This op-ed at the New York Times is by Chrystia Freedland, a Liberal MP in the federal government and fully paid-up member of the elite class.
TORONTO — AS the United States gears up for a political brawl over immigration next year, one of the concerns shaping the debate will be the fear that English-speaking Americans will be culturally and linguistically overwhelmed by newcomers, many of them Spanish-speaking.
An example of what is in store was the autumn cyberspat between the Telemundo anchor and MSNBC host José Díaz-Balart and the talk radio host Laura Ingraham, who was annoyed because Mr. Díaz-Balart had pronounced a Hispanic name with the correct accent and conducted a bilingual interview in too “herky-jerky” a manner.
It is not enough to legalize millions of illegals. Much greater sacrifices are required. How dare you permit such a dreadful episode to occur? Someone should have been fired!
For me, reading about the contretemps in the lobby of Canada’s House of Commons was a moment of cognitive dissonance. In our Parliament, Anglophone members speak terrible French every day. Our accents are so bad that sometimes our Francophone colleagues can’t quite hide their winces.
The francophones have it tough up here! You must do better than us.
This butchering of Flaubert’s native tongue is the foundation of a larger accommodation that Canada, and in particular English-speaking Canada, has made with a world in which our language may be dominant, but isn’t alone. We are far from perfect — our failings are particularly egregious in our treatment of our aboriginal people — but when it comes to living in a multilingual, multicultural world, we get a lot right.
“Multiculturalism isn’t just about statistics, it is about attitude. It is about seeing diversity as strength,” Henry Kim, the director of Toronto’s dazzling new Aga Khan Museum, one of the world’s finest collections of Islamic art, told me. “Canadians believe that blending makes you better and stronger.”
Diversity is our strength!
Mr. Kim is a Chicago-born Korean-American. He doesn’t speak Korean, and his mother baked apple pie “badly.” Mr. Kim suggests that his homeland is still uneasy about incoming cultures: “Canada has a minister of multiculturalism. Can you imagine that in Washington?”
No I can’t and thank heavens for it.
I suspect the greater, unspoken, concern of Anglophones is that we will be at a disadvantage in a society where everyone else is bilingual. I get it. I feel that pang every week when I stumble through my French class, and then listen to the perfect French and English of my native Francophone colleagues.
Everyone will never be bilingual. There are almost no francophones in BC, for example. They are vastly outnumbered by Chinese and Sikhs. Yet strangely enough, the problems with official bilingualism have so great in Canada that no one, no matter how far left, suggests adding more languages to our official two.
As a final dig at the proles:
The world’s rich countries are falling into two camps: those that are able to attract and welcome immigrants and those that are not. Western industrial societies like Japan and parts of Europe that are unwilling to accept newcomers, and to allow themselves to be transformed by those immigrants, are destined to demographic and economic decline.
Enough of your elitist crap! From CBC, 2013:
A high-profile federal Liberal candidate campaigning in Toronto on a platform of restoring the middle class oversaw the decision to move two dozen full-time media jobs from that city to India.
Chrystia Freeland was the head of Reuters Digital in New York when Thompson Reuters moved its Toronto digital newsroom to New York and shipped the bulk of its work to the Bangalore operation.
The December 2011 move put about 25 Toronto staff under Freeland’s supervision out of work, including 17 permanent and five temporary unionized employees.
One comment at the article from NYT:
Bilingualism in Canada has been a disaster. It was a good idea in theory but it creates and promotes division in society, including absurd amounts of effort and resources wasted on needless translations and accommodations of a linguistic minority. This does not include the grievance based politics of linguistic separatists – or bigoted restrictions on free speech which occur with government sanction and encouragement in Quebec. America, do yourself a favor, teach your kids foreign languages in school – it is good to learn them. Do not give foreign languages legal status.
UPDATE: This post is NOT intended to express the view that Canada should give up its bilingual policy: merely that the under the circumstances (very different from case of Quebec), it makes no sense for the US to go for official bilingualism.