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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:18 PM
Original message
$20 an hour jobs go begging in Alberta Canada

More than half of Alberta employers, 56 per cent, said they've had trouble filling one or more jobs within the last two years. That's up four per cent from 2003. Here are the top 10 jobs that proved most difficult to fill.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:22 PM
Response to Original message
1. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Canada has illegals
We also have fairly strict enforcement of labour laws.

And in addition....1.00 Canadian = 0.852015 USDollars.

And our cost of living is naturally different as well.
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BlueCaliDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. Blaming the UNDOCUMENTED Immigrants Again for Corporate Greed?
How can you be so sure they're all "illegal immigrants"?

How can you be so sure they're not undocumented American citizens, or even undocumented LEGAL RESIDENT ALIENS that don't know how immigration laws work therefore don't know that they have rights, let alone how and where to apply for them?

Why are you so quick to blame undocumented immigrants for jobs offered by American businesses when, shouldn't you blame those businesses for hiring undocumented workers at illegally LOW hourly wages to circumvent workman's comp, and other taxes employers must pay for "documented" people, and Americans to save an extra buck here and there?

Sorry that I'm touchy about this subject but I know firsthand that there's a BIG difference between illegal and undocumented status in the States.

For approximately three years, my daughter, born in the Netherlands and here without papers, was IN FACT American Citizen. Just like her Netherlands older brother who, even the INS didn't tell me back in 1984 when I first returned to the States with my Dutch husband, that he (my son) was in fact, an American Citizen through me, and according to United States Department of Justice rules and laws, and not the "permanent resident alien" they pasted on him.

Unlike most immigrants, I can read, and write American English enough to research my rights and those of my children in our local library. How many undocumented immigrant parents don't simply because they just don't know?

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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
Telly Savalas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Their labor creates wealth in the U.S.
then their labor pays for the social services they recieve.

I really don't understand why so many people at a supposedly progressive message board delight in taking an ultra-right wing stance on immigration issues.

Blame the fucking Mexicans.

Thinly veiled racism is what it is.
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CHIMO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 10:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
11. And Don't
Forget the high taxes in Canada, plus the cold, cold weather in Alberta. Especially now that the heating costs have doubled from last winters bills.
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HEyHEY Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 12:42 AM
Response to Reply #1
17. By a calculator man...or get some math skills
Edited on Thu Sep-29-05 12:43 AM by HEyHEY
Canada's dollar is about .83 USD
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tuvor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:22 PM
Response to Original message
2. OT, but
Why do we keep having to tell everyone that Alberta's in Canada?

Is there another Alberta people might get confused with?

Sorry, this has bugged me for as long as I can remember.
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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. This is an American site
and out of courtesy, I tell them where it is.

It doesn't have the familiarity to them that it does to us.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #3
14. There's a lot of people from around the world here, too
I even saw someone mention that he's in Shanghai, China.
Can't hurt to identify the country.
Don't know why it bugs the other poster so much.
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woodsprite Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:30 PM
Response to Original message
5. My MIL is trying to fill a job for a clerk typist at $11/hr and can't.
Hmmm. Guess the commute to Alberta'd be a little far from Delaware. Love to live there, but can't get hubby to commit to a move.
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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Didn't know those
positions still existed.

All computer now
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Telly Savalas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #6
13. Gotta type it into the computer, yeah?
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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:54 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. Fewer are needed
We don't have the huge 'typing pools' we once did....and it's not just an electronic typewriter.

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Angry Girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:49 PM
Response to Original message
8. Yay! Just got my "Canada Looks Better Every Day" T-shirt!
Every day a little bit closer to Vancouver! :-)
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TheDebbieDee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
9. Are these positions located in remote areas?
I had a co-worker once that had a brother (and his family) living and working in Canada as a logger. But they lived in quite a ways from the nearest big town so the brother wouldn't have such a long commute.
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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:55 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. Some would be
although they're 'recycled' every few weeks...but most aren't.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 03:01 AM
Response to Original message
18. If only it were that simple
The header on that post is just a tad, er, unclear. Here's what the headline on the article really was:

Average hourly wage tops $20, while jobs go begging
Is that the same as $20/hour jobs going begging? Not quite.

Here are some of those top ten hard-to-fill jobs, listed in the article (some others are indeed higher paying and more highly skilled):


4) Food service supervisors 9.4% $10.01 $16,311
6) Cooks 8.6% $10.39 $19,305
7) Maitres d'hotel and hostesses 8.3% $7.43 $9,115
8) Cashiers 7.8% $10.99 $18,761
Oh look! Shit jobs paying shit wages!

