“Access to Quebec’s anglophone CEGEP system cannot be an “open bar,” and financial restrictions may be necessary in the future to protect French, Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée said Tuesday”
An amendment to a motion up for debate next weekend was brought forward by Eastern Townships PQ members. This measure would affect the anglophone system’s share of the pie by basing it on the community’s demographics.
Gerald Cutting, president of the Townshippers’ Association, said it’s clear the PQ is trying to find a way to accommodate party linguistic isolationists.
“As election years near, the Parti Quebecois has a tradition of playing to its hardline base. This time is no different.”
Quebec’s separatist party is considering cutting the budgets of English CEGEPs to stem the growing enrolment of French-speaking students. This measure follows a rejection from Lisée to extend Bill 101 to post-secondary education.
Commenting on the subject, QCGN DG Sylvia Martin-Laforge said that any coercive measure to an English CEGEP would only be detrimental to Quebec.
This op-ed was published in the Montreal Gazette on August 31, 2017 and co-signed by James Shea, president and Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president.
“Bill 101’s adoption 40 years ago marked a milestone in Quebec language politics. To better understand its significance, we must see it as part of a longer continuum. History, nuance and context will best serve as our lenses.”
The Charter of the French Language did not make French the sole official language of Quebec. Premier Robert Bourassa did that in 1974, with Bill 22. He was, in turn, building off Union Nationale premier Jean-Jacques Bertrand’s Bill 63. That 1969 law sought to establish French as the working language.
Similarly, the operation of the Charter of the French Language has evolved significantly through the four decades that followed its adoption in 1977. Bill 101 initially restricted the use of English in the courts and the National Assembly. It asserted that laws must be adopted only in French. Those limitations were stuck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1979.
Restrictions preventing English schooling in Quebec for the children of Canadians educated in English in other provinces were ruled unconstitutional. Rules governing signs and many other provisions have also been the subject of successful court challenges. The second government of premier René Lévesque substantially amended the Charter. Other significant changes were made on six subsequent occasions.
Bill 101 remains a perennial prospect for judicial review. For example, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 26.3, grants parents “a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” To protect the French language in Quebec, the Supreme Court has allowed this right be abridged for most Quebecers, a group that includes all francophones and all non-Canadian migrants. However, this suspension of civil liberties for the vast majority of Quebecers can only be temporary and transitional. Their underlying rights are not erased forever. Instead, these rights are suspended, to allow a period of adjustment. Current rules that govern access to English schools could and should eventually be changed by the courts, without any change in Bill 101 itself.
So while the Charter may have brought language peace, or at least a climate of much reduced strife, it is not a carved-in-stone defining instrument of language practices. Rather, it should be viewed as one of the controlling elements in an evolving discussion about social practices.
Even Bill 101’s most basic asserted principle — its ringing declaration that “French is Quebec’s only official language” — is on closer examination a resounding statement of intention that flies in the face of constitutional, legal and practical reality. The right to use English is constitutionally guaranteed in the courts, in the legislature and in English schools. Further, it is legally guaranteed in health and social services legislation, whenever citizens deal with Revenue Quebec and in hundreds of other circumstances protected by various Quebec statutes.
The federal Official Languages Act recognizes official language minorities in all provinces. The English-speaking community of Quebec is by far the largest and in many ways the most complex.
The government of Quebec has denied and ignored the existence of an official language minority. How can there be such a thing in a jurisdiction with one official language?
Now, however, a dialogue has begun to create a secretariat in the premier’s office to address the needs of the English-speaking community and to begin to remedy the profound ignorance and indifference of the Quebec civil service to the fact of English Quebec.
Yes, our four decades under Bill 101 and our roughly half-century of language legislation have given rise to very real and relevant grievances. But this evolving process has also fostered discussion, provided us opportunities to engage and presented us venues to argue in our interest. Things don’t ever stay the same. And they don’t always get worse. Let’s work to make them better.
“A venerable English-language nursing home in the Eastern Townships that was fighting for its survival has struck a funding agreement with the Quebec government to continue to care for more than 80-long-term residents.”
Wales Home will receive $5.6 million a year from the Quebec Health Department which insure the survival of the oldest nursing home in Quebec.
Rita Legault, spokesperson for the QCGN, hailed the agreement as a breakthrough for the English-speaking community of the Eastern Townships.
“L’erreur de Statistique Canada sur la langue maternelle des Québécois ne doit pas faire oublier que le français est en recul au Québec, même si le phénomène est moins prononcé qu’on ne l’avait annoncé précédemment, disent des organismes de défense de la langue française.”
