Language and Politics in the United States and Canada: Myths and Realities

By Thomas Ricento; Barbara Burnaby | Go to book overview

while the majority language retained preeminent status. The government of Ontario is in a position to learn from this omission. Rather than work toward official-language status for French in the province, the policy of gradualism could culminate with guarantees provided for specific purposes, thereby recognizing the geographic and demographic realities of the province. The counsel for language policy offered by Williams ( 1991) is applicable in Ontario:

One can do as great a disservice to a language minority by exaggerating its capacity to act and to fulfil state expectations, as one can by denying the legitimacy of its claims and neglecting the requisite provision of resources so as to allow language reproduction. (p. 21)

The majority of the Franco-Ontarian population is situated in or near the borderlands illustrated in Fig. 11.1. These people enjoy a geographical concentration and critical mass that allows them to support and sustain a number of organizations and institutions, which have been essential in the unending efforts to maintain their cultural identity. Their geographical proximity to Quebec, the heartland of francophone culture in North America, permits an interaction that has also been significant to the cultural sustenance of these borderlanders. For the francophones in the language islands, several of the spatial and demographic characteristics of the aforementioned are absent, particularly the opportunity for regular interaction with Quebec. The local minority-language institutions have provided the scaffolding for cultural continuity. An attempt by the provincial government to foster empathy among a local majority to compensate for weaknesses that are developing in the scaffolding of their neighbors has greater opportunity for success, if planned and executed intelligently, than a policy of official language status that embraces the entire province.


REFERENCES

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada(APEC). ( 1986, December). "Language referendum needed". APEC Newsletter, 9( 8).

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC). ( 1987, October/November). "Government policy". APEC Newsletter, 10( 7).

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC). ( 1988, November). "Apartheid Ontario style". APEC Newsletter, 11 ( 8).

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC). ( 1989, August). Bill 8 -- "chaos in eastern Ontario". APEC Newsletter, 12( 6).

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC). ( 1989, September). "Aftermath of Ontario's Bill 8, the French language services act". APEC Newsletter, 12( 7).

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC). ( 1989, November). "Nothing to worry about, Mr. Premier?" APEC Newsletter, 12( 9).

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC). ( 1990, June). "Social fabric undergoing change". APEC Newsletter, 13( 4).

-297-

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