Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Beaconsfield to language police: get lost

It looks like the Quebec language police have been busy.

In addition to threatening the Town of Mount Royal (TMR) with fines for its 20-year-old bilingual signs -- signs we now know were legal anyway -- the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has also threatened the town of Beaconsfield.

Fortunately, the mayor and town council have a spine and are refusing to change their signs. According to the Chronicle weekly newspaper:
The government department’s Commission de toponymie sent a list recommending name alterations to ensure the French language is predominant in all the city’s road monikers. City Lane should become Allée City Hall, East Gables Court to Place d’East Gables and Raspberry Crescent to Croissant Raspberry, the list suggested. Even historic Thompson Point should now be known as Place de la Pointe-Thompson.
According to the 2001 census, about 66 percent of Beaconsfield residents are mother-tongue English-speakers. About 33 percent are mother-tongue French-speakers. But that doesn't matter to the language police whose goal is not to reflect reality but to change reality.

That my tax money supports the sycophants at the Office québécois de la langue française makes me ill. That the (big L) Liberal government of Jean Charest allows this to go on makes me ill. That the TMR council agreed to disfigure its signs a few weeks ago makes me ill.

The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. And bureaucrats at the Office québécois de la langue française are bullies. Don't believe me? Here's what the sycophant OQLF spokeperson, Gérald Paquette, said about predominantly English-speaking towns that refuse to cleanse the English from their street signs:
“There are only two or three of them (bilingual cities) who want to resist the phenomenon of having French predominate and Beaconsfield is one of them,” he said, noting that Cote St. Luc is another. “Knowing the past of Mr. Benedetti, it doesn’t surprise us.” (Emphasis mine)
So, government mandated censorship is a "phenomenon." Maybe the language police should request more tax money to study another phenomenon: all those odd Quebecers who think banning words is unjustified in a free and democratic society.

And what is it about "the past" of Mr. Benedetti that makes him resist the "phenomenon" of censorship? The sycophant spokesperson doesn't say. Could it be Benedetti's 20+ years as a news reporter? That might explain why he is opposed to censorship. But the sycophant is more likely referring to Benedetti's support of citizens who opposed the forced merger of their town to the City of Montreal and his later support of residents who voted in a referendum to demerge.

Language police are still sore about those (democratically-achieved) demergers.

It would have been so much easier to censor all the English street signs if towns like Cote St. Luc and Beaconsfield were part of a French-language-majority mega city.

Tans pis.

Good on Bob Benedetti for standing up for liberal-democracy.

Other reports: CBC


Uncle Ted said...

Thanks for covering this stuff.

As a resident of TMR, the whole sign painting issue was pretty shocking at the time.

We (my girlfriend and I) thought initially it had been some vandalism, but after the extent of the painting became clear, and the subsequent media coverage, I have to say we're both pretty upset with the way TMR handled the issue.

It seems pretty clear other Councils were willing to stand up to the OLF, and even historically TMR did. It's basically a failing of the local council and the Mayor.

I am not surprised other residents are very upset about the issue, and as an anglophone myself, it makes me wonder how welcoming the suburb will remain to me, as if perhaps we can look on this as some sort of precedent for the way our Mayor will handle future challenges with the OLF.

Thank you for covering this in a far more balanced way than I can manage. Certainly the OLF has upset me a great deal recently and I probably can't express myself on these issues without raising the ire of local francophones.

Anonymous said...

Allo Blockheads,

Resistance is futile you will be assimilated!

michael brass said...

blockheads --- bloc quebecois
BLOCkheads -- BLOC quebecois
BLOC(kheads/quebecois): is the irony intentional?