Monday, February 07, 2011

Why Harper should back Bernier

Quebec’s draconian anti-English language laws should embarrass every right-thinking Canadian.

Not only are they patently ridiculous – “language police” and their measuring the size of letters – but they clearly infringe on freedom of expression.

Simply put, in a truly free and democratic society, every individual should have the right to post signs in whatever language he or she chooses.

Yet, shamefully, Canada’s politicians, media and cultural elites all look the other way when it comes to the Quebec government's assault on language freedom.

Everyone it seems would rather pander to Quebec’s nationalistic sentiment, than stand up for what’s right.

One exception, however, is Conservative MP Maxime Bernier.

Bernier recently had the courage to say the obvious. Speaking on a radio program he said Quebec doesn’t need legislation to protect its language.

“Yes, it’s important that Quebec remain a predominantly French-language society," wrote Bernier. "And ideally, everyone in Quebec should be able to speak French. But we should not try to reach this goal by restricting people’s rights and freedom of choice.

"French will survive if Quebecers cherish it and want to preserve it; it will flourish if Quebec becomes a freer, more dynamic and prosperous society; it will thrive if we make it an attractive language that newcomers want to learn and use. Not by imposing it and by preventing people from making their own decisions in matters that concern their personal lives.”

Seems like a reasonable and principled position.

Yet, Bernier's comments have caused an uproar both in and out of Quebec.

Quebec politicians – from both the Liberal and Parti Quebecois – have basically labeled him a traitor, which says more about their shaky understanding of freedom than it does about Bernier.

Even worse, however, is the appalling reaction to Bernier’s comments from the federal Opposition parties.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to come out and denounce Bernier.

According to an Ignatieff spokesman, “Distancing isn’t good enough. Mr. Harper needs to be clear in denouncing Bernier’s comments. Or is this the real Conservative position being floated out the back door by a convenient spokesperson?”

Meanwhile, the socialist NDP has a similar view.

NDP MP, Thomas Mulcair, declared, “By musing about getting rid of these protections, Mr. Bernier is playing with fire in an effort to increase his own popularity with the hard right wing of his own party and it's a shame. For over 30 years a large degree of language peace has been achieved by a law that gives the right to receive consumer information in French, the right to work in French and the ability to ensure that immigrants who choose to come to Quebec will learn French first and foremost.”

Note, neither the Liberals nor the NDP seem to care about the rights of Quebec’s English-speakers. They seem to be OK with the idea of using state power to coerce people into learning a language or with charging people with a crime for simply using one of Canada’s official languages.

Oh and by the way, Quebec’s language laws also discriminate against French-speaking Quebeckers, making it harder for them to learn English.

Yet, the Liberals and NDP would still sacrifice a fundamental individual freedom for “language peace.” If this wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable.

I hope the Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper has the courage to back up Bernier on this matter.

Certainly, I know Stephen Harper agrees with Bernier.

Indeed, while he was president of the National Citizens Coalition, Harper helped to finance court challenges to Quebec’s language laws, including a case that involved the owners of an antique store who were charged with a crime because the French and English lettering on their business sign were the same size!!

I guess Ignatieff and Muclair would see this as a heinous crime.

Of course, it would probably be expecting too much for the Conservatives to steadfastly back Bernier  on something so controversial.

But I hope, they at least allow him to continue being a strong voice for freedom.

We need all the voices we can get.


Anonymous said...

I have yet to disagree with Maxime Bernier on anything. Comes the day Stephen Harper moves on, Mr. Bernier is my choice to lead the CPC.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100 percent the language law
speaks to keeping the citizens of Quebec in a down trodden and backward position in the world
the Bloc may see this as desirable but I hope the Quebec citizens would come to realize this is not in their best interest


Anonymous said...

There are some things the PM should do regardless of popularity. But this isn’t one of them yet. Besides PMSH is easing into it by giving Mad Max a long leash and as Iffy the Terrible asks “is this the real Conservative position being floated out the back door by a convenient spokesperson?”

“Quebec’s language laws also discriminate against French-speaking Quebeckers, making it harder for them to learn English.” Since commercial trade in Canada and the USA is conducted by 350 million English speaking people, then a unilingual Quebec will gradually destroy its economy and Darwin will do his work.


wilson said...

Quebecers can decide if they want draconian language laws,
and in return,
Quebecers can keep their noses out of Alberta's environmental laws.

I'm good with that.

johndoe124 said...

Ignatieff and Muclair make Mussolini look like a Libertarian.

Patsplace said...

The PM is 100% right on this one. This is a Provincial matter and as such, the Fed has nothing to say about it.

That having been said, it's no secret that the PM does not have much use for 101, anymore than any thinking person does.

L said...

The upside is that perhaps more Liberal and NDP voters will see how their votes are wasted backing loosers who believe in state control of basic freedoms.

French Language Learner said...

It's nice to see both sides of this argument. There are a lot of great points argued.

Sean M said...

Well it's certainly no surprise that the "Liberals", NDP, Separatists and their agents within the media agree with Quebecs imposition of racist, draconian language laws. Ignoring English speakers rights along with the 250 years of English history and traditions within Quebec and Canada (Trudeauvia) is what they do. "LIberals", NDP'ers, and Separatists view everything in Canada (Trudeauvia) through the myopic, intolerant, looking glass of asymmetrical, divisive, unfair, manufactured "language laws". While the English speaking history and traditions of Quebec have been eradicated and ethnically cleasned from the history books, would the media, Iggo, Layton, and Duceppe share the same ideological stance if the remaining English speaking Provinces imposed an English Bill 101...? Yeah, I think we all know the answer to that. Good on Bernier for exposing the asymmetrical, hypocrisy of the SSeparatists, "LIberals", NDP, and the inherent racism in all manufactured "language laws".

Anonymous said...

If Anglo Canadians living in Quebec were able to self regulate and at least try to learn French on their own, maybe we could consider giving them more choice, but despite all the efforts to make them learn French, it seams sometimes as if an Anglo Canadian brain is too small to learn another language or even just understand that 75% of the Quebec population is French and are untitled to some degree of respect, we tried for centuries to get that but to no avail, so we had to force it on Anglos, before they resorted to what they did in Manitoba or elsewhere in the country, they literally eradicated the French culture and in 1980 back stabbed us with the new constitution, we call that night "the night of the long knifes" so before you went too far and our rights were totally gone, we had to act and still today despite the fact that the law is there, if you come to visit Montreal, you get greeted in stores and restaurants and most business in English first and sometimes in French, try to go to see a movie in French downtown or even buy a book, it is almost an impossible task or if you succeed, your choice is very poor. So when I hear Anglos whining well I have no sympathy for them, they have access to English schools, the best Universities in the country,some of the best hospitals all services and recreational activities, more so than French Quebecer do, and all of that mostly paid for by French Quebecer, give me the names of the French hospitals and universities in Alberta or even Toronto... See if Anglo Canadian knew how to be civilized when they are a minority, we would not need a bill 101. Bill 101 is to make sure that immigrants that come to live in Quebec learn French and integrate in the French culture of Quebec first and still learn English, anyway, kids have to go to high school in French and after that can choose any other schools they like, and Anglo Canadians can go to any English school of their liking, no restriction at all. Before you comment on something , maybe sgould state the correct information first or even read about it, so that you know what you are talking about.