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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Missile Fallout

A Montana court has granted an injunction to R-CALF, keeping the US-Canadian border closed to Canadian cattle. It's unlikely that any appeal will be heard prior to the scheduled March 7th opening.

Is the decision the result of Paul Martin's botched BMD fiasco? No - but the oncoming freight train of Bush administration indifference to Canadian grievances will be.

Condoleezza Rice has deferred her visit and Paul Martin can't get his calls returned. Martin's flip flopping support for missile defense reminds me about something that David Frum wrote in his book "The Right Man";

Then Arafat made what may someday be reckoned as the most fateful miscalculation of his career. On January 5, 2002, Israeli naval forces intercepted a Gaza-bound merchant ship loaded with fifty tonnes of arms from Iran. Arafat hastily sent Bush a letter denying any involvement in the shipment. Probably Arafat did not even intend his denial to be interpreted literally; he may have written it as a social form, like the phrase I regret in a letter declining an invitation to a wedding or a dinner party. If so, Arafat sorely misunderstood his man. Bush does not lie to you. You had better not lie to him.

I'm beginning to wonder if Paul Martin has just been confined to his compound on 24 Sussex.

Posted by Kate McMillan on March 2, 2005 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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Mar. 3 - According to CTV, PM Martin attempted to advise President Bush prior to announcing his decision not to participate in the missile shield, but Bush ignored Martin's call.A day before he announced that Canada would have nothing to... [Read More]

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» Anatomy Of A Complaint from small dead animals
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» Anatomy Of A Complaint from small dead animals
The final version of my letter of complaint to the Vancouver Sun has been published (popup jpg) re: a Spector column titled "Appalling glee on the right at the prospect of US payback for a dithering PM". As I pointed... [Read More]

Tracked on 2005-03-11 12:19:03 PM


24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa? Is Trudeau's pool up and running/filtering? The pool paid for by friends/supporters, as was said then.Maintenance since then by us born losers/taxpayers.

Trudeau apparently could make 3 backflips off the board before hitting water, IIRC. PM Martin can do 3 flip-flops before breakfast, I bet.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-03-02 2:09:11 PM

I don't think that the border closure is due simply to concerns about Mad Cow Disease nor to anger at the endless rejection by Canada of constructive relations with the US.

I understand the situation only in general, but I think that Montana beef farmers want their own cattle to sell in the US market and don't want to have to compete with Canadian cattle in that same market.

A major error in Canadian thinking is the astonishingly arrogant and ignorant assumption that the US SHOULD, and I emphasize that word 'should', purchase Canadian goods...just because. Therefore, Canada gets angry at the US if it doesn't purchase Canadian goods!!

Unbelievable when you think it over. Does China have the right to get angry at Canada if Canada doesn't purchase its goods??
So- when the US border closed, due to disease in our cattle, we were rather upset at the US for this behaviour, and hoped that they would 'get over their problem' soon. Note that we considered it their, not our, problem.

Actually, the situation did lead to some alternate business deals, as I understand it, where the Canadian cattlemen began to get involved in different markets other than the faithful USA market.

Canada has a problem; it refuses to be competitive on the world market; it makes little effort to expand its markets and seek new venues and new modes of production. It relies on that one market - the USA - and considers it almost a Charter Right that the USA MUST purchase all Canadian goods.

Be that as it may - the endless Canadian rejection of anything American - is getting to the point where I would, if/as an American, tell Canadians to 'Get Lost'. You see, we Canadians have constantly told America that we consider it:
imperialist, warlike, mercenary, arrogant
We consider its leader Bush:
moronic, stupid, warlike...
We ignore the tremendous results of the Opening of the ME to democracy..and continue to critique and denigrate the US.

We permit a cabinet minister to, on public television, stomp on a 'doll-figure' of Bush. Imagine our reaction if a US Senator had done the same to a figure of Martin.

We dither and druther and never provide clean basic reasons for our actions. I must say, that Martin's rejection of BMD is astonishing in its non-factuality and its inanity. His trumpeting about 'we are sovereign'...well - it reminds me a bit of Humpty Dumpty as he was falling off the wall.

We constantly inform America that we are better than they are: we are tolerant, kind, peaceful, diverse blah blah....Of course, we are none of these but we are certain, in our Just So Bedtime Stories To Ourselves - that we are indeed, Just So.

After these years - and it's been years - of denigrating our neighbour, don't you think a reasonable, intelligent neighbour would say:
'Hey- this guy's telling me something; he doesn't like me; he can't stand me; I guess the best thing would be, to have nothing to do with him. I'm not going to force myself on someone who hates me as much as he does".

BUT - when the US reacts in this psychologically reasonable manner,then, we scream bloody murder and accuse the US of isolation, of retaliation, of attempting to snub us...

I don't get it. Are we stupid or just brain dead?

