Sunday, August 19, 2007

DicksnJanes Podcast#115: Ca-Na-Da!!!

The Scarborough Dude loves Canada eh!

Canadian Idiot - Weird Al Yankovic - Straight Outta Lynwood
Farewell To Annabel - Gordon Lightfoot - Old Dan's Records
Canada - Kids Direct - O Canada!

Check out what Daryl Cognito has to say at Atomic Suburbia


Dave Brodbeck said...

I have never been prouder to be your friend and a listener of your than when I heard your passionate defense of bilingualism in Canada. Thank you dude.

Scarborough Dude said...

Thanks so much for that comment Dave! Up until now, no feedback at all, and I was wondering if I had maybe alienated more listeners thru my ranting. Glad to know I'm not alone, although I know others could express the need and reasons for bilingualism much better than I can.

Dave Brodbeck said...

Well, I can give it a try, yet, you did a fine job.

The French are a founding people of this country

There were French settlers here before English ones

The French relationship with the Native people allowed them to live here, and to adapt early on much more easily than the English.

The two linguistic groups enrich each others' cultures.

The "French Fact" is in both the BAN Act (1967) and the Constitution Act of 1982.

The Quebec Act (1774) gave the people of Quebec the right to live in their own language, legal system and as Catholics (not that I am much on religion...)

Compare Quebec to Louisiana, where except for small pockets, the language is English, our country has preserved this diversity AND encouraged it.

Nobody makes you read the cereal boxes in French (or ENglish).

French, or English, service in a community by the Federal government is only required when there is a significant population in the area that speak that language.

Tolerance is a very Canadian trait.

Many young French Canadian men have given their lives so we can vote, so we can live in a free country. Many are right now.

Dave Brodbeck said...

Ooops, type there, that should be BNA act.

Scarborough Dude said...

Thanks again Dave - and that was 2 typos, just so our Albertan - I mean American friends, don't get confused- that should be the BNA Act of 1867, I believe.

Daryl Cognito said...

I believe that tolerance is what will finally bring this country down and allow the US to swallow us up. By accepting everyone and not expecting anyone to adopt Canadian values or join our culture we end up a country of minorities. A country or a group needs common values (or even a common enemy) to bring them together. Canada is a country that is no longer Canadian.

Okay not really focused on the french issues, but I think it is time to decide which language is ours because by trying to have two, we simply create more division .

(remember, these are the opinions of an Albertan drunk on oil money.)

Dave Brodbeck said...

Is Switzerland a real country?

Is Belgium a real country?

Is Spain in danger of falling apart?

How about Ireland?

These places all seem pretty fine to me and (gasp) all have more than one official language.

Explain to me how it hurts anyone to have French or English services offered by the federal government where warranted.

Daryl Cognito said...

Someone has to win and someone has to lose. As it sits right now, for me, Canada is divided and it is the language that divides us. Quebec bans signs in English, how does that not hurt the country.

(Please keep in mind these are opinions and they are subject to change as I learn new things. Also, my opinion does not imply you are wrong in anyway.)

Daryl Cognito said...

Oh, and I never meant to suggest that Canada was not a real country.

Dave Brodbeck said...

Oh believe me, there are aspects of Bill 101 (most of them truth be told) that are stupid. English is not banned, but French must be predominant. in Quebec BTW.

Quebec is not an officially bilingual province (though one can easily get government services in English, where warranted.)

The only officially bilingual province is New Brunswick. Quebec and Ontario are de facto bilingual if not de jure.

From the beginning, 1867, this has been a federation of provinces. This project, this country,, was conceived of as a partnership.

Anonymous said...

“... these Albertans don't know about Canadian history and should ..."

How would you feel if I claimed that the history of Alberta was in fact Canadian history and that Canada was made up of patchwork quilt of wheat, barley and rye? Not a bad metaphor, I think, but that might give you the sense of ‘other’ that comes out of your exclusive podcasts.

