“There is now a formal investigation into the case of a man who said he was mistreated by a doctor at the CHUM because he didn’t speak French”
A retired Canadian citizen of Polish origin was allegedly mocked in French because he asked to be served in English at the CHUM, Montreal’s French-language superhospital. His daughter, Suzie Malysa, says a urologist denied him critical medical attention. Malysa shared the story on Facebook which garnered hundreds of responses. The hospital’s spokesperson said the CHUM is not designated to provide services in English.
Chair of QCGN’s Health and Social Services committee, Eric Maldoff thinks the problem was an issue of professionalism and not language. Maldoff said clear guidelines are still not sufficient in providing efficient health services in English.
“Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is under fire over her administration’s newly released budget. While the opposition has expressed its anger over tax increases, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste (SSJB), as well as Mouvement Montréal français (MMF), are taking aim not at the content of the budget — but its language.”
Two Montreal-based nationalist groups criticized the Plante administration because the budget documents were drafted in both English and French. The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Mouvement Montréal français said the city violated the first article in its charter by having bilingual budget documents. Budgets by the city are generally presented in both English and French, a practice that predates Valérie Plante’s election.
The QCGN was critical of the joint statement, asking whether tax increases only affected French-speaking Montrealers in a Tweet.
“It’s not that a crackdown on English is without precedent, but lately the way controversies get framed in North American media is different.”
An opinion letter in the HuffPost frames the “Bonjour-Hi” debate as a non-issue. The writer contends it was an outsized reaction to the non-binding motion unanimously voted in the National Assembly. The controversy reflects a current tendency for media to elevate all crises to a similar level of urgency.
The author of this blog post also refers to the Montreal Gazette article featuring excerpts from a letter written to Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard by James Shea, president of the QCGN.
“Accused in writing of participating in an exercise that heaped scorn on the English-speaking community, Premier Philippe Couillard has moved to patch up relations in the wake of the Bonjour-Hi debacle.”
Premier Philippe Couillard moved to patch up relations with English-speaking Quebecers in the wake of the Bonjour-Hi debacle after receiving a letter from the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).
Sources confirmed that the letter landed in Couillard’s mail Tuesday, sparking his comments in the legislature Thursday and an unscheduled afternoon interview with Montreal radio station CJAD. During question period Couillard admitted his government underestimated the negative impact the debate would have on the English-speaking community.
“Jean-François Lisée, leader of the Parti Quebecois, the political party who started the “Bonjour-Hi” debacle that took over the province, revealed the party’s true intentions behind the bill to denounce the iconic bilingual greeting.”
“La motion invitant tous les commerçants à accueillir leurs clients avec un « bonjour » bien senti, qui a été adoptée il y a une semaine par tous les élus de l’Assemblée nationale, n’y changera rien. À « bonjour-hi », la ministre Kathleen Weil continuera de répondre « bonjour-hi », y voyant « un signe de respect » à l’égard de son interlocuteur.”
The new Minister for relations with English-speaking Quebecers answered questions from media to clarify the motion that was passed a week ago in the National Assembly. The motion suggesting merchants use Bonjour and not Bonjour-Hi as a greeting is “positive in spirit,” even if the English-speaking community does not see it that way. Since then, many English-speaking Quebecers have taken to social media and started calling the riding offices of Weil, Geoffrey Kelley, and David Birnbaum.
QCGN President James Shea, said he has written letters to Premier Philippe Couillard and Opposition leader Jean-François Lisée to address the situation. He is expressing the surprise of QCGN members had upon hearing about the motion. For Shea, English-speaking Quebecers want to be just as involved than their French-speaking colleagues in Quebec society.
“Le deuxième candidat choisi par Justin Trudeau pour occuper le poste de commissaire aux langues officielles s’en est mieux tiré que la candidate initiale pour le poste au jeu des questions et réponses à la chambre haute, même si des sénateurs ont émis des doutes sur sa capacité d’assumer pleinement son rôle de chien de garde”
Raymond Théberge, the second candidate chosen by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be the next Commissioner of Official Languages, has been seen to do a better job than the previous candidate at his appearance in front of the full Senate. However, some Senators, such as Serge Joyal, stated Théberge will lack the punch necessary for a language watchdog. Théberge is scheduled to meet this afternoon with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages.
Even if the opposition parties are more inclined about Théberge’s nomination, NDP Official Languages critic François Choquette said he will issue a complaint to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The complaint follows Mélanie Joly’s refusal to address recommendations made by NDP former leader Thomas Mulcair asking that she consults with the two national organizations representing official language minority communities.
“De nombreux anglophones sont surpris du débat actuel sur le «Bonjour-Hi»: ils apprécient l’expression de courtoisie — avec le français en premier — et jugent que l’Assemblée nationale devrait avoir d’autres chats à fouetter.”
Many English-speaking Quebecers are surprised by the political debate that has suddenly sprung up around a common greeting in Montreal. For some business owners, welcoming customers in both French and in English helps make tourists feel comfortable.
James Shea, president of the QCGN, notes that the bilingual greeting opens the door for communication and is a form of respect for the English-speaking minority community in Quebec.
