Housefather seeks nomination

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Housefather seeks Mount Royal Liberal nomination, Canadian Jewish News (March 20, 2014)

Click here: Housefather_CJN_liberal_nomination_20140323

Large crowd rallies against ‘Charter of shame’

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“We’re not going anywhere. We’re staying!”

These ominous words uttered by Mayor Anthony Housefather echoed off the walls of Cote Saint-Luc city hall in an impassioned speech that delighted the crowd.

Major personalities to take the microphone included Rabbis Chaim Steinmetz and Reuben Poupko, Father Peter Laviolette and Mayors Bill Steinberg of Hampstead and Beny Masella of Montreal West.

Housefather gave an electrically charged plea to about 700 enthusiastic residents who cheered him on in great support before he even uttered his first word.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather addresses the large crowd

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather addresses the large crowd

“This is an odious bill that sends a message that some Quebecers are more equal than others,” Housefather said. “This is not the charter of most Canadians, most Quebecers or most Cote Saint-Lucers,” the mayor added saying that the government can remain secular. with equality between men and women without needing such legislation.

“We can light the Christmas tree and the menorah in front of city hall, we can employ staff wearing hijabs, kippas, turbans or crosses, and none of this interferes with offering excellent services at fair rates to our taxpayers,” said Housefather. The mayor added that the city will never fire anyone for displaying their religious convictions and that we will go to court to fight this bill should it ever become law.

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“Some people have asked why as a city we are speaking out against the Charter,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather. “City government has an absolute right to speak out against the charter. Our council is unanimous in opposing it and, in fact, each and every city on the Montreal island has adopted positions against the charter. We are against the charter because it is a violation of both the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and international treaties Canada has signed. It would reduce religious and linguistic freedoms in Quebec as the primacy of French is also bundled into the charter. In the same way CSL led the fight in opposing Bill 14 which would have reduced our residents linguistic rights we will also lead the fight against this charter. Indeed the charter is a municipal issue as it impacts our employees and how the municipality operates including forcing elected officials to adopt policies against their conscience.”

Photo Pascal Dumont

Photo Pascal Dumont

Housefather ended with a poignant reminder citing former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s famous quote that the ‘State has no business in the bedrooms of Canadians’. “Well, I say that the state has no business in the wardrobe of Canadians,” the mayor emphasized, to wild applaud.

Mayor Bill Steinberg announced his council was set to adopt a resolution after the rally vowing to ignore and to fight Bill 60 if it were ever to be adopted into law.

Photo Pascal Dumont

Photo Pascal Dumont

Rabbi Steinmetz, the spiritual leader of Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation, worried aloud that a year ago he would never have thought twice about wearing his kippah elsewhere in Quebec. Today, he would be worried for his children’s safety to wear a kippah outside of Montreal.  He referred to Bill 60 as the “Charter of darkness”. “It is destructive and divisive,” he said. “This is cheap demagoguery. A ploy to get better results at the ballot box.”

Citing the civil disobedience movement of Martin Luther King, the rabbi added, “We are here not just to oppose it Bill 60, but to deny its legitimacy. We will never respect this law. If it is ever passed, we will deny it and undermine it. We will act with civil disobedience and follow the lead of the Jewish General Hospital.”

2013-12-01-Chanukah-in-CSL-2013-006.JPG

After Father Laviolette’s remarks and illumination of the Christmas tree, the St. Richard’s choir sang Christmas songs in English and Italian and ended off on a unique and hugely appreciated rendition of: “We wish you a happy Chanukah.”

Rabbi Poupko of Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron added in, “I am glad they did not sing Silent Night. History has taught us that when rights are being trampled we must never remain silent.”

Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was unable to attend the rally, but he sent a message calling Bill 60 ‘the Charter of shame’.

Mayor Masella acknowledged that while our communities have not elected PQ MNAs, “we need to tell the CAQ and the Liberals that there is no common ground here.”

After the rally, the large crowd moved over to the giant menorah where Chabad Rabbi Mendel Raskin, just back from his native Casablanca, Morocco, and Rabbi David Cohen led them in song and celebration.

The view from up above. The crowd spills into Cavendish Blvd. as lomos wait to begin the parade.

