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Canada's Francophone Minority Communities

Canada's Francophone Minority Communities: Constitutional Renewal and the Winning of School Governance

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Canada's Francophone Minority Communities
    Book Description:

    Convinced that education was one of the essential keys to the renewal and growth of their communities, revitalized Francophone organizations and leaders lobbied for constitutional entrenchment of official bilingualism and of a mandated Charter right to education in their own language, including the right to governance over their own schools and school boards. Having achieved their objectives in the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Francophone provincial and national leaders learned the techniques of micro-constitutional politics to convince the Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba provincial governments to implement full and unfettered school governance by and for Francophone minority communities. These communities received the backing of Canada's Supreme Court, which gave a collectivist and remedial interpretation to the Charter's official language minority education rights section 23. The Canadian government assisted the Francophone minority in two ways: it made funds available to Francophone organizations and parents via the Court Challenges program and it signed lucrative financial agreements with the provinces to help defray the additional costs of establishing French-language schools and school boards. While the Francophone minority communities were pursuing implementation of their section 23 Charter rights, they found themselves drawn into the mega-constitutional negotiations and ratification procedures surrounding the controversial Meech Lake Constitutional Accord, 1987-90, and the omnibus Charlottetown Consensus Report, 1990-92. During the Quebec/Provincial Round, their Charter rights remained intact when the Meech Lake Accord failed to obtain ratification. During the Canada Round, they managed to obtain recognition of their conception of a pan-Canadian cultural and linguistic duality which helped minimize the constitutional and political impact of the Quebec government's insistence upon a territorial conception of duality, that is, an asymmetrical Canada/Quebec federation. When Canadians rejected the Charlottetown deal, neither conception achieved formal constitutional recognition. Nevertheless, Canada's Francophone minority communities were regenerated by the intertwined developments of constitutional renewal and their winning of school governance. A new, vigorous Francophone pan-Canadian national community emerged, one capable of ensuring the survival of its constituents communities well into the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7128-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Serge Joyal

    Professor Michael D. Behiels’ examination of the history of minority linguistic rights since the enactment of the Charter of Rights in 1982 deals with a subject that has been a vital part of our history since Confederation. The recognition of minority rights has been at the core of our identity as a nation. It is what makes Canada unique. The representatives of the four colonies from which the Canada of today emerged recognized the need to guarantee the rights of the French- and English-speaking minorities. A vision of minority rights inspired our federal structure of government.

    Our constitution, the fundamental...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xxi-2)

    This study is a descriptive analysis of Canada’s francophone minority communities’ quest for renewal and regeneration through constitutional reform and the winning of school governance. Their remarkable achievements on both counts took place in interconnected phases over four tumultuous decades, beginning in the 1960s.

    The first phase entailed the arduous but ultimately successful rebuilding of Canada’s francophone minority communities at the provincial and national levels. It was subsequent to the collapse of French Canada — as a symbol and as a nationally integrated institutional network — following the rise of Québécois neo-nationalism and secessionism during Quebec’s Quiet and Not-So-Quiet Revolutions...

  7. 1 The Renaissance of Canada’s Francophone Minority Communities
    (pp. 3-52)

    In the 1960s and 1970s, Canada’s francophone minority communities had come to a significant crossroads. To astute observers they appeared exhausted, beleaguered, anachronisms in the world swirling around them. Had they laboured so long and hard to survive only to see themselves swept into the dustbin of history? Meanwhile, Premier Jean Lesage’s neo-nationalist Liberal government, with its “équipe de tonnèrre,” had transformed Quebec into a powerful secular state. The Quiet Revolution entered a not-so-quiet phase with the rise of right- and left-wing separatist movements and the surprise victory of Daniel Johnson’s Union Nationale over Lesage’s Liberals in 1966. Johnson, backed...

  8. 2 The Battle for Constitutional Recognition and Empowerment
    (pp. 53-82)

    Francophone organizations faced a new challenge in 1980: the Quebec referendum on sovereignty-association. Premier René Lévesque hoped to obtain a mandate to negotiate Quebec’s political independence yet retain ongoing economic ties with Canada. Logically, one would have expected the Fédération and its provincial affiliates to support the pan-Canadian conception of cultural and linguistic duality, which the Trudeau government was defending and promoting. Paradoxically, this is not what transpired.

