Dorval’s Bilingual Status

Amendments to the Charter of French language (Bill 14) - Dorval Town Council unanimously adopted on Dec 19, 2012 a resolution to preserve the city’s offical provincial status as a bilingual municipality.  In 1977 when the Charter of the French Language (Bill-101) was first instituted provisions were made which designated 80 municipalities as having “bilingual” status.  In December, 2012 the Parti Quebecois government announced its intention to remove the bilingual status of most of these municipalities thus rendering them officially French-speaking.  More than 50 municipalities belonging to the Association of Quebec Municipalities have since adopted resolutions opposing the amendments prescribed by Bill-14, an act to amend Bill- 101(Charter of the French Language) and are calling on the opposition parties, the Liberals and CAQ (Coalition Avenir Québec), to vote against the PQ’s plan to remove their bilingual status. The City of Dorval has always been proud of its bilingual heritage and multicultural mosaic.  Cultures brought to the city by citizens from throughout the globe enhance and lend a valuable, homogenous component to life in Dorval.  Both English and French speaking people and families make up the city’s historical background dating back to the early 17th century when settlers from Europe first came to live along the shores of the St Lawrence River.  Despite many battles between France and Britain having been waged in North America the two cultures have managed to fluorish here side by side to this day. The problem for Dorval lies in the fact that the recent proportion of citizens claiming English as their mother tongue has dropped to less than 50% therefore making the city a target of an amendment in Bill-14 which will remove Dorval’s offical bilingual status
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Bill 14

