The Right to Be Anglo: In Defense of Vic Toews

with 67 comments

Vic toews

It’ ok not to speak French.  Really.  Some very smart – if uncool – people will never get to experience the brain candy that are the lyrics of Serge Gainsbourg and Loco Locass.  Some very useful members of society will never experience just how satisfying it is to call someone an ‘estie de con’.

Vic Toews is one of those people.  The Conservative minister of the Treasury – who speaks English, Spanish and German – was criticized by the Montréal Liberal MP Pablo Rodrigez for not speaking French last week.

“It’s clear”, snapped the Minister, “that the Liberal Party considers those of us who speak one official language to be less Canadian.”

He’s right.

The objective of the Official Languages Act has never been to force everyone to learn both French and English.  In fact it’s the exact opposite.  The law dictates that the federal government, Parliament and all it’s associated agencies shall function and give services in the two official languages precisely so that Canadians won’t have to learn a second language to communicate with their government.

This only applies to the Federal administration, by the way.  Provinces, which are sovereign when it come to issues of culture and education, can have different policies, as do Québec, Ontario and New-Brunswick.  That is what federalism is.

That means many jobs in the federal public service will require people to speak both French and English.  Is the position of minister one of those jobs?

Not necessarily.  We assume the Treasury Department has plenty of staff that  is perfectly able to communicate in both French and English to reporters and citizens.  But a minister wants to go beyond that.  He wants to sell the government’s program and convince the population that they want more and that they should re-elect the Conservatives.

If Stephen Harper in comfortable with people like Vic Toews and James Moore selling the Conservative agenda to French speakers, that’s his problem.

It’s important to point out that, contrary to the many elements of the United Empire Loyalist Caucus of the Conservative party who consider any requirement of bilingualism to be discrimination against unilingual Anglos (disrimination against unilingual Francos is apparently not a problem), Mr. Toews defended his right to be a unilingual in any official language:

“I should feel free to be able to speak the language of my choice, and for you to even ask that question is an insult.”

That is the point of the Official Languages Act.  That is how our shared federal administration should work.

Mr. Toews gets it.  The Liberals don’t.

Written by angryfrenchguy

May 11, 2009 at 9:36 am

67 Responses

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  1. re:usage

    chomping is popular – champing is correct
    but i am fond of “chaffing at the bit”.

    i am not a fan of “frothing at the mouth”.

    and the vanity press can be referred to as pamphleteering. spiral binding preferable to cerlox bound with staples as simply unacceptable.

    sometime authours put lipstick on their ideas.


    May 16, 2009 at 2:04 am

  2. non-germanic “similarity” bears a striking similarity to the germanic “similarity”.


    May 16, 2009 at 11:17 pm

  3. Also despite its occurrence in both Romance and Germanic languages the word “no” probably comes to English from the Germanic side of the family.

    And I believe “part” must part company with its Germanic parnters, of which it is not one.


    May 16, 2009 at 11:22 pm

  4. Je m’eloigne un peu du sujet pour attirer votre attention sur un article d’ANDREW CHUNG sans le toronto star intitule: Living ruff on the street, vets reach out. On y parle d’un service veterinaire gratuit pour les jeunes sans abris qui ont des chiens. A chaque ete, nombre de jeunes qui viennent parfois du Quebec mais la plupart du temps des autres provinces et qui sont unilingues anglophones debarquent a Montreal avec leur chien et y passent l’ete a queter. Voici l’interpretation d’un lecteur du toronto star dans les commentaires suivant l’article:
    ..These youth come to Montreal from all over the province of Quebec because of the economic depression gripping the small town with THEIR FRNCH ONLY POPULATION. Anti -english policies have pretty well sealed Quebec fate to reduced it’s small towns to unilingual guettos where there is pratically no developpement. The avenue Mont-royal is teeming with down and out youth from these areas sitting in the hot summer sun with their pitbulls beggin for money. It’s realy quite sad.


    May 16, 2009 at 11:33 pm

  5. Government service is all about doing the best job for your constituency. If they don’t care what language you use then neither should anyone else. Making artificial linguistic requirements won’t get the best man for the job any more than requiring a higher degree from a top management school will assure better managerial skills.

    On the other hand, the Treasury should include Quebeckers among its constituency and should be able to serve them equally well.

    As long as these guys refrain from speaking “bilingual” and just try to speak one bloody language at a time I’ll be happy.


