Monday, April 26, 2010

Bag O Links

1. This very cool site tracks polls, projections, and betting lines on the British election. (hat tip Coyne)


2. This nagging case of Jaffergis has become more annoying than a cold you can't shake, but for those interested, the latest is that the Tories don't want her to run again. Gee, you think?


3. Daveberta recaps the spring session of the Alberta legislature now that school is out for the summer.


4. Je suis un peu tard to the party on this one, but I firmly disagree with Ignatieff's decision to support the private members bill requiring Supreme Court Judges to be bilingual in English and French. Since the bill has passed third reading in the House, Rob Silver raises the delicious possibility of Harper calling on the unelected and undemocratic senate to kill it.


5. Over at PuckProb, I've updated the playoff probabilities and have a post up on the odds of coming back from a 3-1 series deficit.

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24 Comments:

  • The key in the discussion of the Bill now before the Senate (re: #4) is that killing the Bill would extend the Government's position, not overcome the Government's position as the Liberals had done in the past.

    By Blogger Paul, at 11:50 AM  

  • But is there really a distinction between the government position and the will of the House when it comes to the role of the senate?

    Especially on a private members bill which is, in theory, more of a free vote.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 12:12 PM  

  • #4.

    I'm always going to respect your opinions, Dan - whether or not we're of the same mind.

    Me, I think you can't get a job pouring drinks and displaying emergency exits for Air Canada if you're not bilingual -- and the Supreme Court is more important.

    Look at the dust-up the English and French have been having for years (all of my lifetime) over the meaning of the word "distinct". The languages are remarkably similar, but very different in nuance - and nuance can change a judge's mind.

    Lucien Bouchard was right when he said Canada isn't a real country -- it's time to get real. Everyone needs to speak French and English, both, or we need to split up. The current status quo isn't working, and it's not sustainable.

    It's "okay enough" to have translators in the Supreme Court, and I'm not going to lose any sleep over having unilingual judges. Yawn! But the fact is we live in a bilingual country, and next to no one is actually bilingual. We can do better. We need a national project to transform the next generation into a fully functioning bilingual one, or else we're never going to drag our sorry bums out of the rut we've been stuck in for decades.

    Who believes the US could have reached the moon with a team of scientists who spoke English and a team of scientist who spoke Spanish? Anyone???

    This member's bill is besides the point. The point is that the nation is consistently failing to reach it's real and true potential because its citizens have no functional fashion to talk to one another.

    In the country we have, I agree with your stance on this issue. But regarding the country we NEED to create, one in which Canadians can communicate with other Canadians coast-to-coast, judges of all levels should be bilingual, or be out of a job.


    That's why I will only support a national daycare program that puts English kids with French guardians, and French kids with English guardians. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and a diversion from the biggest problem facing the country as a whole.

    My two cents. :)

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 1:30 PM  

  • Chantal Hebert: Over his years in office Jean Chrétien went out of his way to pick bilingual nominees for the top court — with no negative impact on the quality of its work.

    Rob Silver: » Is there a problem right now with judges using translation services (ie - is there a need for this bill beyond the symbolic)?

    I read an example of a case this weekend in Le Devoir, which was said would have been decided differently if the judges had understood the person differently.

    Of course, that's just one example. It was the print version, I'll try to find it to quote the specific case.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 2:24 PM  

  • I think there's some value in judges being able to speak both official languages, but the level of bilingualism required to judge a case in both languages is extremely high. By most indications, very few jurists would qualify for it.

    By having 3 judges from Quebec on the court, you already ensure some of them will be able to pick up any language-based nuances and convey it to their colleagues.

    So, really, it's a trade-off. The benefit of the judge understand both languages fluently versus selecting higher quality individuals. I tend to lean on the later.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:56 PM  

  • "I read an example of a case this weekend in Le Devoir, which was said would have been decided differently if the judges had understood the person differently"

    While I missed that in Le Devoir this weekend, that almost had to have been a trial level decision based on what you've written.

    As with Dan, I think it would be fantastic if we had 9 fully bilingual justices. If I was PM and I had two identical candidates other than one being bilingual, I would appoint that candidate in a heart-beat.

    Of course that's not how the world works, this legislation is deeply deeply flawed, was not thought through in any meaningful way.

