220

Stephen Harper: speaking to Americans in French

American news networks immediately hit mute during the PM’s address


 

When Stephen Harper stood alongside Barack Obama on Friday for a rare joint press conference on Friday, he made a few pleasantries in English – then immediately launched into a long monologue in French.

In Canada, bilingual government announcements are routine. But the consequences of starting off in a language his hosts could not understand was dramatic: American news networks immediately hit mute, cutting to random talking heads back in their studios discussing Egypt in English as Harper silently pontificated — relegated to a half-size image in split screen.

The networks didn’t switch back to live audio – not even after Harper eventually got around to repeating himself in English – until Obama started talking again.

So, given this very rare and valuable opportunity to be carried live on U.S. television networks, this is basically Americans what heard from Canada’s PM: “Well, first of all, thank you, Barack.  Both — thank you for your friendship both personal and national.  And thank you for all the work you’ve done and all of your people have done to bring us to our announcement today.”

That’s it. Thanks for your input, Canada.

It’s hard to get Americans’ attention on Canadian issues. It’s especially hard to get decision-makers in Washington to listen to the Canadian message on the border, and even harder to do it on a day when they are completely engrossed in the situation in Egypt. But the very prospect of hearing what Obama was going to say about Egypt meant there was greater interest than there otherwise would have been in that press conference.

So Harper’s visit on Friday was the one chance for a long time to come to reset the discussion on the border — and to change the American conversation from a new U.S. government report that is creating a misleading meme that only 32 miles of the border are secure and that the United States’ northern boundary is a bigger threat to its security than its southern one. That notion threatens to become the next “Millennium Bomber” – shorthand for why the border should be thickened, no matter its impact on Canadians and our shared economy.

The feeling in the room, too, was one of awkwardness as the assembled U.S. media sat and waited for something to write about. Obama tried twice to make light of it. “Now, I love French, but I’m just not very capable of speaking it,” he said at one point. And later after Harper spoke, he said to laughter, “And I thought — I agree even more with his answer in French.”

Perhaps Harper was trying to appeal to any francophone voters back in Canada who were also tuned in. But if the national interest of a bilateral visit was to get Americans to pay attention to border issues important to Canada, Harper’s decision to speak first in French, instead of beginning in English and switching to French after his points were communicated, resulted in reinforcing for American voters the message that Canadian concerns simply don’t matter.

***

You can follow me on Twitter: @luizachsavage


 
Filed under:

Stephen Harper: speaking to Americans in French

  1. We get it Macleans, you hate Quebec.

  2. Er,

    I think the point was a good one. Ms. Savage is merely pointing out that in speaking to a Quebec audience, Harper lost his American audience.

  3. Er,

    I think the point was a good one. Ms. Savage is merely pointing out that in speaking to a Quebec audience, Harper lost his American audience.

  4. I can't remember – did Chrétien speak French first in similar situations?

  5. I can't remember – did Chrétien speak French first in similar situations?

    • Nope. I'm pretty sure Harper's the first who's ever spoken French first outside of French communities. He's made a bit of a point of it in recent years. As an English only speaker, I find it mildly annoying personally, but I understand what he's trying to do. And I can't imagine that Francophones don't take notice either. I don't see it winning him any votes, but I think it goes a long way in dispelling the slander that Harper is "anti-French".

  6. Hu Jintao spoke in Chinese and they simply translated.

    In spite of knowing Canadians often speak French, no translators were available.

    All they wanted to know about was Egypt anyway, from Obama

  7. Hu Jintao spoke in Chinese and they simply translated.

    In spite of knowing Canadians often speak French, no translators were available.

    All they wanted to know about was Egypt anyway, from Obama

    • you mean Rush Limbaughs Ching Chong Ding Dong translation?

    • "In spite of knowing Canadians often speak French"… 85% of Canadians do not speak, nor do they understand French… it would be more appropriate to say… "In spite of knowing Canadians spend 100's of billions of dollars to prop up racist, asymmetrical, imposed, French language laws, upon a historically English speaking nation".

    • Hu Jintao doesn't speak English. Harper can, and should speak English in the US. The Americans were probably saying WTF to themselves. Other than the French networks, who should have provided the French translation, fewer than 15% of English Canadians speak French nor do they want to. Why would they, it is irrelevant anywhere other than Quebec.

  8. And some people think that Harper is a smart PM!!!.
    Everytime he is outside the country he does the wrong thing. On second thought, he does the wrong thing inside also.

  9. And some people think that Harper is a smart PM!!!.
    Everytime he is outside the country he does the wrong thing. On second thought, he does the wrong thing inside also.

    • Cute.

      Consider my parallel universe, in which Harper chose to only speak English at this press conference. Now, I will go out on a limb and predict that the reaction of you and those like you to the ensuing Macleans story about Harper's refusal to speak for Canada's french population abroad would be something like this:

      "And some people think that Harper is a smart PM!!!.
      Everytime he is outside the country he does the wrong thing. On second thought, he does the wrong thing inside also."

      Cute indeed.

    • Not quite true. When he went to China, I remember lauding him for his response to the mild rebuke handed him by the Chinese minister.

      Which actually makes this all the more disappointing, because he is capable of doing a decent job.

      I guess they must be getting worse polling numbers from Quebec than we knew.

  10. Blablabla… anti-francophone.
    Blablabla… francophone bashing.

    I agree with Emily. Hu Jintao spoke in Chinese and they simply translated. In spite of knowing Canadians often speak French, no translators were available.

    It's just Canada anyway. They don't give a ******.

  11. Blablabla… anti-francophone.
    Blablabla… francophone bashing.

    I agree with Emily. Hu Jintao spoke in Chinese and they simply translated. In spite of knowing Canadians often speak French, no translators were available.

    It's just Canada anyway. They don't give a ******.

    • ….or else they were prepared to translate Hu Jintao because his native language is Chinese/Mandarin whereas Harper's native language is English.
      Whether or not Harper cared if he was translated, or if he assumed that he would be translated, is another question altogether.

      • The WH often has foreign leaders show up….THEY know about translators.

        And Harp has been on the presser floor before, and American TV…..HE knows he'll lose his audience speaking French.

        Steve is being strange again.

    • Nothing anti-francophone about it. Harper was addresing Americans. English is the official language, and the language most used, in the US. It's also Harper's native language, so the press weren't likely to think "let's get a translator on standby".

      In polite society, it's considered rude to deliberately speak in a language that your host doesn't understand, if you are capable of speaking their language.

      If Harper wanted to directly reach non-English-speaking Americans, he'd have been better off speaking Spanish. If he wanted to talk directly to francophone Canadians, he should have, out of politeness to his hosts, at least done so second – or held a separate news conference after.

      • And of course Canucks should not expect the leader of their country to their language in addressing a foreign country, that would be asking too munch!!! The Americans do not respect Canadians so why should they respect the Canucks? BTW the USA has no official language.

        • Harper has the ability to speak the language they understand best.

          Whether they respect us or not is irrelevant, hopefully we can aspire to better standards than "But moooommm! They did it first!"

          To not speak their language is not only somewhat rude, it's pointless. There are things that Canada could very much use the American public onside to help us with. To squander an opportunity to possibly gain some of that support is idiotic, and speaks to Harper's priorities, which obviously boil down as thus:

          1. Keep Harper in power.
          2. Keep Liberals out of power.
          3. If it doesn't conflict with 1 or 2, help Canada.

          • You are, of course, overlooking the fact that every head of state speaks in the language of their national government when abroad. They do that because they represent their people. And if you think Canada includes Quebec, then what Harper did is the right thing.

            Applying evening party etiquette to the meeting of leaders of countries is not indicative of good sense.

          • Canada includes Quebec, but Canada is not solely Quebec. More than 75% of Canadians choose English as their official language of choice. Most of us, in a situation like this where the host speaks English and the majority of the citizens Harper represents speak English, see the French-first choice as rude; as pandering; as a strange time to let the tail wag the dog.

          • I'm not overlooking that fact at all. In fact, it was in my first sentence. Perhaps you should try thinking rather than simply regurgitating.

