June 23rd, 2015

NDP REALITY CHECK: Conservatives and French – too little, too late!

For 10 years in power, the Conservatives ignored Quebec and showed little respect for the French language. Now, just days before St. Jean Baptiste and Quebec’s national holiday, Stephen Harper has woken up and reminded his ministers in a letter to Cabinet about their “duty to continue to reinforce Canada’s linguistic duality” and to “promote the French language.”

Too little, too late – the Conservative record speaks for itself:

  • In 2006, the Conservatives eliminated the Court Challenges Program, which had been used by Francophones to assert their rights.
  • In 2006, and then again in 2011, the Prime Minister appointed a unilingual Anglophone judge to the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • In 2010, the Conservatives abolished the mandatory long-form census. Facing a national outcry, they were forced to add questions about language to the short-form census.
  • In 2010, the House of Commons adopted an NDP bill requiring bilingualism for Supreme Court judges. Conservative senators stalled the bill in the Senate until the election was called.
  • In 2011, the Prime Minister appointed a unilingual Anglophone auditor general.
  • In 2011, the Conservatives announced the closure of Quebec’s Marine Rescue Sub-Centre, the only bilingual rescue centre in Canada. Thanks to the NDP’s relentless pressure, the government backtracked and announced in 2013 that the Centre will remain open.
  • In their 2012 budget, the Conservatives made cuts to Radio-Canada, an institution that promotes Quebec culture and provides French-language entertainment and information to Francophones across the country.
  • In 2012, the Conservatives voted against the NDP bill to protect the rights of Francophones working under federal jurisdiction in Quebec.
  • In report after report, the Commissioner of Official Languages has singled the Conservative government out for violating the Official Languages Act.

Quebecers and Francophones across the country deserve better. They deserve a party like the NDP and its leader, Tom Mulcair, who will defend bilingualism and the French language.