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-02 2:33:27 PM

"I think that Montana beef farmers want their own cattle to sell in the US market and don't want to have to compete with Canadian cattle in that same market."

No doubt, but the injunction was sought on BSE-related grounds. No one is obligated to buy Canadian beef, but using BSE as a Trojan horse for protectionism, as was largely the case, is just dishonest... in much the same way Paul Martin is being dishonest about BMD, I might add.

"The US" doesn't buy our beef — American companies do. If they want to stop for whatever reason, more power to them, but the fact that the border is/was reopening even while the BSE situation in Canada has not tangibly improved (and might have worsened) is strong evidence that the forces for an open beef border and for free trade in general easily outmuscle those against.

Posted by: CSelley | 2005-03-02 3:07:53 PM

ET wrote:

"I don't get it. Are we stupid or just brain dead?"

Both, but NEVER half-assed!

(yes, Norm, I know it's only the politicians that are, not the sheep in ON/QC that keep re-electing them).

Posted by: firewall 'r us | 2005-03-02 3:28:36 PM

Is the border that open? Doesn't Canada have large duties against American products coming into Canada? Doesn't Canada attempt to protect its own agricultural and industrial products? And its drugs, so that Americans will purchase them here - rather than there?
Doesn't the US try to protect its own industries against low price Canadian products, which are, they believe, unfairly subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer (e.g.the softwood dispute).

As for it not being 'the US' that buys the beef; but American companies - I don't think that changes my point, which is that Canada assumes that the US/American companies MUST purchase Canadian goods.
The reason the border was re-opening was the strong lobbying by the Canadian gov't,...and this was opposed by the Montana companies.

My argument is only that Canada expects the US/American companies to purchase its goods. It is this unquestioning expectation that I find worrisome, because it means that Canada makes little effort to be competitive.

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-02 3:39:08 PM

I think it is just simple protectionism. They have had a heck of a profitable year and are now expecting a decline in profits.

The link here is a forecast:

Posted by: Darcey | 2005-03-02 3:47:43 PM

What seldom is mentioned is that before the first case of BSE was diagnosed, there was a standard policy in Canada and other BSE countries to close borders to all products from any BSE infected country for a mandatory 7 year period. There was no stronger advocate of that policy than the Canadian Cattlemen's Ass'n.

It is unfair to accuse the US of protectionism for treating Canada under the same rules that were enforced by our own government on other exporters.

I suspect that the real motivation for the USDA wanting to open the border "prematurely", is to rejigger the BSE rules before their first case is diagnosed - inevitable, as it's probable that the majority of BSE that occurs here is genetic - not feed related.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-03-02 4:11:11 PM

ET, it is only all of you really great Canadian conservatives who post here and on other conservative sites that keep me from saying "Get lost" to Canada.

Continuing to address the issue in conversational terms, friendship and loyalty are tremendously high on America's scale of values, and President Bush particularly exemplifies these values. In the town where President Bush and I grew up, there was almost no higher value. If one is America's outspoken friend and generally loyal to the US, there is almost no cost we will not pay to act in your intrest. There is almost no pleasure for us that transcends demonstrably helping a friend.

On an earlier thread, some questioned America's interest in Canda in repect to BMD. If they would look at Iraq, they would see that our voluntary military regularly lay their lives on the line for the privilege of helping a country rid itself of a murderous tyrant and choose freedom. Under these circumstances, how could Canadians doubt that America would move heaven and hell to help them in an armed conflict?

It seems to me that Canada would profit enormously if only it would unambiguously enter openly into a relationship with us based on friendship, mutual respect and cooperation.

Regrettably, we do not get this from Ottawa.

Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2005-03-02 4:26:57 PM

Equating Paul Martin to Yasser Arafat is really sick. Comparing the BMD decision to the Karine A incident displays ignorance.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-02 4:52:19 PM

Thank you to Greg from Dallas for your kind words. I can imagine how disheartened Americans must be, when they view the utterly irrational behaviour and hear the equally irrational statements of Canadians against Americans. I can imagine the frustration you must feel when faced with Canadian views that lack causality, that are irrational, ungrounded and therefore - are views which you can do nothing to change.

Friendship, mutual respect and cooperation. What can I say? These are basic ethical values that seem increasingly foreign to Canada in its dealings with other countries. To how many countries, I wonder, does Canada express these values? Possibly France - and that says something very disturbing but...I can't think of any others.. but perhaps - it's just late in the day and post dinner-wine.

Would it be an error to conclude that our current isolationism, our current antipathy towards other nations, is due to the political morass that we have fallen into in the past 30 years, which has led to a Quebec-dominated governing class and an almost permanent unelected governance of this group - which brings with it a basic hostility and indifference to the non-francophone world? This is my suggestion but I'm open to other suggestions as to why Canada has withdrawn from the world and above all, why it has moved into a mode of self-definition which defines itself only as 'Not-American'.

