Matthew Hayday. Bilingual Today, United Tomorrow: Official Languages in Education and Canadian Federalism. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005. xiv + 256 pp. $65.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7735-2960-1.
Reviewed by Larry Glassford (Faculty of Education, University of Windsor)
Published on H-Canada (October, 2007)
As Bilingual as Possible, under the Circumstances
"He haunts us still." With this provocative and prescient phrase, Christina McCall and Stephen Clarkson began their masterful two-volume biography of Pierre Trudeau, fifteenth prime minister of Canada. That they got it right is evidenced by the lead article in a recent issue of The Beaver, the well-known popular history journal, which cited Trudeau as the most common choice for worst Canadian ever in an online survey. Just a few years earlier, this same controversial figure had finished among the top ten for greatest Canadian ever in a CBC television survey. Indeed, the legacy of Pierre Trudeau haunts us still.
Trudeau's proper place in history is just as controversial within the academic community. One school of thought, dominated by political scientists such as Kenneth McRoberts, Guy Laforest, and Léon Dion, has argued that his time in office was an unmitigated disaster for Canada. Writing in the shadow of the 1995 Quebec referendum, McRoberts stated categorically that the "near victory of the Yes vote can only be seen as proof of the failure of the Trudeau strategy." Laforest has likewise indicted this same villain in the national unity struggle. "If there is a crisis," he stated in 1994, "it is fundamentally because Mr. Trudeau was victorious in his battle against the dualist ideas of Quebec politicians and intellectuals." By contrast, an opposing school of thought lauds the work of Trudeau for enabling what historian Michael Behiels has termed "a remarkable and historically significant phenomenon: the three-decade-long renaissance of Canada's francophone and Acadian minorities." Same prime minister, same political record, but different conclusions.
Matthew Hayday's solid work, Bilingual Today, United Tomorrow, with it clever re-working of the title of a 1970s-era anti-French diatribe by Jock V. Andrew, Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow (1977), clearly fits into the second historiographical school. In one sense, this is unremarkable. His book began as a doctoral dissertation, for which Behiels was the thesis director. Indeed, the latter scholar cited his debt to Hayday's work on the Official Languages in Education Program (OLEP), 1970-84, in the acknowledgments section of his own book, Canada's Francophone Minority Communities (2005). Nevertheless, Hayday's monograph stands on its own as a significant contribution to the debate. His is the first systematic analysis of the Trudeau government's attempts to implement the language-policy recommendations of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism through education, a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution.
Hayday's first chapter, "A Century of Language Conflict in Canada," provides a historic overview of one of Canada's fundamental cleavages: the linguistic divide between English and French. After noting that official British policy following the Conquest of 1760 had been to encourage assimilation, he reviews the gradual process by which French and Catholic rights were acquired and consolidated, first as a separate colony, and then within the federated Dominion of Canada. The new nationality established in 1867 was hardly a bilingual country, however. The right to use English or French was guaranteed in the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of Quebec under Section 133 of the British North America Act, while Section 93 guaranteed the rights of Protestant schools in Quebec and Catholic schools in Ontario. For the most part, though, Canada operated as a largely unilingual English country, with a significant French-speaking enclave in Quebec. Hayday finishes the chapter with a deft summary of the stresses brought upon Canadian unity by the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, with its focus upon an activist, secular provincial government dedicated to the promotion of francophone Quebec.
Hayday begins chapter 2, "From Royal Commission to Government Policy, 1963-1970," with a consideration of the landmark commission of inquiry headed by André Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton. Among the most important recommendations issued by the Bilingualism and Biculturalism (B&B) Commission were those related to education, widely seen as the key to any long-term solution for Canadian linguistic tensions. Two priorities were established in the report: minority-language education, principally to support francophone communities outside of Quebec, and second-language instruction, to increase the number of Canadians who were functionally bilingual in both French and English. Hayday clearly points out the dilemma this recommendation posed for Canadian federalism. At a time when many provinces, not just Quebec, were clamoring for less intervention by the central government in provincial affairs, the B&B commission was recommending yet another use of the federal spending power in a key area of provincial jurisdiction: education. The federal Liberal government, under its new leader Pierre Trudeau, was strongly committed to a pan-Canadian policy of official bilingualism and guaranteed individual rights. Nonetheless, they recognized that any official-language education policy would require the consent of the provinces. Accordingly in 1970, a new joint federal-provincial initiative, the Bilingualism in Education Program (BEP) was announced, wherein the federal government committed a sum of $300 million over four years to assist the provinces to expand their provision of minority-language and second-language instruction.
