May 1, 2006

Bilingualism is a must

Saturday was the General Council of the LPC(Q) . We had the chance to meet with the different candidates and their teams. Even Paul Martin was there and he delivered a great speech. We had a great time and it was the first time in a very long time that we didn't see the old wars. Everybody was talking together.

My colleague, Antonio, mentioned at the beginning of this race that speaking both official languages is key to win the leadership of the LPC and the next general election. I completely agree with Antonio. Bilingualism IS A MUST. Now that all the serious candidates have declared, let's look who's bilingual and who's not.

I've had the chance to assess the ability to speak French of most candidates. Here are the results of this very scientific study that I have conducted over the week-end.

Stéphane Dion : A+++ Obviously speaks a very good French. It's his first language and he's a former university professor. He has a very rich vocabulary.

Bob Rae : A+ He masters the French language like few other Ontario politicians do. He is a francophile and his grammar is very good. His French is much better than Stephen Harper's.

Michael Ignatieff : A+ Speaks very good french. He is able to answer questions very easily. Very eloquent and his grammar is almost perfect. The quality of his French is above the language spoken by most Quebecers. His French is much better than Stephen Harper's.

Joe Volpe : B+ Volpe's French is surprising. He speaks very well and is able to make jokes. When you can master humor, you master the language. I spent 45 minutes on the phone with him. I asked him fairly complicated questions and he answered very well. His vocabulary is very rich.

Martha Hall-Findlay : B I spoke to her in French, she answered quickly even though she said that her French was "rusty". It's still very good.

Gerard Kennedy : C+ Gerard is a big disappointment. Everyone seemed to say that Gerard was fully bilingual because his wife was Acadian and his children spoke French at home. I guess they don't speak French with Gerard at home... His French is way below Harper's.

Scott Brison : C- Scott's French is much below Stephen Harper's. He's taking lessons but that should have been done when he ran for the PC leadership. He's doing a little bit better than Belinda. He is better than before but clearly there is room for improvement...

Ken Dryden : D Ken Dryden didn't speak French during the time he played for the Canadiens . I haven't heard that he was getting French lessons either. This is disappointing. Apart from that, he is a great guy and did very good work as Social Development Minister

Bonne soirée,


31 Commentaires:

Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

Dion an A+++ (or whatever) for French. Big deal...the guy struggles with English, and therefore is not very bilingual.

5/01/2006 6:54 p.m.  
Anonymous es a dit...

Kennedy never said he was bilingual. I'm sorry but when Harper was elected Conservative leader there is no way he spoke French as well as Kennedy. The fact is Kennedy will improve his French substantially and beccome bilingual.

Let's not forget, Harper won the election AND made gains in Quebec when he was not fully bilingual. I would give Kennedy a chance because he has the most potential.

5/01/2006 7:10 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

Those grades you guys give...classic! Way to discredit people, language exam style!

5/01/2006 7:14 p.m.  
Blogger Alex Plante a dit...


On blogs and in the papers, the "rumour" was that Kennedy was bilingual because his wife was Acadian... Harper's French didn't improve much since he became PM (3 months ago). If we want someone to win the next election, Kennedy is not the guy. Harper won seats in Quebec when he became bilingual...

Why does Kennedy have the most poetential ? On what grounds do you make such a statement ?

And I agree with you that Harper's French when he became Conservative leader was not as good as Kennedy's but he didn't gain a seat when he was not bilingual.

I want a leader that can win the next election, not someone to become PM in 6 years from now. Kennedy has a great future but we are looking for a leader for the present. Who knows? Kennedy might be my pick in the next leadership but I think that he's not ready for this one.


5/01/2006 7:25 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

I find this informative as an anglophone. I have no way to assess a candidates ability to communicate in French. Only a Francophone can do this. It is a good post and probably quite accurate.

Interesting that Igs speaks "better" French than most Quebecers. Is that good or bad?

When I was recently in France, French people felt the grammar used in Quebec was actually more correct than the French now commonly spoken in France. Perhaps older.

So is Iggies french actualy just "Parisienne' and back to my point. Is that a good thing.

Kennedy's French will improve. The writ won't drop for at least a year maybe two.

If bilingualism is the only qualification, then Iggy is the only choice. I think we can look at other factors as well.

Not being bilingual or possibly even unilingual, never stopped Chretien.

5/01/2006 7:45 p.m.  
Blogger Alex Plante a dit...