          • French Canada is not just Quebec, it includes the over one million francophones that are outside Quebec. Of source is you a separatist you want to obliviate that one million………

  12. The argument against opening in French only works if you believe that the point of the visit, and Harper's remarks, were primarily intended for an American audience, i.e., to have them pay attention to us on border issues.

    The practical truth, though, is that Canadian PMs, going back to well before this one, generally take the opportunity of international appearances to deliver domestic messages, knowing full well that the opportunity to generate any significant coverage in media of the host country is pretty limited. Put simply, Harper wasn't trying to get on CNN; he was trying to get on RDI, CBC News Network, at CTV News Channel.

  13. The argument against opening in French only works if you believe that the point of the visit, and Harper's remarks, were primarily intended for an American audience, i.e., to have them pay attention to us on border issues.

    The practical truth, though, is that Canadian PMs, going back to well before this one, generally take the opportunity of international appearances to deliver domestic messages, knowing full well that the opportunity to generate any significant coverage in media of the host country is pretty limited. Put simply, Harper wasn't trying to get on CNN; he was trying to get on RDI, CBC News Network, at CTV News Channel.

    • Still, had he spoken English first, then repeated in French, he would have at least had a shot at getting American air time. Take note of Obama's comments; while he joked about it, the jokes were a polite message: "What the **** was THAT, dumba$$?"

      As I noted in another comment, in polite society, it's considered rude to deliberately speak in a language that your host doesn't understand, if you are capable of speaking their language. And it's a guaranteed way to lose American press attention, as most are institutionally ADD.

      • Completely agree, But as someone else pointed out, that would have made no difference. Truth is Presidential press conferences st yjr ùWhite House with Canadian prime ministers are never televised in the us. That was an exception only because of the Egypt situation. Nevertheless, that was really wrong thing to do. Tje irony is that most of the time, Radio_Canada does not cover this type of event so the answers in French are only usefull to the on site canadian french press reporters, I wish that bilingualism be applied in Canada where it really matter (e.g. Opening Ceremony at the Vancouver Olympics) instead of making a show in Washington that irritate the US Press. (I watched the event on NBC and the anchor was extremely frustrated, repeating "in French eh!, ..in French" to their Washington bureau chief

      • Leaders of countries always speak in the language of their country when abroad. They do that because they represent the people of their country. Unless Canada does not include Quebec, what Harper did was the correct thing to do.

        Applying the etiquette of evening parties to the meeting of leaders does not make any sense at all. Apples and oranges.

  14. This has been a criticism I have had with the government since it was elected. The PM prefers to inform the Canadian population of an event etc by speaking in the language of a minority language group. The fact remains only 23% of Canadians speak French (if that) and it is really an insult to the majority that they need to listen to their PM speak in a language other than the majority when he first begins to speak.

    He lost his opportunity to get his message out to the American people who will need to accept any new deal that is negotiating.

    This is not anti Quebec. It is simply stating the reality of the situation. Canada is not a bilingual country. Only in the eyes of the politicians and their propagandists who try to convince Canadians different of the current realities.

  15. This has been a criticism I have had with the government since it was elected. The PM prefers to inform the Canadian population of an event etc by speaking in the language of a minority language group. The fact remains only 23% of Canadians speak French (if that) and it is really an insult to the majority that they need to listen to their PM speak in a language other than the majority when he first begins to speak.

    He lost his opportunity to get his message out to the American people who will need to accept any new deal that is negotiating.

    This is not anti Quebec. It is simply stating the reality of the situation. Canada is not a bilingual country. Only in the eyes of the politicians and their propagandists who try to convince Canadians different of the current realities.

    • Minority language group?
      Canada is bilingual,
      check your cereal box if you need an illustration of that fact.
      BTW, far from insulted, I very much enjoy listening to PMSH speak in French.

      And as far as the American people accepting this deal,
      Canada is the US's largest export market, bigger than China, bigger than the EU countries combined.

      So if Obama wants to double US exports as the main component of his job creation agenda,
      HE better sell to his people that yah start with your largest market,
      and that would be Canada.

      • Yes, Wilson but remember Canada exports much more to the US than it buys back so really the deal is the most important to Canada.

    • Hey hollinm, I am sure that I have missed more than a few of your posts, however:
      Is that not the most searing criticism you have ever raised against our PM?

      • Oh I have a lot of criticism for the Conservative government. However, there is enough bashing on this sight so there is no need to pile on. I prefer to deal with my MP directly. He knows full well the issues that I have about the party and the government.

        However, to agree with you guys would just add to your comfort level and I am not going to do that. I prefer reading all of you wallowing in your own misery as you incessantly attack the PM who is a perfect gentleman.

        • "I prefer reading all of you wallowing in your own misery"..

          ..well.. regardless of what kind of man the PM is, you've certainly exposed what kind you are here.

  16. ''…So Harper's visit on Friday was the one chance for a long time to come to reset the discussion on the border…''

    Dear MSM,
    it is not the job of the Prime Minister of Canada to sell this Cdn-US border integration agreement to the Americans.
    That is the job of the Obama administration,
    the other signator on the agreement.

    ''….The feeling in the room, too, was one of awkwardness as the assembled U.S. media sat and waited for something to write about….''

    Oh b.s.,
    it gave the US media time to click away on their blackberry's about what Obama said about Egypt.
    Which, if you listened very closely to Obama and Clinton now, sounded almost word for word the stand PMSH has taken all along.

    Time to face it MSM,
    Harper and Obama have struck a friendship that Ignatieff's
    'people in high places in the Obama administration'
    will not be able to knock down.

  17. ''…So Harper's visit on Friday was the one chance for a long time to come to reset the discussion on the border…''

    Dear MSM,
    it is not the job of the Prime Minister of Canada to sell this Cdn-US border integration agreement to the Americans.
    That is the job of the Obama administration,
    the other signator on the agreement.

    ''….The feeling in the room, too, was one of awkwardness as the assembled U.S. media sat and waited for something to write about….''

    Oh b.s.,
    it gave the US media time to click away on their blackberry's about what Obama said about Egypt.
    Which, if you listened very closely to Obama and Clinton now, sounded almost word for word the stand PMSH has taken all along.

    Time to face it MSM,
    Harper and Obama have struck a friendship that Ignatieff's
    'people in high places in the Obama administration'
    will not be able to knock down.

    • You are right, about the friendship, they are friends!

  18. Harper had a golden opportunity to tell Americans….who had to hang around to hear Obama on Egypt….that we are not sending tons of terrorists into their country in spite of what they've heard.

    He could have cleared up that damaging myth in moments, and been seen as a personable reasonable person to boot.

    But he blew it completely

  19. Harper had a golden opportunity to tell Americans….who had to hang around to hear Obama on Egypt….that we are not sending tons of terrorists into their country in spite of what they've heard.

    He could have cleared up that damaging myth in moments, and been seen as a personable reasonable person to boot.

    But he blew it completely

    • 'He could have cleared up that damaging myth in moments'…….
      well that's quite the vote of confidence in PMSH,
      seeing as neither Chretien/Martin nor any ambassador to US/Cda have been able to clear up the myth, and they have all tried.

      Chretien declared that 'Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with the Americans in the fight against terrorism',
      Martin reassigned our brave troops to the 'killing fields' (as Chretien called it) in Afghanistan, as Canadian support against terrorism…… but that didn't work, eh

    • Wow, that's a lot of confidence you have in PMSHs ability to do what no person before him has been able to do,
      and not for the lack of trying.

      Though you are on the right track, if anyone can do it, it will be Prime Minister Harper.

      • Any PM with that platform could have done it….no one else has tried because the myth is recent.

        Harper with that platform….blew it.

        • Yes, that myth is so recent…..hmm since the "millenium bomber" and 9/11….that recent!

          • Yes, and a minor incident to do with the so-called 'millennium bomber' long before 911…which has since grown into a huge myth…. could have been stopped in it's tracks given that platform, and that particular agreement.

            Harp didn't do so….he didn't even try.

          • Emily, if everyone of those people who believe that myth are even a fraction as stubborn as you are – one speech by a foreign leader is not going to do "jack" to change their minds….. you can try over and over to convince people they imagined the danger or you can take action to show them you are making things safer. Think of yourself, Emily…how do you respond to people telling you that you are wrong and you imagined the problem.

