Tuesday, 5 February 2008

"Super Mardi:" The View from Radio Canada

According to Radio Canada this morning, there are 600,000 expat Americans in Canada who have the right to vote today in the 24 presidential primaries in the US.

Radio Canada news—the CBC’s French equivalent—sent a reporter to poke around the headquarters of Republican candidates Romney and McCain in California. What she came up with was several sound bites of supporters of the two frontrunners commenting in painfully accented but quite correct French. What they said was nothing new—we need a man more like Reagan, and Romney’s experience as a businessman will make him a good president, and McCain is a real hero—but I’m always surprised when reporters are able to discover Americans who speak other languages well.

Growing up the San Diego, there were few around me who considered learning another language well important. A little Spanish, maybe, if you wanted to shop in Tijuana. Or perhaps Russian, because it was thought good to know the enemy: after all it was the Cold War and beginning of the Space Age. I had to learn my French as an adult here, which means that I am forever “branded on my tongue” as George Orwell said about accents.

Radio Can also reported that American expat Democrats can vote on-line, while Republicans can vote in special voting places in Canadian cities. Don’t know how widespread this is, but California and Michigan resortissants vote by mail-in absentee ballot. This means that the votes for John Edwards of a number of people I know are lost somewhere in limbo since the ballots were mailed before he withdrew.

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