Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Next Governor General

28 Comments:

  • He's a well disguised old-school Tory hack, ready to do Harper's bidding. Johnston set the terms of the Mulroney to save the Cons the embarrassment of finding that a former PM was involved in bribery. Also, check the record, what was he saying when Harper prorogued parliament twice! He is supposedly a constitutional scholar, but if he's buddies with Harper, he may have been the one who gave him the idea to give the middle finger to the country. Not the kind of person I would want as GG.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:32 AM  

  • Anon @ 9:32..

    Were you expecting Harper to appoint Chuck Guite?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 AM  

  • What terms of reference would you have preferred, Anon 9:32?

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 10:20 AM  

  • The choice makes fun of itself.

    By Anonymous Leo Petr, at 10:44 AM  

  • He seems nice enough.

    I would have been very, very excited about a qualified Aboriginal Governor-General... maybe next time.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 10:54 AM  

  • Fail!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:12 AM  

  • Johnston is eminently qualified, and has a great record of public service. He will make a great governor-general. To the first anon, Johnston has served on lots of commissions by prime ministers on both sides of the aisle. Indeed, he helped write a securities reform bill in 1978 (when the Liberals were in power). Also, he used to be Trudeau's neighbour.

    Even if Johnston is a secret Tory (which you have no real way of proving), everything in his long record of public service suggests that he will not put partisanship before policy. Nor is it unusual to have governor-generals with some policy leanings.

    Jean and Clarkson were clearly not Tories (especially Clarkson), although Jean still prorogued at Harper's request and Clarkson said she would have appointed a Tory-led coalition if push came to shove. If you go earlier than that, Leblanc, Schreyer, Hnatyshyn and Sauve had all been MPs prior to entering office.

    Finally, if you look at Harper's process in appointing the governor-general, it all looks quite above board.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 12:16 PM  

  • This appointment is an enormous slap in the face to British Columbians. It's extremely insulting to think that 140 years after Confederation Ottawa does not think we have produced a single citizen worthy of our country's highest honor.

    Johnston's appointment is such a brazen celebration of the modern Canadian caste system- bilingual eastern lawyers on top, everyone else below.

    By Blogger J.J., at 12:29 PM  

  • J.J. - do you not have anyone intelligent enough in B.C. to learn French?

    Don't blame the rest if they can't be bothered.

    the West - always playing the victim game.

    Grow up

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 PM  

  • So much for "The West Wants In..."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:50 PM  

  • "Eastern" and "lawyer" didn't apply to Michaelle Jean or Adrienne Clarkson... (though eastern lawyers are something we can definitely do without for a while).

    "Bilingual" is a must, though -- get with the program. Canada has two official languages and a G-G has to communicate in both.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 1:32 PM  

  • Do translators not exist? Fact is, if you want to be a successful person in the west, you have to prioritize your time, and learning how to speak French is simply not a worthwhile investment. It's a completely irrelevant language in this country outside of a very narrow Ottawa-Montreal subculture, so it's not unreasonable for the vast majority of Canadians — including successful Canadians — to be disinterested in wasting time learning it.

    There are plenty of men kicking around British Columbia who are just as smart and educated as Mr. Johnston, but because they have had no readily apparent reason to learn French, they never bothered, and are thus shut out from the plumiest jobs of the Ottawa establishment.

    It's completely absurd. This man does not represent Canada at all. He represents Ottawa, which is not the same thing.

    By Blogger J.J., at 2:17 PM  

  • JJ, I have a hard time believing you'd accept a GG who didn't speak English and had to have a translator. You've been waiting on tenterhooks for weeks for the GG to be announced so you could go on an anti-French rant, after all.

    Fact is, if you want to be a successful person in the west, you have to prioritize your time,

    I hear you, and you're correct, because people in the east have oodles and buckets of time. People in the west have to prioritize theirs - time doesn't work the same way depending on where you live geographically.

