Anglophone city councillor from Mile End in hot water for French-only stance
Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 7:28PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2013 10:22PM EST
MONTREAL—An English-speaking Montreal city councillor is embroiled in a bit of a language flap.
Project Montreal's Alex Norris is being criticized because he was asked a question at a public event in English and he chose to respond in French. The questioner was not impressed
For Elisabeth Faure, it's a simple question of respect.
“I think it's a nice sign of politeness and respect if you're able to answer the question in the language that it was given in,” said Faure, an Anglophone member of Project Montreal.
That didn’t happen at an event on Wednesday night, where an exchange between Faure and Norris was soon uploaded to YouTube.
“I'm sorry but she's asking her questions in English but you're only answering in French. Could you maybe just answer bilingually?” Faure is heard asking the opposition councillor from the Mile End.
“Young Montrealers are very fluent in French these days and that's not necessary to translate. We're not in the 1950s anymore, c'est comme ca que je fais mon travail,” responded the Anglophone councillor.
Faure was not happy.
“I think there was a bit of an assumption that all Anglophones are expected to be perfectly understand French. That's not always the case.”
Norris defends his words.
“To try and portray me as some kind of traitor for the cause of English I think is really preposterous,” said Norris.
Jennifer Crane isn't so sure. While she wasn't at the meeting, she saw video of the exchange and was surprised.
“The fact that he is an Anglophone and refused outright to respond to a question from an Anglophone member in English, I just don't understand it,” said Crane, the VP of Quebec’s English community for the Federal Liberals.
Norris claims he responded the way he did because it was a French-language event. He says he may have acted differently.
“Had I known that she says she has trouble following French then sure I would have made more of an effort accommodating her in English.”
Late in the evening, the councillor added on CTV Montreal's Facebook page that he felt the "incident had been completely blown out of proportion," adding that he was "sorry to all those who were upset by this."
Faure says she just wants elected officials to respond to the questions in the language they were asked.
You can watch the exchange here.