My view from up above as a light the giant menorah. The crowd spills into Cavendish Blvd. as limos wait to begin the parade.

I was privileged, as the Deputy Mayor, to climb into the ‘cherry picker’ to be hoisted up to the top of the menorah to light the six ‘candles’ (for night six of Chanukah) and sing the traditional blessings. The view was amazing from 30 or 40 feet in the air and I stated over the loudspeakers, “I hope Mme. Marois can see us lighting this menorah in Quebec City! These lights of freedom and celebration should shine bright across our province.”

In Chabad tradition, jelly-filled donuts were passed around along with dreydles and Chanukah-gelt (Chocolate coins) and several youngsters were chosen to ride in limousines – with illuminated Chanukah menorahs atop their roofs – through the streets of Côte Saint-Luc, holiday melodies blaring for all too hear.

Watch Global News from CSL

Watch CBC News from CSL (advance to 5 minute mark)

Watch CTV News from CSL (first news item)

Des juifs et des chrétiens de Côte-Saint-Luc se révoltent contre la Charte (Huffington Post)

Hampstead council votes unanimously to condemn Bill 60 values charter (Montreal Gazette)

Cote Saint Luc, Hampstead, Universities denounce Charter (CTV News)

West-end mayors vow to defy values charter | The Canadian Jewish News.

Cllr. Mitchell Brownstein on Global Montreal

Letter: We, in our gorgeous diversity, are all Québécois

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This is a letter to the editor published in the Montreal Gazette. The writer is Cheri Bell, an articulate commercial lawyer. Cheri’s letter reflects her considerable passion for Quebec society.  It is an excellent opinion piece that deserves praise and wide circulation. Well done Cheri.

N

THE GAZETTE, OCTOBER 4, 2013

As a member of several minority demographics — I’m a Jewish, female, anglophone Quebecer — I am thoroughly embarrassed and concerned by the proposed Charter of Quebec Values. Taken together with other nationalist PQ policies, actual and proposed, such as Bill 101 with its expanding scope, Bill 14, the xenophobic manipulation of the reasonable accommodation principle for political gain and the seemingly innocuous proposal to extend a mandatory Quebec History course — or, should I say, more “identity propaganda” — to the CEGEP level, all send the clear but disturbing message that one population segment (francophones de souche) holding one religious viewpoint (secularism, now via a state-imposed reaction to the rigid Catholicism of Quebec’s past) is the only authentic, appropriate and welcome demographic in Quebec. These retrograde and anti-democratic policies create government-sanctioned divisions and prejudice in our society, not the cohesion the government is claiming to promote.

Growing examples of harassment of veiled women on our streets not only were foreseeable, but are sure to extend to other visible religious minorities. This is because “cohesion” cannot be legislated through enforced secularism. Doing so not only distorts the principle of separation of church and state, but creates an absurd homogeneity à la Harry Potter’s Ministry of Magic.

True tolerance, acceptance of the “other,” comes about through mutual exposure, not by state-imposed repression of the “other.”

And where will it stop? Whether or not personally affected by the charter of values and these other myopic policies, we must unite against them; and against the narrow-minded, agenda-driven government that endorses them. Let us all show the PQ that we do not accept its regressive, divisive policies. We, in our gorgeous diversity, are all Québécois, and we will not be concealed.

It is also not because the proposed charter of values goes too far, as Jacques Parizeau has said, but because it exists at all. These are not my values. Nor are they the values of many enlightened Québécois. The Charter of Quebec Values is a shameful blight on Quebec’s political landscape that both underestimates and undermines the openness of the Quebec people.

Cheri Bell

Cheri Bell is a concerned citizen, wife and mother who resides in Montreal, Quebec (Canada). She is a commercial and contracts lawyer who is the acting General Counsel and Director of Purchasing for the City of Côte Saint-Luc.

 

Message from the Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc to residents of District 6

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Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen

Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen

It gives me great pleasure to communicate with the residents of District 6 and I want to congratulate Councillor Glenn Nashen who continues to play an important role on our council particularly for his leadership on public safety and transportation issues.