And what a coincidence ...


2) Maitres d'hotel and hostesses $7.43
Might we say it's no fucking wonder that employers are having a hard time filling those particular positions -- since they're among the ten lowest-paid occupations in the province? And the three others are paid barely higher than the ten lowest-paid. Gee, I wonder whether they might find it easier to hire if they raised the pay a little ...

The conclusion that should absolutely not be drawn from this is that restaurant hosts and hostesses ... or any fast-food or retail workers ... will be getting fast-tracked to landed immigrant status. The Canadian immigration system is very definitely *not* designed to enable employers to import workers willing to work at wages that Canadians will not accept, when there are more than enough Canadians willing to do the jobs for living wages.

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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 03:28 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. ps; yay Alberta

A lot of poverty in Alberta today is a product of this province's wage structure. And a key part of this is Alberta's low minimum wage.

In April, Newfoundland's minimum wage rose from $5 to $5.25 per hour. This left Alberta with the lowest minimum wage in Canada ($5 per hour) and there is even talk of abolishing it altogether. The majority of Albertans earning the minimum wage are female (70%); most are employed full-time (57%); and nearly half (46%) are 25 years or older.
That was 1998. It did go up, but not until sometime in the last year, and it's still lower than any province outside the Atlantic provinces, from what I can determine (although most of the other provinces have lower rates for certain employees and employments).

Not exactly a pinko outfit, the Canada West Foundation.
(just can't get that link to work; copy and paste: /

Consider the minimum wage as a ratio of the average weekly wage.

Ontario has the highest average weekly wage in the country at $740, followed closely by Alberta at $726. The national average is $702. But the ratio of the minimum wage to average weekly wage varies from a high of 1.16% in B.C., to a low of 0.81% in Alberta.

The average provincial ratio is 1.03%. This tells us that, not only is Alberta's minimum wage lowest in absolute value, it is lowest in relative value.
Alberta's minimum wage rose -- but so did its average wage. The ratio would still be well under 1% (i.e. the minimum hourly wage as a percentage of average weekly wage).

A low minimum wage is part of the whole race to the bottom game. It encourages the growth of economic sectors based on low-paying unskilled jobs: hamburger flipping, telemarketing ... . It does not promote investment in business and industries that require skilled employees to produce high-value goods and services. And it leads to greater income disparity in a society, as the rich get richer while the poor see their relative position on the economic ladder get ever lower.

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getmeouttahere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 11:37 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Thanks for this, Iverglas...
This is why I keep coming back to the Canadian threads, I can always get some great info or scoop. Keep up the good work.

Here's what my immigration attorney is telling me. Because I have "arranged employment" with my friends in Montreal, the processing of my application will almost certainly be done within a year because the HRSDC approval only lasts for one year and Immigration Canada tends to rush those cases through the system. But to illustrate a point you made previously in a different thread, the attorney would not even take my case if I didn't have arranged employment because I scored a 73 on the assessment, and as such my application is dependent upon the arranged employment. Without it, my score would be below the necessary 67. What this really means is that if you don't have a university degree, you are unlikely to attain permanent resident status, unless you are fluent in both english and french, or have arranged employment.
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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 01:48 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. What it means is...
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 02:15 AM by Maple
the immigration rules have changed.

You don't need a university degree.

Nor do you need 2 languages.

You never did in fact, but the rules have changed and broadened even more.

I don't know where this other stuff comes from, but it isn't true.

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getmeouttahere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 06:03 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. Sounds like Maple needs to take the test....
I challenge you to log on to the Immigration & Citizenship Canada website and take their online assessment - as if you were someone with a high school degree and no more, language proficiency in English only, and no arranged employment. I guarantee you that you will not garner enough points to qualify for immigration. Perhaps the larger point that needs to be made is that no REPUTABLE immigration agent will take your case if you don't have 67 or more points on the assessment. They will not take a case that has no hope of making it through the process. Now if you know about some "nod, nod, wink, wink, behind-the-scenes" engineering that can be done, that's another matter.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #20
22. just a thing I always want to point out
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 10:23 AM by iverglas
A university degree as such isn't always needed. We have long been intrested in skilled tradespeople too -- the construction trades, e.g. A carpenter here, to be eligible to ... okay, my details are fuzzy, but to call him/herself a carpenter, belong to the carpenters' thingy ... has to have completed community college courses (I think two years) and an apprenticeship. My contractor/friend a few years ago taught the courses, and had an apprentice, so at one time I had the details down a little more firmly.

