All eyes on South Glengarry over Freedom of Expression by Don Smith

All eyes on South Glengarry over Freedom of Expression by Don Smith
South Glengarry Council – decision to respect Charter of Rights & Freedoms DEFERRED

– This coming Monday evening, South Glengarry Township will finally vote on the proposed bylaw which was before Council at their November 13 2012 meeting.  Council was asked to adopt a similar bylaw to that of South Stormont on September 26 2012:

Whereas the Constitution of Canada provides, in paragraph 2 (b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that everyone is entitled to freedom of expression; And whereas Council of the Township of South Stormont believes that the economic and environmental well-being of the municipality requires that the constitutional right to freedom of expression be rigorously respected. Now therefore be it resolved that Council fully supports local businesses in the municipality and encourages business owners to embrace the rights expressed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with respect to freedom of expression and furthermore, will not mandate the use of any language for advertising purposes in the Township of South Stormont, and therefore instructs staff to amend the municipal sign by-law in this regard.   Proposed resolution to respect Canadians’ Charter Freedom of Expression

Howard Galganov had met with Township officials prior to the Council meeting and the officials had already made a minor ammendment to the wording to reflect the creation of a new bylaw rather than an amendment to an existing bylaw as was the case with South Stormont. There has been much speculation as to why Council simply didn’t vote yes or no the day that Howard Galganov appeared before Council as arranged.  Galganov, Canadians for Language Fairness and Language Fairness for All invested time and financial resources in promoting this “vote” as an occasion for supporters to attend in number to show support.  By all appearances, Galganov and the public was led to believe that an actual vote would occur at that November 13 meeting.  Furthermore, at the Council meeting, the public was invited back to the next meeting of Council to witness the vote.  However, early the next morning a local media outlet reported that Council had no intention of voting on the matter until the new year.  What’s with that!  It’s been suggested that perhaps someone should be re-imbursing those groups for funds that were spent in good faith.

“Brandt says council will likely hear the staff report and vote on the resolution in January.” Appeared in a news article November 14 2012

In a previous CFN article, we reported on some apparent double-standards in Russell Township.  The publicly funded La Maison des Arts replaced it’s sign with a new high tech version – with scrolling messages appearing in French only.  Canadians for Language Fairness spokesperson, Beth Trudeau, addressed this matter in a regional newspaper and seems to have had a response by the centre’s board.  It seems that some folks would prefer no scrolling message at all if they can’t appear in French only.

“Since my interview with the Russell Villager was printed, La Maison des Arts TURNED OFF the bottom portion and have not run a message in Neon since.” Beth Trudeau, Canadians for Language Fairness

Here are the old and new versions of the hard-to-miss, La Maison des Arts outdoor sign. Staff claim to be exempt from the Russell Township bylaw because they provide French education.

We’ve heard no further word on whether or not it will take Russell Township an additional 30 years to get around to honouring its commitment to convert all French-only signs on government buildings to bilingual versions.

Russell Township imposes bilingual sign requirements on private businesses, yet displays French only signs on Township buildings like this one.

In a recent press release, Trudeau stated: “It will be very interesting to see whether or not Russell Township will now rescind the sign bylaw. Russell Township booted out the three politicians the next municipal election, who forced this by-law on us (even though the committee that they formed told them NOT to do it) and kept the two politicians who voted against the sign by-law. The excuse that Russell Township was not able to rescind the by-law until the court hearings were complete can no longer be used. I have it on very good authority that a motion to rescind the by-law will be forthcoming very shortly and that two of the politicians from Embrun, will be voting to have it rescinded. That will leave it up to one of the two politicians (both representing town of Russell and who voted against the by-law the first time round) to support having it rescinded. The Russell candidates votes were not needed to pass the by-law in 2008 and had they opted to vote in favour of the by-law, they would have been booted out too, as they very well knew.”

Trudeau is referring to the December 6 2012 Supreme Court decision not to hear the appeal by Howard Galganov and Jean-Serge Brisson against Russell Township.  We caught up with Galganov the day after the non-decision came down.  As you’ll hear in our video clip, the language war is anything but over.  It seems that human rights defenders are not about to roll over and play dead by allowing a court decision, even a Supreme Court non-decision, to over-ride Canadians’ inalienable and Charter Freedom of Expression.

Will South Glengarry follow the lead of South Stormont in refusing to over-ride this inalienable right? The South Glengarry Council meeting will get underway Monday January 14th at 7 p.m. Prior to the vote, two unrelated  presentations totalling about 20 minutes will occur. Language Fairness for All, Canadians for Language Fairness and Howard Galganov encourage supporters and everyone who is concerned about forced bilingualism and the general diminishing of the democratic process to show support by their presence at the first part of the Council meeting.

South Glengarry Township Hall – Meeting Location

Don Smith reports on a variety of topics, notably good news items as well as social justice issues.

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