Bill-14 Opposition

Taking to the street On February 17 despite minus 17-C temperatures a boisterous crowd of 200 or so protestors demonstrated in Montreal their discontent and opposition to Bill-14 at the offices of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois the staunch separatist leader of the Parti Quebecois who is determined to apply hard-line tactics in order to force stronger legislation concerning the public and business use of the French language, legislation that detractors describe as “unfair, divisive and undemocratic.”  Editor of the West Island newspaper The Suburban, Beryl Wajsman, addressed the chilly gathering provoking a rousing response and cheers by stating, “This is an odious proposition ... the PQ attacks the most vulnerable ... Bill 14’s main goal is segregation and marginalization.” He went on to say, “If we have no say then perhaps we should not pay! suggesting that protestors engage in civil disobedience by considering withholding their income tax from the provincial government, an idea that has been discussed among activists in the province for more than 20 years, by perhaps placing the monies in a form of escrow account.  Former Montreal radio broadcaster and currently the Editor of the Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges journal, Jim Duff, gave a spirited speech to the demonstrators asking, “Where are the mayors, where are the media, and where are the 100,000 people who were here to support the defusion (partition) of municipalities after being forced by the PQ to merge with the City of Montreal? A petition to reject Bill-14 has been set up at the National Assembly by a group of parents, The Lester B. Pearson School Board Central Parents’ Committee, from Montreal’s West Island and has surpassed (at the time of this writing) the impressive 10,000 signature mark.  The petition can be accessed via the link provided in the segmented box to the right of this page.   On February 28, 2013 a new movement calling itself CRITIQ  (Canadian Rights in Quebec) held a conference on the topic of civic rights resulting in some 600+ attendees at Montreal’s downtown Delta Hotel.  This is the largest turnout the anti-separatist rights movement of Quebec has mustered in more than a decade.  Headed by former Chairman of The Quebec Committee for Canada, businessman Gary Shapiro, the group invited speakers including Suburban Newspaper Editor Beryl Wajsman and rights Lawyer Brent Tyler to address the audience.  It remains to be seen if this is a flash in the pan reactionary occurrence spawned by the threats to Quebec society by the much publicized Bill-14 or if this will produce a well concerted movement with teeth to defeat the ongoing institutionalized apartheid implemented by the PQ.  Apathy permeates Quebec society and people like to complain, even show up to a nice warm hotel to listen to silver-tongued speeches but can the community rally together to produce leaders and exercise its will to make a permanent change for the betterment of Quebec society? Small businesses and schools targeted As opposition grows to Bill-14 the Parti Quebecois are applying unprecedented pressure on the business and education sectors of the province by using Language Inspectors (commonly known as “Language Police” and “Tongue Troopers”) to harass small businesses and schools about their use of French in the workplace.  One such situation was instigated by an inspector from the Office quebecois de la langue francaise who demanded that a popular Montreal Italian restaurant, Buonanotte, remove the words “pasta, bottiglia and calamare from its menu declaring the words are not French and the restaurant would face a fine if it failed to comply.  The incident, which has come to be known as Pastagate sparked a huge outrage on social media with thousands of “Pastafarians” posting on social media including Twitter and Facebook their displeasure with the absurdity of such intimidation.  Within hours more restaurants were targeted by the OQLF including Joe Beef, a popular restaurant in Little Burgundy, citing its use of an ”exit” sign and an antique sign over the bathroom saying, “Please keep the gate closed”, and another restaurant, Conti Caffe (”caffe” is Italian for bistro), who’s name was etched on wine glasses.  Conti Caffe had already paid $20,000 to change its sign and more and is in the process of creating new menus and napkins in order to comply with the demands of the OQLF.  Yet another restaurant, Brasserie Holder, was visited being told they had to put tape on the redial” and “hold” buttons of the telephone and to cover the “on/off” buttons on a microwave oven.  The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board received a written communication from the OQLF’s Secretary General, Marie-Claude Drouin, informing the English-Language school board two complaints had been received and that their schools’ telephone messages must be in French “first.” At first the OQLF, embarrassed by the pettiness of their inspectors over these complaints and the ensuing uproar of Pastagate, claimed the this was all the fault of “a few overzealous individuals” but there is no denying, in light of subsequent days’ reports of yet more petty harassments of small businesses, that these actions are part of a larger agenda driven by the PQ to discriminate against every cultural influence in the province, in particular in the Montreal region, to erase everything not French - this has become known as “ethnocide or aparthied” by the many defenders of civil rights who support their right under the BNA Act and the Canadian Constitution to freedom of expression in one or both of Canada’s official languages. No hope of justice from politicians The government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper have declared that the official position of the federal government is to not get involved - they will do nothing to interject on behalf of the population who oppose the relentless and increasing pressure being meeted out by the separatist PQ.  In fact in February last the provincial opposition parties, the Liberals and CAQ, systematically allowed the PQ to defeat a vote of non-confidence in the National Assembly which would have forced the separatist ruling party out of power.  Currently the Liberal Party is in disarray lacking a leader since the resignation of Premier Jean Charest who left the party with his tail between his legs after losing the last election to the minority government PQ and a long turbulent summer and autumn of 2012 marked by student and union unrest which his party was unable to quell.  It has been postulated in the past week or more that voters are likely to see a slightly watered-down version of Bill-14 easily passed in a May vote, which will follow a brief period of “public consultations,” and that any subsequent majority party taking power from the PQ will do nothing to strike down the amendments in Bill-14.  So where does this leave the electorate who are organizing in opposition to the bill?  A recent poll suggest that 40% to 45% of the remaining English- speaking population of Quebec are considering leaving for greener pastures - and an incalculable amount of others will follow leaving a faltering tax-base to be shouldered by the remaining locals.  Serious questions are arising about the viability of the provincial economy, an economy that is already suffering with drastic and ongoing fiscal cuts, corruption and unemployment.  Some citizens are also deeply concerned about the potential for civil-unrest the likes of the 1970 October Crisis and even civil-war unless politicians wade in with a solution to end the madness of the PQ. Bill-14 at a glance Here are a few of the amendments Bill-14 will bring to the Charter of the French Language and the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Immigrants and anyone without a certificate to attend the English language school system will no longer have the right to send their children to private English language schools; Children of Armed Forces personnel stationed in Quebec will all be forced into a French education system even if they come from outside the province in an already English language education system; The current policy of francization applied to businesses of 50 or more employees will be extended to include businesses with 26 or more employees.  The language of business prohibits the use of English on signs, machines, computer software, internal and external communications, official documentation, training, and telephone messages (among other stipulations); Graduating from high-school will involve an unspecified uniform French proficiency exam for all students, regardless of any considerations; Of 89 municipalities currently holding official bilingual status 45 will lose their status including 15 of 18 in the Eastern Townships alone; Immigration policies will now focus primarily on ability to speak French instead of a point system currently in place; OQLF Inspectors will have the power to seize anything they find objectionable in a place of business and levy a fine of $2,500 without notifying the owner - thus a judgment will be rendered without the knowledge of the alleged offender; The legal term “ethnic minorities” which carries with it very specific rights under domestic and international human rights conventions will be replaced with the term “cultural communities”, a term without any legal rights or recognitions by conventions or otherwise; Hospitals, courthouses and other public institutions will be forced to eliminate all public use of the English language. These are only some of the finer points of Bill-14 which will have a dramatic effect on the mindset of Quebec citizens.  The elimination of the multi-cultural face of Quebec will belie the reality of Quebec society - this has long been sought after by the separatist hardliners and xenophobes who have now taken over the government of Quebec. Public hearings with pre-selected (by the PQ government) parties will begin on March 12 and a May 2013 vote on Bill-14 is expected.. Additional photography courtesy of CRITIQ Videography courtesy of The Tyranny Of Bill-101

Rejection Petition

You can sign this petition at the National Assmbly web site: Rejection of the proposed amendments to the Charter of the French language (Bill 14)
Voice of Dorval.com Local news
Protest in downtown Montreal February 17 - Citizens voice their protest against Bill-14 and speeches by Beryl Wajsman, Colin Standish and Jim Duff.
Photo:CRITIQ