Just when we thought we were well beyond the age of angst over French on cereal boxes and the like, in steps Vic Toews with the heavy linguistic lumber.
In a fit of pique - uggh, that's a French word - the President of the Treasury Board charged that the Liberals view unilingual Canadians as second-class citizens. "It's clear," he harrumphed, "that the Liberal Party considers those of us who speak one official language to be less Canadian."
The truculent Mr. Toews is responsible for language policy in the federal public service. He blew his anglophone gasket - Quebeckers will not be overjoyed - in a committee hearing on the Official Languages Act when Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez had the audacity to ask whether, given his duties, the minister should be bilingual.
His skin growing thinner by the millisecond, Mr. Toews shot back: "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."
Let me say that I don’t care too much if Toews can speak French or not. I can’t, but then I won’t be responsible for implementing official bilingualism in the public service anytime soon. Nevertheless, its not a biggie for me.
Nevertheless, it was a perfectly legitimate question for Pablo to ask, given the specific nature of Vic’s ministerial responsibilities, which includes responsibility for the civil service's official bilingualism policy. If Vic was, say, agriculture minister, it would have been less relevant. And it would have been perfectly fine for Vic to reply his inability to speak French has absolutely no bearing on his job, and to calmly explain why. And point out Liberals in his job haven't always been bilingual. All legitimate debate.
But this feigned outrage and insult by Toews is absolutely ridiculous, as is the piling-on by the Cons and their Web supporters. Particularly as this is the party that make so much of Stephane Dion’s accented English.
It was Vic Toews’ party that ran a smear campaign against Dion, mocking his language ability, saying his accented English made him unsuitable to be Prime Minister. They were nasty and personal. It was an organized, multimedia smear campaign ran by the Conservative Party based on Stephane’s language ability, saying it disqualified him from being a national leader.
So, I’m sorry Vic, but your feigned outrage over a measured question in a committee hearing is absolutely asinine. Maybe if you kept better company I’d be more sympathetic, but when your party was smearing Mr. Dion and his language ability I don’t recall you uttering a peep. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers