Hawkesbury council is showing its support for Ontario’s francophone community.
At the November 26 meeting, council unanimously passed a resolution denouncing plans by Premier Doug Ford’s government to cancel a new French-language university and eliminate the Office of the French-Language Services Commissioner.
Ford has recently indicated he’s going to keep the French-Language Services Commissioner’s role within the office of the Ontario Ombudsman and create a stand-alone Ministry of Francophone Affairs but is holding firm on cancelling the university.
The resolution also states the Ford government has cut funding for the publication of three French-language youth magazines and has cancelled a $2.9-million grant to La Nouvelle Scène, the French-language theatre in Ottawa.
Councillor Daniel Lalonde introduced the resolution, which emphasizes that the linguistic rights of francophones in Ontario need to be protected, that there are 600,000 francophones in the province, and that Hawkesbury has one of the strongest francophone populations.
The resolution says that the Town of Hawkesbury firmly defends the rights of French-speaking Ontario residents and wants to play an active role in defending those rights.
Lalonde said he wanted council to send a clear message about defending French-language rights.
“I just felt it was important for the Town of Hawkesbury to take a position against the Ford government’s measures,” he said.
He added that he wants Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Amanda Simard to know she has support.
Simard, a member of Ford’s Progressive Conservative government, has criticized the cuts, a rare and difficult step for a member of the government caucus to take.
Councillor Pierre Ouellet said Simard has a lot of courage for disagreeing with her own party.
Mayor Jeanne Charlebois also appreciated the courage and support Simard has shown.
Councillor Johanne Portelance also thanked the MPP for her efforts and said that regarding the resolution, “It is important to support.”