10 May 2016

Patriquin: Why Quebec is fighting against [minority] language rights

Why Quebec is fighting against its language rights

Like much of its
brethren outside of Quebec, Yukon’s French population faces a constant
demographic challenge. Less than five per cent of the territory’s
population have French as a mother tongue, according to the most recent
census data. Survival of the language is largely predicated on French
institutions like École Émilie-Tremblay, Yukon’s sole French school.

In 2009, the Yukon government sought to strip the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon,
which oversees the school, of some of its funding and powers to recruit
students from beyond Yukon’s 1,630 francophones. The matter went all
the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The school board’s plight would seem to have a natural ally in the Quebec government,
often considered North America’s most formidable protector of the
French language. And the government did indeed intervene in the
case—against the school board. Giving the board such recruitment powers,
Quebec’s attorney general’s office argued, “would compromise the
fragile balance of Quebec’s linguistic dynamic.” Last May, the Supreme
Court rendered a decision that mostly sided with the Yukon government.

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