Monday, February 7, 2011

What Bernier has started

Why were all the party leaders absent from today's Question Period?  I wonder.   And why was the National Citizen's Coalition, Harper's former stomping ground, so quick to come to Maxime Bernier's defence?  Could it be that they, not the Conservative Party, are the real spokespeople for what Stephen Harper really thinks?

I mentioned yesterday that Maxime Bernier has managed, however unintentionally, to cause a storm with his comments that Québec no longer needs the Charter of the French Language.   It was even asked today by the NDP's Thomas Mulcair, who represents Montréal's Outremont district in Parliament, if the Cons have forgotten that they were the ones who introduced the resolution that declares that Québec is a nation within Canada.

And what defines a nation?   Let's see, a language, a culture, a legal system -- to name but three.

And Québec meets all three.

A French-language majority, overwhelmingly so.

A very distinctive literature (where else but Canada must we learn Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater as required reading in schools, in both official languages?), its movie industry, music; even its business culture, and I specify its legitimate business culture, has nuances that are often misunderstood by business leaders in other provinces.

And its legal system -- on the one hand a concise civil code for private disputes (unlike the often contradictory common law in other provinces), combined with Anglo-American law for criminal matters, one of the very few dual law jurisdictions on the entire planet.

The duality is a source of strength and pride, not weakness.  It's reflective of political realities that were recognized not 5 years ago but nearly 250 years ago, when Britain gave equal rights to Roman Catholics in Canada (in 1774) a full 76 years before they were granted to Catholics in Britain (in 1850) -- and which sparked the American Revolution.   And it's reflected in our federal laws, when both common and civil law terms are denoted in our statutes if both need to be used -- a practice first adopted about a decade ago (for example, what we in English Canada might call a "continuing care power of attorney" or "living will" is defined in Québec as a "mandate in anticipation of being incapacitated")

I can't understand what Bernier was thinking.   There may be an argument to be made that the law in question needs to be reviewed to reflect modern realities ... but why so openly and why now?   Especially with an election on the horizon.

Harper needs to make it clear:   Did he really mean it when he said Québec is a nation, or was he just blowing hot air?   What about the other leaders?   Even Iggy hasn't said much about this for a few years.

Québec isn't the only thing that makes us different from Americans, but the sense of solidarity that exists in the province on social issues is something that is something that should be emulated, as opposed to the everyone for themselves attitude we see south of the border.  We're not Americans, and we never will be.   First we see the drive for mega-prisons, then tougher drug policies and a hard-nosed attitude towards street workers who need to be protected rather than prosecuted .... and now this.

We have a pretty good idea who Maxime Bernier is.  Isn't it time that the real Stephen Harper please stand up?

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WhigWag said...

Thanks for that background/ context, for us ROC'ers.

Interesting, too, about QC having a diff. biz culture which outsiders sometimes mess up on.

Can you think of an e.g. to illustrate that, which might parallel how the Harper & co. bulls in the china shop bungled the UAE negotiations?

Larry said...

I hope you're not defending Bill 101. Just the thought of "language police" reeks of fascism.

Whatever happened to the notion of a free country?

WesternGrit said...

Larry, do you imply that only one sort of police reeks of fascism, or just the forms of police you happen to disagree with?

Also - is every form of government regulation "fascism" (or "socialism", or any other "ism" of the day)..? Don't try to tell us that the "moderate middle" (which we ARE, and most opponents only claim to ride) is just a government free nirvana where every citizen does anything they desire.

It strikes me just how many people don't have a clue what actual fascism, or communism is... or what's where on the political spectrum...

Larry said...

WG...Obviously, then you agree with a law that restricts choice of language in a free country. Police coming by measuring the size of English type, thrteatening you with fines or even jail if you persist.

As for your actual you even understand the gist of what I was saying? I can't believe that you could be that dense, it can't be possible.

WesternGrit said...

Larry - based on your comments, you're the "dense" one... My basic premise is that you are too quick to paint any type of gov't regulations as fascism. Are the rules in any other environ fascist? Are regulations created to help protect a valued linguistic minority "fascist"? Can you NAME anyone who has been "dragged away by the police" in Quebec for violating the language laws? (no)

The French language is a beautiful one. It is a valued part of our national heritage. It should be protected. Children growing up with an immersion in French are more likely to succeed not only in Canada, but also abroad - where French is one of the most important languages.

In Switzerland there are 4 official languages. The people are much better off for it. I would love to see Cantonese become an official language in BC - it would be good for trade, and for friendship.

Again - I must repeat - we don't need "fear-mongering" here. Let's be honest with what the language laws consist of - and what (if any) repercussion there are. I love Quebec, and the very cultural uniqueness that it exhibits. If they allowed dominantly English signage, the province would honestly be less interesting to me. I never had the benefit of French immersion in school (not a single French class, actually), but I love the language, and have managed to travel in Quebec and France with a vocabulary I have developed on my own. I have had very few problems understanding signs.

I think your comments are more geared towards a hostility to Quebec, rather than speaking of language rights. Your (our) PM himself declared Quebec a "distinct society" in Parliament. Do you know just WHY it is distinct? It can't be the McDonald's, because we have those. Can't be the NHL, since we have that too. There are unique cultural entities which make Quebec (or any region) distinct: language is the main one.

Oh - and I repeat my accusation that some folks have no understanding of what true fascism is. Were you being "over-the-top" with that example for purely illustrative purposes? Or was it just empty rhetoric?

Larry said...

WG, At least I know where you stand and it's not pretty. "Protecting" something using the hard hammer of the law at the expense of freedom and with the threat of law is fascism.

My family survived Nazism and Communism. I know of what I speak.

WesternGrit said...

My family fought and died in combat with the Nazis and the Japanese. My Great Grandfather was decorated defending the freedoms we enjoy so much... including the freedom to enjoy the culture they were raised in. I find Nazis as abhorrent as the next guy (I've been affected by right-wing NeoNazi hate, so I am pretty darned sure I don't like that part of the right wing spectrum at all).

When my "freedoms" directly affect the safety/security, or well-being of another entire group, then they cease to be my freedoms - no matter how much I feel I should be able to exercise them.