Like you, I was troubled by the train derailment and fire in Lac Mégantic on July 6. As you are no doubt aware railways fall under federal jurisdiction and the federal law places no obligation on railways to share information with municipalities on what goods are passing through their territory. Although the safety record of railways is generally good and the City has an Emergency Measures Plan to respond to any railway related incident we need to learn lessons from this tragedy. We have asked for a meeting with officials from CPR to review the measures and procedures it has put in place to ensure the safety and security of transport throughout the yards and in particular along the shared track used by commuter trains and freight trains. We will also be joining with our fellow cities and towns in Canada to ask for changes to federal regulations to respond to the issues raised by this incident.

Over the last several years we have seen some important developments in District 6. We have constructed the new Aquatic and Community Centre (ACC) that has created a community hub in Côte Saint-Luc and made us a leader in swimming programs. The building with its library annex, dance studio, arts studio, gym, multipurpose rooms and seniors centre, not to mention a café is an enormous asset to our city.

We have also revamped Imagination Park behind the ACC investing in new and innovative equipment enjoyed by kids of all ages. We have worked hard to convince the English Montreal School Board to reopen a mainstream public high school at the old Wagar site and are thrilled that Wallenberg Academy will open in September 2014 provided enrolment targets are met. We also resurfaced the Caldwell tennis courts and entered into a new long term lease with the EMSB. We have also worked closely with École Maimonides to improve safety in front of the school and will continue to try to improve the configuration on Parkhaven and nearby streets since changes we made clearly need to be tweaked. We have also received a development proposal for the Griffith-McConnell site and public consultation meetings on this proposal took place on July 8 as well as an information meeting on July 2.

Your City Council has worked hard to lead the fight against Bill 14 at the municipal level and has coordinated the campaign against the provisions within the bill on bilingual communities. We have successfully secured the support of almost every bilingual municipality in Quebec as well as many non-bilingual communities and both of the major groups representing Quebec municipalities. Please visit bilingualstatus.com a website established by the city to learn more.

– Mayor Anthony Housefather

Josh Freed: No saints allowed; time to rename our streets

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Kippah_nosvaleurs_QuebecValues

You gotta laugh. Otherwise you might cry.

The proposed Charter of Quebec Values is so outlandish, so mean, so unconscionable that it’s easy to make a total mockery of this PQ piece of, errr, work.

Josh Feed does a  great job of just that. For Cote Saint-Luc he suggests, in the spirit of religious neutrality, we might drop the Saint and just go with Cote Luc!

One thing you can count on is this city councillor, along with Mayor Anthony Housefather, to speak out loud and clear against this horrific proposal that deserves to be flushed away together with Bill 14, the other PQ draft legislation to further restrict our language rights.

Cote Saint-Lucers are not known to be quiet and obedient when our rights are threatened.  We will not be quiet now.

Josh Freed: No saints allowed; time to rename our streets.

 

Rick Blue comments on Canada Day in CSL

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Rick Blue

Blue Notes – July 8, 2013 – West Island Gazette

A week ago Bowser and Blue performed at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park in Cote St. Luc for Canada Day. We were worried about the rain, but it held off until we were finished. The crowd was large and supportive. We brought out our best Canadian and Quebec material for them.

It’s always great to play for an audience that understands our jokes.

Cote St. Luc is an interesting city. It is completely surrounded by railroad tracks. And because there are only a couple ways in, it is like an island in the midst of the Montreal sprawl.

Indeed it is a unique community. And these days a rebellious one. They are none too happy about the current regime in Quebec City. Both the mayor and the local MP were vocal in their criticism of Bill 14 and the PQ’s never-ending political civil war.

Yes, the mayor and the entire city council were there. We even sang a song with them at the end of our set. They all wore red. Because they are proud Canadians.

We share the feeling. I don’t think there are any Canadians more conscious of our identity than Canadians living in Quebec. We are constantly under threat. It is a truly unique situation. Canadians across our country might be proud of our land and feel the surge of patriotism that we unleash every July 1st but there is no Canadian as desperately attached to it as we are.

Because it is our only hope to survive.

The PQ’s latest campaign of open hostility toward Canada is also open hostility toward us. It is a government that acts hostile toward its own citizens. And we pay our taxes for the privilege.

We try to lessen the burden with humour. Because if you can laugh at something, it makes it much less oppressive. And if you can laugh at your enemies, you have escaped their control.

