Count­ing you out

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

The strange ways of the Harper govern­ment seem to have un­fore­see­able re­sults in ev­ery sphere of life.

Lat­est is the de­ci­sion of not re­leas­ing all the re­sults from Statis­tics Canada. Who cares? Well the mi­nor­ity lan­guage com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try should. Be­cause if cen­sus re­sults are not avail­able and not wor­thy of Pres­i­dent Harper’s ™ view of what Canada is re­ally, then it will be bye-bye mi­nor­ity sta­tus for a lot of small towns here and else­where in Canada.

And you know there is a prob­lem when Le Devoir sees fit to make a front page story of some­thing that mostly con­cerns the An­glo­phones and Na­tives in Québec.

It is not as if hav­ing aban­doned the long form cen­sus did not ring bells when the mea­sure was an­nounced and that no­body cared then. Protest from the po­lit­i­cal class was highly vo­cal, this is ex­pected; so were the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity and the pri­vate sec­tor.

But it will be harder and harder to get to the bot­tom of the data barrel over the next few years as the data set is get­ting thin­ner and thin­ner.

In an­other is­sue that should worry all Cana­di­ans is the fact that over half a mil­lion peo­ple in this coun­try are un­able to speak ei­ther of­fi­cial lan­guage. Ex­perts in the field even doubt that num­ber putting it much higher, es­pe­cially in the Toronto and Van­cou­ver Metro area. If added are those with such a limited un­der­stand­ing of English or French that they can­not hold a ba­sic con­ver­sa­tion, then we must have close to a mil­lion. This is danger­ous for Canada: no coun­try should per­mit this for any pe­riod of time. Knowl­edge of ei­ther of­fi­cial lan­guage is es­sen­tial for all. We can­not live with maybe a mil­lion peo­ple in our midst who are un­able to en­gage in what a coun­try is.

Let’s imag­ine a real sit­u­a­tion: a non-of­fi­cial lan­guage speaker is in­volved in an ac­ci­dent. How will the first re­spon­der be able to con­verse with him? At the hos­pi­tal how can the med­i­cal staff as­cer­tain his con­di­tion? Some may not like what we are about to write, but, any­where in Canada, if a French or English speaker is in­volved in the same sit­u­a­tion, some­one will man­age to find a re­source, if only by phone, to com­mu­ni­cate with them. In Que­bec, for An­glo­phones, and else­where in Canada, for Fran­co­phones. Not so with a non-speaker of of­fi­cial lan­guages.

There is also the al­ways present dan­ger of ex­ploita­tion by ‘com­mu­nity lead­ers’ who love noth­ing more than a cap­tive au­di­ence where busi­ness is con­ducted be­tween mem­bers of the same com­mu­nity; where they work in busi­nesses owned by mem­bers of the same eth­nic group that they be­long to; where they vote for the ‘right’ can­di­date at an elec­tion. How can they know bet­ter?

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