Americans! Puke-worthy op-ed from NYT raving about Canada’s official bilingualism, it’s the next step for you too

Source is a blog called “No Dogs or Anglophones”

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.

  • Dana Garcia

    Right, it’s such an imposition to expect newbie residents who chose to come here to learn the language.

    The proliferation of signs in Spanish is rapid and disturbing.

    • winniec

      Lookit. More people speak Spanish than either English or French. It’s pleasanter to hear than Joual. It’s a whole lot easier to learn Spanish than French. Hispanic people aren’t xenophobic like French Canadians. If you speak Spanish, you’re one of them.

  • winniec

    Naïve scribblings like the above fail to take note that most French Canadians don’t use French, but a low-class, hybrid creole that’s almost unintelligible to real Francophones! That is the dirty, little secret and hidden shame of the language question. English Canadians learn French well enough, but almost never hear French spoken in Canada.

    • Frau Katze

      I never heard French outside French classes growing up in BC. I had no problem with taking it in high school and I am sure I could have learned to speak it if I had been in a different environment. But life just ended up being otherwise.

      • barryjr

        I grew up in Comox with a large air force base nearby. The only French signs we see here are on the French immersion schools or out at the base. Very rarely you will hear somebody speaking French in the stores here, it’s so seldom that you notice it. Bilingualism in BC is a joke and not a funny one with the money wasted on it.

        • I’d heard that there are more Korean speakers in BC than there are French-speakers.

          Korean-phone rights!

          • Frau Katze

            And the Koreans are dwarfed by the Chinese.

          • Not literally, though.

            But seriously, even with regards to them people are making excuses. Enough.

        • Frau Katze

          French immersion did not exist when I went to school. My daughter, married to a man who father is French-Canadian (from northern Alberta) and who speaks French, is sending her son to French immersion.

    • Peter_Akuleyev

      French Canadian is just a dialect of French, just as “American English” is a dialect of English. In many ways French Canadian is more expressive and preserves a greater sense of tradition than the sterile literary language spoken in French society, or worse, the Algerian/Moroccan influenced patois common among young Parisians. I’ll take the Canadian version of French any day.

  • sonomaca

    I’m a conservative, but I do recognize that the Quebecois have been in place for more than 300 years. Haven’t they earned the right to speak as they will?

    The same might be said for Spanish speakers in the Southwest which was, after all, seized from Mexico in war. As an aside, the slave/free status of those newly acquired Mexican territories helped to precipitate the Civil War.

    • Frau Katze

      I am not suggesting that Canada’s policy be changed.

      • sonomaca


        My point is that, as regards the US, Spanish is a traditional language, not a recent import. I grew up in Sonoma, where the famous Mexican General Vallejo located his HQ. Spanish preceded English in Sonoma and points south. English came to the fore only when Vallejo (willingly) acceded to “American” sovereignty in 1846. Spanish also preceded English in what became Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado.

        It’s bizarre to claim that Spanish should not be accorded the same status as English in the US. My college roommate, a Trujillo from Albuquerque, traced his New Mexican lineage back well before the Mexican Cession of 1848. His family was speaking Spanish in New Mexico before the United States had been birthed.

        • It’s one thing to recognise that Spanish is predominant in X area; it’s quite another not to have an official operating language that will unify and make things more convenient. The Americans will have to decide how this can be done.

        • Frau Katze

          If you made Spanish “official” in the whole US you would be in a nightmare. Best to let people handle it locally. In some areas it makes sense to accommodate Hispanics as much as possible. Local — that is the key.

          • sonomaca

            I guess I agree that Spanish should be official in areas where Spanish has historical roots, but not elsewhere.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            “English only” should be a constitutional amendment.

        • Drunk_by_Noon

          The HELL it is sonomaca!
          I’d think that in the intervening 165-years that the various Mexicans that sparsely populated the American Southwest have had ample time to learn English.
          There are no more historical “Spanish speaking” areas that have not been imported.
          Do you think that the Mexicans born here have to learn English? They don’t.

          • sonomaca

            How do you know that Spanish hasn’t been spoken continuously in parts of the West and Southwest? Did you do a study? Did you contact people in various communities? The truth is, you have no idea.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            By all means sonomaca, show us the results of your study!

            Yes, show us all where Spanish HAS BEEN SPOKEN CONTINIOUSLY here in the US Southwest since 1847.
            I can’t wait.

    • jayme

      I don’t speak french and living in Ottawa it is very hard to get a real good job why there is this idea everything should be done to help the french.

  • b_marco

    This gal is laying groundwork for a run at the throne.

    • Frau Katze

      Quite possible.

      • b_marco

        So.. she’s establishing her credibility on foreign policy, and staking out a position in Quebec.

  • Chrystia Freeland isn’t an intellectual. That is apparent.

    I have no problem with language laws. Lots of countries have them. It’s the oligarchies and the political correctness I have a problem with. The francophone oligarchy in Canada ensures that the majority of the country is screwed with regards to employment or any governmental or judicial process.

    It’s time to get rid of that.

    • b_marco

      While she may not be an intellectual, she knows how to enlist them to her cause. I thought calling someone an intellectual was an insult anyways..

      • A lot of people are influential that way. How is she on her own? Not good.

    • b_marco

      One time, at a conference in Ottawa, I sat through a long seminar on PKI. It’s all techno babble about exchanging crypto keys and whatnot. The poor speaker got one question at the end of his seminar: Is the system bilingual?

  • Frances

    I notice Ms Freedland doesn’t comment on listening to Francophone MP’s trying to speak English – that’s because they don’t. Bilingualism is very much a one-way street: Anglos have to have decent French to get many civil service jobs, while Francophones can attain bilingual status with minimal English. And, Canada being the way it is, it is far easier for a Francophone to get some exposure to English than it is for an Anglo to get some exposure to French.

    • Scotch_Pine

      It was just a few years back when no less than Liberal leader Stephane Dion lost a significant amount of cred when CTV aired an interview that showed he didn’t understand a fairly simple question being asked in English, even though it was repeated three times. It wasn’t Francophones who were wincing.

    • THIS is just one of the problems.

  • Allan

    “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.”

    Yeah right. Of course the stupid idiot makes no mention of what happens when SOME PEOPLE (MUSLIMS) DON’T WANT TO INTEGRATE!!!

    • occupant 9

      Statistically speaking, though I can’t find the link for the source, I recall that our new immigrants cost us taxpayers a $2.2 billion per year loss, yet we are told over and over that they are here for our economic needs, to “help” us, somehow.

      It’s like the collective West lost a really big war we didn’t know about and now the victors are transferring their populations, entire villages in some cases, deep into our heartlands.

      We have immigrants who come from places where there are no rights only to begin aggitating for special rights, as if the rights we all share are insufficient. Well, to a Muslim, laws that suggest we’re all equal IS their beef; they are clearly, in their own ideology of colonialization, the “best of people.”

      • Rosenmops

        It’s like the collective West lost a really big war we didn’t know about and now the victors are transferring their populations, entire villages in some cases, deep into our heartlands.

        Exactly! Thanks for putting that into words!

  • David

    Having waded through that drivel I am more apprehensive than ever that justin could speak for Canada.

  • Doug Kursk

    The OP may not want to suggest Canada change its official language policy, but I will.