“On dirait que les Anglo-Québécois se sont embellis. Les politiciens cherchent à les courtiser. Il y a deux semaines, le premier ministre Philippe Couillard a annoncé que son gouvernement établirait un secrétariat chargé de gérer les relations avec la minorité anglophone.”
In this opinion piece, Christopher Neal illustrates how the many mistakes the government has made opened the door for opposition parties to woo English-speakers. However, not much is done to limit the always decreasing number of students enrolled in English schools, a decline that takes root in the massive exodus of the 1970s. Since then, most English-speakers learned French.
He ends by saying that Bill 101 should be partly removed to allow French-speakers into English schools. Neal also mentions in passing the QCGN and their approval of Couillard’s decision to open a secretariat for English-speaking affairs.
Premier Philippe Couillard says he’s changed his mind about creating a special Anglophone Affairs Office. The idea has been floated around by both the Liberals and the Parti Quebecois since the last provincial election and now that the next election is a year away — the premier says it’s coming soon.
“John, 75 years old, lives in New Carlisle in Gaspé and has difficulty communicating in French. Does this make him less of a Quebecer than me? No,” the premier said during an end of session press conference Friday at the National Assembly.
John is a real person and it’s through conversations with him and other anglophones that Couillard said he’s come to see that he was wrong to not embrace the idea of an Anglophone Affairs Office earlier.
“I always resisted having different government structures for English-speaking Quebecers because I say, ‘We’re all Quebecers,’” he explained.
Conceding some of the recent tensions in the English-speaking community over health and education could have been averted, Premier Philippe Couillard has announced plans to put in place a new government secretariat dealing with the minority’s issues.
And in a significant shift from his past views, Couillard has not ruled out naming a specific cabinet minister responsible for the community.
“I resisted this for a long time because I thought we only have one class of Quebecers, but meeting (them) on the ground and talking to people — we need to do more,” Couillard said in a wide-ranging interview with the Montreal Gazette Thursday in his downtown Montreal office.
Geoffrey Chambers, head of the Quebec Community Groups Network, discusses what the appointment means for Anglos in Quebec.
This week the Liberals sent a letter to federal ministers about the challenges faced by English-speaking communities outside of Montreal, while Premier Philippe Couillard announced he is creating a new administrative office dedicated to anglophones.
This group will be part of the premier’s executive council and will “state and voice their concerns at the highest levels of government,” said Couillard.
The Premier has, until now, ruled out having a minister responsible for Anglophones, but he’s now reconsidering the idea.
“It’s my duty, first. Second, because I believe in it,” said Couillard.
The Couillard government says it’s concerned about the isolation and assimilation of anglophone communities in Quebec’s outlying regions.
Jean-Marc Fournier, minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs and the Francophonie, reportedly said in a letter to the federal heritage minister that they are concerned about the isolation and assimilation of the anglophone communities in the outer regions outside of Montreal.
Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly had asked last fall for observations about issues relating to Canada’s two official languages.
The Couillard government wonders if more money should be invested in order to offer services to Anglophones who live outside of Montreal. Projections show however that their demographic weight should increase.
Between 1996 and 2011, the number of Quebecers who live outside of Montreal whose mother tongue is English decreased by 2.3%. Nevertheless, Statistics Canada projects their proportion to grow by 2036.
The Quebec government is calling on Ottawa to provide help for the province’s anglophone communities outside Montreal.
Ministers say they are worried about the survival of those communities and are asking to give them a financial boost.
Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly asked House Leader and Minister for La Francophonie Jean-Marc Fournier to share his observations about the country’s two official languages.
Fournier responded with a five-page letter to Joly letter expressing concerns about Quebec’s English-speaking communities outside of Montreal.
“I think we’ve got to keep in mind what are the problems to try to find, together, solutions to those problems,” said Fournier.
QUEBEC — Representatives of Quebec’s English-speaking community are welcoming news the Quebec and federal governments are having a fresh look at ways to deal with the decline and fragile future of rural minorities.
