“During Tuesday evening’s ‘town hall’ discussion held at the Armoury in Sherbrooke, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted to speak in French only, despite the fact that more than half the questions that evening were posed in English.”
“Quebec’s deep-rooted linguistic tensions flared up in unlikely fashion Wednesday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to explain why he refused to answer questions in English at a town hall meeting.”
Published in the National Post, an article by Morgan Lowrie from the Canadian Press explains the controversy that happened when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered English questions in French during a town hall meeting on Tuesday January 17 in Sherbrooke. After recalling the apologies he made during a press conference the following day, the article recalls how Trudeau avoided language controversies until then while stating the electoral gains his party has made in Quebec.
Lowrie brings up comments QCGN, and his president James Shea, have made in their press release calling for an apology from the prime minister. The article also presents comments from Gerald Cutting, president of Townshippers’ Association and from the president of Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, an unlikely defender of Trudeau’s actions in Quebec.
Read the full article in the National Post
“Justin Trudeau fait face à une pluie de critiques après avoir répondu en français aux questions posées en anglais lors de son passage à Sherbrooke.”
In this article from Acadie Nouvelle, Simon Delattre introduces the event of January 17 in Sherbrooke and the following press conference with Justin Trudeau. He also mentions QCGN’s reaction which asked for an apology from the Prime Minister.
The reporter adds some elements to the article taken from the Canadian Press by interviewing Martin Normand, researcher in political science at Université d’Ottawa, who says Trudeau might misunderstand the linguistic reality of Canada. “It’s that kind of answer which spark tensions”, also comments Chantal Carey, an Acadian advocating for linguistic rights.
You can read the full article in Acadie Nouvelle.
“Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a mis fin à sa tournée du Québec, mercredi après-midi, et il s’est retrouvé sur la sellette pour avoir parlé uniquement en français lors d’une assemblée citoyenne, la veille.”
This Canadian Press article reviews the event that happened on the evening of Tuesday January 17 in Sherbrooke when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded in French to a question asked to him in English. It follows with Trudeau’s apologies in a press conference the next day in Bishop’s University where he mentions that he responded in English to a question asked in French in Peterborough.
The article follows with QCGN’s comments taken from their press release stating the group wants formal apologies while quoting Geoffrey Chambers and his concerns. The article also features comments from Mouvement impératif français, before announcing other actions Trudeau has done during this brief passage in Quebec.
Read the article in the Metro Journal
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his decision after he chose to answer questions only in French during a town hall in Sherbrooke, Que., Tuesday night.”
In this feature made by Global reporter Sarah Volstad, QCGN vice-president Geoffrey Chambers is interviewed to make some comments on Trudeau’s answers in French to English questions during a town hall meeting in Shebrooke and his following press conference.
“Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée wants English CEGEPs and universities to beef up their French, even proposing exit exams for graduates. As Global’s Anne Leclair reports, some worry it’s another way to make anglophones feel like outsiders.”
The debate to include stricter rules for French-language in CEGEPs dates back. If elected, Jean-François Lisée would like English institutions to add more French courses, to offer students the opportunity to do a semester in French institutions, and to make it mandatory for English students to pass a French proficiency exam. While the idea can be welcome on English campuses, adding a condition to get their diploma might challenge students graduating from those institutions.
On that note, QCGN DG Sylvia Martin-Laforge says that the PQ proposal could backfire and push more people to leave the province, the very effect Lisée wants to stop with his proposal. Adding a mandatory French exit exam could mean another hurdle for English-speaking Quebecers, comments Martin-Laforge.
To watch the interview made by Global Montreal.
“M. Lisée a toujours été soucieux de dégager des consensus, le passage obligé pour faire avancer les choses, selon lui. Avec Jacques Parizeau, déjà, il plaidait pour « dépéquiciser » la souveraineté. Il était chez Pauline Marois le plus ardent partisan de la « convergence » avec Québec solidaire et Option nationale.”
Commenting on Jean-François Lisée’s propositions to soften the Party Québécois’ policy on francization, Denis Lessard of La Presse writes that no one was surprised by the PQ leader’s plans. One of his proposals that will be debated at the PQ’s policy convention this weekend is to scrap most of Bill 14, which aimed to reinforce Quebec’s Charter of the French Language aka Bill 101.
Lisée says he wants to avoid divisive issues in order to broaden membership in the PQ. In concluding his article Lessard recalls that, as Minister responsible for relations with the English-speaking community, Lisée financed QCGN’s Notre Home project that aimed to create closer ties between English- and French- speaking youths.
Read Denis Lessard’s article in La Presse.
“Si on veut avoir des services en anglais, il faut faire attention.”
On Saturday January 7, QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge was among five speakers on the Radio-Canada radio show called “Faut pas croire tout ce qu’on dit” with host Michel Lacombe. This show adressed the results of a Canadian Heritage survey which was first commented by journalist Philippe Orfali in Le Devoir (click here for the article).
Listen to Sylvia Martin-Laforge’s interview:
Listen to the full show:
“L’avenir du bilinguisme au Canada est, pour l’essentiel, une affaire de francophones. Si les trois quarts d’entre eux jugent cette langue menacée, à peine le tiers de leurs voisins anglos partagent cet avis, révèle un sondage commandé par Ottawa à la veille du 150e anniversaire du pays.”
