Richmond Signage challenge
Note: Canada has two official languages - English and French - and like most countries (including China) individuals are free to study and use as many different languages as they want to (only certain government departments are obliged to provide service in both official languages; this does not apply to private businesses). This is a non-coercive policy that I agree with because, by knowing more languages people also gain access to more information.
Following the mostly quiet and uneventful 2015 summer months in the Richmond Signage arena, a new discussion about anti-clutter bylaw changes entered the foray as a possible option to circumvent our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by implicitly mis-classifying non-English signage as "clutter." The problem with this manipulative tactic is that it attempts to be the ultimate arbiter of which langauge arts qualify as "acceptable" and "unacceptable" for display on private property. Not only is that a restriction of freedom of expression (which is protected in Section 2 of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), but it also effectively robs Canadians of the opportunity to make up our own minds about what others - regardless of which languages are used in their presentations - have elected to share on a public stage that just so happens in this case to be comprised of the streets and storefronts in Richmond, B.C.
Everyone has the right to express themselves freely, and this Canadian right is protected as fundamental by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Imposing compulsions or restrictions upon any of these freedoms is a form of short-sighted oppression that inhibits the willful free exchange of ideas, and ultimately fosters an exclusionary atmosphere by inhibiting an honest inclusion of the larger variety of perspectives. In addition to being inappropriate for any anti-clutter bylaw to prescribe or proscribe language selection, it is also unacceptable for our Charter-protected rights to be violated systematically or otherwise.
Once the initial rush of questions completed (on 2013-Mar-18), members of the press started asking other attendees for short interviews, and approximately half of them interviewed me. Although most of the press represented local media companies, there were a few from other countries, including China (who also interviewed me). It was an interesting experience (the press were all professional and polite, contrary to what is often depicted in television dramas), particularly reading, watching, and listening to the wide variety of published perspectives and reporting afterwards (the printed news was generally more detailed than radio and television, just like how books tend to be more detailed than movies and audio books). Here is a list of links to some of these articles:
- 2016-Jun-15: Richmond News - Richmond councillor warns about going 'Donald Trump': Chinese-only help wanted sign crosses the line for some
- 2016-Mar-30: Richmond News - Letter: Painting smiles on Richmond's culture clash
- 2016-Mar-23: Richmond News - English not under threat: Civil liberties group: TransLink not about to follow Richmond down bus shelter ad path
- 2016-Mar-19: The Link - Richmond Forum! Richmond City Councilor Bill McNulty and Chinese community activist Peter Liu organized a forum on community safety as well as a number of other issues including Chinese only signage, etc.
- 2016-Mar-18: Richmond News - Malcolm in the Middle: Richmond's mayor content to remain front and centre in city politics
- 2016-Feb-17: CBC News - Chinese-only signs in Richmond subject of new city campaign: City of Richmond says education campaign will let businesses know signs should be at least 50 per cent English
- 2016-Feb-16: The Vancouver Sun - Richmond unveils public consultation on Chinese-only signs
- 2016-Feb-11: CBC News - Chinese-only bus shelter ads in Richmond being phased out: 'Visually it should be equally English and Chinese ... if not predominantly English'
- 2016-Jan-19: The Vancouver Sun - Budweiser ignores Richmond's Chinese-sign standards
- 2015-Dec-16: The Vancouver Sun - Douglas Todd: Richmond toughens stance on Chinese-language signs
- 2015-Dec-15: Global News - City of Richmond looking for inspector to encourage businesses to add English to their signs
- 2015-Dec-10: Richmond News - Chinese sign 'cop’ can expect abuse: City of Richmond to hire Chinese-speaking bylaw enforcement officer to 'educate' businesses
- 2015-Sep-23: The Province - Chinese-only signage still prevalent in Richmond despite education blitz
- 2015-Jul-26: The Vancouver Sun - Chinese-sign dispute: Individual rights trump community concerns, says BCCLA
- This article includes a particularly important interview with the BC Civil Liberties Association wherein the BCCLA emphasizes the importance of freedom as well as providing a comparative analysis of Quebec's violation of Canadian Charter Rights.
