User talk:Flint and Fire

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My interest is in filling in the gaps that continue to exist in so many Wikipedia articles, whenever I come across them in subjects that I know reasonably well.

Since I started doing edits in summer 2007, I have found myself gravitating to articles about Canada's official languages. The relations between French and English represent the central issue of Canadian politics, and the articles on the subject are often inadequate to give a really good understanding of the complexities of Canada's linguistic environment.

Particular shortfalls, in this area, that I see at the moment include:

  1. An embarassingly short and uninformative stub article on the Official Languages Act. This is, after all, one of our country's most influential pieces of legislation;
  2. A complete absence of information on Wikipedia about demolinguistic patterns in Canada. The politics of language assimilation underly much of the language law of the country, whether it's Quebec's Bill 22 and Bill 101, Ontario's French Language Services Act, etc.
  3. An absence of detailed discussion as to the state of English and French in Canada prior to the 1960s.

Flint and Fire (talk) 12:14, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

language of the Constitution of Canada[edit]

Your recent edit to Official bilingualism in Canada (here) is incorrect. As noted in the text you deleted [1], the Constitution Act, 1965 is one example of a part of the Constitution that was enacted equally in English and French. Also it is not really correct to say that the situation was "remedied" in 1982, because large parts of the Constitution still exist (for official legal purposes) in English only. (They have French translations of course, but technically the French translations are unofficial -- though in practice the courts may use them almost as if they were official.) --Mathew5000 (talk) 15:31, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

On this point, have a look at the Final Report of the French Constitutional Drafting Committee, in particular the introduction, where it says: "The Committee also felt that it was within its mandate to redraft the French versions of the Canadian enactments contained in the schedule to that Act, despite the fact that these documents already have official French versions." --Mathew5000 (talk) 15:42, 16 December 2007 (UTC)


Thanks for making the above-noted adjustment, Mathew5000.

In your comments above, you note that I had deleted the reference (which I had regarded as being somewhat cryptic) to the “Constitution Act, 1965” in Spoken languages of Canada. But you did not include any mention of the Constitution Act, 1965, or of any other bilingual parts of the pre-1982 constitution, in your edits. This leaves a gap that ought to be filled. I suggest that the section of Official Bilingualism in Canada that deals with the Constitution be edited to explain which provisions of the pre-1982 Constitution of Canada were bilingual, and why these provisions were bilingual but others were in English only.

I’ve looked up British North America Acts. This article indicates

  1. that under the terms of the British North America (No. 2) Act, 1949, a unilateral amending formula (Parliament of Canada acting alone) was inserted into Section 91(1) of the Constitution; and
  2. that the unilateral constitutional amending formula was used five times: 1952, 1965, 1974, and twice in 1975.

I assume that it was these five amendments, and no others, that were enacted in both official languages. To the best of your knowledge, is this correct? Flint and Fire (talk) 00:08, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Those are the only five of the British North America Acts that were enacted in both official languages. But there are other pre-1982 parts of the Constitution of Canada that were enacted in both official languages. (For example, The Saskatchewan Act of 1905.) --Mathew5000 (talk) 16:07, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the update, Mathew5000. Based on this, it appears to me that in order to compile a list for Official bilingualism in Canada, the following would be correct:

  1. Pre-1982 constitutional enactments were bilingual if they had been adopted by means of an Act of the Parliament of Canada, but not if they had been adopted by means of an Act of the Imperial Parliament.
  2. A partial list of the pre-1982 bilingual provisions can be found by looking at the list of constitutional documents enumerated in a schedule that is itself mentioned in section 52(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982. On Wikipedia, this list may be found at List of Canadian constitutional documents.
  3. However, some of the provisions therein listed are Acts of the Imperial Parliament and thus English only (eg. the Statute of Westminster, 1931). But a distinction between the two sources of constitutional provisions could be made by editing the list so that the legislative source of each enactment on the list is made clear (probably by making a note, in brackets, beside each item on the list, or else indicating the ones that were enacted by the Parliament of Canada with an asterisk or other symbol).
  4. This would still not be a complete list of bilingual pre-1982 provisions of the Constitution of Canada, however, because the list would not include any constitutional provisions which had been enacted by the Parliament of Canada, but which were spent by 1982 and therefore absent from section 52(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 (eg. the British North America Act, 1952, which appears to me to have been extinguished by the British North America Act, 1974).

Any comments as to the completeness of this list? In particular, are you aware of any constitutional provisions originating in Canada’s parliament, other than the British North America Act, 1952, which didn’t make it into the schedule mentioned in section 52(2), and hence onto the list provided in List of Canadian constitutional documents?

