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Government Considers Sending Unilingual Anglophone Public Servants to Quebec Prisons to Learn French

Government Considers Sending Unilingual Anglophone Public Servants to Quebec Prisons to Learn French

After witnessing Karla Homolka's ubiquitous interview on Radio-Canada, federal officials are reportedly considering a new program to bolster the French skills of Anglophone public servants who can't meet the federal government's bilingualism requirements.

"We've spent tens of millions of dollars over the past 30 years trying to train English people who still can't even swear in French," said a spokesperson for Treasury Board Minister Reg Allcock-himself a unilingual anglophone. The spokesperson, who requested anonymity because he's a great big chicken, indicated that Homolka's surprisingly high degree of proficiency in French has prompted the feds to examine whether there may be a better way to produce a more "language-compliant" public service.

"Yeah, we are definitely considering, uhm, 're-deploying' some of our more linguistically challenged blockhead employees for exciting new assignments in various Quebec-based federal institutions," admitted the spokesperson.

"No, I can't see PSAC having a problem with this. Why do you ask?"

Homolka entered prison 12 years ago unable to communicate in French by all accounts. However, after spending several years of her sentence incarcerated in Quebec, she demonstrated an excellent command of accented yet fluid blue collar prison French in her provocative interview with SRC reporter Joyce Napier.

One Ottawa civil servant has already agreed to take part in a pilot project of the nascent 'apprendre le francais dans le prison' program. Dan Neustlerooy's inability to grasp the French language has cost him several opportunities for promotions in the government, he claims. Therefore, this spring, he agreed to spend the next two years in Port-Cartier Federal Institution in the Gaspé region of Quebec to bolster his second-language skills.

Homolka demonstrating her excellent command of accented, yet fluid, blue collar prison French.

"They say that the best way to learn another language is to completely immerse one's self in that culture," said Neustlerooy in a phone conversation from his cell in the maximum-security facility. "Doing time here in the heartland of Quebec is definitely the best place to become fluently bilingual-I've learned more French in two months here than I did in four years of intensive classroom training back in Ottawa.

"Back at work, my Francophone colleagues would automatically switch to English once you demonstrate any sort of difficulty communicating in French. Here, you get beat up if you sneeze in English. It's great, I tell you, estée de tabernac!

"Sure, I mean, doing a couple of years' time among hardened criminals is no picnic, but when I get out, I'll be able to get my C-level! I'll be able to become an EX! It is so worth it!"

Posted on July 8th, 2005


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