One of the most contentious national issues has long been the province of Quebec’s Bill 101. Essentially a provincial French-only language law, it has been called racist by those opposed and a law that ‘paved the way for peace’ by supporters.
Outside of Quebec (especially in the West) angry reactions appear at the mere mention of Bill 101. When added to the exercise in national social engineering known as the Official Bilingualism policy, the perception is created that an abnormal degree of concession is being made by the majority of Canadian citizens for the benefit of those who themselves as ‘French’ (roughly between 26%-28% of the general population).
If that isn’t bad enough, we are supposed to accept this law as necessary in order to protect the French language and culture. This suggests that French is the only unique culture contained in Canada. Anyone who has traveled the nation knows this is not accurate.
If Alberta or British Columbia or Newfoundland (unquestionably a distinct society) moved to pass a similar law the protests would become front page news for weeks. The politically correct left would be in a tizzy – the same p-c left who defends Quebec’s right to have a discriminatory law on its books.
Perhaps that is the answer. For those of us who have been to the four corners of the nation, we recognize the many separate and vibrant cultures which hold our sometimes-wavering Confederation together. Alberta is no different. We are proud of our history, our people and our unique, distinct culture.
To preserve our way of life, maybe we should walk through the opening that Quebec has created. Perhaps we should use the precedent set by Bill 101 and vow to see the implementation of our own version that would enshrine English as Alberta’s one and only official language.
It certainly would help to prevent attacks on Albertan society such as the one launched by a publicity-seeking maladroit who determined it to be a good opportunity for attention by turning a traffic ticket into a provincial language battle.
It might be difficult and may not rid Alberta of French altogether. Maybe even some negotiation would be needed. In good faith, I’ll extend the first olive branch:
We promise to keep French on our cereal boxes if we don’t have to subject our children to the joys of ‘French immersion’ programs in our schools.
And no Celine Dion. Ever.