Thursday, February 21, 2008

Federal government language policy

A young man was hired as the lifeguard at the pool at
the Prime Minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive.
The PM's family was making use of the pool when one of his children encountered some difficulty and cried for help.
The lifeguard ignored the cries, so the PM himself had to plunge into
the pool to rescue the boy.
Afterwards, the PM grilled the lifeguard. "You ass! Didn't you see that
my son was in trouble?"
"Yes, sir, but I can't swim."
"How the hell did you land the job of lifeguard then?"
"I'm bilingual."
This made the PM angry.

(Disclaimer: this was a joke -- but it does, in a Seinfeld kind of way, sum up the situation with the federal government).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sportsnet stupidity

I really don't understand Sportsnet. Their contract with the NHL, it appears, is regionally based. But I guess the centre of that regional universe is Toronto. Last night they had NHL games advertised on the on-screen TV guide for Ontario East, Ontario and Sportnet West. The HD channel advertised the Toronto game. Ontario East got to see the Sens vs. Flyers in non-HD TV. And on a 1080p TV, their feed does not look great. But when you tune into the HD channel, where they've advertised the Leafs -- we got poker, and then billiards in glorious HD. How wonderful!
Mr. Bitterman emailed Sportsnet for an answer, and this is what we got:
"Dear Mr. Bitterman,
Unfortunately, due to blackout restrictions set forth by the NHL, not Sportsnet, we are only able to broadcast NHL SD/HD games regionally this season. In other words, since you live in Nepean (East of the Belleville/Pembroke line), you will only be able to access our Senators games on Sportsnet East. All other teams' games will be blacked out from you. Please keep in mind that Sportsnet's HD channel is a feed made available nationally -- this means that we cannot air NHL regional games on this channel due to the aforementioned blackout restrictions. Our apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause.
These NHL imposed regional restrictions have been in place since Sportsnet's inception in 1998.
Daniel Zaiontz
Audience Relations"
If, like Zaiontz says, "Sportsnet's HD channel is a feed made available nationally -- this means that we cannot air NHL regional games on this channel due to the aforementioned blackout restrictions," then why did the online guide advertise the Leafs game, then? Sportsnet is owned by Rogers. I have Rogers. They make me angry. I should get Bell.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ottawa cabbies won't smile for the cameras

Ottawa cabbies, it seems, are camera shy. The City of Ottawa wants to pass a bylaw to place cameras in cabs -- ostensibly for the public's and cabbies' protection. The cabbies don't like it. They call them "spy" cameras.
I wonder why cabbies don't want to be scrutinized?
Let me relate a scenario. I was talking to the owner of my local pizza joint recently. She tells me her delivery drivers will soon be equipped with wireless Interac machines. That way, when the pizza delivery person arrives, you can pay for your pizza with your debit card. My point here is the technology exists.
Now, whenever I have taken a cab from downtown Ottawa to the suburbs -- at least a $50-$60 cab ride (which is ludicruous in itself), the cabbie has insisted on cash. This hasn't happened just once. It has always been the case; regardless of my asking to pay by credit card (let alone having the opportunity to pay by the wireless Interac machine). They want cash. In fact, the last time I took this trek, the cabbie took me to a bank machine before he took me home. His insistence! He didn't want my credit card.
So why do they insist on cash for these higher-priced fares? So why don't they want cameras in their cabs? I don't know. I'm just sayin'.
But always having to pay cash makes me angry.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Removing prayer cheap political points for McGuinty

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is a man with no conviction.
During the last election, he made it a one-issue campaign by seizing the opportunity to pounce on PC leader John Tory's pledge to fund faith-based schools. Tory felt by funding other religious schools, it was not only fair, but it brought those schools, presently private, into the Ontario-wide curriculumn. In other words, it would standardize the education.
But McGuinty, like so many Liberals, feels he knows what's best for Ontarians. McGuinty, a Catholic whose children went to Catholic schools and whose wife teaches in one, campaigned vigorously against funding other religions, with the claim that it polarizes our children. Conspicuously and conveniently absent from his message was that Ontario already funds Catholic and Protestant schools. I mean, if he were a man of conviction, then he would fund just one school system in the province, wouldn't he?
Now he wants to remove prayer from the Ontario legislature. McGuinty said it was time to "move beyond" the Lord's Prayer to a more inclusive custom that better reflects Ontario's multiculturalism.
First off, I haven't read any reports that anyone actually complained about the Lord's prayer being recited. No, this is McGuinty's way of trying to get cheap votes from the non-Christian population.
But even so, the Lord's prayer is not overtly Christian-specific per se. It of course is a Christian prayer and is cited in the Bible. But other than mentioning "our father", its message is universal. I don't think any other religion would find that prayer non-inclusive or offensive.
Furthermore, many of these other religions -- the same ones McGuinty campaigned against funding their own schools -- actually send their kids to Catholic schools because of its moral base. And as far as I know, none of them complain about the Lord's Prayer!
Liberals have no sense of tradition (unless it's renaming a mountain after Trudeau!). McGuinty has no backbone and no conviction. Just a penchant for cheap political points.
He makes me angry.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Finally. Some language common sense

Randall Denley in the Ottawa Citizen is talking common sense when it comes to the federal public service hiring process which favours bilingual candidates only. In his piece, Time to rethink raison d'être for bilingualism, Denley writes about The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) appearance before a House of Commons committee. "Not only does that policy restrict access to public-service jobs for unilingual Canadians, the need to learn two new languages impairs the government's ability to hire visibility minorities, the union says. The whole situation is made worse by the failure to provide language training to employees," Denley reports.