The federal agency has revised their language numbers following their initial release on August 2nd. The initial error consquently augmented French decline as mother tongue in Quebec.
The QCGN, an English-language advocacy group, also mentions that their linguistic minority is in decline. Their director general Sylvia Martin-Laforge specifies that English-speaking Quebecers speak French since they know it’s important for them to live in Quebec.
“Statistics Canada has published revised Census numbers after admitting an error in language stats for Quebec.”
After releasing numbers earlier this month showing a massive spike of anglophones in Quebec, Statistics Canada now presented data which shows only a very slight increase in Quebec since 2011.
The Quebec Community Groups Network says the revised data proves English-speakers are not a threat to French in Quebec.
“Statistics Canada has officially set the record straight on a computing error that led it to publish false information on the decline of native French speakers in Quebec last year.”
An error which impacted a specific subset of questions from the census was corrected by Statistics Canada. The data shows a small decline in native French speakers, although the situations remains stable both in Quebec and Canada-wide.
For the English-speaking population of Quebec, the data reveals that Quebec residents who learned English as their official language increased. Sylvia Martin-Laforge welcomed this as a sign of growth which means potential more social services to meet the demand.
“Statistics Canada has corrected itself when it comes to the linguistic breakdown of Canadians. Earlier this month the agency incorrectly reported that the number of mother-tongue anglophones in Quebec had increased by 57,325 people between 2011 and 2016.”
News of the increase inflamed worries among “protectors” of the French language, but the increase was reduced with corrected figures from Stats Can. English has even decreased when looking at the numbers of people speaking solely English at home.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge hopes this increase goes in-hand with augmented social services.
“Even though revised census figures show the number of mother-tongue Enlish-speakers in Quebec is declining, a leading Anglo advocacy group has found a sliver of good news in the updated numbers.”
The number of English-speakers only went up by about 2,000 people. According to QCGN, these numbers seem more reflective from what we’ve been hearing in our community. Sylvia Martin-Laforge continued by saying this minor bump could mean more funding for services in Quebec.
As the Bishop’s Forum wrapped up on Friday, CBC Sherbrooke’s Alison Brunette caught up with participant Marissa Matthews from the Magdalen Islands. They spoke about the impact the forum had on Matthews. Listen to their interview that aired on Breakaway on August 18.
CBC Sherbrooke’s Alison Brunette spent some time chatting with speakers and youth participants at the Bishop’s Forum on Civic Engagement that took place August 13-18, 2017. Youths said they discovered a lot about Quebec’s English-speaking community as they met with counterparts from across the province. They also had that chance to speak with a wide range of leaders including former Premier Jean Charest and Federal MP and indigenous rights champion Romeo Saganash. Listen to her report that aired on Quebec AM.
Watch Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge’s interview at CTV News Montreal at Noon.http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1188587&binId=1.1332485&playlistPageNum=1
During an interview for Quebec AM with Marika Wheeler, James Hughes talks about Bishop’s Forum.
“Devant les membres de la Commission-Jeunesse de son parti, Philippe Couillard a lancé, dimanche, un appel aux anglophones du Québec. « We need you », a-t-il clamé dans son discours de clôture. Son gouvernement n’a pourtant aucune solution pour contrer le déclin du réseau scolaire anglais. Aux anglophones comme aux francophones, son message est le même : l’équilibre linguistique est atteint. En matière de langue, l’inaction s’impose.”
The rejection of a proposition made by the Young Quebec Liberals to allow French-speakers to English schools inspired Robert Dutrisac to observe enrolment decline in English school boards. Although French school boards also face slow demographic growth, Bill 101 limits free access to English schools. However, he states the vitality of the English-speaking community isn’t threatened because universities and CEGEPs are well frequented.
Even the QCGN hasn’t suggested to allow more French-speaking Quebecers in English schools to limit its enrolment decline. The QCGN rather wants Bill 101 to allow Commonwealth residents that immigrated to Quebec in English schools.
“Working together with the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), Bishop’s University (BU) has organized a week-long forum gathering nearly 60 English speaking students and over two dozen guest speakers set to start this Sunday night. During the forum, the youths will be learning about the type of society they live in and how to get involved within it.”
Bishop’s principal, Michael Goldbloom, is very excited about the forum which is completely free for its participants. He hopes that the forum will give participating youth a better appreciation of how Quebec institutions work.
QCGN’s main focus in working on the forum was to foster more English-speaking representations in positions of power in the province, said Sylvia Martin-Laforge.