    By Anonymous Rob Silver, at 5:04 PM  

  • "Lucien Bouchard was right when he said Canada isn't a real country -- it's time to get real. Everyone needs to speak French and English, both, or we need to split up ..."

    I'll assume that this is attempting to confuse the issue, since Quebec remains very much opposed to bilingualism, attempting to outlaw english-language education in that province for all but a select few.

    When it comes to matters of legal interpretation at the Supreme Court, I expect Judges to study the meaning of words even in their first language: expecting the same level of understanding in their second language is ridiculous.

    Who is to determine whether a judge properly understands all the nuances of all the language used in law in their second language? What if the same test is failed in their primary language?

    Let's flip it around: let's require all submissions and presentations to the Supreme Court to be made in both official languages, with identical meaning in both. Then we can focus on the best jurists on the Court, and the best bilingual lawyers presenting. And if that sounds ridiculous, then why would we expect the Judges to do their own translation?

    By Blogger Paul, at 5:16 PM  

  • "But the fact is we live in a bilingual country, and next to no one is actually bilingual"

    We don't live in a bilingual country, we live in a country with two official languages.
    Virtually no one outside of Quebec watches French language television, attends French film, buys French music or fills out their income tax in French.
    Biligualism is a vote buying policy for politicians, not a way of life for Canadians.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 5:37 PM  

  • nuna d. above said...
    Biligualism is a vote buying policy for politicians, not a way of life for Canadians.

    You never visited northern New Brunswick, the eastern townships, the Ottawa valley / L'ottawaise area, Prescott and Russell County ON, or the Sudbury area have you? Travel a little within your own country before you make blanket remarks.

    By Blogger Tof KW, at 10:06 PM  

  • English is the language of business during the day. French is the language of night time fun and frolic. :-P

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:29 AM  

  • You never visited northern New Brunswick, the eastern townships, the Ottawa valley / L'ottawaise area, Prescott and Russell County ON, or the Sudbury area have you?

    And outside of that very narrow area, almost no one is bilingual. Thanks for proving his point.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 1:20 AM  

  • Lucien Bouchard was right when he said Canada isn't a real country -- it's time to get real. Everyone needs to speak French and English, both, or we need to split up. The current status quo isn't working, and it's not sustainable.

    The status quo (81% of Canadian can speak either English or French, but not both) is perfectly sustainable and works just fine, thanks, except when egotistic politicians decide they need to "do something" and just end up making things worse. (See: Meech Lake Accord, Sponsorship program)

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 1:30 AM  

  • Dan I searched for that Devoir article last night but couldn't find it, regrettably.

    By having 3 judges from Quebec on the court, you already ensure some of them will be able to pick up any language-based nuances and convey it to their colleagues.

    I'm only half-teasing here: so the onus is on the French-Canadians (42% of whom are bilingual, compared to 9% of English-Canadians) to do all the work for the lazy blockheads who can't be bothered to learn both our national languages...?

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 11:49 AM  

  • since Quebec remains very much opposed to bilingualism

    Actually, as you may have read above, far more people in Quebec are bilingual than outside of Quebec.

    Sure, there are petty nationalists who call the government to tattletale on a store with an item for sale without a label in French, yes.

    But, there's petty nationalist anglophones who rant and rave about having The Imperialist Yankee Simpsons From Springfield on CBC, too.

    Pinning the problem on "Quebec" rather than, more specifically and to the point, nationalism, is missing the whole point.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 11:53 AM  

  • expecting the same level of understanding in their second language is ridiculous.

    Why would that be ridiculous? I know lots of people who are completely fluent in more than one language.

    And, if we spent the money which we're already spending on bilingual education with a little more prudence, everyone would already have the same level of understanding of both of our two, fantastic languages.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 11:55 AM  

  • We don't live in a bilingual country, we live in a country with two official languages.

    Yep, exactly - which is a crying shame.

    There's no reason, besides la paresse, we can't all be fluent in English and in French. There's no reason why two Canadians should meet in a truckstop on the Trans-Canada, or on a beach in Australia, and not be able to converse with each other.

    Relying on politicians to interpret between our self-imposed "two solitudes" is a fool's game. Who in their right mind trusts politicians or interpreters with that kind of responsibility?

