Guy Rodgers introducing the Minute Market
Photo by Kinga Michalska
The decisions by Ontario’s Ford Government to abolish the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and to renege on a promise to establish a French-language university were unanticipated and shocking. Then came news that Ottawa’s Nouvelle Scene theatre would not receive expected provincial funding. The combined cuts sounded like a deliberate reversal of decades of positive measures in support of Ontario’s French-speaking minorities. Francophone communities across Canada rallied in support of their vulnerable comrades in Ontario.
English- and French-speaking Quebeckers added their voices in support, albeit for slightly different reasons. French-speaking Québécois identify with franco-Ontarians as a vulnerable French-speaking minority within a continent and a world dominated by English. English-speaking Quebeckers identify with franco-Ontarians as a vulnerable minority.
Since its creation, ELAN has worked closely with French-speaking artists across Canada, and particularly with the Ottawa-based national network, la Fédération culturelle des canadienne-française. The situations for English-speakers inside Quebec and for French-speakers outside Quebec are very different, but we all need to feel like full citizens within our home provinces.
The Quebec government’s creation earlier this year of a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebeckers sent an encouraging signal. It is easy to appreciate that the abolition of minority language services would be demoralising. Due to the outcry, the Ford government has begun to reverse its ill-advised cuts, which produced small financial savings at a high social cost. This is a victory for the better angels of our human nature.