English, French and Punjabi?

Canada’s three official languages will be English, French and Punjabi should Jack Layton become Prime Minister according to the Indian Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

From the Indian government’s website:

Toronto, Sep 29 Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton has promised support for a new visa office in Mumbai and official status for the Punjabi language in Canada if he becomes prime minister after the Oct 14 polls.

Jack, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) has fielded a record 14 Indian Canadian candidates to woo the million-strong community, said his party will also roll back a newly passed immigration bill that the community finds discriminatory.

India will be a priority nation for his government if it comes to power and he will visit New Delhi at the earliest, Layton said in an interview.

UPDATE: Not true, says a spokesperson for the NDP who contacted me a few minutes ago via email. Turns out the reporter got the story wrong.

UPDATE: The NDP has been pounding the pavement to get this clarified on this side of the Pacific. From the author of the article,

Subject: from Gurmukh Singh, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), New Delhi

Clarification: Since the word ‘official’ in my report has caused confusion, let me explain it from our Indian perspective.

In India, an “official'” language does not become a “national” language. The acceptance of a language by the government makes it “official”, not a national language.

So Hindi and English are link languages (but never mentioned as national languages in the Indian Constitution), and 21 other languages are our official languages (but not national languages).

So my use of the word “official” might have been confused with the word “national” by some people. But that was not my intention.

All I wanted to know from Jack Layton was whether he will give some kind of recognition to the Punjabi language as it has been here for about a hundred years. Not the status of a national language.

Jack also didn’t promise anything except say that he will support any idea of such a recognition if his party is voted into power.



24 thoughts on “English, French and Punjabi?”

  1. I realize that you probably don't like ANY government pamphlets or services to be offered in ANY language other than English but you have misunderstood what the reporter asked and Jack's answer.

    In India, they have two National Languages (English and Hindi) this is equivalent to what we call Official Languages (English and French). There are 21 other Official Languages in India which DO NOT get the same recognition or services that the National Languages do.

    We already offer services (ie translation in courts or hospitals) when it is needed and we offer important government publications in multiple languages (immigration documents, tax returns, etc.).

    Jack was confirming that we would likely need to increase the number of publications available or ensure there are Punjabi translators available in areas where many Punjabi speakers live. Which to the ear and experience of the India-based journalist is similar to the Indian definition of official language.

    So I am sure that you would prefer that no services or material be offered at all but let's be clear. Jack did not say what you are claiming he said.

  2. Oh Grand another official language on our national horizon
    Once we go three…Ahhh…why not another after that…No make it …make it a dozen!
    I can see it now…motorists crashing into each other 'cause it took so long to find their own language on the stop sign.Pages upon pages to explain a simple gov't paper.Truckloads of $$ to cover the ultimate 'feel good' Cdn. identity.

    When Canada is so steeped in its individual be everything for everyone identity quest ,will Jack personally hand out the pink slips to workers who no longer have jobs because Canada's tax base is so high that we are no longer competetive at any level…having squandered our productivity to foolish ideas such as this,having every second person on the gov't rolls administering this lunacy.
    Nationally recognized paid holidays for all these new ideas Jack…out of the employers pocket, not yours I'll bet !
    Who's going to pay for all this when business has vacated the demented dominion in droves?

    All Canadians that's who…Right Jack.

  3. well Jenness ….

    I am certain we would all welcome a clarification from Jack Layton , as apparently the Indian publication feels Layton made a positive statement to that effect.

    “…Layton replied in the affirmative when asked whether he would support demands that Punjabi, which the latest census says is the fastest growing language in Canada, be given official status.

    “We are aware of the growing number of Punjabi-speaking Canadians and appreciate their rich legacy to Canadian history. We are committed to having their valuable contribution recognized by Canada. …”

  4. Hey Stephen
    Just to clarify, Mr. Layton did not say he would make Punjabi an official language. He said that he would recognize the community's contribution. The journalist is working to correct any misunderstanding.
    But it is true that Mr. Layton did say he would not implement Mr. Harper's corporate tax cuts any deeper.

    All the best.
    Brad Lavigne
    Campaign Spokesperson

  5. jenness: I'm confused. You are talking about “we” in your comment and I am not clear who “we” is. Could you please explain who you are speaking for?

    Stephen has included a direct quote from an article entitled “Layton Promises Mumbai visa office” by Gurmukh Singh in “overseas indian: Official e-zine of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.”


    Nowhere do I see that Stephen Taylor has declared that he “probably do[es]n't like ANY government pamphlets or services to be offered in ANY language other than English,” and wonder where you get this idea? Your stinging criticism is entirely gratuituous.

    I also think it disingenuous of you to accuse Stephen Taylor of misquoting Jack Layton, seeing as he simply quoted, word for word, what Mr. Singh wrote in this article.

    It seems to me that your argument is with Mr. Gurmukh Singh, not Mr. Taylor.

  6. Why make these assumptions about me? I just quoted from an article. You provide a good explanation of what may have happened but don't make prejudiced assumptions about me.

