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HomeNewsFranco-Ontarians to protest outside Vic Fedeli's office

Franco-Ontarians to protest outside Vic Fedeli’s office

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Franco-Ontarians will be out in full force this Saturday outside the North Bay office of Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

The group, known as Resistance Nipissing, is holding a peaceful rally to protest Francophone services that were cut two weeks ago in the Tory government’s fall economic statement.

The cuts involve not moving ahead with a Francophone university and transferring the French-Language Services Commissioner to the office of the Ombudsman.

Michel Pagé, the rally organizer, says the North Bay protest is one of 40 going on across Ontario all at the same time.

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Although most of the protestors have targeted Tory MPP offices, Pagé notes non-Progressive Conservative MPP offices will also see protests.

“It’s to ensure the voice of Francophones is heard,” Pagé told Moose News.

Pagé says moving the language commissioner to the Ombudsman’s office saves no money at all so he questions why even bother.

But he notes the move will cost the language office its independence.

“The (language) commissioner’s job is solely to educate and defend Francophone rights to the provincial government,” he said.

“The Ombudsman’s job is a lot more reactive to complaints once there’s a problem while the language commissioner is there as a preventative (measure).”

Moose News asked Pagé if he thought the Tories had a hidden agenda in the works and he said no.

Rather, he believes the Francophone services are being cut as a result of a lack of “comprehension and understanding” on the part of the government.

Pagé says to Anglophones, the Francophone services that are being cut might not seem like much.

“But this is major for us because it’s all we have,” he said.

As for the cancellation of the planned Francophone university, Pagé says the post-secondary school has been a project that’s been in the works the last five years.

He says the staff was hired to ensure the university moved forward, a dean and president are also in place plus the university has a curriculum and charter.

“A lot has gone into this to make sure it would open by 2020,” Pagé said.

The school would have housed 4,000 students in its first year.

Pagé says with the cancellation, Francophone students will have to continue with the status quo which includes attending one of Ontario’s two bilingual universities.

However, Pagé says because of a lack of programming, at times Francophone students begin a program in French but never get the chance to complete it in French because the courses just aren’t there.

Pagé says a standalone Francophone university would be independent, have its own budget and make its own decisions.

He says “there’s an absolute need for qualified Francophones in the province”.

“We know there’s a shortage in many areas of industry and we know Francophones are in demand,” he said.

Pagé notes that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba all have standalone Francophone universities.

Saturday’s protest begins at 1:00pm.




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