“Frustrés et inquiets pour leur avenir, la moitié des jeunes anglophones du Québec estiment que leurs relations avec les francophones sont conflictuelles, au point où certains décident de quitter la province.”
Sixty per cent of young English-speaking Quebecers say they have considered leaving Quebec according to a new poll conducted by Léger for Journal de Montreal. Nearly half said they feel like relationships with francophones are tense and one out of three respondents believe those relationships will deteriorate. English-speaking youth also believe that Bill 101 should be softened, and they would like to see more bilingual signs and be greeted in both languages.
The Journal de Montréal dedicated much of its weekend editions to news and views about Quebec’s English-speaking minority community:
Bridging the Two Solitudes:
Youth and youth retention:
Bill 101 and “Bonjour, Hi”:
“Quebec’s minister responsible for anglophone issues is raising hopes that the concerns and needs of the province’s English-speaking communities will be tackled in a concrete way in Quebec’s next budget.”
Minister Kathleen Weil held an all-day forum at Concordia University to hear from about 40 leaders of groups and institutions that serve the English-speaking communities of Quebec. Weil told that the Liberal government intends to present a five-year action plan on issues they have brought to her attention in online consultations. She also said the new Secretariat will become a permanent part of the Quebec government.
QCGN President James Shea said Weil’s commitment is a real, true agreement to engage the English-speaking community. Sharlene Sullivan, executive director of the Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda said she is concerned about a “backlash” against the new-found attention English-speakers are getting from the government.
“Anglophone groups got a chance to air their grievances and suggest solutions on Friday at an all-day forum at Concordia University.”
English-language groups discussed their grievances and suggested solutions last Friday during a forum at Concordia University. The Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, says the priorities for the communities are clear – access to health-care services, employability and youth retention. When asked about easing the educational requirements around Bill 101, Weil said it was not an option.
The QCGN was one of 50 English-language groups that participated in the event. James Shea, the president of the QCGN, said the community was pleased to be heard and felt there were positive steps towards a real positioning of the English-speaking community.
“With English-speaking Quebecers bluntly saying they feel like a “square peg in a round hole,” a cabinet minister says a plan to deal with the community’s frustration and angst will go beyond symbolism and offer concrete ideas to ensure its vitality.”
On the eve of a Montreal forum gathering minority English-language groups from across the province, the Minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, reported productive discussions about the future of the community during her visits of the past two months across the province. The list of grievances that has emerged: breaking the myth of wealthy privilege; increasing the number of English-speaking Quebecers within the Quebec public service; and others.
The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomed news of the forum and the promises, but said successive government have failed to act on those promises. Communications director Rita Legault said the QCGN is counting on the Minister to come up with an action plan that will make a real difference for English-speaking Quebecers.
“The Plante administration recently announced that it will hold public consultations on its new Municipal Action Plan for Seniors 2018-2020. It has since been criticized (rightly, in my opinion) by two research organizations based at Concordia University for developing a plan using a process that excludes some of Montreal’s most vulnerable and marginalized seniors, including unilingual anglophones, immigrants and people with limited mobility.”
Celine Cooper argues that the Plante administration is not trying hard enough to reach Montreal’s most vulnerable in consultation on how to make Montreal more senior-friendly. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante added a new English consultation meeting on Feb. 26 at the Cummings Centre, but the consultation website remains entirely in French.
While noting she was research project manager for a QCGN study, Cooper explains how Montreal’s English-speaking seniors do not form a uniform group and that they have needs and priorities that are unique and not like their French-speaking counterparts.
“The next Quebec election is still eight months away, but already it’s starting. The quadrennial flirtation between political parties and Quebec anglophones, that most awkward and unfulfilling of courtships, is upon us again.”
Montreal Gazette columnist Allison Hanes is asking Quebec’s political parties to do better if they hope to gain the vote of English-speaking Quebecers. Notably, Hanes presents Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault promises at a radio interview to CJAD’s Leslie Roberts as disconnected and the Quebec Liberals’ past actions on Bill 10, school boards reform and Bill 62 as far from heartfelt for the English-speaking community.
Hanes refers to an editorial board meeting with the Quebec Community Groups Network where the organization suggested the new Secretariat must be enshrined in law by the National Assembly. The QCGN said the secretariat is key to ensuring community interests are considered, especially by people in the civil service who draft policy and design programs.
“The Coalition Avenir Quebec is meeting in Ste. Adele this week to prepare for the spring session of the National Assembly — but more importantly, to lay the groundwork for this year’s provincial election.”
Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault presented Dr. Lionel Carmant as the potential candidate to be health minister in a CAQ government. Members of the party gathered in Ste. Adèle for a two-day meeting to prepare for the spring session. They also discussed some proposals for the election, such as a plan to abolish school boards which drew a lot of ire from English-language groups.
The QCGN said in a statement that the CAQ displayed little knowledge of the English-speaking community. The Quebec English School Boards Association also reacted to the plan.
“There is now a formal investigation into the case of a man who said he was mistreated by a doctor at the CHUM because he didn’t speak French”
A retired Canadian citizen of Polish origin was allegedly mocked in French because he asked to be served in English at the CHUM, Montreal’s French-language superhospital. His daughter, Suzie Malysa, says a urologist denied him critical medical attention. Malysa shared the story on Facebook which garnered hundreds of responses. The hospital’s spokesperson said the CHUM is not designated to provide services in English.
Chair of QCGN’s Health and Social Services committee, Eric Maldoff thinks the problem was an issue of professionalism and not language. Maldoff said clear guidelines are still not sufficient in providing efficient health services in English.
“Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is under fire over her administration’s newly released budget. While the opposition has expressed its anger over tax increases, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste (SSJB), as well as Mouvement Montréal français (MMF), are taking aim not at the content of the budget — but its language.”
Two Montreal-based nationalist groups criticized the Plante administration because the budget documents were drafted in both English and French. The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Mouvement Montréal français said the city violated the first article in its charter by having bilingual budget documents. Budgets by the city are generally presented in both English and French, a practice that predates Valérie Plante’s election.
The QCGN was critical of the joint statement, asking whether tax increases only affected French-speaking Montrealers in a Tweet.
“It’s not that a crackdown on English is without precedent, but lately the way controversies get framed in North American media is different.”
An opinion letter in the HuffPost frames the “Bonjour-Hi” debate as a non-issue. The writer contends it was an outsized reaction to the non-binding motion unanimously voted in the National Assembly. The controversy reflects a current tendency for media to elevate all crises to a similar level of urgency.
The author of this blog post also refers to the Montreal Gazette article featuring excerpts from a letter written to Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard by James Shea, president of the QCGN.
“Accused in writing of participating in an exercise that heaped scorn on the English-speaking community, Premier Philippe Couillard has moved to patch up relations in the wake of the Bonjour-Hi debacle.”
Premier Philippe Couillard moved to patch up relations with English-speaking Quebecers in the wake of the Bonjour-Hi debacle after receiving a letter from the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).
Sources confirmed that the letter landed in Couillard’s mail Tuesday, sparking his comments in the legislature Thursday and an unscheduled afternoon interview with Montreal radio station CJAD. During question period Couillard admitted his government underestimated the negative impact the debate would have on the English-speaking community.
“Jean-François Lisée, leader of the Parti Quebecois, the political party who started the “Bonjour-Hi” debacle that took over the province, revealed the party’s true intentions behind the bill to denounce the iconic bilingual greeting.”
“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.