I had a client from England a couple of decades ago who was a master ceramic tile guy (he did Peter Jennings' bathrooms in the Hamptons or some such, although he wasn't legal there at the time), and he qualified to immigrate here. I'll tell ya ... I could converse quite easily with my French African clients, my Guatemalan clients, my Sri Lankan clients, but when his wife called me, I seldom had a clue what she was saying. Liverpool.

So the thing that USAmericans call an "associate's degree" and we call a community college diploma/certificate is useful, although mainly if it is in a vocational field like a skilled trade that the person also has experience in, I'd imagine.

And remember, heh: unless your lawyer is in Quebec, where they speak sometimes archaic English in the Civil Code, s/he isn't an attorney. People in Canada who call lawyers (barristers and solicitors) "attorneys" (or refer to them as "counsellor" instead of "counsel") have generally just been watching too much US TV. As far as I know, professional codes still prohibit lawyers in most provinces from using that term to designate themselves, not that a lot of the young lawyers who grew up on a diet of US TV seem to know that. EDIT: Dang, your lawyer IS in Montreal! :D sheepishstupidfaceicongoeshere.

But yes, that has always been a lot of my point: consulting a lawyer can actually *save* money, even if it means getting the good advice that one's plan doesn't have much hope, so that one can save on application fees and disappointment. A lawyer can also advise how an application that would be borderline now can be made better, e.g. by taking upgrading courses or getting some more solid experience first. And if it's a sound plan, retaining a lawyer to assist with it can mean that it gets presented in such a way that its soundness is properly demonstrated. Reputable lawyers will not take cases that they know have no hope, and they won't have the time to do that anyhow.

Emigrating is a big project, bigger than buying a house or a lot of the other things that people spend money on and retain lawyers for. It definitely makes sense to get the best advice and assistance possible.

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hermetic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. So lemme see if I got this straight
If they are in Quebec, then they are attorneys. But if they are anywhere else, then they are lawyers? And a Barrister is the same as a lawyer? Inquiring minds want to know. ;-)
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. yup
"Attorney" is actually an archaic term. It was used in the English version of the Civil Code of Lower Canada (Quebec) produced back in the mid-19th century and it's still used in the Civil Code of Qubec (yeah, they put the stupid accent on "Quebec" even though there is no accent on it in English). It's still used in odd parts of the English-speaking world, like Sri Lanka.

The formal designation of lawyers in Ontario, e.g., is "barrister and solicitor". This comes from the UK, where barristers and solicitors are still members of separate professions. Barristers are the "trial lawyers"; solicitors are the ones who do conveyancing and corporate type work. In the UK, efforts are being made to expand the role of solicitors. It's historically been a class thing there: to become a barrister, one had to be a "pupil" (an articled student) in a barrister's chambers (firm) without pay. Only the rich could afford it. Unions started sponsoring candidates, to overcome the class barrier.

The term survives in the English common law world / Canada in the offices of "Attorney General" and "Crown attorney" -- but in that case, the person really is more of an actual attorney: someone who acts in the place and stead of someone else (as in "power of attorney"). In Quebec, prosecutors (called Crown attorneys elsewhere) are now called substituts du procureur gnral -- literally, "attorney general's substitutes", but translated as "attorney general's prosecutors". Since the Attorney General is him/herself the "substitute" for the Crown, it is kind of silly.

Quebec also has notaries, who are much more than notaries in the rest of Canada and the US, but not quite as much as solicitors. They do real estate work and private contracts and such.

Here ya go!

The legal profession in Canada is governed by the laws, rules and regulations of the law society of which a lawyer is a member. There are 14 law societies in Canada, one for each of the 10 provinces and one for each of the 3 territories. The province of Qubec has 2 law societies, thereby respecting the civil law tradition from France that governs the province. The Chambre des notaires du Qubec governs the notarial profession within Qubec, while the Barreau du Qubec governs the lawyers. The other Canadian provinces and territories are governed by the common law tradition from England. Each law society is established by statute of the legislative assembly of its province or territory. The governing body of the legal profession in each of the common law jurisdiction is called a "law society" in every jurisdiction except in Nova Scotia where it is called a Barristers' Society.
In British Columbia, e.g.:

Call and admission
28. (1) The benchers may call to the Bar of the Province and admit as a solicitor of the Supreme Court, any person who satisfies them that the person ...