I also feel that IF, IF, we had strong and clear-thinking leaders, non-Quebecois, who would move away from this hostility to non-francophones and this negative self-definition - the vast majority of Canadians would realize that they had no valid grounds for their anti-Americanism and anti-non-francophones and would be able to define themselves.. as Canadians. Then, we might actually see the development of what we are now lacking - a Canadian identity.

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-02 5:40:45 PM

I am just too damn angry to comment anything lucid right now.

Posted by: Jonathan Ness | 2005-03-02 5:54:45 PM

What makes you people think the Bush Administration did this? Even in your country, the judiciary is independent of political influence. This was clearly the decision of a lower court, and will be appealed. Paul Millionaire's shallow decision on BMD had nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with narrow economic interests using the judicial system to line their pockets.

For shame - you Canadians are supposed to be intelligent. This is what happens when you let rich people in Toronto think for you.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-03-02 6:44:34 PM


I have seen the 7 year rule in R-CALF's talking points. I also would say though, that the introduction of Canadian cattle along with the fear of BSE could introduce a greater volatility into the US cattle market. The US cattle market has been doing very well.

I understand that what your saying is that there is no motivation for the US government to step in and assist as there has not been much back-scratching going on. I agree with that.

Posted by: Darcey | 2005-03-02 6:47:23 PM

"Friendship, mutual respect and cooperation...seem increasingly foreign to Canada in its dealings with other countries."

Perhaps because they are so noticeably lacking in Ottawa's dealings with the provinces, particularly Alberta. Do those values not begin at home?

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-02 6:51:16 PM

Re the CTV post about Martin trying to telephone Bush - wasn't Bush still in Europe when and before Martin made his announcement? It seem to remember he was in Slovackia meeting with Putin when Martin said "no" on BMD.

Posted by: Debbye | 2005-03-02 7:02:10 PM

This is silly on so many levels.

(1) General Motors is announcing an investment of 2+ billion dollars in Ontario. Can I infer a freight train of investment due to the BMD decision?

(2) The assertion that President Bush will not mislead or misdirect (ie lie) for political reasons is demonstrably false -- no matter what Mr. Steyn says

(3) Some people in Montana have a vested interest in not opening the borders. The same group launched a similar challenge when the border was opened to select cuts of beef.

(4) These people have a right to launch legal action. Bush would never dream of intervening in something before the courts no matter how important or unimportant he thought the cause was. I can't see BMD having any effect.

(5) Drawing even a loose comparison between Martin and Arafat is offensive.

Posted by: KevinG | 2005-03-02 7:06:50 PM

"I also feel that IF, IF, we had strong and clear-thinking leaders, non-Quebecois, who would move away from this hostility to non-francophones and this negative self-definition"

This statement is factually incorrect: our Prime Minister is not Quebecois. It is also bigoted, like the infamous election ad with the crossed-out faces.

We live in a democracy and every Canadian has the right to vote and every Canadian has the right to run for Parliament and every Canadian has the right to run for the leadership of a political party.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-02 10:08:24 PM

Norman Spector, I have noticed from your posts that you have something against David Frum. I consider him to be one thing Canada can be proud of. His columns see to be well thought out. Why the bias?

Posted by: Mallard | 2005-03-02 10:16:12 PM

Kevin, Norman et al- read the posting again, slowly. She does not compare Martin to Arafat in terms of common qualities (I leave those for you to discern, after the hyperventilating ends), she merely evokes how Pres. Bush may react to a sense of Martin's duplicity, should he perceive it.

Why not stick to the real issue - Canada needs a champion in the US executive branch, even more so because it lacks ANY in the legislative majority. I can't see how anyone could cconclude that the conduct of your ditherer-in-chief (and his predecessor in office) have not seriously alienated GW Bush, you now have no champion in the US government (depsite McKenna's obvious talents). Live with it, you engineered it. Vote liberal and you can perpetuate it (not wise given the balance of trade).

I realize duplicity is what Canadians are coming to expect from their pols, not to get into the rank ineptitude or even worse (sponsorship anyone?). But down here, people have standards, and G W Bush has a deep and abiding morality (I know, it seems a quaint foreign custom, but of no use in Trudeaupia - maybe there's a Heritage canada grant for it...), and it is no surprise that he would apply it to Canada's representatives. Hence the appropriateness / brilliance in the post...

Oh yeah - to those of you who allude to the Mad Cow action - the US has a far more robust competitive system than Cda (just look at antitrust law) as well as a far superior pool of judicial talent, precedent, statutes etc (you really only have highly politicized bureaucrats in robes). If there is rent seeking in the action, don't expect it to survive long. But neither should you expect the executive branch to champion your issues, given the conduct of your ditherer-in-chief and his minions. GW Bush will expend his political capital on matters of importance to him,, in accordance with his mandate (its robust, don't ya know) and his sense of leadership (you remember what that looks like, right???? - oh sorry, open wound and all that)...

