Montreal’s mayor criticized for too much English in city’s budget documents

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante sits next to executive committee president Benoit Dorais as the city releases its 2018 budget on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Global News

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is under fire over her administration’s newly released budget.

While the opposition has expressed its anger over tax increases, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste (SSJB), as well as Mouvement Montréal français (MMF), are taking aim not at the content of the budget — but its language.

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The full budget was released in  French, with highlights available in both French and English, something both groups argue should not happen in Montreal.

In a joint statement, SSJB president Maxime Laporte and MMF spokesperson Sophie Stanké, strongly condemned the new administration’s linguistic practices.

They refer to Article 1 of the city charter — which states Montreal is a French-language city — to make their point.

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“You’d think we were at the Parliament in Ottawa, rather than Montreal City Hall, a Quebec metropolis!” said Laporte.

Stanké expressed concerns the mayor is sending the wrong message, especially to new arrivals to the province, who should be encouraged to adopt French.

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“In light of data showing the constant decline of French, Valérie Plante should realize that it is her responsibility as mayor to send a clear message about the status of French in Montreal,” she said, adding that city is the main point of entry for new immigrants.

The Quebec Community Group Networks — a not-for-profit organization bringing together 53 English-language community organizations across the province — was critical of the joint statement, asking whether tax increases only affected French-speaking Montrealers.

A spokesperson for the mayor said the city would not be responding, saying the budget has always been released in French with highlights available in English.

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