    On that note, who would trust their lives in a trial before the Supreme Court to an interpreter?

    It's not like we're talking about making everyone learn Einsteinian physics here.... learning a second language is fun and cool. If the money spent on putting each of us here through "French Education" in elementary and high school was dispensed smarter, we'd all be living in a vastly more unified country.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 12:06 PM  

  • The status quo (81% of Canadian can speak either English or French, but not both) is perfectly sustainable and works just fine, thanks,

    In what way does it work, in your opinion? In the manner of markets suffering because of referendums? In the manner of being able to move anywhere one likes, coast-to-coast, and find a job and a fun bunch of friends? In the manner of national conversations and debates over what kind of future we want to create? In the manner of allowing politicians the freedom to say one thing en francais and another in English?

    I call that "dysfunctional family", myself.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 12:07 PM  

  • Basically, I've been to the third world and I've been to other wealthy countries, and we are all pretty much the luckiest bastards on the planet. We're so lucky that rather than taking the time and effort to invest ourselves in real bilingualism -- which is a pretty small civic duty compared to, say, being required to serve in the Swiss or Israeli army, say -- we'd rather laze around on blogs talking about how unfair it is that anyone would ever expect or challenge us to bother educating ourselves, despite knowing perfectly well how easy it is for many Europeans, or Africans, or, I don't know, maybe French-Canadians? to learn a second (or fifth) language.

    Bilingualism is the future of a great Canada. A two-language state where half the people just can't be bothered is the future of the mediocre Canada we already live in, where half the country is pretty much shuttered off from the other half. Why? As Cool Hand Luke would put it: What we have here is a failure to communicate.

    Tired of the separatists dragging the direction, economy, culture, and treasury of Canada for almost half a century? GET BILINGUAL! :D Life is more fun and more fulfilling when you can talk to your neighbours. Sharing is fun and enriching! Talking out disputes one-on-one is how grown-ups get along! Shooting the shit is bonding!

    En revanche, not talking is generally a slow but sure path to resentment, frustration, and eventually, divorce. :(

    Think about the kids, Canada - make like Al Green, and let's stay together!

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 12:17 PM  

  • Paul: since Quebec remains very much opposed to bilingualism

    JBV: Actually, as you may have read above, far more people in Quebec are bilingual than outside of Quebec.

    He's clearly referring to the Quebec government, which passes all sorts of Bill 101-esque nonsense.

    Why would that be ridiculous? I know lots of people who are completely fluent in more than one language.

    But there is an opportunity cost involved. If potential judges have to spending time trying to meet an arbitrary level of French fluency, that's less time they can spend mastering the judicial system.

    In what way does it work, in your opinion? In the manner of markets suffering because of referendums?

    Okay, I think I'm seeing the problem here. Why exactly do you think the general population becoming bilingual would have any effect on Quebec separatism? If anything, the last few decades have shown that attempting to appease the separatists only emboldens and strengthens them.

    In the manner of being able to move anywhere one likes, coast-to-coast, and find a job and a fun bunch of friends?

    We can do that already. And if some people want to move to an area that happens to speak the other language, they can learn it. But there's no reason for the government to start forcing everyone to learn French, when the large majority will never have any use for it.

    In the manner of allowing politicians the freedom to say one thing en francais and another in English?

    Okay, this is an interesting point I hadn't previously considered. However, TV and newspapers already utilize translation services that let Canadians know what a politician is saying in the other language (recall how Harper got flak during the Coalition drama for saying "separatists" in English and "sovereigntists" in French). A far bigger problem is regional doublespeak (eg. saying one thing to local Toronto media and a different thing in Vancouver).

    Life is more fun and more fulfilling when you can talk to your neighbours.

    I can already talk to the vast majority of my neighbours, without knowing French. (And for those I would need to learn another language to communicate with, French would come well after Chinese, Punjabi, etc.)

    BTW, the reason so many more Francophones know English than the other way around is because, to be blunt, from a global perspective English is far more important than French.

    In conclusion, learning another language is great if you have economic or personal growth reasons to do so, but please don't try to force everyone else to conform to your Stuff White People Like vision of the country.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 4:50 AM  

  • Actually, I think I see your problem here -- you obviously don't want to be "forced" to learn French, and further, you believe that everyone becoming bilingual in both official languages would be "appeasing" the separatists.

