Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hey, Teacher, Leave Them Kids Alone

It’s reprehensible, distasteful, ridiculous and wrong. The latest billow to be added to Quebec’s ominously dark language cloud aims to target schoolyards. Once upon a time, recess and lunch were that part of the school day when excited and energetic little children were free to play and interact with others. Soon, if the Commission scolaire de Montreal has its way, it will be a time when children will have to be on the lookout for schoolyard monitors who will reprimand them for speaking languages other than French.

It’s shameful. It’s no way to encourage an open and free society and, frankly, it’s no way to protect and preserve a language.

The Commission scolaire de Montreal wants to make French the mandatory language in schoolyards. Children, playing on their own free time, will no longer be free to speak the language they choose.

How can you tell an English, Italian or Portugese child playing with friends, they’re not allowed to speak their own language?

Adults in Quebec have already lost several freedoms, but how can you justify taking freedoms away from children? How can you justify allowing petty politics to infiltrate schoolyards?

Separatists may argue it’s a matter of inevitable extrapolation.

When francophones in PEI battled tooth and nail in 2000 to get their own French school in Summerside, where were the Quebecers so deeply devoted to the protection and preservation of French? When, in July, francophones in the Yukon were battling for a French high school and the right to manage their own educational institutions, where were the Quebecers so deeply devoted to the protection and preservation of French?

They had their heads in the sand.

They had their heads in the sand when the United Nations ruled in 1993 that Quebec’s French-only outside sign law violated the declaration of human rights. They had their heads in the sand when, in its 1994 report on human rights issues, the US State Department declared non-French people in Quebec continue to be discriminated against.

In 1998, Premier Lucien Bouchard stated Quebec’s language laws must be applied in a way that doesn’t give the province a bad reputation; it’s a little late for that.

French parents themselves have gone to court for the right to send their children to English schools.

Quebec has taken away the freedom of choice for parents deciding schools for their children. Quebec has taken away freedom of expression for companies who want to advertise. Now it’s stooping to taking away the right to freedom of expression from children in schoolyards!

The language issue in Quebec casts a dark cloud over a magnificent province. Why must the protection and preservation of French be negative and based on paternalistic, self righteousness? If you can figure out a way to encourage people to have children, surely you can think of incentives that encourage people to speak French and educate their children in French. Instead of depriving people of freedoms, why not enhance their freedoms by offering incentives, encouraging them to freely choose French. You can lower tuition fees and offer tax savings to people who send children to French school. Help employers offer incentives to employees educated and trained in French.

There is strength in numbers and if Quebec politicians made it their business to spread and support French across the country, think what that would do for the future of the French language in Canada. In 1996, Franco-Manitobans fought to have bilingual signs posted in St-Boniface. In 1996, the Bloc Quebecois fought to have more French on signs in Ottawa. Rather than let French wither away elsewhere in Canada, Quebec should take steps to promote and encourage its protection and preservation. That’s the most effective way to preserve and protect the French language and culture in Quebec; the protection and preservation should come from inside and outside the province.

Separatists behave as though there’s nothing outside Quebec, when, in fact, there is a whole world beyond provincial borders. Many adamant separatists have been enlightened and educated outside provincial borders.

It’s time to pull your heads from the sand. Quebec is not the only province that belongs to Quebecers. All of Canada, with all of its resources, beauty and opportunity, belongs to Quebecers. Separatists, like it or not, this is your country; you are entitled to all it has to offer. Stake your claim and stake it in the language of your choice.

Schools are supposed to be about positivity, learning, expansion, progression, openness; not repression, suppresssion, regression, coercion and conformity. The rest of the world admires Canada and every year, thousands of people become Canadian citizens. Life in Canada is about glorious freedom; tens of thousands of Canadians died in its name and in its defence. Quebec’s language legislation is giving the rest of the world the wrong idea of what life in Canada is about and now, it’s giving its own children the wrong idea of what life in Canada is about.

Making French the mandatory language in schoolyards is just another brick in the wall; the wall that keeps many anglophones from coming here to explore opportunities and the wall that keeps many unilingual francophones from leaving here to explore opportunities.

You can bet the offended separatist schoolyard monitors who proposed this CSDM rule are drooling, their young targets already in sight.

Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone!

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