Iggy's French is definitely not "à la Parisienne". He just speaks almost perfect French. He clearly doesn't have a Quebec accent, more of an international French. Iggy is not the only candidate very fluent in French. Bob Rae speaks perfect French.



5/01/2006 8:10 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

How was McKenna's french?

5/01/2006 8:15 p.m.  
Anonymous Sandra a dit...

Jeffrey Simpson agrees with your assessment. He wrote in the Globe and Mail on Saturday:

"Mr. Kennedy stopped by The Globe's offices this week, and one thing was immediately clarified. His official biography says correctly he was educated at Trent University and the University of Alberta; he graduated from neither. He does not have a university degree, which is not the end of the world but looks rather odd in a contest against candidates with imposing academic firepower.

When the conversation switched to French as a kind of test, Mr. Kennedy flunked. He's got some vocabulary, grammar, syntax and sense of the language, but he's hard to understand and certainly a long, long way from reasonable fluency. Unilingual English-speaking journalists might fall for the impression that Mr. Kennedy is bilingual. He is not."

5/01/2006 8:25 p.m.  
Anonymous Sandra a dit...


When you start seeing protesters at Kennedy events the next few months, here is the reason why:

MARCH 28, 2006

Mr. Hampton: My question is, why is the McGuinty government still not funding IBI treatment for autistic children? You see, before the election, Premier, you sent letters and e-mails to desperate parents of autistic children and you said, "I believe that the lack of government-funded IBI treatment for autistic children over six is unfair and discriminatory."

Today, under the McGuinty government, hundreds of autistic children are on a waiting list for IBI treatment. They are not getting IBI treatment. We know, Premier, that your government had $3 billion in surplus revenues last year, yet these children are still waiting for IBI treatment. Why haven't you kept your promise, Premier? Why aren't these children receiving IBI treatment instead of languishing on waiting lists?

Hon. Mr. McGuinty: To the Minister of Education.

Hon. Gerard Kennedy (Minister of Education): With regard to the question opposite, we are providing, through the co-operation of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Education, whatever is the best treatment now for children with autism. The age limit has been lifted in terms of the eligibility for services, and we are now working within education in particular, collaboratively with people especially hired for the task, to be able to provide the principles of ABA and IBI within the school system and without, so that there is continuity between the treatment that children receive before school, at home and during the school day.

We have provided school boards with a net new needs basis for funding so that any special services that they provide in their context, in the school day, are funded. We've provided approximately $40 million for that obligation. It applies equally to children of all different special needs, but it includes the proportion who have autism. We're busy working with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to improve on those services to make sure they're appropriate, and those services are continuing to be expanded as needed.

Mr. Hampton: I'm not surprised the Premier shuffled off the question, because this is about the Premier's credibility gap: promising desperate parents and their autistic children that they will receive IBI treatment, and then it doesn't happen.

As for the Minister of Education, Minister, next to zero is happening in the school system. The only reason that some children are receiving treatment is because the court ordered you to do it, something which the McGuinty government then appealed against. You're not providing IBI treatment for children in schools, and you're not providing IBI treatment for other children not in school. There are children languishing on the waiting list while you fight tooth and nail against the very promise the Premier made.

I say to the Premier again: This was your promise to desperate parents, to vulnerable kids. You've got the $3-billion budget surplus. Why are autistic children languishing on waiting lists while you deny them IBI treatment?

5/01/2006 8:30 p.m.  
Blogger Alex Plante a dit...


Kennedy might not have a degree but he did study at those universities. He is a 3 courses away from his degree. His experience, I guess, will do for the lack of a degree. Note that Gilles Duceppe doesn't have a degree either.

I do understand your concerns about autistic children as I know a few people with autistic children and they have to work very hard.


5/01/2006 8:38 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Sorry forgot about Rae, my mistake.

Sandra, thank you for your clarification on your lack of support for Mr. Kennedy.

I would like to offer you a guest post on my blog to put forward your ideas on this issue and will e-mail you this offer as well.

Or you can simply start your own blog, not just an e-mail account, to voice your opinion and perhaps the opinions of other concerned parents in your group.

If you need any help please let me know. Just click on my initials and then on personal bio then on e-mail. I've been figuring this stuff out for a while on my own now. I'm sure other people would be willing to help you navigate the blog world as well.

5/01/2006 8:40 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

Why does Dryden get a D? He din't have to speak French while playing fo the Habs, and guess what? He doesn't have to speak French (all that much) to be a good PM.

