Liberals Forget Canada is Bilingual

When you give a political speech in the Quebec nation, don't forget to speak French! At least 50% of the speech should be in French and you should start in French.

Tip to Canadian politicians: when you give a "bilingual speech" to a unilingual audience, use Brian Mulruney's trick and pepper your French with "amour", "respect", "democratie", "Canada" and other French words that even Albertans can understand.

What you don't want to do is forget to speak French. Bob Rae spoke "without a net" last night and it showed. He only talked in French when talking about Quebec. And he didn't talk much about Quebec.

And get this, from the Liberal Party web site:

Notice, December 1, 2006
Montreal - The Liberal Party of Canada inadvertently played
an English-only version of a video produced by the campaign of Mr. Scott Brison,
rather than the bilingual version supplied by his campaign. The Party
unreservedly apologies to the Brison Campaign and all delegates for this error.

When you give a speech in Montreal, you start off in French. Ignatieff didn't do this. He spoke French about 25% of the time. Not enough. Rae was the worst offender. He was at least half way through the speech before he spoke a few words in French. Then he quickly reverted back to English.

Gerard Kennedy's French is still horrible, so I wont complain about the lack of quantity. How he can still make grammatical errors while reading his speech (that I assume he rehearsed) is a mystery. He is the only top 4 candidate for whom I didn't flick between the French station and the English stations. I was glad there was a translator to figure out what he was saying. Oh, and parts of Gerard Kennedy's French web site are still under construction! And the "dans la médias" error is still there.

Stephane Dion's English is less than perfect, even when read. You'd think a guy with a Canadian PHD in political science would speak better English. He reminds me of the Political Science teacher I had in college who kept using obscure Belgium examples but couldn't answer the simplest question about the USA. Did you know in Belgium they do exams orally? It was cool that my teacher imported the concept as that was the only course in which I didn't lose 10% for bad spelling.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Quebeckers are not fluent in English. Heck, the majority of Quebec university graduates are not fluent in English. So when you give a speech to people who don't have simultaneous translation, keep it simple. Not Gerard Kennedy simple, but simple enough to be understood by people in their second language.

The speech should be about 50% in English and 50% in French. By that standard, all the candidates failed.

If you read French: Julie Bélanger


Freaked-Out Canadian said...

I concur with most of your observations - it's hard to believe these guys even have strategists - but I really think every one makes too much of Dion's English.

He has a fine grasp of the language, merely a strong accent. He is easier to understand than Jean Chretien, and his English is at least as good as most of the other candidates' French.

I'd rather vote for a guy who is smart, savy, ethical, experienced, loyal, courageous and driven by hope and ideals than choose one on the basis of accent.

Dion is a guy who has held key portfolios in the government. Does anyone really doubt that he can make himself explicitly understood? His record speaks for itself.

Altavistagoogle said...

Freaked out,
Everybody has an accent. So I assume you meen Dion has a French accent.

But like I said, his English is less then perfect. He makes the occasional error. Both Rae and Ignatieff have better French than Dion's English.

Dion is certainly as bilingual as Chretien was a one point but less so than Trudeau or Mulruney. I'd say Dion's English is equivalent to Martin's French.


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