Over 400 citizens protested in front of Premier Pauline Marois’ downtown Montreal office on McGill College Avenue Sunday afternoon. Organized by Unity, a newly-formed rights group and Put the Flag Back, an organization aiming at putting back the Canadian flag into the National Assembly, the demonstrators had gathered in the hopes of sending a message to their politicians.
“We’re trying to send a message to François Legault and the Liberals to vote down Bill 14 which is detrimental to our economy, education, business in general and of course to our hospitals,” said Unity Group chairman Jimmy Kay in an interview with The Chronicle.
Amongst the crowd that gathered despite the -10 degree temperature were many West Islanders frustrated over the tabled piece of legislation. They listened to Kay and other speakersas they harangued them for an hour while a small counter-protest was being held on the other side of the street.
Brian Leavens from Pierrefonds loves his country; a country he thinks is multi-lingual now, not just bilingual. He thinks the Parti Québécois legislation is shameful.
“I’m a Canadian first, I’m not a Quebecer and I’d like to be treated the same way as anybody. We’re losing our rights. I feel like a smoker. When they started banning smoking inside, you could only smoke in one room inside a building and now you’re not even allowed inside the building at all,” he said.
Dollard des Ormeaux resident Abdel Francis wore a Canadian flag on his shoulders to the protest as many others did. He thinks Bill 14 is the wrong way to go if the government wants to protect the French language and culture.
“The government is trying to take down rights of Anglophones. They feel that by taking extreme measures they will protect the French culture but that’s not true. That’s not the right way to do it. What the government should really do is to re-discuss with anglophones and see what’s not working. Through discussion, they can find solutions,” he said.
Kirkland resident Glen Marsh came to the demonstration with his two sons, 24-year-old Thomas and 22-year-old Chris. The father is worried about the government potentially taking away bilingual status of cities where, he says, there can be up to 70 per cent of residents speaking English but who do not necessarily have English as their mother tongue.
All the while, Thomas is concerned about the money it would cost to make more businesses run internally in French. As for the youngest son, he is angry about the attitude he detects behind Bill 14.
“It’s the attitude that English doesn’t belong in Quebec and that they can make any legislation and do whatever they want to get rid of it. We have a legitimate history and right to be here and somehow, there is this attitude that drives forth legislation like Bill 14 to remove a minority that has a right to be here,” he said.