Thursday, August 23, 2007

Victory for freedom in Quebec

Lawyer Brent Tyler is an English-rights crusader, who yesterday scored an amazing victory for choice in Quebec.

Tyler persuaded a Quebec court to strike down as unconstitutional Bill 104, a law which made it illegal for francophone children -- who previously attended private English-language schools -- to attend English public schools.

This now provides a "loophole" for francophone parents who wish to send their kids to English public schools.

Predictably, Quebec's political and intellectual elite are outraged.

"There is a consensus in Quebec as to the necessity to preserve the French language in Quebec," said Cultural Affairs Minister Christine St. Pierre, the minister responsible for the administration of the language law.

In other words, the preservation of French in Quebec is more important than the federal rights charter and more important than individual freedom.

But does St. Pierre really believe the French language is so fragile that permitting parents the choice of sending their kids to English schools will destroy it?

If French is truly that frail, no amount of dictatorial laws will save it.

Anyway, congrats to Brent Tyler -- though the fight is far from over, as this will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.

And by the way, somebody should ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper where he stands on this case.

While he was president of the National Citizens Coalition, he sent Tyler money to finances similar court challenges.

Wonder if he has changed his mind since then?


rondi adamson said...

Good news! And for the record, they don't speak French in Quebec. They speak French in France.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Gerry, for your comments on the victory of Brent Tyler. Brent continues to fight when most Quebecers have given up because it was too difficult to fight the linguistically paranoid French zealots in Quebec.

I think that it is time for Canadians to understand that the "fragile" French should stop using their fragility as an excuse to brow-beat all English-speakers, in & out of Quebec.

Kim McConnell

Anonymous said...

"browbeat all English speakers"
1. Nobody is forced outside of Quebec to attend a French-speaking public school.
2. Within Quebec, there are English public schools in Quebec which English speakers can attend. The issue here is French-speakers having the choice of going to English schools.
3. Linguistically paranoid? far more Quebeckers speak English than other Canadians speak French. And many Quebeckers try to improve the quality of their French by doing so at a French school. Much like English speakers take English courses at school in the ROC.

Should they have the option to send their kids to English schools? Sure. Are they currently browbeating English-speakers? No.

One could argue they are denying linguistic choice to immigrants and Francophones but again they have the choice of going to a private school to learn English.

Anonymous said...

One could also argue that since the official language of Quebec is French and that education falls under provincial jurisdiction that Quebec really doesn't have any obligation to provide English public schooling. And they didn't sign Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms either. Explain to me this: why should real conservatives defend Trudeau's charter?

Of course, there are flaws with the 1867 BNA Act. For example, Ontario use of provincial jurisdiction to implement Regulation 17 which prevented French teaching for a generation in Ontario and to this day has continued to contribute to the lower-socioeconomic status of Franco-Ontarians in the province.

Anonymous said...

Ace: Yes, you are correct when you write that Ontario abused provincial jurisdiction by implementing Regulation did, earlier, Manitoba in the 1890s and New Brunswick with their School Act in the 1870s; then, later, Quebec starting with Bill 22 in 1974, Bill 101 in 1977, etc.

But the potential for provincial jurisdiction abuse was foreseen by the Fathers of Confederation and numerous protections for linguistic and religious provincial minorities was put into the BNA Act: disallowance, reservation, ss 93(3) and 93(4), and numerous other clauses. These modes of "protection" for provincial minorities was debated at length in the Confederation Debates and was very much part of the "deal" that Confederation became. Indeed, I would venture to say that, without the sacred promise made to what were to become provincial minorities, Confederation would never have happened. Protection of provincial minorities was part and parcel of the deal.

Sadly, the federal government has never, ever used those powers to protect provincial minorities and they thereby broke the promise of Confederation. In my opinion, this broken promise lies at the heart of the National Unity Crisis that will, eventually, break up Canada.

Of course, Trudeau tried to correct that with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But, as we all know, the Charter isn't worth the paper it's written on. It has a "notwithstanding" clause and all sorts of other exceptions to equality and individual rights (one such example: section 23.1.a, by virtue of section 59 of the 1981 Constitution Act, does not apply in Quebec).

I once heard a journalist say the following about the Canadian Charter, which pretty much sums it up: The Charter may not work but at least you can get a free copy from the government.

Anonymous said...

I am a bilingual Canadian, living here in the Beauce for 25 years, my husband's home and my mother's province of origin. It took me 4 years to find a position in my field, even though the unending cry heard is these parts is that we have a lack of qualified bilingual personnel. That's crap. They MEAN 'a lack of qualified francophones who speak some level of english'. I felt secure and passionate in my new position, a publically funded organisation dedicated to economic development. I clearly had a chance finally, to contribute to the community I have called home for years. No one would bother me about my accent in an organisation funded by Economic Development Canada. I could do my work and finally make a living here. My daughter would no longer be 'new and poor' ... she is bilingual also and suffers the slurs of her less than tolerant classmates. But alas ... all is not as it appears. 3 months into the job, the Director of th local CLD called my Director seeking my dismal - he found it offensive that they hired someone 'not from here' for the position and that this area - the BEAUCE - is not interested in doing business outside of Qu├ębec anyway ... this is from the guy in the town where I live with 80 - 100 extended family members - I was told that I am not welcome to work in this area - so in an effort to keep the job I love - I agree to hire my accent, not speak at meetings until I was sure that I would not offend anyone ... but even that wasn't enough - and bowing to continued pressure - this experienced and highly trained economic development officer was dismissed - without cause or reason other than 'you don't fit' ... and told to 'get out' of this publically funded organisation - I begged to be allowed to at least accumulate the necessary time to qualify for unemplyment insurance - no - get out - so here I am - again - in my ometown of 25 years - unemployed - unemployable - and destined to request social assistance to my daughter's severe embarassement - in this place - where there is a shortage of qualified bilingual people - where the average enterprise lays off it's entire workforce for 6 months of the year - so they too can collect employment insurance - and the region doesn't grow - and no one knows why ... I know why ... imagine my surprise when I found a kindered spirit in the new leader of the PQ who recently said - being pro-french is not synonomous with anti-english ... that would be stupid in today's world ... she insists her children be bilingual - as do I ... and I am proud albeit poor, idle and devastated for it ...

Unknown said...

I am a bilingual Canadian who was forced to go to french public school when I came to quebec. Even though my parents did an english Education in India and I myself completed an English elementary education. Since we were new we accepted it and I somehow scraped through my years of torture. I find the system brain washes immigrant students who enter the french system. I will never forget my secondary french teacher saying I will never survive in this province without my french degree.
I have proven him wrong....
I dont want the same for my daughter...I want her to have a bilingual education...QC is my home I have my family here....I cannot pack up my bags and leave...if anyone knows of any lawyer that can help ...pls email me back at

I have a case that I think can be heard in court on humanitarian basis.....