CORNWALL, Ontario – Roughly 300 people came out to a pro-Franco-Ontarian protest infront of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell’s office on Second St. in Cornwall.
The Francophone community was galvanized against McDonell’s Progressive Conservative Party after leader and Premier Doug Ford announced his intention to cut the office of the French Language Commissioner and delay the creation of a French language university in Toronto.
Ford back-tracked on these moves to a degree. While there are still no immediate plans to build a French language university, he did say that the responsibilities of the French Language Commissioner would be folded into the office of the Ombudsman.
McDonell briefly spoke to the crowd that had gathered in front of his office.
“We’re here, I’m here taking this message to Queen’s Park,” he said.
McDonell went on to defend the government’s decision to not go forward with a French language university in Toronto and cutting the officer of the French Language Commissioner, citing budgetary concerns by the government.
McDonell’s address to the crowd was met by a loud chorus of anger. After finishing his remarks, McDonell left the protest to head to Lancaster for their annual Christmas parade.
“It is very courageous for him to come here today,” said Dianne Poirier, one of the organizers of the event. “We want him to listen to us.”
Poirier said that the cost of the French language university was less than one percent of the provincial budget.
She said that what she and many other Franco-Ontarians wanted was a restablishment of the office of the French Language Commissioner and the construction of the new French language university.
She also praised Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Amanda Simard who left the Progressive Conservative party earlier this week over the government’s stance on Franco-Ontarian issues.
“Mme Simard is a courageous woman and she is doing what an MPP should,” she said.