Local Francophones joined the province-wide protests against the PC government on Saturday afternoon, banding together in front of local MPP Ross Romano’s Sault Ste. Marie office.
Sporting green and white attire – the colours of the French flag – protestors chanted and held up signs, cheering loudly as passers-by honked their horns in support.
This protest comes after the PC government’s announcement to remove the province’s French-language Commissioner as well as to scrap plans for a French-language university in the GTA.
“We’re just trying to prove to (Ford) that we might be a minority, but we are here to stay and we do have rights,” Centre Francophone de Sault-Ste-Marie President Jessica Torrance told SaultOnline. “And we are hoping that this will make him think again and put back in place the Commissioner and also do something about the French university.”
In a statement last week, Ford said his government will be creating the position of a French-Language Services Commissioner within the provincial ombudsman’s office, and is seeking to turn the office of francophone affairs into a ministry.
Torrance said they didn’t get a chance to speak to Romano (at the time this article was posted), but are hoping they have the opportunity to in the near future.
She said protesting this is important to her because up her upbringing. Raised in the small town of Dubreuilville, she grew up speaking French. She said
“Being able to speak French is very, very important,” she said. “I see around here, around everywhere in Ontario, that it’s hard for kids to understand how important it is to speak French and keep your French, so I’m hoping that this here will prove to the kids, to everybody around us, that being French is who we are – we want to keep that and that it’s not because you’re French that you don’t have rights, it’s not because you’re French that you’re unimportant. So that’s our point today, to show everybody that we’re here to stay.”