Monday , April 19 2021

Simard calls proposed cuts for French services "one step ahead, three steps back" at city hall



Amanda Simard will return to her post at Queen's Park on Monday reinforced by a "resistance" movement that came out in force against the cuts proposed by Premier Doug Ford to the French-speaking services of the province.

It was a raucous town hall meeting inside the crowded Saint Isidore arena, while hundreds of French residents from neighboring communities, including Embrun, Russell, Alfred and Plantagenet, expressed their anguish and anger over the cuts proposed by the government.

The Tories announced last week that they were transferring the mandate of the French-speaking service commissioner to the Ontario ombudsman and dropping plans for a French-speaking autonomous university.

On Friday, after days of negative reaction, Ford said the government would create a position as French Service Commissioner in Providence's provincial office and would seek to transform the francophone affairs office into a full ministry led by Attorney General Caroline Mulroney .

"Personally, I think it's a step further by three steps back," Simard said of Sunday's proposal. "If we continue to make these concessions, there will not be much left in a few years."

Tory MPP Amanda Simard addressed a St. Isidore Recreation Center crowded over the proposed cuts to Francophone institutions, Sunday, November 25, 2018. Ashley Fraser / Postmedia

Ashley Fraser /

Postmedia

Simard, the largely francophone member of the Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, also serves as Mulroney's parliamentary secretary in his secondary role as minister responsible for Francophone affairs.

"I'm going back Monday morning and see how everything is," said Simard, who had been absent from the legislature for much of last week.

"This has been a very intense week, not just psychological, but there is a lot of logistics, reflecting and talking to the voters."

Simard received a scolding from his constituents in Sunday's prefecture, although many praised MPP for taking a "courageous" stance against the cuts proposed by his own government.

"This was a great day, but also with social media, now people are much more in touch with us and so we received lots of comments," Simard said.

"Now is the time to see if we can do something with this legislation.

Carol Jolin, president of the L & # 39; Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario (AFO), spoke in the media on Sunday. Ashley Fraser / Postmedia

Ashley Fraser /

Postmedia

We want to press first the reversal of the two decisions and then the legislation will come to the committee. I do not know if anyone will bring an amendment to make it happen, but we will have to see what the next steps are.

"This has been happening at a very fast speed and I think we have succeeded in some terms because there has been a reaction from the government and this is already a step. So now we can do more.

Simard said he was committed to working with the Ford government and appears to have poured cold water on a Toronto Star report, suggesting that PC Party members are increasingly worried about their possible defection from government benches.

Simard said he has no plans to cross the track.

"I do not know where this came from, but it did not come from me," she said at the end of a scrum with reporters after the city hall.

Simard tweeted a one-word message on Saturday, "Résistons (Resist)" accompanied by a letter signed by 111 "Francophone and Francophile" lawyers who supported his opposition to the government's plans.

Carol Jolin, president of the L & # 39; Assemblée de la Francophonie de L & # 39; Ontario, was greeted standing on Sunday while protesting against the cuts, which he said were not consulted by the community.

"It would have been great just to call us, just to talk to us. So we can sit down together and analyze the whole issue and try to find solutions together, "Jolin said. "And we need to get all the information because I have the feeling that the Ford administration does not understand the French-speaking community, not even the French commissioner of services, and what that means for the French-speaking community.

"I hope we have a call this week, the sooner the better."

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