CFN – On Saturday, at his sprawling Maple Ponds Equestrian Centre in Williamstown, human rights activist Howard Galganov and his wife Anne hosted a bbq lunch, rally and fundraiser. About 100 invited guests from places such as Cornwall and area, Ottawa, Toronto, Timmins, Montreal, and further afield, enjoyed the burgers, sausages, salads and desserts over conversation. They also received an update on the battle for freedom of expression in Canada.
Galganov rallied the troops with his words: “This campaign has become invigorated … we’re no longer playing defence; we’re playing offence. We’re not going to wait for yet another law to come and take away our rights … We have choices in life and they’re simple. It’s fight or flight. … Don’t allow anyone to ever tell you that you’re a racist or a bigot or anti-French because you’re standing up for your rights to be a majority. … We are 96% of the population and it’s time that we behaved like 96% of the (Ontario) population.”
Galganov was quick to point out that he’s not advocating any kind of a witch hunt and that this isn’t a battle between English and French. He reiterated his previous promise never to support a discriminatory Bill 101 type of law here in Ontario. Identifying the source of the issue, Galganov pointed out that: “There is a small group of Franco activists who are going to do whatever they can to usurp our rights.” It has been noted that, in Cornwall, La Société pour la Promotion du Bilinguisme has been going door to door advising business people of their “obligations under the law.”
He addressed the topic of the recent court ruling in Ontario’s Russell Township and outlined a plan of action to counter it. A group of French language activists in Ontario’s Russell Township (a community of 15,000 near Ottawa) was unsatisfied that only 70% of local commercial establishments displayed bilingual signs (in unilingual English Ontario), so they lobbied municipal Council to force the issue. Amid great controversy, Council passed a by-law by a vote of 3-2, which requires all new exterior commercial signs to be English/French bilingual, with the size and style of lettering being identical in both languages. Seeing this as an unnecessary infringement, two area residents challenged the bylaw. The owner of a radiator repair shop, Jean-Serge Brisson is fully bilingual, but chose to erect a sign that displayed the business name in English and its services in French. Howard Galganov, a bilingual Anglophone had posted a sign only in English. In 2010 the Superior Court of Justice ruled against both men. Subsequently the Court of Appeal ruled that the bylaw does indeed violate citizens’ Charter rights to freedom of expression. Quoting the Supreme Court of Canada, the Appeal court stated that: “Freedom consists in an absence of compulsion.” Incredibly the Appeal court went on to say that the violation was reasonable and justified.
Galganov Dot Com Inc and the Ottawa based Canadians for Language Fairness have joined forces to spearhead a Supreme Court challenge to the Ontario Court of Appeal decision which permits the violation of Non-Francophone Charter rights. The challenge will be on the basis that, by forcing people to use the language of others, the ruling violates section 2b of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was created to guarantee freedom of expression.
Other planned activities include a campaign whereby full colour glossy brochures are being delivered to businesses in small town Ontario, educating them on the extent to which minority French language rights have trampled on the rights of those functioning in another language in Ontario and possibly soon in the rest of Canada. Here’s a snapshot from the brochure which invites others to join in funding the court battle.
Guests included some members of the allied language rights groups: Canadians for Language Fairness and the local Language Fairness for All as well as some politicians and political candidates. Many “ordinary folk” came out to show their support as well.
Bryan McGillis, Mayor of South Stormont, was in attendance. He agreed to explore the legal implications closely, and may opt to seek the support of his Council to pass a resolution guaranteeing that South Stormont will never introduce a bylaw that takes away from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, should South Stormont pass such a bylaw, McGillis will table a motion that the municipality propose to other municipalities that they adopt a similar stance.
The video clip below is included as part of a DVD package which is being promoted by Canadians for Language Fairness as a “how we got into this mess” brief explanation.
Being a gracious host, as part of the gathering Galganov invited guests to enjoy five miles of groomed trails including a picnic area in the pines. Some even got to view it aboard his Kubota and wagons – a ride which rivals many a midway, but cannot be purchased at any price!