Townshippers’ president airs concerns over Bill 14
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.”
Townshipper’s Association president, Gerald Cutting.