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The Doug Ford government’s accommodation to axe the Appointment of the French Accent Services Abettor was a impaired move, added acceptable motivated by benightedness than by budgetary prudence. It may appear to abode them.
A backfire will best absolutely bell in francophone enclaves beyond portions of Eastern and arctic Ontario, and it will acreage hardest appropriate actuality in the Ottawa arena area it threatens to reopen old wounds over accent afterwards years of about peace.
Where it won’t amount a fig is in Toronto, area the francophone citizenry is atomic — far abaft Chinese, Italian, Punjabi or a dozen added languages — and area the new Conservative government’s absolute priorities acutely lie.
I doubtable the appointment was bankrupt artlessly because its authorization wasn’t important abundant to a Toronto-centric government that has now accurate itself added absorbed in the admeasurement of Toronto burghal board than attention an official accent that artlessly doesn’t bell in the vote-rich Golden Horseshoe.
Government claims to the contrary, closing the French accent appointment won’t save abundant money — absolutely beneath than a actor dollars — at a time aback the government aloof ashen $500,000 in severance costs for a distinct agent in alone a few weeks ago by Ontario Power Generation.
That agent had become the latest in a growing account of political enemies that already included Patrick Brown and the above burghal board of Toronto. Maybe Ontario francophones are actuality accustomed a little aftereffect too because they accept a continued history of voting Liberal. Who knows?
That ability complete petty. But accede some added moves the government has aloof done. Last anniversary it appear diplomacy to accession the bar on the minimum cardinal MPPs a affair needs in the embly to accretion official affair status. Under the accepted rules, the Liberals, with seven members, are alone one byelection win or one floor-crossing abroad from accepting that ambiguous official affair status.
Which brings us to PC MPP Amanda Simard of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, east of Ottawa, who delivered one of the better acclamation surprises this accomplished summer aback she won a bench for the PCs in a benumbed that had been captivated by the Liberals for generations. Simard was adored for her success by actuality called aldermanic secretary for — umption what? — francophone diplomacy in the new government.
With that le, I doubtable she’s activity like the accepted bunco at the garden affair these canicule in a ociation area PC Blue has bound become sacré bleu for abounding residents, 60% of whom are francophone.
Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser would accept done able-bodied to absorb this weekend authoritative the 30-minute drive from his south-end Ottawa benumbed to Prescott-Glengarry-Russell for a clandestine babble with Simard about the accent of francophone affairs.
Maybe the government is afraid Simard, who is its alone Franco-Ontarian in caucus, ability be agitated abundant to amend her political status. That would not be unreasonable. Maybe that’s why they accolade to change the rules on official affair cachet so as to absolute the accident if she did cantankerous the attic and accompany the Liberals. Again, maybe.
Another affiliate of the Ford aggregation who has to be activity the calefaction is Caroline Mulroney, of above PM Brian Mulroney, who was a best of accent rights as prime minister. Caroline Mulroney grew up in Ottawa, is absolutely bilingual and able-bodied at in francophone sensitivities, which explains why she was accustomed the apostolic albatross for francophone diplomacy in accession to that of amends minister. Having to absolve the accommodation to abutting the Appointment of Francophone Diplomacy looks abhorrent for a baby-kisser with accessible approaching ambitions on the federal stage.
It all brings aback aching memories of the Harris government’s adventurous accommodation in 1997 to abutting the Montfort Hospital, the province’s alone French-language teaching hospital. It took a mive attack to about-face that accommodation and the scars remain.
In the 20 years since, French-language academy enrolment has added 65%, faster than any added system, operating 120 schools in Ontario. In Ottawa, added elementary acceptance are enrolled in French emersion than in English programs.
The PC government seems absent to that reality. A baby appointment administering francophone diplomacy was a baby amount to pay. Its accommodation to axe it was astigmatic and deserves reconsideration.
Rick Gibbons is above administrator and arch controlling of the Ottawa Sun. He can be heard weekdays, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. on 1310 NEWS.