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View Poll Results: Should Ottawa be officially bilingual?
Yes, Ottawa should be officially bilingual. 53 60.92%
No, Ottawa should not be officially bilingual. 23 26.44%
Yes, Gatineau should take the same initiative. 30 34.48%
No, gatineau should not take the same initiative. 8 9.20%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 87. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 6:38 PM
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Should Canada's Capital be Officially Bilingual

A fierce debate in Ottawa is brewing regarding whether or not the City should be deemed officially bilingual by Canada's 150th in 2017.

The City's French population consists of 14.2% of the populace, or roughly 130,000-140,000 people. On top of that, the City of Gatineau's English-French split is around 20/80, or 55,000/220,000; I'm mentioning Gatineau because they too have to deal with Ottawa, despite not paying taxes in the main City (think police, parking, transit, work...)

My argument is that both Ottawa and Gatineau should adopt legislation to become officially bilingual.

At this point, there is no such debate in Gatineau. In Ottawa, a few people have expressed support for the initiative (Royal Galipeau, MP in Orleans and Madelaine Meilleur, MPP in Vanier). the Mayor however, has said that the current policies are good enough.

So, I'm interested to know what the rest of Canada thinks; should Ottawa, the Federal Capital of an officially bilingual country, become in turn officially bilingual? By extension, should Gatineau also adopt the same initiative?

I've made it possible to vote twice so that we may express our opinion for both Ottawa and Gatineau.
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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 6:43 PM
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What does deeming a city "bi-lingual" actually entail?
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 6:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
What does deeming a city "bi-lingual" actually entail?
All City services would have to be offered in both official languages, the proportion of positions at the City requiring bilingualism would increase significantly, all documents would have to be drafted in both official languages.

Today, street signs, transit stations and most documents in Ottawa are in both languages however, the translation is sometimes sketchy. Not all documents are translated in both languages, for example, the draft budget is only available in English. The City's website says we could get it translated "on demand", but when we actually ask for it, we get a generic message saying it would take too much time and it would be too expensive so we may ask for specific sections instead. Some University of Ottawa students have found away around it, having about a dozen of them emailing the City asking for different sections, totaling the complete document.

Staff at the City is partially bilingual; often times the French speakers have to do more without any sort of bilingualism bonus. The Police Service has no policies on hiring French speaking officers.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 7:04 PM
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My short answer: Yup/ouais.

Given the City's bilingual policy that has been in place for some time now, I don't know that it would be particularly disruptive for municipal employees. Some transitional measures would be needed, along with provisions for language training.

Almost 4 in 10 Ottawans claim to be bilingual, iirc.

I doubt that Gatineau would be allowed by the Province to become officially bilingual, although its percentage of functionally bilingual residents would be considerably higher than that of Ottawa.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 7:26 PM
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  #6  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 7:47 PM
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Not only should it be bilingual, it shouldn't be part of Ontario at all. Placing Ottawa in Ontario and not within its own unique district was a real mistake. It should be in its own independent governmental entity and neutral on the provincial stage. Also, it being only one city amongst other in Ontario only serves to further downsize its status.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 7:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Rico Rommheim View Post
Not only should it be bilingual, it shouldn't be part of Ontario at all. Placing Ottawa in Ontario and not within its own unique district was a real mistake. It should be in its own independent governmental entity and neutral on the provincial stage. Also, it being only one city amongst other in Ontario only serves to further downsize its status.
I agree. I would even go as far as saying Gatineau should be part of this Federal District. of course, that could entail major consequences in the event of another Québec referendum.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 8:16 PM
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Coming from an officially bilingual city in an officially bilingual province, I can attest that this causes a number of unique challenges, not all of which I am happy with however, since Ottawa is the federal capital of a bilingual country I think it is obvious that it should be a fully bilingual entity. The symbolism of this is far too strong to ignore.

I also am a strong proponent of the concept of a federal district, and I think this should include Gatineau as well. Again, this would present a set of unique challenges and I'm sure the Quebec government would be somewhat disinclined to agree to this concept without a considerable fight.

Fun fact - the District of Columbia in the US was initially formed out of lands donated by both Virginia and Maryland, but in the run up to the Civil War, the Virginians lobbied to get their portion of the district returned in a process called retrocession. The Virginia component of the district subsequently reverted to the County of Alexandria.

This is what the original district looked like.