And because laughter is the best revenge.

But we are musicians first and comedians second. We are very serious about our songs. Even if they are funny. Songs have power. And they have many functions. They can make people dance or fall in love. I always like it when our songs make people laugh. And I like it when our songs say something that you just won’t get from any other songwriters.

Like folk singers anywhere we write about our people. And it is their support that keeps us going. We sing about the shared experiences of the people we sing for. It has to be entertaining, of course. But it is also a little subversive.

And in Cote St. Luc, they understood the subtext.

National Post Full Comment: Throwing around Quebec’s c-word

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Dan Delmar: Throwing around Quebec’s c-word

National Post | 13/05/07 |

One of the most offensive words in the Québécois lexicon is “colonisé.”

Also abbreviated as “colon” (not the organ, it’s a soft N), it is an adjective hurled at those who have been metaphorically “colonized” by their embrace of the English language.

It’s a word that is used among Francophones casually, in private. In public, it typically is used only by fringe ultra-nationalists, a few rabid radio talk-show hosts, and, last week, an elected member of Quebec’s National Assembly.

In a debate about Bill 14, a language law that might be described as the ugly stepchild of Bill 101, Parti Québécois MNA Daniel Breton objected to Liberals speaking English in the legislature — even though the practice is perfectly permissible, and is done on occasion when legislators are dealing with matters pertaining to Anglo Quebecers.

“I would like to highlight that elected members of the official opposition in the National Assembly expressed themselves in English on the subject of Bill 14, a law on the French language,” Breton said in the legislature (speaking in French, of course). “You might have the right, but it shows to what point you are ‘colonisés.’”

The statement is offensive for a number of reasons. And it shows that Breton knows less about Canadian history than the average high school student.

Francophones were, of course, the colonizers. The true “colonisés” were Aboriginals. Despite the popular myths of ultra-nationalists such as Breton, and their claims to victimhood, Francophones in Canada are not an indigenous people.

Breton’s comments also are consistent with retrograde PQ policies (including Bill 14 itself) that cast multilingualism as a threat to Quebec’s identity, and unilingualism as a mark of true Québécois patriotism.

This is hardly the first time that Breton has attracted controversy. He had a brief stint as Quebec’s environment minister, which ended when it was revealed that he called up the head of Quebec’s public consultation bureau to make it clear that the agency would hear from him if he wasn’t satisfied with their decisions.

To describe a fellow Quebecer as “colonisé” is more than just a cheap insult. It’s a Québécois species of McCarthyism

Breton also was found guilty of three counts of fraud for making false EI declarations in 1988. The co-founder of Quebec’s Green Party, he once was caught speeding in a Porsche at 275km/h. This is the man whom the PQ has chosen to defend one of the most controversial bills in the party’s history.

If the PQ were a normal political party, his behaviour in the National Assembly alone would be enough to have him removed from caucus. He is not fit to represent Quebecers, sovereignists or otherwise.

If the PQ wants to repair its credibility, Premier Pauline Marois must rid her party of those who contribute to hateful, regressive rhetoric. To describe a fellow Quebecer as “colonisé” is more than just a cheap insult. It’s a Québécois species of McCarthyism, and a sad example of how fringe separatist elements are impeding tolerance between Quebec’s two main language communities.

 

Dan Delmar is the co-founder of Provocateur Communications and the co-host of Delmar & Dwivedi on CJAD 800 Montreal.

OQLF visits Côte St. Luc

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The Suburban, By Joel Goldenberg, May 1st, 2013

An Office Québécois de la Langue Française inspector took her camera to Côte St. Luc last Thursday, probing Pharmaprix, IGA and the Cordonnerie Cavendish shoe repair store in Quartier Cavendish (Cavendish Mall) for potential language law offences.

According to interviews and discussions with each of the stores probed, a female inspector came in, took pictures and said each establishment would receive a letter in a month and a half with the results of the OQLF’s investigation if the law was seen to be violated.

The visit outraged many at the mall, including Gino Scandale, owner of Ralphs Mens Wear and president of the mall’s merchants association.

