He's a despicable man, who's not only apparently dishonest, but racist, and recently added arrogant to his resume, when he called the people of Quebec illiterate. He just doesn't know when to stop.
Tory MP under fire for language comments about Quebecers
Mike De Souza,
Canwest News Service
March 15, 2009
OTTAWA -- A backbench Tory MP from Quebec City has landed himself in hot water after describing Quebecers as a bunch of "illiterates" when it comes to the English language.
Speaking about education at a parliamentary hearing, Daniel Petit, the Conservative MP for Charlebourg-Haute-Saint-Charles, said that his assessment was based on a comparison with the Alberta school system where he lived in the past. He explained that his four children studied both in Quebec and Alberta, but that the latter province invested more in its education system.
"Whether in elementary or secondary (school), English is practically swept under the rug (in Quebec)," Petit, 60, said last week at the House of Commons official languages committee. "At the university level, it's even worse. We have illiterates of the second language."
But Petit's remarks contradict recent statistics which revealed that French-speaking Quebecers were more likely to be bilingual than their English-speaking counterparts in the rest of Canada. A new research analysis by the Association for Canadian Studies concluded that many francophones are getting enough exposure to their second language in school to propel them to excel in bilingualism in their mid-teen years and after they hit the workforce.
"Whatever (francophones) have learned, however uneven or insufficient their learning is, it seems be enough to push them into a very significant degree of bilingualism, once they've finished school," said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the association, in an interview. "Anglophones in the rest of the country, don't seem to have the opportunity or excitement . . . about learning the other language."
Critics quickly pounced on the gaffe from the Tory MP who has developed a reputation for stirring up controversy.
"It's insulting and offensive toward Quebecers," said Michel Guimond, the parliamentary whip for the Bloc Quebecois. "Once a person calls Quebecers illiterate, regardless of which area (or language), it's totally unacceptable and showing contempt."
Guimond said the remarks also demonstrate the weakness and lack of credibility of the Conservative party in Quebec.
Petit, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, has previously faced calls for his resignation and was forced to apologize in 2006 for drawing links between school shootings in Montreal and the integration of immigrants in Quebec. He was also chastised by the Bloc last fall for suggesting that the opposition party played a role in recent riots in a suburban neighbourhood of Montreal.
"How do you spell pathetic?" asked Liberal MP Denis Coderre. "Frankly, there have been so many times where that guy showed a lack of judgment and nonsense (that) I don't know what he's doing there (as an MP). People from (his riding) must be ashamed to have an MP like that."
An aide in Petit's Ottawa office said that the MP was very busy, and would not likely have time for an interview to explain his comments.
But when asked if the remarks represented the views of the Harper government, Heritage Minister James Moore said the government was committed to investing money across the country in support of the official languages.
"For us, there are two official languages in our country, and we are protecting them," Moore said in the Commons on Wednesday.
Coderre said the government should force Petit to apologize and straighten him up to demonstrate that it doesn't endorse what he is saying.