SHOULD THE NEXT NDP LEADER BE BILINGUAL?

A new p oll, just out, says 78 percent of Canadians think the next leader of the NDP should speak both official languages.

Among NDP supporters 84 per cent said the leader should be bilingual.

These results fly in the face of recent appointments by the Harper government.  They have just appointed a unilingual English judge from Ontario to the Supreme.  They have also appointed a unilingual English person from the Maritimes to be Canada’s auditor-general.

Can you imagine the uproar if a unilingual French judge from Quebec was appointed to the Supreme Court?

Can you imagine an even bigger uproar in ROC if a unilingual French person from Quebec was appointed auditor.?  This auditor-general would be unable to give a speech in English in Toronto.

Should major public offices in Canada (including the prime minister) be filled by bi-lingual people?

Should the next NDP leader be bilingual?

What do you think?

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22 Comments »

  1. 1

    Population of Quebec 7 million, Population of rest of Canada 26 Million. I guess that one unilingual judge on the Supreme court is fair. Numbers are unilingual, so an Auditor would be okay too. 🙂 Like it or not, the working language in the rest of Canada & the world is English.
    The NDP has to have a leader who can communicate with Quebecers, or they can forget taking the Province, period.
    There’s more than being able to speak French to integrate into Quebec. They would need a cultural understanding. Jack Layton had that.

    BTW: I would like to see everyone in Canada bilingual-the opportunity is there, but wrong headedness has trumped. Maybe some day…Quebec needs to grow up, but so does the rest of Canada!

  2. 2
    Jim Says:

    Littlepatti – I know you know that there are another 8 million Canadians around somewhere. Was your census taken when they were all in Florida on holidays? To answer Neil’s question, If one is appointed to the cabinet or the Supreme Court, they had better be bilingual or the whole party will be relegated to the toilet cabinet by Quebecer voters. They might even enjoy the graffit in Latin.i

  3. 3

    If everyone were bilingual, the translators’ union would be up in arms! We’d be putting people out of work! How dare we! 😀

  4. 4
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Can anyone imagine a prime minister from Quebec who spoke only French? I thought not.

  5. 5

    What does the NDP and it’s leadership have to do with Harper and his party?

    The NDP needs Quebec – so it’s in their best interest to field bilingual people. I don’t much care what the NDP does because they’re one election away from being a nobody party anyway.

    That Harper doesn’t pander to Quebec indicates that he doesn’t need support from Quebec – that is all.

    And Neil: A PM that only speaks the language of less than %25 of the country ~would~ be hard to imagine… and rightly so. That has nothing to do with this story though.

  6. 6

    The 2010 census 34,108,752 Canadians. I’m wrong again! When did that 1+million slip in here without me knowing?
    Jim: Where did you count another 8 milllion? Get in this auditor unemployment line with me!
    LJ: Translators & separatists-S.O.L!

  7. 7

    yes, they should be bilingual. They should also take an accounting course. I have a couple of accounting books lying around. Barely used,if they want.

  8. 8
    Jim Says:

    Littlepatti – I deserve to be lashed by you with a whip of 9 noodles.

  9. 9

    Consider yourself whipped-but you are not allowed to like it!

  10. 10
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Out of ANY profession in Canada in which bilingualism is NOT necessary, it would be a Member of Parliament. Hello! Every word that is uttered in the House of Commons is (1) simultaneously translated; and (2) transcribed in both official languages. And any word uttered to the media would be translated as well.

    Thus, it’s only for symbolism’s sake that we have this silly tradition of having our leaders speak both official languages.

    Look: the politically incorrect reality is that French — even in most of Quebec! — is a folk language. It is only as a result of government and legal dictum that French enjoys the status that it does. Left to its own devices, the only parts of the economy in which French should be official is for hewing wood and drawing watwr.

    Do this exercise yourselves: go into Craigslist for Vancouver and count how many jobs require you to be bilingual. You’ll actually find quite a few. But ZERO will be for French; they’ll all be for Mandarin, Punjabi, Cantonese, etc.

  11. 11

    Tony: OUCH! I have to agree with you on a few points, but as long as we have two official languages, we should teach & learn.
    I wish we were all arguing about what a 3rd language should be.
    People who learn languages are doing their brains a favour. That’s another long discussion. Not for here.
    Do people actually go to Craigslist for jobs?
    Some daycares in Toronto, offer Chinese.That “language window” is at that time
    0-5.

