In 2020, Montreal’s Dawson College was promised $100 million in fast-tracked funds. This was to compensate for a well-documented space shortage recognized by the standards of the ministry for higher education in Quebec. Wrongly labeled as an “expansion project” to support fears of the Anglicization of the population, these funds would not have increased student admissions but instead provided much needed space.
Premier of Quebec François Legault, leader of the nationalist « Coalition Avenir Quebec » (CAQ), stands by the decision to cancel funding for Dawson College. As can be expected, its French-language counterparts in the junior college system, or Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEPs), become the recipient of the funds.
“This should come to no surprise to anyone,” says Giovanni Bisciglia a political activist and health worker.
« Being an election year, the CAQ hinges on the protection of the French language against English speakers. This shows loyalty to (both) separatists and nationalists, a move that will undoubtedly increase support. » He continued « More importantly we are getting a prevue of how Quebec may look like after Bill 96 (Projet de loi n° 96): “An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec.” Becomes law. It stipulates in the preamble :The purpose of this bill is to affirm that the only official language of Québec is French. It also affirms that French is the common language of the Québec nation. ». How is this going to impact the 1 million English speakers of the province and its anglophone institutes?
Mr. Bisciglia is concerned because « the linguistic Robin Hood of Premier Legault stealing from the English institutions and giving it to French institutions is a symptom of a much larger and systemic problem : a restructuring of Quebec society beyond language politics into the erosion of basic equality by replacing it with favoritism (the very heart of bill 96). He quotes a section of the proposed Bill: « “Whereas, in accordance with parliamentary sovereignty, it is incumbent on the Parliament of Québec to confirm the status of French as the official language and the common language….while ensuring a balance between the collective rights of the Québec nation and human rights and freedoms;”. » And I quote:
« The bill specifies that it has effect despite certain provisions of the Charter of human rights and freedoms and the Constitution Act, 1982. »
« You have 2 categories of rights in Bill 96 collective rights of the Quebec nation and individual rights where the collective is decided by the majority French population. Where does that leave the non francophones and English institutions like Dawson College? On top of that, Bill 96 is also in effect regardless of established constitutional rights! » Remember that Quebec invoked section 33(the nonwithstanding clause which allows a province to bypass large sections of federal Canadian charter of rights and freedoms for 5 years). »
Bisciglia states: « What we are witnessing with Dawson College is the beginning of the creation of a hierarchy of needs defined by the majority where the needs of the Franco majority must always trump any other needs. Hence a society which will ignore the needs of minority, and in particular anglophones. »
Bisciglia quotes another section of Bill 96: « CHAPTER VIII.2 THE COMMON LANGUAGE
“88.9. As the common language of the Québec nation, French is, among other things, (2) the language of intercultural communication that enables all Quebecers to participate in public life in Québec society »
If you are a unilingual anglophone or italophone or of any other language group you cannot participate in Quebec society. Read carefully, they have managed to legislate in what language you are to communicate inter-culturally: Can I legally speak in English to a unilingual polish immigrant if French is « the language of intercultural communication »?
If you take the sum total of the articles of Bill 96 and what is happening with Dawson and thx political shift it’s pointing to one conclusion : Quebec minorities stripped of the protection (of the law now constructed) to favour the French majority with no possibility of remedy are becoming part of a North American « untouchable » class in society. I am referring to the Indian caste system. Dawson College is its first casualty.