Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anglos, Francophones Join Forces on Minority Language Rights after 'A Bad Year'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anglos, Francophones Join Forces on Minority Language Rights after 'A Bad Year'

Article excerpt

Anglos, francophones join forces on language rights

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MONTREAL - Quebec anglophones have banded together with francophones in New Brunswick and Ontario to protect and promote the rights of official minority language communities that they say are suddenly at risk.

The Societe de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick, the Quebec Community Groups Network and the Assemblee de la francophonie de l'Ontario called the partnership, announced Tuesday, the first of its kind in Canada.

At a news conference in Ottawa, the three groups said they have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together more closely despite the language divide.

"It's been a bad year -- it has been a bad year in Ontario, a bad year in New Brunswick and very worrying in Quebec -- on subjects related to rights in all three cases," Geoffrey Chambers of the Quebec network said in a phone interview.

"The principles expressed in the Constitution, expressed in Official Languages Act and in legislation in all three provinces aren't really being honoured by the governments and it's important for the communities to stand up and support each other and insist those rights be delivered."

Chambers said the organizations have previously expressed support for one another on a number of issues, and the deal formalizes that support, agreeing to work together on policy proposals and a collective response to threats to institutions in any of the provinces.

In Quebec, the English community is concerned about the Coalition Avenir Quebec government's intention to do away with school boards and schools being transferred out of the English school system faced with declining enrolment to an overtaxed French board.

In Ontario, often viewed as a model for other minority linguistic groups, the Conservative government announced it was scrapping the office of the French language services commissioner and has said it won't fund a French-language university.

The moves caught the Franco-Ontarian community by surprise, said AFO president Carol Jolin. …

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