In reaction to the tabling of Bill C-32, Townshippers’ Association issued a press release recognizing that while the legislation goes a long way in terms of increasing the recognition and support of Canada’s French-speaking communities inside and outside of Quebec, Quebec’s English-speaking minority community has cause to remain deeply concerned. “How will this piece of legislation be effective in the face of provincial legislation like Bill 96 that relegates our community to second class citizenship without recourse before the courts?” asks Townshippers’ President Gerald Cutting.
“Three formal complaints have been filed against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with the Commissioner of Official Languages for refusing to speak English to a Quebec anglophone Tuesday in Sherbrooke.”
In this article, Philip Authier from the Montreal Gazette brushes a portrait of the situation leading up to formal complaints received by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages questioning the possible violation of the Official Languages Act by prime minister Justin Trudeau. During a town hall meeting in Sherbrooke, Trudeau answered English questions asked by Eastern Townships citizens in French only, a behaviour he defended the following day during a press conference at Bishop’s University.
His attempt at redemption did not calm minority groups organizations, such as the QCGN, for whom its president, James Shea, asked for an apology. Other comments were issued in the article by Gerald Cutting, president of Townshippers’ Association, and Robert Libman, former leader of the Equality Party.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on the receiving end of three formal complaints filed with the federal commissioner of official languages after speaking only French despite English questions at a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Sherbrooke, Que.”
Following the town hall meeting in Sherbrooke, prime minister Justin Trudeau presented some excuses in a press conference saying in retrospect that he could have answered in English during the meeting. His decision to speak only French struck a nerve with members of the English-speaking community in the Eastern Townships.
Reactions from Gerald Cutting, president of the Townshippers’ Association, and James Shea, president of the QCGN, commented by saying how shocking Trudeau’s stance was, even to French-speaking Quebecers. Anthony Housefather, Liberal MP for Mount Royal, considers the event as an anomaly to Trudeau’s “long history of standing up for official bilingualism.”
“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.”