    In fact, I personally (this is just my personal view, of course), think that separatists should not be allowed in Parliament (while I recognize that this would be near-impossible to accomplish, and is just a wild-eyed dream).

    I would view a national bilingualism program as appeasing the federalist francophones of Canada -- the ones who want to remain part of our spectacular spot on Earth.

    Lastly, Invisible, I think you're missing the boat on what I'm saying here, completely. Maybe I didn't say it clearly enough when I talked about our education system at different times. The fact is, everyone is already forced to learn French -- we just do such a terrible, government-hackneyed job of it that everyone's wasting their time in elementary and high school. French education is a joke -- for very little extra money and time, the entire next generation could be made bilingual.

    It's true that English is a dominant language in the world, sure - I'm sure glad I was lucky enough to grow up speaking it, no doubt. Even so, French is a dominant language in Canada -- much more so than the languages you list.

    If it's really too difficult and too demanding for anglophones to appreciate and participate in the only real culture the country has to offer, and show some support for the federalist Quebeckers who've supported Canada for the last 4 decades, then maybe the separatists are right after all.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 10:49 AM  

  • Actually, I think I see your problem here -- you obviously don't want to be "forced" to learn French, and further, you believe that everyone becoming bilingual in both official languages would be "appeasing" the separatists.

    No, I'm only saying that it would be appeasing the separatists if everyone was "forced" to learn French. (Or at least, that's been the motive for gov't-enforced bilingualism in the past.) If people do it on their own, it's not.

    The fact is, everyone is already forced to learn French -- we just do such a terrible, government-hackneyed job of it that everyone's wasting their time in elementary and high school.

    Um, no. French as a mandatory class must have been something specific to your school/city/province; it's definitely not everywhere. At my high school, it was an elective course (I took one semester), and there was nothing at all in elementary or junior high.

    French education is a joke -- for very little extra money and time, the entire next generation could be made bilingual.

    Again, no. To actually become bilingual requires a whole lot more (eg. immersion) than a French class each year in school, no matter how well-made they are. And if we're going to start adding new subjects to the mandatory curriculum, it would be far more beneficial for students to study areas like logic and economics.

    Even so, French is a dominant language in Canada -- much more so than the languages you list.

    Depends where in the country you are.

    the only real culture the country has to offer

    Oh, please.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 2:52 PM  

  • Actually, someone who doesn't speak French has obviously no real, constructive grasp on the difference between culture in French and in English.

    I've lived in various provinces, central and Western, and I know all kinds of people who had to take mandatory French from some point in elementary up until grade 10 (although I've known some who only had to take it to 9).

    IOW, I don't think you're qualified to speak on the topic, guy. You're smart and I always enjoy your posts, a lot, and usually defer to your expertise -- but on this subject, you're clearly out of your league. Talk to me about history, the economy, governmental affairs, and I'm listening, but I don't see that you have anything to offer here. I look forward to your comments on other topics, always.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 12:32 PM  

  • Actually, someone who doesn't speak French has obviously no real, constructive grasp on the difference between culture in French and in English.

    If you're referring to the final comment in my last post, I was not saying that there's no difference between French and English cultures. I was taking issue with your assertion that francophones have "the only real culture the country has to offer" and thus that English Canadians don't have "real culture".

    (At least, that was my understanding of what you meant. If you weren't saying that, I apologize.)

    I've lived in various provinces, central and Western, and I know all kinds of people who had to take mandatory French from some point in elementary up until grade 10 (although I've known some who only had to take it to 9).

    I don't doubt that there are jurisdictions out there that make French mandatory, but it definitely doesn't cover "everyone" as you claimed. And as I said, mandatory French classes in grade school are nowhere near enough to make students properly bilingual, no matter how well designed and implemented they are.

    IOW, I don't think you're qualified to speak on the topic, guy.

    This is an ad hominem fallacy. My arguments stand or fall on their own merits; whether I personally can speak French or "grasp the difference in cultures" could not be more irrelevant.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 12:33 AM  

  • By Blogger mmjiaxin, at 8:17 PM  

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