The People’s Alliance party has a fixation on bilingualism and it begs an explanation. Actually, it reminds me of the story about a poor farmer who learns that his better-off neighbour has purchased a cow. The poor farmer cries out in anger to his deity, or finds a genie bottle, depending on the versions. He is asked what he would like and he replies, “I would like you to kill my neighbour’s cow.”
New Brunswick must not become a province where others’ gains are seen as our loss. Where we hold everyone back for fear of change. Where we let politics separate us.
New Brunswickers getting service in their official language, is what we want. An award-winning public service delivering that, is what we want.
Would that there were in New Brunswick an anglophone group to promote the interests of anglophones who support bilingualism. That would express outrage at anglophones’ inadequate access to language education, and indignation at the 50-year neglect of such issues. That would denounce the bigotry and cowardice that has fuelled this neglect at their expense. At the province’s expense.
A group that would make appropriate fun of the notion that bilingual school buses are a solution to New Brunswick’s deficit problem. Or that Kris Austin could change the constitution!
A group that would call out the scapegoating of bilingualism whenever they see it. That would call on the need to concentrate on the real causes of New Brunswick problems, instead of rehashing some local prejudices while New Brunswick burns.
A group that would say New Brunswick bilingualism is an asset not a liability.
Instead, in the absence of such a group, we have the People’s Alliance. Taking up all the space with their anti-francophone and anti-bilingualism positions. (I’ve read their – unilingual – platform. There is no misunderstanding.) And no one is pushing back, neither political parties nor anglophone civil society groups.
There was a time when political parties would and did denounce attacks on bilingualism and unfounded statements blaming Acadians for everything. It was particularly noticeable during the short life of the previous incarnation of People’s Alliance – the Confederation of Regions party.
But these days, Acadians and francophones seem to be the only ones openly opposing that message. Which then makes it seem that it’s about language, when it is really about openness and fairness.
I do not have an opinion about anglophone access to language education and French immersion. That’s not my business.
But People’s Alliance would reduce services to francophones and call it “common sense”?
Does common sense no longer mean a shared wisdom? Is common sense now shorthand for, wink wink, we made our mind up so let’s forget about facts and process and do what we want?
To date, the People’s Alliance has managed to outshout most other Anglophones in New Brunswick. On the “problems” of official bilingualism, they say they have the answers – ending duality and the language commissioner, and providing services in your language only if you stay with your kind – which they dress up as “language fairness” and “common sense”. Will they fix racial inequality next?
Are Anglophones being intimidated by the People’s Alliance? Where do reasonable Anglophones stand?
This commentary was first published on Rosella Melanson’s blog, “Mon Doux”.