Town­ship­pers’ pres­i­dent airs con­cerns over Bill 14

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS - Vic­to­ria Vanier

Town­ship­per’s As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Ger­ald Cut­ting, spoke dur­ing the gen­eral con­sul­ta­tions and pub­lic hear­ings at the Na­tional As­sem­bly, last week, voic­ing the con­cerns of the As­so­ci­a­tion over the pro­posed Bill 14 presently be­ing de­bated.

“Speak­ing for the Town­ship­pers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and the or­ga­ni­za­tions and peo­ple I’ve spo­ken with, there is a deep con­cern among the An­glo­phone com­mu­nity over this bill and where it’s go­ing. There are fright­en­ing pro­pos­als in the bill that will have neg­a­tive im­pacts es­pe­cially in ru­ral Que­bec. Of the eigh­teen com­mu­ni­ties des­ig­nated bilin­gual in the his­toric East­ern Town­ships, only three, Stanstead, West Bolton and Brome Vil­lage, could re­main bilin­gual. In the oth­ers, bilin­gual ser­vice would stop.”

Mr. Cut­ting ex­plained other con­cerns: “By grant­ing the right to work in French, peo­ple work­ing for the government will have no obli­ga­tion to pro­vide ser­vice in English. That could be a threat to es­pe­cially the el­derly or oth­ers strug­gling with spe­cial chal­lenges. An­other se­ri­ous thereat is the num­ber of peo­ple who could leave af­ter a bill like this is passed, like what hap­pened af­ter Bill 101. If it passed it would cre­ate con­di­tions even less invit­ing to stay. Even though most young peo­ple are bilin­gual, we need some kind of a pos­i­tive ges­ture rec­og­niz­ing the his­tory of the English com­mu­nity.”

Af­ter Mr. Cut­ting’s pre­sen­ta­tion at the Na­tional As­sem­bly, he was ap­proached by the Min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for Que­bec’s lan­guage law, Diane de Courcy. “The Min­is­ter asked if she could come and talk to the As­so­ci­a­tion about our her­itage and why we feel so pro­foundly. I told her we would be de­lighted. We got the call to­day to con­firm that, at the end of April, she’ll be coming.”

Mr. Cut­ting ad­mit­ted that there are other se­ri­ous is­sues at stake that are not get­ting as much at­ten­tion in the me­dia as they should. “Even if they back off on the bilin­gual towns, if the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms is changed to con­form to the French lan­guage char­ter, em­ploy­ees will be able to refuse to pro­vide English ser­vices in the pub­lic sec­tor and in small busi­nesses, too. And the Min­is­ter is get­ting ex­tra­or­di­nary pow­ers to in­crease staff and in­crease the ar­eas of in­spec­tion. They would have the right to go into or­ga­ni­za­tions and, for ex­am­ple, check the com­put­ers to make sure the pro­grams are all French. If their in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds a breach with the char­ter, un­der this bill it would re­sult im­me­di­ately in a crim­i­nal charge. We’d have real ‘lan­guage po­lice’.”

Fol­low­ing the cov­er­age of Town­ship­pers’ As­so­ci­a­tion’s sub­mit­ting of a brief on Bill 14 to the Na­tional As­sem­bly in Fe­bru­ary, and its more re­cent ap­pear­ance at the gen­eral con­sul­ta­tion, many or­ga­ni­za­tions have ex­pressed their sup­port for the As­so­ci­a­tion’s ini­tia­tive and its web­site has been get­ting a lot of vis­i­tors, of­ten to read the copy of the Bill 14 brief list­ing all of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s con­cerns.

Mr. Cut­ting con­cluded: “Com­pared to Bill 14, Bill 101 doesn’t seem so bad.”

Photo Ar­chives

Town­ship­per’s As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Ger­ald Cut­ting.

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