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  #9  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 8:31 PM
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Absolutely not. Official Bilingualism is affirmative action by another name. It makes speaking two languages the most important job requirement to potentially exclude more competent candidates. Most government jobs do not involve engaging the public and with self service technology, the percentage continues to decline.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 8:35 PM
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Seems like it would be a huge hassle, to be honest. I'll vote no.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 8:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug View Post
Absolutely not. Official Bilingualism is affirmative action by another name. It makes speaking two languages the most important job requirement to potentially exclude more competent candidates. Most government jobs do not involve engaging the public and with self service technology, the percentage continues to decline.
Would you agree that those who do interact with the public, such as police officers, paramedics and fire fighters (jobs for which the pool of candidates is way greater than positions available) should be fully bilingual?
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 8:59 PM
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Originally Posted by theman23 View Post
Seems like it would be a huge hassle, to be honest. I'll vote no.
Taking a similar sized city with a fairly high French population, I would agree that in Winnipeg, for example, it would be to much of a hassle and way too expensive to enact an official bilingualism legislature.

Although I believe Gatineau should follow Ottawa in the potential initiative, it might be in a similar situation as hypothetical Winnipeg case. A more of an incremental approach would be warranted.

In the case of Ottawa, considering nearly everything is already posted in both official languages on City property, the only thing that would need to be done is produce a few more documents in both languages and change hiring policies for those dealing with the public. These changes could be made within a few years, tops.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 9:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.OT13 View Post
Taking a similar sized city with a fairly high French population, I would agree that in Winnipeg, for example, it would be to much of a hassle and way too expensive to enact an official bilingualism legislature.

Although I believe Gatineau should follow Ottawa in the potential initiative, it might be in a similar situation as hypothetical Winnipeg case. A more of an incremental approach would be warranted.

In the case of Ottawa, considering nearly everything is already posted in both official languages on City property, the only thing that would need to be done is produce a few more documents in both languages and change hiring policies for those dealing with the public. These changes could be made within a few years, tops.
Would it even require that? Aren't most of Ottawa's service to public positions already bilingual under the existing policy?
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  #14  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 9:49 PM
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I thought Ottawa was already pretty bilingual. Don't you need to speak french for most jobs there already?
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 9:59 PM
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Originally Posted by White Pine View Post
I thought Ottawa was already pretty bilingual. Don't you need to speak french for most jobs there already?
Definitely not in the private sector. At the federal, provincial and municipal level, there are lots of positions requiring bilingualism, but many do not.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 10:05 PM
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I never thought of it, but if someone asked, I would've assumed that I already was.

Yes, it should be. It's one of the few in the country that actually is. And I'm fine with Gatineau remaining just French.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 11:17 PM
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Yes, if, and only if, Gatineau requires English, and it can get exempted from the French-language requirements of Quebec.

Until the day Gatineau separates from Quebec - something I would support - the above isn't going to happen. Therefore, Ottawa should not be officially bilingual.

The existing provincial requirements for French services in Ontario communities where populations warrant is sufficient. That said, I have long been in favour of Ottawa being separate from Ontario. It can't be easy to be the second most populous municipality in Ontario but be so far removed from the GTA that it can be easy to get ignored by Queen's Park. Tim Hudak committed political suicide in Ottawa during the last provincial election campaign by telling the city it wouldn't fund Phase 2 of its LRT project, and that alienated a lot of voters, especially once the mayor accused Hudak of focusing too much on the GTA.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2015, 11:50 PM
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Nope I'm not paying extra money to replace signs and bla bla bla bla bla.............
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  #19  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2015, 1:02 AM
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First of all, I am part of Ottawa's Anglo majority. I am in favour of providing good French services, however, the problem with official bilingualism is that it discriminates against the majority. That already exists in the federal public service. Official bilingualism dictates that people are entitled to work in their own language, which means that all supervisory jobs become bilingual mandatory. The situation in Ottawa already means that the Anglo majority works in the private sector. I am in favour of practical bilingualism but not official bilingualism. If this were ever to happen, it will never be reciprocated on the Quebec side. I do not see this as politically saleable in Ottawa.
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Old Posted Mar 22, 2015, 1:05 AM
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I think the NCR is already a microcosm of Canada anyway, with its two unilingual sections, a main Anglo one, and a smaller Franco one. It doesn't bug me at all.

Who cares about the municipal level... it doesn't change anything to the Federal government's bilingualism, or lack thereof. Anyone who works for the Fed govt can already live in the official language of their choice in the area.
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