OPINION


A contrived language war. Again!
By Jim Wilson
Special to The Suburban
This province?s political leaders? recent
remarks on the Supreme Court decision
regarding Bill 104 are not surprising.
Their denunciation of the ruling is classic
self serving posturing. The call to arms to
defend the language and culture smacks
of the worst demagoguery. A strategy to
divert people?s attention from other, truly
pressing, concerns.
Quebec?s political parties vie for the
right to be at the head of the movement
that promotes itself as the saviour of
Quebec against an invasion of the dreaded
English language, often described as the
language of the oppressor.
The defense of any language is a vague
concept, and has no specified time limit
as to when victory can be declared.
Indeed, those whose careers are dependent
on such tactics know it would be a
colossal error to even suggest that a victory
was at hand. We have reached a state of
permanent, albeit contrived, language
war. These politicians do not care about
the state of the French language, but they
care very much about their own survival
and if sanctimoniously lamenting the ero-
quickly turn into defeats...?
I am not asking any of you to go down to
engage in confrontation, let the police take
care of these thugs. But if you can, come
down and join us in a peaceful protest. If you
won?t stick up for yourself, at least show support
for those, like Brent Tyler, who believe
in our system of justice and the lawful right
to speak out without having to live in fear.
Mr. Tyler doesn?t deserve this.
Cliff Oswald, Pointe Claire
Tyler focused on students? welfare?
Having witnessed the two-day Quebec
Court of Appeal hearing in August 2007, and
the subsequent examination by the
Supreme Court of Canada on December 15,
2008, on the access to English schools matter
, Bill 104, allow me an observation and a
thought.
Representing the parents, in both cases,
lawyer Brent Tyler, focused on the students'
education and welfare.
With the exception of one, I believe the
press releases of various English organizations
reacting to the Supreme Court ruling
on October 22, 2009, are merely attempts to
justify their existence - at taxpayers' expense.
Since the Home and School Associations,
was the first volunteer group to bring this
subject to the forefront years ago, and whose
mission is "dedicated to the education and
well being of children", I think the other
costly groups should heed the last statement
of their communiqué:
"We invite all interested parties to work
with us to find a solution acceptable to all."
Chris Eustace, Pierrefonds
sion of the language helps their image, so
much the better.
Wars, even phony wars, need enemies,
and the citizenry must be told to be on
their guard. The English language is perceived
as a danger to Quebec, and individuals
who use it are targeted too. Citizens
who believe that English could be a valuable
tool are often betrayed as alien to
Quebec. Note the comments made by
those politicians who, subsequent to the
104 judgment, described those who wanted
to go to English schools as being
immigrants, ignoring the fact the plaintiffs
in the case are Canadian citizens,
some of whom are native born French
speakers who simply wanted to become
bilingual. War often implies that accepted
freedoms must be sacrificed to make the
population more secure. To ensure this,
individuals, under the cloak of anonymity,
are encouraged to report any minor
infraction of language laws, and we have a
permanent apparatus of language police
who can investigate those responsible and
bring about their prosecution. It makes
the province safe for those who could be
injured by the sight of an apostrophe s.
Bill 104 itself was an attempt to circumvent
the Charter of Rights and
Hampstead, let?s recognize success
I have been a totally apolitical, but contented
resident of Hampstead for thirty-one
years. I have also never been so riled so as to
write a letter to the Editor. I was frankly sickened
by the negative tenor of the last council
meeting, which was my first attended and
probably last.
Bill Steinberg led the demerger fight to
give us back our wonderful town and won.
He also carried out the Herculean task of
reconstituting Hampstead from the administrative
nightmare of Merged Montreal in a
very quick and efficient manner, such that
my municipal taxes along with most of the
town's residents actually decreased for the
first time in thirty-one years--an amazing
feat in any level-headed resident's assessment.
This success was achieved only with the
very prudent, virtually full time dedication of
one man who set the tone for the whole
management team-Mayor Bill Steinberg.
A major move which the Mayor made in
the area of municipal finance, was to be the
only demerging mayor to accept a $4 million
plus interest free, twenty year loan from the
provincial government at the time of the
demerger. All of the other mayors were playing
politics by refusing this gift, what any
good businessman would view as manna
from heaven-our interest free loan represents
a present value saving to Hampstead of
some $1.5 million.
