CFN – Regular readers of Cornwall Free News will recall our recent report detailing the South Stormont Council decision to, as one daily paper put it: “enshrine the status quo” with regards to acceptable languages on outdoor signs. Some French media outlets have been using a good deal of ink to put forth the notion that the landmark decision by South Stormont is nothing more than a meaningless, feel good exercise. Really! What they failed to adequately address is that the “status quo” is eminently more fair than four other Eastern Ontario township edicts that dictate that both French and English wording must appear in perfectly equal size lettering. It’s a hotly debated topic as to whether or not those bylaws rule out the possibility of other languages being present on the signs, since no mention is made of other languages. No doubt legal challenges can be anticipated. Some have raised the question: “Are some townships being pressured from special interest groups to give a distinct advantage to one minority language among many other minority languages here in Canada?” It is our understanding that the South Stormont bylaw is, in part, meant to address this type of encroachment. For example, if a business person wishes to advertise products/services in Chinese, Italian, Tagalog, Polish, Sinhala, Tamil, Hungarian, Lilliputian or any language, South Stormont Council has recognized that as his/her right and will not interfere with that choice. The decision does not take away any right or responsibility to be factual and nondefamatory. It is noteworthy that Montreal’s largest English language weekly newspaper, The Suburban, recognized that this approach is not at all anti-French, as some claim. Rather, it respects the rights of Francophones to be able to post signs exclusively in French if they so desire. Unilingual, bilingual, multilingual – the freedom of choice is maintained.
While no doubt already pondering this issue, Council acted on an appeal from language rights advocate Howard Galganov. It’s fair to say that it was clear from the outset of his campaign that Galganov’s goal is not simply to have one municipality exhibit some common sense in this regard, but to wake up and give courage to others to give due consideration and to respect the Charter Rights of all Canadians, not just those of one or two linguistic groups.
Howard phoned to give CFN a scoop as to his next step. He reports having met over lunch yesterday with South Glengarry Mayor, Ian McLeod, accompanied by South Stormont Mayor, Bryan McGillis. During the meeting, Galganov gave Mayor McLeod a heads up concerning his intention to officially request delegate status to speak before South Glengarry Council at their November 13th meeting. Delegate status is being sought today. Galganov hopes to present a motion that Council vote on an identical resolution as was passed as a bylaw by South Stormont. Reportedly McLeod was cordial, but understandably non-commital of his Council.
To help people gain a better understanding of the issues, between now and the time of the Council meeting, Galganov plans to be busy publishing and distributing 5,000 four colour brochures to all residents and farms in South Glengarry. Such campaigns typically cost thousands of dollars to roll out. Galganov welcomes financial and other assistance from like-minded persons who support freedom of expression.
Stay tuned for updates as they become available!
Don Smith reports on a variety of topics, notably good news items as well as social justice issues.