Posted by: EmigratedLastYear | 2005-03-02 10:36:11 PM

"This statement is factually incorrect: our Prime Minister is not Quebecois. It is also bigoted, like the infamous election ad with the crossed-out faces."
Look in to it Norman, our Prime Minister prefers to be refered to in parliment as Monsier Martin. Every MP has the option of french or english. Our Prime Minister has chosen french over English.

Posted by: Mallard | 2005-03-02 10:38:03 PM

I feel cheated. That's all.

I wonder why more Canadians don't feel cheated?

Posted by: Dylan Sherlock | 2005-03-02 10:44:37 PM

I've criticized Frum on a couple of occasions and praised several of his columns. Nothing personal, either way. And I always read him.

On Martin/Arafat--I doubt very much that Bush will see even the slightest comparison between Arafat and Martin and that he'll treat them the same way. Evoking even the slightest comparison is both sick and offensive.

Choosing to be called Monsieur in Parliament does not make one Quebecois.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-02 10:53:30 PM

"Choosing to be called Monsieur in Parliament does not make one Quebecois."
I think it does.

Posted by: Mallard | 2005-03-02 11:26:27 PM

"On Martin/Arafat--....Evoking even the slightest comparison is both sick and offensive."

As 'EmigratedLastYear' so clearly observed - there was no such comparison evoked. The reference was intended to highlight GW Bush's character and his likely reaction to being deceived - by anyone. Suggest dropping the faux outrage and moving on.

Posted by: JR | 2005-03-03 12:42:10 AM

I'll bet a buck that David Frum, who knows Bush well, does not write or even hint that the President of the US will treat Paul Martin as he treated Yasser Arafat.

I'll bet another buck that Frum does not suggest that Bush will make or see even the slightest comparison between the Prime Minister of Canada and a corrupt, arch-terrorist like Arafat.

I'll bet a third dollar that Frum would never write a sentence suggesting that Bush would even include Paul Martin and Yasser Arafat in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence.

Palmerston wrote that half the world's problems are caused by inappropriate metaphors. While Frum is not always on target, I doubt he'd make this kind of sick-o suggestion that betrays a huge ignorance to boot.

Mallard, you have a right to think whatever you want, but each of us also has a right to conclude from your thought process that not all opinions are created equally.

Aside from the fact that Martin was born, brought up and educated in Ontario, your equation leaves out nearly a million anglo-Quebecois and a roughly similar number of francophones outside Quebec, who are our fellow Canadians.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-03 1:26:12 AM

In the television news from Toronto today, CBC reporters, using their innate Mensa talents, continue to use anthropomorphic characterizations of the United States. The mad cow border issue is treated as if the Americans have a single agenda, one consistent with their dragon status.
I look forward to the interpretations of the border crisis from the likes of Linda McQuaig and Heather Mallick. Their writings already impugn American motives on military defence so it would be no surprise if more of the same spews forth.
But this time the ranchers of Alberta are the principal victims of the border problems. They are not a favoured group at the mineral water tables of High Journalism in Toronto. What will be the word issuing forth from the anointed? Stay tuned.

Posted by: Barry Stagg | 2005-03-03 5:46:25 AM

"Choosing to be called Monsieur in Parliament does not make one Québecois". Once again you're correct, Norman.

In Martin's case it makes him a kind of drag queen

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-03 7:09:35 AM

Red herring!! Red herring! Not all opinions are created equal!!

Norman - Stop with the harumphing outrage of Martin/Arafat - which is really just a tactic for you to align yourself with the Good People and attack the Peasants. Frum doesn't need your protective Sword. Neither does Martin. Calm down; take a deep breath. How about READing what Kate wrote. It's called an analogy, not of persona but of process. The focus of comparison is on the process, not the person. OK?

So, despite your fervent opinion that Kate is equating Martin and Arafat, not all opinions are valid. Yours is invalid. What she is doing is comparing an action of someone doing something and then, being found out, and then, denying it. She is asking - how should someone react who is presented with a 3-step dance of deception? It's this three-step process that is the issue. So, all your outraged harumphing, galloping around on your ancient White Hunter, to protect Paul Martin from being equated with Arafat - is a Red Herring. And, I suspect, just a ruse to attack Kate.

You consider yourself a Man of Letters, a Wise Man. How is it that you can't understand a basic analogy of process?

The reality is, that Martin flip-flops on BMD and notably, doesn't provide any reasons for any of his opinions (none of which are equal). First he's in; then, he's out; and then, after rejecting Canadian involvement, then he insists on Canadian involvement. That's a three-step process...

Your focus on words rather than content reminds me of the trouble the scientific world would have been in, if they had relegated Newton's discovery of gravity to, and only to, apples.

As for the decision, as has been pointed out on this post, it has nothing to do with Bush; it's a matter for the Montana Courts - who are concerned about their own viability, their exports to Japan (which were, apparently, stopped when the first case of Canadian disease was discovered in the US)..and etc.