- 2015-Jul-24: The Vancouver Sun - Any language on Richmond signs seen as individual right - B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director explains why Richmond issue is all about freedom of expression
- 2015-May-25: CBC News - Richmond won't pursue bylaw on English-only signs
- 2015-Apr-09: The Tyee - Richmond Flooded with Chinese-only Signs? Not Really - The Tyee's intern from China asks local merchants to weigh in on the debate
- 2015-Feb-16: News 1130 - Richmond takes more steps to get rid of Chinese only signs
- 2014-Nov-21: CBC News - Alexa Loo: Chinese-only signs in Richmond 'ridiculous': Councillor-elect Alexa Loo shared her vision for the future of Richmond on CBC Radio's Early Edition
- 2014-Nov-12: The Georgia Straight - Councillor Chak Au wants Chinese-only signs gone in Richmond
- 2014-Oct-22: The Vancouver Sun - Chinese sign debate back on Richmond election table - City council incumbents, hopefuls weigh in on Richmond's language argument that doesn't want to die
- 2014-Oct-09: Te Province - Richmond looks at how to tackle city's controversial Chinese sign issue
- 2013-May-03: Building bridges across two worlds; News reporter, Chinese councillor pound Golden Triangle
- 2013-Mar-26: Vancouver Observer - Finger pointing in Richmond Chinese signage debate not constructive
- 2013-Mar-23: The Star - Much ado about Chinese-only signs in Richmond, B.C.
- 2013-Mar-20: 里士满市议会否决限制纯中文标识动议 (video news coverage from China; correctly reports that the majority of Chinese signage in Richmond also includes English)
- 2013-Mar-20: 24 Hours - Signs should use more English, says Chinese society
- 2013-Mar-20: South China Morning Post - Richmond, Canada, residents challenge Chinese-only signage
- 2013-Mar-20: National Post - Chris Selley: Richmond, B.C., makes the right call on Chinese-only signs
- 2013-Mar-19: Vancouver & Us - ТВОЯ МОЯ НЕ ПОНИМАЙ? (a Russian news publication that quoted me with the Russian version of my name: Рандолф Ричардсон)
- 2013-Mar-19: The Province - Council shows stop sign to petition
- 2013-Mar-19: 新华网 - 加拿大里士满市否决限制中文标识动议
(printed news coverage from China on our local issue here in Richmond, BC, Canada)
- 2013-Mar-19: The Vancouver Sun - Simmering sign scuffle boils over - again
- 2013-Mar-19: Sun News - Chinese-only signs to stay in Richmond, BC
- 2013-Mar-19: Richmond Review - Richmond council shows no appetite for language debate
- 2013-Mar-19: Richmond News - Council backs away from Chinese only signage debate
- 2013-Mar-19: World Journal - 官方不插手 獲華裔商戶支持
- 2013-Mar-19: Huffington Post - http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/18/chinese-signs-in-richmond-petition_n_2903197.html
- 2013-Mar-18: The Province - Chinese signs in Richmond to stay after council rejects proposed English bylaw
- 2013-Mar-18: News1130 - Richmond C. of Commerce not worried about Chinese-only signs
- 2013-Mar-18: National Post - Barbara Kay: A friendly message from Quebec for B.C.'s language warriors
- 2013-Mar-18: The Loop - Backlash grows over Chinese-only signs in Richmond
- 2013-Mar-18: CTV News - Richmond rejects calls to limit Chinese-only signs
- 2013-Mar-18: CBC News - Richmond city council won't pursue 'Chinese-only' sign ban
- 2013-Mar-15: Straight - Richmond residents outraged because they can't read Chinese signs
Links & Resources
If you'd like to contact me to share your perspective, I'd be delighted regardless of whether you agree with me. My contact information is available on my contact page.