MONTREAL—in picturesque Ste-Agathe, Anglo-Franco relations were by all accounts as pleasant as the town itself. The mayor even described the situation as a “love affair.”
However, that may all have come to an end after the town was ordered to stop sending bilingual information to residents by Quebec’s language office. Denis Chalifoux says he had no choice but to comply with provincial language laws, however the mayor’s decision wasn’t popular in the Laurentian town.
“Is this what is going to save my language?” asked Chalifoux, who said he didn’t understand the ruling.
While five per cent of the town’s permanent residents are Anglophones, Ste-Agathe will discontinue an English page in a local newsletter.
Because 51 per cent of the town isn’t Anglophone, Ste-Agathe is not considered officially bilingual, which means it’s not allowed to communicate with its residents bilingually.
Last month the town of St-Lazare also stopped bilingual publications after Quebec’s language watchdog sent reminders about the law to 400 municipalities.
“You have to do your mass mailings in French, you have to do information in French, but you can still do a flyer in English and give it to a citizen when the information is requested,” said Martin Bergeron, a spokesman for the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise.
So far, only the mayor of Huntingdon has publicly refused to do so. Last year his home and his wife’s car were vandalized after he spoke out.
In Ste-Agathe, many say the town must comply but don’t see the point.
The mayor says he’ll continue to provide Anglophones with English information in accordance with the law, so that Ste-Agathe’s Anglo-Franco love affair can continue to thrive.