Fredericton — As a firestorm of controversy surrounds New Brunswick’s commissioner of official languages, leaks from the commissioner’s own office have uncovered new secrets about Katherine d’Entremont’s private agenda.
While many speculate about her intentions and comment negatively about how she does her work, the new information reveals that d’Entremont has one overriding ambition driving all of her actions — wanting to be really good at her job.
“D’Entremont thinks that her job means something important to the province, and she really tries to do it well,” said an undisclosed source from the commissioner’s office. “She takes it super-seriously. It’s like New Brunswickers pay her money to do this thing, and she works really hard at it. It’s unbelievable.”
Katherine d’Entremont created a tsunami of criticism when a unilingual anglophone commissionaire’s hours were cut and he was reassigned to a new post after a brief encounter with the official languages commissioner. The commissioner stood her ground and published a report last March insisting that all commissionaires who deal with the public be bilingual.
Since the commissionaire’s story went public, she has become a lightning rod for language tensions. It has also led some to call for her resignation on social media with unflattering and misleading memes, including accusations of leading an anti-anglophone movement. Skipper Jack’s fish restaurant in Moncton even used her in a language-themed meme to sell English-style fish and chips.
The memes depicting d’Entremont include statements like:
- “What do you mean ‘Be fair,’ I detest all anglophones equally.”
- “She will not be happy with what we have planned for her.”
- “I’ve been given so much that I think I actually earned it.“
- “Have a drink, d’Entremont. Might give you a personality.“
- “If language laws were sex, anglophones would be getting raped.“
- “Katherine d’Entrenazi“
Sources close to the commissioner told The Manatee that d’Entremont actually is not on a hell-bent crusade against anglophones and aging unilingual commissionaires. Rather, she is given money by the province’s taxpayers in exchange for her labour (sometimes called a “job”), and she wishes to continue earning said cash by completing the work associated with that “job.”
“These memes and their associated nasty comments are not only distortions and hyperbole, but also have very disturbing overtones,” said political scientist Malcolm Richardson. “Whether people agree or not with the Wayne Grant decision, this reaction is clearly beyond the pale. Only 39 percent of the civil service is required to be bilingual, which is pretty fair considering about a third of the province is francophone. Also, people think she is part of the Gallant government when she was actually appointed by the Alward government.
“She’s not some sort of super-villain or even a politician,” Richardson continued. “She’s just a bureaucrat who gets paid to make sure that francophones have equal access to public services as outlined in the Official Languages Act. Getting mad at her is like getting mad at a traffic cop for enforcing the Motor Vehicle Act, or a conservation officer for enforcing the Fish and Wildlife Act.
“And, if you don’t like the Official Languages Act, good luck getting that changed considering it has constitutional support in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It might be a better use of their time getting used to the fact that these rights exist and are here to stay, rather than making outrageous statements about a bureaucrat who is just doing her job.”