5/01/2006 9:43 p.m.  
Anonymous dutchymtl a dit...

(from Montreal) I am told that M.Ignatieff's french language skills are very marginal.
Don't know about B.Ray but I guess he has a lot of other baggage..........
I see no new PM in the current lot of candidates yet.
How about drafting Jeffry Simpson himself ??
is he eligible ?? (US born)

P.S The MSM reports that there are 300,000 autistic children in Canada and that it takes about $48,000/yr/child for proper support (which they absolutely deserve) but those numbers amount to over $14 billion/yr!!!
Can anyone clarify that for me ??

5/01/2006 10:19 p.m.  
Anonymous curtis a dit...


Your quote of Mr.McGuinty and Mr. Kennedy only shows that they were continuing to "expand" services. I do not see any quote that there was a refusal to consider more funding for autism programs.

Why don't you address your concerns/questions to the Kennedy campaign??? I am a Kennedy supporter and I believe more funding for autism is necessary.

I think you will get more positive results through a diplomatic route. Since you are a Dryden supporter, I don't think you want to be part of the drive by smear crowd that appears on the blogs to attack other candidates.

5/01/2006 11:39 p.m.  
Anonymous MississaugaPeter a dit...

According to

Most recent epidemiological studies show that the prevalence has increased from 40 to 60 per 10,000 which represents approximately 190,000 Canadians.

And according to

In fact, autism rates are on the rise in Canada, and it's estimated about 150,000 Canadian children have the disorder.

5/01/2006 11:40 p.m.  
Anonymous Liberals unite a dit...


See your point.
I agree with sb that fluency in French cannot be the main reason behind choosing the next leader. There are many bilingual academics out there but this does not mean that they will make good political leaders.

I think people are judging Kennedy way too quickly. Kennedy never advertised himself as being bilingual but more importantly, he is well on his way to becoming bilingual. He has the ability to become functionally bilingual by the next election. Plus, he has the other critical qualities we need in a new leader: youth, new ideas, long history as a Liberal and 10 years of political experience. I also like the fact that he has lived in Western Canada and has a lot of Western support.

5/01/2006 11:47 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

Geez Sandra, just admit you're working for Ignatieff and be done with it already.

You're not fooling anyone.

5/02/2006 12:26 a.m.  
Blogger bza a dit...

No F's eh? Your grading is sort of like mine. :p

5/02/2006 4:48 a.m.  
Anonymous Chantal a dit...

I am not that interested re: who speaks textbook perfect French vs. Parisian French vs. Quebecois French.
What I want to know is that who will likely be speaking very good French by the time the next election comes around AND have the total package to be leader.

In my opinion, that field is pretty narrow, really down to Kennedy, Dion and Rae.
I don't choose Iggy because he has no political experience and I am not comfortable with that. I have heard Kennedy speak in French. As you state, he understands French perfectly and has to improve his speaking. I hear that he is working on it a lot. So, he is still on my top 3 list.

5/02/2006 11:55 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

You are fucking on Mars with r kool aid A+ for your Ignatieff.

You are nothing but little fucking punks.

This site should be required to be an election expense for Ignatieff.

First it trashed a great young liberal president and brought her to tears. Now it finds , any



5/02/2006 12:31 p.m.  
Anonymous Sandra a dit...

The sad part about Kennedy is that he makes you truly believe that he supports you but then when he gets in a position of power he disappoints.

Working with food banks for more than ten years you would have thought that the hunger and homeless issues would have diminished once Kennedy was in power. NO. It's just as bad in Ontario as it was under Harris.

Just like he promised me and many others things when he was Education-critic. He even spoke about us in Question Period. Once in power he stopped listening and caring.

5/02/2006 12:54 p.m.  
Anonymous reality check a dit...


You are entitled to your opinion. However, no one politician can cure the ills of the world, including your favourite, Dryden.

To suggest that we should think negatively of Kennedy because hunger and poverty still exist, is ridiculous. He has done more for individuals in that predicament than the majority of politicians.

Kennedy actually accomplished a lot as Education Minister and there are many individuals and groups that are very pleased with the incredible work he did in that role. They do consider him as a minister that listened and cared. As a member of cabinet, one minister does not get the final say over major decisions. Did Kennedy actually have the final say to fund the program you wanted to the extent you wanted??? I think you are leaving out some important facts.

