The situation in Ontario is discouraging.
It was truly disheartening to see Doug Ford ’s clumsy attempt to back down from his anti-francophone cuts in Ontario.
It’s not that he suddenly received enlightenment along the road to Damascus. It was about political pressure. And clearly he doesn’t get it.
Standing on Principle
It took real courage for rookie Tory MPP Amanda Simard to leave the Conservatives over the issue. She said,
“I dont feel thats enough and I know franco ontarians don’t feel its enough”
Now the leaders of all major federal parties met this week to discuss what become an important Canadian issue.
And they rightly vow to maintain pressure on the Ontario leader to carry through with the plan to create a francophone university.
The danger is that the rise of populist movements endangers minority rights everywhere.
Ford just decided to light the fuse.
And it ignited another ugly debate.
Majorities Don’t Hold All the Rights
Bilingualism and protection of minorities cannot be viewed as a bottom line item. You just need to scratch the surface for those who use that argument. Because what you often find is intolerance. Anti-French , Anti-English. Small minded people who see gains for minorities as losses for the majority. It has happened in Quebec. It is happening in Ontario and New Brunswick.
These things are not negotiable. As Madame Simard says,
“Franco Ontarians are not asking for additional rights or services . We are asking that existing protections and entities remain in place.”
Living as English-Speaking Quebecers, we know this all too well.
The fight of Franco Ontarians is our fight too.
On Board for a Fight
Our newly minted premier this week had these words for our community.
“We are proud to protect your historical rights and we will keep on doing just that.”
In the same breath, he announced that his government will plow ahead with abolishing elected school boards and replacing them with so called non-elected “service centres”.
If that is protecting our historical rights, then no thanks Mr Legault. See you in court.
It was big enough to make the front page of the Journal de Montreal and of course Quebecor sibling TVA weighed in with its own sense of alarm.
Fitting the Bill
Hydro-Quebec you see is going to start sending unilingual English bills to its English customers. 400 thousand of them.
Hydro says basically it will make bills easier to decipher for its clients and its allowed under Bill 101.
Now of course the usual suspects such as the Mouvement Quebec Francais and Journal de Montreal columnists weighed in calling this a clear setback for French in Quebec.
It wants the premier to intervene to deal with this most “troubling of developments ” since it says Hydro Quebec is a symbol of Francophone success.
Here’s the thing. Hydro Quebec belongs to all of us. Our electricity bills and rates are not a function of language. Bravo to Hydro for real customer service.
Sad to see this week the removal of the Archambault sign on Ste Catherine Street.
You don’t miss these things until they are gone.
Seems to me that we are all often eager to erase the past. The sign, like so many before which were taken down, represents a loss for Montreal.
A small one, but they add up.
Just like Montreal bagels being cooked in wood-fired ovens.
Sometimes I worry that in a rush to “fix” everything, from cars to signs to bagels , to roads over the Mountain, we will lose some authenticity.
And lose some things that make Montreal Montreal.