“I’ve never seen a letter quite like this, which appears to address and recognize some of the concerns we have been talking about over a period of time,” James Shea, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, said in a phone interview.
“They’ve taken things to heart. There is no question there is a sense of isolation in our more senior community. We do have a generation which is pretty much unilingual English-speaking.”
“Madeleine Meilleur has pulled out of the running for the job of Canada’s language commissioner, saying the controversy surrounding her candidacy has compromised her ability to do the job.”
Faced with increasingly difficult question about the process of her nomination, Madeleine Meilleur recused from her bid to the Official Languages post via a letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly. Minister Joly expressed her deception for this turn of events.
Her lack of knowledge about the minority situation in Quebec was also questionable. Three complaints were filed to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, and another was in the plan from the QCGN. The English-speaking group was surprised to learn from Meilleur’s lack of understanding.
“Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says her controversial pick for the position of official languages commissioner is withdrawing her candidacy.”
In a letter to the Minister, Madeleine Meilleur expressed regrets for the controversy surrounding her nominations, and also concluded that her ability to perform would have been compromised. Opposition Leader, Andrew Scheer, mentioned that such appointment embarrassed the current government.
Community groups from both minority languages in Canada welcomed Meilleur’s decision to back down. Vice president Geoffrey Chambers felt relieved of such conclusion, since the process itself was the problem. Starting it over again might lead to less disappointment if all parties are consulted, he added.
“The Trudeau government’s nominee to be the next Commissioner, former Ontario cabinet minister Madeleine Meilleur, has not impressed Quebec’s primary English-speaking organization. QCGN’s Geoffrey Chambers explains why to Susan Campbell.”
In this radio interview on Quebec AM, QCGN Vice President Geoffrey Chambers expresses his doubt on Madeleine Meilleur’s nomination and the possibility of a Senate blockade for her appointment.
“After losing their bid to become Canada’s next official languages commissioner, former candidates say the nomination process has divided official language minority communities and undermines the office of the bilingualism watchdog.”
Opposition parties have fiercely criticized the appointment since there were mentions of Meilleur speaking with two advisers from the prime minister Office. Both opposition parties claimed they were not properly consulted on the appointment.
Meilleur’s nomination also splits minority language communities especially since the nomination of the Commissioner of Official Languages should not be avertly political. The FCFA and the QCGN have both congratulated Meilleur before worrying at the appearance of partisanship.
“La ministre du Patrimoine canadien, Mélanie Joly, a indiqué qu’elle allait rencontrer la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) du Canada mardi 30 mai, en matinée, pour parler de la nomination de Madeleine Meilleur au poste de commissaire aux langues officielles du Canada.”
Following concerns about the nomination process of the next Commissioner of Official Languages, Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly agreed to meet with FCFA to discuss. Many opposition MPs criticized the Minister for a partisan nomination which divided the Francophone minorities, especially since Acadians expected a new Commissioner from their region.
Rallying the English-speaking community of Quebec, the Quebec Community Groups Network also expressed their concerns about the nomination process. Melanie Joly still backs Mme Meilleur as the best candidate for the job.
“Mutsumi Takahashi has earned a lifetime achievement award for her work as lead anchor of Montreal’s top-rated newscast. The Radio Television Digital News Association, RTDNA Canada, honoured Takahashi at a ceremony in Toronto Friday night for her work as the familiar face and voice behind CTV Montreal news for more than three decades.”
Viewed as a pillar of the English-speaking community of Montreal, Mutsumi Takahashi delivered a vibrant speech on the state of journalism as she received the lifetime achievement award for her work as lead anchor at CTV Montreal.
She also has a strong foothold in the anglophone community in Montreal. Sylvia Martin-Laforge, QCGN DG, praised her commitment and her understanding of the community. Many others, such as Bill Brownstein from the Montreal Gazette and Kent Nagano, also commented on her achievements.