Thousands support Franco-Ontarian rights
Furious with the Ontario government's cuts to French-language services cuts, thousands demonstrated at rallies across the province; including the loudest and largest gathering in Ottawa. Demanding their voices be heard, many had strong words for the premier.
Cynthia Bergevin joined more than 5000 demonstrators flooding the streets of Ottawa with green and white clothing and flags. The peaceful rally grew quickly, shutting downtown streets steps from the Human Rights monument at City Hall. They feel betrayed and upset plans for a long-proposed French-language university have been cancelled. The Ford government also initially eliminated the post of french-language services commissioner.
"Mr. Ford, there's been Franco-Ontarians in Ontario for 400 years. Whatever you do, you cannot take away our rights and we will fight for them," said Bergevin.
More than 5000 Franco-Ontarians and their supporters demonstrating against what they believe is an attempt to erode their rights and culture by @fordnation government @ctvottawa pic.twitter.com/yoxnNAmYr0— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) December 1, 2018
The message of the rally: one of solidarity and the pursuit of justice; feeling their dstinct way of life is under attack.
"Of course it's going to be under attack...Because if we cut our french services how can we continue to live our culture and teach it to our children and grandchildren?" said Chantal Nadeau.
"Even in France, and other countries, they know what's happening right now. It's really for the French all across Canada." according to Marc Trudel of Kanata.
Protestors gathered outside Doug Ford's Etobicoke office shouting nous sommes - nous serons; We are and always will be.
"We want to have a country that is not going to be divided. We want to have a country in which we feel supported." said Pierre Arcand of the Quebec Liberal Party.
Caroline Mulroney, Ontario's Francophone Affairs Minister responded to the rallies saying: "Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals left our government with a $15 billion deficit, and we look forward to the day when our province is in a financial position to proceed with projects like the French Language University. Ontarians have the right to demonstrate peacefully. In recognition of the significant and ongoing contributions of Franco-Ontarians over the past 400 years, the Goverenment for the People created the position of the French Language Services Commissioner under the auspices of the Office of the Ombudsman"
The rallies come less than a week after Ontario MPP Amanda Simard broke ranks with the PC party in opposition to the government's cuts to french-language services.