Sorry, I Don't Speak French: Confronting the Canadian Crisis That Won't Go Away

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McClelland & Stewart, Feb 24, 2009 - History - 352 pages
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As the threat of another Quebec referendum on independence looms, this book becomes important for every Canadian — especially as language remains both a barrier and a bridge in our divided country
Canada’s language policy is the only connection between two largely unilingual societies — English-speaking Canada and French-speaking Quebec. The country’s success in staying together depends on making it work.

How well is it working? Graham Fraser, an English-speaking Canadian who became bilingual, decided to take a clear-eyed look at the situation. The results are startling — a blend of good news and bad. The Official Languages Act was passed with the support of every party in the House way back in 1969 — yet Canada’s language policy is still a controversial, red-hot topic; jobs, ideals, and ultimately the country are at stake. And the myth that the whole thing was always a plot to get francophones top jobs continues to live.

Graham Fraser looks at the intentions, the hopes, the fears, the record, the myths, and the unexpected reality of a country that is still grappling with the language challenge that has shaped its history. He finds a paradox: after letting Quebec lawyers run the country for three decades, Canadians keep hoping the next generation will be bilingual — but forty years after learning that the country faced a language crisis, Canada’s universities still treat French as a foreign language. He describes the impact of language on politics and government (not to mention social life in Montreal and Ottawa) in a hard-hitting book that will be discussed everywhere, including the headlines in both languages.

From the Hardcover edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Cecilturtle - LibraryThing

In this essay, Fraser makes an unabashed and passionate plea for peaceful coexistence of Canada's two official languages, English and French. Looking at multiple facets of the linguistic debate ... Read full review

Unofficial Thoughts of the Commissioner

User Review  - friendly neighbour - Borders

As many of you may know, Graham Fraser is currently the Commissioner of Official Languages in Ottawa. This book represents his thoughts and study on the subject of language relations and the history ... Read full review


Making a Policy
chapter three Two Eminences Grises
chapter four Two FriendsTwo Views
Getting from There to Here
chapter seven The Federal Capital and David Levines
chapter eight Talking to Ourselves

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About the author (2009)

Graham Fraser is a widely respected journalist who has written in both English and French. Now based in Ottawa as a Toronto Star national affairs writer, he has covered politics in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and Washington. His books include P.Q.: René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois in Power (nominated for the Governor General’s Award) and Playing for Keeps.

From the Hardcover edition.

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