“This was very unexpected, especially to come into a [majority] anglophone community and start like that,” Scandale told The Suburban. “It’s sort of like coming into the West End, agitating people…. They saw English lettering; the law says French has to be three times bigger than the English. That’s the type of crap going on right now.

“It’s just ludicrous,” he added. “We’ve got to, at some point, start speaking out. From what I see now, we’re between the devil and the deep blue sea. Anyone who really speaks out, they get the tax department and [other repercussions]. That’s why, I feel, a lot of people are not speaking out.”

Pharmaprix manager Ian MacDonald said the inspector was checking if the signage in the store complied with the language law. No warnings were given on Thursday, MacDonald said.

“We’re in Côte St. Luc, I think they’re in the wrong neighbourhood,” MacDonald said. “They want to push an issue, and that’s it. It’s ridiculous, but what are you going to do? They want to pass Bill 14.”

IGA management had no comment.

Hovig Ourichian of Cordonnerie Cavendish confirmed that the OQLF visited the store.

“The inspector came to check and took some pictures from the outside, and told me they were checking the signage of whatever a customer sees from the outside in,” Ourichian told The Suburban. “She took some pictures, said she would send it to an inspector and if I was at fault, they would send me a letter.

“They seem to not have anything better to do,” he added. “Hospitals need money, they’re cutting everywhere and meanwhile these guys are going around taking pictures and wasting our money.”

Many stores in the mall avoid any language problems by having very few signs -one store primarily has just the store name and sales numbers, such as an item being 20 percent off, but very little wording. Some are also careful to greet customers with a “bonjour.”

CRITIQ calls for bilingual status for Montreal and other cities

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An open email from CRITIQ:
[La version française suit.]For A Bilingual Montreal
A Movement for Bilingual Status

One of CRITIQ’s founding principles is the recognition of English and French as official languages in Quebec. We see no better place to start than on the island of Montreal.  As such, CRITIQ has drafted a resolution (below) for you to forward to Montreal municipal councilors.

We request that you visit our website and…

  1. Email the Montreal City councillors
  2. Call their offices and urge for change
  3. Attend council meetings and gain support

We have simplified the process for you on our website (http://critiq.ca/en/montreal).

Please note that this initiative will not be limited to Montreal.  This is merely the beginning, we call on all municipalities in Quebec that desire to officially recognize the equality of French and English as official languages to follow suit.

Resolution for Bilingual Status of Montreal

Whereas Montreal is a truly unique City in North America where its bilingual nature and multi-cultural character constitute part of its richness and part of its essence;

Whereas French and English speaking Montrealers in all walks of life historically get along and often communicate in each other’s language;

Whereas Montreal is by fact and has always been by fact a bilingual city and a multicultural city;

Whereas Article 1 of the Charter of the City of Montreal which affirms that “Montreal is a French-speaking city” (“Montréal est une ville de langue française”) negates this aforementioned positive reality;

Be it proposed that the City Council of Montreal adopt a resolution calling on the Quebec government to amend Article 1 of the Charter of the City of Montreal and designate the City as an officially bilingual municipality, recognizing the historical alliance of French and English speaking communities and the rich diversity of cultural communities and languages.

Be it proposed that all Quebec municipalities that desire to officially recognize the equality of French and English as official languages in their jurisdiction follow suit.


Pour un Montréal bilingue
Un mouvement pour le statut bilingue

Un des principes de base de notre groupe est la reconnaissance du français et de l’anglais en tant que langues officielles du Québec. Nous ne voyons pas de meilleur endroit que Montréal pour débuter notre démarche. CRITIQ a rédigé l’ébauche d’une résolution à faire parvenir à tous les conseillers municipaux de Montréal.

Nous vous demandons…

  1. d’envoyer un courriel aux conseillers municipaux
  2. de téléphoner à leurs bureaux
  3. d’assister aux réunions du conseil de ville de façon à pouvoir intervenir et discuter

Nous avons simplifié le processus pour vous sur notre site web (http://critiq.ca/fr/montreal).

Veuillez noter que cette initiative ne se limitera pas uniquement à Montréal. Ceci n’est que le début, nous demandons à toutes les municipalités du Québec qui désirent reconnaître officiellement l’égalité du français et de l’anglais comme langues officielles d’aller de  l’avant.

