We, at Canadians for Language Fairness, try very hard to fulfill our mandate to circulate information on the language issue. We try to keep our newsletters informative and interesting as we go across the country with important news about what's happening on the language front.
The first issue is an update on the determined effort by the 15% French-speaking community to expand their centres of activities from the East side of Ottawa (where they predominate) to the West side where they are in the minority. This is the story of how an old school building (Grant School) was bought by the City for $4M & partially donated to the French community with the stated understanding that they would pay about $2M to complete the deal.
Le droit printed an article on March 26, 2015 with news that the old name for the centre, "Centre multi-services de l’ouest d’Ottawa" is now "Maison de la francophonie" but it remains under the jurisdiction of CFMO.
According to the article in Le Droit (translated below but if you prefer to read it in French, the link is there), the following are the financial contributions made by taxpayers of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, donation from the Farm Credit Canada & the public, plus a mortgage amount of $850,000 approved by the City. Details of the actual legal arrangement are given here.
Add all of the above (1), (2), (3), (4), - total is: $5,706,000. According to le droit, they need another $1.5M to pay for Parcel "B".
To accommodate their prospective clients, the project must be completed before September 2015.
Our question is - what happens if La Maison de la Francophonie is unable to raise that money - is the City obliged to cover the short-fall (inability to pay the mortgage + inability to pay the City for Parcel B)?
March 26, 2015
Ottawa West Francophone Centre (CFMO) to be named from now on Maison de la francophonie
Similar to establishing a place name in Vancouver and the project underway in Toronto, the naming of this multifunctional francophone centre must be in place for the end of the year 2015.
This notice was announced with great ceremony at the 9th Mayor of Ottawa francophone meeting on Thursday morning at city hall, and resulted in a definite green light the following day from the municipal council for the renovation of the building located at 2720 Richmond Rd.
Our contractor has been chosen. According to the contract, we can start the renovations beginning April 15. Andree Duchesne, president of Francophone House estimates that will take from six to eight months.
As an amount in the neighbourhood of $7 million is necessary for the completion of this project, $4.2 million was put on the table by the Province. The City of Ottawa, for its part, added almost $2 million.
The renovations essentially involve the complete replacement of the electric systems, heating, plumbing, and modernizing the premises. This would allow a gathering of several francophone organizations of Ottawa under one roof.
The City made an agreement with the now ex-CMFO regarding the sale of Grant school in 2010 having bought it two years earlier from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
Even renamed, the construction is not at the end of its problems. Around $1.5 million must be quickly raised to ensure the means to purchase phase 2. You understand, the building of a gymnasium.
To this end, Francophone House of Ottawa has enlisted the services of lawyer, Ronald Caza and Charles Bordeleau, chief of police of the city, who, together, are co-chairmen of a campaign to finance that goal.
Another peril that the Francophone House must avoid is another delay. “We will open before the end of the year 2015”, Mr. Caza said before the hundred or so guests gathered for the Mayor's francophone meeting. For the past two years the centre never ceased to delay the opening.
Francophone House also must arrange partnerships with other organizations interested in setting up there. Nothing more definite on this subject despite the clear advances.
Mrs. Duchesne assures us that the Cite and Conseil des ecoles publiques de l’est de l’Ontario (CEPEO) are two huge potential tenants.
The three francophone organizations of the west end: the sun centre of Ottawa West, the Cooperative Young Friend, and the Franco-West Community Centre have long confirmed their interest in establishing there.
Calm & Absence Of The Mayor
In 2013, because of its centenary, the newspaper, Le Droit, was always very visible after a francophone meeting with the mayor, and was more active last year in the debate on the bilingual designation of Ottawa, yet its 2015 edition is relatively quiet.
The deputy mayor of Ottawa, Bob Monette, recalled the importance of the west end of the city and the increase of 13,000 francophones in this geographical area between 2001 and 2011 "The francophone community of the west end of the city grew as much as that of the east end" the Orleans councillor stressed.
Note: the 9th mayor's meeting took place without the mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson. He is still convalescing from a broken pelvis suffered in a snowmobile accident a month ago.
Funding sources for La Maison - Comment from a concerned citizen
There is something here that needs closer scrutiny! That $400,000 "raised from the public" makes me wonder HOW this money was raised (if it is true in the first place). Can a not-for-profit organization raise that kind of money? Even faith organizations (churches, synagogues, etc.) that have "charitable" status and that can issue tax receipts (for tax deductions) have difficulties raising that kind of money! Would people just give money without receiving a tax receipt for this undertaking? Somehow I doubt it... So where did the money come from? If the CMFO is a publicly registered entity (as it appears they are NOT a charitable organization able to issue tax receipts) then there should be records accessible to indicate where the money came from... The CRA does not lightly grant charitable status.....
