Anglo groups react to Quebec’s $603M to protect French

“We’re disappointed to see that the English-speaking community was not part of the solution,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, Director General for QCGN about Quebec’s $603M to protect the French language. Brittany Henriques reports.

“People don’t react well to coercive measures and fear-mongering,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, Director General for the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

“French is who we are in Quebec. So I think $603 million is not too much to defend our identity,” said Quebec Minister of the French Language Jean-François Roberge during the press conference on Sunday.

Quebec’s recent action plan to counter what it’s calling a ‘decline of French’ – is not sitting well with some in the Anglophone community.

“It created the package and has created the idea that we need to put a big amount of money into protecting the French language and ‘we need to draw attention to this big dollar figure’. It’s about optics and I think the government needs to explain that and the government has shown itself to be more vulnerable on this issue and creating. A bit more distrust at a time when it’s not fairing especially well in the polls,” said Jack Jedwab, President of the Association for Canadian Studies.

“We are aware there is a decline here of French in Quebec. It’s obvious and we are fully committed to inverse this decline,” said Roberge.

“Let’s identify, the worrisome pieces of this, and not be fear-mongering on the decline of the French,” said Martin-Laforge. “We’re disappointed to see that the English-speaking community was not part of the solution.”

OQLF released the survey results earlier this month, showing the use of French in public spaces remains stable at 79 per cent since 2007.

“It will refer to some data that supports the idea that there’s a decline and it will dismiss data that it doesn’t feel supports the decline because. The continued iteration of the fact that there is a steep decline, which is what the government and its influencers continue to insist upon,” said Jedwab.

Quebec cited data from the 2021 census that showed the percentage of Quebec residents who predominantly speak French at home declined slightly between 2016 and 2021.

At the same time, the percentage of Quebec residents whose first official language was English rose to 13 per cent from 12 per cent in the same period, according to Statistics Canada.

“We’re looking at the percentage of francophones on the island of Montreal and that’s declining. Hence, we’re in free fall and so forth,” said Jedwab.
“It’s just that it’s not measuring its progress by way of the acquisition of French on the part of those newcomers.”

“The measure that they seem to be most worried about, is t he decline of French in the private sphere, which is when we speak to each other in our own homes. And we believe that that is not the business of government,” said Martin-Laforge.

With files from The Canadian Press

Top Stories

Top Stories