In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Making Progress in French

Posted 2/9/2009 by Grant Mitchell


 I am trying very hard to learn French. I have attended immersion classes at Saint Jean Sur Richelieu several times over the last two years and take as many lessons as I can fit into my schedule each week. I now have a francophone person working with me and we speak only French to each other. My anglophone staffer and I speak almost exclusively French now as well.


I think I am making some progress. I also think it is harder to do this as you get older. I have at least some advantage in that I worked in Parliament 35 years ago and purposely sought out francophone MPs to work for. I am determined to become passably bilingual as soon as I can and hope to work always to improve my ability with this beautiful language.


As much as I love Alberta, I believe that Quebec is a very special part of Canada as well. Quebec has made us appreciate culture and opened the door to our multicultural heritage.

Quebecers are a unique window on the Francophone world, giving Canada enhanced international stature and access to trade and investment opportunities that we would otherwise not have. Their language and culture provide an additional richness to Canada.


Having been in the Senate now for almost 4 years and observing Quebecers and other francophone Canadians, I think I have properly concluded that Quebecers are moved by the fear that they could lose their language if they do not protect it in every way that they can.  Surrounded as they are with largely anglophone populations, this is a very real fear. I can only imagine what it would mean to fear that your children might lose their ability to speak your language.


I value greatly the bilingual nature of Canada. I feel very deeply as a Westerner who has the privilege to work in our Parliament with so many Quebecois and other francophone Canadians that I must learn to speak with them in their language.

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