Premier François Legault, in his recent inaugural address and in his subsequent public explanations, dismissively referred to the ‘historic anglophone community’ of Quebec. David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy-McGee and Official Opposition Critic for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers deplored the Premier’s words, qualifying them as “naïve at best, retrograde at worst”.
“It is unacceptable that the Premier of all Quebecers should qualify as ‘historic’ a vibrant English-speaking community that has helped and will continue to help build our modern Quebec, one that contributes to the flourishing of our common French language, one that has unalienable rights of access to services in its language.
“Perhaps, the Premier DOES know better: he later explained to journalists that, yes, for the purposes of receiving services, only ‘historic anglophones’ should be eligible, that is, those who have the acquired right to attend English schooling in Quebec. Let’s be clear, for more than 35 years, through seven successive Premiers, Liberal and Péquiste, 11 ministers of Health and Social Services, including M. Legault, there has never been any restriction of this kind whatsoever. Under this proud social contract, an English-speaking woman about to give birth in New Carlyle, a teenager suffering from anxiety in Sherbrooke, the senior facing a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in Chateauguay can each be assured of urgent service in their language, English. The Premier’s words put this social contract in danger, and he should answer for that!”