Bill Reim , Hampstead
Home invasion in Hampstead should
come as no surprise to the mayor
Although the news of last Thursday?s
Freedoms, and was even supported by
those who are supposedly representatives
in ridings where English is the majority
language. Unfortunately, justice delayed
is justice denied, and after seven years of
litigation and despite the law being
declared as being unconstitutional, the
plaintiffs? constitutional rights are still
being denied. A Charter of Rights should
protect the citizens, not the politicians.
The justices on the court have stated, in
effect, that the protection of the French
language, whatever that means, may
supersede the rights of citizens. They
have acted in a political manner, by trying
to undo an unjust law but with a view to
placating Quebec?s nationalists.
What is the anglophone reaction? The
Quebec English School Boards
Association? president in her comments
on the ruling said that the government
was its ally. Some ally! The response from
the Quebec Community Groups Network
was predictable. Last year at a meeting
their representative, a former director
general of an English school board, no
less, made it abundantly clear they were
not in favour of any of these students
going to English schools. This network is
really a tiny group of do-nothings, who
home invasion in Hampstead was alarming,
it was not surprising. Hampstead has had a
public security issue for at least the last year
and a half. Last year, a wave of crime swept
over the neighbourhood and the mayor?s
response?s was insufficient, late, and misleading.
A ?tip sheet? was hand delivered
months after the crimes continued and the
danger escalated. No other resources of the
town were used to disseminate information.
The website which is financed by the town
through its taxpayers, and which is used to
inform residents regarding the mayor?s own
position on election issues and the town?s
extracurricular activities, including ballroom
dance parties, was silent regarding the
crimes, save and except for an apparently
misleading article which was published in
September 2009, ?Crime Under Control in
Hampstead?. It was only after local media
reported on the recent incident, that the
website spoke of the public security crisis. No
real account of the incidents or their number
has ever been reported to the residents.
Rather, the tip sheet, and the website were
used to inform people regarding their alarm
systems and to reassure residents regarding
their security. Some of the break in and
enters were more dangerous because the
burglars entered knowing that people were
home, including elderly people, and small
children alone with babysitters. Some of the
people were beaten and robbed. This should
not come as any surprise to the mayor. On at
least three occasions, the mayor was advised
by me via email and at public town council
meetings that the security in Hampstead
was lacking and that the break in and enters
were continuing notwithstanding the contrary
advice, which he was providing to the
line their pockets with federal money
which will continue to pour in just as
long as they never suggest anything is
wrong with the treatment of anglophones
in Quebec. This group provides an insight
in to the hypocritical mindset of individuals
who livelihoods ironically rely on the
existence of an English-speaking community.
Given their discomfort with any
views contrary to those of the ruling
party, the network may as well affiliate
itself to the Réseau du Résistance du
Québecoise who support Bill 104. That
bunch is planning a demonstration outside
lawyer Brent Tyler office today. He
had the temerity to challenge an unconstitutional
law. The Réseau?s document is
filled with the usual half baked facts and
misleading statistics. As in any war the
first casualty is the truth. Villains must be
found and labeled as enemies of the state.
Bill 101 has done untold financial and
social damage to Quebec, yet people are
told it must be made even more stringent
to protect Quebec language and culture,
and that ploy is working. Quebec always
seems to fight the wrong war against the
wrong people.
Jim Wilson was president of the
Pearson School Board Teachers? Union.
residents. Most recently, at the last town
council meeting at the beginning of this
month, I advised the mayor that his
response to the situation has not been sufficient
and that the information he has been
circulating is misleading. It appears that the
concerns raised were once again ignored. As
I advised in my email to the mayor in
September 2008, more public security vehicles
should be patrolling the town on a regular
basis and more information ought to be
given to the residents of this town on each
occasion that there is a break in and enter.
The residents of Hampstead need to make
informed decisions regarding their safety.
They need to be in a position to protect
themselves. The mayor should have stopped
glorifying the public safety issues in
Hampstead a long time ago. He should have
presented the residents of Hampstead with
the truth. He has done too little and he is too
late.
Alyssa J. Yufe
Concerned resident of Hampstead
An eloquent and last word on
Hampstead
We all know that politics is dirty but the
behaviour of the candidates in this election is
sub-stellar to say the least. I only wish that
for once they would tell us how they will
improve things as opposed to how bad the
other guy is. Who is telling the truth, we
may never know. I only wish for once we
could be above it all... I guess not.
Larry Zoltak
Hampstead
THE SUBURBAN, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2009 ? 17

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