Franco-Ontarians protest Ford government’s cuts to services for French-speakers

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OTTAWA — Franco-Ontarians and their supporters are gathering across the province to protest Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to services for French-speakers.

Many are donning the green-and-white flag that represents Ontario francophones as they rally to denounce the Ford government’s decision to scrap plans for a standalone French-language university and eliminate the independent office of the French-language services commissioner.

The largest of the 40 or so rallies is expected to be in Ottawa, where the crowd will include a number of politicians including federal Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

The Ford government’s moves sparked widespread anger within French-speaking communities in Ontario and Quebec and have been publicly denounced by the Quebec legislature.

Ontario legislator Amanda Simard, who represents a riding with a large number of French-speakers, severed ties with the Progressive Conservative party this week after failing to convince Ford to reverse the cuts.

Ford has sought to soften his decision by announcing he would create a commissioner position within the office of the provincial ombudsman, establish a Ministry of Francophone Affairs, and hire a senior policy adviser on francophone affairs in the premier’s office.

The Canadian Press