"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maximize freedom of expression

Korean and English signs, North Road/Austin.
This afternoon, my council colleagues and I received an email from a Coquitlam resident who is upset with the growing number of non-English signs in the Austin-North Road area. The resident called on City Council to take immediate action to ensure that signage is in English. The note declared, "...something needs to be done now before it gets any worse." Here is my response:

Thanks for your note re foreign-language signage. We read about language issues most often in relation to Quebec's stringent pro-French laws. Whenever I think about the situation there, I recall the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that is embedded in our Charter. Quebec has skirted the Charter, however, by invoking the notwithstanding clause, which is any province's right.
Here in BC, I think we have a greater respect for free speech, free expression and free thought, and we are not so threatened by "other" languages. Personally, I also like to see free markets at work, and do not want to micromanage people's businesses. I therefore would view any attempt to force business operators to advertise in English as an unjustifiable assault on some of the basic freedoms that we so cherish in Canada.

UPDATE (March 15): Some Richmond residents are in the news this morning, complaining there's too much Chinese-language signage in that community. They will be appearing before Richmond council next week, armed with a 1,000-name petition, calling for mandatory English or French content.

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