MP Cotler’s support of linguistic minorities must guide parliament

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I’m very pleased that our Member of Parliament, Irwin Cotler, has broken a long parliamentary silence and has come out to denounce Bill 14. Cotler is internationally recognized for his support of human rights of oppressed peoples around the globe. This is his opportunity, as he likely approaches the end of an illustrious political career, to take a bold stand in support of the majority of his constituents, indeed for all Quebecers who stand for human rights and equality of all Canadian citizens.

There’s a new bitterness around Bill 14, one that hasn’t been manifested since the Alliance Quebec days. The community is very, very displeased by the divisive, mean-spirited direction the PQ has taken us in.  We are also concerned by the continued silence of parliamentarians of all stripes in all legislatures in this country.

If this discrimination was happening to any other group in Canada there would be a loud (and even international) outcry. Idle no more – Anglo style?.

Why has it been acceptable to ignore and trample the rights of Quebec Anglos?

Thank you Professor Cotler. Now the challenge is yours to convince not only the Liberal Party of Canada but the Government of Canada to speak up in defence of Anglo Canadians in Quebec who have had their rights diminished for far too long.

Acceptable no more!

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Housefather gets first kicks at Bill 14

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Mayor of Côte St. Luc, Quebec, Anthony Housefather

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather will be among the first to present a brief to the National Assembly commission reviewing the odious Bill 14 that gets started this morning.

Housefather, a lawyer and former president of the English language rights lobby Alliance Quebec will press for status quo for the 85 bilingual municipalities and boroughs in Quebec who already enjoy relative language peace in civic matters.

Housefather will be joined by town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy. The two mayors will be representing the Association of Suburban Municipalities , the group bringing together the demerged cities on the island of Montreal.

Bill 14 is a shameful piece of work introduced by the PQ government. Ultimately, the law would punish Anglo Quebecers by further restricting their rights and freedoms. The bill, if adopted, would create more anxiety and discomfort not only among English speaking Quebecers but would do the same to small business owners and even to military families who’s children would no longer benefit from the exemption from attending French language schools since they constantly move around the country.

The government ought to have learned something from the recent Pastagate disaster that created international embarrassment for Quebec.  Major world media outlets are now tuned in to the mean-spirited and repressive language laws in this province.

How can Canadians continue to tolerate this infringement on rights for other Canadians?  If they can rally around Idle No More protests what about speaking out for English-speaking Canadians here in Quebec?

If students can continue to rally, clanking their pots and pans, protesting against a tuition increase of pennies a day what about their sense of social justice against the suppression of their fellow citizens’ rights?

Montrealers protest against real and perceived human rights violations all over the world.  What about the human rights violations against fellow Quebecers?

Enough!

The spotlight should shine upon these Bill 14 hearings and Quebec should be shamed yet again for the abuse of rights and freedoms here at home.  The opposition parties ought to vote down the bill, in its entirety.

Council speaks out against Bill 14, supports bilingual status quo

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Cote Saint-Luc City Council lead the charge last night against Quebec’s draft Bill 14 which would severely punish more than 65 remaining bilingual cities and towns.  The much criticized draft legislation threatens much of Quebec’s anglophone communities with losing its bilingual status permitting communication with residents in their preferred  “official” language.

Mayor Anthony Housefather, a former president of the once powerful and influential English-language rights lobby group, Alliance Quebec, took a leadership role in drafting the following resolution.  The Council felt so strongly about supporting the resolution that they took the unprecedented procedure of all seconding the motion simultaneously.

 

RESOLUTION ON SECTION 29.1 “BILINGUAL” STATUS

 

Whereas the Charter of the French Language (“Charter”) was adopted by the Quebec National Assembly in 1977, and over 80 municipalities throughout the Province of Quebec were recognized as having “bilingual status” pursuant to the provisions of Section 29.1 of the Charter; and

Whereas the original provisions of the Charter allowed those municipalities that had a majority of residents who spoke a language other than French to be officially recognized under Section 29.1; and

Whereas the City of Côte Saint-Luc has been recognized as having bilingual status under Section 29.1 of the Charter since 1977 and wishes to retain such “bilingual status”; and

Whereas currently the Charter does not allow the recognition of “bilingual status” under Section 29.1 to be removed from a municipality or borough except at the request of such municipality or borough; and

Whereas the Quebec National Assembly adopted Bill 170 imposing forced municipal mergers on municipalities in 2000 and simultaneously adopted companion legislation Bill 171 which drastically changed the criteria to obtain recognition under Section 29.1 of the Charter, from a majority of residents of a municipality or borough who spoke a language other than French to a majority of residents whose mother tongue was English; and

