“The Quebec Community Groups Network, an Anglophone umbrella group, has chosen 10 organizations to receive $1 million in federal funding.”
The Community Innovation Fund is supporting the projects to create opportunities for youth, newcomers and seniors. Many Montreal organizations will receive funding from May 2017 until March 2019 which could go a long way for the communities they help support.
“Ten projects that will improve the prospects and quality of life of vulnerable English-speaking youth, seniors and newcomers have been selected among 43 project proposals vying for $1 million in federal funding over the next two years”
The Quebec Community Groups Network was chosen to solicit and select projects and to distribute the $1 million from the federal government’s Community Innovation Fund.
“Ottawa is providing more than $1 million in funding for community groups in Quebec that serve the English-speaking community. Ten organizations will benefit from the funding over two years, chosen from 43 groups that made submissions for projects.”
The money is administred by Quebec Community Groups Network. The projects chosen range from support to youth and seniors in Montreal all across Quebec to the Magdalen Islands and the North Shore. Beyond government funding, the QCGN is hoping to strike up relationships with the private sector to encourage corporate support for community programs.
This opinion piece written by QCGN President James Shea was published in the Montreal Gazette on Thursday April 27.
To err is most certainly human.
This week’s error in the National Assembly by Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux proved an extremely disappointing faux pas by a respected and influential political player. After all, this is a minister who has generally shown good openness to — and solid understanding of Quebec’s English-speaking community.
On behalf of its members and the community, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) accepts the sincere apology Coiteux issued Wednesday. It is a step that we greet with an open mind and an open spirit. However, forgiveness in this instance should not and cannot be equated with forgetfulness.
Quebecers of all linguistic and political stripes have been provided with an important opportunity to re-learn a basic fact about the legal standing of English in this province. Only after all have absorbed this can we collectively turn the page and shift our attention to other important issues.
On Tuesday afternoon, Coiteux was asked, in English, by Quebec solidaire MNA Amir Khadir about a police probe into Liberal Party financing. The minister responded that he would stick to Assembly tradition, and answer in French.
To use the basic language of the street, Coiteux totally blew it.
As we at the QCGN immediately noted, this was an affront to his constituents and to more than 1 million English-speaking Quebecers, of whom some 210,000 live outside of the Montreal area.
Not only is English permitted in the Assembly, but the 1867 Constitution Act clearly states that French or English may be used in Assembly debate.
The gravity and import in the way Coiteux fumbled his initial response is compounded by the demographics of his West Island riding of Nelligan, which covers Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Île-Bizard-Sainte-Genevieve and Kirkland. A majority of his electors — some 44,980 — are English-speaking.
By taking the no-English path, Coiteux gave credence to a perilous myth: that English speakers have, under Quebec law, somehow been relegated to the sidelines in the democratic arena where our provincial laws are publicly debated and set into stone.
Precision matters. In an environment where the English-speaking community is already dealing with multiple challenges — and in a context where so many strategic issues are affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec — it should be underscored that the use of English is an expression of the fundamental rule of law.
The negative symbolism of his error is surprising in several other ways. Most notably, it was very much out of character. After all, this is a minister who took his oath of office in both languages. Coiteux speaks English well.
Language in Quebec is always a very sensitive issue. Never before has his sensitivity to the concerns of English speakers had to be called into question.
Coiteux was first elected to the National Assembly in 2014. So the time frame makes it difficult to classify this as simply a rookie error.
In an interview with Global News last fall, Coiteux said that he moved to the West Island six years ago when he fell in love with an area resident, “and the most beautiful thing about it is that everybody lives in harmony.” Quite accurately, he also remarked that “there is a spirit of community, which really is something that is very special, very unique to the West Island.”
The English-language community of Quebec is also very special and unique. In a meeting with Premier Philippe Couillard last fall, we noted that our community faces a long list of challenges and that we do not always have good dialogue with our government partners.
The scarcity of English-speaking MNAs and government bureaucrats in Quebec City is an ongoing, serious issue and we need our leaders to understand and speak for our community.
Let this week’s incident, and the reaction to it, drive that message home.
“When it comes to language politics, the apology is in. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau learned it the hard way in January when he refused to answer questions in English from an anglophone at a town hall meeting in Sherbrooke.”
In this article, Philip Authier provides an overview of language politics of the past few months, especially since Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux found himself on the same slippery slope than Justin Trudeau. During question period at the National Assembly, he answered in French to a question asked in English by Mercier MNA Amir Khadir.
The QCGN noted that such a tradition (of speaking French at the National Assembly) doesn’t exist. Equality Party Robert Libman went even further asking the Minister should either apologize or resign from his Nelligan seat. The following day, Coiteux apologized, but minority community members know their rights better than the politicans, and forgiveness should not be equated with forgetfulness (see James Shea’s opinion piece).
“Quebec’s public security minister apologized Wednesday for replying in French to an English-language question in the legislature. Martin Coiteux said he did not mean to offend Quebec’s English-speaking community when he answered Quebec solidaire’s Amir Khadir in French on Tuesday.”
