One Man’s Opinion
by Ken Clark
Finally, somebody has stepped up to the plate and is determined to attempt to do something that the federal government should have done many years ago.
A group of major retailers, including such names as Walmart, Best Buy, Costco, the Gap, Old Navy and Guess are in the process of taking the Quebec government to court over the provincial language watchdog’s insistence that they modify their commercial brand names to include some French.
In my mind the language issue has reached a state of absolute and complete intolerance in Canada. The Official Languages Act declares English and French to be equal in status, while the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression and the Supreme Court of Canada has said that there cannot be true freedom of expression if people are prohibited by law from using the language of their choice.
In spite of all this, the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise, an unelected body of representatives, wants the province to change the rules without having modified the law. What a mess; common sense be damned, the inmates have taken over the asylum.
In my opinion, Canadians should tip their hats to this group of retailers and wish them success in their endeavour at court. At the same time, we should audibly pronounce our shame over the way the federal government has handled the language issue almost from day one.
Should Justin Trudeau be successful in his bid for leadership of the federal Liberals and possible future Prime Minister, he should do all Canadians a huge favour by making his prime objective the amendment of his father’s Official Languages Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; they are not working in the best interest of democracy and/or the Canadian people.
Let’s be truly honest, what’s at stake here is not the preservation of French in Canada, but the annihilation of English in Quebec.
* * *
The following is from the National Post Nov. 12 by Karen Selick: “It really shouldn’t be news when a government stands up for the constitutional liberties of its citizens, but the sad truth is that these days, governments are more often found violating individual liberty than defending it.
That’s why the actions of the municipal council in eastern Ontario’s South Stormount Township on Sept. 26 deserve attention. In a meeting hall packed with more than 250 townspeople, following a rousing presentation by language rights activist Howard Galganov, the five councilors voted unanimously to amend the township’s municipal sign by-law to say that the municipal government will never compel businesses to use any particular language ― neither English, nor French, nor any other language ― for advertising purposes.
“South Stormont’s decision contrasts markedly with the signage by-laws adopted recently in four other eastern Ontario municipalities. Russell Township in particular has been embroiled in controversy and lawsuits over its 2008 by-law requiring all new exterior business signs to be bilingual, with identical lettering (both in size and style) in French and English. Despite this, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld Russell Township’s by-law this past June.
An application to appeal that ruling has now been submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada by Galganov and his co-litigant Jean-Serge Brisson. It will probably be several months before the court decides whether or not it will hear the case.”
Isn’t the foregoing interesting or terribly disgusting depending on one’s point of view? My comments, what a ridiculous waste of time, taxpayer’s money and the abuse of individual rights. Sad, Sad, Sad!
* * *
From the National Post Nov.22: “About 150 newcomers got lucky Wednesday after the government decided to grant them permanent residency even though their immigration applications were tossed, thanks to the recent budget. Jason Kenney, the immigration minister, announced he was using his ministerial powers to allow them to stay because a computer glitch issued them visas by mistake.”
Really? I wonder what other oddities might be included under the term ‘ministerial powers.’ Mr. Kenney added that “those admitted had passed security screening and been deemed admissable. NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims said she’s “pleased” the government has acknowledged the mistake and is redressing it, but believes the incident highlights a bigger problem.”
My comment, we all know nobody is perfect, humans do make mistakes; we also know two wrongs seldom make a right.
* * *
From the National Post Nov. 6: “I think parliament’s going to die: Ignatieff.”
During a weekend panel discussion aired by the BBC at its annual Free Thinking Festival, Michael Ignatieff predicted the death of parliament in Western democracies if party leaders don’t loosen the reins on their own members, pointing to his own instincts to shut down dissent when he was federal Liberal leader. Ignatieff also admitted “I do think we’ve got to have more free votes in parliament.” To his credit, he conceded that such a change will make it much more difficult for prime ministers and party leaders but better for citizens if they are represented by MPs who can think and act on their conscience and on your interest.
However I find it strange that Ignatieff talks this way only now that he is no longer involved in federal politics. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizens already know that the policy of Party-Ministerial Solidarity is un-democratic and wrong.
* * *
The business of government is both weird and mysterious to be sure; one thing is certain though, the democratic government of Canada is not always conducted in the best interest of the Canadian people. Do you agree or disagree?