Premier Philippe Couillard is trying to encourage anglophones who’ve left the province to come back home. It’s not the first time he’s delivered that message and he says he has a plan to entice them.
“At certain moments of our history, our fellow English-speaking Quebecers have not always felt entirely welcome in their home province,” Premier Couillard said during a speech Thursday afternoon in the National Assembly.
Quebec has changed, the premier said, and he insisted the province is more and more bilingual and open to English speakers:
“To those English-speaking Quebecers living in Toronto or elsewhere in Canada, proudly wearing Montreal Canadiens jerseys on game nights, I say it’s time, if you want, to come home to Quebec,” he said.
READ MORE: Quebec appoints Anglophone liaison
The premier denies this is just lip service to win anglo votes. He reiterated his promise for an Anglophone Affairs Office and cabinet minister, something the Parti Quebecois had when it was in government. Couillard said English speakers will now be systematically consulted on future bills.
“The secretariat is going to be located at the highest level of civil service,” Couillard said.
The premier made these comments during a visit by Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne. Their two cabinets had a joint meeting Friday.
“I quite admire the way Premier Wynne is improving services for Franco-Ontarians,” Premier Couillard said Friday.
Couillard said he will follow suit to improve government services in English, particularly for anglophones in rural Quebec, where English communities are shrinking. He said a growing Quebec economy will also help to entice people to return.
Premier Wynne said she’s making the same plea to Ontarians who’ve moved to Silicon Valley.
“If someone has moved away from Ontario or Quebec because of a certain circumstance that has changed, then why wouldn’t we tell them there’s been another change and welcome them back?” she said.
Premier Couillard said since the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of anglophones have left Quebec. He said he doesn’t expect for them to come flooding back all at once. What he wants is to change the message so that those who’ve left and those who’ve stayed know they’re welcome.