It Is Not Over! Stay Vigilant And Resolute/

By Beryl Wajsman on March 13, 2013


Angelica Montgomery`s report on CJAD this morning that the CAQ opposes important elements of Bill 14 is gratifying. But this is not over. The CAQ will be voting against Bill 14 because it rejects closing English CEGEPs to francophones, and it supports the right of municipalities to determine and protect their own bilingual status. The CAQ also wants the exemption for soldiers’ children to be maintained.

It is troubling however that the CAQ fails to see the civil rights violations of this Bill and will support the increased powers to OQLF inspectors including that of seizure and criminal complaint; the establishment of a virtual language court; the removal of international human rights guarantees by supporting the wording change of “ethnic minorities” to “cultural communities” in Quebec law; and the enshrinement of the “right to live and work in French” in the Quebec Charter of Rights without a similar protection for non-francophones. These provisions, particularly the latter two, would now definitively create two classes of Quebec citizens. That is discriminatory.

However, it is clear that the CAQ has listened to the presentations and protestations of those who have battled for months to preserve civil liberties. Including the recent e-mail "CAQ-ATTAQ." It is to be hoped that the impact of the mass of people at the CRITIQ “Once and for all” conference last week and the Unity rally at Mme. Marois' office the week before, drove home the point that there is more to come. That there is a broad stirring of anglophones, allophones and francophones against any more violations of Canadian civil rights in Quebec.

All who have been involved in this effort in the past months should be congratulated. CRITIQ, The Unity group, the Flag group,the Office Québecois de la langue anglaise, the Institute for Public Affairs which publishes The Métropoliain, and The Suburban - which was not afraid to advocate as well as report. Respect should also be shown for the early opposition by the Liberal Party of Quebec that stated weeks ago it would vote “unequivocally” against Bill 14. And to Adrien Pouliot, the new leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec, who on the day of his ascension as leader stated that he opposed Bill 14 “in its entirety.” 

Media played a crucial role. Apart from the Suburban and The Métropolitain which started the media ball rolling in December with front-page and web editorial opposition, CJAD was truly a "community" radio station as several hosts gave as much air time as possible to this effort. And the Gazette's front-page coverage of the outdoor rally was commendable. We should also remember that this time francophone media played an important role as well. Electronic media hosts in particular handled this issue in a serious fashion and did not dismiss opposition to Bill 14 as merely the complaints of "angryphones." In some dozen interviews I did, francophone journalists understood all too well the civil liberties implications of 14 and that this may well have been one law too far. The great war correspondent Martha Gellhorn - for whom the Martha Gellhorn Journalism prize is named - once said that, "Journalistic objectivity in the face of injustice is nonsense and cowardice." This struggle has shown the truth of her words. 

But a word of caution. All these events show what citizen engagement and resolve can accomplish. What civil society, working together, can do. The people’s voice can be heard through vigilance and involvement. But the work is not done. Challenges lie ahead. Stay vigilant. Stay resolute. And stay involved




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