Impassioned MP Housefather vigorously defends minority language rights in House of Commons

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“Many in Quebec’s English-speaking community wonder whether anyone ever speaks up for them,” said Mount Royal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather. “I have spoken out for minority language rights my whole life and do so in the House of Commons as well.”

This video of Housefather’s back and forth with the Bloc Québécois shows just how impassioned the MP is when debating a proposed bill that would give English-speaking Quebecers in the federal civil service fewer rights to work in their language than any other civil servant in Canada.

“In this video my vision of Canada comes out loudly and clearly in both official languages,” Housefather said.

Thank you, Anthony, for always standing up for your constituents and all Canadians, especially on matters of linguistic rights and basic human rights. You are a formidable representative, a masterful spokesperson.

 

Opinion: Bill 86’s school board reforms are no threat to the anglophone community

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Why I support the call for an Office of Anglophone Affairs

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The need for an Office of Anglophone Affairs to represent the interests of 800,000 English-speaking Quebecers is reasonable and quite evident.

First, having three cabinet members of the Quebec Liberal Party who come from the English-speaking community does not absolve the government from its ongoing obligation to its English-speaking population. Cabinet members come and go, so do governments, and cabinet members have many more responsibilities than uniquely watching out for linguistic issues of their constituents.

The last four decades have shown us that English-speakers promoted to cabinet are no guarantee that the rights afforded to the English-speaking community will be respected in each ministry and throughout the government.

No disrespect or lack of appreciation to our Anglo MNAs, past or present. Their competencies are far from limited to their mother tongue. In D’Arcy McGee riding, for example, David Birnbaum is off to a great start, is very interested in his constituency and his assistance is quite sincere, I have no doubt. Lawrence Bergman was a model MNA, of the highest calibre. Robert Libman (Equality Party) was elected specifically because of his position on language and Bill 101 and had wide community support because he was a thorn in the side of the government – a voice specifically for the English-speaking community.

An Office  of Anglophone Affairs would be such a representative body that is sorely lacking in Quebec City.

Editorial: An Office of Anglophone Affairs is needed now more than ever | Montreal Gazette.

Second, in an era when a judge of the Quebec Court rules that it is legitimate for the government to deny the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Canadians and Quebecers, such as this week’s ruling to uphold Bill 101 with respect to marked predominance of French on signs, it is clear that the Quebec English-speaking community needs greater presence within government. An office, as suggested by Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, would be a good start.

Smaller English wording on signs will convince more people to speak French? Nonsense. This is nothing more than the government, through its OQLF, bullying small business owners, who have enough trouble making a living in this province without being restricted from communicating with their non French-speaking customers.

It is harassment of Anglo seniors who have difficulty reading much too small English wording in the few cases where English is even provided.

It is an insult to English-speaking Quebecers that their language is diminished by such mean spirited laws that do absolutely nothing to promote the French language

It is pure politic and it is contrary to what Philippe Couillard told us in last year’s election campaign (‘English is not the enemy’).

Finally, Quebecers were screaming their support for freedom of expression, alongside people of good will all across the planet just two weeks ago. Where are they today? Where are our business leaders demanding their freedom of expression to run their businesses as they see fit in order to create wealth in our province? Where are those politicians who waved their signs upholding freedom of expression? Where are all those marchers?

We’re quick to cry for freedom for everyone all over the world. I fully support that. But what about right here in Quebec, in Canada, where we have something called a ‘Notwithstanding Clause’ that allows our own government to deny our rights? What about our own freedom of expression?

All other provinces have an office for their French-speaking communities. Anglo Quebecers need a voice too.

 

Read more:

Court quashes challenge to Quebec’s sign law (The Gazette)

Judge shoots down sign law challenge (CTV News)

Suburban | Feb. 4, 2015 | Click to enlarge

Suburban | Feb. 4, 2015 | Click to enlarge

We tweet in French, Quebec Police Force

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Conversation with the Quebec Police Force on Twitter, July 30, 2014

Conversation with the Quebec Police Force on Twitter, July 30, 2014

 

How ludicrous it is that the provincial police will not communicate with hundreds of thousands of English-speaking Quebecers plus hundreds of thousands more tourists and visitors unless they are asked a question in English?
This nonsense has gone unchecked for far too long and it’s high time that the Liberal government correct the overzealous policies of its departments that are nothing short of mean-spirited, disrespectful and counter-productive in the dispensing of public safety and public service messages.
The Surete du Quebec / Quebec Police Force has a mandate to serve all who live in or visit Quebec. They have an obligation to communicate with the people they serve, through various means including social media. Yet, their policy on use of English on Twitter, as indicated above, shows a blatant disregard for all English-speaking Quebecers and English-speaking visitors. Public safety messages are broadcast in French only. To hell with English, they’ll only reply to specific questions in that other language. And forget seeking out a job with the QPF, errr SQ, in English, as that section is in French only on their website.
Premier Couillard made it clear in the election campaign, barely four months ago, that English is not a disease and English-speaking Quebecers are not the enemy here. Our language does not diminish the French language at all. He said not a single Quebec parent doesn’t want their children to be bilingual. It’s time to prove he meant what he said and to loosen the stranglehold that Bill 101 has on every public agency, department and service under the Quebec Government. Then, even the SQ could wish us all a happy and safe vacation.

