Is Bilingualism A Failed policy?

In an op-ed piece in Saturday's Globe and Mail, KONRAD YAKABUSKI examines the state of bilingualism in Canada and concluded that bilingualism is a failed policy. Recently there has been controversy about the efficacy of early French immersion programs in some provinces, particulary New Brunswick, Canada's only officially bilingual province. Yakabuski oberserved that, despite the billions spent since the adoption of the Official Languages Act in 1969, the already derisory rates of bilingualism are falling in English Canada. And in Quebec there is a continued obsession with making everyone learn French, to heck with English even though that is the world's language of commerce (with Chinese on the rise).

However, contrary to Yakabuski's opinion, you cannot aspire to be an executive in the federal public service unless you are a fluently bilingual anglophone, a francophone or a female. If you are a francophone female with some talent, the world is your oyster. You can be fast-tracked to the most senior levels of the public service in rapid fashion.

Yakabuski states: "Ottawa still works largely as it did before 1969: If there's an anglo in the room, the meeting is in English." That is simply no longer true. If you are an anglophone in B.C. or Newfoundland who somehow made it to the executive level, you will forced to sit through management meetings or teleconferences listening to your francophone colleagues pontificate while you struggle to understand them in your fractured French.

Canada's experiment as a bilingual country is not working for the vast majority of Canadians.


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