BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
Bonjour, Hi! Is There Place for Anglophones in a Nation of Québec with French as the Official and Common Language?
Born and raised on the Island of Montreal, I have enjoyed working as a Secondary Teacher of English and History and later as a School Principal in Baie-Comeau on la Côte-Nord and New Richmond in la Gaspésie.
When my wife (also born in Montreal) and I retired, we chose the Gatineau because our three daughters were all working and living in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.
I have been described in the past as an affable and gregarious gentleman – most probably by individuals who have not encountered the spirit of a man who does not suffer fools gladly when he witnesses violations of fundamental rights. (You are allowed to consult your Webster’s if you feel the need to!)
The last few years have been tough ones philosophically and politically as well – Law 21 and Law 40 – through the usage of closure (le bâillon) and the Notwithstanding Clause. Did you know that the Canadian Constitution is the only national constitution in the world that contains a Notwithstanding Clause?
Hoping for better times – 2021 brings the White Paper of the Official Languages Act of Canada and Bill 96: An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec. Gimme a break!
So you ask: what does this know-it-all guy really believe in?
I strongly believe that Canada is a country constituted of ten provinces and three territories. I support an Official Languages Act of Canada that recognizes two official languages, English and French, in all provinces and territories of Canada. I support an Official Languages Act of Canada in which the federal government of Canada is the protector of the two official languages in all ten provinces and three territories. I continue to support the principle of symmetrical federalism from sea to sea to sea.
I also believe that Quebec as the only province of Canada with a majority of Francophones, may promote and protect the French language in Quebec and the rest of Canada. I also insist that the provincial government of Quebec must respect the constitutional rights of Anglophones in Quebec and the rest of Canada.
I have extreme difficulty in observing a provincial government with a substantial majority of seats in the National Assembly of Québec continuing to resort to the undemocratic tactic of le bâillon to silence debate from the official opposition party and the two other opposition parties.
Furthermore, I also find excessive the continuing use by the provincial government of Quebec of imposition of the Notwithstanding Clause to override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as its own Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
I strongly believe that individual rights must not be stampeded by a government’s continuing use of the Notwithstanding Clause to promote collective rights.
I have become aware that many critics refer to this frequent usage of le bâillon and the Notwithstanding Clause as “tyranny of the majority”.
I never thought that I would miss as much as I do right at this moment: the federalist-in-your-face leadership of the late Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Perhaps it is time for his son Justin to read some of the scholarly articles that his father wrote on federalism and the constitutional responsibilities and duties of the Prime Minister of Canada.
Therefore, I call on the Prime Minister of Canada to fulfil his constitutional duties under the Canadian Constitution and the Official Languages Act of Canada to continue to be the protector and promoter of minority rights in Quebec and Canada.
Furthermore, I call on the Premier of Quebec to fulfil his constitutional duties under the Canadian Constitution and the Official Languages Act of Canada to continue to be the protector and promoter of minority rights in Quebec.
So readers, what can you do as individuals? The first step: find out as much as you can about Bill 96. The constitutional experts vary in their opinions about 90Q.1. and 90Q.2.:
“CONSTITUTION ACT, 1867 159. The Constitution Act, 1867 (30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3 (U.K.); 1982, c. 11 (U.K.)) is amended by inserting the following after section 90:
FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF QUEBEC 90Q.1. Quebecers form a nation. 90Q.2. French shall be the only official language of Quebec. It is also the common language of the Quebec nation.”
Follow the debate through your media of preference: newspapers, radio, television, social media. . .
The second step: express your concerns about Bill 96. Call the offices, email, and/or write snail mail letters to: the Prime Minister of Canada, your Member of Parliament, the Premier of Quebec, the Minister Responsible for the French Language of Quebec, and/or your Member of the National Assembly of Quebec. The passage of Bill 96 will be a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. Time is still of the essence in a marathon of this importance. SO PLEASE DO FOLLOW THROUGH ON STEPS ONE AND TWO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
“Rights are rights are rights!” - Clifford Lincoln