Fredericton — The interim provincial languages commissioner is surprised by the amount of resentment toward bilingualism, when in his mind there are lots of jobs in government available to anglophone New Brunswickers — but he’s super busy at the moment so he really doesn’t have time to list these positions in detail.
“There’s a crap-load of jobs for English people. A ton. Too many to tell you, in fact,” said interim commissioner of official languages Michel Carrier, while walking briskly alongside our reporter, checking his watch. “I myself work in government so as you know I’m very, very busy, like most government employees.”
Although Carrier was clearly trying to get rid of us, we followed him to his office, where he struggled to appear too “swamped” to speak with us.
“Oh my god, look at this pencil! It needs sharpening,” he said, rifling through his desk drawer in search of a sharpener. “And then after that it’s my coffee break, then I have to answer an email — as you can see I’m just snowed under.”
Despite how busy he was, we persisted in our interview, asking Carrier if he could give even a single example of a government job that an English-speaking New Brunswicker with minimal French proficiency could hope to qualify for.
“Ohhh I thought you meant jobs for English people who are also fluent in French,” he said. “OK, this makes more sense. No, obviously if you don’t speak French you’re not getting a government job — are you crazy?
“Although…now that I think about it…technically speaking, being a politician is a government job, and Kris Austin is anglophone, so…there ya go. There’s an example. You can take that to the bank! Where they’ll serve you in both official languages.”
Our reporter gave up on Carrier, and instead spoke with anglophone librarian Jeff Jacobs, 59, who said he landed a government job decades ago, and he’s hoping no one notices he can’t speak a lick of French — just until he retires next year.
“I just want to get my pension and get the hell out of here,” he whispered, “so don’t talk too loud. I keep seeing this stuff in the news about French classes being offered, but I can barely figure out how to convert a Word doc to a PDF — they think I’m gonna master a whole new language in my old age? Not likely! So for now I’m just hoping the whole French thing never comes up, because if it does, they’ll replace me with some young francophone faster than you can say ‘hello/bonjour.'”