While we applaud the appointment of Minister Kris Austin to the committee reviewing the Official Languages Act as offering an additional viewpoint; we strongly disagree with Premier Higgs’ suggestion that this negates the need for the People’s Alliance.
If anything, it does more than ever to show why we are vital to New Brunswick.
The immediate and vicious reaction of the SANB, Liberal Leader Susan Holt, and Green MLA Kevin Arseneau is a prime example of why.
This behavior must stop. We cannot have leaders in a democratic society who do not support democracy. Leaders who try to silence the voice they don’t personally care to hear and who want to leave large portions of the community outside of any policy or decision that does not fit their agenda.
Most importantly, we cannot afford to have leaders who continue to divide us. We need leaders focused on uniting. On working together. On respecting one another.
It’s time for us to come together. To stop insulting one another, tuning one another out, and dehumanizing one another over petty differences. In a democratic society, everyone has a voice. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard. By voting, the people will decide what they accept and don’t – let that process happen.
We are witnessing nothing more than “politics as usual.”
Premier Higgs is making a strategic political move. Minister Austin, oddly enough, is now a part of a secret, “behind closed doors” review committee such as he specifically railed and campaigned against – but it’s a significant feather in his political cap. Susan Holt is looking to establish herself as the Leader of the Liberals, a party strongly dependent on the Francophone vote. The SANB has never taken a cooperative or collaborative approach to anything – their strategy has always been to demand, intimidate, threaten, and sue.
So yes, it’s business as usual.
Furthermore, it’s a huge, controversial move than takes the focus away from healthcare, affordable housing, French Immersion, and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Don’t let yourself be sidetracked from what is important. The circus is only in town for a short time before it moves on, and the next amusement venture arrives.
People’s Alliance is deeply concerned by Premier Higgs stated intention of eliminating French Immersion by the start of the 2023 school year, and implementing an undisclosed alternative in time for the 2024 election.
We believe this to be a poorly considered decision, and we would strongly appeal to the Premier to reconsider. Furthermore, we recognize the turmoil and confusion that many parents are now feeling because of this announcement, and we call on the Premier to further detail his plan.
While fully recognizing the many opportunities within our current program, we believe that eliminating it within the stated time frame would further disadvantage anglophone children without consideration of long-term impact. It has long been identified that frequent political “tinkering” has had a negative impact on our children, and further changes should be carefully developed and implemented, and must not be rushed for the sake of trying to win votes in 2024.
One item identified in a recent report from John McLaughlin and Yvette Finn as part of the review of the Official Languages Act promotes creating an “authentic and immersive language-rich French second language program.” This report also suggests that the creation of an effective program could take several years to fully implement.
New Brunswick is a bilingual province, something that we believe most of us are proud of despite its many struggles. While changes to our program are necessary based on years of inadequate outcomes, the result must be an improvement of bilingual outcomes and accessibility to every student.
Nothing less is acceptable.