[lg policy] Canada: Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens upsets French community

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 19:51:19 UTC 2015

 Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens upsets French community
'If we were look at other languages spoken in the community, we'd find
others we should support,' Dilkens says

CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364>
Dec 09, 2015 9:29 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 09, 2015 11:23 AM ET
[image: Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens seemed to downplay whether the City of
Windsor should offer services in French when asked by a Radio-Canada if it
should do so.]

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens seemed to downplay whether the City of Windsor
should offer services in French when asked by a Radio-Canada if it should
do so. (Drew Dilkens Campaign)

French-speaking Ontarians, including the province's high-ranking minister
of francophone affairs, are lashing out at Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens for
comments he made at an event celebrating French history.

At the opening of the museum exhibit entitled Windsor's French Roots, at
Maison Francois Baby House, last week, Dilkens acknowledged French
"absolutely is" one of Canada's official languages.

But he seemed to downplay whether the City of Windsor should offer services
in French.

"The challenge in a city like Windsor is you have the fourth-most diverse
community in Canada, so we have lots of languages that are spoken here,
too. If you start going down the road and doing one over the other…,"
Dilkens said before a Radio-Canada reporter interrupted and reminded him
French is one of Canada's official languages.

"But I bet if we were look at other languages spoken in the community, we'd
find others we should support as well," Dilkens said.

You can listen to the exchange in the play below:
Dilkens and Francophones

*Dilkens and Francophones*8:45

The city's language policy doesn't contravene any law.

The French Language Services Act of 1986 guarantees an individual's right
to receive services in French from Government of Ontario ministries and
agencies in 26 designated areas of the province.

However, municipalities are not required to offer French-language services,
even in the designated areas. The municipalities themselves are responsible
for deciding whether or not to provide their services in French.

Still, the mayor's remarks led Ontario Attorney General and Minister
Responsible for Francophone Affairs Madeleine Meilleur to speak out.
'I was disappointed'

Unsolicited, Meilleur contacted Radio-Canada.

"I was disappointed to read the answer of the mayor. We have a school
board, a campus of the College Boreal, so the francophone community of
Windsor are proud of their origin and proud of the culture," she said.

In 1749, the French established a mission called L'Assomption or sometimes
called Petite-Cote, on the Detroit River. The first parish was established
in 1767 and a school followed in 1786. The settlement eventually became
part of Windsor.

"This incident happened at an event where they celebrating the 400th
anniversary of French presence in Windsor and Ontario," Meilleur said.

She suggested Windsor's French community and the mayor have a conservation
about French heritage.

According to Statistics Canada, 72.9 per cent of the Windsor population
reported English only as mother tongue, while 3.3 per cent reported it as
French and 21.5 per cent reported only a non-official language as its
mother tongue.

In the same year, 84.1 per cent of the population spoke only English most
often at home, while 0.9 per cent spoke only French and 11.1 per cent spoke
only a non-official language at home.
'Unfortunate' statement

Jean Sauve is a Windsor resident and high school teacher who didn't like
what the mayor said.

He called the statement "unfortunate" and "a mistake."

"The mayor is obviously intelligent and an educated man. As a politician
responsible for such a great city he should understand the past, history
and heritage and the place of the language and culture in the city," Sauve
said. "If we keep putting French aside like that I believe slowly it will

"French is not a second-grade language. It's in the constitution. It's in
our Charter of Rights. It has to be respected."

Sauve said the city shouldn't be required by law to offer services in both
languages but he would like to see more French-speaking employees working
for the City of Windsor.

"Linguistically and culturally our country is built on the respect of the
two founding cultures and languages. And we have to provide proper respect
and services to all the citizens of the country," Sauve said.

CBC has reached out to Dilkens but hasn't yet heard back from the mayor.


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