Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chinese, Japanese … Newfinese

I’d have a better chance of becoming Prime Minister of Newfoundland and Labrador, than PM of Canada.

Read why in today’s Telegram.

Here’s a hint: John Crosbie taught us all about the importance of French when he ran for the leadership of the federal Tories in January 1983.

The following quote — which Crosbie delivered to a “crush of eager reporters” in Quebec City on the eve of the leadership convention — killed his leadership hopes.

“I am not some kind of criminal, I’m just an ordinary Canadian who has been in politics for a long time and has a lot to offer. Just because I’m not fluent in the French language doesn’t mean a disaster is going to occur … There are 20 million of us who are unilingual English or French … I don’t think that the 3.7 million who are bilingual should suddenly think themselves some kind of aristocracy and only leaders can come from their small group.”

The actual deathblow came next when a reporter pushed Crosbie — who was “tired, frustrated and angry” about the “constant harping” on his French — over the edge.

“I cannot talk to the Chinese people in their own language either … I can’t talk to the German people in their own language. Does it mean that there should be no relationships between China and Canada or Canada and Germany or whatever? … There are many different languages.”

Brian Mulroney, who was born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, and, more importantly, bilingual, went on to win the leadership race, serving as Prime Minister between 1984 and 1993.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Very interesting point. I guess I always knew that one of us English- speaking Newfoundlanders could never be Prime Minister, but it never really sank in before. My first clue should have been that it's impossible to even get a federal job in NL without fluency in a language that very few people here speak.

What do you make of some of your fellow NDP party members advocating more Quebec seats in the house? It seems to me they already have too much political power. How will you promote your strong pro-NL stance as a member of what is increasingly a Quebec-focused party?