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. 

 

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)

 

Petition MNAs to vote down Bill 14

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Several petitions are circulating online calling upon Members of the National Assembly to vote down the evil and repressive language legislation proposed under Bill 14.

One petition calls upon Francois Legault and the members of the Coalition Avenir Quebec to vote down the bill in its entity.  Click here. This one has a little over 1000 signatures with a goal of 10,000.

Another petition is entitled “Rejection of the proposed amendments to the Charter of the French language (Bill 14).”  This one is found directly on the Quebec National Assembly website. This petition has been signed by more than 32,000 people and is online until May 14, 2013,

Why not sign both?  The bill is mean and would slash fundamental rights of Quebecers.  It would punish English-speaking Quebecers yet again.  It restricts the educational freedom of our remarkable military personnel.  It strips powers from our cities and towns and threatens those with bilingual status.  There’s much more and it’s all bad and none of it will help improve the situation of the French language.

Sign a petition.  Call your MNA. Write a letter to the editor.  Get involved.

Housefather and Roy defend English-speaking cities

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Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather and Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy appeared before the Quebec National Assembly hearings into Bill 14 this morning.  They did a stellar job at defending the acquired rights of the English-speaking communities residing in 86 bilingual municipalities and boroughs throughout the province.

The snarky language minister Diane de Courcy pressed the mayors on why they hadn’t consulted their residents (in a referendum) as to whether or not they wished to have bilingual status, suggesting the mayors spoke emotionally and not based in fact.  Such chutzpah and warped logic, to poll the majority on the rights of the minority, is to be expected from the narrow-minded PQ.  A testy liberal MNA Geoff Kelley shot back that the PQ themselves hadn’t consulted the population before they wiped out these two cities through forced mergers.  His microphone was abruptly shut off for being too smart.  Way to go Geoff!

“It concerns me that you haven’t consulted your residents,” de Courcy asked of Housefather.  “And, you haven’t consulted other areas, such as Cote des Neiges-NDG, that would probably vote to acquire bilingual status,” a very wise Housefather retorted.

Housefather went on to press his point.  “In some countries, bilingual status is obligatory in municipalities where 5% of the city’s population is a minority community. Nowhere, other than Quebec, is it prohibited to have bilingual status unless the minority forms the majority,” the mayor quipped, in reference to Bill 14’s provision that a city would lose its bilingual status if its minority language population fell below 50%.

When asked what he would propose as a way to make Bill 14 acceptable to municipalities, Housefather responded he was not prepared to negotiate away fundamental rights.  Roy stated that the autonomy of city councils must be respected as they are closest to the people, best placed to represent its residents.

While PQ MNA Daniel Breton spoke in exclusionary and divisive language the mayors described their towns as inclusive, where respect and equality prevail, as should be the case with all Quebecers.  “What do you propose we do for immigrants to make Bill 14 better?” the MNA asked.  Housefather replied, “If my parents moved to Quebec with me in the 20s, if I’ve used English as my preferred language for 90 years, and if I’m now excluded from your calculation as to who is an English-speaking Quebecer, you’re draft law is unfair!”

Housefather explained that there are three ways of classifying language in the census: mother tongue, language used at home and preferred language.  Bill 14 chooses the most restrictive classification: mother tongue.  A Quebecer is branded by the language of his or her mother, effectively reducing the English-speaking community in Quebec by nearly 300,000 individuals.

D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman was next to speak.  He said that is all of his years in elected office he had never received so many calls from constituents as he did for this bill, except against the forced mergers.  He read a letter from a local English-speaking resident of Italian origin who wrote that his family chose to live in Cote Saint-Luc because of its welcoming, bilingual environment.  None of his family are considered as English-speaking in this legislation.

Housefather too said he had not seen such fierce opposition to a draft bill, save for the mergers, in his 17 years in city hall.  Bill 14 scares English-speaking people, he said.  The message of the bill, Housefather said, is that English-speaking people are not respected.  “You’re a problem,” the bill tells us.  “We’ve evolved.  We’re bilingual.  We built our city, and we’ve been a majority in it for years!” the mayor told the commission.