Résolution visant à obtenir le statut bilingue pour la Ville de Montréal

Considérant que Montréal est une ville unique en Amérique du nord ou’ sa nature bilingue et son caractère multiculturel constituent en partie et sa richesse et son essence;

Considérant que les montréalais francophones et anglophones de toutes les conditions  sociales s’entendent bien et communiquent souvent entre eux dans les deux langues;

Considérant que Montréal est de fait et a toujours été de fait une ville bilingue et multiculturelle;

Considérant que l’Article 1 de la Charte de la Ville de Montréal affirme que « Montréal est une ville de langue française» niant ainsi la réalité quotidienne mentionné plus haut;

Vu ce qui précède il est proposé que le Conseil de la Ville de Montréal adopte une résolution demandant au gouvernement du Québec l’amendement de l’Article 1 de la Charte de la Ville de Montréal afin que la désignation officielle de la ville soit celle de municipalité bilingue, reconnaissant l’alliance historique entre les communautés francophone et anglophone ainsi que la richesse de la diversité de ses communautés culturelles et langues.

Vu ce qui précède il est proposé que toutes les municipalités du Québec qui désirent reconnaître officiellement l’égalité du français et de l’anglais dans leur juridiction puissent y donner suite.

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!

Cotler breaks federal MP silence on repressive language legislation

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The following article appeared in The Metropolitain.

Our Linguistic Duality Must be a Legal Reality

By Hon. Irwin Cotler on April 22, 2013

In the words of René Lévesque, “A nation is judged by how it treats its minorities.” Regrettably, linguistic minorities in Canada have often had to fight for just treatment, and that struggle continues against the backdrop of several troubling recent developments that threaten the rights of minority language communities throughout the country. Simply put, it is critical to ensure that minority language communities feel welcome and are able to thrive, and this is as true for Anglophones in Quebec as it is true for French-speakers elsewhere in Canada.

Regrettably, Quebec Anglophones have recently come under increased pressure in the form of Bill 14, which would amend the French Language Charter with the goal of enhancing protection for French. All Quebecers – indeed, all Canadians – have an interest in ensuring the continued vibrancy of the French language and culture in our province, but this can and must be accomplished while respecting the rights of the English-speaking minority.

To that end, Bill 14 is problematic in several respects. It would:

• Allow the provincial government to strip municipalities or boroughs of bilingual status against their will if the population of mother-tongue Anglophones drops below 50%.

• Empower OQLF inspectors to seize property without a warrant, and to refer infractions for prosecution without giving alleged offenders an opportunity to comply.

• Prohibit English CÉGEPs from considering Francophone applicants – regardless of merit – until all Anglophone applicants have been accepted.

• Remove an exemption allowing members of the armed forces to send their children to English schools.

• Modify the Charter of the French Language by replacing “ethnic minorities” – a defined term in international law – with “cultural communities,” a concept lacking legal clarity.

• Make French the “normal and everyday language” in which government agencies are addressed, and require citizens applying for government assistance to apply in French or pay for translation. As the Quebec Bar Association recently noted, this could limit access to justice in English, particularly for low-income Anglophones and Allophones seeking legal aid.

Moreover, as the Quebec Bar Association also noted in its analysis of the legislation, Bill 14 could allow public servants to refuse to acknowledge anything said to them in English and require that files be translated in French at the expense of the applicant. Further, it places new and unnecessary burdens on employers with multilingual staffs, while translation inconsistencies in the bill may give rise to unnecessary litigation while burdening the delivery of social services.

Above all, however, Bill 14 would amend the preamble of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to say that “rights and freedoms must be exercised in keeping with … the values of Quebec society, including … the importance of its common language and the right to live and work in French.” In so doing, Bill 14 renders Quebec’s Charter a document designed to entrench the supremacy of the majority, whereas a primary purpose of constitutions is to establish individual and minority rights that cannot be suppressed by simple majority rule.

As the Supreme Court stated in the reference on Quebec’s secession, “there are occasions when the majority will be tempted to ignore fundamental rights in order to accomplish collective goals more easily or effectively. Constitutional entrenchment ensures that those rights will be given due regard and protection.” Accordingly, while the Francophone majority may certainly seek to ensure the sustained vitality of its language and culture, the rights of the Anglophone minority must be protected even if their protection complicates the majority’s goal.

