Kanadoodle’s federal government spends about 2.4 billion dollars a year to promote bilingualism and ensure that everyone in Kanadoodle has a right to be misunderstood in either the French or English language (and that doesn’t even count the added consumer costs of bilingual product labeling). As a result, and in true Kanadoodle fashion, this has resulted in great resentment from both English and French speaking factions within the country. Quebec is constantly fighting to maintain its language and, on occasion, has resorted to invoking the NOTWITHSTANDING clause of Kanadoodle’s constitution to stick it to the English speaking minority in la belle province. First came the bill to restrict shop owners from having any signs in English, then came the bill to forbid the wearing of religious symbols and now they are passing legislation to restrict the operation of all government offices to French language only. Already aware that such legislation defies Kanadoodle’s constitution, they have vowed to pre-invoke the NOTWITHSTANDING clause. Vive le Québec libre – indeed!
If such antics are a mystery to you, it may be necessary to open the freezer, move the boxes of meat pies and check out Kanadoodle’s frozen past.
When ‘Murica’s founding fathers penned their constitution, they had a delicate task balancing the authority of the federal government as opposed to the rights of the individual state governments. Citizens living in states didn’t want to be ruled by a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington – it was too much like being bossed around by a king in far off England. When ‘Muricans struck the federal/state balance they liked, they signed a constitution that gave their Supreme Court the final right to interpret the constitutional validity of any law.
Kanadoodle’s founding fathers had a similar problem determining what the rights of the provinces would be compared to the federal government but, aside from the usual difficulties in getting the provinces to agree to anything, there was Quebec, where most people spoke French – making it a province like no other in Kanadoodle.
Quebec, like the rest of the new world, was stolen from the original native inhabitants (now referred to as ‘first nations’) by the French. The French proceeded to lose it to the English in 1759 at a battle on the Plains of Abraham. The local French troops were convinced that they would have won the battle if it had been fought in a hockey rink, but their masters in France weren’t convinced. In 1763, France ceded their claims for the new world to the English in exchange for a couple of tiny islands. This left a lot of disgruntled French speaking people in Quebec with little love for the English.
So, when it came to making a country out of our frozen wastelands, it was decided that Kanadoodle would be officially a ‘bilingual’ country, so we could include Quebec and still be able to talk in our igloos in either French or English – hooray Kanadoodle & vive Québec!
When Kanadoodle decided it was time to have its own constitution, it required the provinces to agree on the details, including a ‘Charter of Rights and Freedoms’. It seems that provincial leaders were even more wary of Federal powers than their state brethren in ‘Murica. In order to get the provinces to sign on, the provinces insisted on a ‘NOTWITHSTANDING’ clause. This allowed any province to pass legislation – even if it violated the ‘Charter of Rights’. When the ‘NOTWITHSTANDING’ clause is invoked, it overrides the ‘Charter’ for a period of five years (and needs to be renewed after that).
Whenever the mandarins in Quebec notice a decline in the percentage of the population speaking French, they get in a lather, wrap themselves in fleur-de-lis and have a bash at the English speakers with legislation that defies the ‘Charter of Rights’. In fact, in the 150 plus years of Kanadoodle’s existence, no province has ever utilized this amazing power in the face of more outrage than Quebec. It is part of English-speaking Kanadoodle’s mythology that no other province has ever dared to use this draconian measure. They ignore its use twice by Saskatchewan, once by the Yukon Territory, twice in Ontario and once when Alberta made an effort to block same-sex marriages (no wonder the province is the spiritual heartland of the Consumptive Party). Other provinces may use the NOTWITHSTANDING clause, but they never get media coverage like Quebec.
Many ‘Muricans have an unshakable belief that they live in the greatest country on Earth and they are not shy about sharing this view with everyone. Many Kanadoodlians believe their country is a better place to live, but are far too polite to say so. But let’s face it, aside from our incomparable igloos and vast expanses of melting glaciers, Kanadoodle’s NOTWITHSTANDING clause puts us way ahead of ‘Murica. Just ask yourself – how many states in ‘Murica now wish that they’d held out for a ‘NOTWITHSTANDING’ clause when their constitution was written? Why, ‘Murica could have avoided their civil war and there might still be slaves in the south!
Kanadoodle marches on, NOTWITHSTANDING all its idiot politicians.