Politics of Canada
2 min

The Two Solitudes

Yesterday marked forty years of official bilingualism in Canada – legally enshrining the linguistic duality of our fair nation. Apparently 1969 was a big year for Trudeau – decriminalising homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and ensuring that both languages had equal status.

It occurs to me, however, that our linguistic duality is part of what has made Canada into such a wonderfully diverse and tolerant nation, because it’s one of the structural ways in which we have built space for one another. It’s often one of the reasons I’ve read about as to why we more successfully integrate immigrants into our social fabric – because we allow them the space to integrate at their own pace, rather than demanding assimilation and making them defensive in the process.

It also occurs to me that it’s part of what has made us one of the most gay-friendly nations on the planet – certain unenlightened backbench MPs aside. We have become one more community that space has been made for (in many big cities, at least), and allows Canadians to get a better sense of who we are. The fact that Toronto Pride is as much a celebration of sexual diversity today is a testament to that.

Speaking of Toronto Pride, and the whole Trost-Ablonczy conflagration, Industry Minister Tony Clement says it’s totally “appropriate” to review the funds that were distributed by the Marquee Tourism Events Programme after its first year, not because of any particular misspending in giving funds to Toronto Pride, but because it’s good business practice. And yet I get the sense that the lady might be protesting a bit too much there.

Meanwhile, lesbian Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth has come out in support of Ablonczy, saying that she made the right choice, and that even though Toronto Pride isn’t so much her cup of tea these days, it’s especially a tourist destination for all those people from villages, small towns, and reserves who can’t be themselves otherwise. So good on her for standing up for this in her caucus (though it has been speculated that she may face the fate of Garth Turner for this potential breach of “caucus confidentiality” for such a transgression), and good on The Canadian Press for getting the Senator on the record where others of us couldn’t.

Over at the G8 summit, despite new agreements being made on carbon emissions reductions that are ambitious – and necessary – our wonderful environment minister has clarified this to say that these are just “aspirational” targets, and that we don’t need to change our wholly inadequate plans, which certainly won’t reach anywhere near these newly agreed-upon targets. Because Canada’s Back™, don’t you know, and apparently because of that, it means that we can now start ignoring international law *coughs*Kyoto Accords*coughs* and entering into these kinds of negotiations in bad faith, since we have no intention of actually following through with them, and will just dismiss them with semantic nonsense like the fact that the carbon reduction target “very carefully refers to an aggregate” reduction so we really don’t have to play our full part. Wow. Just…wow.

I think this is probably the product of a government whose ministry had almost zero international experience when they took power, and whose view of the world is so narrow that they’re completely unable to see how much they’re marginalising our country, and completely shredding the reputation we spent the better part of a century building. Thanks guys! You’re totally awesome for that!