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Forced Bilingualism

Official bilingualism is forced bilingualism, and forced bilingualism is quite a different manner. Forcing someone to speak another language is an abomination. First, forcing someone to speak in another language is simply a contravention of their right to free speech. Forcing a person to speak a language can take the form of preventing a person from expressing their viewpoints in the language of their choice, as is the case with Bill 101 in Quebec. It can also take the case of funding speech in different languages, such as publicly financed television or radio stations, or mandated actions one must take not in the language of their choice. It doesn't matter whether the force is used to promote French, English, German or Mandarin. It is abridging the freedom to speech.

Second, bilingualism creates two classes of people, namely, those that are bilingual and those that aren't. As Pierre E. Trudeau notes, "Unilingual Anglophones will be sentenced to a lifetime of job immobility." How much more discriminatory can you get? Forced bilingualism disciminates against the vast majority of unilingual individuals - even when bilingualism has no work-related benefit. This includes the 57% of Francophones who don't speak English, 91% of Anglophones who don't speak French, 80% of immigrants and 95% of aboriginal Canadians. And with most Albertans unable to speak French, it automatically excludes a vast majority of Albertans from working in certain parts of the Canadian bureaucracy.

Third, bilingualism laws are not consistently applied. When Ottawa was in the process of choosing to become a bilingual city, Gatineau-Hull across the river could not, because Quebec law prevents this from happening. Bill 101 in Quebec also shows that unilingualism can be forwarded as public policy in some areas of Canada, but not others.

Fourth, forced bilingualism contradicts the policy of multiculturalism. Quebec defines their culture based primarily upon language. The promotion of the French language leads to the promotion of the French culture. It makes little sense to advocate multiculturalism while simultaneously advocating biculturalism, which is what forced bilingualism unavoidably does.

Fifth, since forced bilingualism leads to forced biculturalism, it proposes that certain cultures are more important than others. This insults many Albertans, who come from many lands.
Costs of Bilingualism

There are two types of costs to consider when looking at the costs of bilingualism. The first is the amount of money that the federal government spends on bilingualism. In addition to that is the amount of money spent by private citizens complying with forced bilingualism. An example of this would be firms having to deal with the burden of providing labeling in French and English.

The accounting of the what the government spends is murky, since the costs of bilingualism are hidden in many different federal departments. Moreover, as we've seen with firearms, the federal government has a vested interest in making bilingualism seem as cheap as possible.

Estimates of the costs of complying with forced bilingualism are varied, but they all indicate that the costs of forced bilingualism are significantly more than what the federal government spends.

The government spends roughly $4 billion per year on enforcing bilingualism, and has spent $60 billion since the inception of the Official Languages Act. The government only admits $750 million per year. The Spicer report in bilingualism had costs as high as $10 billion per year. Scott Reid, in Lament for a Notion, has the total costs at $49 billion.

What have been the private costs incurred to comply with this legislation? Estimates range as high as $16 billion per year, with a total cost of over $700 billion.


Does Alberta look bilingual?