You may recall that Mr. Bitterman made this statement about minorities (something Mr. Denley's colleague failed to realize) in an earlier blog -- It's the Language, Stupid!

The best point the union and Denley make, however, is that the level of bilingualism required in the public service is unrealistic. It's not needed. "One of the keys to fairness is taking a more realistic approach to the level of bilingualism that is actually required...language requirements should reflect the actual duties of the position. That seems self-evident, but the federal public service is pushing for fluency in jobs where surely adequacy would suffice. Maybe the boss's French, or English, isn't as good as that of a native speaker, but if you can communicate with him, what's the problem?"

Meanwhile, our friends at PWGSC are still fighting the good fight. One of their leaders, Sean MacInnes, wrote Mr. Bitterman, and he had this to say about their meeting with Official Languages: "Our meeting Tuesday was very successful. It lasted 90 minutes and there is an investigation taking place in (PWGSC) and we should know more in the coming weeks. Official Languages says they take all complaints very seriously and agreed that it appears excessive here. I'll keep you posted."

He encourages everyone who is fed up to complain. There's strength through numbers. Without this kind of common sense, the federal hiring policies regarding language make me angry.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Who's scarier? The stalkers or the stalkee?

I haven't been a subscriber to Macleans in years. But I was in my doctor's office recently and picked up a January, 2008 copy. I wanted some easy reading so turned to Rebecca Eckler's article, The Anti-eckler bloggers host a 'party'. When I finished reading it, I didn't know who was scarier -- she or those she was writing about. You be the judge. But I think they all need to get another hobby. They're all way too self-absorbed. And they make me angry. (By posting this, does that make me one of them? D'oh!)

Parking woes

Paying for parking makes me angry. Paying MORE for parking, more often, makes me very angry. Sign the petition against increasing downtown parking meter fees and times. It's ludicrous.
From the committee opposed to increased fees and times:
"We have updated our online petition. Please support our efforts and sign the new updated petition if you have not already done so. More importantly make your view known to your Ward Councillor.
Nous vous demandons de bien signer notre pétition et de plus faire connaître vos commentaires à votre conseiller.
Those who voted FOR the increase on Transportation Committee this week were:
Les conseillers suivant ont voté en faveur de la hausse des tarifs au Comité des transports cette semaine:
Mayor/ Maire O’Brien
Councillors / Conseillers : Wilkinson, Cullen, Bloess, Thompson and McRae.
The item goes to Council either on February 13th or 27th.
Le rapport sera à l’ordre du jour au Conseil le 13 ou 27 février."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Unilingual English AND French discriminated against

The comment sent in my previous post makes a good point, one that I failed to mention. Both unilingual (or at least not fully bilingual) English AND French are being discriminated against with this heavy-handed Official Languages policy.
As our friends at PWGSC stated in their letter to Graham Fraser: "There has not been one opportunity that we can recall for unilingual employees, may they be English or French in years. And as a result, many quality employees have been forced to leave RPB to areas where the language requirements are not as punishing. Unilingual Canadians, at least a few years back, were considered valued employees in the workplace. Now it would seem that they are a burden to the social engineering project."
The Official Languages policy, taken directly from the Official Language Commissioner's web site under the tab, "your language rights", states the following (you tell me if the hiring practices of the federal government provide equality to non-bilingual people):
"All Canadians, whether English OR French and without regard to their ethnic origin or first language learned, have the right to benefit from the Government of Canada's commitment to ensuring that they have equal opportunities to obtain employment and advancement in Federal Institutions".
The hiring policies, of not just PWGSC, but throughout the Government of Canada, are prohibitive to those who do not have a strong command of BOTH lanaguages.
It makes me angry.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Language matters

Hooray for a group of unilingual anglophone public servants at Publice Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) in Ottawa for taking our ridiculous Official Languages policy to task. See Randall Denley's column in the Ottawa Citizen.
The group's letter to Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser states, "Census figures recently revealed that 85 per cent of Canadians overall called themselves unilingual while only seven per cent of Anglophones outside of Quebec could converse in French. This despite billions of dollars being invested in immersion and language training programs. Why is language taking precedence over merit in hiring?"
Canada's idiotic language policy makes me angry.