“The man tapped to head the Quebec government’s brand new secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, needs no introduction, as they say, to the community he is mandated to serve.”
The Minister responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, announced the creation of the Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers during a press conference held at the Morrin Centre on November 24. Weil also announced the nomination of William Floch to head the Secretariat, the public service equivalent of an assistant deputy minister.
One of the preoccupations stated by Warren Thomson, president of Voice of English-speaking Quebec, is the under-representation of English-speakers in the public service. The QCGN also released a statement where they expressed their disappointment at the budget of the new secretariat. It added a shot of politics to its reaction by jabbing the Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault.
“The Liberals have 312 days ahead to prove they merit the renewed confidence of Quebecers and the party is up to the task, Premier Philippe Couillard said Friday.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard appeared in campaign mode as he addressed voters and his party at the Quebec Liberal Party convention. Couillard said the Liberals are prepared to create a Quebec that is modern, welcoming, able to overcome obstacles and without limits in his opening speech. The party convention begun the day after Couillard delivered on the promise of creating a Secretariat dedicated to English-speaking Quebecers.
The QCGN welcomed the initiative and applauded the choice of William Floch to head the new Secretariat. However, they calling it “a small, albeit promising” first step to ensure the concerns of English-speakers are heard in the government machine. They thought the $1-million budget allocated to its operations might not be enough to make an important step forward.
“Kathleen Weil is the first minister responsible for English-speaking Quebecers in the history of the Quebec Liberal Party and she’s delivering on a promise made by Premier Philippe Couillard”
Kathleen Weil, new Minister for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, is poised to deliver on a promise made by Premier Philippe Couillard. William Floch, a former Canadian Heritage specialist in official languages, is being named to oversee the newly formed Secretariat for the English-speaking community. The Couillard government will officially launch the Secretariat Friday in Quebec City, at the Morrin Centre, an English-language cultural centre.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) has long lobbied for a secretariat dedicated to the province’s English-speakers.
By James Shea and Geoffrey Chambers
English-speaking Quebecers have long been striving to convince successive Quebec governments to acknowledge and help mend a gaping democratic deficit — one that for decades has quietly been hindering our community and our province.
We have long called for a mechanism for the voice of our linguistic minority community to be both heard and heeded throughout Quebec’s complicated, multi-levelled machinery of administration.
Until recently, our efforts met with rhetoric and denial. With the recent appointment of Kathleen Weil as minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, however, Premier Philippe Couillard has taken a significant and encouraging step forward. Even prior to this appointment he promised to create, within his office, a secretariat empowered to look out for — and speak up for — the interests of our community.
Our government has long needed such a pragmatic mechanism, which is both perfectly reasonable and genuinely required. This secretariat must be appropriately staffed — largely by members of our community — and provided with adequate resources. It would contribute our community’s perspective, providing high-level input and insight to help shape inclusive government policies and programs. Too many times in the past, the needs of our community have been left to fall through the cracks — ignored, unacknowledged or unheard by a provincial bureaucracy in which our community is notoriously underrepresented.
For years, the Quebec Community Groups Network had been pushing hard for exactly this type of approach. Initially, Premier Couillard told us that all cabinet ministers and MNAs represented English-speaking Quebecers. A year ago, he began to acknowledge that while we should be treated like all of our fellow citizens, there are areas where this is simply not the case. One flagrant example: jobs in the civil service. Fewer than 1 per cent of our government employees belong to our community. Our premier realized that we cannot be equitably represented without some support.
Even today, our community’s full participation in and contribution to Quebec remains hobbled by multiple myths — notably, of course, those ruling Westmount Rhodesians and la minorité la plus choyée au monde. In truth, English-speaking Quebecers have lower median incomes than French-speaking Quebecers and francophone minority communities in all other provinces, as measured by first official language spoken. We face higher unemployment. The most vulnerable members of our community have a difficult time obtaining basic government services in their own language.
“First we got an anglophone relations minister; now Le Devoir reports that at the upcoming Quebec Liberal policy convention, delegates will be debating five resolutions focused on anglos.”
Indications of an upcoming provincial election are tantalizing journalists. Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), welcomes the Quebec Liberal Party decision to debate five resolutions focussed on English-speaking Quebecers.
You can also listen to an audio clip of an interview of Chambers by CJAD Radio. It aired Wednesday, on the Leslie Roberts show.
“Activists and supporters of Quebec’s English speaking community groups, including politicians from three levels of government, gathered last month to pay tribute to five people for their extraordinary contributions to improving the lives of community members and the broader society.”
Published in the November issue of the Senior Times, this article addresses the Community Awards ceremony organized by the QCGN that took place on October 26, 2017 at the Saint-James Club. Some 180 leaders and stakeholders of the English-speaking community of Quebec, as well as family and supporters of our five distinguished individuals attended the ceremony.
“Sun Youth founder Sid Stevens was one of five members of Quebec’s English-speaking community recognized at the Goldbloom Awards. The annual event is organized by the Quebec Community Groups Network.”
The annual event established by the QCGN is meant to honour individuals who have made an impact on Quebec’s English-speaking community. Clifford Lincoln, James Carter, Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle, were each winners of the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award, while Claudia Di Iorio won the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.