Speak White

with 7 comments

In all fairness, I’m the first to admit the CBC’s ‘revelations’ about a Facebook account with pictures of recent garduates from the Canada Customs training school drinking in uniform and posting about ‘Frogs’ and ‘French Bastards’ is not actually newsworthy. But I must say, as someone who frequently has to deal with these fine officers of government, I’m quite happy that someone will be taking a closer look at what’s going on in the offices of the protectors of the longest pretend border on earth.

My job takes me to the United States weekly. I usually cross over at the 1000 Islands or at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit. Coming back to Canada I always make it a point to cross at one of the booths with the friendly Français/English sign.

Here’s how bilingualism really works, Tim Horton: 9 times out of 10 the customs officer does not speak a word of French. 6 times out of 10 we have to do it Montreal-style, with me speaking French and him or her English. 2 times out of 10 the officer looks at me like I’m retarded and asks if I’m sure I don’t speak english. Only about 1 in ten times do they actually respect my right to communicate with my government in the language of my choice by getting the token french guy on duty.

As a matter of fact, in the last year, only three customs officers outside Québec have been able to speak to me in french, and one of them was an American Homeland Security officer.

It seems that Canadians have got the impression that because the federal government and some provincial governments put up bilingual signs, bilingualism thriving in this country. As far as they’re concerned the French are doing great: there’s French on road signs in Ontario, cereal boxes and TV. Bilingualism: done. Remember, these are the people who will buy anything red with the word CANADA on it: beer, sweatshirts and corrupt political parties. Perfect consumers who just want the brand and really don’t want to know it’s made in Honduras and that the profits go back to Chicago. With bilingual signs Canada looks bilingual, that’s what it said on the label and that’s all that counts.

Try to imagine how proudly Canadian you would feel if coming back from a business trip the customs officer of your own country would greet you with “Ch’parle pas anglais! Parle donc français!”

Written by angryfrenchguy

October 3, 2007 at 1:26 am

7 Responses

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  1. ‘Try to imagine how proudly Canadian you would feel if coming back from a business trip the customs officer of your own country would greet you with “Ch’parle pas anglais! Parle donc français!”‘

    I’d probably look at him like he was a retard and ask him if he was sure he didn’t speak english.

    BTW how did you come up with 18 times out of ten? (9/10, 6/10, 2/10, 1/10)


    October 4, 2007 at 2:26 pm

  2. Why in the world you are looking French signs
    all over when there is not a single sign of English
    Language in all of Quebec..
    Is this FAIR???
    No it is a discrimination against majority English speakers in democratic country of Canada


    June 29, 2008 at 7:58 pm

  3. Quebec does not respect Supreme Court of Canada
    Decision of 1988 for allowing English language signs..
    It is shameful not to follow cour order and demand
    French all over Canada when you dont allow English in Quebec what a joke and INSULT OF
    You want French everywhere in 12 provinces where majority is English Speaking and No English
    in Quebec // Is this not apatheid ???
    Racial Discrimination
    Against Human rights

    Frank Heinz

    June 29, 2008 at 8:14 pm

  4. Quick, how many factual errors in the last post?


    June 29, 2008 at 9:54 pm

  5. I have crossed the border from Minnesota into Manitoba several times. It’s true, they do have an “agent bilingue” but just barely. The last time I went to Winnipeg, I was teaching the girl words for car parts, as she didn’t how to say ‘trunk’ and how to refer to the ‘backseat’ vs. the ‘front seat’. I got the impression she barely understood me and she floundered a lot. Nonetheless, I was provided services in French without quibbling; but I probably could have said anything and she would have just nodded. I think the only reason she searched my car was because it was the first time she encountered some weirdo Minnesotan insisting on exercising his right to speak French at border crossings, so I had to be up to something . . .

    The only time I ever received good services in French from the Douane Canadien was at the Toronto airport, and that agent bilingue was Québécoise. Elle m’a dit que j’étais le premier mec états-unien qu’elle a croisé qui a pu parler français.

    These are just my experiences. I think official bilingualism in the ROC is stupid, Canada can be English, but Québec must be and remain francophone, not bilingual. But since the country stays together and says that francophones can use French anywhere in the ROC, I always call them out on it. So far, I haven’t had anyone in Manitoba tell me “No, the bilingual person isn’t here today,” but still, the “bilingual” person’s French is almost always poor. It’s weird though, because St. Boniface (où Gabrielle Roy est née, juste en face du centre-ville Winnipegeois) has plenty of native francophones (around 40,000). Granted they’re all bilingual in English and have no where near the same status as those smug Westmount anglos and their language probably won’t survive another generation. This is why, I think, 101 is so important. The power of English assimilation is so strong. Well, I think ulimately the best thing to protect French in N America is for Québec to become a sovereign state. When I immigrate to Québec next year, after my three years, that’s how I’ll vote. I am always baffled by those who talk about fairness in Ontario or Manitoba. French and English cannot be compared when you have 7 million francophones versus 300 some million anglophones. Do they really think French is any threat to English in the ROC?? Most just ignore the bilingual signs. They are ornamental.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    August 6, 2008 at 11:23 am

  6. “Well, I think ulimately the best thing to protect French in N America is for Québec to become a sovereign state. When I immigrate to Québec next year, after my three years, that’s how I’ll vote.”

    I also am thinking about immigrating to Quebec 5 years from now, and that’s exactly where my vote is going after I’ll be given official permission to cast it. In the meantime, I’m working on improving my French and becoming more competent/functional in it.


    August 6, 2008 at 8:51 pm

  7. Just as a fact, Quebec has the French language as its official language, hence its right not to put up English signs.


    April 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

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