Protecting … by removing protections?


Earlier this month the House approved Bill C-13, significantly changing Canada’s linguistic landscape, largely by strengthening Quebec’s Bill 96 which itself tilts government services away from minority language access.

Does C-13 actually modify Canada’s constitution — without going through the constitutional process of national consent?  If the QCGN interpretation is accurate, then it seems, to a layman, that the federal Liberal government has allowed a serious end-run around constitutional guarantees by strengthening Quebec’s Bill 96. Guarantees are still not afforded linguistic minorities — anywhere in Canada, and certainly not in Quebec — with C-13.

It is no explanation for MPs to insist that C13 merely ‘updates the law’.

It changes the law. And it appears to change our law without following the process for constitutional change. Our Liberal member “explains” this by claiming that the French language is not sufficiently protected by official bilingualism, as was claimed by Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau.

It is difficult for us to not see this as a Liberal attempt to push the Bloc Quebecois off the right end of the federal political spectrum. But this has required a significant retreat for the federal Liberals, as the innovators of bilingualism.

Can we expect that the NDP, supposedly more progressive than the Liberals, to be the main support for Canadian bilingualism? Their voting record is disappointing.  Both ‘progressive’ parties are chasing an illusory voting population — and we just saw in Alberta where that goes. Francophones who support the Bloc are unlikely converts to the opposite end of the spectrum, the NDP. Bloc voters resist immigration and want to delay equal rights for immigrants — and they’ll vote NDP out of frustration? And vote for what?  C13 and Quebec’s Bill 96 give populists all the success they can hope for; how could Liberal us-tooism beat that? That question demands details from Liberals and NDPers.  Liberal voters in Anglo-Quebec may likely sit out the next election, which won’t go well for Mr Trudeau’s team (nor Mr Singh’s).

And bilingualism, to be clear, does not mean equal access in both official languages, in every corner of the country, from every officer of every branch of federal service. Demanding that, as francophones often do, is to demand a second level of government. Who wants that?

Nor will C-13 “hold the country together”. It could further the Balkanization of language-areas here — remember the Serbs, Croatia, and Kosovo? Is this Canada’s “new future” under this government? Just the thought of that is awful.