Sudbury

Motion to reinstate French language commissioner and French university voted down

A motion to completely restore French Language Services Commissioner and proceed with a French Language University in Ontario has been defeated.

Motion not carried, despite PC MPP plea to have it pass

MPPs from a number of parties debated the motion on Wednesday at Queen's Park. (CBC)

A motion to completely restore the French Language Services Commissioner and move forward with a French Language University in Ontario has been defeated.

The NDP put forward the motion at Queen's Park. It was debated on Wednesday afternoon.

In its fall economic statement, the Progressive Conservative government announced plans to eliminate the position of the French language services commissioner and scrap plans to build a French university as part of its plan to balance the budget.

The decision prompted a backlash from Francophones, the federal government and Quebec's new premier.

The province revised its plans by saying the position of the French language services commissioner would fall under the ombudsman's office. However, it said it would not be restoring funding for the French-language university.

During the debate on Wednesday, members of a number of political parties spoke.

Nickel Belt NDP MPP France Gelinas says the cuts by the Ford government feel like a "stab in the heart" for Francophones.

France Gelinas is the New Democrat MPP for Nickel Belt. (Legislative Assembly of Ontario)

She says work to get a French-language university in Ontario has been ongoing for 40 years.

"Then, a the bottom of a page of a document, the dream and hard work of Francophones … would not happen," she said.

"It's not acceptable."

Ottawa West-Nepean PC MPP Jeremy Roberts says the government has already addressed the issue by revising its original plans. He says the government is standing firm on its decision to cancel the French-language university.

"We were elected on a promise to get our finances in order," he said.

"We received a deficit of $15 billion from the previous government. I take this very seriously because I know it's my generation and my children's generation as well as the generation of my grandchildren who will face this challenge."

PC MPP Amanda Simard called on her colleagues to support the NDP motion. (Radio-Canada)

But not all members of the Progressive Conservatives agree with the party's decision. Glengarry-Prescott-Russell PC MPP Amanda Simard has openly criticized her party for the cuts. On Wednesday, she spoke during the debate.

"The government's proposal is one step forward but three steps backwards," she said.

"If we make this concession, there will be nothing left in a few years."

She requested her colleagues support the motion, however, in the end, it was defeated.

Despite the government's revised plans, protest rallies will be taking place in front of 41 MPP offices this Saturday.

About the Author

Martha Dillman is a multimedia journalist based in Sudbury. You can find her on Twitter @marthaCBC or by email martha.dillman@cbc.ca

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