          • Well let's just give up then eh?

            Seems to be your response to everything.

      • ha, first post took so long to go up, thought I didn't submit…?

    • Americans know terrorists aren't coming into the USA from Canada. The only American who doesn't know that is named Napolitano.

  20. ….or else they were prepared to translate Hu Jintao because his native language is Chinese/Mandarin whereas Harper's native language is English.
    Whether or not Harper cared if he was translated, or if he assumed that he would be translated, is another question altogether.

  21. Minority language group?
    Canada is bilingual,
    check your cereal box if you need an illustration of that fact.
    BTW, far from insulted, I very much enjoy listening to PMSH speak in French.

    And as far as the American people accepting this deal,
    Canada is the US's largest export market, bigger than China, bigger than the EU countries combined.

    So if Obama wants to double US exports as the main component of his job creation agenda,
    HE better sell to his people that yah start with your largest market,
    and that would be Canada.

  22. The WH often has foreign leaders show up….THEY know about translators.

    And Harp has been on the presser floor before, and American TV…..HE knows he'll lose his audience speaking French.

    Steve is being strange again.

  23. 'He could have cleared up that damaging myth in moments'…….
    well that's quite the vote of confidence in PMSH,
    seeing as neither Chretien/Martin nor any ambassador to US/Cda have been able to clear up the myth, and they have all tried.

    Chretien declared that 'Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with the Americans in the fight against terrorism',
    Martin reassigned our brave troops to the 'killing fields' (as Chretien called it) in Afghanistan, as Canadian support against terrorism…… but that didn't work, eh

  24. The Americans will start listening to Canada when the price of oil once again hists $150 per barrel.

    Then, they'll be all ears.

  25. The Americans will start listening to Canada when the price of oil once again hists $150 per barrel.

    Then, they'll be all ears.

      • Emily……the folks in texas aren't worried about CO2,

        They're worried about losing their jobs.

        • Denial…river in Egypt…etc.

    • The Americans can play hard ball way better than Harper on any day of the week. The whole reason the USA wants this perimeter security agreement, is so they can bully their way into our resources at below market price using security as the excuse. Combinesd with NAFTA it will give them unrestricted access to whatever they want. Harper knows this, but chose not to make that point since would prefer to speak in French because it might get him an additional seat in Quebec improving his chance at hanging onto power.

  26. Wow, that's a lot of confidence you have in PMSHs ability to do what no person before him has been able to do,
    and not for the lack of trying.

    Though you are on the right track, if anyone can do it, it will be Prime Minister Harper.

  27. Any PM with that platform could have done it….no one else has tried because the myth is recent.

    Harper with that platform….blew it.

  28. ha, first post took so long to go up, thought I didn't submit…?

  29. Yes, Wilson but remember Canada exports much more to the US than it buys back so really the deal is the most important to Canada.

  30. Harper's always-speak-French-first practice is a non-sense. The reason we have two official languages is for the government to serve the citizen in the official language he chooses, not for the prime minister to adopt some doctrinarian silly practice.

    I can't imagine a French-speaking prime minister of Canada who would insist on speaking English first no matter the circumstances, doing this in Paris. It's ridiculous. Mais c'est du Harper tout craché.

  31. Yes, that myth is so recent…..hmm since the "millenium bomber" and 9/11….that recent!

  32. Harper's always-speak-French-first practice is a non-sense. The reason we have two official languages is for the government to serve the citizen in the official language he chooses, not for the prime minister to adopt some doctrinarian silly practice.

    I can't imagine a French-speaking prime minister of Canada who would insist on speaking English first no matter the circumstances, doing this in Paris. It's ridiculous. Mais c'est du Harper tout craché.

    • In an article about John Furlong and his Olympic address, I read that Stephen Harper speaks French at the beginning of speeches because it's easier for him to speak his second language at the beginning, rather than transitioning into it mid-speech. Makes sense to me, get the hard stuff out of the way first.

      • In 2006 in La Presse Stephen Harper declared that he speaks French first because it is the 'founding' language of Canada («langue fondatrice du Canada»)

        .
        http://www.cyberpresse.ca/actualites/quebec-canad

        His communication directeor Dimitri Soudas said this weekend that Harper always speaks French first, and will always do so, no matter what the circumstances.

        I still think it's silly. You speak a language to communicate with someone, no to prove a historical point.

        • Well yeah, of course there's some 'official' reason like that. But doesn't that just sound like BS to everyone? Is there anyone who buys that?

          I'd much more believe that a guy who isn't too comfortable speaking French does it first to get it out of the way. I don't blame him for it either. I'd do the same thing.

          • Oh come on! Mr. Harper is comfortable enough speaking French to hold his own, and very well, in televised political debates. It's not at all uncomfortable for him to speak French. He's been doing it for years, without text, and very well, in the HoC, in debates, with colleagues, with the French press here… He has himself stated that he does this, and will always do this no matter the circumstances, because French is the 'founding' language of Canada (langue fondatrice), and as long as he and his reps continue to state so, I'm willing to believe them.

          • I don't buy the "founding language" bit at all – it's a deliberate sop to appease the quebecois, but I argue its historical accuracy. North America was discovered by an Italian on behalf of an English king, and English fishermen were fishing from Nfld shortly thereafter. (As were French, Basque, Spanish and Portuguese.) English colonies were established in Nfld around the same time as those in New France.

            Of course, all that Eurocentric "who-got-here-first" ignores all the aboriginal peoples… and the Norse…

            I'll grant French status as "A" founding language, but calling it THE founding laguage is pure political BS.

    • I agree. Harper does not understand the problems he creates with the base when he does French first. There are many not too happy with him when he does this. Who does Harper think he is speaking to? The majority of people watching the press conference speak English (even those who are bilingual). For him to fully capitalize on the infrequent opportunities when he does address the Canadian people he is making a huge mistake.

  33. Harper rarely, if ever, does something by accident – especially in the area of communications. That's not to say he doesn't make mistakes, but those arise from miscalculations and not impromptu actions. If he spoke French it was for a reason. I'm not sure what that reason was, but make no mistake he knew what he was doing and there was a purpose to the use of French at that time and place.

  34. Harper rarely, if ever, does something by accident – especially in the area of communications. That's not to say he doesn't make mistakes, but those arise from miscalculations and not impromptu actions. If he spoke French it was for a reason. I'm not sure what that reason was, but make no mistake he knew what he was doing and there was a purpose to the use of French at that time and place.

    • No Ryan, Harper adopted this practice in 2006, because French was the first language of Canada, he explained. It's silly. I speak three languages and I choose one language over the other based on who I speak with – if I'm in Spain I'll use Spanish.

      • Can you imagine the reaction of Americans if Barack Obama//George Bush stood up and spoke Spanish first. The country would go into a revolution. In fact I don't think Obama can speak Spanish but George Bush sure can.

        • They should be open to Obama or Bush speaking Spanish to a crowd of Spanish-speaking Americains.

          But I think it would be silly if Obama spoke Spanish first in a press conference at Whitehall with Cameron at his side. I would just find it silly, and so would the rest of the world.

          • I agree fully.

        • I don't think Obama speaks Spanish, but W did. I've heard Bush speak Spanish in three states to Hispanic audiences. No revolution and…truth be told…not much news coverage either.

    • Ryan, I agree entirely. Harper's government has dedicated more resources to manipulating and manufacturing the message than any Canadian government in history. Harper knew what he was doing and he did it deliberately. He doesn't care about sending a message to US citizens. He wants the draconian security plan that will reduce Canadian sovereignty and he doesn't want to make waves with the US public that might result in questions. Besides, to hang onto power he needs more seats in Quebec; even one would justify this insult to Obama as far as Harper is concerned.

  35. No Ryan, Harper adopted this practice in 2006, because French was the first language of Canada, he explained. It's silly. I speak three languages and I choose one language over the other based on who I speak with – if I'm in Spain I'll use Spanish.

  36. Yes, and a minor incident to do with the so-called 'millennium bomber' long before 911…which has since grown into a huge myth…. could have been stopped in it's tracks given that platform, and that particular agreement.

    Harp didn't do so….he didn't even try.