    French will never be an irrelevant language in this country -- as long as Canada exists, even if the entire world switches to Chinese English Spanish and Swahili, and French disappears completely, French will have always and forever been a founding language, and Canada would not exist without France, without Cartier, without Laurier, without Papineau. You wish it was irrelevant, and you don't care to put in the time and effort to learn it, but wishing a thing does not make it so. If French is irrelevant to you, personally, that's simply because you can't/don't/won't learn, speak, and understand it. The loss is only yours, muchacho.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 3:01 PM  

  • Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.

    By Anonymous Martin Luther King, Jr., at 3:57 PM  

  • My point was that it makes sense for people in the east to learn French, because French will be a language that they will hear and use in their workplaces, as well as their cities and communities. Therefore learning French is not a pointless time-sink for them, since it has tangible, real-world, day-to-day benefits.

    In the west French offers no benefits. It is a novelty to be pursued for no practical, useful reason of life or work. The only exception would be those westerners who have no ambition other than entering the upper levels of the Ottawa bureaucratic elite, when means that learning French, in their case, becomes a very conscious form of specialized training for a very particular career.

    There are dozens of men like Mr. Johnson in British Columbia, but they never learned French, despite otherwise near-identical education and careers. Again, this is because French was simply not functionally useful talent to pursue in their society. It is very unfair to judge westerners for making such supremely logical life decisions. It would be like me judging you for not learning to speak Dutch.

    And in any case, French and English are not analogous languages in Canada, no matter how much Ottawa declares them to be so. This is not a bilingual country, it is a largely unilingual country with significant minority language communities. According to the government's own statistics, 91.2% of English Canadians cannot speak French. It is manifestly unjust in a democratic society for the vast majority of the population to be automatically shut out of the country's top jobs. The result is inevitably a sort of caste-structured society where a bilingual elite holds a disproportionate amount of power, both real and, in this case, symbolic.

    Also- considering two of the last four leaders of the Liberal Party could barely speak coherent English, a unilingual French GG would hardly phase me. I would be perfectly justified in being outraged, however, since again, it would represent an extremely elitist assertion of caste power over the country's disenfranchised majority.

    By Blogger J.J., at 4:27 PM  

  • An excellent choice for GG, and from a mighty fine University, too, in Waterloo!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:31 PM  

  • Like you, I'm an anglophone. Like you, I don't come from a bilingual power corridor. Learning French wasn't difficult, and certainly not as time-consuming as you make it out to be. The rewards have been astronomical. It's opened up and transformed enormously the way I view the world, and living in Canada. I really can't recommend it enough - it's cheap, yet it's worth a million dollars.

    It's time we had a G-G from BC (although I'm more passionate about a PM from BC, personally -- but hey, you have your priorities, and I have mine)... and it's way past high time we had a First Nations G-G or Prime Minister, or a non-Euro immigrant PM. And it's tiring that so much power seems to come out of Ontario and Québec. I just don't believe it's "highly unjust" or "disenfranchising" to expect the leader of Belgium to speak Flemish and French. Blacks barred from voting are "disenfranchised"... Canadians who can't be bothered to learn both languages are not.

    The English Canadian disregard and lack of respect for French Canadians is the same disregard and lack of respect paid to the West by so many Easterners. Canada's the best country to be lucky enough to live in - Will Ferguson was right to wonder how many Canadians actually deserve to be in it...

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 5:56 PM  

  • BTW I used to be profoundly intimidated to leave Vancouver for Québec.

    But in fact, all the stuff I ever heard about "the East" proved untrue. My best friend from Port Coquitlam moved to Toronto last year -- he loves it, and also now questions all the badmouthing about "the East".


    Canadianz just don't know enough about each otherz! Yet I believe we can all come together, as one, united, to agree that a beaver smoking a joint ought be our national symbol.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 6:35 PM  

  • JJ, I have a hard time believing you'd accept a GG who didn't speak English and had to have a translator.


    When speaking to whom?

    By Blogger Fred from BC, at 9:16 PM  

  • It's a completely irrelevant language in this country outside of a very narrow Ottawa-Montreal subculture, so it's not unreasonable for the vast majority of Canadians — including successful Canadians — to be disinterested in wasting time learning it.