As Hayday clearly shows in chapter 3, "Growing Pains and Intergovernmental Squabbles, 1970-1976," it is one thing to announce a program, but quite another to effectively implement it. This is doubly valid when funding comes from one level of government in a federation, but is disbursed by the other. Nonetheless, the BEP initiative did result in a gradual improvement in the provision of minority-language education among the English-majority provinces, as well as some augmentation of French as a second language (FSL) instruction. The province of Quebec, however, took the attitude that its share of BEP funding was a reward for already possessing the most developed system of minority-language and second-language education. Accordingly, the new federal dollars were diverted to support the province's costly reforms of its French-language schools. Under the rules of the cost-sharing agreement, Ottawa could only grumble at this apparent insubordination. It did allocate funds in other ways to support bilingual education, though: first, through grants to regional minority-language associations, who used the money to lobby their own provincial governments for wider educational rights; and second, through summer-language bursaries for university students to study their second language in a short but intensive immersion setting.
In the fourth chapter, "Lévesque's Gambit Fails: A New English Canadian Consensus, 1976-1979," Hayday covers the period beginning with the surprise election of the separatist Parti Québécois (PQ) until the defeat of the Trudeau Liberals, three years later. The PQ government was not interested in fulfilling any pan-Canadian bilingual visions. Rather, its interest lay in demonstrating the unworkability of Canadian federalism. Accordingly, it chose to deal directly with other provinces as much as possible, while ignoring or contradicting the federal government in Ottawa. Bill 101, the new Charter of the French Language introduced in 1977, sought to establish French as the official and working language of the province, hopefully as a vital step toward Quebec sovereignty. Ironically, heightened fear of the break-up of Canada led governments and citizens in other provinces to embrace more wholeheartedly the minority- and second-language provisions of Trudeau's pan-Canadian bilingualism. This was formalized in the St. Andrews Declaration, also of 1977, wherein the nine premiers of English-speaking Canada pledged to "make their best efforts to provide instruction in English and French wherever numbers warrant" (p. 104). On the minus side, the ongoing and widespread provincial suspicion of capricious federal motives wherever shared-cost programs were involved seemed justified when the Trudeau Liberals suddenly and unilaterally chopped $50 million from their contribution to the Bilingualism in Education program in 1978, as part of a general austerity drive. And though francophone interest groups had made some gains in lobbying for French-language education at the provincial level, the future of the federal initiative seemed precarious when its champion, Pierre Trudeau, was booted to the Opposition benches by the Canadian electorate, one year later.
The climax of Hayday's investigation occurs in the fifth chapter, "The Constitutional Debacle and the Rise of Language Rights, 1979-1983." Trudeau emerged, phoenix-like from the ashes of 1979 with a fresh majority mandate from the Canadian voters, barely nine months after his government's defeat. Then, the PQ's bid for a popular mandate for sovereignty-association was turned back by the Quebec electorate by a 60-40 margin. Next, as part of the patriation of the Canadian constitution, a new charter of rights was entrenched, containing guarantees for minority-language education rights in Section 23. Finally, a new multi-year protocol agreement was reached for the re-christened Official Languages in Education program (OLEP) in 1983, which served to formally institutionalize the policy in Canadian governance. This latter achievement was not easily attained. Federal demands for accountability clashed with provincial insistence upon administrative autonomy. Federal desires for innovation and experimentation ran up against provincial needs for clarity and consistency. The total number of dollars available was never enough. Hayday skilfully depicts the process of negotiation, noting the significant impact of bureaucratic networks and interest-group agitation on the final, political agreement. When it came time to sign on the dotted line, Ottawa committed itself to expend $600 million over three years to assist provincial governments to continue to provide both minority-language and second-language instruction with their publicly funded school systems. This protocol agreement has subsequently been renewed four times, most recently in 2003, when Stéphane Dion was still the minister for Intergovernmental Affairs in Jean Chrétien's Liberal government.