Don't be so geocentric, Dude. Too often you claim to be talking about Canadian history, when, in fact, you are talking about the history of Quebec (Upper Canada), Ontario (Lower Canada) and the Maritimes. Of course I know your weltanschauung is reinforced every day when you stick your nose out of your red brick Toronto house: beavers, maple leaves and the head offices of the CBC loom large on your narrow horizon. Since you live at ground zero for every symbol of Canadian identity in the world's smallest iconography, why wouldn't you think that way? Even in the west we have the same insidious maple syrup poured in our ears. The difference is this: what sounds sweet to you simply plugs up our ears. When I walk out of my wooden Vancouver house, where is the snow, spontaneous games of childhood shinny and happy Quebecois fiddlers firing up a dance around the sugarbush? Beats me. Are there ravens, evergreen needles and seaweed? They are there, and every snow-free, rain-soaked foot of the way. The gold rush that scared Eastern Canada so much that it begged British Columbia to come into confederation (we negotiated train service for that); Emily Carr (who kept her distance from the Group of Seven); and the funny money politics of the Social Credit Party (a consequence of R. B. Bennett’s depression strategy to not give any province that did not vote conservative “a nickel”); are nowhere to be seen on your timeline. And why should they be? You live where you live. But in truth, the history that you talk about might as well be American history as far as I'm concerned … learn it and store it for some small moment in the future when a question might pop up on Jeopardy. Fittingly, you finish your podcast with a song that appears to pay homage to Canada; in fact, it was a musical shill to encourage people to attend the Montreal World’s Fair in 1967; you didn't see that happening for Expo '86, now did you. Don’t misunderstand me – I love your history, I just wish that you would modify your terms a little and refer to it with that adjective. I know, je sais … but, in the end, Canada is probably made up of 35,000,000 solitudes.

Notwithstanding, clauses or otherwise, the language issue in Western Canada is misdirected. I have listened to working class westerners whine about this topic for the last 50 years. In truth, when is the last time that anyone past Saskatchewan ever had French interfere with their daily lives outside of a few classes in elementary and secondary school? Never. I remember being with the Dude in Ottawa when he was buying gasoline, and had to speak French to the attendant in order to get a fill. When walking into my little corner grocery store, I don’t have to speak Cantonese or Punjabi – which are two languages that I am more likely to hear than French – to get my jug of milk. So what, indeed, is the harm? None. Realpolitik? Again, Bill 101 was an Eastern problem that Westerners were brainwashed to believe was oh so significant. Aboriginal land claims? That is a meaningful issue. Perhaps you could refresh our memories as to how early Eastern Canada negotiated land settlement with the Beothuk?

D'autre part, did French help me? Yes ... I've always thought of it as the poor man's Latin and that certainly helped with my post-secondary studies ... yes, studying French improves your English, particularly the large [12th century. Via French< Latin larga, form of largus "abundant"] words.

Noodle out.

Anonymous said...

Gah. Sorry, Ontario is Upper Canada and Quebec is Lower Canada. That probably proves my point, but nonetheless, my apologies.

Dave Brodbeck said...

about 23 percent of Canadians speak that poor man's Latin....

I found Latin helped me on the GRE, but French helped me understand my country.

Anonymous said...

... mais non mon pays.

Dave Brodbeck said...

"but no my country?' I know it fine....

My ability to read and speak French has allowed me to read newspapers, and watch TV in French to get a perspective on the news from the francophone media. I also read websites of newspapers all over the country, and what with satellite technology, I get news from all over the place.

