Since the provincial government tabled Bill 14 in early December, West Island demerged cities have been passing resolutions to protect their right to keep their bilingual status, no matter what their English-language population threshold is.
After Dorval, Senneville, Pointe Claire, Kirkland, Dollard des Ormeaux and Baie d’Urfé passed theirs in December or earlier this month, Beaconsfield added itself to the list Monday evening. All in all, it is fourteen cities in the metropolitan area that have agreed to pass such a resolution as a first step. They have asked other bilingual cities in the province to do the same.
Dollard des Ormeaux Mayor Ed Janiszewski feels things could get complicated in his town were the government try to assess whether there is over 50 per cent of English-speakers or not, given the high numbers of allophones.
“In Dollard des Ormeaux, we have one third of English-speakers, one third of French-speakers and one third of allophones. Many allophones speak English but will they count in the balance?” he said at the January public council meeting.
Official Opposition critic for relations with the English-speaking community and Jacques Cartier MNA Geoff Kelley said last week that his party will strongly oppose this measure and most certainly vote against it when the time comes.
He feels it is very important for cities such as Beaconsfield, Kirkland or Pointe Claire, for example, to have bilingual employees to provide municipal services to the entire community. He thinks that symbolically, it is recognition that there are important roots of the Anglophone community in the creation of these municipalities. He also fears there is much to lose for cities which would be stripped of their bilingual status.
“Look at the situation in Ste. Agathe, St. Lazare, Huntingdon and Chateauguay: because they are not bilingual cities, the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF) is keeping them from sending their newsletters in English,” he said.
“They prevent Huntingdon, Chateauguay and St. Lazare, whose anglophone minorities are very important, from communicating with them. It prevents them from displaying in the town hall or in parks in both languages. There are many obstacles if cities lose the bilingual status.”
Public hearings on Bill 14 are scheduled to begin at mid-March.