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Without fluently Bi-lingual leadership candidates, is the Conservative Party headed for an election defeat?


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When I read of ”J’ai sera candidate”, strains of Doris Day arose unbidden. As The Beaverton put it:

Quote

Conservative Party leadership hopeful Peter MacKay has decided to stop speaking in one of Canada’s official languages by substituting his French with the screeching noise made by his fingernails against a chalkboard.

MacKay, who spent the past five years attempting to pass level 1 French on Duolingo, says that he made a valiant effort at learning, but just can’t seem to get the hang of communicating with 20% of Canada’s population.

However, in a nod to francophones across the country, MacKay will irritate everyone instead of only those who can speak and understand French.

 

 

Edited by SpankyMcFarland
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On 4/18/2020 at 10:08 PM, Argus said:

Do you speak French? Fluently? I worked in the federal government for years and I can tell you that the only anglos I ever met who spoke fluent, fluid French were Quebecers. To say most people took it in school is nonsense. Lots of people in Ottawa took French immersion for years and shortly after graduating they weren't considered bilingual. If you don't use a language constantly it disappears. And outside a few narrow corridors where there are lots of Francophones there's nowhere that French is useful. To suggest that after going to college, then starting a career and working at it for ten or twenty years you're going to remember your old high school French enough to do more than ask where the bathroom is is wildly unrealistic. The Conservatives select leaders from a very narrow group of people who are bilingual, sacrificing higher quality people who might be much more capable and charistmatic for someone who can speak halting french, like Harper and Scheer and Clark, and now McKay. And what does that get? A half dozen seats in Quebec? Hardly worth it.

If the Conservatives want to win more seats in Quebec the only way to do it is get a Quebec leader.

I can sort of relate to that.  I was a French immersion student all through highschool, but I wouldn't call myself fluent.  I can read French fluently.  I can speak French with good grammar and be understood in France or Quebec.  I'd struggle to have a business or political conversation because we never really learned the vocabulary for it and without constant practice you start to forget even simple words.  I was in Montreal last year and had trouble asking for an iron to press my shirt at my hotel.  The word for it completely escaped me.  On the other hand, my buddy and I ended up spending a week in Mexico with 2 girls from Germany and 2 girls from Marseille, and the only language we had in common was French.  It wasn't a problem, and the words start coming back to you quickly when you start using the language again.  

I disagree that the Conservatives need a Quebec leader to garner representation in Quebec.  Harper managed something like 12-14 seats IIRC, and his French made me cringe.  He sort of put together a Mulroney-style minority in the beginning.  Of course it didn't last, but he showed that it could be done.  A properly educated French speaking Anglo, who's developed or maintained his vocabularly, no doubt could manage appeal in the more conservative Quebec ridings.  Much of the province, however, would be shut out to him, but then much of it is shut out to the Conservatives anyways. 

Your point about sacrificing talent and suitability in exchange for limited bi-lingualism is fair.  There's no point in putting a schmuck on the ticket just because he can speak French poorly.  All things being equal, however, Quebec WILL vote for an Anglo that speaks French under the right circumstances.  If it was a tie or close, I'd still choose the FSL candidate over the strictly English speaker.   

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1 hour ago, Moonbox said:

 On the other hand, my buddy and I ended up spending a week in Mexico with 2 girls from Germany and 2 girls from Marseille, and the only language we had in common was French.  It wasn't a problem, and the words start coming back to you quickly when you start using the language again.  

Sure, but it doesn't give you the kind of French Quebecois respect. Anglos are used to people bastardizing our language and mostly accept it. Francophones do NOT like their language being spoken with wretched accents and grammar mistakes. The saying is it 'hurts their ears".

1 hour ago, Moonbox said:

Your point about sacrificing talent and suitability in exchange for limited bi-lingualism is fair.  There's no point in putting a schmuck on the ticket just because he can speak French poorly.  All things being equal, however, Quebec WILL vote for an Anglo that speaks French under the right circumstances.

Yes, the right circumstances being no acceptable Quebec candidate to vote for.

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But such fine distinctions are a long way from MacKay's French, right? We're not talking anything like perfect fluency here. He seems to have made very little effort to improve despite decades in federal government. That's a more general strike against him. 

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8 hours ago, SpankyMcFarland said:

But such fine distinctions are a long way from MacKay's French, right? We're not talking anything like perfect fluency here. He seems to have made very little effort to improve despite decades in federal government. That's a more general strike against him. 

My problem isn't with MacKay's lousy French, which I'm sure he's working on. My problem is with him being the defacto choice as leader because 98% of those who might have stepped forward aren't bilingual. There really isn't very much to recommend him as a leader EXCEPT he's bilingual. The same situation prevailed with most of the candidates in the previous leadership contest. The only time that contest had even a smattering of energy was when Kevin O'Leary was in it. And yes, I know he's a dick, but he had charisma and ideas and personality - all completely lacking in the rest of the candidates and in MacKay.

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On ‎4‎/‎25‎/‎2020 at 11:33 AM, Argus said:

My problem isn't with MacKay's lousy French, which I'm sure he's working on. My problem is with him being the defacto choice as leader because 98% of those who might have stepped forward aren't bilingual. There really isn't very much to recommend him as a leader EXCEPT he's bilingual. The same situation prevailed with most of the candidates in the previous leadership contest. The only time that contest had even a smattering of energy was when Kevin O'Leary was in it. And yes, I know he's a dick, but he had charisma and ideas and personality - all completely lacking in the rest of the candidates and in MacKay.

Why O'Leary is not trying to improve his french? Or try to learn french for a start? I do not know him actually. Just heard his name a while ago.

I'm sure O'Leary does not target to win Quebec anyway. But if he can consolidate the traditional conservatives seats in Quebec by handling a basic french, it would be worth it for him. I doubt very much that MacKay's french is out of reach. Someone that really take this seriously can make it. Harper could barely speak french in his beginning of politics and he said it several times that he never regretted learning it.

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