Sunday, July 27, 2008

Calgary's Growing Up ... Or Is It?

Just when you start thinking that Calgary is starting to sound and act like many of the more cosmopolitan urban centers around the world, some ignorant yob has to open their mouth and spout something ridiculous that shows us that prejudice and bigotry lies just below the surface.

Over the same period, French dropped in Quebec though only slightly. In 1951, 82.5 per cent of Quebecers identified French as their first language compared to 79 per cent in the last census.

The French drop has been matched by a rise in non-official languages (neither English nor French) and this has the potential to refashion politics especially in Quebec, perhaps federal hiring practices, and one would hope -- even court judgments in Alberta.

I couldn't believe it when I read this bit of utterly ignorant stupidity. It could have come out of Alberta in the 1980s when Ralph Klein was still Mayor of Calgary and made his infamous 'bums and creeps' speech.

This particular tirade irritates me more for its disdain for Canada's history, and the francophone contribution to Canada. It's the classic WASP attitude that pervaded Western Canada for years - one of condescending derision towards french people in general and Quebec in particular. This is offensive in a dozen ways that I don't need to document here, but it is the disregard for our collective history as a nation that really irritates me.

I don't much care about population statistics in this matter - Canadians should be proud of this country and its heritage. We should celebrate it and our diversity, not denigrate and marginalize based on statistics. We are among the first nations of the modern world to be multicultural in fact as well as ethos. Alberta whining because it doesn't want to provide services in Canada's second official language is petulant, immature and silly. The oldest newspaper in Calgary publishing such drivel is pathetic.

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