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Greenfield Park asserts its bilingual status amid Longueuil’s push for francization

Greenfield Park borough hall. Thursday May 20, 2021. Sylvain Trudeau / Global News

The borough of Greenfield Park is celebrating a language victory amid a push from the city of Longueuil, Que., to increase the use of French in the agglomeration.

The borough has adopted a resolution that brings it one step closer to guaranteeing that their anglophone citizens will still have their communications with the city in English.

Greenfield Park is a borough within the agglomeration of Longueuil but it’s known for its high population of anglophones — 25 per cent of its citizens.

The move was made after Bill 96 — the province’s language reform to promote French — was tabled. In one of the bill’s provisions, boroughs or cities that want to keep their bilingual status can do so by passing a resolution.

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On Tuesday, Longueuil passed a resolution enforcing the city’s use of French in all communications except for emergencies.

Up until Bill 96 was tabled, councilors were worried Greenfield Park would lose its bilingual status after that resolution was adopted.

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“It’s very possible we would’ve lost but we would’ve fought it with our legal team,” said Wade Wilson, a Greenfield Park city councilor.

Longueuil had been hinting at wanting to strengthen the use of French before.

Back in April, Longueuil mayor Sylvie Parent wrote an open letter stating the city of Longueuil had to lead by example when it came to communicating exclusively in French.

“If all exchanges between the state and its citizens are done in French, then [the state’s] position won’t be ambiguous for newcomers: French is the common language in the public domain,” Parent wrote in her letter, published in Le Courrier du Sud on April 20.
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Parent criticized opposition councilors for pushing for the city’s website to also be available in English.

“For example, the official opposition party goes as far as publishing an English version of all its communications,” Parent wrote. “When citizens question them during city council, they affirm that it’s not time to wake the dragon of old linguistic fights. What these elected officials are saying to those whose language isn’t French is: ‘There is no need to learn French! Keep using English!”

Greenfield Park councilors say they are now reassured that status quo will be kept.

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“They [Longueuil] said in the resolution that they will acknowledge our bilingual status,” Wilson said. “Now, another issue is to get our services bilingually. I mean, we’ve had our bilingual status for many years yet the communications coming from the city are still in French only and that’s another fight that we have.”

The borough has 90 days to submit its resolution to the government.

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