You are obviously hoping that your personal experience on a single issue will influence other Liberals. However, you also have to respect the numerous other opinions that will not agree with you.

5/02/2006 4:04 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

I think making a point of Harper's less than perfect French is simply dumb and ill-sighted. As we saw in the last election, his less than perfect French was not a negative factor... It put him back on the map in Quebec and saved the federalist cause in this province at least for the near future. His ability to communicate his ideas is good, and that's what counted.

In short, biligualism is very important, and a leader of this country must be bilingual, but the whole grading thing is stupid. Haper won seats in Quebec, and he's an average French speaker. If this site is trying to say that a better French speaker will win more seats in Quebec, THEY ARE TOTALLY IGNORANT TO QUEBEC VOTERS.

5/02/2006 5:26 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

Pour un site Quebecois, on voit tellement beaucoup de postes en francais.

5/02/2006 5:28 p.m.  
Blogger Alex Plante a dit...

Au dernier anonyme,

La vaste majorité de mes textes sont en français. Ce dernier texte était une évaluation de la capacité à parler français des candidats à la chefferie. C'était destiné à un lectorat anglophone qui ne serait pas en mesure d'évaluer les différents candidats.


5/02/2006 8:23 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

5/03/2006 1:59 a.m.  
Blogger Sinestra a dit...

As much respect as I have for M. Dion, as a Quebec Anglo, I have to concur with the anon poster who pointed out that his English is not very good. I remarked to another Liberal at D'ville this weekend that his very strong accent might not hurt him here at home, but his less than stellar command of the Queen's English will garble his message elsewhere in Canada. So while those who are less fluent in French would be well advised to practice, practice, practice, M. Dion would do well to work on his English allocution.

5/03/2006 8:42 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...

I agree with one of the posts that this blog site has become very partisan in favour of Ignatieff.

As a result, Fuddle Duddle has lost credibility. That's the price a blog pays for endorsing a candidate -- everything you write is done, purposely or ot, with a bias towards favouring Ignatieff. Therefore, Fuddle Duddle is no longer a credible source of information.

The same thing has happened to Calgary Grit's blog.

Ignatieff is not dumb. He has gone out of his way to "woo" the bloggers. It's a smart move, but it doesn't make up for the fact that he tends to ignore people even as he speaking with them. Oh, plus the whole torture, Iraq, and anti-Ukrainian comments.

I agree that French is vital for a candidate and some will obvisouly be more fluent than others. However, simply speaking French doesn't mean you now what Quebecers want or would vote for.

For example, I'm sure there are plenty of Americans who speak French (for one reason for another) but wouldn't have the slightest clue want is important to Quebecers.

Come to think of it, I think we have one of those in the race ...

I'll take someone who has lived in Quebec and in Canada whose French is average any day of the week because he has a better chance of understanding Quebec rather than an American who speaks perfect French.

5/03/2006 11:40 a.m.  
Anonymous lp a dit...

Have to agree with the last anonymous poster. Of course, you are going to rate Iggy's French at the top since you support Iggy and his formidable National opponent Kennedy is rated much lower than he should be. I would give Iggy an A and Kennedy a B.
As mentioned, you cannot pick a candidate based mostly on French speaking ability. Steven Harper has proven everyone wrong on that one.

5/03/2006 7:30 p.m.  
Blogger Alex Plante a dit...

Hey guys,

If French was my only concern, I would have chosen Stéphane Dion and maybe Bob Rae over Michael Ignatieff...

The assessment was based solely on their ability to speak French. Picking a candidate involves much more than that. Since the major part of the readership is English, I figured that as a Francophone I could help in assessing the ability to speak French.

For the the other criterias, most people can choose their candidates by themselves.

For the ones that are crying because Kennedy got a bad mark. Most of you are probably not francophones. You probably didn't spend a lunch trying to listen to what Mr Kennedy was saying in French. I am a francophone and I spent time with Kennedy.

His ability to speak French is much below Harper. And for those who say that Harper didn't speak French in 2004. You might be right but he got ZERO seats in Quebec in 2004...



5/04/2006 2:02 p.m.  
Anonymous Elizabeth Thompson a dit...


Your assessment was so interesting that I have posted it on my own blog with links to Fuddle Duddle. The blog just started this week with a goal to tell some of les histoires de coulisse on Parliament Hill and federal politics that don't normally make it into the paper. If this is a problem please let me know - your e-mail link on the site didn't work.

5/05/2006 6:41 a.m.  

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