I received a letter from a young man who is eminently qualified and has even taken the trouble to perfect his French by spending time in Paris. Sad to say that our government (all levels) seem to prefer people who speak Quebecois (Patois?). His message reminded me of Ron Corbett’s article in the Ottawa Sun, 2012 so I will include that article to remind people that this problem is getting more widespread. Our young people are victims of French zealotry when professional & academic qualifications are superseded by a minority, localized language not even spoken by many educated French-language students. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised that Ron Corbett’s article is still available online so link to it if you want to read the comments. Most of them are from the English-speaking majority who are getting more and more frustrated at the situation but you also hear from French-speakers and bilingual people who fight to keep their minority, highly preferential status to dominate the Canadian power structure. Subsequent to T's story, I also heard from A. who was in Canadian Armed Forces.
Here is T's story:
I have never reached out to your team for I tend to keep a low profile
My background :
My maternal side are British Scottish (with a touch of Irish) and my paternal side are Italian-Indian (of INDIA not First nations)
My family emigrated from Uganda with the slew of well educated, business savvy Asians, Mixed Asians and British, Israeli nationals back on towards Italy, England, and Israel and those who were fortunate, entered Canada under the auspices of controversial Prime Minister Trudeau. It's a hard sell for me to not accept the fact that were it not for this French Canadian Prime Minister, my family would have been refugees on my paternal side - maternal side were lucky as they held British passports but they too relocated to Canada during the 70s as well.
Roll on to modern day, I am a Canadian, born in the capital and only up to grade 9, I took French. I went to English speaking programs at an undergraduate degree in Canada in behavioural sciences and postgraduate studies in the UK in policy.
I came back to Canada this past year expected things to change since Conservative PM Harper has been in office, and yet bilingual posts are still rampant in places across Canada. I took it upon myself, whilst in the UK, to pop over to Paris, France on 3 month stays during my 2 year Masters degree in the UK, and learnt French first hand at the University of Paris - Sorbonne. Surprised that I did very well over this 2 year period but yet, when I come back, I can barely understand when Quebecers or transplanted Quebecers interview me for positions at the City of Ottawa, or the Federal Government in Ottawa.
I come to you today, not to deplore my background but share some interesting things : the French in France could not care less if the sign says STOP instead of Arrete, the English in Great Britain could not care less if the place that converts their pounds to EURO or Dollars says "Bureau de Changes" because for them, they are not making a point to speak one language or another, they are trying to work with their differences. But as we know, Quebec does not want to. I get confused because I used to think sectarian violence or conflicts occurred in British India and why the British separated Pakistan (and Bangladesh - Muslims vs Hindus) from India, or back in the UK with Northern Ireland (Protestants vs Catholics)
I get confused about Quebec as I know the bloodline and the religious line is mixed - Metis, French Catholic, Irish Catholic , Scottish and English and Huguenot Protestants. It gets depressing as an Anglophone when you hear your French friends who went to university with you have high paying jobs in the Federal Government (and even try to get you in by passing your English written CV around with still no luck) and for one to wonder whether it was worth it to consider working in public life.
As we live in a reasonably secular state right now, what I want to know is : with all the mixed blood in Quebec, how can English speakers inside and outside Quebec fulfill their civic pride to engage in public life on equal footing with the French of Quebec be it at the Federal level, the Provincial level in Quebec or even at the municipal level in Ottawa or Montreal?
I come to you, albeit not for direct answers - as the issue may be complicated, but some input nonetheless.
For me to witness the bulk of ambassador posts in the Canadian consulate generals in the USA are all French sounding names, along with every Ministry leader in the Federal Government bearing a French sounding name - when looking their info up on the g.o.c websites, how do we make an inalienable right for English Canadians to serve their country proudly? I mean, I would love to work for DFAIT and be living the sweet life in Miami at the Canadian Consulate General sans the recent debacle which occurred there with the Ambassador's stepson!
I admit, I have been a bit of a maverick in the past year - Francizing my name on CVs (resumes), submitting French only CVs, and switching my jobs.gc.ca profile to only select French as my First Official language without any mention of English, and the result : I get call backs from CRA, Passport Canada, Stats Can and the RCMP! (I am now in various hiring pools for said departments and due to start soon after my security clearance gets approved). (I also have a French speaking voicemail now - sad I know).
For those who enter the Canadian public service, do you think there is a way for us to rise up to the level as Executive Deputy Minsters with only speaking English, or would we have to keep speaking French all the way until I am I high up for me to have the power to make all the jobs designated unilingual English in my department?
I am not bashing the French - the love of people of France made me appreciate their language, especially as it was not forced down my throat even in Paris - fact - you need to speak English to get a decent investment banker’s job in Paris at French investments firms but the opposite is not true at their offices in London - same with other French firms in Paris.
If you can write back on how you see things going here in Canada, let me know.