  37. Emily, if everyone of those people who believe that myth are even a fraction as stubborn as you are – one speech by a foreign leader is not going to do "jack" to change their minds….. you can try over and over to convince people they imagined the danger or you can take action to show them you are making things safer. Think of yourself, Emily…how do you respond to people telling you that you are wrong and you imagined the problem.

  38. Being invisible to the American public is not a bad thing. It means that American public opinion is not a significant obstacle to mutually beneficial agreements in the way that it is for say, Mexico-US border issues.

    It also allows us to focus more resources on a given issue than the Americans. For instance, during the free trade negotiations of 1988, Canada's best were at the negotiating table. The Americans did not, having a lot on their plates at the time. The result was an agreement that was much closer to the Canadian negotiating position (ie. one that included a binding arbitration panel).

  39. Being invisible to the American public is not a bad thing. It means that American public opinion is not a significant obstacle to mutually beneficial agreements in the way that it is for say, Mexico-US border issues.

    It also allows us to focus more resources on a given issue than the Americans. For instance, during the free trade negotiations of 1988, Canada's best were at the negotiating table. The Americans did not, having a lot on their plates at the time. The result was an agreement that was much closer to the Canadian negotiating position (ie. one that included a binding arbitration panel).

    • "…one that included a binding arbitration panel" – that Americans choose to ignore whenever it's convenient.

    • This is rubbish. The binding arbitration panel made a whole series of judgements in Canada's favour over the softwood lumber trade and the USA just ignored it. The NAFTA agreement waws a complete failure for Canada; the US needs our resrouces and they will use every bilateral agreement to get them

      Harper's government has dedicated more resources to manipulating and manufacturing the message than any Canadian government in history. Harper knew what he was doing and he did it deliberately. He doesn't care about sending a message to US citizens. He wants the draconian security plan that will reduce Canadian sovereignty and he doesn't want to make waves with the US public that might result in questions. Besides, to hang onto power he needs more seats in Quebec; even one would justify this insult to Obama as far as Harper is concerned.

      • Whatever the merits of the arbitration panel, it was something that the Canadian government of the time wanted and the American didn't. You are making the argument that Canada should have pushed for something else in CUSFTA/NAFTA negotiations, not one that being invisible is bad.

        And secondly, why, exactly, is it in Canada's interest to have this issue widely debated by the American public, given that American elites have preferences that are far closer to Canada's than does the American public?

        (and yes Harper's motives are political, but in this case border harmonization is also good policy)

      • Pretty much everything you say is correct, except "NAFTA was a complete failure for Canada." It's actually be remarkably successful for us. Are there problems with blatant bald-faced American hypocrisy and flouting of rules? Yes, absolutely. But a complete failure? No.

        • It is pretty easy to make the case that the increase in trade with the USA that came after NAFTA was not a result of NAFTA, but was a result of good global economic times and would have occured without NAFTA. On the other hand the negative impacts are a result of NAFTA and a similar mistake should not be repeated by signing a perimeter security agreement.

    • Then why has Harper spent taxpayers' money to hire Ari Fleischer and have him schedule interviews of Harper on Fox network?

      It's a lot more simple than that, and Harper has explained it clearly: he always starts his speeches in French because French is the 'founding' language of Canada. I remember he first spoke in French when he was in Australia too.

      • I never said it was part of a plan by Harper. I merely suggest that being invisible to the US is not bad.

  40. Hey hollinm, I am sure that I have missed more than a few of your posts, however:
    Is that not the most searing criticism you have ever raised against our PM?

  41. Well let's just give up then eh?

    Seems to be your response to everything.

  42. Emily……the folks in texas aren't worried about CO2,

    They're worried about losing their jobs.

  43. Denial…river in Egypt…etc.

  44. Agreed Hoosier– he purposely did it so Americans would tune out. We like to complain that the US ignores us, except when they pay attention to us and suddenly it's too bright a spotlight. The PM probably figured that the less the American public pays attention to any kind of closer cooperation with Canada on border issues, the better.

  45. Agreed Hoosier– he purposely did it so Americans would tune out. We like to complain that the US ignores us, except when they pay attention to us and suddenly it's too bright a spotlight. The PM probably figured that the less the American public pays attention to any kind of closer cooperation with Canada on border issues, the better.

    • I didn't say he did it on purpose. However, it does have positive effects.

  46. In an article about John Furlong and his Olympic address, I read that Stephen Harper speaks French at the beginning of speeches because it's easier for him to speak his second language at the beginning, rather than transitioning into it mid-speech. Makes sense to me, get the hard stuff out of the way first.

  47. Oh I have a lot of criticism for the Conservative government. However, there is enough bashing on this sight so there is no need to pile on. I prefer to deal with my MP directly. He knows full well the issues that I have about the party and the government.

    However, to agree with you guys would just add to your comfort level and I am not going to do that. I prefer reading all of you wallowing in your own misery as you incessantly attack the PM who is a perfect gentleman.

  48. Can you imagine the reaction of Americans if Barack Obama//George Bush stood up and spoke Spanish first. The country would go into a revolution. In fact I don't think Obama can speak Spanish but George Bush sure can.

  49. Nothing anti-francophone about it. Harper was addresing Americans. English is the official language, and the language most used, in the US. It's also Harper's native language, so the press weren't likely to think "let's get a translator on standby".

    In polite society, it's considered rude to deliberately speak in a language that your host doesn't understand, if you are capable of speaking their language.

    If Harper wanted to directly reach non-English-speaking Americans, he'd have been better off speaking Spanish. If he wanted to talk directly to francophone Canadians, he should have, out of politeness to his hosts, at least done so second – or held a separate news conference after.

  50. The hyperbole of Luiza Ch. Savage’s lengthy rant has thankfully been softened greatly with the level-headed comments in the comment thread.

    I can’t remember the last time I agreed so strongly with so many commenters, and disagreed so strongly with the author/journalist.

  51. The hyperbole of Luiza Ch. Savage’s lengthy rant has thankfully been softened greatly with the level-headed comments in the comment thread.

    I can’t remember the last time I agreed so strongly with so many commenters, and disagreed so strongly with the author/journalist.

  52. Still, had he spoken English first, then repeated in French, he would have at least had a shot at getting American air time. Take note of Obama's comments; while he joked about it, the jokes were a polite message: "What the **** was THAT, dumba$$?"

    As I noted in another comment, in polite society, it's considered rude to deliberately speak in a language that your host doesn't understand, if you are capable of speaking their language. And it's a guaranteed way to lose American press attention, as most are institutionally ADD.

  53. I agree. Harper does not understand the problems he creates with the base when he does French first. There are many not too happy with him when he does this. Who does Harper think he is speaking to? The majority of people watching the press conference speak English (even those who are bilingual). For him to fully capitalize on the infrequent opportunities when he does address the Canadian people he is making a huge mistake.

  54. And just how many French Speaking Canadians were tuned in to English CNN anyway?

  55. In 2006 in La Presse Stephen Harper declared that he speaks French first because it is the 'founding' language of Canada («langue fondatrice du Canada»)

    .
    http://www.cyberpresse.ca/actualites/quebec-canad

    His communication directeor Dimitri Soudas said this weekend that Harper always speaks French first, and will always do so, no matter what the circumstances.

    I still think it's silly. You speak a language to communicate with someone, no to prove a historical point.

  56. And just how many French Speaking Canadians were tuned in to English CNN anyway?

    • If there was only a single voter in Quebec listening, that would make it worth it for Harper. He doesn't care whether or not the US citizens understand the border situation and the negative impact the perimeter security agreement might have on Canada. Hanging onto power is far more important. He will do anything to achieve this.

  57. They should be open to Obama or Bush speaking Spanish to a crowd of Spanish-speaking Americains.

    But I think it would be silly if Obama spoke Spanish first in a press conference at Whitehall with Cameron at his side. I would just find it silly, and so would the rest of the world.

  58. "…one that included a binding arbitration panel" – that Americans choose to ignore whenever it's convenient.

