Quebecois support for minority-languages
on the upswing
The outpouring of opposition to Ontario’s cutbacks in services to its Francophone minority, and to bilingualism in general, is heartening. It has grown to a tsunami and it’s coming from all sectors, French and English, and from all parts of the country.
This is encouraging because behind the condemnation and disappointment is a principled support of minority communities; “in principle”, meaning there are no exceptions or excuses accepted. Certainly not the hackneyed excuse of “austerity”. Rights are rights for everyone, and they are not conditional on cost or on any government’s budgetary decisions about what to fund and what not. Minority language protection and encouragement is the right that’s being supported – across Quebec, across Canada. This is our nation’s good fight.
Some might insist that the criticism is in defence of Ontario’s francophone minority-- not minorities in general, and not even constitutionally-protected minorities. Yet, this outrage would lose all of its force if it concludes, “but this is only for the French-speaking minority; other minorities deserve no such protection”. Who would dare mouth such preposterous chauvinism?
While Quebec’s English-speaking minority, especially its community organizations and its media, has condemned Ontario’s disappointing actions, our minority must also take heart in the fact that this public wave is in fact supporting our own minority-community rights here in Quebec.
There will yet be attempts to curtail minority rights and freedoms, including in Quebec – in the name of austerity, again, since austerity sounds objective, non-ideological, even fiscally responsible. Leaders Legault, Couillard, and Lisée made clear their support of minority rights during the last election. Today’s upheaval means no backtracking on rights and on services – and that this principle of protecting founding minority communities’ rights to government services (including education) in their own language applies equally to First Nations communities. Today’s protest strengthens all constitutional rights – for all genders, classes, and in all regions.
And we welcome this commitment to rights even from those individuals and groups which have historically not supported minority rights in communities other than their own.
Cementing the commitment to minority-language communities is the current support for Quebec’s newspaper and radio outlets. There is a renewed commitment by Quebec City to ensure the long-term viability of what’s left of Quebec’s news media, because a community’s media is that community’s voice. This support supports us all.
Most everyone is willing to have another fifty cents tacked onto their provincial tax bill to help out these communities. This newspaper’s position is to encourage minority language communities of all kinds, and there’s an urgency today, considering the existence of La Meute here and other movements of hate in many provinces. These movements of hostility to “others” are what lead to America’s mass shootings, and to Bosnia, Rwanda, Congo, Indonesia, Yemen. Our own history’s struggles to overcome chauvinism now include today’s protests and give us assurance and hope for the future here ... as well as in neighbouring Ontario.