  12. 12
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Tony,

    Why do you think hundreds of thousands of Canadian parents are clamouring for their children to get into French immersion if it is just a folk language.

    By the way, I saw your letter in the Gazette with an address in New Jersey. What gives.

  13. 13

    Neil asked: “Why do you think hundreds of thousands of Canadian parents are clamouring for their children to get into French immersion if it is just a folk language.”

    Isn’t it obvious? Becuase the federal gov’t is making biligualism a requirement for more and more jobs. That is the one and ONLY reason. If the gov’t didn’t prop this dying language up artificially it would simply be a quaint feature of Quebec life (which is where it belongs)… but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards unfortunately.

  14. 14
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Joe Agnost said it exactly as I would. Can’t add anything.

  15. 15
    Neil McKenty Says:

    I say hats off to the federal government for following such an enlightened language policy featuring our two founding races.

  16. 16

    @Neil:

    Yeah, “hats off to the feds” for spending such an enormous amount of money on what can only be described as a complete failure (making Canada and Canadians bilingual)… I suppose it’s better than wasting our tax dollars on useless wars – but not by much!

    Neil wrote: “featuring our two founding races”

    Huh?? The French are a different race than the English?? Really?

  17. 17
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Thank you, Neil, for employing the word “race”, above, to describe the French and English. It gives credence to my claim that the language of education provisions of Bill 101 — which segregates all school children in Quebec — constitutes a race law.

  18. 18

    Yes! “Hats off to the Feds” for making money available to expand the brains of some people (those who choose) through language studies.
    In other countries, people are fluent 4-5 languages. As Canadians, we just dig in and refuse to learn the other official language. Why is that?
    I can bet that many of the contributors to this site are barely fluently unilingual.
    BTW, government jobs pay much more, or a premium, for employees with more than one language. It’s an added skill. Who could fault that?…the stubborn, maybe?

  19. 19

    littlepatti wrote: “Yes! “Hats off to the Feds” for making money available to expand the brains of some people (those who choose) through language studies.”

    In theory this is hard to argue against. But when hospitals are desperate for more money, when schools are desperate for more money etc… the money wasted (yes – Canadians are not more bilingual than they were a decade ago) on this language issue could be spend more wisely.

    little patti cont’d: “In other countries, people are fluent 4-5 languages.”

    Oooh… other countries (which ones I wonder?) learn lots of languages so we should too. That is NOT a strong argument.

    littlepatti cont’d: “As Canadians, we just dig in and refuse to learn the other official language.”

    First of all, that isn’t true. There are lots of Canadians that willingly learn languages other than english. Secondly, why should this matter? If Canadians don’t want to learn another language why should we accept a gov’t that, through the use of language laws, wants to make it difficult to be unilingual in this country?

    littlepatti cont’d: “government jobs pay much more, or a premium, for employees with more than one language. It’s an added skill.”

    What does speaking french “add” to the public service employee whose job involves dealing with english speaking peers only? I believe that there are some jobs that would be better filled by a bilingual employee – “where numbers warrant” and all that – but it’s gotten SO out of hand!

    For the record, my mother was born in France and speaks 4 languages. I’m semi-literate in German. I don’t hate different languages – I just hate gov’t waste, and this bilingual policy is exactly that – a waste.

  20. 20
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    I always liked what Lionel Albert has observed on this issue:

    “What a contrast is Canada, where thousands of Anglophones take courses, immerse their children and insist that politicians display fluency in French. The motivation is supposed to be the promotion of national unity. Yet the two European peoples who hate each other the most are the Serbs and the Croats, and they both speak the same exclusive language, called Serbo-Croat. Of course it’s nice to learn another language, but this should be a personal, not a political, choice.”

  21. 21

    It has been proven that learning languages, music and math are good for brain development.
    In the Netherlands, (for one) they speak several languages. Getting on a tour bus is very interesting.
    The government doesn’t always “make sense”-Employees with language skills, are paid extra, because it is another skill.
    I can’t imagine why anyone would insist on being unilingual, when they are handed the opportunity to learn other languages. (That’s a good question in Quebec.)
    Learning a 2nd or 3rd language does not threaten a mother tongue.
    The government has so many useless programs*, learning should not be an area that is cut. They have already cut Phys. Ed. in schools-See the results of that.
    *i.e: the gun registry, the recent G-8 meeting in Ontario (?), The burgeoning Defense Dept. (have you seen all the new office bldg’s in Hull?)

  22. 22
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil, I’m in Vancouver but I’ve been too lazy to change my NJ address.


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