  59. I agree fully.

  60. The Americans can play hard ball way better than Harper on any day of the week. The whole reason the USA wants this perimeter security agreement, is so they can bully their way into our resources at below market price using security as the excuse. Combinesd with NAFTA it will give them unrestricted access to whatever they want. Harper knows this, but chose not to make that point since would prefer to speak in French because it might get him an additional seat in Quebec improving his chance at hanging onto power.

  61. Well yeah, of course there's some 'official' reason like that. But doesn't that just sound like BS to everyone? Is there anyone who buys that?

    I'd much more believe that a guy who isn't too comfortable speaking French does it first to get it out of the way. I don't blame him for it either. I'd do the same thing.

  62. This is rubbish. The binding arbitration panel made a whole series of judgements in Canada's favour over the softwood lumber trade and the USA just ignored it. The NAFTA agreement waws a complete failure for Canada; the US needs our resrouces and they will use every bilateral agreement to get them

    Harper's government has dedicated more resources to manipulating and manufacturing the message than any Canadian government in history. Harper knew what he was doing and he did it deliberately. He doesn't care about sending a message to US citizens. He wants the draconian security plan that will reduce Canadian sovereignty and he doesn't want to make waves with the US public that might result in questions. Besides, to hang onto power he needs more seats in Quebec; even one would justify this insult to Obama as far as Harper is concerned.

  63. Ryan, I agree entirely. Harper's government has dedicated more resources to manipulating and manufacturing the message than any Canadian government in history. Harper knew what he was doing and he did it deliberately. He doesn't care about sending a message to US citizens. He wants the draconian security plan that will reduce Canadian sovereignty and he doesn't want to make waves with the US public that might result in questions. Besides, to hang onto power he needs more seats in Quebec; even one would justify this insult to Obama as far as Harper is concerned.

  64. If there was only a single voter in Quebec listening, that would make it worth it for Harper. He doesn't care whether or not the US citizens understand the border situation and the negative impact the perimeter security agreement might have on Canada. Hanging onto power is far more important. He will do anything to achieve this.

  65. Cute.

    Consider my parallel universe, in which Harper chose to only speak English at this press conference. Now, I will go out on a limb and predict that the reaction of you and those like you to the ensuing Macleans story about Harper's refusal to speak for Canada's french population abroad would be something like this:

    "And some people think that Harper is a smart PM!!!.
    Everytime he is outside the country he does the wrong thing. On second thought, he does the wrong thing inside also."

    Cute indeed.

  66. Oh come on! Mr. Harper is comfortable enough speaking French to hold his own, and very well, in televised political debates. It's not at all uncomfortable for him to speak French. He's been doing it for years, without text, and very well, in the HoC, in debates, with colleagues, with the French press here… He has himself stated that he does this, and will always do this no matter the circumstances, because French is the 'founding' language of Canada (langue fondatrice), and as long as he and his reps continue to state so, I'm willing to believe them.

  67. As soon as he replied in French,my solution was to switch to another channel ( and i understand French).

  68. As soon as he replied in French,my solution was to switch to another channel ( and i understand French).

  69. "I prefer reading all of you wallowing in your own misery"..

    ..well.. regardless of what kind of man the PM is, you've certainly exposed what kind you are here.

  70. "Canada is not a bilingual country." –> It would be in a better shape if people like you were proud of this dual heritage instead of bashing it… But no, wait… In your mind, speaking Spanish is probably useless too? What about Chinese if you leave in B.C? Probably not important either for you…

  71. Then why has Harper spent taxpayers' money to hire Ari Fleischer and have him schedule interviews of Harper on Fox network?

    It's a lot more simple than that, and Harper has explained it clearly: he always starts his speeches in French because French is the 'founding' language of Canada. I remember he first spoke in French when he was in Australia too.

  72. Maybe dual heritage but not dual language. Canada whether you like it or not is predominately an English speaking country. The politicians and the elites can try to convince the majority of us otherwise but it falls on deaf ears.

    If the country is bilingual then why does Quebec discriminate against the English minority? That's because they want to protect the French language. They do not consider Quebec to be officially bilingual and we both know it.

    I envy people who can speak more than one language. However, I do object to our government spending billions of all taxpayers' dollars trying to force something on to the majority of the population that is not to be. No matter how much money is spent or how discriminatory government policy is it will not change the fact that Canada is an English speaking country.

    Individuals and business will adjust if there is a need to be able to speak another language but governments cannot do it through edicts.

  73. Maybe dual heritage but not dual language. Canada whether you like it or not is predominately an English speaking country. The politicians and the elites can try to convince the majority of us otherwise but it falls on deaf ears.

    If the country is bilingual then why does Quebec discriminate against the English minority? That's because they want to protect the French language. They do not consider Quebec to be officially bilingual and we both know it.

    I envy people who can speak more than one language. However, I do object to our government spending billions of all taxpayers' dollars trying to force something on to the majority of the population that is not to be. No matter how much money is spent or how discriminatory government policy is it will not change the fact that Canada is an English speaking country.

    Individuals and business will adjust if there is a need to be able to speak another language but governments cannot do it through edicts.

    • Canada is also a democracy, meaning you can't simply ignore 25% of the population.

      • I should elaborate:

        I agree that sending on languages can seem excessive and a lot of the time it is because government policies when it comes to languages aren't really well thought out, but that's a problem of the policies, not because of the language.
        Fact of the matter is that a quarter of the population speaks French, and while some misguided individuals might think that it's negligeable, it isn't.

      • Nobody is asking anybody to ignore 25% of the population. I can turn it around and suggest why does the 25% choose to ignore 75% of the country.

        What I am suggesting is that the PM of the country should speak primarily in the language of the majority of the population. If he wants to be the Premier of Quebec and speak French then perhaps he should run for the Quebec Assembly. Mr. Duceppe does not see any need to be bilingual in the House of Commons when he addresses an English only speaking MP. After all the country is said to be officially bilingual and individuals should be entitled to be spoken to in the language of their choice right?

        It is insulting and gives an impression to outsiders that the country is predominately French. Opening each press conference and speech in French is asking too much of the 75% who are entitled to hear the leader of their country giving priority to the language spoken by the majority of the population.

    • Quebec discriminating on English? Give us a break and go learn the truth. Quebec' anglos have services in English over all the territory while in Canada, it's only where ''the number justifies it''. Go read some history before insulting Quebecers please.

      • Insulting Quebecers? When will Quebecers quit insulting the rest of Canada by trying to extort $5 billion from the public treasury. When will Quebec stop taking equalization from the rest of Canada? The second largest province in the country in perpetual have not status? Give me a break.
        No discrimination against the English minority? What about the language police running around making sure that French signs are bigger than English. What about citizens who want to send their children to English language schools but are denied? What about the bilingualism laws that require federal civil servants to be bilingual thus discriminating against the English speaking civil servants? What about Quebecers consistently voting for a Separatist party showing they have no interest in the governance of this great country but simply care about themselves. Lets not talk about insulting Quebecers. Lets talk about Quebecers insulting Canadians living in the rest of the country.

        • I am sure that you had a very hard life full of threats by francos… I pitty you.

          • Not at all. I am married to a French Canadian and she is even sick of the demands of Quebec. I see you did not deny any of the issues I raised but merely chose a lame reply.

    • So typical : one begins its speech with "Canada (…) is predominately an English speaking country" and then finishes it with " Canada is an English speaking country".

      Sends chills down my spine …

      • Your point is?

        • Of course you are exactly right hollinm. Canada is not, and has never been "bilingual". Yes, Pierre Trudeau imposed French as an "official language" and it has cost 100's of billions dollars and counting ever since. Canada is still not "bilingual" no matter how much money is extorted out of the taxpayer and no matter how many times politicians and other beneficiaries of forced Government "bilingualism" say so. Canada was declared, and forced French by Trudeau, but 85 % of the country does not speak French, and never will. Just because people say we're "bilingual" doesn't make it the reality.

          • You are absolutely right. If people want to voluntarily learn and speak French I have no problem with it.

            However, when our own federal government imposes discriminatory legislation on the civil service and the Separatist party with the help of the other opposition parties want to impose a bilingualism requirement on future Supreme Court judges we are on a simply slope. It is the tail wagging the dog.