    May 16, 2009 at 11:33 pm

  6. Poue moi qui vit justement sur le plateau et qui croise tous les jours ces jeunes avec des chiens, je sais qu’ils viennent des autres provinces et qu’ils sont unilingues anglophones. Pour ce qui est de la campagne quebecoise, a part les regions affectees par la crise forestiere, l’economie va assez bien merci, a Quebec comme a St-jean Port-Joli. Alors pourquoi ecrire de telle faussetees? La haine ou l’ignorance?


    May 16, 2009 at 11:36 pm

  7. Pitbulls begging for money is as frightening as it is sad.
    Doesn’t Quebec have some kind of social services for these sons of bitches, like iditarod work camps?


    May 16, 2009 at 11:36 pm

  8. Oui, je suis completement d’accord. J’ai noté curieusement plusieurs fois que les jeunes sans abri a Montreal sont toujours les anglophones (probablement venant d’Ontario sans avoir pensé que la vie ici n’est pas façile pour les unilingues anglophones )


    May 16, 2009 at 11:43 pm

  9. Wasn’t this Toews thing just a cynical move by the Liberals to play the Language Card in preparation for the next election? It is sad that Quebec means little more to these pols than a bunch of predictable voters you can wind up over irrelevant issues. It allows them to avoid having to come up with fresh ideas to win votes.


    May 16, 2009 at 11:59 pm

  10. No wonder the Liberals are willing to pay bribes to keep Quebec from seceding!


    May 17, 2009 at 12:02 am

  11. Attention, je ne suis pas d’accord que les jeunes sans-abri a Montreal sont toujours des anglophones, je parle des soit disant sans abri SAISONNIERS, ils arrivent au printemps et doivent retourner dans leur famille a l’automne, punks du dimanche: c’est ceux-la qui viennent avec leurs chiens. Ceci dit, je n’ai rien contre eux, ils feront bien ce qu’ils voudront, ce qui me choque c’est de mettre leur precence et leur attitude sur le dos de l’unilinguisme francophne, ca frise le delire..


    May 17, 2009 at 12:06 am

  12. Edward

    May 17, 2009 at 12:08 am

  13. And Germans kapitalize the second-person pronoun! So much for that theory!


    May 17, 2009 at 12:10 am

  14. Or is that “Thomas’ cat” ?


    May 17, 2009 at 12:14 am

  15. Moi, j’ai trouvé que 9 fois sur 10, les mendiants agressifs sont des anglophones. Ceux qui attendent au coin et vont de voiture en voiture en demandant de l’argent ou qui “lavent” les pare-brises des voitures dont c’est ni demandé ni désiré.

    Mais t’as raison que ce n’est pas pertinente.


    May 17, 2009 at 12:25 am

  16. Concernant le sujet principal, j’aime mieux un unilingue anglophone ou francophone qu’un liberal bilingue qui dit une chose en francais et son contraire en anglais: ca me fait toujours penser a l’excellent film de Robert Morin, YES SIR, MADAME..


    May 17, 2009 at 12:38 am

  17. In that case, I wonder if he even bothered READING it.


    May 17, 2009 at 8:18 am

  18. Missed you on this trip MJK, too cold and wet to drink outside on the plateau anyways. Le meteo etais tres mal en Montreal les deniere jours passe. Maybe another time.

    For the record, I think it is a good idea for a cabinet minister to at least speak some french. It may not be necessary but at least it’s a sign of good intention in a country which has a significant french component.

    Incident was politically motivated in any event. For the Liberal to bring up the question and for VT to respond in the manner he did.



    May 17, 2009 at 7:51 pm

  19. Peuple à genoux devant la race supérieure

    par Michel Brûlé

    Depuis la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, les Américains et les Anglais n’ont pas cessé de faire la guerre aux quatre coins de la planète tout en faisant la morale à tout le monde. À ce sujet, je vous conseille de lire Le Livre noir des États-Unis de Peter Scowen. Or, la guerre la plus importante et la plus efficace que les Américains ont menée demeure celle de la culture. « With the films come the products » (traduction : Les gens voient des films américains et ils achètent ensuite des produits américains), disait William Hays, président de la M.P.A.A., l’association des plus importants producteurs et distributeurs du cinéma américain.