In the concluding sixth chapter, "A New Equilibrium: Official-Languages Discourse and Canadian National Identity," Hayday carries the tale into the twenty-first century, briefly updating the reader on developments since the landmark agreement of 1983. The federal government has continued to fret about accountability, desiring to find a means to evaluate the programs funded, in part, by its tax dollars. Provincial governments have continued to assert their prerogatives over education. The unilateral federal cut to OLEP funds as part of the 1995 budgetary belt-tightening initiative renewed provincial anxieties about Ottawa's inconsistency. Nevertheless, the program has survived, largely intact, and is now so embedded in federal-provincial relations that it hardly merits a public mention.
Hayday devotes the second half of chapter 6 to an overall evaluation of the BEP/OLEP program's relative success or failure. His first assessment indicator is the health of official-language minority communities. The federal-funding initiative, he asserts, "increased both the quality and the availability of minority-language education in the country. While assimilation trends in the English-majority provinces were not reversed, they slowed significantly in this period" (p. 179). Hayday concedes a more mixed verdict on the success of BEP/OLEP in encouraging second-language acquisition. "While the results of core French programs have been disappointing to date," he notes, "the immersion programs are widely considered to have been effective" (p. 180). For Hayday, one of the strongest benefits of BEP/OLEP was its impact in altering fundamental Canadian attitudes. "Through the carrot approach of funding minority-language education and second-language instruction," he explains, "the federal government helped to make these programs commonplace, part-and-parcel of Canadian education, and official bilingualism became part of the Canadian national identity" (p. 181). For these reasons, Hayday denounces the McRoberts proposition that the Official Languages in Education Program was a failure, stating there is "reason to believe" (p. 185) that it has contributed significantly to Canadian unity.
The author's case is actually more convincingly presented than this modestly stated claim might indicate. His prevailing mode of exposition is narrative analysis, with opening and closing sections that take a contextual step backwards for a broader perspective. The discriminating reader will detect certain telltale signs of the book's origin as a doctoral dissertation, including the tentative hypothesis, key questions for investigation, a review of the relevant literature, a description of the methods and sources of investigation, the recording and interpretation of research findings, and finally the careful sifting of results to arrive at a somewhat less tentative conclusion. To lay out the author's organizational plan is not to criticize it, however. Would that more monographs by established scholars retain this attention to methodological detail. In only one important aspect would the book have benefited from a more thorough revision of the initial thesis. Hayday's research on linguistic and educational developments in the English-speaking provinces almost totally excludes four of them: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland, as well as the three Territories. It is a curious omission. Are there not Métis in Saskatchewan? Acadians in P. E. I.? What about their stories? And how can any account of our coast-to-coast-to-coast country overlook the provinces and territories that front on the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Arctic oceans? One can understand selecting a smaller sample of the Anglophone provinces and territories at the dissertation stage, in order to keep the research task manageable. The decision to exclude four provinces and three territories from the follow-up book is less forgivable.
Even granting that caveat, this study is a welcome addition to the overly thin shelf of recent books in Canadian political history. While much longer on circumstance than on character, Hayday presents here a fine model of sustained policy analysis, focusing on federal assistance to language education within the provinces. He combines self-contained segments of chronological narrative with periodic contextual interjections, and wraps the package up with several pages of pre- and post-narrative analysis. The author identifies his investigative approach with the neo-institutional model, drawn from political science. Nevertheless, he balances his primary focus on the machinations of administrative bureaucracies in Ottawa and six provincial capitals with periodic forays into the activities of key interest groups (neo-pluralism) and elite politicians (classical political science). This balanced theoretical foundation supports the author's critical analysis, without detracting from the predominantly chronological-narrative style of exposition. The result is both readable and largely convincing.
