I guess it’s the thought that counts. It kind of reminds me of those Valentine’s Day cards we used to get in school. They meant well, but really, I’m not sure I felt special when I knew the girl I had a crush on had sent similar cards to every other guy in the class.
Do you remember when Sally Field won the Oscar for the film Places in the Heart?
So when the government this week started expressing concern about the struggling and fragile anglophone communities in rural Quebec, it kind of felt good and warm all over. You like us. You really like us. This is what the premier told the National Assembly this week.
“Especially in the rural areas, they are communities we will support because their position as a minority brings concrete difficulties,” he said.
He is right.
Let’s face it. English-speaking communities outside of Montreal are facing formidable challenges. Many of them are aging and services in English are not available. Many of them feel alone and isolated.
So, back in January when the prime minister refused to answer a health care question about English services in English in the regions, it hurt – and it cut deep.
Now the chorus of indignation is chiming in right on cue. Editorialists and other francophone talking heads were quick to condemn the Liberals for actually saying some kind words of concern for English-speaking Quebecers.
And what did the PQ do this week? It tabled a bill to strengthen Bill 101. Apparently it’s heresy in Quebec to make English a job requirement. In a world where English is the lingua franca, you would think everyone should make it a priority to learn it.
It is positive that Premier Couillard has announced plans to put in place a new government secretariat dealing with the concerns of English-speaking Quebecers, but we need action.
They could ease many of the restrictions of Bill 101, especially in education, which would help give some relief to our battered school system. They could ensure that health services and all government services are available to English-speaking Quebecers wherever they live. They could make a real effort to hire anglos in the public service and provide free language training to any English-speaking Quebecer who wanted it, not just the immigrants. They could insist that we be served in English from the metro ticket taker to the nurse in triage.
It’s really nice we are liked so much. But Mark Twain reminded us action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.