    La liste de best-sellers du New York Times est la plus influente du monde. Dans des petits pays comme la Bulgarie, qui ont soutenu comme des moutons la guerre en Irak, les éditeurs les plus prospères ne publient que des traductions de livres anglophones puisés dans cette liste composée uniquement d’auteurs anglophones. Dans la liste de best-sellers du Times de Londres du 24 septembre 2005, soit en pleine rentrée littéraire, il n’y a pas un seul écrivain non anglophone. Louis de Bernières (écrit sans accent grave sur le E !), l’auteur de Birds Without Wings, est né en Angleterre et écrit en anglais. Qu’en est-il de la liste des best-sellers du Globe and Mail, le soi-disant plus prestigieux journal canadien ? Que des anglophones, encore une fois ! Maintenant, répétez 100 fois sans vous étouffer de rire : « Le Canada est un pays bilingue. » Cela vaut-il la peine de jeter un coup d’œil à la liste de best-sellers d’un quotidien australien ? Évidemment que non !

    Regardons du côté de l’Allemagne en scrutant la liste de best-sellers du réputé magazine Der Spiegel. Toujours le 24 septembre 2005, sur les 20 titres que comptent la liste : 6 livres sont germanophones, 2 Français et les autres, anglophones. En France, la liste des 10 meilleurs vendeurs de la FNAC ne comptent que deux anglophones, J. K. Rowling et Paul Auster, les autres étant tous Français. Et au Québec, sur les 30 premiers titres du palmarès Renaud-Bray, on en compte 12 québécois, 10 français, 1 afghan, 1 espagnol, 1 brésilien et 5 anglophones. Et dire que ces tartuffes, journalistes et politiciens, qui nous rabâchent les oreilles en disant que les Québécois sont repliés sur eux-mêmes, sont partout dans nos médias !

    Tout le monde sait que La Presse est fédéraliste et que la commission Gomery n’a pas ébranlé un seul de ses éditorialistes. Et ces gens-là continuent à dénigrer les nationalistes qu’ils appellent « les purs et durs ». Mais qui sont les vrais purs et durs ? Si la commission Gomery n’a pas suscité chez eux la moindre petite remise en question, j’ose parler de fanatisme. La Presse n’est pas seulement fédéraliste, elle est aussi pro-Commonwealth, pro-États-Unis. Je me souviens d’une manchette au sujet du joueur de tennis Tim Henman intitulée « L’espoir britannique ». Il faudrait être fiers de faire partie du Commonwealth ! Et, bien évidemment, il faudrait adorer les États-Unis, le plus grand allié de l’Angleterre. Il faudrait prendre parti pour Lance Armstrong, que le journal français L’Équipe a accusé de dopage, par « nationalisme nord-américain », comme l’a si piteusement affirmé Ron Fournier. En d’autres termes, c’est un tricheur, mais on va l’appuyer aveuglément parce qu’il vient du même continent que nous. Pour penser comme ça, il faut avoir eu un beau zéro en histoire ! On a perdu la bataille des Plaines d’Abraham et il faudrait se mettre à aduler ceux qui nous ont fait subir la défaite !

    On le voit ci-dessus : les anglophones ne s’intéressent qu’à la culture anglophone. Il est facile de traduire un livre, mais les anglophones ne lisent pas de traductions. Faudrait-il que j’écrive des livres en anglais pour que les anglophones m’aiment ? Ça ressemble à « parle anglais ou meurs », ne trouvez-vous pas ?

    Selon la logique fédéraliste, si je suis fédéraliste, pro-Commonwealth et pro-États-Unis, je suis ouvert sur le monde. Si je suis nationaliste, je suis replié sur moi-même. Pourtant, je suis bel et bien nationaliste et, pour moi, ça veut dire que j’aime le Québec et sa culture et que je m’intéresse à toutes les autres cultures, y compris celle des anglophones. Il est intéressant de s’ouvrir aux autres cultures, mais il est important de soutenir la nôtre. Une étude réalisée par Alexandrine Foulon des Éditions HMH révèle que les journalistes québécois accordent un maigre 45,75 % de leurs articles et reportages à la littérature d’ici comparativement à 54,25 % à la littérature étrangère. Les pauvres aliénés culturels, qui rêvent d’être des Français de France ou des anglophones, ont leur tribune à Radio-Canada et à La Presse.


    May 17, 2009 at 8:32 pm

  20. Well I guess idiots read the Star too. It’s actually the most widely read and most progressive paper in anglo-Canada, but I digress.

    “avenue Mont-royal is teeming with down and out youth…”

    Um, since when are yuppie architects, environmental lawyers and their graphic designer friends down and out? Is there another avenue Mont-Royal I don’t know about?

    I think this whole phenomenon points to the difficulties faced by unilingual anglos in Quebec and highlights once again the importance of accessible and effective teaching of French.


