New law imperils English in suburbs

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Henry Aubin: New law imperils English in suburbs

Loss of bilingual status is a devastating blow and a barrier to business


The Marois government’s proposed law to tighten the Charter of the French Language would deal a truly devastating blow to most of the 65 municipalities in Quebec that possess official bilingual status. The bill would strip this designation from a town if fewer than 50 per cent of its residents have English as their mother tongue.

Six of the 12 suburbs on Montreal Island that now offer services in French and English would lose the legal ability to continue to do so in English. They are Côte-St-Luc, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Dorval, Kirkland, Mont-Royal and Senneville. (See table.)

Four other suburbs, whose English mother-tongue residents are steadily declining and now represent less than 55 per cent of the population, are on course to falling under the threshold within a few years. They are Baie d’Urfé, Beaconsfield, Pointe-Claire and Westmount. Hampstead and Montreal West, both of which are near the 60-per-cent mark, are safer ground. (The island’s two remaining suburbs, Montréal-Est and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, do not have bilingual status.)

Municipalities not on the island would tend to lose their status at a considerably higher rate. Many of these mostly rural towns or villages have aging anglo communities.

(The government would determine whether a city or town is above or below the 50 per cent bar on the basis of Statistic Canada’s census. However, it is unclear how the government would define people with English as their mother tongue. Most people have only one language as their mother tongue, but others list two or even more on the census form, depending the circumstances of their infancy. The table gives figures for both options.)

The proposed law, Bill 14, tabled this week by the minister responsible for language, Diane De Courcy, comes completely out of the blue. It’s been a long time since language has been a notable issue in the island’s suburbs or in the more distant places. You have to wonder what the problem is that De Courcy set out to fix.

To be sure, the presence of English has become a hot political issue, but that controversy has been confined do Montreal’s central core, especially the shopping areas. De Courcy’s measure gives the core a free pass — the bill can’t revoke Montreal’s bilingual status because the city doesn’t have one.

Removing the suburbs’ bilingual standing would also be curious because it would reduce the attractiveness of Montreal for knowledge workers from English-speaking countries. When they move here, these workers often choose to live in a bilingual suburb where — as is only normal — they feel more linguistically hospitable.

The Mercer 2012 Quality of Living Index of cities — an annual ranking to help multinational companies and organizations make decisions — came out the day before De Courcy tabled the bill. It rated Montreal well behind Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto. If the minority government succeeds in making Bill 14 law, it’s not going to help the economy.

Peter Trent, the Westmount mayor and leader of the island’s suburban mayors, is a moderate on language issues. He calls the measure “completely unacceptable” to anglo communities. As well, he notes an additional curiosity about the bill: “It wouldn’t help the cause of preserving French one jot.”

Trent notes a final curiosity about the bill: Those suburbs whose majority of English mother-tongue residents are rapidly shrinking might have no interest in attracting those newcomers who would further dilute the English mother-tongue presence. The law might thus have the perverse effect of making francophones unwelcome.

This measure might make short-term political sense: Riling the anglos is often a surefire way to boost the PQ in anglophobes’ eyes.

But as a step to advance the interests of francophones, the bill shoots itself in the foot. In the end, it would harm everybody.

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CSL gives new push to extend Cavendish

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The City of Cote Saint-Luc has adopted a resolution requesting the Quebec government and the City of Montreal to push forward with the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish extension project.

Cote Saint-Luc has produced several excellent presentations on the Cavendish extension such as this simulation:

Cote Saint-Luc Council has unanimously supported the proposed extension since 1998.  Here is the resolution adopted at this week’s public council meeting:


WHEREAS the project to link Cavendish Boulevard in the City of Côte Saint-Luc to Cavendish Boulevard in the Borough of Saint Laurent through Royalmount Avenue in the Town of Mount Royal, has been discussed amongst all the stakeholders for over a generation and has been an active project for the past 15 years;

WHEREAS, the aforedescribed Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish extension project (sometimes referred to as the ‘‘Cavendish extension project’’) was identified as the most important missing link in the Montreal road network and was defined as a priority project in the Montreal Summit of 2002;

WHEREAS CP rail and CN rail are committed to maintaining their presence in Côte Saint-Luc and Montreal and their yard operations represent an obstacle causing traffic congestion in the Western part of the Island of Montreal affecting the mobility of residents in Côte Saint-Luc and neighbouring municipalities such as: the Town of Mount Royal, the Town of Hampstead, the Town of Montreal West and the City of Montreal;

WHEREAS the new road connections along the Cavendish Boulevard axis would create economic vitality and open up important employment opportunities in the sectors of the Hippodrome, “Cité Scientifique’’ and industrial zones of the Town of Mount Royal and Boroughs of Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Saint Laurent;

WHEREAS in December 2004 a project bureau was formed by unanimous resolution of the Council of the City of Montreal with a budget of $5 million with a precise mandate to manage the Cavendish extension project, including the adoption of the final route proposal by 2006  and the design and completion of the work between 2007 and 2012;

WHEREAS in 2007, the City of Côte-Saint-Luc adopted resolution number 070730 and submitted a detailed brief to the Commission permanente du conseil d’Agglomération that clearly outlined the need to proceed with the Cavendish extension project (which was also supported by the Councils of:
Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Montreal West, Hampstead, Dorval, Town of Mount Royal and the Borough of  Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce);

WHEREAS the Cavendish extension project was included as a ‘priority item’ in the Agglomeration of Montreal’s Plan de Transport 2008, as per item 18e entitled, ‘‘Chantier, Entretenir et Compléter le Réseau Routier de L’Île’’, an extract from which reads as follows:

“A ce chapitre, Montréal entend réaliser en priorité les projets suivants:

  • Notre-Dame (Dickson to Curatteau
  • Sherbrookeest (36e avenue to Notre-Dame)
  • Sherbrooke(Pie-IX to Papineau)
  • Raccorder le boulevard Cavendish: une première phase des travaux établira le lien Royalmount/Cavendish et une seconde phase reliera les deux tronçons existants de Cavendish

WHEREAS the Agglomeration of Montreal identified the Cavendish extension project as one of its Capital Expenditure Projects in its three year capital expenditure budget of 2012-2015;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc deems the Cavendish extension project essential for the development and enhancement of the quality of life of its residents on its territory as well as those in its neighbouring communities;

WHEREAS all of the adjacent municipalities and boroughs are in favour of a Cavendish extension creating a link between its Southern and Northern portions which would create a boulevard which would integrate public and active transit;

WHEREAS the Town of Mount Royal, and the Borough of Côte-des-neiges-Notre-Dâme-de-Grâce have already publicly declared and adopted resolutions in 2007 and in 2012, that they are in favour of the Cavendish extension project;

WHEREAS the commencement of construction linking the two portions of Cavendish is dependent upon provincial financing;



            “THAT the City ofCôte Saint-Luc reaffirms its support in favour of the Cavendish- Royalmount- Cavendish extension project;

            THAT the City of Côte Saint-Luc considers the Cavendish-Royalmount- Cavendish extension project a key element to improving traffic-flow for private, public and active transit  in the Central portion of the Island of Montreal;

            THAT the City of Côte Saint-Luc hereby requests that the Quebec Government and the City of Montreal give priority to the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish extension project and that said project be included  and designated as a priority project in the next agreement between the MTQ (Quebec Ministry of Transport) and the City of Montreal;

            THAT a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Minister of Transport of Quebec, Pierre Moreau; MNA for D’Arcy McGee, Lawrence Bergman; the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal and all Mayors and Councils within the Agglomeration of Montreal;

THAT a copy of this resolution also be deposited at the next Montreal Agglomeration Council Meeting.

Beware of Net tech fraudster: cops

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Beware of Net tech fraudster: cops
The Gazette – West Island Edition
August 19, 2010

Police are warning people about a fraudster posing as an Internet technician in order to try to gain access to people’s homes.

Police said two attempts were made last week -in Dorval and Cote St. Luc.

Police said someone claiming to be a technician called the homes and said there was a major problem with the Internet service and he needed to make an appointment to gain access to the homes. The homeowners called their providers to find out there were no problems. They then contacted police.

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Interesting encounters at the FCM

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The annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference was more than sitting through hours of meetings, seminars, guest lectures and reading through miles of documents on municipal infrastructure, environment, finance rules, collective transport, crime prevention and so much more.  The best part was meeting interesting folks from across this great country.  Mayors and Councillors from towns and cities, large and small, each have experiences, success stories and advice galore that they are more than willing to share.       

Councillors Glenn J. Nashen, Dida Berku and Sam Goldbloom meet with NDP leader Jack Layton

The City of Edmonton hosted a reception to familiarize elected officials with their beautiful city and to brag about their upcoming Expo 2017.  City Councillor Karen Leibovici welcomed us and mentioned that she grew up in Montreal and her parents still live in Cote Saint-Luc!

L-R: M. Jacques Kincler, Councillors Sam Goldbloom Karen Leibovici, Dida Berku, Glenn J. Nashen, Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee and (front) Councillor Allan J. Levine

A short 5 hour drive north of Edmonton is Slave Lake, Alberta. where Karina Pillay-Kinnee serves as their delightful mayor.  Karina explained that her council meets three Mondays each month and that almost all discussions take place in public, a rarity for most municipal councils.  Slave Lake is home to about 6,000 people.       

Councillors Sam Goldbloom, Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac are welcomed to City Hall by Toronto Mayor David Miller

A reception was held at the Hockey Hall of Fame where legendary hockey great Johnny Bower dropped in to pose with an excited group of municipal officials, next to the Stanley Cup.  Bower was a star for 13 seasons and played for the Toronto Maple Leafs among others.  It was my first visit to the Hall of Fame and it was quite evident that no matter what city or town any of us came from in Canada, Hockey was definately a national priority!      

Hockey enthusiast and City Councillor Ruth Kovac meets with Hockey legend Johnny Bower

There was a chance to discuss a few issues among neighbours from the Borough of Cote-des-Neiges-NDG.  Wouldn’t it be mighty neighbourly for the borough to make some improvements along Van Horne to allow West End traffic to more efficiently access Decarie by unblocking some of the new left turn restrictions and by paving the road?       

CDN-NDG Borough Mayor Michael Applebaum and CSL City Councillor Dida Berku Councillors Ruth Kovac and Glenn J. Nashen with CDN-NDG Borough Mayor Michael Applebaum

The Cote Saint-Luc reps helped re-elect Lachine Borough Mayor Claude Dauphin to the Quebec Caucus of the FCM.  Claude will be joined by St-Laurent Borough Councillor Maurice Cohen, Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau and several others at representing Quebec municipalities at the FCM national level.       

Councillors Glenn J. Nashen, Mike Cohen, Ruth Kovac and Sam Goldbloom meet with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson (centre)

All in all it was an excellent conference and valuable opportunity that will prove beneficial to Cote Saint-Luc and cities across this great nation.  Au revoir from Toronto.       

CSL Councillor Glenn J. Nashen with Mayor Anthony Housefather

Mayor Anthony Housefather with former Councillor Richard Schwartz

Councillor Sam Goldbloom at Toronto City Hall

Councillor Allan Levine at Hockey Hall of Fame

NDP leader Jack Layton with Councillor Dida Berku