Flint and Fire (talk) 12:00, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't know, it's probably more complicated than that so I would not endorse your four-point outline above as completely correct. For one thing, I would not use the term "constitutional enactment" because it seems ambiguous. Some parts of the Constitution are not "enactments" (i.e. made by a legislature/parliament) but rather proclamations or orders. Maybe some people call them enactments anyway, but I wouldn't. Also let's keep in mind that it's not of much practical significance at this point to pin down whether arcane historical parts of the constitution, now spent or repealed, were originally enacted bilingually or not. And if you were going to do that, you shouldn't use Wikipedia, or even the Internet, as your main source of research; go to a good law library. But it sounds like OR anyway for purposes of putting all this in a Wikipedia article. If you're interested, I might suggest going to a good library and tracking down a copy of this document: First report of the French Constitutional Drafting Committee responsible for providing the Minister of Justice with a draft official French version of certain constitutional Acts, which was tabled in Parliament on December 17, 1986. As far as I can tell it is not on the Internet but a librarian should be able to tell you where it is available. I suspect that it has some of the answers you are looking for. --Mathew5000 (talk) 21:39, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Spoken languages of Canada[edit]

On Dec. 24, 2007, I updated the table titled “Geographic Distribution” in Spoken languages of Canada. In the explanatory note, I wrote, ‘Figures combine single and multiple responses. Multiple responses for “French/English”, “French/Other” and “English/Other” were allocated with one-half of all respondents placed in either linguistic category. Multiple responses for English/French/Other” were allocated with one-third of all respondents being placed in each of the three categories.’

But the numbers that I included were in fact only the single responses (that is, people who reported in the 2006 census that they use only one language at home). The trouble with this is that the numbers don’t add up. Take a look at the earlier version of this chart, and you’ll see what I mean. In Canada, 576,000 individuals reported using more than one “home language”. All these people were left out of the table, as drafted on Dec. 27th.

The edit that I have done today corrects this. These 576,000 people have been appropriately allocated, by province and by language use.

Flint and Fire (talk) 17:15, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Chronology of official languages policy in Canada[edit]

You've obviously done some detailed work here. But because this is a sub-topic (or a "fork" as we call it) that builds on the work of Official bilingualism in Canada, and Languages in Canada, you would be better off seeking consensus for the creation of such an article, rather than doing all the work and seeing it deleted. That's just my advice. Kevlar67 (talk) 23:52, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Hi Kevlar67. You are quite right, of course. My fear was that a chronology that contains any kind of thorough chronological list of official bilingualism-related events would wind up swallowing the main article on Official bilingualism in Canada. The main article is theme-based (language in education, provincial policy, etc.), and just doesn't seem to work well when overlaid with a chronology. Thus the logic of putting the chronology separately.

To me, the chronology article is a bit like an orange that's been sliced vertically instead of horizontally. It's another way of looking at all the same information, that may help to give a better understanding of the same subject matter.

That said, these are the kinds of arguments that I suppose ought to be given in advance of creating a fork, rather than after the fact.

Flint and Fire (talk) 01:12, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

2006 census data[edit]

I made an edit to the article English language updating the information on Canada to the 2006 census, but now I realize I might be confused about something. Maybe you can help. Is the census data on mother tongue wildly different depending on whether it is based on the 20% sample or the 100% sample? What I mean is this:

If you look at catalogue no. 97-555-XWE2006002, "Language Highlight Tables", Table 401, it separates out a response of "English and" some other language(s) as mother tongues, from a response of English only. So it looks from that table that the total figure for English as a mother tongue is:

17,882,775 + 98,625 + 240,005 + 10,790 = 18,232,195

That figure agrees (essentially) with catalogue no. 97-555-XWE2006007, "Language", Detailed Mother Tongue.

Both those tables were based on data from the 20% sample data.

But look at some of the census data based on the 100% sample data, such as catalogue no. 97-555-XWE2006019 or catalogue no. 97-555-XWE2006021 (both released last Tuesday). These tables, such as for mother tongue by age group, sex, CMA and CA give larger figures for the total speaking English as a mother tongue:

18,588,050 + 239,185 + 590,905 + 63,685 = 19,481,825

I kind of think I am misunderstanding something, but not sure what. Is the number of people in Canada (as of census day 2006) whose mother tongue is English (either alone or with some other language(s)) 18.2 million, or 19.5 million? Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks. You can reply here, I will watch this page. --Mathew5000 (talk) 16:01, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Reposted at Talk:Canada 2006 Census, probably best to post any reply there. --Mathew5000 (talk) 05:17, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Not all Wikipedia readers are "laypersons"...[edit]

...just so you know. mono 23:53, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

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