Heather Mallick - I can't read her stupid nonsense; I'm always puzzled how she can be paid to write a column. Incredible. I've stopped reading the G&M; can't stand the left-lib sophistry of most of the columnists...except for Wente.

Hey!! Wow! Now, According to Norman, I'm a bigot!! Jeez - that's quite an accolade! Norman, all peasants are bigots; they are uneducated and can't hold a candle to the Wise Men on the Hill. So, don't fret about it.

But, back to my point. Canada, with the imposition of bilingualism, has become trapped within an infrastructure that seriously endangers and functionally demolishes a genuine democracy in this country. This infrastructure has led to the development of a closed governing clique that privileges Quebecers as ministers, deputy ministers, heads of unelected governmental positions, public corporations and etc. This has led to a federal mindset that is unique to Quebec, which is isolate, hostile to the anglophone world, socialist, a centralist governance, hostile to entrepreneurs, to differences, to individualism.

This is a dangerous infrastructure, first - because it isolates the majority of the Canadian population from full and equal participation in national decision-making. The majority of the population are not and cannot become bilingual; no millions flung at them will change this; and this means that that tribal clique, which does by necessity and ease, become bilingual, effectively controls Canada.

The majority of the population are reduced to democratic input at the once-every-few-years elections, which have become propaganda manipulations...recall the Liberals outrageous ads versus the Conservatives. We have a serious democratic deficit in this country, and no amount of sophistry, and claims of 'you're a bigot' are going to alleviate this problem.

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-03 8:05:01 AM

I think Alberta should handle this alone. We just set up an office in Washington to bypass the federal bureaucracy. Someday soon, Alberta will take its place as the next state in the Union, because we're suffering as a colony of Toronto.

They say we'll be no better off as a state, which is true - but there's nowhere to go but up from there.

So long, Canada - take your flag (aka Old Greedy) with you on your way out the door. It's been bad knowing you.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-03-03 8:27:54 AM

I thought the last line drawing the analogy between Martin "confined to his compound on 24 Sussex" and Arafat confined to Ramallah was pretty clearly comparing the two. It's offensive and trite.

Posted by: KevinG | 2005-03-03 8:36:09 AM

Comparing Martin to Arafat is unfair. The only similarity is their hidden wealth.

A better comparison would be Chretien to Arafat. Both said one thing in public, then did the exact opposite in secret. But even that is a stretch.

Trudeau *may God curse his very name* should be compared fairly against Augusto Pinochet. Both were cold heartless tyrants obsessed with preserving the power of the rich.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-03-03 8:48:31 AM

Something else we should consider in our two-column comparative chart, is that decision making in Canada is far more centralized and unilateral, far less democratic than in the USA.

Martin, for example, made the BMD decision on his own. No consultation or discussion in parliament - as was repeatedly requested by Harper. Who gave him the right to make such an enormous decision without accountability? Remember, his party represents only 34% of the population, and even its members were not allowed a say in the decision. No, he made the decision, himself (inasmuch as he can be said to make any decision by himself). The USA won't permit such unilateral and centralized decision-making processes; there are checks and balances. Eg. Bush couldn't go to war in Iraq without the approval of Congress. In Canada, our leaders can make decisions without the approval of the House of Commons. And we poor peasants can't do a thing about it.

So, for example, the current R-CALF Montana decision is not one made by Bush, and he can't negate that decision. For the various Canadian MSM to claim that the decision is 'retaliation' by The Bush Administration against poor little Canada's peace-loving decision not to participate in Star Wars...is nonsense.

In Canada, we have effectively set up a system where the PMO is unaccountable and holds almost all the reigns of power. This effectively cuts off the roots of democracy - which is the right of the people to be represented. If their representatives have no power, then...we are left with Adscams and unilateral decision making.

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-03 9:03:34 AM


If you spent less time as an anonymouse writing long-winded, over-intellectualized and meaningless postings, you too could probably learn French. Lots of westerners have, including the deputy minister of finance. And it's not as if French immersion hasn't been around for a few years. Face it: you're a bigot.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-03 9:48:59 AM

"On Martin/Arafat--I doubt very much that Bush will see even the slightest comparison between Arafat and Martin and that he'll treat them the same way" - He'll treat them both as dead?

Posted by: Darcey | 2005-03-03 10:19:25 AM

Arafat is not dead. He's in heaven enjoying his reward of 72 virgins.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-03 10:37:58 AM

ET, you've brought up some very, very important points, one or two of which I'd like to address.

Agreed that the current beef ban has nothing to do with Martin's stance on the shield. However, I'm of the opinion that the outlandish behavior, the idiotic statements and the studied non co-operation in international matters of successive Lib gov'ts has played a role in complicating our trade situation.