Published in the National Post, and many other nationwide and local newspapers, this Canadian Press article presents Coiteux’s answer in French to a question asked in English by MNA Amir Khadir and following outcry by the English-speaking community of Quebec, represented by the Quebec Community Groups Network. Minister Coiteux then apologized on the following day to the satisfaction of the QCGN.
“Martin Coiteux s’est excusé mercredi pour avoir répondu en français à une question en anglais à l’Assemblée nationale.”
This article presents the main events leading up to Coiteux’s apology yesterday at the National Assembly. It mentions two exemples that the Minister brought up to demonstrate how he cares about the English-speaking community.
The QCGN asked Mr. Coiteux to apologize while mentioning section 133 of the Constitutional Act of 1867 which allows usage of both languages at the National Assembly.
“Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux has apologized for not talking English in the National Assembly. On Tuesday during Question Period, Quebec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir asked a question in English about political financing in the Liberal party.”
Recalling section 133 of the Constitutional Act of 1867, the Quebec Community Groups Network was annoyed by Coiteux’s answer in French at the National Assembly on Tuesday. Coalition Avenir Quebec’s Eric Caire said Coiteux demonstrated a lack of respect with his response while Jean-François Lisée said it was up to the people involved to speak the language they wished.
Anglophones for Québec Independence did come to Coiteux’s defence issuing a statement saying that “French should be the only language of debate at the National Assembly”. Coiteux did apologize on Wednesday saying he never meant to offend anyone. It’s the second time this year a notable politican makes this type of language gaffe, recalling Justin Trudeau in January.
“Le ministre de la Sécurité publique, Martin Coiteux, a fait son mea culpa, mercredi, 24 heures après avoir répondu en français à une question qui lui était adressée en anglais à l’Assemblée nationale.”
During a debate on political funding at the National Assembly, Minister Coiteux stated it was the tradition at the Assembly to speak French before answering in French to Amir Khadir’s question asked in English. This answer angered the English-speaking community of Quebec, which responded in a press release that most of his constituants were English-speaking.
M. Coiteux apologized the following day while mentioning he will use English next time he is asked a question in that language. MNA Amir Khadir explained that he asked his question in English because the English-speaking community needs to be aware of the controversial issue they were discussing.
“QCGN accepts apology after calling Coiteux’s remark ‘an insult’ to Anglo electors in his West Island riding”
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said he didn’t mean to offend anyone when he spoke French in response to MNA Amir Khadir’s question asked in English about the investigation into alleged illegal political financing with Quebec Liberal Party.
The QCGN said they were satisfied with Coiteux’s apology, but still noted that his initial comments were especially disrespectful of his Nelligan’s constituents which are in most part English-speakers. Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the QCGN, explained how the 1867 Constitution Act allows French or English to be used in the legislative body during debates.
“Townshippers’ Day, the annual celebration of Eastern Townships English-language heritage and culture, won’t be happening this year due to a lack of both volunteers and a municipal partner, organizers have announced.”
This year, the Townshippers’ Association said the event isn’t attracting volunteer organizers like it used to. Gerald Cutting, the association’s president, said that without volunteers, paid staff need to be used which scares off partner municipalities. The Association might rethink their model and find a couple of permanent locations.
On this issue, Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the QCGN, said the decision is further evidence that Quebec’s English-speaking communities are struggling due to a lack of resources.
“A bit of a setback was announced at Agape NPI Partners’ latest meeting. Agape Inc., the founding player in the Networking Partnership Initiative group, saw its application for $100,000 in funding from Ottawa for a new English Speaking Seniors’ Wellness Centre in Laval turned down recently.”
The Laval News reports on a NPI’s meeting where Agape executive director Kevin McLeod mentioned their funding application made to the Community Innovation Fund was declined. The article also mentions Mr. Fayçal El-Khoury, MP for Laval-Les Îles, wants to reopen the file.
The group might get help from the provincial government for the Wellness Centre to happen.
“Impératif français a lancé ses fleurs au chanteur-compositeur-interprète Claude Dubois et a tiré le pot à la Ville de Gatineau, dimanche, lors de la cérémonie de remise des ses prix d’excellence et Citron à l’occasion de la Francofête 2017.”
During a celebration made by Impératif Français, a French-speaking defense group, they has awarded their Prix Citron which are given to organizations and events that limit the progress of French language. Amongst many recipients, the QCGN was awarded a national prize for seeking out an apology to Prime minister Justin Trudeau.
“Dans son rapport préliminaire d’enquête, dont #ONfr a obtenu copie, la commissaire aux langues officielles du Canada, Ghislaine Saikaley, juge fondées les plaintes à l’encontre du gouvernement de Justin Trudeau pour les manques observés en matière de langues officielles pendant la tournée pancanadienne du premier ministre.”
A preliminary report from the Office of the Commissioner of Official Language (OCOL) presents as its principal conclusion that the Prime minister Justin Trudeau should have talked in both official languages during his cross-Canada tour. According to the OCOL, when ministers and the Prime minister are transmitting informations concerning governmental programs as heads of federal institutions and departments they are not exempted from abide to the Official Languages Act.
The article follows with comments from François Choquette, critic for Official Languages in the New Democratic Party, who thinks the apologies presented to the Quebec Community Groups Network and the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario are not enough to right the wrongs.