Whereas the revised criteria, under Bill 171, was imposed without consultation with municipalities recognized under Section 29.1 and adopted the narrowest and most inaccurate definition of the English-speaking communities within said municipalities or boroughs; and

Whereas the current Quebec Government has now proposed Bill 14, which would allow for the removal of Section 29.1 recognition from municipalities or boroughs by decree and against the will of the municipality or borough concerned, its duly elected council and its residents; and

Whereas the City of Côte Saint-Luc is firmly opposed to the proposed amendments to Section 29 of the Charter as set out in Bill 14

 

It was moved by Mayor Anthony Housefather, second by the entire city council and resolved:

 

THAT The City of Côte Saint-Luc hereby declares that it wishes to retain its “bilingual status” recognition under Section 29.1 of the Charter now and in the future and wishes to do so irrespective of any fluctuations in its population shown in census numbers now or in the future.

THAT The residents and Council of the City of Côte Saint-Luc view the recognition of our municipality under Section 29.1 as fundamental to the character of the municipality and as a testament of the historical presence of both the English- and French-speaking communities in the municipality;

THAT The City of Côte Saint-Luc vigorously opposes the proposed modifications to Section 29 of the Charter set out in Bill 14 and demands that the Quebec National Assembly continue to recognize the acquired rights of all municipalities and boroughs that currently possess such status and refrain from adopting any legislation that allows Section 29.1 recognition of bilingual status to be removed from a municipality or borough except at the initiative of and express request of said municipality or borough.

 

 

THAT The City of Côte Saint-Luc calls upon all of the members of the Quebec National Assembly to remove the provisions of Bill 14 that propose to amend Section 29 of the Charter or to vote against and defeat such provisions since we view such provisions as an attack on the fundamental rights and intrinsic character of all municipalities and boroughs that currently possess Section 29.1 recognition.

 

 

THAT The City of Côte Saint-Luc directs its clerk to send copies of this resolution to

all of members of the Quebec National Assembly, to all other municipalities in Quebec officially recognized under Section 29.1 of the Charter and to the local federal member of Parliament and the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada and the UMQ, FQM and FCM.

 

Letter to the Gazette: Anglo leaders are not gone

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Letters to the editor

Montreal Gazette

Re: Anglo leaders are long gone, Aubin, Gazette, September, 11, 2012:

Anglo leadership suffered a fatal blow by the withdrawal of federal funding a dozen years ago. Alliance Quebec had advocated forcefully on behalf of English-speaking Quebecers for many years and was a pillar of national unity. While AQ has withered away into the Quebec Community Groups Network, a smaller yet important group for the many rural Anglo communities throughout Quebec, there still exists several outstanding and capable individuals who represent sizable English-speaking communities.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather is a young, dynamic and outspoken rights advocate. As president of AQ he acquired substantial knowledge of Quebec’s vast Anglo communities. Westmount Mayor Peter Trent is an eloquent spokesperson and renowned civic leader. Michael Applebaum is one of the highest ranking elected officials in the City of Montreal, representing the largest borough and most Anglo-populated of districts. These are but three obvious top picks for Pauline Marois to meet with in order to open vital channels of communication.

If Marois truly has the desire to reach out to English-speaking Quebecers she will find leaders willing to dialogue.

If government truly wants to develop Anglo leaders they can inject funds to sustain its advocacy organizations.

What’s truly sad is that the Quebec elections demonstrated that there is no interest on the part of federal or provincial leaders in supporting English-speaking Quebecers.

Glenn J. Nashen

***

Anglo leaders are long gone

It’s a mystery who Marois could meet because there is a void in the English community

BY HENRY AUBIN, THE GAZETTE SEPTEMBER 11, 2012

The poll in Saturday’s Gazette asked whether Premier-elect “Pauline Marois and leaders of Quebec’s English community should meet as soon as possible.” Seventy-four per cent of respondents said yes (including 79 per cent of anglos and, encouragingly, 73 per cent of francophones).

An anglo gunman’s deadly outburst outside a Parti Québécois victory rally would have made such a meeting top of mind for many poll respondents. But other issues, too, could benefit from discussion between anglo leaders and Marois, who held herself aloof from the Englishspeaking community during the campaign – issues such as the PQ’s plans to subject small businesses to the same francization rules as big companies, to bar francophone and allophone students from English CEGEPs and to withhold Quebec “citizenship” from immigrants who don’t speak French.