I know that somewhere in my environment I have an old copy of the rules of professional conduct of the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario bar) that flatly prohibited use of the word "attorney" to designate one's self, but this is all I'm seeing on line:

3.03 (1) Subject to subrules (2), (3) and (4), a lawyer's letterhead and the signs identifying the office may only include

(a) the name of the lawyer or law firm;

... (c) the words "barrister", "barrister-at-law", "barrister and solicitor", "lawyer", "law office", "solicitor", "solicitor-at-law", or the plural, where applicable;

(d) the words "notary" or "commissioner for oaths" or both, where applicable;

(e) the words "patent and trade mark agent", where applicable;

(f) a statement that a member of the law firm is qualified to practise law in another named jurisdiction, along with his or her title in that jurisdiction, such as "attorney" or "attorney at law", ...
"Attorney" is a foreign word, in Canada outside Quebec, and using it implies qualification to practise in some foreign place. Or Quebec. ;)

And ... it's "mum", not "mawm"!

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Telly Savalas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. I thought they called them avacados in Quebec
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getmeouttahere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-05 02:04 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. Avocats....
and judging by this thread, it's no wonder so many Quebecers want to separate.
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Telly Savalas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-05 07:48 AM
Response to Reply #27
It was a little joke, and perhaps a bad one at that, but not grounds for a renewal of the sovereignist movement.
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getmeouttahere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-02-05 12:18 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. Oh, you were the least of it, Telly....
There were much more potentially offensive things said about Quebecers elsewhere in this thread. And the movement wouldn't have to be renewed - it's always there, like a dormant volcano.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-02-05 06:24 AM
Response to Reply #29
30. not ... moi?
I was the only one who said much about Quebec, and what I said broke down into:

- information about the legal professions in Quebec: neutral

- opinion about the quality of the official English in Quebec: informed

I'm very informed about the quality of the English used in official circles in Quebec -- in legislation, for instance -- since I work with it every day. It's quite ugly much of the time.

There are different reasons for the ugliness. In the case of the Civil Code, there are three basic ones:

- the civil law concepts being expressed have no counterparts in the common law, and things have been made up that either are meaningless to the English ear or conflict with the meanings that the terms already have in English (and this has operated in the other direction as well)

- the translations done back in the 19th century were crappy, in terms of English syntax and drafting conventions and the like (and again, the same is true of the French in federal legislation in the past)

- the translations done when the Civil Code was rewritten a decade and a half ago were crappy, in the same ways (on the other hand, the French versions of federal legislation are no longer just inappropriate translations of the English)

These factors apply to a lot of English in Quebec outside of legislation. Just as some of them apply to French in English-speaking Canada. The big problem with bilingualism is that people fail to recognize the differences between the languages, thinking that they can speak the other language just by saying something that sounds right to their ear, because it would sound right in their own language, but it sounds atrocious to anyone who is a native speaker of the language they are speaking.

I'm fed to the teeth with talk about somebody working on a "file" or being responsible for a "file". There is no "global warming file", for instance. That's a nonsense in English. Just because one says "dossier" in French, that doesn't mean one says "file" in English.

And I'm fed to the teeth with being called "Mrs." by every government clerk I talk to. I fought the misogyny of the Miss/Mrs. crap in English for decades. A "Mrs." is a woman who thought little enough of her own name and identity that she swapped them for her husband's; I have never done that. It is insulting to call me "Mrs." What happened is that no equivalent of "Ms." ever caught on in French, and it gradually became common practice to refer to all adult women as "Mme" (Madame). That's an excellent idea, and it could be done in French because "madame" has broader application than just as an honorific, and didn't carry the same connotations as "Mrs." in English. But it doesn't mean that women are correctly addressed as "Mrs." in English.

And if I have to put up with six more years of hearing the Governor General referred to in English as "Madame" I'm gonna puke. If the GG were a man, would we be calling him "Monsieur"? Well, some fools would be, if he were a francophone, because they don't seem to grasp the idea that the thing is just an honorific with exact equivalents in the two languages, and gets translated just like any other word, being used to convey a meaning in the language being spoken, just like any other word. "Madame" isn't some fancy shmancy way of referring to a high-ranking woman in English; it isn't a word in English.