Bilingualism’s future in Canada might only be a Francophones issue according to a survey by Canadian Heritage. In this article from le Devoir, Philippe Orfali comments on the “two solitudes” argument which seems to be validated by low results from English-speaking citizens about the state of French language in Canada. Such results might be suprising, but not shocking, comments Linda Cardinal from the Chaire de recherche sur la Francophonie.
QCGN Director General, Sylvia Martin-Laforge, commented that more contact between the solitudes might change English-speaking Canadians’ vision of linguistic minorities and their precarious state. On the other hand, Maxime Laporte, president of Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste praised the awareness campaign about linguistic issues, especially for the future of French language in Canada.
Read the full article in Le Devoir
“Seeing former Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau go to bat to protect English school boards this year, and the screaming headlines that followed, was “horrible” and proof there’s been a “loss of contact” with anglophones, said Premier Philippe Couillard during a sit-down interview with the Montreal Gazette’s political staff.”
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is determined to right his wrongs with the English-speaking community. He mentions many solutions he came up following a meeting he had with the Quebec Community Groups Network back in November. Among those solutions, retaining youth in regions comes first.
You can read the article and watch the video in The Montreal Gazette
“Premier Philippe Couillard Monday rejected the idea of a special office for anglophone affairs, promising instead to have one of his staff act as liaison officer in the future.”
Following the unveiling in Quebec City of his government’s youth strategy, the premier was questioned about creating an office for the English-speaking community of Quebec. He said that English-speaking Quebecers are first-class Quebecers and should feel that way while hinting at the possibility of hiring a liaison officer.
Questioned on this issue, QCGN Vice President Geoffrey Chambers mentioned many other ministries that exist to take care of citizens’ affairs. He followed by saying it wouldn’t be a bad thing to set up a permanent structure to address the interests of the English-speaking community of Quebec.
The article also mentions the civic leadership institute which would be created in collaboration with Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, and a pilot project to help young English-speakers to learn about employment services. To learn more about this initative, read the press release issued by Bishop’s University.
“Premier Philippe Couillard said he is working towards hiring someone to his office who will inform his government about anglophone affairs.”
Since an early November meeting with the QCGN, the possibility of hiring an official liaison between Couillard’s government and the English-speaking community seems very likely. The premier hasn’t announced a hire yet, and isn’t dropping any hints about potential candidates for the job.
Geoffrey Chambers, VP of the QCGN, was interviewed to explain how this solution could allow the government to make sure the English-speaking communities’ histories and needs are respected. He says the community won’t complain about not getting further steps in the dialogue process, just as long as step one is on the table.
“Premier Philippe Couillard said he doesn’t like the idea of a minister for anglophone affairs, but he says he has another way to address the community’s concerns by naming a contact person for the English community.”
Premier Philippe Couillard hinted at plans that could affect the English-speaking community. Since the meeting with the QCGN last november, there have been calls for an English-language affairs office. He said that there isn’t a need for a minister, because it could be divisive.
He’d rather say English-speaking Quebecers than anglophones to not create the impression that there are two different classes of citizens in Quebec. The premier didn’t say when this person would be named, but many seemed to be interested in the position.
Letter published in The Hill Times, November 28, 2016 –
By James Shea, QCGN President
Canadians should welcome Treasury Board President Scott Brison’s recent announcement that the Government of Canada is embarking on a much-needed review of the regulations governing Canada’s Official Languages Act.
Although the review will focus on Part IV of the act—communications with and service to the public—all parts of the act are connected to achieve three goals: to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada; to support the development of Canada’s English and French linguistic minority communities; and, to advance the use of our two official languages within Canadian society.
English-speaking Quebecers know that the constitutional language rights that guarantee the vitality of their linguistic minority are the same as those of Canada’s French official language minority communities. Our communities are intrinsically linked. We either all succeed, or we all fail. Maintaining the national core value of linguistic duality, and the health and presence of both official languages from coast to coast to coast is the only guarantee of linguistic minority community survival.
The current definition used by the federal government to determine what points of service are obligated to provide Canadians assistance in French and English, and who belongs to an official language minority community, have not been reviewed for decades. In our experience, federal institutions and Crown corporations like the Business Development Bank of Canada, Service Canada, and Canada Post, who want to expand bilingual service, are hampered in doing so by the current definition.
Brison’s moratorium on bilingual service points reverting from bilingual to unilingual status is therefore both brave and progressive, and reinforces the current federal government’s commitment to enhancing the full enjoyment by all Canadians of their linguistic rights. The upcoming consultation process to determine a new definition is an opportunity to extend our understanding of official languages beyond outdated binary notions of French and English.
The Quebec Community Groups Network looks forward to participating in this important national discussion, and hopes that its outcome leads to a modern regulatory framework that ensures the Official Languages Act remains relevant and flexible, while preserving continuity of the federal government’s duty towards the linguistic rights of all Canadians.
The full letter is available online in the Hill Times (paid subscription only)