You comments on imposed bilingualism could not be more accurate. As a bilingual anglo-Québecois working for the feds, even I don't see much sense in our linguistic policies, and nor do many of my Franco co-workers. We "Québecois", on both sides of the linguistic divide, have very high rates of bilingualism because, at least in Montréal, we live and breathe in both languages every single day. It's wonderful and I enjoy it a great deal.

Why, though, should Canadians, or more accurately, the civil service be deprived of, say, Alberta's talent pool? By erecting and maintaining such demanding linguistic requirements we've ended up short-changing ourselves. Our insistance on these rules has engendered a rigidity and uniformity of thought that has spread all throughout the federal bureaucracy. It has become high-handed, dictatorial, secular-obscurantist and unaccountable. It has become "priest-ridden".

Yet despite decades of bilingualism and accomodation Les Péquistes, if they win the next provincial election, are promising still another referendum!

A very good post ET!

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-03 10:38:08 AM


If you're a federal public servant, you must have met some bilingual Albertans. I sure have--even had a few working for me over the years.

Is it your view that there's something incompatible in the jaw structure of Albertans that prevents them learning French? Or do you think immersion programs are not available in Alberta? Last time I checked, they were. Indeed, here in BC, the demand outstrips supply.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-03 10:48:43 AM

Hmm, so Arafat's in heavan with his 72 virgins eh.... But what's a gay guy like me to do when given my 72?

I thought about this long and hard and then, one day, when I was least expecting it, the answer came!

What's my solution?

Why, I'll hold giant slumber parties!! We'll braid each other's hair, listen to old Pat Boone tunes and go on about how "dreamy" the prophet is......

Don't know if I can keep it up for all eternity though!

12:55.....back to work!

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-03 10:53:04 AM

Norman!! What a superb definition of me! I'm anonymous; my posts are 'long-winded, over-intellectualized and meaningless'. Oh, and remember, I'm a blogger and you've already defined bloggers as, "'most can't think, can't reason, can't write...haven't the foggiest idea of what they are writing about'.

Now, you, of course, don't engage in meaningless and irrelevant posts. So, I'd better take you seriously. Real real serious.

Anonymity. So what? Norman, the point is, not WHO you are, but WHAT you are...and this 'what' appears within the content of what you are posting. So- my name and whoever is utterly and completely irrelevant, and why you are so flutteringly eager to know it is beyond me. Besides, you DO know something about me. I blog, and therefore, I can't think, can't reason, can't write....

Now, let's get to the content. Your opinion (and remember, not all opinions are created equal) is that my posts are long-winded'. They are indeed long, Norman; I'm very fast on the keyboard and I have lots and lots and lots of thoughts....I mean...opinions..and each is unequal to the other and so...

And these are 'over-intellectualized'. Now, there's an accusation. What does it mean? Does it mean that you are anti-intellectual??? Or that you don't like intellect? Is there such a thing as too much intellect? Or is it that you don't like analysis and prefer dogma? Or....

And, according to you, what I say/write is 'meaningless'. How can one counter such an allegation? It ought to be based on evidence from YOU, because YOU are the one who is concluding that what I say has 'no meaning'. So???

Heck- on three allegations: long-winded, over-intellectual and meaningless - I admit, I'm too much of a blogger to accept these as valid. You see, they are all ungrounded and without evidence. Blogging requires evidence...

How do you know whether/not I know/don't know French? And so what? You've missed my point. I'll repeat it; I'm long winded.

Bilingualism is not merely an enormous waste of money; it is, in itself, a major contributor to the democratic deficit of this country. To state that IF you want to be a major political agent in this country, THEN, you must be bilingual, when 80% of the population are NOT bilingual, means that this 80% are de facto excluded from participation in that upper echelon.

Bilingualism is not something that can be easily learned at age 20 or 30 or... It emerges 'on the street within daily use and hearing' and 80% of the population never hear or use it on the street. Immersion schools are not readily available to this majority of the population - and - at the age of 10 - who is planning what role they will take at age 30?

I repeat. What we have set up in this country is a governing class, an elite closed clique who are self-generating and self-governing..akin to a tribe, and we have effectively, functionally, left out the majority of this population from equal access to this governance. This isolationism of the governance of this country from the population is dangerous and undemocratic.

I'm a bigot?? Oh, Norman, Norman. Name-calling again?. I could call you any number of equally delicious and licentious names but who gives a damn??? Stick to the point.

Your logical error here, is to refuse to debate the content and to attempt to dismiss that content by ad hominem allegations of personality. 'Argumentum ad hominem' is one of the most common fallacies; I'm surprised at you, Norman. You are, by self-definition, an elitist, not a blogging peasant, and therefore, I'd think that you would be above such ignoratio elenchi tactics.