We have to get past this regional bullshit. This is a country. To me, that is the big threat. In Alberta, kids learn Albertan history, in Ontario, kids learn Ontarian history, in Newfoundland, etc etc. Jack Granatstien has a nice treatment of the issue in the book 'Who Killed Canadian History'.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I thought we were talking about Quebec, not Paris. Anyway, check your french idioms. I think it holds up. :) I don't have a problem with the Dude's discussion of "Canadian" history as long as it is inclusive when he uses that adjective -- or, at least, not berating the guy from Alberta because he doesn't have a sympathetic response to pre-Confederation landmarks. As you know Alberta and Saskatechewan didn't enter into confederation until 1905. At that point, the federal government did not allow those provinces ownership of their own natural resources. This was the only time that this occurred in any former colony, ever. Some suggest that western alienation stems from that decision. In 1903, a panel of six judges --three American, two Canadian, and one Briton -- sat down and decided what do do with half of the British Columbia coastline. Why was the British judge there? Since the Constitution Act (1867) was unpatriated and the Statute of Westminster (1931) required the blood sacrifices of WWI, Canada was still a dominion and thus these matters had to be resolved with the help of good old Mother England. The Canadian judges walked confidently into those meetings believing that the British judge would side with its dominion; they were ashen-faced when they walked out. The Hay-Herbert Treaty gave away half of BC's coastline because the British judge decided to play fair, play cricket, and voted with the Americans. Let's face it, the BNA Act (1867) gave us ownership of the house, but we still had to ask the previous landlord to renovate ... and not only did she say, "Sorry, old chaps", but she gave our back fence away to the neighbour. Initially, the union of the first provinces was, in part, to stave off annexation by the United States (or, the fear thereof) ... this was the shield of The Constitution Act (1867). Although not in living memory, when I was a boy, it was still possible to hear dad at the supper table directly, or indirectly, passing on his father's observation: confederation worked for some, but not for others.

I'm a bit puzzled about the brave French boys who died for our country (of which there are, no doubt, many and I do not wish to be offensive to those volunteers.) Being a teenager around the time of the Vietnam War, I used to get down and kiss the dirt under my feet: "Thank you, Canada." Rather than for the sacrifices made during the wars, I am indebted to the strong anti-conscription movement, and the enormous voting block, in Quebec. It is a godsend to all young Canadians and is why I love Quebec, although in total abstraction, from afar. In every war, our Prime Ministers have stood up and said, "No conscription!", words written on baloney and gobbled up quickly when volunteerism disappeared. Hopefully, Quebec will do the same if the wars in the Middle East become even more misguided.

Yes, regionalism does promote exclusion, but the alternative, to be more American-in-the-melting-pot is not an alternative for me. Again, I have always been grateful to Canada for allowing me to travel with little cultural baggage. I have interacted with cultures abroad without having to justify or apologize for Canadian decisions on the world stage. In this way I feel that some Quebecois have been overloaded with the opposite message, "We are exclusive; we have 'special status.'" I can't imagine what that mantra does to one's ego and worldview, particularly in the light of Mr. Parizeau's remarks a few years back when he blamed "l'argent puis des votes ethniques" for the loss in the last Quebec referendum. Spoken in the heat of the moment, it is an unguarded remark that makes one wonder what multicultralism is all about: aren't we multicultural as the organic extention of biculturalism?

You mention that 23% of the voting public is in fact, French. That used to be 100%. As we both know, with immigration, the population of the western provinces will increase significantly by the the year 2050. The voting block will have shifted in that direction. It will also be a Canada unlike anything we currently know. Our parliament will be a close facsimile of the United Nations. Currently, I see first-generation Canadians living in enclaves. I hope that this will change, otherwise we are going to end up with a beneficient form of multi-apartheidism (I don't know ... it might be a word) and dozens of new parties, like the Bloc Quebecois, to weed through. At any rate, by that point, we will be talking about multiligualism as the organic extention of bilingualism. Oddly, after all of this is said, in whatever language, and done, Quebec might not even be part of the package. Weird.

