as a Liberal MPP in Queens' Park in Toronto, having to communicate in that horrible language - English. Then he pleaded with the Senate Committee to please reinstate the funding for his organisation because it owed months of back pay to his staff, making it impossible to be effectively defending the rights of the French-speaking community "outside Quebec".
Although he occasionally made token references to the rights of English-speaking Canadians, inside and outside Quebec, his demands and those of every French rights activists that I have encountered, indicate to me a complete and total lack of reasoning ability. Logic does not seem to be part of the French psyche. On the one hand they rhetorically speak of the rights of English-speaking Canadians, but on the other, they want everything in French, everywhere. My feeling is that he and others like him have seen too much Star Trek or Outer Limits fantasies where people live in parallel universes, but are completely unaware of each other's existence.
For all levels of Canadian governments, from the municipal to the federal, to grant the French what they want, that is, that they be able to live in French anywhere in Canada, would require that everyone speak French, which means that speaking English would become illegal. This is more or less the process that is taking place under the Dyane Adam's Trudeauesque French Language Policies.
The alternative would be for everything in Canada to be duplicated, like the labels on the supermarket shelves. This would mean, every city, province and federal governments would have to be in duplicate: one parliament for the French and one for the English and so on down the chain. Every company, enterprise, convenience store, doctor's office, contractor, municipal, provincial and national parks and kindergarten, etc, would have to be in duplicate. Sounds fair to me. Doesn’t it? On the other hand, it might be a little difficult to achieve, don't you think?
Meanwhile, in the above-mentioned document, Senator Simard, through his interlocutor, Mr. Pierre LeBlanc, (President, PRAXIS Management Consultants), demands reparation of six hundred million dollars for the hardships and injustices perpetrated upon the French for centuries by the English. In answer to a Question from Bloc MP Louis Plamondon, Pierre LeBlanc replied: "... If we are forced to go to court, it will not be an intelligent way of proceeding. That is not what we want. What we want are political decisions recognizing that people were harmed, that the community was systematically weakened in the past and that compensation must be granted.... When I talked about a compensation fund, I was not talking about the funding of policies for community groups etc. I was talking about the federal government's responsibility to provide compensation for the wrongs and the omissions of the past. ...” Sound familiar? Sounds like the same old - same old to me.
The Rest of Canada works its ass off and the French reap the benefit. All they have to do is cry discrimination, injustice, French rights or English bully. Follow the money and there you will find the French with their pockets wide open to be filled with the blood, sweat and tears of the hard working, fiscally responsible Canadians from across the country, outside Quebec. Canadians are too busy trying to live their lives and provide for their families. They have better things to do than spend their time whining about which language is in their alphabet soup.
Regardless of what Trudeau and his cohorts wrote in the so-called Charter of Rights, without consulting the people of Canada, this language war is not about rights. It is about money and power for the French zealots. And the sooner the rest of Canadians wake up to this reality, the sooner something definitive can be done about it to bring peace to this land and stop the erosion of the rights of the Rest of Canadians, or it will too soon be too late to do anything about it.
How much do you care for your country? What are you willing to do to take your country back from those who have stolen most of it from you and those who are in the process of taking the rest? Are you prepared to fight for your rights? Or are you just going to sit back and let someone else do your fighting for you while the well financed (with your money) French take everything you have worked so hard to build? Which Canada do you want to live in?
L. Sebastian Anders
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 18, 2006]