Official Languages commissioner Graham Fraser released his first official report today, and judging by the short wire story the logic seems a tad baffling. Basically, Fraser said Steve Harper is peachy keen on the whole official languages thing but the government he runs with an iron fist? Not so much.
Fraser says cuts by the Conservative government to a range of nine different programs have undermined progress in promoting linguistic duality and developing minority language communities.
He's particularly hard on the Tory decision to axe the Court Challenges Program, which pulled the funding rug from under 40 language cases currently before the courts.Now, I’m biased, but I’d tend to think Harper’s speaking a little French in his speeches would be outweighed by, say, the torpedoing of 40 language cases by his killing the Court Challenges Program, for example.
Fraser says his office has actually identified some 70 language issues that still require constitutional clarification.
The prime minister, who begins most of his speeches in French, was praised by Fraser for setting a personal example of how to employ both official languages.
Because, you know who is the boss of that government? Yes, it’s Steve Harper. It’s contradictory to say Harper is awesome but his government sucks when Harper runs the government with an iron fist. And speaking of Harper’s government, I was amused to see the next story after this one on the CP Ticker:
Yes, the next story after the one where Fraser “…praises Harper but dumps on government” we see the government is at it again on the official languages front:
A political spat has shut down the House of Commons official languages committee.(Get background on the Lauzon case here, he tried to shut-down hearings about the Court Challenges Program cancellation) Could there be a more timely example, on the very day of Fraser’s report, of the disdain the Harper government has for official languages?
The trouble began Tuesday when opposition members teamed up to vote out the Conservative chairman. The ouster of Guy Lauzon prompted the government to say he will not be replaced, and committees cannot sit without a chairman.
Government whip Jay Hill says the rules say the chair has to be a government member and he's not going to allow the opposition to dictate who that will be.
The battle comes on the same day the new official languages commissioner - Graeme Fraser - released his first report.
New Democrat MP Yvon Godin says the Tories talk a good line when it comes to language issues but their actions speak louder than their words.
He says the government has chosen not to support official languages by withdrawing from the committee.
And you can’t tell me Harper isn’t pulling the strings here. Nothing is done by this government without his say-so, the responsibility is his. But then again, despite Fraser’s baffling personal praise for Steve, it’s really unsurprising, given Steve’s past remarks on the topic:
"If you've read any of the official propagandas, you've come over the border and entered a bilingual country. In this particular city, Montreal, you may well get that impression. But this city is extremely atypical of this country... So it's basically an English-speaking country, just as English-speaking as, I would guess, the northern part of the United States."Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers
- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.
"It is simply difficult – extremely difficult – for someone to become bilingual in a country that is not. And make no mistake. Canada is not a bilingual country. In fact it less bilingual today than it has ever been... So there you have it. As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions."
- Stephen Harper on bilingualism, Calgary Sun, May 6th 2001.