Facing complaints from language office, St-Lazare drops bilingualism
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012 9:47PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 7:08AM EST
MONTREAL—For 20 years, St-Lazare had offered services in both English and French to its residents, but according to the French language charter the city didn’t meet the criteria for bilingual status.
On Tuesday night, St-Lazare city council said au revoir to English and voted to become a French-only town.
According to the mayor of St-Lazare, the fight to keep the city bilingual wasn’t worth it anymore. Faced with demands from Quebec’s French language office, launched after a complaint by a local resident, the city council had no choice.
“Why they came after us now? I don’t know, they just did,” said St-Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo, shaking his head. “In life you need to pick your battles.”
To be considered a bilingual city, 51 per cent of the population must speak English as a first language. Only 37 per cent Anglophone, St-Lazare had been acting as a de facto bilingual municipality, offering local pamphlets and tax bills in both languages.
“What I feel personally about the Office de la Langue Francaise isn’t relevant to how as a municipality we are going to deal with this,” said Grimaudo. “How we will deal with this is simple: We will service the population in the language of their choice.”
Bill 101 does allow municipalities to print English documents and make them available upon demand, according to Grimaudo, most residents shouldn’t see a major change.
According to the OQLF, a number of other municipalities in Quebec are also fighting to remain bilingual, however the office isn’t naming those cities.