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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

He is also a columnist for Montreal's outstanding weekly The Suburban.

His LCC columns are archived here

Posted 01.10.08

RICKY BLUE

Canada's dirty little secret?

MONTREAL | The other day I was listening to an ad on a station beamed across the border from Vermont. It was the country music station from Malone, New York. The ad, for the Mohawk Casino, was completely bilingual. It started in French and finished in English. I realized that even though I live in Montreal, a supposed bilingual city, hearing this mix of the two tongues on the air was a shock.

Although many people in Montreal have suggested that what would bring the French and the English cultures together would be to have more bilingualism on the air, let's say a bilingual newscast on radio and TV, it has never come to pass.

I talked to a friend who has spent his life in local Montreal radio and TV and he told me that many English stations wanted to become more bilingual to tap the advertising dollars of their French counterparts but they were always punished for doing so by the CRTC.

When the CRTC licenses an English or French station, it is a license for one official language alone. They do not allow either one to broadcast in the language of the other.

In Vermont, no such body enforcing such a law exists. So a Vermont station that beams up here is ironically allowed to be more bilingual than our stations.

What could be the motivation for this? Who passes these laws and why?

Because the CRTC is composed of elite bureaucrats appointed by politicians, could they be the front line of a gigantic conspiracy among the Canadian elite to keep the two cultures apart? It does have the consequence of promoting the two separate solitudes. And many government careers depend upon this linguistic divide.

It is good for them to keep both linguistic populations in a constant state of fear: in the case of English-speaking federalists in Quebec, the fear of losing their country; and in the case of French-speakers in Quebec the fear of losing their language and culture.

For my entire lifetime I have watched the elite of this country use this fear to their advantage. Careers have been made on one side or the other of this divide and billions of tax dollars have been spent on it.

Could this be the great Canadian conspiracy?

Think of all the laws passed regarding language and culture that support this state of affairs. They all have one thing in common. They all exclude rather than include the other language group. They all tend to be protective rather than expansive.

Rather than attempting to create one culture that we all share, that is both English and French, they divide the cultures in two: an English one and a French one. And they keep them apart.

Could this be Canada's dirty little secret?

For decades the elite has thereby been able to divert all our attention from their shortcomings: their incompetence, their corruption, the failure of our health care system, our extravagantly high taxes and notoriously substandard services with the "national unity" question.

This national unity question has been prolonged and encouraged by all the laws that have been passed by our elites. That is why, when some anglos took the injustices of Bill 101 to the United Nations human rights tribunal it was Canada, not Quebec, that defended the law. Many federalist anglos felt confused and betrayed by this.

But what it really showed us is that it is just as important for Ottawa to continue this two solitudes state of affairs as it is for Quebec.

On the street people speak in French and English in both languages sometimes one speaks French and the other speaks English back or they speak a hybrid Franglais and we all manage to get along. But this is never reflected in our broadcast media.

The question we should ask of the CRTC is: why not?

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