Administrative tribunal members from Montreal used to address me as "Matre" when I appeared before them at hearings held in English. That's just rude, particularly to my clients who did not speak French and did not understand what they were saying. Lawyers are addressed by tribunals in English as "counsel". Lawyers in the English common law tradition do not have honorary titles the way doctors do, and the way lawyers do in many civil law traditions (I got to be "la doctora iverglas" in Cuba). And that's not to mention when tribunal members would just start speaking to me in French in the middle of an English hearing.

Obviously it works both ways. I practised in French too. I once represented a refugee claimant from Haiti who, fortunately, had had a classical education and spoke formal French. The chair of the tribunal was a civil servant from Toronto who had her C level for bilingualism, but simply did not speak adequate French for making life and death decisions based on what she understood the person to be saying. The bizarre outcome was that she decided that my client was not credible -- a determination that is very difficult to make when you are insufficiently sensitive to the nuances of someone's speech -- but that if she had believed her, she would have found her to be a refugee. The other tribunal member, a francophone, said that he believed everything she said but that it was not a sufficient basis for finding her to be a refugee. Go figure that one. The way I figured it, we'd won -- it only took one of two opinions to win -- but of course that wasn't how the tribunal figured it.

Now, when it comes to avocados ... lawyers are of course called, generally, avocat in French. And the translation used in Quebec actually is either attorney or advocate ... depending on which bit of translated legislation you're reading at the time.

The grievances over official French at the federal level were long-standing and quite justified. Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung the other way. One effect has been that in their zeal to make the French version of legislation French, and not a translation, the French versions are often incomprehensible; members of Parliament complain regularly at committee hearings on legislation that the French makes no sense and does not say what it was intended to say. The other is that the English has degenerated horribly, by being made to become what the French used to be -- a translation. For instance, the Official Languages Act -- one of the most awful examples of execrable English in the statutes, bizarrely -- has a part devoted to what it calls a "court remedy". What the fuck is a court remedy? Well, it's a total crap translation of recours judiciaire, which properly means "application to a court": recours has a meaning that is not directly translatable in this instance. What follows is a load of garble, in the English, because the procedure being discussed is not a remedy at all, it is the procedure for obtaining a remedy.

These are things that irk people on both sides of the language divide, those who care about their own language, probably equally. They're not unique to Canada; they go on, in just as bad if not worse ways, in international organizations and in international instruments. Some of it is just going to happen no matter what; languages are not exact counterparts of one another, and all have to adapt somewhat to convey meanings that are not native to them. But when the fine edge of meaning is lost because of ignorance and arrogance, which it too often is, or when a language's own meanings are supplanted with something else so that only the lite bilingual class can understand what's being said in either language, it's a bad thing.

Here's an example of how it can happen. I attended a large meeting organized by a tenants' association I was representing, to which a staffer from the rent review office had been invited. The tenants were mainly older people, very afraid of the huge rent increase the landlord had applied for. They wanted to know what they could do. The staffer said: "Well, you can assist at the meeting." They said: "Great! what can we do?" She said: "Well, you can assist at the meeting." ... At which point I stepped in and said quietly to her: "I think you're saying they can assister the meeting ... attend the meeting?" (That's one that anglos do in reverse: saying one is going to attendre something means that one is going to wait for it.)

I encounter the arrogance of francophones who are ignorant of English to an extent they simply won't acknowledge, continually. I'm sure that francophones in my position encounter the anglophone equivalents. Probably not as regularly, of course, because a smaller proportion of anglophones speaks French to start with. But I'm not sure that there has been such a twisting of French to suit English meanings -- those "files" and the like -- as the other way around. It's insidious and it's everywhere. Every time you hear a francophone say, in English, that something is a "preoccupation", you couldn't know the meaning unless you speak French and are sensitive to these things, and make the mental connection to see that the speaker is saying that something is a matter of concern. Give me five minutes with the national news, and I'll show you a half-dozen more examples. And half of them will be anglophones talking Gallicized nonsense that they've for some reason decided makes them sound clever.

Crappy accents aren't the big problem, it's over-confidence in one's ability to use the language, and it's more disrespectful to one's audience than simply not pronouncing things well. Although I do remember a francophone friend of mine telling me about being at a party with her then-partner, a Montreal city councillor who was an old friend of mine ... and wandering over to the conversation he was in, listening for a minute and deciding he must be speaking Yiddish and wandering off ... only to realize afterward that he'd been speaking French. ;) Guess it worked out for him -- he has another francophone partner now, and a kid being raised francophone.

