Is it time to give more teeth to Canada’s Official Languages Act? Many experts think so, and some suggest the creation of an administrative tribunal.
The Fédération canadienne des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) disagrees.
“The history of this Act is the story of half a century of infractions and of an incomplete implementation”, commented FCFA President Jean Johnson last spring while testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages.
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Geoffrey Chambers of the Quebec Community Groups Network joins senior anchor Jamie Orchard to discuss how CAQ policies, especially the banning of religious symbols, could have a negative impact on minority groups in the province.
Murielle Parkes and Olga Melikoff, two of the parents who pushed more than 50 years ago to establish French immersion in St. Lambert, are getting recognition for their efforts with a prize from the Quebec Community Groups Network.
Listen to the interview on a All in a Weekend Montreal with Ainslie MacLellan
With the exception of the anglophone-rights Equality Party in 1989, Jacob Hughes has always put an X next to the Liberal candidate on provincial ballots.
Not this time.
In last week’s election, there was no X at all because he stayed home.
“The (Coalition Avenir Québec) was getting in and the Liberal was going to win here, so why should I bother?” said Hughes, 64.
He was speaking as he put groceries into his trunk in the parking lot of the Côte-St-Luc shopping centre, which straddles the D’Arcy-McGee and Notre-Dame-de-Grace ridings, two of 13 where less than half the population speaks French at home.
The Liberals turned their backs on anglophones and didn’t deserve his vote anyway, Hughes said, citing the party’s decision to “tell people they can’t say ‘Hi’ in a store.”
Hughes is one of the reasons voter turnout plummeted among non-francophones on Oct. 1.
Disturbing, disruptive, divisive, catastrophic.
Those are some of the words the head of a network of Quebec anglophone groups used Friday to describe the incoming Coalition Avenir Québec government’s plan to ban the wearing of religious symbols on the job by public employees in positions of authority.
Under Premier-designate François Legault’s proposed new law, which he said Friday he would try to get passed in his first year, elementary and high school teachers, police officers, prosecutors, judges and prison guards would have to remove their Muslim hijab, Jewish kippa or Sikh turban or lose their jobs.
“If they actually did it, it would be catastrophic, seriously tearing the community apart,” Geoffrey Chambers, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, told the Montreal Gazette.
In an interview with Caroline Van Vlaardingen of CTV Montreal, Quebec Community Groups Network President Geoffrey Chambers said the community will be keeping a close eye on the new Coalition Avenir Québec government, ensuring that the concerns of English-speaking Quebecers are not ignored.
City News’ Tina Tenneriello speaks with QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers on the election night results.
City News’ Tina Tenneriello speaks with QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers on the importance of the English-speaking vote on election day.
By Geoffrey Chambers
Monday’s first-ever English-language televised leader’s debate was a watershed moment and evidence of a heightened willingness across Quebec’s political class to reach out to English-speaking Quebecers in their own language. It also signalled acknowledgement by all parties that none can afford to ignore our community of more than one million.
The Parti Québécois promise of no referendum in a first mandate is openly linked to a policy agenda geared to achieving sovereignty within the decade. There is also a progressive but unrestrainedly sovereigntist Québec solidaire electoral pitch. The Coalition Avenir Québec platform has core education and immigration planks that are not tuned to the needs of our community.
Over the second half of his mandate, Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard began to respond to long-held demands of many English-speaking organizations, including the Quebec Community Groups Network. Last November, his government launched a Secretariat for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, an entity we are pleased to note the leaders of all four main parties have pledged to maintain.
QCGN’s president, Geoffrey Chambers, comments the first-ever English-language provincial electoral debate.
Leaders of English-language lobby groups across Quebec breathed a collective sign of relief when all four party leaders committed to keeping the province’s Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.
“It’s a useful tool, especially for some of the communities that are really at a distance,” said Gerald Cutting, president of the Townshippers’ Association, which represents anglophones in the province’s Eastern Townships.
The leaders of the four major parties were asked point-blank if they’d keep the secretariat, created in 2017 under Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government, and all said yes.
The first English-language television debate in Quebec history prompted viewing parties at several locations across Montreal, including the offices of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).
The people who gathered there let out a cheer towards the end of the debate when all four party leaders pledged to maintain the Anglophone Secretariat if elected to the National Assembly.
At a viewing party organized by Concordia University political science students, Camille Ross-Williams said she believed the debate could have a positive influence on student interest.
“I think this debate is going to have a positive effect on voter turnout,” she told Global News.
Tonight is the historic English provincial leaders debate. Coverage begins at 5pm on CityNews. Geoffrey Chambers, president of the QCGN, previews the debate.
It’s been a long road for the English-speaking community of Quebec since Bill 22 made French the official language of the province in 1974. Bill 101, two independence referendums and countless other events soon followed. The socio-linguistic context that has emerged has changed the English-speaking community of Quebec irrevocably.
Close to half a million anglophones have left the province, many of the community’s institutions have been assimilated or transformed, and the struggles with a host of socio-economic problems, ranging from adequate care for seniors to high rates of youth unemployment, have devitalized many communities.
I am among the many English-speaking Quebecers who understand that it was necessary to protect, preserve and promote the French language in Quebec, surrounded as it is by a sea of North American English. I just didn’t think that the English-speaking community in Quebec — my community — would end up paying such a steep price for that commitment.