Rally planned, legal challenge brewing against Ford government
Published Tuesday, November 20, 2018 5:23PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, November 20, 2018 6:57PM EST
The battle is building over Francophonie rights in Ontario.
Franco-Ontarians accuse the Ford government of trying to kill their culture.
Today, the government was defending its decision saying it won't have any impact on French language rights.
There's a political fight brewing and a legal one, too that some are suggesting will rival the decades-old battle to save the Montfort Hospital
Véronique Mortimer is passionate about her studies at the University of Ottawa and about her ability to study in French.
“We’re one of big languages in Ontario,” she says, “and one of the official languages in Canada.”
She's joined the growing chorus of voices who are fighting Ford's decision to cancel plans for a French university in Toronto and to axe Ontario's French Language commissioner, consolidating it with the ombudsman office.
Mortimer is so passionate in fact; she called the Premier of Ontario to complain. He called her back.
“I told him I’m afraid we're going to be pushed aside again,” she explains, “which is always what happens with Francophones, you know.”
Under growing criticism, Ontario's Minister for Francophone Affairs said the government is fulfilling its mandate to shrink the size of government.
‘‘What we did in this case,” Caroline Mulroney told reporters, “was to do that without having any impact on how we protect French language rights in this province.”
The federal government is criticizing this decision, too.
“We will continue to make sure to put pressure on Queen's Park,” Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Official Languages and La Francophonie said, “and the Conservative Party in Ontario and in Canada, the federal party because this is a question that is a national issue.”
People are mounting a political fight against the Ford government, holding rallies including one in Ottawa on Friday at the Human Rights Monument at 1:30 p.m. But there's a larger legal battle underway.
The same law firm that fought to save the Montfort Hospital two decades ago is once again front and centre in this fight.
Ron Caza led the legal charge when then-Premier Mike Harris announced the closure of the city's only francophone hospital.
Caza took it all the way to the Court of Appeal. And promises he'll do it again if he has to.
“If the premier insists on proceeding with what he is planning to do,” Caza said, “we have no choice but to take all the measures we need to take to preserve and make sure our rights are respected and our institutions kept.”
Caza explains that this is an issue of concern across Canada. On Thursday, lawyers specializing in constitutional law will have a tele-conference to discuss their next step in this challenge.
The concern is that this will re-ignite that French-English divide. It's been on simmer for years. Now Quebec is involved and, reluctantly, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, along with several hundred thousand Franco-Ontarians who are fed up, they say, with yet another assault on their culture. Graham.