26 August 2009

Old soldiers never die ... they just get played away

... I was quite involved with St Anne's after it was discovered that the new French management was hiring only French personnel as the English left and also applying French tests to the surviving English medical and nursing staff to see if they could stay ...

Despite its location in Quebec, 70 per cent of the patients were English, statistically reflecting the percentage of Quebec soldiers who went to World War II (and WWI for that matter).

So what happened was that a high number of patients were dying in French, which of course was viewed as no bad thing to those who are horror-struck by the prospect of a French guy dying in English.

The complaint came from a Dr Harry Polansky (latter a leader of the Canada Party which had an interesting history of its own), a dentist, while I was at the Suburban. I got him to write a detailed letter to the editor (letters to the editor have a slight measure of qualified privilege in libel law) outlining his charges.

After I published this, I went after the head hospital honcho, who despite his English name, was French, and did a few more stories, gathering more sources. Eventually, under considerable pressure, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages did what they called an "Enhanced Investigation" and found what we were saying was true.

Of course, nothing was done about it, other than supposedly ending the advertising for bilingual staff in French journals only.

Curiously, I wanted a copy of the report and press release from the Commission of the Official Languages office about six years ago to help a friend of mine (Kim McConnell of the Language Fairness movement in Ottawa which has Harold Galganov behind it), but they would not release it, even though they had made it public at the time. I think you would have to go to the Freedom of Information people to get it now ...

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