CFN – To many, Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 will long be remembered as the day that an Eastern Ontario township Council (South Stormont) took a strong stand in support of Canadians’ inalienable right to freedom of expression. Why was that necessary? Language rights activist Howard Galganov will tell you it was essential to push back because in June an Ontario Court of Appeal judge ruled that, even though Russell Township’s forced bilingual sign law clearly violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is permissible to infringe on some of these rights in order to promote the agenda of some French language activists. Russell was the fourth Eastern Ontario township to adopt such a practice that dictates that all commercial signs be in French and English, even if the customers speak neither of those languages and without regard to need nor cost.
Galganov and Jean-Serge Brisson are in the process of a Supreme Court challenge to that ruling. However, Galganov is not putting all of his eggs in one basket. One township at a time he is working to get the remaining 440 Ontario townships not to infringe upon these inalienable (God-given) and Charter rights. Tuesday was South Glengarry’s turn to answer the challenge. The answer? We’ll deal with it at the next meeting.
Galganov did not miss the opportunity to remind his audience that our M.P. Guy Lauzon declined Galganov’s request to join him in taking a stand in South Stormont because the matter is “too controversial.”
It’s not o.k.! … If we wait for the politicians at the federal level, at the provincial level, we’ll be waiting for an awful long time. When a federal member of Parliament can’t stand up and say ‘I support freedom of expression; I support the Canadian Constitutional rights’, what’s to say!
158 Canadians have died fighting for the rights and freedoms of others [in Afghanistan] and we’re too frightened to fight for our own rights and freedoms here just by affirming our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms!
Galganov received a round of applause during his closing, when he requested of Council:
If any of the Councillors, in this case, Mr. Bougie, would present the resolution, and at the same time, present a motion to have it voted on tonight, because if we can’t figure out whether we should stand for Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, then let’s not have any vote ever.
Mayor Ian McLeod did acknowledge that this was not in accord with standard practice, but opened the floor to input from the councillors.
Councillor Frank Prevost expressed a desire that normal procedure of seeking input from administration be followed. He indicated that he was not opposed to the resolution, just not certain that it was necessary and wanted to give the two absent Council members further opportunity for input. The room resounded with boos in response.
Councillor Trevor Bougie gave his support to Prevost’s rationale.
A member of the audience asked that the resolution be read for their benefit just the same and was told that it was not available. Howard Galganov got to his feet and reminded Council that the CAO was indeed in possession of the resolution. CAO Derik Brandt did then acknowledge that he was in receipt of the resolution which was identical to the one passed by South Stormont, except that the final clause had been deleted. However, he declined to have it read at the meeting.
Will November 13, 2012 share a similar degree of fame as September 26th or will it be one of notoriety? Many eyes will be on South Glengarry Council at their next meeting in two weeks’ time, watching to see just how important human rights are to the Council. Any bets on whether or not the press and crowd will be back?
…we’re talking about the Charter of Rights, so why do you need a recommendation? It doesn’t make any sense to me … We opened the door for them in South Stormont; we made it easier for them. This is easy for them now. We stuck our necks out. It’s not an anti-French decision that we made; we give everybody the opportunity to put up their signs in any language. We didn’t mandate the use of any language on any sign. That’s what everybody wants. What threat is there? Why would anybody say it’s wrong to pass that.
These Councillors are used to having maybe ten [people in the gallery] and this decision to let this be delayed for two weeks, with the booing of at least 50-60 people, certainly makes a big impact. I’m sure they’ll have to think about this.
I don’t know why the decision is so hard; we have our young people overseas fighting for the very rights that they [South Glengarry Council] are unwilling to stand up for. It would be nice to see some Councillors, other than those in South Stormont, get the cahoonas to speak out for freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and all those rights that God gave us.
It’s quite disgraceful that the Council didn’t have the courage to even read the proposal. The excuses they gave were not good enough because they knew that there were people coming to listen, and they had the resolution … the basic thing is that they didn’t have the courage, and I think that they were intimidated by the number of French people in the audience. They were definitely intimidated.
“Jane Doe”, camera-shy former Quebecer living in South Glengarry:
I was in absolute shock. Coming here from the bordering province of Quebec, and having lived [there] and not having a constitution that anybody would stand up for, coming to Ontario thinking that the Canadian Constitution means something that people fought for and died for, to [tonight] watch any sense of Canadianism walk out that door, makes me ill in my belly. This isn’t about language; this is about human rights.
Our video clip shows Howard Galganov’s appeal to Council, Council’s response as well as comments made by supporters.
There you have it folks! In two week’s time we’ll report what the South Glengarry Council decides to do about this matter which has been placed before them.
Feel free to vote and rate this article as well as any comments which are posted below. Please, let’s not resort to unhelpful name calling and needless repetition of points once they been well-articulated. How does South Glengarry Council’s (non)decision sit with our viewers?
Don Smith reports on a variety of topics, notably good news items as well as social justice issues.
(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)