Is bilingualism really bad?

Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Alliance recently issued a tough statement, categorically rejecting the idea of making it compulsory for Canadian supreme court justices to be bilingual.

“Bill C-232 is discriminatory against the majority of Canadians who are not fluent in both English and French,” she was quoted as saying in her statement, describing the Bill “divisive and inappropriate.”

And for once, it seems, Wildrose Alliance and Progressive Conservatives are of the same opinion on an issue, in opposition to the legislative step aimed at ensuring high linguistic standards for supreme court justices.

“Qualifications for a Supreme Court Justice should be based on professional credentials and a judicial record of respect and deference to the Canadian Constitution as well as federal and provincial law,” Smith was quoted as saying.


One would immediately ask if the Wildrose Alliance, or the Progressive Conservative Party for that matter, is also against the requirement of bilingualism for recruitment of lower level public servants, and going one step further, if bilingualism is required at all in public service?

Bilingualism is enshrined in this country’s constitution and the Supreme Court of Canada is the highest judicial authority to fulfill the responsibility of ensuring that the constitution remains relevant and functional.

Canada is a great country built up through centuries of efforts undertaken by French and English pioneers alike and it owes its current distinct identity to that very commonality of hard work on the part of both communities.

One should not forget, either, how the Métis, through their association with the early French colonizers, helped develop Canada’s identity as a tolerant and kind nation.

Centrifugal forces are at work all over the world. What happened (and is still happening) in the former Soviet Union (in Kyrgyzstan these days), and in former Yugoslavia does not need to be reminded.

We have our own ever-ready-to-secede Party Quebecois right within the country, and lately premiers of the three western provinces are increasingly talking about how they represent the real economic power of Canada and how bigger a potential their provinces hold for future as compared to others.

I would think that a wise statesman would not be against the principle of protecting and promoting bilingualism in Canada as a bond that keeps its constituent parts together.

But then again, every politician is not necessarily a statesman.

— Mustafa Eric