    Johnston has spent his entire professional life at English-language institutions (McGill and Waterloo, for example, the latter of which is in a city with likely far more German than French speakers). Of course, perhaps his French proficiency comes from growing up in Sudbury, a city well outside the narrow Ottawa-Montreal "subculture", along with the rest of Northern Ontario, New Brunswick, and parts of Cape Breton and Clare in Nova Scotia.

    In any case, it should be patently obvious that there is nothing irrelevant about French in federal politics. Not that, say, Adrienne Clarkson (born in Hong Kong) or her Acadian predecessor Romeo LeBlanc fit your ridiculous argument.

    By Blogger Josh, at 11:50 PM  

  • there is nothing irrelevant about French in federal politics

    I think we have a winner...

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 12:38 AM  

  • And yet somehow we bumbled through 100 years of confederation and two world wars with almost entirely unilingual prime ministers...

    By Blogger J.J., at 3:22 AM  

  • And yet somehow we bumbled through 200 years of federation and three major wars with whites-favored segregation...

    Why should we progress? Why should we change? Why should the "disenfranchised majority" accommodate a minority? Integrating is too difficult. There's no point - especially since most states don't even have blacks. W
    Say, why don't I bring up the Dutch language again as an irrelevant red herring?

    By Anonymous Strom Thurmond, at 9:21 AM  

  • My thoughts:

    1) It wouldn't bother me at all if the GG was a unilingual anglophone.
    2) It wouldn't bother me at all if the GG was a unilingual francophone.
    3) I'm not into regional quotas either, so I don't care about whether it's BC's "turn" (or Alberta's turn, or Quebec's turn, etc).
    4) JJ is absolutely correct when he says that for the vast majority of Westerners, French is "a novelty to be pursued for no practical, useful reason of life or work."
    5) The majority of federal civil service jobs which require the employee to bilingual have no real reason for doing so, other than conforming to the government's belief in the religion of bilingualism.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 6:15 PM  

  • Actually, #4 should be amended to say "the vast majority of Canadians," period.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 6:20 PM  

  • Invisible Hand is a smart person with a lot on the ball - for example, the cool, detached, unemotional stand against regional "quotas". You are a smart guy with good convictions.

    I do believe you speak and think with an anti-French instinct, for example defending this "no practical, useful reason of life and work" stance while at the same time expressing frustration in the past that Government Employees of certain strata and departments must be bilingual. That's a "life and work... reason".

    If you want to work at NASA, you need to know physics. You can be a secretary or janitor, maybe an administrator, but you can't work on rockets and space exploration without physics.

    You can work in provincial healthcare without being bilingual. Lots of Canadians are in that position.

    If you want to work in certain departments where you may come in contact with a panoply of Canadians from coast to coast, il faut que vous parliez français et anglais, les deux.

    Not all government jobs are shut to unilinguals. Some government jobs are. Those are reserved for bilinguals.

    If you want to work anywhere in the government, if you want to work anywhere in Canada, you have to speak English and French.

    Being bilingual opens up doors that unilinguals simply cannot begin to grasp... doors in employment, but most importantly doors in life - lifestyle, friendships, perspectives, understanding, and mobility. It's cheap, costs little time, and the benefits are enormous.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 1:44 PM  

  • JJ: I live in Calgary, and despite that high speed free-wheeling life we live in the West (?) I know plenty of French speakers. I speak some French, in addition to a little Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese. Just gotta put your mind to it.

    It should be pointed out that David Johnston didn't learn French until he was 37 years old!!! Never too old to learn new tricks they say.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:30 PM  

  • The prairies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are dotted with french speaking communities. New Brunswick has a large french speaking population. Alberta in particular has a rich franco history.

    Learning it isn't that difficult, a hour or two practice a day, your cable or satellite provider carries any number of french channels from Quebec and France, most products have french translations, most DVD's have a french translation or subtitles there is plenty of places to take courses and of course Radio Canada, french book stores french sections at your public library. Each major city has a french community of some sort millions of french websites etc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:17 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home