The news that Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government will abolish Ontario’s Office of the French Language Services Commissioner is not sitting well in Quebec.
The office serves as the representative for Franco-Ontarians, ensuring the French Language Services Act is followed.
According to the Ontario government, there are more than 600,000 people in that province who identify as French speakers.
The dismantling of the office is a cost-cutting measure to deal with Ontario’s deficit, government officials say. Its work is to be folded into the Ontario ombudsman’s office.
« I want French in Ontario to be protected as much as possible, » said Quebec Premier François Legault.
Legault says it’s a topic he’ll broach when he and Ford meet on Monday.
‘Petty and provocative’
Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume did not hold back on his opinion of the cut.
« [Franco-Ontarians] really do not deserve this…. It’s really petty, » he told reporters.
« I think it’s a provocation because this is really a small office that does a lot of mitigation between francophones and the government. »
In a series of tweets, Quebec Francophone Relations Minister Sonia LeBel says she spoke to Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s minister responsible for francophone affairs, to express her concerns.
LeBel says Mulroney reiterated her commitment to Franco-Ontarians but mentioned the need to cut costs.
« We will continue to promote and defend and the interests of francophones throughout Canada, » LeBel said.
.<a href= »https://twitter.com/C_Mulroney?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>@C_Mulroney</a> m’a fait part de son engagement envers la communauté franco-ontarienne et des défis budgétaires auxquels le gouvernement de l’Ontario fait face. Nous avons aussi abordé la question de faciliter l’accessibilité à la justice pour les Franco-Ontariens 2/3 <a href= »https://twitter.com/hashtag/polcan?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>#polcan</a> <a href= »https://twitter.com/hashtag/onfr?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>#onfr</a>
‘Unthinkable’ move, PMO says
The prime minister is calling the decision to abolish Ontario’s French language office « unthinkable. »
« Today is a good day to reflect on how absolutely critical it is for governments in this country to protect, preserve and cherish minority language rights, » said Justin Trudeau, in a tweet.
Today is a good day to reflect on how absolutely critical it is for governments in this country to protect, preserve and cherish minority language rights – French and English – across Canada. We all have a right to live & work in the official language of our choice.