The CAQ member, Nathalie Roy was only partially opposed to the bill, unfortunately.  “The CAQ doesn’t want bilingual status to be touched.  Cities need to be able to decide for themselves.  This is an acquired right of the minority community,” the MNA said.  She then asked Housefather what would happen if the bill passed?

“There would be chaos,” Housefather asserted.  “Either the city would refuse to obey the law and would fight it in court or you’d have citizens in the streets,’ the mayor concluded. “It would change daily life, the way we live.”

Thankfully the English-speaking community was represented by such fine individuals such as Housefather and Roy.  They spoke with passion and conviction and although I’m confident that bilingual status provisions of the french language charter will remain unchanged it remains to be seen if Bill 14 will be scrapped in it entirety and deposited in the trash bin of of oppressive Quebec legislative history where it rightfully belongs.

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.

Tourism Minister will contemplate promoting Quebec to English-speaking community

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Quebec Minister of Tourism Pascal Bérubé

Quebec Minister of Tourism Pascal Bérubé

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with Quebec Minister of Tourism, Pascal Bérubé.

This 37 year-old cabinet member (the second youngest in cabinet) is not your average PQ MNA.  He is personable, articulate in French and English and down-to-earth.  He is also a good friend to the Jewish community and has visited Israel and has even introduced Israeli culture and society to his constituents in the Gaspé.

Bérubé is also no stranger to Cote Saint-Luc having lived on Old Orchard Ave in NDG.

I suggested to the minister that he consider Montreal’s English-speaking community as a target audience for a “Travel in Quebec” campaign.  So few west-end anglos have visited the many extraordinary regions of Quebec, yet are fluent in the towns, shops and restaurants of neighbouring Vermont, Upstate New York and Ontario.

Informally polling my friends, I wasn’t surprised that none were familiar with the Gaspé, North Shore, Saguenay and most other regions beyond the ski centres and popular lakes of the Laurentians and to a lesser extent the Eastern Townships and Quebec City.

I find Quebec to be a fascinating and extraordinary province, having traveled to every province and much of our own.  The Magdelene Islands is breathtaking, the scenic vistas across the Charlevoix is amazing, the North Shore is remote and isolated while the locals are so friendly.  The Gaspé is a very worthy destination (I traveled there overnight by train once) and the Pontiac in the Outaouais is friendly and great for biking along the mighty Ottawa River.

There are so many wonderful opportunities that I’ve personally enjoyed in cycling, photographing and eating my way across the province I call “notre home”.  From St. Louis de Haha to St. Leonard d’Aston, Entry Island to Chisasibi, the people and places in our very own province are magnifique.

I asked the minister to consider targeting a travel publicity campaign to the huge number of English-speaking Montrealers who have yet to visit the sights within our province.  He found the idea to be of interest and committed to giving it consideration.

I also took the occasion to tell Minster Bérubé that Bill 14 is causing the English-speaking community, and bilingual municipalities in particular, an enormous amount of frustration, discomfort and anxiety.  I urged him to think about what he is trying to accomplish with respect to promoting the French language and to do so in a constructive, positive and inviting manner.  Cote Saint-Luc, and many other cities and towns with bilingual status are strongly opposing this mean-spirited draft law, I said to the minister, and surely it is the job of the government to unite all Quebecers around a common idea rather than continuing to divide them, and even punish some, as is the case with this bill.

Overall, I found Pascal Bérubé to be a fine gentleman, someone really willing to hear the other side.  I could see him rising in the ranks as he gains in experience.

Read more: Canadian Jewish News 2011-06-23 Bérubé

Housefather packs the house in Florida

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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.

Mayor Anthony Housefather

Mayor Anthony Housefather

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.

Greenfield Park gears up for a fight

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The Montreal Gazette is reporting that Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather‘s initiative to solicit support against the PQ’s Bill 14 has picked up major steam with endorsement by the Longueuil borough of (and former City of) Greenfield Park.

About half of the 86 cities, towns and boroughs that currently enjoy bilingual status have already passed resolutions condemning the proposed law, said Côte-St-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, who is co-ordinating municipal opposition to the bill.

They include Hampstead, Montreal West, Town of Mount Royal, Senneville, Beaconsfield, Dorval, Baie d’Urfé, Pointe-Claire, Kirkland and Westmount, along with several towns in the Eastern Townships and other regions, like Ayer’s Cliff, Shawville and Gore.

“There’s nothing good that I can say about this bill,” Housefather said.

“It’s a bill that’s not needed. It simply makes it uncomfortable for the English-speaking community in Quebec,” he added.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Greenfield+Park+gears+fight/7922969/story.html#ixzz2K8kHjItg

 

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.

 

PQ minister softens hard line on bilingualism

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BY PHILIP AUTHIER, THE GAZETTE DECEMBER 11, 2012

It’s no longer 50 per cent, but 40 per cent — and even then, it’s not automatic.