The exception which proves the rule is the author's somewhat garbled utilization of the interstate-intrastate model of analysis for depicting Canada's evolving form of federalism. As outlined by the Canadian political scientist, Alan Cairns, in an influential 1978 article, the key point of analysis for interstate federalism is the constitutional division of powers between the central government, on the one hand, and the provincial governments, on the other. Generally speaking, topics that might be divisive are given to the provinces, while those that address the common interest are handed to the national level of government. The resulting federal system may be: highly centralized, with most powers given to the national government; highly decentralized, with most powers reserved for the regional governments; or somewhere in between on the spectrum. It should be noted that this model assumes the primacy of individual citizens, who democratically control both levels of government. The contrasting intrastate model, pioneered by another Canadian political scientist, Donald Smiley, in a 1971 paper, gives primacy to the citizens organized collectively as regional or provincial communities. Using this approach, the central government derives its legitimacy from the fact that the provincial communities are represented significantly, and structurally, within it. In the case of Canada, according to this theory, the central government had over its first hundred years lost much of its legitimacy through the atrophy of key intrastate factors such as the Senate, whose regional character was neutered by the reality that senators were appointed upon the advice of the federal cabinet, and the House of Commons, where rigid party discipline destroyed the original delegate status of MPs elected from local ridings. Advocates of intrastate federalism in the 1970s and 1980s promoted such structural reforms as the provincial election of senators, a provincial voice in the selection of Supreme Court judges, proportional representation in general elections, and more free (non-partisan) votes in Parliament.
If ever there was an interstate federalist, it was Pierre Trudeau. When he asked rhetorically, "who will speak for Canada?" it was crystal clear that he valued the role of a strong central government, answerable directly to all Canadian citizens, with no provincial intermediaries. When he threatened to go over the heads of the provincial premiers, and consult the Canadian people through a direct vote, it was clear that his bias was toward the individual, and not the collective, voice of the citizenry. Yet Hayday identifies intrastate federalism with a desire by Ottawa to play a more assertive role. The source of the misconception is found early in the book. The author inaccurately equates cooperative federalism, typical of the years immediately following World War II and their myriad of negotiated shared-cost agreements, with intrastate federalism. By contrast, he identifies the more acrimonious federalism of the 1960s and 1970s, symbolized by the well-publicized bickering at federal-provincial conferences, as executive federalism, and equates it with interstate federalism. This leads to some misinterpretation, such as the following statement in the book's introduction: "the rise of interstate federalism in the early 1970s threatened Ottawa's ability to direct the evolution of the [BEP/OLEP] program" (p. 10). In point of fact, as Cairns pointed out at the time, "intrastate versions of an appropriate constitutional future tend, to the extent of their permeation of central government institutions, to inhibit national perspectives, country-wide definitions of issues, egalitarianism, and the sense that Canada is more than the sum of its parts." Quite the opposite, in other words, to the goals motivating the Trudeau government as it sought to bribe and cajole provincial governments into participating in a shared-cost program focused upon minority- and second-language education.
Hayday is on more solid ground in his choice of a second key concept borrowed from political science, that of the embedded state. Again, we turn to Alan Cairns for an explanation of the term. "New governments," he explained in a seminal 1986 article, "inherit massive program commitments put in place by their predecessors. These programs are enmeshed in bureaucracies; they are protected by the incremental processes of policy making and budget decisions; their sanctity is preserved by their number and the crowded agenda of cabinets and legislatures that can only focus their attention on a miniscule proportion of ongoing state activity." In other words, it is exceedingly hard to get innovative new programs off the ground. Scarce funds must be procured, program administrators must be hired or reassigned, and enabling legislation must be passed through Parliament. In a federation, the complexity is magnified many-fold if the program crosses intergovernmental jurisdictions, for then the start-up process must be repeated for each participating government. By the same token, however, once the new program has been institutionalized, that is to say embedded in the political system at the level of approved legislation, administrative bureaucracy, and watchdog interest groups, then the phenomenon of the embedded state begins to work in favor of the program's longevity. Attention shifts elsewhere and the power of inertia takes over. Hayday rightly notes that in 1970, obtaining provincial cooperation for yet another federally initiated, shared-cost program in provincial jurisdiction was a hard sell. The new initiative was hampered by the embedded state. Thirty years later, the reverse is true. The shared-cost bilingual education program, so controversial in its early years, is now a part of the submerged context of federal politics. It has become a component of the embedded state.
