Top candidates snub meeting with language hardliners
Montreal mayoral candidate Denis Coderre smiles as he leaves a seniors residence while on the campaign trail in Montreal, Friday, October 18, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Published Sunday, October 27, 2013 5:16PM EDT
The Mouvement Montréal Français (MMF) had hoped to get Montreal’s mayoral candidates to state their plans for protecting the French language in Montreal at a special meeting they organized outside of City Hall Sunday.
However frontrunner Denis Coderre and Mélanie Joly, who polls have pegged as holding second place, failed to show or send a representative to the meeting.
Michel Brûlé, a publisher running largely on a platform of protecting the French language, promised to attend, according to organizers, but also failed to show.
Five of eight political groups invited to the meeting sent representatives, according to organizers.
The MMF expressed displeasure with the prominent snubs.
“I get the feeling, linguistically speaking, that francophones have remained a little colonized. We still see English as the language of the master. Often we have trouble to stand up and say that we want it to be in French,” said MMF representative Denis Trudel.
Societe St. Jean Baptiste President Mario Beaulieu attributed the absences to a “lack of attention to the language issue.”
Throughout the campaign, none of the top four candidates have expressed an urgent need to address the language situation.
Coalition Montreal raised some eyebrows Monday when party co-director Louise Harel stated a plan to place a permanent French-language watchdog onto the Executive Committee. Her mayoral candidate Marcel Cote later downplayed the plan, saying that the party would aim only to take more control of language issues away from Quebec City.
Cote had also previously promised to create positions to promote both French and English.
Coderre, for his part, has expressed no plans to touch the language dossier. He has frequently repeated that, “everyone is first-class citizen” and noted that three of the four flowers on the city flag represent non-francophone groups.
Projet Montreal mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron has repeatedly boasted that his party has the most anglophone candidates of any party and stated during the first debate that, "Montreal is a French city according to its charter but meanwhile the reality is that Montreal is the most bilingual city in the world."
Melanie Joly said during the same debate that, "Somebody who wants service in English can get it. Montreal is a city with more harmony than division. All summer I did events and very few talked to me about language."
-With a file from The Canadian Press