Saturday, October 17, 2009

French to English: Elections, Part 1



My neighbor was calling from work.  "Guess who called me?" 

"Who?"  I asked absent-mindedly, hesitant to take my eyes off my computer screen.  I was running close to an e-book deadline for a client in New Zealand.

"Mayor deSouza.  He wants us to help out with phone work."

"Sure.  One good deed deserves another", I said without hesitating.

About eight months ago and at my neighbor's persistence, our Mayor looked into the matter of taxes we had overpaid to the city.  It had something to do with some re-zoning issues. 

When my neighbor and I bought our property six years ago, we were paying our municipal assessments based on an old zoning regulation.  Those regulations were modified resulting in lower service taxes, so we knew we were entitled to a refund.  These things take a long time because our Borough is governed by the City of Montreal. We waited for our refunds over the last  five years and the Mayor committed that he would look into it and see what he could do.

Last week, my neighbor and I got checks in the mail.  We were ecstatic.  She phoned the Mayor to thank him.  That's when he suggested that maybe we could help out with phone work.  It's election time, you see.

I was more than willing to help.  In fact, I was delighted.  I remember the years I used to be a political volunteer. I did it to force myself to meet more Francophones and to improve my French.  Back then, I was still struggling with my French (I still do).  I also did it because I was a great fan of the late Robert Bourassa, who chose my city as his official riding. 

Well, I know we had an election recently but it seems another municipal election in the island of Montreal is going to be held on November 1.

Critics often say that we live in a province that probably has the highest rate of voter burn out.  Blame that on the referendums we've had over the years and on the partial and full elections.  Difficult to keep track now.

Voter burn out or not, we do have to vote, even if it means braving the cold to cast our ballot.  The cold is no excuse, nor is lack of transportation.  Political candidates will arrange to pick you up if you don't have a car or if you have limited mobility.  All you need to do is request it.

Montrealers will be voting for a Montreal City Mayor and a Borough Mayor in many municipalities. The incumbent, Gérald Tremblay is seeking a third term.  His opponents include:  Louise Harel of the Vision Party, Louise O'Sullivan of the Montreal Villa-Marie Party, Richard Bergeron of Project Montreal and Michel Bédard of Pride Montreal.

Aside from Quebec, these provinces held or will be holding municipal elections this year:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador - September 2009
  • Saskatchewan - October 2009 (urban municipalities only)
  • Yukon - October 2009

Volunteers have a lot of fun during the electoral campaign.  You work the phones, hone your persuasion skills, and "meet" all nationalities.  The idea of switching from French to English when talking on the phone is a challenge to the brain, but it's the most effective way to perfect your bilingual skills.  And the desire to be multilingual runs strong because Montreal has large communities of Greeks, Lebanese, Armenians, Italians, Arabs and Europeans.

Of course, the most endearing thing is to hear people say, "oh yes, I'll vote for him.  He's done a lot of good for our community."  That's when you realize that people are not indifferent and that they do care about how their officials do their job. 


Here are a dozen election terms for your French to English lexicon:



acte de candidature nomination papers
boîte de scrutin ballot box
candidat à l'investiture designated (or nominated) candidate
centre de scrutin central polling station
circonscription constituency (riding)
droit de vote right to vote
gabarit de vote voting template
isoloir polling booth
liste électorale voters list
loi référendaire Referendum Act
plafond des dépenses électorales expense ceiling
redécoupage redistribution

No comments:

Post a Comment