“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.
“Qui succèdera à Graham Fraser à la tête du Commissariat aux langues officielles (CLO) du Canada? Quasiment trois mois jour pour jour après avoir relancé le processus à la suite de la nomination avortée de Madeleine Meilleur, le gouvernement n’a toujours pas annoncé le nom d’un nouveau commissaire aux langues officielles.”
Trudeau’s government are saying that the selection process to find Canada’s next official languages commissioner is going well, which raises doubts among Official Languages critics Alupa Clarke and François Choquette.
The latter also asked for the Prime Minister to meet with official language minority communities and the designated groups that represent them, FCFA and the QCGN, to talk about the selection process.
“Claudia Di Iorio, an advocate for road safety, won the Young Quebecer Leading the Way Award in 2017. She is only 23, but Montrealer Claudia Di Iorio has known more pain than many.”
After her near-fatal collision, Claudia Di Iorio marshalled remarkable strength and resilience and now serves as a spokesperson for Cool Taxi while sitting as a member of the SAAQ board.
Di Iorio is one of five Quebecers being honoured with awards from the Quebec Community Groups Network. She will receive the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award. Another QCGN award, the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award, will go to four people
“Sun Youth is an organization most people know, however they may not know that the two men behind it knew each other as children, and built it up together. Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle are recipients of the Goldbloom Awards being handed out next week. The awards honour leaders in Quebec.”
Sid and Earl are now in their 70s and grew up around Montreal’s Clark Street, where Sun Youth Organization works tirelessly to support the neighbourhood. It all started in 1954 when the two friends found a space to rent and started their own newspaper.
It has gone from a small little newspaper into a large conglomerate organization with a $7-million budget, 1500 volunteers and helping thousands of people throughout the year, states Sid Stevens.
“It’s been 13 years since Clifford Lincoln retired from politics, but the former Quebec environment minister has never given up working on causes he cares about.”
Clifford Lincoln will receive one of the QCGN’s Goldbloom Award on October 26 for his contributions to Quebec’s English-speaking community. Clifford marked the provincial politics after being elected in the wake of the 1980 referendum when he resigned from Bourassa cabinet in 1989 over the premier’s decision to use the notwithstanding clause on a Supreme Court ruling favouring bilingual signs.
He moved on to federal politics, representing Lac-Saint-Louis riding from 1993 to his 2004 retirement. While Clifford Lincoln still calls Quebec home, he hopes to see reversed the trend of seeing children departing their province for a better future.
“Politics is the art of the possible, but for people of principle it can also become the art of the impossible.”
In December 1988, Clifford Lincoln resigned from Bourassa cabinet which had decided to invoke the notwithstanding clause to override the Supreme Court judgement favouring bilingual signage.
He is praised for being a “bridge-builder and consensus maker”, and will be awarded the QCGN’s Goldbloom Award.