Fraser frank on language issue
Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages since 2006, spoke in North Hatley last Sunday, on creating community between French and English speakers.
Language commissioner Graham Fraser was on familiar ground at Sunday’s meeting of the United Universalist Church of North- Hatley, UUestrie. He could start his conference by quoting his father, forty five years ago, at a similar function at the Montreal chapter. Mr. Fraser has often spoke of the heritage that his father gave him, the cottage on Lake Massawippi, but on Sunday, he took us back to the War years before he was born, when his father, Blair Fraser, a journalist like him, along with Mason Wade, the American scholar who was the first to study French-Canadian, with others, took a drive to Magog to hear Henri Bourassa, being presented by a young André Laurendeau, speaking for the Bloc Populaire, who would win the Stanstead riding.
The narrative leading naturally to an older Laurendeau, co-presiding, the Laurendeau-Dunton Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism of the 1960’s which brought the post of Language Commissioners possible when the Trudeau government started acting on its recommendations. Thrown in, the diverging groups of North Hatley, federalist on one side, sovereignist on the other, Mr. Fraser sad that both never met together, it would have been interesting to hear him arguing with another journalist, turned poet, Gérald Godin who later became a PQ minister on the Quebec situation. It should be remembered that when René Levesque was faced with building his first cabinet in 1976, he chose North Hatley as the venue.
Mr. Fraser’s commitment to bilingualism is not the result of his job but the contrary. He is not one to skirt the issue, admitting bluntly that outside of Quebec, providing services in French is not easy, that is when they are available, while deploring that outside of Montreal, the situation for Anglophone could easily be improved.
What was interesting about this conference and its question period was that, in for all intent and purpose an English audience, not too many listeners were lost when Mr. Fraser spoke in French, there were no blank faces when Gérald Godin or his spouse Pauline Julien were mentioned nor that the only newspaper quoted was Le Devoir, both by Mr. Fraser and one of the intervener at the question period. The audience at the Unitarian Unversalist meeting was what the dream of bilingualism and biculturalism was in the 1960’s, the perfect venue
for Mr. Fraser speech.
Mary-Ann McCarron, vice-President of the Uniterian Universalist or UUEstrie, Rachel Garber, Graham Fraser and Pastor Carole Martignacco.