            The broad majority of Quebecers will never agree to seperation because if they know the facts and are not spun they will see it is to their advantage to remain part of Canada. In the meantime they are quite prepared to have the Bloc extort money from the rest of the country.

            Now the PQ in Quebec is trying to force biligualism on small busnesses in Quebec where now it is forced on those with 50 employees or more.

  74. Truly a brilliant move by Harper this time and no doubt about it ! – look at all these comments 53 and it's only been up awhile – had harper spoken in Eglish primarily what would we have seen here – hmmm – let me see – more than likely the same tired old harper hating posts filled with Left wing nut anti-amercian paranoia and instead what do I see but but actual discussions about the nature of our bilingual country – Do my eyes deceive me? ! – personally I am blown away – hey Stevie boy if you or another of your minons like myself read this – well done and thumbs up me boy – keep up the good work and we can finish off the LPT and throw them under the bus faster than they threw their own Dion with Iggy holding his jacket :)

  75. Truly a brilliant move by Harper this time and no doubt about it ! – look at all these comments 53 and it's only been up awhile – had harper spoken in Eglish primarily what would we have seen here – hmmm – let me see – more than likely the same tired old harper hating posts filled with Left wing nut anti-amercian paranoia and instead what do I see but but actual discussions about the nature of our bilingual country – Do my eyes deceive me? ! – personally I am blown away – hey Stevie boy if you or another of your minons like myself read this – well done and thumbs up me boy – keep up the good work and we can finish off the LPT and throw them under the bus faster than they threw their own Dion with Iggy holding his jacket :)

    • Ah, but here's the thing: we're all talking about the language in which the message was delivered – not about the message itself. If Stevie deliberately wanted people – in both nations – to ignore the contents of his message, then he succeeded. If he actually had a point he wanted to make, then his speech was an abject failure, as practically no one (in the US or English Canada, anyway) heard the message.

      It's not hard to determine whether or not the message was received (it largely wasn't); the question is whether Stevie sees this as a success or a failure -. i.e. what was his real motive in putting Fench first?

    • First of all, for someone who prefers to be called "Stephen," I find it amusing that you think it's a term of endearment to continually for the last 5 years call him "Stevie Boy". Man crush, whatevs…

      Anyhow, he answered first in French and still you have the same number of "tired old Harper hating posts filled with blah blah blah," so clearly his play wasn't of any advantage in that respect anyhow. Also nice how instead of merely disagreeing with the direction of the country the Liberals might take Canada, that's not enough, you find it necessary to "throw them under the bus." Somebody's got Trudeau Derangement Syndrome! He hasn't been PM for 27 years, get over it.

  76. Canada is also a democracy, meaning you can't simply ignore 25% of the population.

  77. I find it very interesting that on this blog we never have any real dialogue about policies that the competing parties have. We only have personal attacks and insults towards the man who is PM of our country.

    Frankly it is monotonous reading some of the tirades and the frustrations that must be felt by those who participate in this blog. They see the opposition parties gaining little traction and they see their parties not offering much in the way of policy or leadership.

  78. Nope. I'm pretty sure Harper's the first who's ever spoken French first outside of French communities. He's made a bit of a point of it in recent years. As an English only speaker, I find it mildly annoying personally, but I understand what he's trying to do. And I can't imagine that Francophones don't take notice either. I don't see it winning him any votes, but I think it goes a long way in dispelling the slander that Harper is "anti-French".

  79. I should elaborate:

    I agree that sending on languages can seem excessive and a lot of the time it is because government policies when it comes to languages aren't really well thought out, but that's a problem of the policies, not because of the language.
    Fact of the matter is that a quarter of the population speaks French, and while some misguided individuals might think that it's negligeable, it isn't.

  80. Nobody is asking anybody to ignore 25% of the population. I can turn it around and suggest why does the 25% choose to ignore 75% of the country.

    What I am suggesting is that the PM of the country should speak primarily in the language of the majority of the population. If he wants to be the Premier of Quebec and speak French then perhaps he should run for the Quebec Assembly. Mr. Duceppe does not see any need to be bilingual in the House of Commons when he addresses an English only speaking MP. After all the country is said to be officially bilingual and individuals should be entitled to be spoken to in the language of their choice right?

    It is insulting and gives an impression to outsiders that the country is predominately French. Opening each press conference and speech in French is asking too much of the 75% who are entitled to hear the leader of their country giving priority to the language spoken by the majority of the population.

  81. I never said it was part of a plan by Harper. I merely suggest that being invisible to the US is not bad.

  82. Whatever the merits of the arbitration panel, it was something that the Canadian government of the time wanted and the American didn't. You are making the argument that Canada should have pushed for something else in CUSFTA/NAFTA negotiations, not one that being invisible is bad.

    And secondly, why, exactly, is it in Canada's interest to have this issue widely debated by the American public, given that American elites have preferences that are far closer to Canada's than does the American public?

    (and yes Harper's motives are political, but in this case border harmonization is also good policy)

  83. I didn't say he did it on purpose. However, it does have positive effects.

  84. Not quite true. When he went to China, I remember lauding him for his response to the mild rebuke handed him by the Chinese minister.

    Which actually makes this all the more disappointing, because he is capable of doing a decent job.

    I guess they must be getting worse polling numbers from Quebec than we knew.

  85. Americans know terrorists aren't coming into the USA from Canada. The only American who doesn't know that is named Napolitano.

  86. I don't think Obama speaks Spanish, but W did. I've heard Bush speak Spanish in three states to Hispanic audiences. No revolution and…truth be told…not much news coverage either.

  87. Quebec discriminating on English? Give us a break and go learn the truth. Quebec' anglos have services in English over all the territory while in Canada, it's only where ''the number justifies it''. Go read some history before insulting Quebecers please.

  88. I don't buy the "founding language" bit at all – it's a deliberate sop to appease the quebecois, but I argue its historical accuracy. North America was discovered by an Italian on behalf of an English king, and English fishermen were fishing from Nfld shortly thereafter. (As were French, Basque, Spanish and Portuguese.) English colonies were established in Nfld around the same time as those in New France.

    Of course, all that Eurocentric "who-got-here-first" ignores all the aboriginal peoples… and the Norse…

    I'll grant French status as "A" founding language, but calling it THE founding laguage is pure political BS.

  89. It is really great to see how much anglos like their french counterparts in this country. A sad story!

  90. Completely agree, But as someone else pointed out, that would have made no difference. Truth is Presidential press conferences st yjr ùWhite House with Canadian prime ministers are never televised in the us. That was an exception only because of the Egypt situation. Nevertheless, that was really wrong thing to do. Tje irony is that most of the time, Radio_Canada does not cover this type of event so the answers in French are only usefull to the on site canadian french press reporters, I wish that bilingualism be applied in Canada where it really matter (e.g. Opening Ceremony at the Vancouver Olympics) instead of making a show in Washington that irritate the US Press. (I watched the event on NBC and the anchor was extremely frustrated, repeating "in French eh!, ..in French" to their Washington bureau chief

  91. You are right, about the friendship, they are friends!

  92. Ah, but here's the thing: we're all talking about the language in which the message was delivered – not about the message itself. If Stevie deliberately wanted people – in both nations – to ignore the contents of his message, then he succeeded. If he actually had a point he wanted to make, then his speech was an abject failure, as practically no one (in the US or English Canada, anyway) heard the message.

    It's not hard to determine whether or not the message was received (it largely wasn't); the question is whether Stevie sees this as a success or a failure -. i.e. what was his real motive in putting Fench first?

  93. I don`t believe that anglos necessarily love their French counterparts. I, for one, cannot stand the French attitudes in Quebec. I think that this has more to do with anti-Canadian sentiment, that they can`t even televise the English part in America because we `blew it` with the French. We are a bilingual country, like it or not.

  94. I don`t believe that anglos necessarily love their French counterparts. I, for one, cannot stand the French attitudes in Quebec. I think that this has more to do with anti-Canadian sentiment, that they can`t even televise the English part in America because we `blew it` with the French. We are a bilingual country, like it or not.

  95. Pretty much everything you say is correct, except "NAFTA was a complete failure for Canada." It's actually be remarkably successful for us. Are there problems with blatant bald-faced American hypocrisy and flouting of rules? Yes, absolutely. But a complete failure? No.