    May 17, 2009 at 11:36 pm

  21. Yes James the world is not fair and what’s more it is filled with people less intelligent than you who are far more influential and wealthy.

    What constructive recourse do you propose to open American minds to the value of other cultures? We’re a nation of uneducated peasants. The vast majority of Americans probably cannot even locate Quebec on a map.

    Good luck with that. Well, at least you and M. Brûlé can enjoy wallowing in the unfairness of it all.


    May 17, 2009 at 11:42 pm

  22. “probablement” … In other words you don’t actually know whether or not they’re actually homegrown anglophones from the West Island thrust into poverty by their inability to telemarket or wash dishes.

    Emilio Esti-vez

    May 18, 2009 at 9:27 am

  23. I assume M.Brule is a distinguished non-clownophone and must therefore be quoted at lenght and taken very seriously.


    May 18, 2009 at 5:48 pm

  24. I’m not sure I’d characterize Brûlé as much of a “wallower.” He’s a very entrepreneurial can-do guy – a much better entrepreneur than writer, actually – whose maison d’édition has published lots of critically acclaimed books by great writers like François Avard, Normand Lester, and Robin Philpot among others. Not bad considering the size of the market he’s working within and the dumbing-down homogenizing forces (like the ones he describes above) in mass culture that create pretty nasty headwinds for any quality small publisher. But did you really need to remind me of the less intelligent and far more wealthy types in that at least half-accurate (the last part – cruelly accurate actually) intuition of yours? You’ve ratcheted up my crisis of middle age. I hope you’re happy with yourself. I’m going to wish you a belated Happy Patriots’ Day anyway. Now I’m going to wallow over the tattered remains of my REERs.


    May 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm

  25. well I didn’t quote him, I posted the entirety of a brief article of his. You’re the one who quoted him actually, before then going on to opinionate about a book which – lemme hazard a real wild guess here – you’ve never read.

    Chose certaine, MB’s got no lessons to take on cross-cultural awareness from someone who makes fun of Makka Kotto’s name. But that reminds me of another clownophone phenomenon I’ve noticed, à savoir, the clownophone willingness to drop like hot potatoes members of Québec’s “excluded” and “imperilled” minorities whenever they refuse to stick to the right script. Hard to get good help these days huh?

    I will quote from something tho, since the very hefty readership of this clownophone classic, this great bloke blockbuster (also available as a video documentary in numerous languages) has been confirmed at the cash registers:

    “As long as it remains within Canada..[Quebec’s] language policies can be constrained and in some cases overruled by reference to the Supreme Court and the Canadian Charter of Rights. Should Quebec become sovereign, individuals would lose this right of appeal, and the way would be open to majoritarian ethnic tyranny.”

    Michael Ignatieff, “Blood and Belonging”


    May 18, 2009 at 10:29 pm

  26. Hi all – first time poster. I thought you might be interested in this clip…

    Nice work on the blog AFG


    May 18, 2009 at 10:36 pm

  27. Not to mention one of Michel Brûlé’s smartest moves, to give a young writer by the name of Bryan Perro his first chance, which became one of the greatest successes in the history of Quebec youth literature: Amos D’Aragon. Kids around 10 years old just lap that stuff up. Note also that Perro initially had his hero named Ix, but Brûlé insisted he change it (to Amos D’Aragon), apparently because Brûlé felt Ix wouldn’t sound good in English(!) if/when the books were translated. I think this series has been translated in close to 20 languages so far.


    May 19, 2009 at 8:20 am

  28. Brûlé is about as subtle as a nuclear war, however can anyone out there dispute his facts? Are people in the places he mentions with his nasty finger-pointing much more open to other cultures that he is suggesting here? Is there any evidence or numbers that would back up the other side of the argument?

    I am not being facetious here. I’d really like to know.


    May 19, 2009 at 8:26 am

  29. Ignatieff has a point. There will be no recourse to the Canadian Supreme Court in the Republic of Quebecistan.

    Not sure what he means by “majoritarian ethnic tyranny” though. Maybe he saw La Marche des Patriotes and freaked out, instead of calling 911.


    May 19, 2009 at 11:58 am

  30. You non-clownophones are surely into numbers. It’s like a fetish of sorts.
    Do you need numbers to prove that any claims linking the KKK and the White Power movement to the English language are a bunch of crap?
    Or statistics to prove that a dude who’s whining is whining?


    May 19, 2009 at 12:38 pm

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