Pierrefonds-Roxboro joins chorus against Bill 14 and threat to ‘linguistic peace’
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:22PM EST
MONTREAL—Pierrefonds-Roxboro is the only borough with bilingual status and the local council wants to keep it that way, adding its name to the rank of local administrations opposed to the Parti Quebecois’ Bill 14.
The proposed law would give the government the ability to revoke bilingual status under certain conditions. Pierrefonds-Roxboro says it is ready for a fight.
“We greet people from all over the world,” said borough mayor Catherine Clement-Talbot. “Most of the time they speak English, not as a mother tongue, but as a passport to the world.”
The local school board estimates that immigrants from almost 70 countries have settled in the area. The borough also receives specialized workers who come to work in technical fields.
As a result, keeping Pierrefonds-Roxboro bilingual is important, and that's why they're fighting Bill 14. Under the law, municipalities would find it much harder to keep their bilingual status if the English mother tongue population dips below 50 per cent.
The initiative against the law is being spearheaded by Cote-St-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, so far 33 municipalities have signed on.
“We’ve historically been cities that have served our French and English citizens equally. How are we hurting anyone else by doing what we've always done?” asked Housefather.
“We don't understand why the government is coming after us for no apparent reason, other than to please their hardline militants.”
Hopefully that the legislation wont clear the minority government in the National Assembly, Housefather is calling on Quebecers to call their local MNAs.
While it's still early, there are signs the backlash may be working. Jean-Francois Lisee, the minister responsible for Anglophones, has publicly taken a much softer stance on the issue.
“It's not a paramount issue,” said Lisee, one of the PQ’s main architects. “I was with PQ members yesterday and one told me it's not even in the PQ platform.”
At any rate, Lisee says opponents will get to voice their oppositions at upcoming parliamentary hearings and they plan to. Their message: we have linguistic peace now, don't ruin it.
Jean-Francoise Lisee is a former journalist who has spent much time in the backrooms of the Parti Quebecois. Now he represents Anglophone issues and Montreal in the provincial cabinet.