Anyhow, none of this is "about Quebeckers", I'm sure we all see. A whole lot of very non-Quebecker politicians pretend that there are invisible "files" under their arms, when really there are issues that they're responsible for. It isn't the fault of any Quebecker that some francophone politicians and legislative drafters don't bother to learn the proper way to say things in English, any more than it's my fault that some anglophone politicians and drafters don't do the reverse.

I'm a huge fan of bilingualism, and of collective cultural rights, and a resigned participant in bijuralism -- the fashioning of a legal system that works in both languages/traditions (I just think the job being done of it could be considerably better). They're the foundation of the Canadian identity, and make us virtually unique in the world, and put us in a position to have an enormous positive influence in other societies having to organize ways for different cultural groups to cohabit.

Oh, and btw, as far as I'm concerned "sovereignty" today is just a project (ha, another irksome import from French bureaucratese) of the indigenous Quebec lite, and has lost all vestiges of progressive politics, as self-determination movements unfortunately seem wont to do. The difference here -- from, say, the IRA or the Eritrean separatists -- is that the society has in fact accommodated the minorities (which include francophone communities outside Quebec) and recognized their legitimate aspirations and provided legal and institutional protections and avenues for their expression. Not jumping to hand over control over every dollar that every Quebec provincial government or party in Parliament might demand for the purposes of building its own little empire is no different from declining to hand Ralph Klein the keys to the health care system.

Civil discourse about the place of Quebec in Canada doesn't mean always smiling and never saying anything sharp!

There is an unfortunate tendency to assume that civil discourse has occurred whenever two or more people are nice to each other, say something, and dont get into an argument. That is misleading on all three counts.

Civil discourse is city speech, implying, as Richard Luecke (1968; 1996) has suggested many times, that it is not only how we speak in cities but also how cities speak.

City speech is not simply or uniformly nice; on the contrary, it is often confrontational and rough. A place in which speech was simply and uniformly nice would be homogeneous and have nothing but smooth edges. I am aware that this may well be what Aristotle (1990) had in mind when he described the city in terms of friendship and excluded those who were not beautiful (not to mention those who did not speak Greek) from full participation. But, as Martha Nussbaum (1986) has pointed out, Aristotle truncated his own city at this point and (unfortunately) did not allow himself to be carried away by his method. That method is certainly capable of carrying us to a city with a more inclusive aesthetic. Beauty is defined not by excluding those who do not fit within existing boundaries but by crossing boundaries to acknowledge the fittingness of diversity encountered in the city. Crossing boundaries involves confrontation and is rarely smooth. But that it is part of city speech means that civil discourse has not occurred if boundaries have not been crossed.

Nor is city speech simply a matter of saying something. If it does not also ensure space and time in which to say nothing, the listening essential to discourse becomes impossible. In terms of boundary crossing, this means that civil discourse has not occurred if boundaries that define spaces of sound and spaces of silence have not been recognized and honored. Both sound and silence are crucial if the city is not simply to degenerate into a place of violence.

Finally, and most emphatically, city speech does not avoid argument. In fact, the rhythm of crossing, recognizing, and honoring boundaries is descriptive of the discipline of argument. (Remember the formulation at the beginning of this essay: liberal arts are concerned with discovery, appreciation, orientation, and applicationredefined here in terms of crossing, recognizing, and honoring boundaries.) Where there is no argument, there is no civil discourse, and there is no city. Such a place is likely to be defined in one of three ways: either it is surrounded by an essentially impermeable boundary that excludes difference; or it is marked by violent struggle for control of turf; or (most likely) it is a mixture of both, with enforced homogeneity near the center of power and violent struggle for control of turf on the fringes.

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getmeouttahere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-02-05 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #30
31. Wow, I'm going to need some time to digest all that....
but I appreciate the effort. I have Francophone friends, anglophone Montrealer friends, and anglophone friends spread throughout the rest of Canada, and it's certainly great to get all the different perspectives.
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lostinacause Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-15-05 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #19
32. In Alberta it sure is a race to the bottom. Just about every place is
looking for people. If you are willing to work in the oil sands you can easily break $100 000 a year with a trade. I have heard of trades jobs going for as high as $200 000.
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