  96. First of all, for someone who prefers to be called "Stephen," I find it amusing that you think it's a term of endearment to continually for the last 5 years call him "Stevie Boy". Man crush, whatevs…

    Anyhow, he answered first in French and still you have the same number of "tired old Harper hating posts filled with blah blah blah," so clearly his play wasn't of any advantage in that respect anyhow. Also nice how instead of merely disagreeing with the direction of the country the Liberals might take Canada, that's not enough, you find it necessary to "throw them under the bus." Somebody's got Trudeau Derangement Syndrome! He hasn't been PM for 27 years, get over it.

  97. you mean Rush Limbaughs Ching Chong Ding Dong translation?

  98. And of course Canucks should not expect the leader of their country to their language in addressing a foreign country, that would be asking too munch!!! The Americans do not respect Canadians so why should they respect the Canucks? BTW the USA has no official language.

  99. So typical : one begins its speech with "Canada (…) is predominately an English speaking country" and then finishes it with " Canada is an English speaking country".

    Sends chills down my spine …

  100. "In spite of knowing Canadians often speak French"… 85% of Canadians do not speak, nor do they understand French… it would be more appropriate to say… "In spite of knowing Canadians spend 100's of billions of dollars to prop up racist, asymmetrical, imposed, French language laws, upon a historically English speaking nation".

  101. Harper has the ability to speak the language they understand best.

    Whether they respect us or not is irrelevant, hopefully we can aspire to better standards than "But moooommm! They did it first!"

    To not speak their language is not only somewhat rude, it's pointless. There are things that Canada could very much use the American public onside to help us with. To squander an opportunity to possibly gain some of that support is idiotic, and speaks to Harper's priorities, which obviously boil down as thus:

    1. Keep Harper in power.
    2. Keep Liberals out of power.
    3. If it doesn't conflict with 1 or 2, help Canada.

  102. Insulting Quebecers? When will Quebecers quit insulting the rest of Canada by trying to extort $5 billion from the public treasury. When will Quebec stop taking equalization from the rest of Canada? The second largest province in the country in perpetual have not status? Give me a break.
    No discrimination against the English minority? What about the language police running around making sure that French signs are bigger than English. What about citizens who want to send their children to English language schools but are denied? What about the bilingualism laws that require federal civil servants to be bilingual thus discriminating against the English speaking civil servants? What about Quebecers consistently voting for a Separatist party showing they have no interest in the governance of this great country but simply care about themselves. Lets not talk about insulting Quebecers. Lets talk about Quebecers insulting Canadians living in the rest of the country.

  103. Your point is?

  104. Yes, like it or not French was imposed as an "Official language" on English speaking institutions in the 1970's, by Quebecer Pierre Trudeau, who also put forward the deliberate, and well known myth of "two founding nations". It is a well known fact, and is written about extensively by a young Trudeau, his desire to create revolution within the English speaking nation of Canada (British North America) and his personal desire to manufacture an exclusively French speaking State. Pierre Trudeau legislated through the powers of his "Languages Act" that the English speaking institutions of Canada would also be forced to speak French. While Quebec has legislated itself officially unilingual French, like it or not, Pierre Trudeau has legislated that the ROC is officially French/English, whether or not this imposed social engineering scheme is useful or indeed desired has never been, and never will be, of any concern, no matter what the cost. Like it or not, Pierre Trudeau's ideological, indoctrinated, political vision has been imposed on the ROC, and there is nothing anyone can do to change that.

  105. Yes, like it or not French was imposed as an "Official language" on English speaking institutions in the 1970's, by Quebecer Pierre Trudeau, who also put forward the deliberate, and well known myth of "two founding nations". It is a well known fact, and is written about extensively by a young Trudeau, his desire to create revolution within the English speaking nation of Canada (British North America) and his personal desire to manufacture an exclusively French speaking State. Pierre Trudeau legislated through the powers of his "Languages Act" that the English speaking institutions of Canada would also be forced to speak French. While Quebec has legislated itself officially unilingual French, like it or not, Pierre Trudeau has legislated that the ROC is officially French/English, whether or not this imposed social engineering scheme is useful or indeed desired has never been, and never will be, of any concern, no matter what the cost. Like it or not, Pierre Trudeau's ideological, indoctrinated, political vision has been imposed on the ROC, and there is nothing anyone can do to change that.

    • Still peddling that nonsense?

      • Still living in denial?

  106. You are, of course, overlooking the fact that every head of state speaks in the language of their national government when abroad. They do that because they represent their people. And if you think Canada includes Quebec, then what Harper did is the right thing.

    Applying evening party etiquette to the meeting of leaders of countries is not indicative of good sense.

  107. Leaders of countries always speak in the language of their country when abroad. They do that because they represent the people of their country. Unless Canada does not include Quebec, what Harper did was the correct thing to do.

    Applying the etiquette of evening parties to the meeting of leaders does not make any sense at all. Apples and oranges.

  108. Canada includes Quebec, but Canada is not solely Quebec. More than 75% of Canadians choose English as their official language of choice. Most of us, in a situation like this where the host speaks English and the majority of the citizens Harper represents speak English, see the French-first choice as rude; as pandering; as a strange time to let the tail wag the dog.

  109. It's not about how anglos like or dislike francophones; it's about our PM blowing a rare opportunity for press coverage in the US by pandering to the Canadian francophone population while simultaneously getting the US press to tune out.

  110. It's not about how anglos like or dislike francophones; it's about our PM blowing a rare opportunity for press coverage in the US by pandering to the Canadian francophone population while simultaneously getting the US press to tune out.

  111. This event has nothing to do with anti-French sentiments (while I'm not denying that anti-French sentiments exist). The fact is that despite the speaker being able to speak both languages, he chose the one his audience doesn't speak. The effect would be the same if he chose to speak in English when visiting say Paris (knowing that he's capable of speaking the other).

    The whole point of language is communication, no?

    Actually, English is not the only language I speak and had I posted this comment in say…actually I just might:

    tydii gzyro oiti mabuk!

  112. This event has nothing to do with anti-French sentiments (while I'm not denying that anti-French sentiments exist). The fact is that despite the speaker being able to speak both languages, he chose the one his audience doesn't speak. The effect would be the same if he chose to speak in English when visiting say Paris (knowing that he's capable of speaking the other).

    The whole point of language is communication, no?

    Actually, English is not the only language I speak and had I posted this comment in say…actually I just might:

    tydii gzyro oiti mabuk!

  113. Damn. He's the prime minister. He represents this country. So what if he spoke in French?

  114. Damn. He's the prime minister. He represents this country. So what if he spoke in French?

    • He was talking to the Americian press who speak and understand only English. I was watching this on CNN and was truly embarased to be a Canadian. The network cut him off and only came back when the President started to talk. A reporter who ask a question even stated he didn't understand french

  115. It is pretty easy to make the case that the increase in trade with the USA that came after NAFTA was not a result of NAFTA, but was a result of good global economic times and would have occured without NAFTA. On the other hand the negative impacts are a result of NAFTA and a similar mistake should not be repeated by signing a perimeter security agreement.

  116. I'm not overlooking that fact at all. In fact, it was in my first sentence. Perhaps you should try thinking rather than simply regurgitating.

  117. Still peddling that nonsense?

  118. So, are we allowed to discuss Gareth Llewellyn in polite company yet? His assertions and manuscript about CSIS and Harper working for CSIS are on internet sites around the world. It's like the rest of the world's news sites are laughing at us and we aren't allowed to know the joke. Sorry for my Faux Pas.

  119. So, are we allowed to discuss Gareth Llewellyn in polite company yet? His assertions and manuscript about CSIS and Harper working for CSIS are on internet sites around the world. It's like the rest of the world's news sites are laughing at us and we aren't allowed to know the joke. Sorry for my Faux Pas.

  120. Hu Jintao doesn't speak English. Harper can, and should speak English in the US. The Americans were probably saying WTF to themselves. Other than the French networks, who should have provided the French translation, fewer than 15% of English Canadians speak French nor do they want to. Why would they, it is irrelevant anywhere other than Quebec.