In constitutional democracies such as ours, it is the constitution that protects minority rights from what Alexis de Tocqueville called “the tyranny of the majority.” Indeed, without constitutional safeguards, a majority-elected legislature would be legally empowered to oppress minority groups. Therefore, for Quebec’s Charter to subordinate all other rights to the importance of the majority’s language would be to undermine the very raison-d’être of a human rights charter.

Inasmuch as the language minister has expressed her hope that the amendments to the preamble will affect Supreme Court decisions about Quebec’s language laws, Bill 14 seeks manifestly to reduce constitutional protections for linguistic minorities. Yet such protections must be robust, both for Anglophones in Quebec and Francophones elsewhere in Canada.

Last October, at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Quebec City, Canada signed an international agreement to “uphold cultural, linguistic, ethnic, racial, political and religious diversity as a global value which should be celebrated, respected, encouraged and protected within and among all societies and civilizations.” It is time for government decisions – at both federal and provincial levels – to adhere to this noble ideal.

Irwin Cotler is the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal and the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He is an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University. 

 

Opinion: Changes proposed by Bill 14 risk serious rights violations

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By Pearl Eliadis, Special to The Gazette April 18, 2013

MONTREAL – Last Friday, the Quebec Bar Association testified at legislative hearings in Quebec City on Bill 14, which proposes to amend several laws, including the French Language Charter, and impose new restrictions on (mainly) anglophone rights.

When I first wrote about Bill 14 last fall (Opinion, Dec. 11, “Bill 14 chips away at English minority rights”), I highlighted the bill’s proposed change in definition of “ethnic minorities” to the nebulous “cultural communities.” Other writers have discussed this as well. The proposed new term, in my view, is worrisome because it serves as prologue to a litany of substantive rights violations in the bill.

The Bar found more than a dozen of these, in a number of areas. Among them:

Jobs: Let’s say your employer hired you because she needs well-educated employees who speak two or more languages. After all, you work in the Montreal area, so you probably serve clients of different linguistic backgrounds. Under Bill 14, your employer would be obliged to “subsequently review such needs periodically” to justify not only your job, but also the job of every other employee whose skills in a language other than French were seen as an asset when they were hired. It does not matter how big or small the company is. If requiring a language other than French cannot be justified to the satisfaction of the language bureaucrats, your job or your promotion would be jeopardized. This applies even if you are fluent in French.

Public services: Bill 14 proposes to require communication with the provincial government in French, in order to obtain a licence, authorization, assistance, indemnity or any other benefit. Applications, then, would have to be made in French. All supporting documents would have to be in French, too. Otherwise, the government would insist on translating it, at your expense. This provision would create a disadvantage mainly for English speakers. If Bill 14 is passed, forget about English versions of driver’s licence forms, income-tax forms and other tax-related information, not to mention English versions of government websites, which are already inadequate. Then there is Bill 14’s proposed new passive right for government officials to be addressed solely in French. The corollary is that public servants would be entitled to refuse to even acknowledge anything said to them in English.

Health and social services: Under Bill 14, workers in health and social services would be able to demand full translation of files into French. Translation costs would be borne by the English-language health-care system. But what if there were a real emergency, and your file had to be transferred from the English-speaking system to a specialist in the French-speaking system? The English version of Bill 14 says that the person authorized to receive your documents may require “a quick rundown of their content” in French — and this, in addition to the full translation of the file. The French version of the bill can be interpreted as saying only a “quick rundown” would be required. The translation contradictions are not helpful. To be sure, there are perfectly valid reasons for wanting unilingual workers to understand what they are reading. However, Bill 14’s proposals would impose financial burdens on an already-beleaguered health system. (I am betting there was no consultation with the English system on this point).

Your child’s schooling: Let’s say you move. Or you want to transfer your child to another English school, for whatever reason. Education officials under Bill 14 would, in these cases, be entitled to disregard your child’s years of schooling to date if this schooling in English were obtained through “trickery,” deception or a “temporary artificial situation.” These terms are all undefined, and interpretation would be left to the discretion of bureaucrats.

