Reported by Sydney Margles and George Nashen
The Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, Anthony Housefather, says the biggest challenge we are facing now is the attempt by the Quebec PQ government to water down the right of many municipalities to remain “bilingual”.
Mr. Housefather was in Deerfield Beach, Florida, today where he addressed the mid-winter luncheon of the Cote Saint-Luc Mens’ Club. He told a capacity audience of more than 200 that Bill 14, tabled by the Parti Quebecois minority government, would allow the PQ government to remove bilingual status from municipalities where the mother tongue English-speaking population fell below 50%. Currently the law only allows bilingual status to be removed at the request of the city council. This has never occurred in any of the 86 cities or boroughs with bilingual status.
Housefather explained that originally the criteria to obtain bilingual status was that a majority of the residents of the city did not speak French as their main language.
The PQ changed the criteria 10 years ago to make it a majority of residents whose mother tongue was English, using the most restrictive definition of the English-speaking community.
At least half of the cities and boroughs with bilingual status today would be under threat including Cote Saint-Luc where although over 75% of the population uses English as their primary official language and over 66% speak English at home, slightly less than 50% of residents declared English to be their mother tongue. Over 37% of residents of Cote Saint-Luc stated on the census that their mother tongue was neither English nor French with the main languages mentioned being Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew and Romanian. Many of these people use English in the home today and most consider themselves to be part of the English-speaking community.
Mayor Housefather has spearheaded a drive to have all of Quebec’s municipalities that have been declared bilingual to work together to oppose Bill 14. He is also calling on individuals to lobby their members of the Quebec National Assembly. The Quebec Liberal party has already indicated it is opposed to the Bill and he expects the CAQ will also be against it, thus preventing its passage.
The capacity luncheon was held at the Deerfield Buffet on US1. Syd Kronish chaired this event for CSL Mens’ Club with members in attendance from Palm Beach to Hallandale. President Sydney Margles was in attendance along with George Nashen, Jack Margolis, Eli Moscovitz, Eddie Wolkove, Jack Birns and Ron Rush.