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-03 11:10:59 AM

ET is not a bigot, nor should he have to learn French, however his analysis is incorrect. The failing in the Cdn. system is not bilingualism, but English Canada's embrace of, his favourite ideology, liberalism. By putting the individual ahead of the common good Anglo power declined precipitously. For instance, King ,in 1936, rejected the British call for intervention in Ethiopia. He did not speak French, Canada certainly did not embrace bilingualism, yet he knew an interventionist stance would cost him dearly in Quebec seats. Interestingly enough, the American administration was also highly isolationist. While English Canada was Orange, Protestant and homogeneous, in other words a tribe, they dominated the smaller Quebecois tribe. However, as liberalism was embraced WASP solidarity splintered, immigration patterns changed and Quebec became the tail that wagged the dog. However, neocons like ET, are not conservative in the Canadian tradition of MacDonald and Cartier. Quebecers are. The isolationism and rejection of individualism has preserved their unique identity. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for English Canada.

Posted by: DJ | 2005-03-03 11:23:04 AM

Norman, you've willfully chosen to ignore the points I raised and the arguments I was attempting to make. It's vexing and breathlessly dishonest, but I'm patient!

The probleme isn't one of "jaw structure", but rather one of linguistic opportunities, as you well know. French Canada has(no pun intended!)a *distinct* advantage when it comes to the bilingualism game. They're raised in french, a more difficult language than english, and yet grow up hearing and seeing english everywhere because they're in the middle of an anglophone continent. Albertans don't enjoy such advantages.

Sure there are immersion courses! It's just that listening to the "graduates" is laborious and often very, very funny.

Also, the prospect of having to learn a difficult language, and as an adult to boot, becomes a major turn-off for any aspiring Albertan "fonctionnaire".

To be fair to you, I don't think you realise, because you're so very talented when it comes to languages, just how much of a barrier and a hassle the demands for fluency in french have become for Westerners.

I know that in the past Francophones were sorely under-represdented in the civil service, but those days are long gone. Now I can't remember the exact figures, but the percentage of Francophones in the federal bureaucracy is somewhere around 34% whereas their proportion of Canda's overall population is only about 27%....and that includes Francos outside Québec.

Can we only accommodate the one at the risk of alienating the other? Is it only the 'Kieth Spicers' of English Canada that get a kick at the can?

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-03 11:25:29 AM

As a casual reader of the Shotgun and SDA, I'd say that Norman has his nose out of joint with ET and Kate and is being petty and sniveling towards them any chance he gets. Get over it Norm. It's getting boring and tedious. I happen to like you (not necessarily agree with you) when your forthright on the issues at hand and are not trying to make blogging brownie points and practicing tiresome one-up-man-ship. Here's a good rule of thumb bloggers: make your point and shut up for awhile. Don't get dragged into inane debates.

Posted by: Jack | 2005-03-03 11:28:47 AM

@ET - If you want to be a CEO you need to learn the basics of finance, business law, management, leadership and any number of other things. Not learning one of them will reduce your chances or reaching the top ranks.

If you want to reach the top ranks of federal politics you need to learn the basics of French. As evidenced by Mr. Chretien it is not necessary to be perfect, just functional.

Becoming functional in French as an adult is less difficult than most people make out.

No one take an anonymous poster seriously.

Posted by: KevinG | 2005-03-03 11:35:28 AM


Immersion graduates, while sometimes difficult to listen to, qualify easily for federal public service positions at the highest levels. As I mentioned, demand exceeds supply in the West, though I'm not sure what it is to our near East.


The fight over the Official Languages Act is over. Get over it. No political party that adopts your bigoted views would have a hope in hell of forming government. No political party that chooses a unilingual leader has a chance of forming government. That your bigotry is acceptable on this site is yet another demonstration of the problems facing Canadian conservatives.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-03-03 11:38:54 AM

In reply to John Palubiski -

Yes, I do agree with you that the unprofessional and stupidly arrogant behaviour of the Liberal gov't has contributed to our trade problems. After all, if we continue to inform Americans that we consider them beneath contempt; that we are superior in morality and intellect; and etc - then, a reasonable response by them would be to accept our openly stated dislike - and have nothing to do with Canada.

As for bilingualism - right. It is indeed the case that bilingualism is a readily accessible reality in Montreal; it's on the television, on the streets (you hear more English on downtown Montreal streets than you do in Toronto). Professional Quebecers, whether working for gov't or for industry, MUST be bilingual and, as noted, it is extremely easy to do so, in Montreal, because both languages are used 'on the street'.
Outside of Montreal- it's a different story. That includes not only the Gaspe etc but, the ROC (rest of Canada). This means that 'de facto' we have set up a situation - and you have said it so perfectly, that I'm copying it below:

[John Palubiski] "Why, though, should Canadians, or more accurately, the civil service be deprived of, say, Alberta's talent pool? By erecting and maintaining such demanding linguistic requirements we've ended up short-changing ourselves. Our insistance on these rules has engendered a rigidity and uniformity of thought that has spread all throughout the federal bureaucracy. It has become high-handed, dictatorial, secular-obscurantist and unaccountable. It has become "priest-ridden".