These are but a few examples of what awaits us if Bill 14 is passed. The bill promises years of litigation and legal instability.

Who will pay? For starters, the taxpayer.

The Quebec Bar Association’s brief, which highlights the legally problematic aspects of Bill 14, should be reassuring to anyone who believes that the rule of law should prevail regardless of one’s mother tongue or home language.

Protecting French is a legitimate political objective. But Bill 14 goes too far, and risks becoming a launch pad for multiple legal challenges that will further damage Quebec’s reputation.

Pearl Eliadis is a Montreal human-rights lawyer. She was part of the legal advisory team for the African Canadian Legal Clinic of Toronto, an intervenor in the Whatcott case. She teaches civil liberties at McGill University.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Housefather and Steinberg on Bill 14: Money and Business Show

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On April 10 Samuel Ezerzer of the Money and Business Show on Radio Shalom 1650AM in Montreal hosted Dr. William Steinberg, Mayor of the Town of Hampstead and Anthony Housefather, Mayor of the City of Cote Saint-Luc.  They discussed the proposed Bill 14 and how it will affect the English-speaking communities.

In response to call for no more anglophone hospitals

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Letter to the editor, Montreal Gazette

Re: “Emotions run high at Bill 14 hearing” (Gazette, April 10).

Jean-Paul Perreault, President of the language lobby group Impératif français said at hearings into Bill 14 that “in our view, there’s no place for anglophone hospitals in Quebec.”

Mr. Perreault is only technically correct. Since the adoption of Bill 101 in 1977, only French-language and bilingual hospitals exist in Quebec. Such is the case of the Jewish General Hospital, which proudly communicates in both official languages. Our diverse, multilingual staff is focused on providing compassionate, high-quality care in a safe environment, where French and English are respected and used effortlessly. Indeed, our research shows that our patients speak more than 90 languages.

No wonder the JGH has been cited through the years for its contributions as an outstanding partner in Quebec’s public healthcare system.

Even former Premier Jacques Parizeau has said, “The Jewish General Hospital saved the quality of my life.” What’s more, former Premier Lucien Bouchard said, “I believe undoubtedly that Montreal has, with the Jewish General Hospital, one of the best health institutions in the world.”

Even Mr. Perreault might be surprised to learn that the JGH, and the few other bilingual hospitals in Quebec, offer compassion, dignity and respect in the language that is most important to each patient. Many generations of Quebecers of all backgrounds have turned to the JGH, which proudly proclaims “Au service de tous.”

Glenn J. Nashen
Director, Public Affairs and Communications
Jewish General Hospital

Hearings into Bill 14: Bill 101 should not be subject to tinkering, civil rights lawyer says

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Lawyer Julius Grey seems to have adopted the CAQ approach of suggesting that with changes to Bill 14 it would be an acceptable law.  Furthermore, he even concludes that Bill 101 should be allowed “to do its work and not try and change it.” So much for language and human rights.

Grey, apparently, is increasingly out of sync with the community he purportedly seeks to protect.  The English-speaking community has little interest in whittling away what few rights it has left.  The threat of Bill 14 hangs heavy upon English-speaking Quebecers, but Grey acts as if it is merely a minor discomfort to be shaken off.

What’s more, Grey argues that the imposition upon small business is not too heavy a burden. The business community doesn’t even agree with him. Ridiculous, Mr. Grey.

On the other hand, I salute the representatives of CRITIQ, the newest group to speak out for linguistic equality. Montreal Lawyer Richard Yufe, newspaper publisher Beryl Wajsman and former Cote Saint-Luc Mayor and D’Arcy McGee MNA Robert Libman presented their brief before the National Assembly yesterday calling for Bill 14 to be struck down in its entirety.

Wajsman, editor-in-chief of the Suburban, is unabashedly outspoken in human and language rights issues.  Libman, who lead the Equality Party in the National Assembly from 1989 to 1994, stood for his party’s namesake, equality.  These worthy goals, sadly, seem unattainable today to Quebec’s English-speaking community.  However, it’s only through the continued efforts of these leaders, and others like Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, that we will eventually succeed in making Quebec a better society for all.

Hearings into Bill 14: Bill 101 should not be subject to tinkering, civil rights lawyer says (Montreal Gazette)

 

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