One other point deserves some mention. Hayday's text is replete with acronyms--enough to occupy nearly two full pages when listed in a table. While the alphabetical listing up front is certainly helpful, still the reader groans from the burden of checking and re-checking. How again, does ACA differ from ACFA? Was that BEF or BEP? And what does CP mean, as opposed to CPF? Furthermore, what is the difference between FCFAC and FCFO, not to mention FFHQ and FFNE, let alone FPANE and FPCP? You see the point. Would it not be better if all academic writers remembered the plight of their readers, and rewrote the acronyms in full, every fourth or fifth reference?
This reviewer cannot close off without at least a brief mention of Hayday's reference to the "children of Trudeau" (p. 181) and their potential impact on Canada's evolving political culture. Here, though nurtured in modernity, without hesitation I connect myself in proper postmodern fashion to the topic of the text. As a grateful recipient of one of the thousands of summer language bursaries awarded by the Trudeau government in the 1970s, I had the opportunity to engage with the buoyant and self-confident Quebecois culture emerging out of "la belle province" in the aftermath of the Quiet Revolution. A few hundred tax dollars bought me six weeks at "les cours d' été de Trois Pistoles" in 1972, and I was never the same person again. Neither Hayday nor I can prove it in quantifiable terms, but it seems more than plausible that a modest investment in bringing the country's youth together, across the linguistic barrier of the two solitudes, has paid off over the long term in changed attitudes about bilingualism and the fundamental nature of Canada.
The inescapable conclusion is that Trudeau's language policies did make a difference to Canada. In the opinion of the McRoberts-Laforest school, of course, they exacerbated the country's disunity by closing the door on binational dualism as the basis for its future development. Trudeau himself envisioned one Canada, and a robust one at that, where citizens could choose to work and live in either language, or better yet, in both. Hayday's book documents the success of one of the Trudeau government's policy initiatives, the shared-cost program of federal assistance to provincial official-language education, in preserving minority francophone communities outside of Quebec, and boosting second-language acquisition of French across English-speaking Canada. While it did not bring miracles, the Official Languages in Education program, in concert with other initiatives of the day, just may have made Canada as bilingual as possible, under the circumstances.  Matthew Hayday's book admirably chronicles and dissects this achievement during its crucial formative years.
. Stephen Clarkson and Christina McCall, Trudeau and Our Times: The Magnificent Obsession (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1990), 9.
. Mark Reid and Jennifer Campbell, "The Worst Canadians?" The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine 87, no. 4 (2007): 26-28.
. Kenneth McRoberts, Misconceiving Canada: The Struggle for National Unity (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997), xvi.
. Guy Laforest, Trudeau and the End of a Canadian Dream (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995), 4.
. Michael D. Behiels, Canada's Francophone Minority Communities: Constitutional Renewal and the Winning of School Governance (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004), xxii.
. Alan Cairns, "From Interstate to Intrastate Federalism in Canada?" Bulletin of Canadian Studies 2, no. 2 (1978): 13-34.
. Donald V. Smiley, "The Structural Problem of Canadian Federalism," Canadian Public Administration 14, no. 3 (1971): 326-343.
. Donald V. Smiley and Ronald L. Watts, Intrastate Federalism in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985), especially pp. xv-xvii.
. Cairns, "From Interstate to Intrastate Federalism," 29.
. Alan Cairns, "The Embedded State: State-Society Relations in Canada," in State and Society: Canada in Comparative Perspective, ed. Keith Banting (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 57.
. This tongue-in-cheek reference is, of course, a modest reworking of the award-winning completion of the stock phrase "as Canadian as ..." aired on Peter Gzowski's CBC morning radio show some years ago.
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Larry Glassford. Review of Hayday, Matthew, Bilingual Today, United Tomorrow: Official Languages in Education and Canadian Federalism.
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