An English community group says provincial political parties need to do a better job recruiting anglophone candidates.
"Any government should be representing all Quebecers. So if there are high percentages of women, anglophones, allophones, any cultural community minority, those should be presented in political parties,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, president of the anglophone-rights group Quebec Community Groups Network.
According to the 2011 census, a total of 599,230 people — or 7.7 per cent of Quebecers — identified English as their mother tongue.
Quebec’s chief electoral office does not keep track of candidates’ maternal language, but the list of MNAs elected in 2012 shows about 10 people with anglophone or allophone last names.
Martin-Laforge says that having anglophone representation and candidates who speak English is critical for any party who wants to form a government.
“It’s not just about the PQ (Parti Québécois). It’s about the Liberals and the CAQs (Coalition Avenir Québec) as well. We have to make them understand what the needs of this linguistic minority are, and have them consider them in their platforms,” she said, adding that there are anglophone communities who live in regions such as the Gaspé, the Eastern Townships and in northeastern Quebec along the Labrador border.
Anglophone candidates in 2014 election
CBC’s Daybreak host Mike Finnerty spoke with members of the main political parties to find out what role anglophone candidates will play in the 2014 election.
The Parti Québécois, with its voter base in Quebec’s French and pro-separatist population, doesn’t have any anglophone candidates running in the 2014 election.
"We do not have anglo candidates. Our candidates are bilingual and francophone," said PQ spokeswoman Antonine Yaccarini.
Yaccarini said the party has no policy against anglophone candidates, but if an English-speaking candidate did decide to run, they would have to speak French.
The other three main parties are running anglophone candidates.
Two English-speaking candidates are running in one of Montreal’s more diverse ridings — Notre-Dame-de-Grâce — where 41 per cent of people are anglophone.
Coalition Avenir Québec’s NDG candidate Noah Sidel and Liberal NDG incumbent Kathleen Weil spoke with CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty on Thursday.
Québec Solidaire NDG candidate Annick Desjardins also joined the discussion.
Sidel says the CAQ embraces candidates from all language groups. He says he was sought out for his anglophone roots.
“What’s really important isn’t necessarily whether the candidate is anglophone … but also [that they] understand the community they come from and is able to communicate with everyone in that community.
Weil says being bilingual isn't enough — she says it’s important for parties to have representatives with roots in all communities.
“When you talk about language legislation, it’s very, very pertinent to have people who actually come from the community. They feel it viscerally on issues like the charter,” Weil told CBC’s Daybreak.
“I will tell you that the Liberal party, when they went to recruit me, they were clearly looking for somebody from the English-speaking community, who was bilingual.”
Desjardins says that even though she isn’t an anglophone, the majority of her campaign workers are.
“We’re not disconnected. You need to be able to speak to your constituents and to represent them well, and that’s what we do at Quebec Solidaire,” she said.