Minister for Anglophones faces the public in Westmount
Published Friday, January 18, 2013 10:25AM EST
On a day where he introduced a musical anthem designed to bridge the gap between Quebec's two solitudes, the minister for Anglophones faced the music by meeting the public in Westmount.
The crowd gave Jean-Francois Lisée a warm welcome even though the Parti Quebecois government is not very popular in the city.
Members of the general public demonstrated that by questioning Quebec-only policies -- currently being fought in court -- that would force stores to use French-language 'descriptors.'
"Is the status of French in Quebec really in danger if Second Cup is not called Les cafés Second Cup?" asked one man.
Lisée replied that requiring certain companies to add French to their names was essential to Quebec's character.
"We want to have a French face to this distinct part of North America and it's no big deal to say Les cafés Second Cup, and Le supermarché Walmart. It shouldn't be a big deal," said Lisée.
To many at Thursday's meeting the requirement for descriptors was a big deal, although not as big as the continued shrinking of the English school system.
For that people blamed generations of language laws.
"They have been decimated. And why? Because of the policies of the PQ government and to a certain extent the Liberal government," said one man.
Lisée answered every question with grace, saying his government is dedicated to preserving the French language, but admitting that better bridges need to be built between francophone and anglophone communities.
"We're trying to do something that is going to sink in and we talk the talk. We're going to have walk the walk," said Lisée.
One such example was the music video he unveiled earlier in the day, along with the news that the government provided $20,000 in funding for the project.
At the end of the evening many people said they were impressed by Lisée the man, but not necessarily by the policies he was promoting.
Westmount mayor Peter Trent was very glad that Lisée was making the effort.
"At least he's reaching out to the English, in a manner I haven't seen in an awful long time."