Straight Talk
EDITORIAL - Language cop lost in translation

Canada's Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser arrives at a news conference on the release of his report in Ottawa October 16, 2012.



If Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser wishes to get his knickers in a knot over Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's English-only business cards, perhaps he can get his culottes equally twisted over the federal bureaucracies' lack of spokespeople whose first language is English.

It's a skewed and unequal playing field.

Don't believe us? Give it a try. Phone a federal department in Ottawa and chances are good something's going to get lost in translation with the swivel servant at the other end of the line.

Another bilingual "Graham Fraser" will be very difficult to find.

But it is not just John Baird who is taking nit-picking heat from Canada's language czar for supposedly violating his so-called obligations under federal language legislation.

International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino is also getting grief from Commissar Fraser for directing bureaucrats to send him English-only versions of important documentation they want him to review.

This, to us, makes perfect sense, despite Fantino's denial of issuing such a directive.

Put it this way. With his inadequate grasp of the French language, why in hell would Fantino want to waste both time and paper by having a document in hand that he cannot properly read let alone properly edit?

To appease Graham Fraser? To acquiesce to the small-minded language politics within the Ottawa bubble?

Fraser is obviously on another one of his loose-cannon escapades, claiming the fact Baird also has a set of bilingual business cards does not excuse him for having a set of English-only ones.

Drive an hour west from the nation's capital and Fraser would be hard pressed to find anyone who gives a damn whether Baird has business cards in French, English or Cantonese.

Ditto for Fantino asking for documents presented to him in a language that he can actually read.

Drive further west and Graham Fraser becomes a non-entity trying to make a big deal of a non-issue.

What the Ottawa bubble does not lack, however, are anal retentives when it comes to the French language.

But, with this issue over business cards being so trivial to the vast majority of Canadians, Graham Fraser's obsession with it has now reached the point of annoyance.

In any language.


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