Fredericton — Comments by a Fredericton city councillor generated some controversy during the week of April 13. The individual, who will not be named, stated via Twitter that “the constitution was never intended to create a state of apartheid in New Brunswick.”
Adam Dewitt, a media liaison with the city, believes that the controversy has been overblown.
“I am not sure why we’re choosing to criticize a city official for using a wholly neutral word to describe the state of our province’s 2 official languages,” he told The Manatee. “Much like last year, when the city proposed a ‘final solution’ to Fredericton’s homeless problem, it would appear that controversy is being needlessly generated by agenda-driven politics.”
It is a point being made by many language enthusiasts in Fredericton.
“I don’t see a problem with it,” 33-year old Jenny Johnson said. “Apartheid literally just means ‘apart-hood’ or the state of being apart. I mean, sure, historically it has been associated only with the brutal oppression of minority groups, almost entirely black, in South Africa in order to maintain the rule of the minority, almost entirely white, Afrikaner, class, but like … do we have to put so much emphasis on the fact that he happened to use that one word?”
The use of that one word has, however, managed to create an unlikely alliance in Fredericton. Two groups, English for the Security of the Children and Francais Pour la Securité de Nos Enfants, who in the past have criticized each other heavily, have banded together. The new group, calling itself “English/French-Separate but Equal” or “Francais/Anglais-Séparés mais égaux” is calling for total separation between French- and English-speaking services in Fredericton.
Peter White, the head of ESC and Pierre LeBlanc, of FPSNE, each maintain that this measure has nothing to do with prejudice, and is simply an expedient way to deal with their irreconcilable differences. Our reporter sat down with them in the downtown office shared by the 2 groups. It is divided perfectly down the middle with a single strip of black tape. Peter sits on one side, Pierre on the other.
“It isn’t a matter of prejudice,” explained White, sipping from his can of Pepsi.“We are simply acknowledging the unbridgeable differences between us.”
LeBlanc, who reluctantly agreed to give this interview in English, echoed the sentiment as he puts down a can of Coke. “We have little in common, and I honestly believe that this is the best solution for our city.”
The plan, as relayed to The Manatee, is to divide each business in Fredericton as their office is — using the simple expedient of running a strip of tape as close to the exact centre of the building as possible. They are quick to point out that this will only affect buildings with a public-service component.
“We feel that history is on our side on this,” White said while walking out to his 1997 Toyota Corolla. “Separating groups and having them mingle as little as possible leads to more harmonious, neighbourly relations.”
“Exactement,” declared LeBlanc as he stepped into his 1998 Honda Civic “Il n’a jamais posé de problème jusqu’à maintenant!”
The Manatee will follow this fascinating proposal as it develops.
*Editor’s note: The Manatee will absolutely not follow this up in any way. Mr. Hodd has been instructed to stop claiming any public association with this publication.