Maverickish (II)


On second thought, Maxime Bernier isn’t even vaguely critical of Michael Ferguson’s appointment to auditor general.

Later, when The Globe asked for an interview with the minister over his concerns with the appointment, Mr. French emailed this edited version of his previous statement: “Minister Bernier has complete confidence that Mr. Ferguson will respect his engagement to learn French this year. The Minister believes he is fully qualified and the best man for the job.”


Maverickish (II)

  1. This debate about bilingual A/G has been interesting. I always assumed that top officials had translators with them at all times but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I taught english as second language in Korea and only truly fluent students were ones who lived in North America or UK for 1/2 yrs to learn proper english. Idioms, local dialect, slang, expressions, pronunciation … etc. are all things you don’t learn in language classes.

    • They’re trying to hire a translator for him.
      Cost to us? An extra 55-76k/yr apparantly.

      • That’s not a cost, Thwim, it is stimulus or investment in 21st century Canada.

    • How many radio or television interviews of a French-speaking only auditor general with their translator besides them have you ever seen or heard?

    • Tony, Michael Ferguson is from Sackville NB, where even our teachers were often Francophone.  It is the only officially bilingual province in Canada, and he has had ample opportunity to learn, perfect and practice French to be fluently bilingual.  Moreover, given its status, I am frankly surprised he ever managed to win the job as NB’s chief auditor. 

    • LoraineLamontagne, Patchouli

      To be truly bilingual takes quite a bit of study and effort. We think Harper or Dion or Chretien or whoever is bilingual but they really aren’t. Pronunciation is one thing we don’t seem to care about when testing people for fluency, I don’t know what Harper sounds like in French but Dion and Chretien were painful in English. Even tho our PMs are considered bilingual, I always assumed they had translators on staff because they are not fluent in other language.

      Important jobs that need proper bilingual people should not be solely trusted to people who pass a bilingual test but have never actually studied another language outside their province or country.

      I think all top bureaucrats should have translators with them at all times because the public employee is probably not entirely fluent in other language. The only people in Canada who have a chance a being truly bilingual are anglos born and raised in Montreal, every other Canadian is struggling mightily.

      • I am Guest, just tried to edit my post but deleted instead. 

        • Moreover, we are totally off-topic, which is the flip flop messaging from “Maverick” Bernier. 

      • I don’t disagree with you, Tony, but we have had some truly bilingual PMs — Trudeau, Mulroney, even Chretien with his strong French accent was a quick thinker in English.  And I agree that Dion was painful in French, and that Harper is painful in French.  But keep your eye on the ball — these are elected officials, and even though they may rise up to be PM, they are representatives of their constituents, and their language abilities reflect that. 

        I do believe that we could do better ensuring that our top bureaucrats, who are not elected by the people, have expected skills.  And if they aren’t, then we should stop expecting or asking for it in the job competitions.  Perhaps what we’re hearing is the death knell of official bilingualism in the country, prolly because the current government has no seats in PQ.  And if so, fine, but someone should tell us that it no longer matters — or if it does, then ambitious professionals better smarten up and learn that extra language, whichever it happens to be.

        But beware the intricacies of translation! And given that much of what you say about bilingualism and fluency are true — then Ferguson upgrading his French for a year isn’t going to get him much further than he is now — especially since one assumes that he’s going to be very busy performing his core duties. 

        • I was dumbfounded to learn that Fed gov’t doesn’t have dozens of translators on staff for senior mandarins to use whenever they do something official. I wonder how much info gets misinterpreted because our officials are not fluent in second language.