Ontario mayor threatened over bilingual sign policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sun Sep 7 16:32:54 UTC 2008

Ont. mayor threatened over bilingual sign policy
    *David Gonczol* Canwest News Service
Saturday, September 06, 2008

 RUSSELL, Ont. - An Ontario mayor who divided his community by spearheading
a drive for bilingual business signs was under police guard during a parade
Saturday after "threatening comments were made."  Mayor Ken Hill of Russell
Township, outside Ottawa, and the Ontario Provincial Police were
tight-lipped about the exact nature of the threat. However, Hill made it
clear the threat involved more than thrown eggs or a pie in the face. The
mayor would not comment on whether the threats were made to him directly,
saying that was part of the police investigation.

"When someone makes a threat against a public official we have to take it
seriously," said Hill. In June, Hill led a successful yet bitterly contested
campaign to implement a bylaw that requires all new business signs in the
township to be bilingual. The bylaw was proposed and supported by
French-language activists in the largely French-speaking community of
Embrun, while fierce opposition, led by business leaders opposed to
government regulation of their enterprises, sprang from the mostly
English-speaking community of Russell.

There were no incidents during Saturday's parade. A police cruiser led the
parade, while another officer brought up the rear. Two officers guarded the
mayor as he rode through the town on a float, handing out candy to children.
OPP Sgt. Tony Collard said a suspect whom they believe made the threat was
identified and "spoken to."  "We don't know how serious the person was,"
said Sgt. Collard. But he added the threat and security situation were tied
directly to "what is going on in the township with the bilingual signs and
all the rest of it."

Donald St. Pierre, the councillor who cast the deciding vote on the sign
bylaw, rode with Hill in the parade float Saturday. On the night the
contentious bylaw was passed, St. Pierre told only French-language media
that someone had threatened to kill him if he voted in favour of the
bilingual sign bylaw. Meanwhile, English rights campaigner Howard Galganov,
who lives outside of the township, is funding a constitutional court
challenge in a bid to overturn the bylaw. He has also mailed a brochure to
every resident in the township suggesting a boycott of francophone-owned
businesses. French-language activists are now trying to put pressure on the
police, Canada Post and francophone provincial and federal politicians to
declare the boycott suggestion amounted to hate mail.

Ottawa Citizen


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