Quebec’s ‘Angloman’ wants to talk about language

The Globe and Mail, Antonia Maioni

This week in Quebec, Pauline Marois formally opened the fall legislative session with a firm tone on two priorities: the fight against corruption, and drafting a budget in the context of a difficult economic situation.

But, with a PQ government, identity and culture can’t be far behind. It’s also expected that before the year is out, a new Charter of the French Language will be unveiled, which will include major reforms to Bill 101 “while respecting the anglophone community” – although Ms. Marois seems to have backtracked on the more controversial of her electoral

In fact, something interesting is happening on the language front. The first signal was the appointment of Jean-François Lisée as minister with a hat trick of new responsibilities: international affairs, the Montreal region, and relations with anglophones.

Mr. Lisée, a former adviser to Jacques Parizeau and architect of Lucien Bouchard’s famous Centaur Theatre address to the English-speaking community in the wake of the 1995 referendum, is a well-known journalist and author. Shedding his former image as an intrepid “Tintin,” ready to solve any backroom problem, he emerged as a star candidate for the PQ this year with his heated rhetoric about the fate of the French language on the island of Montreal.

While Ms. Marois’s forays in la Francophonie, and the inquiry into corruption in Montreal’s construction industry have been keeping the multitasking minister busy, Mr. Lisée – with a new nickname of “Angloman” – is popping up all over the place in the anglophone community. He made a surprise visit to the English Montreal School Board – to the shock of its members, who rarely get such attention. He has sought out the Quebec Community Groups Network, which represents English-language minorities across the province. And, for the past few weeks, he has been holding informal, in camera sessions with English-speaking leaders from a wide swathe of sectors and institutions.

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