  121. Still living in denial?

  122. Well after voting Conservative for years after reading this I will not vote Conservative in the next election!

  123. Well after voting Conservative for years after reading this I will not vote Conservative in the next election!

    • What will you vote? Quebec liberal? Qubec Bloc?

  124. Stephen Harper is the PM and that position represents more than just the man – it is represented with numerous advisors and panels. The decision to speak first in French was devised – not spontaneously decided!

    Bernier's personal comments about forcing language as not necessary and undemocratic following Duceppe's visit. Duceppe was just over there making a noise about US trading with Quebec and having the States smooth relations between Quebec and Canada – coincidence?

    Only 2% of North America is French (and that doesn't mean can't understand English) but Harper went for that audience? Really!

    What is best for the Canadian dollar? What is best for Nationalism? Ignatief will be over there next month speaking Mandarin and Obama will be here this summer speaking Mexican.

    It is ludicrous to see the insanity (and its aftermath) of Duceppe playing out on an international stage. Harper posing to quell Bernier's statements against forced French language laws… Maybe the English should step up the game and threaten weakening the Canadian dollar?

  125. Stephen Harper is the PM and that position represents more than just the man – it is represented with numerous advisors and panels. The decision to speak first in French was devised – not spontaneously decided!

    Bernier's personal comments about forcing language as not necessary and undemocratic following Duceppe's visit. Duceppe was just over there making a noise about US trading with Quebec and having the States smooth relations between Quebec and Canada – coincidence?

    Only 2% of North America is French (and that doesn't mean can't understand English) but Harper went for that audience? Really!

    What is best for the Canadian dollar? What is best for Nationalism? Ignatief will be over there next month speaking Mandarin and Obama will be here this summer speaking Mexican.

    It is ludicrous to see the insanity (and its aftermath) of Duceppe playing out on an international stage. Harper posing to quell Bernier's statements against forced French language laws… Maybe the English should step up the game and threaten weakening the Canadian dollar?

  126. What will you vote? Quebec liberal? Qubec Bloc?

  127. I am sure that you had a very hard life full of threats by francos… I pitty you.

  128. Maybe our PM has a French mistress?

    One can't help but notice that cheshire cat grin he's been sporting lately.

  129. Maybe our PM has a French mistress?

    One can't help but notice that cheshire cat grin he's been sporting lately.

    • Maybe you have brain damage?

  130. Not at all. I am married to a French Canadian and she is even sick of the demands of Quebec. I see you did not deny any of the issues I raised but merely chose a lame reply.

  131. Maybe you have brain damage?

  132. Of course you are exactly right hollinm. Canada is not, and has never been "bilingual". Yes, Pierre Trudeau imposed French as an "official language" and it has cost 100's of billions dollars and counting ever since. Canada is still not "bilingual" no matter how much money is extorted out of the taxpayer and no matter how many times politicians and other beneficiaries of forced Government "bilingualism" say so. Canada was declared, and forced French by Trudeau, but 85 % of the country does not speak French, and never will. Just because people say we're "bilingual" doesn't make it the reality.

  133. It is really great to see how francophones respect the English speaking history of the former British Crown Colony of Quebec. A sad, distorted story of denial, and manufactured ignorance.

  134. It is really great to see how francophones respect the English speaking history of the former British Crown Colony of Quebec. A sad, distorted story of denial, and manufactured ignorance.

  135. French Canada is not just Quebec, it includes the over one million francophones that are outside Quebec. Of source is you a separatist you want to obliviate that one million………

  136. People need to stop getting confused with the French dominance in this country. 23% of the Canadian population is French, 90% of which live in Quebec. The only province that should be bilingual is Newfoundland. Go to any other province and everybody is speaking either English or some other language. Our country might be considered to be bilingual but it doesn't mean it truly is a bilingual country. 77% of the people here speak English.

    So why is it our government officials are forced to speak French when the large majority of Canadians are English? Because of Quebec? It's just a language and our officials should be able to speak in there native tongue without offending somebody else or having to learn another language. What do you think translators are for? When speaking to Americans we should be speaking English, in their primary language. Why Quebec continues to push for French dominance when the majority of Canadians are English from coast to coast I'll never know.

    We aren't a French country. Keep the French where it belongs, in Quebec or when speaking to France. When Speaking to America we should be speaking English, when Speaking to Britain we should be speaking English and when Speaking to Japan we should be speaking Japanese through translators. Don't go to another country and speak an entirely different language nobody understands just because Quebec thinks it's alright to push the French Language on a large majority of people.

  137. People need to stop getting confused with the French dominance in this country. 23% of the Canadian population is French, 90% of which live in Quebec. The only province that should be bilingual is Newfoundland. Go to any other province and everybody is speaking either English or some other language. Our country might be considered to be bilingual but it doesn't mean it truly is a bilingual country. 77% of the people here speak English.

    So why is it our government officials are forced to speak French when the large majority of Canadians are English? Because of Quebec? It's just a language and our officials should be able to speak in there native tongue without offending somebody else or having to learn another language. What do you think translators are for? When speaking to Americans we should be speaking English, in their primary language. Why Quebec continues to push for French dominance when the majority of Canadians are English from coast to coast I'll never know.

    We aren't a French country. Keep the French where it belongs, in Quebec or when speaking to France. When Speaking to America we should be speaking English, when Speaking to Britain we should be speaking English and when Speaking to Japan we should be speaking Japanese through translators. Don't go to another country and speak an entirely different language nobody understands just because Quebec thinks it's alright to push the French Language on a large majority of people.

    • While were are at lets jettison the national anthem because it was written in French first.

  138. You are absolutely right. If people want to voluntarily learn and speak French I have no problem with it.

    However, when our own federal government imposes discriminatory legislation on the civil service and the Separatist party with the help of the other opposition parties want to impose a bilingualism requirement on future Supreme Court judges we are on a simply slope. It is the tail wagging the dog.

    The broad majority of Quebecers will never agree to seperation because if they know the facts and are not spun they will see it is to their advantage to remain part of Canada. In the meantime they are quite prepared to have the Bloc extort money from the rest of the country.

    Now the PQ in Quebec is trying to force biligualism on small busnesses in Quebec where now it is forced on those with 50 employees or more.

  139. While were are at lets jettison the national anthem because it was written in French first.

  140. He was talking to the Americian press who speak and understand only English. I was watching this on CNN and was truly embarased to be a Canadian. The network cut him off and only came back when the President started to talk. A reporter who ask a question even stated he didn't understand french

  141. The French Language makes Canada different! I am French and I visited your beautiful country, Canada, 2 years ago. From BC to Quebec.
    I really enjoyed Canada. (especially Alberta, banff & Jasper) As a French guy, I was very pleased to see French postsigns at the airport of Vancouver when I flew in & to be offered help in French at Customs although I said no (can manage in English). I quickly understood that bilingualism is a joke in English Canada (never met French speaking people in Alberta & BC) … But I really think that the French language is a "plus" for the whole Canada. It is a pity that too many anglos do not see it . Otherwise I could see NO (significant) differences between the US & English speaking Canada (same food, same culture etc). I find it cool that Harper starts his speeches in French. I fully support the Quebecers in their willingness to protect the French language in their province. They protect their heritage. … Last thing: I really believe that the USA do not give a s…. about Canada. … You live in a beautiful bilingual country you should be proud of it .

  142. The French Language makes Canada different! I am French and I visited your beautiful country, Canada, 2 years ago. From BC to Quebec.
    I really enjoyed Canada. (especially Alberta, banff & Jasper) As a French guy, I was very pleased to see French postsigns at the airport of Vancouver when I flew in & to be offered help in French at Customs although I said no (can manage in English). I quickly understood that bilingualism is a joke in English Canada (never met French speaking people in Alberta & BC) … But I really think that the French language is a "plus" for the whole Canada. It is a pity that too many anglos do not see it . Otherwise I could see NO (significant) differences between the US & English speaking Canada (same food, same culture etc). I find it cool that Harper starts his speeches in French. I fully support the Quebecers in their willingness to protect the French language in their province. They protect their heritage. … Last thing: I really believe that the USA do not give a s…. about Canada. … You live in a beautiful bilingual country you should be proud of it .

Sign in to comment.