  7. Thanks Brad. I've made the clarification.

    And on corporate tax cuts… I'm not sure if Canadians are familiar with this campaign theme of yours. I think Jack needs to say it 50 billion more times 😉

  8. Steve: I appreciate that you have updated your blog but there has been some pick up of this and there are conbloggers who are decidedly anti-immigrant and anti-multiculturalism who have picked it up. I just don't think that it is responsible to jin up this kind of attitude and I will speak up forcefully when I think that is what is happening.

  9. Brian – “we' refers to Canada/Canadians via our government – I don't personally run a court or a hospital if that is what you were asking. If I did, I would not have a problem providing needed services in the appropriate language to the client.

  10. Jenness, you say the phrase “there are conbloggers who are decidedly anti-immigrant and anti-multiculturalism' as if the former was an absolute truism, and the latter as being somehow wrong.

    Many Conservatives would like to see selective immigration with an emphasis placed on bringing in those who can help our country, not be a drain on it.

    As for multiculturalism, it is a social engineering construct that has fell into disfavour nearly everywhere where this wrongheaded policy has been implemented.The govt should not be expected to support the isolation of immigrants into ethnic ghettos, paid for by the Canadian taxpayer.

  11. Excuse me, but I read something in the media and highlighted it because it didn't mesh.

    By the way, you demonstrate exactly what prejudice is. You make a decision on who somebody is based on a stereotype that you hold.

  12. Punjabi an official language?

    Looks like Jack has caused quite a stir at kitchen tables right across Canada..

  13. Seems more like pandering to me. Why the focus on hyphenated Canadians, like identity politics? I like the “everyman” deal, as we are all Canadians first right? Only Harper fit's that bill, ask Warren Kinsella, he knows the score.

  14. Despite this new clarification, you’re going to maintain that scandalous headline? Dishonest, I say. Not that I love Jack Layton, but you know the scandal you’re promoting is false.

  15. Brad Lavigne: “The journalist is working to correct any misunderstanding.”

    Yes, well. So it's the misunderstanding of the Indian journalist as to the import of the word “official language” here in Canada that has caused the problem, not Stephen Taylor having quoted what Mr. Singh wrote.

    I hope that jenness, whoever s/he is, will apologize to Mr. Taylor for his/her gratuitous and prejudiced stereotype of Mr. Taylor's views because he is a “conblogger.” NOWHERE did Mr. Taylor say anything which could be construed as “decidedly anti-immigrant and anti-multiculturalism.” NOWHERE did he say that he didn't “like ANY government pamphlets or services to be offered in ANY language other than English.” These viewpoints are pure fabrications on the part of jenness and are definitely stereotypical, prejudiced, and gratuitous.

    Jenness then makes a further inane comment: “…let's be clear. Jack did not say what you are claiming he said.”

    Mr. Taylor didn't “claim” that Jack Layton said anything. He merely quoted from the article by Mr. Singh. So let's be clear. Jenness is killing the messenger here.

    Jenness finishes with: “…I just don't think that it is responsible to jin up this kind of attitude…” Stephen Taylor, IMO, hasn't “jinned up” any attitude. He's merely quoted from an article written by an Indian journalist about an issue which might be of interest to Canadian voters. Seeing as Jack Layton has made election promises concerning this issue which involve our tax dollars, is it not information that would be pertinent to Canadian taxpayers?

  16. Boy o boy !! Looks like Taliban Jack is sniffing those fumes of power again. The double public trough couple of Layton/Chow just can't get enough of the taxpayers' money to waste on their silly schemes.

    JUST remember what Bob Rae and his gang of happy idiots did to Ontario. NDP steals your money. Makes empty promises and delivers nothing.

  17. Jenness;

    Iwonder why I get this feeling that you are pointing your finger at me as one of the “conbloggers” that you state is anti-immigration/anti-multicultural.
    Well gee thanks…just another sweeping asumption from someone feeling so smug in their right to judge others…not by facts,but by that all wonderous touchy-feely thing called emotions.

    While you’re having a nice warm feeling,allow me to point out that not once did I mention anything to do with immigration…what I was talking about was a possible future gov’t stance/policy that I felt was a foolish move.

    The fact that YOU decided to attatch the race ticket to it showsYOUR prejudices …not only to immigrants but also people of a conservative nature.

    As for multiculturalism …well we know its been said many times, that it is a failed social experiment that is sure to bring the roof crashing down as No society can function effectively without a direction or common goal that unites the people with pride of common identity and name beyond their own roots.

    Is it any wonder why our social order is taking a nosedive when every special interest group is fighting over the rudder …while on the other hand demanding gov’t funding.

  18. Is there an echo chamber in here?

    jenness keeps making the same arguments, while sidestepping others' analysis of his/her misrepresentations of Stephen Taylor and all conservative bloggers.

    Thinking that the left are fuzzy thinkers isn't just a supposition; it's just been confirmed.

  19. Can anyone tell me the definition of an “Ordinary Canadian”? I have tried to get an explanation from the NDP however my emails are never returned. This term has been used so many times that I really need to uncover what and Ordinary Canadian looks like, how much money they make, how many children do they have, where they live, etc. The term is used more than the 50 Billion Dollars tax cut to Corporations, George Bush, illegal Iraqi War, greedy banks and CEOs.

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