Monday, January 19, 2015

Helping Anglophones

From the G & M:
"Federal languages commissioner wants Quebec to do more to help Anglophones"

The Quebec government has rejected a renewed call by Canada’s official languages commissioner that it create an office of anglophone affairs to better serve the province’s linguistic minority. Graham Fraser told The Canadian Press he met with the three Liberal anglophone members of the legislature and said there was “no indication” the governing party would create a body dedicated to Quebec’s 600,000 anglophones.  The government’s reaction is not a surprise to community groups in Quebec who often complain the Liberal government’s rhetoric about the province’s anglophones doesn’t match its actions. The Liberals publicly acknowledge the importance of the province’s English speakers — as opposed to their predecessors who were, at times, openly hostile to Quebec’s largest linguistic minority. But members of Quebec’s anglophone minority say local control over institutions at the heart of their community is slowly eroding, as is their influence over public policy — regardless of the government in power. “The English community has a problem with successive governments,” Fraser said. “They tend to be taken for granted whoever the government is. As a result, they have limited clout with Quebec City.” The Liberal government says its three anglophones MNAs — Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley and David Birnbaum, parliamentary assistant to Premier Philippe Couillard — sufficiently represent Quebec’s English community. Fraser and the heads of anglophone community groups in the province disagree.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general at the anglophone lobby group, Quebec Community Action Network, says having three Anglo MNAs in Quebec City is “absolutely not” enough. Her organization has access to politicians, but she said English groups need direct access to the bureaucracy. “What we need are inside coaches,” she said. “Somebody whose job it is to work with me in the provincial government.” She said a glaring example of why anglophones need an inside partner is the recent introduction of Bill 10, which critics say will further erode local control over the English-language hospital network. Health Minister Gaetan Barrette’s legislation would reform the governance of health institutions, which the government says will save millions of dollars towards balancing the budget. But centralizing services makes the anglophone community nervous. Any control it gives up is control given to Quebec City, which doesn’t have the interests of anglophones as a priority, said Martin-Laforge. The English-speaking community is particularly sensitive to perceived threats against its governance of schools and hospitals, which are considered pillars of its identity and culture. Giving up any control over schools or hospitals to francophone Quebec City is considered unacceptable. “The community built its institutions — all of them,” Martin-Laforge said. “We bought the land, we built the buildings, we did all the work. If we don’t have institutions we have nothing.”
^ The French-speaking Quebecois know all too well what it's like to be discriminated against and not allowed to use their own language and yet since the 1970s they seem to be treating the English-speaking Quebeckers in the same way as they once were. The people of Quebec (both English and French speakers) have voted twice to stay within Canada and so both sides need to start treating the other as equals. I see no issue with the province being bilingual (instead of unilingual as it currently is.) If a person walks into a hospital and speaks French then they should be answered in French. The same if a person walks in speaking English. It would also be good if all the other provinces and territories (except New Brunswick  - which is the only bilingual province) did the same. Right now it is only at the Federal level and so you can't really call yourself a bilingual country when only 1 province is bilingual.) ^

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