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Quebec anglos are best-served minority in Canada, Legault insists

Premier François Legault said Tuesday that despite his rocky relationship with Quebec’s English-speaking community, it is nevertheless the best served minority in Canada and he is proud of that.

Legault’s use of the term “historic English-speaking community” will raise some hackles. The English community has complained such language potentially narrows the list of people eligible for services in English.

Bill 96 proposes basing access to services on the English school eligibility formula. The Quebec Community Groups Network, an anglophone umbrella group, says that would mean between 300,000 and 500,000 English-speaking Quebecers would be dropped.

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Hanes: QCGN conference reveals game plan for opposing Bill 96

Quebec anglophones have always walked a tightrope when it comes to asserting our rights.

This is the conundrum Quebec’s English-speaking community is up against in what may be the fight of our lives — even after 50 long years of language wars.

The two bills — Bill 96 and Bill C-32 — were the subjects of a virtual conference Tuesday titled Our Place in Quebec and Canada. Organized by the Quebec Community Groups Network, the main umbrella group representing anglophones in the province, the event revealed the game plan for opposing Bill 96, which was introduced in May but won’t be the subject of consultations until fall.

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Les Anglo-Québécois entendent lutter contre la loi 96

It is with the rhetoric and strategy of a beleaguered minority that Quebec’s English-speaking community intends to fight the CAQ government’s Bill 96, which it considers to be an infringement of its rights in several respects.

Under the umbrella of the Quebec Community Groups Network, some 150 people attended a conference on the subject on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, federal Minister responsible for Official Languages Mélanie Joly and Parliamentary Assistant to Premier François Legault for relations with English-speaking Quebecers Christopher Skeete gave speeches, and participants heard preliminary survey results and panel discussions on the subject.

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Canada’s language commissioner says he shares anglos’ concerns

Canada’s commissioner of official languages says he shares the concerns of Quebec’s English-speaking minority over proposed reforms to federal language policies.

“I do … share the concerns of Quebec’s English-speaking community that the addition of asymmetrical components to the act will undermine the equal status of English and French,” Théberge said in a statement.

“I therefore strongly recommend that the government focus on substantive equality rather than legislative asymmetry in order to protect official language minority communities across Canada and foster the development and vitality of both of Canada’s official languages.”

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Event: The Official Languages Act and Quebec’s English-speaking Community

Date: Thursday March 25
Time: 5 to 6 p.m.

As part of the Quebec Community Groups Network’s effort to better inform our community about its language rights, we are hosting a series of webinars. This second in the series The Official Languages Act and Quebec’s English-speaking Community will feature journalist, author and lecturer Graham Fraser, the former Commission of Official Languages.

Canada’s longest service Commission of Official Languages, Graham Fraser intervened in many judicial cases in Canada in order to defend the linguistic rights of Canadians. In 2007, he intervened in a case which opposed the abolition of the Court Challenges Program which led to the official languages minority component of the program being restored under the Language Rights Support Program. Fraser also appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada as a co-appellant in the DesRochers (CALDECH) case, which resulted in the Court’s broadening the interpretation of Part IV of the Official Languages Act and recognizing the public’s right to receive service of equal quality in both official languages. In 2008, he intervened in the Nguyen case, in which the Supreme Court’s interpretation took into account the interests of official language communities with regard to the rights guaranteed by section 23 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Since leaving his post as Commissioner, Fraser has lectured on language policy in universities across Canada. He is a Senior Fellow, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and was a visiting professor at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. He is currently editing the diary that F. R. Scott kept during the years of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism.

Register here to received the secure link to attend.

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