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.
’s politicians, media and cultural elites all look the other way when it comes to the Quebec government's assault on language freedom. Canada
Everyone it seems would rather pander to
’s nationalistic sentiment, than stand up for what’s right. Quebec
One exception, however, is Conservative MP Maxime Bernier.
Bernier recently had the courage to say the obvious. Speaking on a radio program he said
doesn’t need legislation to protect its language. Quebec
Later he elaborated on his blog:
“Yes, it’s important that
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. Quebec
"French will survive if Quebecers cherish it and want to preserve it; it will flourish if
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.” Quebec
Seems like a reasonable and principled position.
Yet, Bernier's comments have caused an uproar both in and out of
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
will learn French first and foremost.” Quebec
Note, neither the Liberals nor the NDP seem to care about the rights of
’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 Quebec ’s official languages. Canada
Oh and by the way,
’s language laws also discriminate against French-speaking Quebeckers, making it harder for them to learn English. Quebec
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
’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!! Quebec
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.