Why Doug Ford’s Franco-Ontarian cost-cutting could spell trouble for Andrew Scheer
What’s been called a “sad day for Franco-Ontarians” presents a challenge for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer — not only in Ontario but in every part of the country where francophones live.
The Conservatives are hoping to replicate Premier Doug Ford’s electoral success in Ontario and see him as a key ally in the fight against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax. But they also have great hopes of wooing Quebec voters — hopes that could be dashed if Scheer is unable to reconcile his support for Ford with his pitch to the francophone voters now angered by Ford’s actions.
In its fiscal update on Thursday, Ford’s government announced it would be cancelling a project to build a long-awaited French-language university in Toronto and would be abolishing the position of the French language services commissioner.
These decisions hit Franco-Ontarians hard and the reaction has been swift and furious. The front page of Le Droit, a major Franco-Ontarian newspaper, called it a “black day for francos.” Francophone organizations and associations across the province have denounced the move and say they are prepared to contest it in the courts.
But French-speakers in Ontario weren’t the only ones who took notice. In New Brunswick and Manitoba, concerns are being raised about what it signals for the francophone minorities in those provinces.
This is an especially sensitive issue in New Brunswick, where a new Progressive Conservative government is taking office that is dependent for survival on the People’s Alliance, a party that wants to roll back some parts of the province’s Official Languages Act.
Quebec’s French-language media — which normally would pay little attention to a provincial fiscal update in Ontario — also jumped on the news. Le Devoir reported the decision under the headline, “Doug Ford sacrifices Ontario francophones.” Le Journal de Montréal, a widely-read and generally conservative-leaning paper, called it a “sad day.”
Quebec Premier François Legault, a small-c conservative himself, also expressed his concerns and said he would take up the issue with his Ontario counterpart. The mayor of Quebec City — the municipality at the centre of the region where most of the Conservatives’ seats in the province are located — denounced the move as mean-spirited and provocative. (Source: CBC News)