But there’s a problem. The people Marois would meet with is a mystery. Anglo leaders? What anglo leaders?

As a graduate student at the Université de Montréal, Jonathan Lang, noted in The Gazette the day before the poll, there’s a lack of “anglophone leaders popular enough, and who represent this diverse community strongly enough, to be able to speak forcefully on its behalf.”

It’s hardly a new problem. Reed Scowen, a former Liberal MNA from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, made the same point in 2007, declaring that the English community’s “leadership infrastructure has disappeared.”

Twenty or 30 years ago, the anglo community was teeming with leaders – think, for example, of Alex Paterson, Victor and Michael Goldbloom, Eric Maldoff, Gretta Chambers, Joan Fraser, Peter Blaikie and, to cite a couple of less mainstream figures, Robert Libman and William Johnson. But that period is long gone. Little has changed since Scowen’s observation of five years ago: “Most people, when asked for a name (of a leader), might refer to the director of an anglophone educational institution, health centre or religious organization; these are competent people, but with public interests that do not go beyond their professional mandate.”

Why the 21st-century void? Leaders generally come from the ranks of the educated, and the post-1976 anglo exodus from Quebec included a disproportionately large number of these. A study by William Floch and Joanne Pocock has found that 61 per cent of all anglos born in Quebec who had earned bachelor’s degrees had moved to other parts of Canada by 2001. It’s even more distressing for those with master’s degrees, 66 per cent, and PhDs, 73 per cent. (Note that these figures, based on Statistics Canada data, only reflect moves to other provinces or the territories. That means that if moves to the U.S. and other countries were included, the figures would be even higher.)

The immigrants who are making the anglo community more heterogeneous are often preoccupied with establishing themselves professionally and contributing to their own ethnic community.

Add to that the changing zeitgeist. It was often common among welleducated, relatively well-to-do families to instill a sense of civic responsibility. They agreed with the saying, “Of those to whom much is given, much is expected.” To be sure, this attitude had a whiff of elitism – but of a good kind.

This sense of obligation to the community has given way to a new individualism. To be sure, the trend holds also in French Quebec (sociologist Guy Rocher has noted that the ideal of social solidarity is giving way to the “ideology of personal success”) and to the West in general.

I think the decline in church-going might also be a factor. That’s not only because of religious teaching per se (the “Of those to much is given” quote is biblical) but also because of the social dimension. Churches bring people together. They build a sense of community involvement that people can carry into their secular lives.

Though these attitudinal changes transcend English Quebec, they are felt particularly hard here because that community is a minority. Minorities can’t afford a leadership void if they aim to stay robust.

But let’s get back to that Gazette poll. Even though three-quarters of Quebecers might favour a meeting between Marois and anglo leaders, she has given no hint she’d like to meet with them, and there are no such leaders to invite even if she wanted to. The situation is not just absurd but sad.

Given the ongoing exodus of educated anglos and the thinness of respect for civic involvement, filling the leadership void won’t be easy.

haubin@montrealgazette.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Anglo+leaders+long+gone/7221343/story.html#ixzz26M64Olv9

Quebec should be the envy of the world: Letter to the editor, Montreal Gazette

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Robert Libman strikes a chord with many Quebecers who have endured decades of mean-spirited Anglo-bashing (Anglophones have absolutely nothing to apologize for, Montreal Gazette, Apr. 18, 2012). English-speaking Quebecers are living under very different circumstances today than when the restrictive and loathsome legislation was brought in some 30 years ago.

The facts speak for themselves: English schools continue to close, businesses are pressured into compliance by the dreaded OQLF tongue-troopers and anonymous snitches, bilingual institutions and municipalities are under constant threat by shifting demographics and English-language services are increasingly rare in outlying regions, for example. The economic cost on the community and the province has been severe and the personal toll on thousands of families has been painful.

How unproductive and sad that our political atmosphere remains stuck in an artificial and cruel linguistic pressure cooker.

Just think how much better off we would all be if we channeled our energy into embracing our rich and vibrant cultures, celebrating our ability to speak many languages, and appreciating how fortunate we are to live in an extraordinarily beautiful province. We should be the envy of the world.

Glenn J. Nashen
City Councillor, Cote Saint-Luc
Former Executive Director, Alliance Quebec

Nashen appointed as Alliance Quebec executive director

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Alliance Quebec names executive, Gazette

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Alliance Quebec new executive director, Suburban

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Nashen, Alliance Quebec part ways, Suburban

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CSL doctor passes OLF test, Suburban

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