Liberal Party website: French an afterthought?

The Liberal Party of Canada launched quite an attractive new website this week. It features a large photo slider panel, well-designed action tabs at the top, and great integration of blogs and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

However, what the website lacks is representation of the linguistic duality of Canada that Liberals so often get red-in-the-face when chastisizing Conservatives. Take, for example this press release put out in October of 2007 by then Liberal Party president Marie Poulin criticizing Conservatives for ignoring french-Canadians,

New Conservative Site Snubs Francophones

Francophones across Canada have every right to feel a little snubbed by the Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party President Marie-P. Poulin said today.

That’s because their language doesn’t show up on the front page of the party’s new site.

“The party that has trying [sic] to reach out to French-speaking Canada has a strange way of showing they care,” Ms. Poulin said. “You’d think something as prominent as your new election web-site would have at least one French word on its front page.”

The Conservative Party’s new web site, launched this morning, has a background of Conservative blue featuring a photo of the Prime Minister, his name, and six bold white words – none of which is in the French Language.

“The Liberal Party of Canada cares about Francophones across Canada and has ensured that every word on our web site is printed in both official languages. Clearly, the Conservative Party cannot say the same,” said Ms. Poulin.

For more information, please contact:

Liberal Party of Canada Press Office

Elizabeth Whiting
(613) 783-8405

Poulin misfired as I wrote on my blog back in 2007.

Liberals are always finding outrage where there is none. Indeed, the Conservative website was recently redesigned and it is true that there aren’t any French words at However, if you go to (that’s the French word for “conservative” by the way), you’ll find a lot more French words!

Unfortunately, for the Liberals, the frech word for “Liberal” is “Libéral” so they cannot easily split content across two domains. But what happens when you go to

ENGLISH! (click the small link in the top-right to switch to French)

Francophones can access the Liberal Party website in French by going to Anglophones can go to

Even web browsers with French language settings as the default go to the English version of the page.

To solve this dilemma, Liberals might try this bit of code:

$lang = substr($_SERVER[‘HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE’], 0, 2);
if ($lang == “fr”) {
} else {

This would load up the relevant page depending on self-selected settings of the end-user’s browser. You could still include links to the other language in the top right corner just to show you care…

(I changed my browser language to French for the purposes of testing the Liberal website above. The page loaded in English)

New website design

Well you may have noticed that things look a bit different around here. I’ve been toiling away over the past few days designing a new version of this blog to give it a more modern and polished look. Out of the online skill-set, Photoshop has been one that I’ve always wanted to master but it seemed daunting; the Adobe program is very powerful but has a steep learning curve. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing the necessary poking and prodding around and just recently have made the effort to get a decent handling of it.

Google reader and a number of RSS feeds have been a big help for learning from the pros. Go to or and subscribe to the RSS feeds of the blogs that are regularly featured there. Picking up tips and tricks over time has been quite helpful at learning this facet of web design.

I’m going to be improving the functionality of this blog even further and new features are planned for the future. You’ll notice twitter implementation at the footer. I’m predicting that this webservice will start to make an impact in Canadian politics; twitter is already a hit south of the border. You can also sign up for my mailing list below and Canada’s original and most influential political blog aggregator can also be found at the bottom of the site. As for the main content of the blog, my writing will always be the central feature of this site. Hopefully the new design will complement it.

That’s my take. I’m interested in hearing yours. What do you think of the new design?