    The Fédération and its member organizations feared — with good reason — being left on the sidelines during the referendum and the ensuing constitutional negotiations. Furthermore, the francophone leaders dreaded being caught...

  9. 3 The Struggle for School Governance: Franco-Ontarian Organizations Take the Lead
    (pp. 83-138)

    Since the passage of the Constitution Act, 1982, Canadians have witnessed the ongoing struggle by francophone parents and their provincial and national organizations to obtain full implementation of s. 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which deals with minority language education rights. While the battle would spread to every province and territory by the 1990s, it was Franco-Ontarian parents and their organizations that spearheaded the contemporary movement for school governance. The Franco-Ontarian community’s quest for control over its own schools and school boards formed a large part of its comprehensive campaign of socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic regeneration.² The...

  10. 4 Franco-Albertans, the Charter, and School Governance
    (pp. 139-194)

    After the passage of the Charter, the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta, the Association Georges-et-Julia Bugnet, and the Fédération des parents francophones de l’Alberta worked for over a decade to achieve full school governance. Franco-Albertans had to overcome a deep-seated fear of disturbing the equilibrium they had worked so hard to achieve in their relationship with Alberta’s majority English-speaking community and its established leaders. Initially, the ACFA moved with caution on s. 23 rights because of the vocal opposition of many Albertans to the Official Languages Act and the Charter. Thanks to the perseverance, hard work, and convincing arguments of the...

  11. 5 Franco-Manitobans and the Charter’s Section 23
    (pp. 195-244)

    Beginning in the late 1970s, Franco-Manitobans became embroiled in two quite different yet related constitutional battles involving s. 23. The first focused on making Manitoba officially bilingual once again by restoring s. 23 of the Manitoba Act, 1870, which had been abolished in 1890. The second entailed intertwined political and juridical campaigns to achieve implementation of official language minority education rights under s. 23 of the Charter. Given the continuing opposition of Manitoba’s English-speaking majority to any formal recognition of the Franco-Manitoban community, both struggles proved extremely arduous. Nonetheless, through hard work and perseverance, Franco-Manitoban leaders, backed by their community...

  12. 6 Competing Conceptions of Dualism: Confronting the Meech Lake Accord
    (pp. 245-284)

    From 1987 to 1990 the Fédération and its affiliates found themselves drawn into a new round of mega-constitutional negotiations around the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord. The Accord was an attempt by the premiers, led by Quebec’s Robert Bourassa, to curtail what they — and many constitutional experts — claimed was the deliberate centralization fostered by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.²

    After the deal was cobbled together by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the premiers on 30 April 1987 , it was taken back to Parliament and the provincial legislatures for ratification. The francophone organizations were both pleased and...

  13. 7 The Canada Round: A Clash of Nationalisms
    (pp. 285-324)

    The failure of the Meech Lake Accord did not bring an end to destabilizing mega-constitutional politics. Within weeks, Canadians from coast to coast once again found themselves drawn into a powerful vortex of political intrigue surrounding Quebec’s future in the federation. This second, more comprehensive round of constitutional negotiations — dubbed the Canada Round by the Mulroney government — severely exacerbated the conflict of competing nationalisms: western Canadian, pan-Canadian, Québécois, and aboriginal. It also gravely undermined national unity, contributed to the defeat of both the Mulroney and Bourassa governments, and provided the ideological fuel for a second, nearly successful, Quebec...

  14. 8 The Past is Prologue
    (pp. 325-330)

    Canada’s francophone and Acadian minority communities celebrated thefin-du-siècleby achieving — after more than a century of struggles — school governance for their children. How does one explain this remarkable reversal of fortune? We have seen throughout this study that their success was due to a propitious conjuncture of character and circumstance, played out in an intertwined manner over four difficult yet promising decades. A new generation of visionary francophone leaders — rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the traditional Catholic French Canada — developed modern provincial organizations, buttressed by a national Fédération, in order to rebuild...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 331-382)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 383-406)
  17. Index
    (pp. 407-438)