Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Brunswick Premier Calls for 'Tolerance' amid Bilingualism Tensions

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Brunswick Premier Calls for 'Tolerance' amid Bilingualism Tensions

Article excerpt

Premier calls for 'tolerance' on bilingualism

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. - New Brunswick's premier is making a passionate plea for tolerance on bilingualism, as he seeks to debunk long-standing "myths" of its costs amid a perceived increase in linguistic tensions.

It is Canada's only officially bilingual province, and Premier Brian Gallant says it takes work, co-operation, and frank discussions to make it work.

"I have seen too many times, people unfortunately not being as tolerant as we would like. It has had a direct impact on my family and people that I love. I think this lack of tolerance and pragmatism explains some, if not a lot of the tension. But there are also a lot of misunderstandings, myths and exaggerations that need to be debunked," Gallant said Monday in a speech to the Saint John Board of Trade.

He said while there has been some uproar over the need for separate school buses for French and English students in New Brunswick, it should be noted that the per student cost is actually three per cent less than in neighbouring Nova Scotia.

"Yet many focused on this issue in order to spark tensions -- of course, they didn't cite the real facts in doing so," Gallant said.

The government has asked the New Brunswick Court of Appeal to examine the issue.

"Is there an absolute right to distinct buses along side a distinct school system? Or is there not? Or is there some middle ground? Those are fair questions and that's why we've asked the highest court in the province to answer them," Gallant told the crowd.

Gallant blamed the downturn in the economy and the growth of social media for a perceived rise in linguistic tensions in the province.

"Nowadays those on all sides of an issue have a platform to express their views, and they can express those views to hundreds -- people they might never have found before. …

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