That's exactly my point. Bilingualism is not as 'easy as breathing' in the rest of Canada as it is on the streets of Montreal. And the result is indeed that rigid, uniform thought that has engulfed the federal bureaucracy. This mindset is, I submit, parochial and based in Quebec; it is indeed 'priest-ridden' - and if anyone dares to critique it - you are readily defined as a heretic (Norman's term is 'bigot').

It is a dangerous, dangerous scenario, for we have set up what is effectively a governance run by a tribe - a tribe that excludes input and personages from the main population base. This governing tribe runs the country - without accountability. We can see this right now, in the Gomery Inquiry...which Chretien is yet again, attempting to shut down.. I suspect Martin would also like to see it shut down.

How can we get out of this Trudeaupian Platonic Cave of false images? I think Harper's Belgian model might be the only possible road.

As for a yet-again referendum, I'm at the point where I'm asking - Quebec, why should you stay? What do you offer to the rest of Canada (ROC)? You keep insisting that the ROC provide you with ever more benefits, funding and so on...what do you offer in return, other than disdain and disinterest?
What province is the most dynamic? Alberta - and the gov't is bleeding it dry to finance Quebec based requirements.

What is strange, is that Quebec insists on holding referendums until it gets the 'right' answer (yes). After that...no more referendums. Not very democratic.

By the way, did you people know that the Canadian taxpayer is funding university students from France to study in Quebec? yes indeed. Quebec university fees are very low, about 1,400 a term. If you are from the ROC, you have to pay TWICE that amount. I don't think, but am not sure, that this differentiation of Canadians into 'Quebec' and 'not-Quebec' is the case in non-Quebec universities.
But, if you are an international students, you must pay about FOUR times that amount to attend a Quebec university.
Except if you are French. If you are an international student from France, you don't pay that same 4-times fee as other international students. You don't pay that same 2-times fee as other Canadian students. No, you pay the same fee AS IF you were from Quebec. Hmmm. So, the Canadian taxpayer is subsidizing students from France in Quebec, at the expense of students from the ROC. Why?

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-03 11:52:56 AM

In reply to Kevin G. (who is thereby anonymous) - why is it the case that 'no-one takes an anonymous poster seriously'?? Would you please explain why? You see, I would think that the focus should be on the content of the post; the poster is irrelevant. Why do you reject this analysis? Please explain.

Norman - no, the fight over the official languages act is not over. That is the nature of a social construct - that it is a social rather than genetic variable. Because it is a social construct, it can be changed. That is the great advantage that homo sapiens has over other species; they can change their 'modus operandus'. Did you know that at one time, officialdom in the West required Latin?

Kevin- Learning theories - as in finance, management and etc, is completely different from learning a language. You can get your B.Com in 3 years, but, does this mean that you will then have to tack on another few years, if you are from the ROC, to become fluent in 'the other language'? That adds another few years to your debt load, lessens your years-of-employment and is unfair.
And, there is still the reality, which only John Palubiski acknowledges, of that closed mindset of governance that has emerged within this ideology.

DJ- sorry, I'm not going to comment. I'm not a neocon (good god, do you know, really know, the ideology of the neocons?)...and your positing of liberalism vs collectivism is ..well, it's your choice. I'm firmly opposed to a society that privileges collectivism (e.g., socialism, communism, fascism).

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-03 12:09:41 PM

It's not the bigotry that challenges Canadian Conservatives, it's the ideology. Harper speaks French, however, he will never be elected PM. His 'conservatism' is Yankee liberalism, just like ET's.

Posted by: DJ | 2005-03-03 12:19:24 PM

As Edmund Burke put it, 'We learn to love the little platoon we belong to in society.' The institution most essential to conserve is the family.

Traditional conservatism is voluntary community not involuntary collectivism.

Posted by: DJ | 2005-03-03 12:48:34 PM

Norman, you're point is well taken, but the poor quality of french in the civil service has, itself, become a probleme. Many of my francophone co-workers when dealing with "bilingual" anglophones in other provinces prefer to do the transaction in english. It's just easier and there's much less chance of a misunderstanding, something that costs us ALL time and money.

Also, I don't think ET's criticism of official bilingualism constitutes bigotry. I tend to agree with many things he says, so am I, a fluently bilingual anglo, a bigot as well? If so, I will duly inform my French-Canadian room-mate of the news.

With all due respect, Norman, let people speak free from the intimidation of name calling.

I'd like to see some polling done in French Canada on the subject of regional bilingualism. I wonder what they'd have to say about it? Would they too agree with some of ET's ideas?

We might be surprised.

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-03 1:14:26 PM

Use the word "bigot" one more time in direct attack of a commentor on this thread, Norm and I will eliminate your content in its entirety.

This is not an invitation to you for a response.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-03-03 1:16:56 PM

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