Regionalism is not a bad thing, it keeps the process of negotiation on the table ... and that really is what has made Canada sensible. You won't find the poetry of the American Constitution in our writ; just the dry legal conditions of freedom. Canada is a "country" for the convenience of the old world that thinks along those lines of demarcation. I think that we know that we live in a confederation and that the borders of our provinces and territories are a good deal stronger than the ones that separate American states. If we are apart, then we are, at worst, partners bound by a legal contract; at our best, we are what the world might be like at some time in the future.

Damn, an ugly thought: I hope that our progeny are not living on the planet Starbuckia. Or will they call themselves "Walmartians"? Well, everywhere but in Quebec, I guess.

And, to the other, "Who Killed Canadian History?" I suspect, long-winded buggers like myself ... or was that the allusion? Ca-na-duh, on my part. Again, my apologies, I really didn't intend to go on so long. My bad. Noodle out.

Anonymous said...

Ooops, sorry, Mallardville patois and not idomatique ... mais c'est pas mon pays. [Although it really is] :)

Anonymous said...

The most interesting dialogue I've seen in a long time........

Dave Brodbeck said...

totem, I mentioned 'Who Killed...' because it has a great discussion of the problem of regionalism and Canadian history. It is a fun read.

Anonymous said...

Well, if I may jump late into the fray,

(and Dude, I'm sorry that I haven't commented before now -- I listen, I adore, but I should let you know that, right?)

I don't think it's language that divides us, but the politics and misconceptions about language and what it means to be bilingual.

Maybe it's because I'm bilingual and it's not an issue for me, but I honestly don't understand why when we say "Canadian", we think we mean EITHER English Canadian OR French Canadian.

Why can't we all be Canadian, and some of us speak one language, some of us speak the other, and some of us speak both? And all of us *value* both, even if we don't speak both.

Perhaps that's naive of me, but that's pretty much how I view myself, a Canadian who happens to speak both official languages.

As an aside, I think Belgium isn't a particularly good model -- the only reasons the Belgians haven't split apart is because each side values the monarchy. There is some thinking that if the monarchy there were to come to an end, Belgium would split in two along language lines.

However, I happen to know this only because I speak French and see references to it in French reporting. One of the values of knowing another language, I think, is that it does, as Dave said, truly broaden your perspective as well as broadening your knowledge base. If only we Canadians would see *that* as the value of bilingualism.

Ultimately, *both* languages are ours. I claim both proudly.

Scarborough Dude said...

Katherine - thanks for writing in an sharing your views with us. It's always such a rush for us needy podcasters to hear from a formerly 'unknown' listener! Glad to meet you! Come again sometime eh- and tell us more about yourself...

Dave Brodbeck said...

@Katherine, yeah you are correct, dunno what the hell I was doing including Belgium there.

In general, I would like to say that ethnic nationalism is one of the ugliest forces in politics. It is just plain ugly, and what follows it is often persecution and death. (That was not meant to be hyperbole).

Iza said...

Ken...thanks so much...what a nice epi! And I am happy that you travelled with your sons. As-tu vu la belle fontaine de Bordeau devant le parlement? Elle est belle hein?



Iza said...

Oh and for Quebec's 400th,next summer, we need to go and meet there! I hear that they have excavated a Cartier winter settlement in Cap-Rouge and they will open it for the 400th...Wouldn't that be so cool?

Scarborough Dude said...

Thanks Iza - I'll be in Quebec City August 8-10, 2008 - yippee!! And yes, the fountain in front of Parliament is beautiful- a gift from un anglais, no less.

Anonymous said...

Yikes I can't believe I was still able to sing along with the Expo song (and couldn't stop myself from doing it).

Going from one bilingual country to another I can see some similarities between them. One is complaints from the Finns that why does Swedish have to be compulsory in school? They don't usually start Swedish until they are 13, so that might have something to do with it. They seldom use Swedish outside of school and it must seem worthless to them. Just like I felt with school French when I never used it. Now I regret that I didn't focus more on learning it and not just having enough to pass. My son feels that Swedish isn't really a language but a school subject because he hasn't needed it. (He also took two years of French because I wanted him to.)