Wednesday, January 29, 2020

History of Solitudes

J'ai serai candidate.
I don't follow French language media as much as, well, I'd like to, but even I have been struck by the differing treatment of Peter Mackay's French in English and French media. In English a lot of the coverage is "Well, it may or may not be an problem," and "He has been very busy in the private sector lately," and "He's taking courses now," and "In Quebec they criticize Justin Trudeau's French, just because he's in Ottawa."

Compare Michel David:
En fin de semaine dernière, Peter MacKay a démontré de façon éloquente que les rumeurs concernant ses progrès en français n’avaient aucun fondement. À côté de lui, Andrew Scheer passerait presque pour un académicien.*

Note that David does not write for Québecor, usually identified in English Canada by its separatist-minded owners, the Peladeau family. David's with Le Devoir.

David suggests it's a question of respect. But he does weakens his point by an allusion to the Meech Lake Accord
Ce qui avait le plus choqué les Québécois dans l’échec de l’accord du lac Meech, c’était l’absence de respect qu’il traduisait.
I have lots of respect for Quebec, but it doesn't mean I had or have to support that constitutional botch. 

Update, January 30:  From Tom Morton:

When I listened to a discussion on CBC radio this morning by anglophones, I was appalled. Panel members discussing Mackay had no idea how much effort and time it takes for an adult to achieve fluency in a second language. Moreover, I would argue that Mackay's lack of competence in French after so many years in Parliament reflects a lack of interest in not just the language but the culture and people as well.
* Usage note: I'm pretty sure "académicien" here doesn't translate as "academic." He's thinking of the linguistic masters who form the Académie Française.
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