Quebec’s minister responsible for the anglophone community, Jean-François Lisée, said he has convinced his cabinet colleagues of the need to soften the rules under which a municipality loses its official bilingual status under the Charter of the French Language.

“I argued with others that it should not be at 50 (per cent),” Lisée said following a speech to the Jeune chambré de commerce de Montréal on Monday.

“It should be at 40. I felt it was important to make it rather difficult to take away the status, which is worth a lot.”

Last week, the Parti Québécois government tabled a new Charter of the French Language in the National Assembly. Among many other points, Bill 14 gives the government the power to revoke a city or town’s bilingual status should it no longer have 50 per cent of its population speaking English as a mother tongue.

The clause, a long-standing demand of PQ hardline militants, has raised concern in the anglophone community.

Lisée, who is also the minister responsible for Montreal, raised the issue himself at the end of his speech.

He told the crowd he wanted take advantage of the forum to answer a question about the matter posed by Westmount Mayor Peter Trent, who was in the crowd.

“Some understood there would be an automatic reaction that if a city fell below 50 per cent it would lose this status,” Lisée said. “It is not the case.

“This was discussed at the inter-ministerial committee and it was decided there should be a threshold where it happens, but certainly not 50, certainly not 49, certainly not 47.

“So we decided if a city reached 40 per cent or less, there would not be an automatic reaction. At 40 per cent or less there would be a discussion. There would be a committee to determine is this a permanent tendency, is it temporary, is it fluctuating?

“It’s not because a bilingual city, in a particular year, has lost one per cent of its non-francophone population (that it would lose its status.)

“This is something much more pragmatic, more fluid, more open to discussion and to a heritage which is important in my mind.”

At a news conference later, Lisée said he’s sorry people did not understand the government’s intention off the top.

With Bill 14 up for consultations and committee hearings in the new year, Lisée urged mayors of municipalities facing such population fluctuations to come and speak their minds.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Quebec+municipalities+would+lose+bilingual+status+automatically+anglo+population+falls+below/7677147/story.html#ixzz2EkuJufhq

 

In my opinion:

50%?  40%? A discussion?  Let’s call it like it is.  It is narrow-minded, ill-advised and mean-spirited.

The current law, set bilingualism at 1977 rates of non-Francophones in a given city.  And these numbers were grandfathered so that a city couldn’t lose its bilingual status unless the city council asked to have it revoked.

Changing the way we measure language within the population to mother-tongue is a deliberate political maneuver to find the lowest possible denominator in order to have an excuse to take away a city’s bilingual status.  That’s just plain mean.

Taking the decision mechanism away from where we live and from whom we’ve elected locally, and handing it over to the Anglo-dreaded language police is just plain cruel.

 

Quebec municipalities would not lose bilingual status automatically if anglo population falls below 50 per cent: Lisée

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BY PHILIP AUTHIER, THE GAZETTE, December 10, 2012

Quebec municipalities that see their anglophone populations drop below 50 per cent will not lose their bilingual status automatically, says the minister responsible for Montreal.

 

Moving to ease fears, Jean-François Lisée said even if a city’s anglophone population slipped, there would be “discussion” about what’s actually happening before any decision is taken.

 

“It’s not because a population slips by one per cent (below 50 per cent) that its (status) gone,” Lisée said, answering a question after a speech to the young chamber of commerce for Montreal.

 

Presenting a new Charter of the French Language last week, the government gave itself the power to revoke bilingual status.

 

Lisée said there is nothing automatic about it, and there would be negotiations and close examination of census data even if the number dropped to 40 per cent.

 

 

 

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Quebec+municipalities+would+lose+bilingual+status+automatically+anglo+population+falls+below/7677147/story.html#ixzz2EgLdP2Rg

 

In my opinion:  

Thanks Mr. Lisée for trying to reassure me and the rest of the Anglo population of Quebec but I’d still like to see this draft bill flushed away.

As Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather pointed out in his opinion piece published in the Gazette last week the real issue is that the government takes a very narrow perspective on language by using “mother-tongue” rather than language used in the home or preferred language.  What’s the real reason for making political decisions based upon the language of one’s mother (and father) that often doesn’t reflect the reality of the language spoken in one’s home today?

The fact that 18% of Cote Saint-Lucers have listed French as their mother tongue, 44% English and 38% other languages is far less important as to what percentage prefer to use which language which is much closer to a 75% English / 25% French split.  

Most English-speaking Quebecers  would hardly trust the OQLF to decide at what critical mass a municipality or institution would lose its bilingual status.  Leave that decision to those affected.  A few bilingual towns communicating effectively with its constituents will have no important bearing on preserving the French language.

Enough with sugar coating the bitter pill of narrow-minded and mean-spirited policy.

 

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