Quebec school wants to rid itself of English

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Dec 17 16:54:19 UTC 2006

 Sunday  December 17  2006

Quebec school wants to rid itself of English

Dave Rogers Ottawa Citizen

The Universite du Quebec en Outaouais, which says its mission includes the
struggle against exclusion, is consulting the public and the university
community about a plan to rid itself of English-language students and
professors. Rector Jean Vaillancourt said Gatineau's francophone university
will accept submissions on the future of its English-language MBA and
graduate project management programs until Feb. 16, and then decide
whether they should be scrapped.

Jan Saint-Macary, head of the English and French MBA programs, said it
would be wrong to exclude anglophone students from post-secondary
education in the Outaouais because they and their parents pay Quebec
taxes. Mr. Saint-Macary said universities in French-speaking communities
like Montreal, Sherbrooke and Abitibi Tmiscamingue offer English-language
courses and there is no good reason for the UQO to discontinue them. This
is the third time the university has tried to eliminate English-language
courses in recent years. Mr. Saint-Marcary said English-language programs
should continue because they are profitable and make the 25-year-old
university better known throughout North America.

Mr. Macary said the public consultation is bogus and amounts to linguistic
cleansing because the university administration already decided that the
school should become a French-only institution. He said eliminating the
courses would affect up to 400 of the universitys 5,500 students and could
mean the loss of more than 25 teaching jobs. Mr. Vaillancourt said said
the consultation will allow the university to better serve its community.

The Universite du Quebec en Outaouais was created as a francophone
university, Mr. Vaillancourt said. The reality at the university is that
life is in French, we work in French, study in French and French is the
language of communication. Mr. Vaillancourt said the university is not
excluding anybody, but is inviting the public to comment on its language
policy. I cannot predict the board's decision--it is a board decision, Mr.
Vaillancourt said. It is business as usual at UQO today and the programs
are functioning. The anglophone students are not a threat to the
university. This is not an issue of insecurity or linguistic cleansing it
is an exercise in consultation. We are inviting everybodys opinion so we
can finally make a good decision.

Brian Gibb, director of the Regional Association of West Quebecers, said
the proposal to eliminate the two English-language graduate programs shows
how ungenerous part of the francophone majority is toward the anglophone
minority in the Outaouais. There are 50,000 English-speaking people in the
Outaouais, but no university courses other than these two programs Mr.
Gibb said. If they discontinue them, more people will have go to Ottawa
and pay triple the tuition, or attend McGill University or Concordia in
Montreal. This is not an equitable offering of educational opportunities
and it is contrary to the spirit of universities which normally teach
courses in a variety of languages.

The French language is doing very well throughout the world and the
presence of English-speakers in Quebec does not threaten it. Anyone who
wants to comment on the universitys proposed language policy can send
e-mail messages to dcr at

 Ottawa Citizen 2006


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