Even postings now in Federal offices like the Canadian Tourism Commission in Vancouver need bilingual (English & French) imperative personnel when other languages like Chinese, Spanish or Japanese would make more sense.
With high regard to all the mailings I have received from you, thank you for them. I wish Canada were more like our British counterparts - they would riot or peacefully assemble at Whitehall to challenge the status quo - I find Canadians are complacent - they let liberal leadership run this province of Ontario dry for over 13 years - but that is a provincial matter, and I think I have given you a lot to work with above.
If I wasn't so broke and bearing a huge student loan, I would donate to your team. I guess for now, my only hope is to right the wrongs of my predecessors who ran office in this country for over 40 years and make it more of an egalitarian society so everyone can have a fair shot, not just those with a Mandarin (French) tongue.
Here is another victim of the language policy, forwarded by Howard Galganov:
Hello Howard; I first heard about you during the referendum period but it has taken me a number of years to get up the courage to write. I have read your bio and am inspired, however I am not able to get 'into the' debates or discussion about US and international stuff at this time because I am still foaming over the rapidly developing obstacles facing those of us who speak French but not well enough it seems to get meaningful employment in our own country.
I too, was born in Montreal and had the good fortune (if you want to call it that) to be part of the first French Immersion pilots on the Island. I started in grade 7 so did not have the all-important early year exposure as did many who came after me but I digress. I served in the Canadiann military from 1986-2006 and what a disappointment that was (it was in its downhill spiral at that time and who knew about the 'rise' of 'importance' of Afghanistan to come).
I was medically released into the nation's capital and have not been able to find suitable work in the intervening decade - largely due to the fact that although I am a double university grad and have deployed in 'service to' my 'country', I can only seem to attain a 'functional' level (CBB) in the 'illustrious' federal government language testing. OK so there are other opportunities, say maybe in the private sector, you say? I have applied for over a thousand positions (since I started counting) and of the handful I was interviewed for, I was eliminated because my French was not 'good enough'. I have spend $1000's of dollars trying to upgrade and improve on my own (no one has sponsored me yet I am not entitled to the 'free' language training that we offer immigrants).
I have widened my search, only to find that more and more corporate jobs are also demanding 'official' bilingualism' for the 'good' jobs - and certainly in most areas of human resources that I am interested and qualified in. Anyway I could rant for hours on this topic but I am considering an exit from this country, disappointed though it makes me feel. I am not a Native Canadian (and I know they have suffered the ULTIMATE racism), apparently do not speak French well enough to get a job (even though my level is far better than the English of many newcomers), am not disabled, or a 'visible' minority (whatever that means nowadays) and am over 30 (actually am 50 ish) so do not qualify for any program the 'bleeding hearts' have created.
I am sick of the media glorifying veterans and promising good treatment when this means virtually nothing unless you were a senior officer and sliding into a defence contract or senior DND bureaucratic role. So, I was wondering if there is an English rights group that is working on fighting back on these issues that you might be able to direct me to if you are no longer directing your energies this way. I am not anti -French (in terms of ethnicity) as I have many great friends and acquaintances who are French Canadian. It is the policies and practises from the power elite sense that I am finding SO restricting and I believe that some, if not most of this is what is really driving mental health crisis in our society (if we can't get good jobs to support our families, and people are being hired for jobs simply because of their language skill and not the whole picture, then something is really wrong)!!!
Thanks and I look forward to following you now that I have found this site and bookmarked it. A.
Response from Kim: Thank you, Howard, for forwarding A’s message. We exist to help expose the great conspiracy crisis created by P.E. Trudeau’s 1982 Constitution. Many Canadians still don’t know what this constitution has done to Canada - it has created so many divisions in our country, the worst of which is this language divide that has been perpetrated on an unsuspecting English-speaking population. We cannot pretend to be able to solve this problem but if we can raise the country’s awareness of the loss of well-educated citizens to public office just because they are not “French enough”, we might be able to attract the attention of politicians. We know that politicians only act when pushed sufficiently hard by the people - it takes a huge number of people to effect change.
We need to awaken the Silent Majority to stop accepting 2nd class citizenship & allow control of Canada to fall into French hands.
It is a damned shame that our well-educated Anglophones are being discriminated against on such a widespread basis just because we allowed a French Prime Minister to take office and he took the opportunity to rewrite our constitution to elevate his tribe & those who are willing to follow his dictates. His excuse was that Canada needed to be independent from UK and our English-speaking leaders at the time were too busy apologizing for the natural dominance of an English-speaking population.
The 1982 Constitution is the real culprit in the great divide that Canada has become. It is a question of what to do now that the damage is done? Certainly electing a Socialist government composed of any of these parties (LIB+NDP+Green) will only make matters worse. Not participating in the election is a NON-starter. Our only option is to continue our work of educating more Canadians to understand that we have to be willing to do something - even something as simple as signing a petition. CLF is preparing a petition to be circulated in a week - we will need your help.
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