We are full-fledged, contributing members of Quebec society
An open letter to Premier Legault:
As proud Quebecers, we reject your government’s impractical and ill-advised decision to label our community as “historic Anglophones” and your plan to limit government services to citizens who are eligible to attend English schools.
Our community is an integral part of Quebec with full rights to participate in Quebec society and to receive government services. We are not some folkloric ‘historic’ group. We are full-fledged Quebecers, who are committed to building an inclusive Quebec where French is the common language. Our institutions serve all Quebecers and are among the fleurons du Québec – world-class educational, research, and health care establishments that attract top-notch scientists and researchers working on leading-edge technology that benefits all Quebecers as well as our economy.
We remind you that eligibility to attend school in English in Quebec is not in any way linked to the language of the student or the parent. Rather, it is linked to the language of instruction received by the parent or the previous educational pathway of the student. Thus, the English-speaking minority does not coincide with the ‘English-school-eligible’ category. Many members of the English-speaking community attended French schools in order to perfect their knowledge of Quebec’s common language; under your proposal, they would not qualify to receive written services in English. Meanwhile, ironically, Francophones who attended English schools in their youth would have the right to receive the services in English.
Most importantly, the use of the ‘English-school-eligible’ category is grossly under-inclusive. It removes the right to receive services including health care in English from between 300,000 and 500,000 English-speaking Quebecers. It is utterly divorced from our community’s self-identification.
More broadly, the attempt to create categories of citizens who are eligible for certain services is deeply troublesome from a public governance perspective. Minorities define themselves; they are not defined by the state. The English-speaking minority of Quebec does not define itself based on the ‘English-school-eligible’ category, and the expanded use of this category is offensive.
Premier Legault, your government should not be attempting to define our community or limiting our access to government services, whether for critical health and social services or the right to pay our taxes in English. As Premier Lucien Bouchard famously stated in 1996 at the Centaur theatre: “When you go to the hospital and you are in pain, you may need a blood test, but you certainly don’t need a language test.”
We believe that the right to communication and services in English should never be based on eligibility for English instruction. We are confident that the status quo reflects the values and generosity of spirit of all Quebecers.
Email us at email@example.com to join the list of full-fledged Quebecers who have signed this letter.