The organization itself will not tell you. But where they are registered will. They have to if a formal application for the information is made. I am stating this to keep us as "prepared" as possible. What do I mean? If indeed the CMFO was able to raise $400,000 from the public for this all-French cultural centre, then that can potentially demonstrate, to a certain extent, there was/is a need for such a facility in Ottawa's West End. After all, if such a large sum was raised it can demonstrate there was/is sufficient fire in the francophone belly to "ante up" the same way many other cultural groups do for causes they are a part of and believe in. (Greek cultural centre, Italian retirement residence, etc.) However, what I question is if these monies were donated "outright" without the issue of a CRA-authorized tax receipt, or if tax-deductible receipts were issued. If tax-deductible receipts were issued then only those agencies/organizations that have been approved by the CRA as charitable organizations can do so. The Cancer Society, the Diabetes Society, the Arthritis Society and many others have charitable status and can issue tax-deductible receipts for donations. That is fully legitimate as these organizations help fund the alleviation of certain classes of pain, sickness and disabilities. So if the CMFO was able to raise money AND were able to issue tax-deductible receipts, on what basis are they (the CMFO) able to justify charitable status? To alleviate the "pain and suffering" of francophones "caught" in English Canada??? The CMFO is NOT a faith community such as a church to which people donate and receive a tax receipt.
To Ottawa Citizens
This is a question can put to your councillor if you are concerned.
New Brunswickers have had a hard time fighting against the excesses of the Acadians who have decided that they have the constitutional right to force the French language on the non-French speaking majority. Thus they have used the "Duality" policy that the French institutions must remain French-only and the others must be bilingual. The reason for this is that they believe that without this special protection, they will be assimilated into the larger & stronger English-speaking community. So they've been allowed and even encouraged by the provincial government to use their protected status to push people out of jobs just because they are not bilingual. Especially heinous is when they go after the older people, like commissionaires who do simple jobs like greeting people when they enter a public institutions and directing them to places they want to go. They are not required to carry on long conversations or have a political discussion with the visitors. They are usually retired Armed Forces personnel who do these jobs as an extra source of income and to remain socially active and involved in an environment they're comfortable with.
Here is the story sent by Claire Dykeman:
Our Citizen’s Action Group is justifiably ashamed of the New Brunswick Liberal Government’s refusal to rein in the unacceptable actions of the Language Police against the unilingual English in this province. We have initiated a GoFundMe account to help Wayne Grant (see story and address below and to donate). Your donation of even a few dollars will tell our government that the Language Police has to be stopped and we will not accept their treatment of Mr. Grant just because he can’t speak French. All of the funds collected will go directly to Mr. Grant to replace the money that the Language Police have so far taken away from him.
Please forward this email to any of your friends or associates who are NOT on Facebook and share it with everyone you know who are ON Facebook. It is time to stand up and speak out against the Language Police in New Brunswick!
http://www.gofundme.com/jh28xprs - see full story below:
“Mr. Grant is a Fredericton Commissionaire only about 8 months away from retirement now. A few weeks ago, while working the greeting desk - Mr. Grant was asked to provide service in French, which he was not able to do, therefore he immediately offered to obtain a co-worker from the back who would be able to assist. Despite this offer - a complaint was filed with Office of the Commissioner of Official Language, and Wayne was advised that his employment would be terminated.
A local Blogger, Charles LeBlanc heard of this and began a video series, including one in which he confronted Minister of Official Language, Donald Arseneault. The publicity resulted in the advisement that Mr. Grant would not be fired, but would be transferred.
Well - he was transferred alright - to a chair in a parking lot, or sitting inside a truck. His hours have also been cut in half, from his previous 56 hours bi-weekly to a current 15 - 18 hours. We wouldn't leave a dog sitting in a parking lot in the hot summer weather of Fredericton - but we would leave a human being (just because he can’t speak French!).
We want to point out 2 things:
On the date that the complaint was filed against Mr. Grant .. Commissioner of Official Languages Katherine d'Entremont signed a visitor’s sheet confirming her presence at the same location and at approximately the same time of day. She has never clarified this issue. An attempt by CBC Reporter Catherine Harrop to verify this story failed as each person she spoke to advised that they were "under orders not to speak about the matter".
Since that time, 2 letters have been sent - one to Minister Donald Arseneault and Premier, Brian Gallant - this letter was responded to in the media the next day with the refusal to take action or to investigate Mme. d'Entremont's involvement .... and a second letter to the Lieutenant Governor requesting an investigation - has gone unacknowledged.
Now - Mr. Grant finds himself struggling to get by on his reduced hours, and visiting the Unemployment office for assistance. The reduced hours he is working may also reduce any benefits he may be entitled to. So, can we count on your support to either spread the word or donate a few dollars - or both? Thank you.
We, at CLF, applaud the activities of local people like Claire Dykeman and her group, "Citizens Action Team". Claire puts out One-Pagers on a regular basis, picking out items of interest on the language battle in N.B. We have given her & other New Brunswick groups a special place on our web site. On the right side of our main page (which usually carries the current President's message) Andrew, our webmaster, has created a special space for Claire's One-pagers and all the videos we've been sent about the English-speakers' activities. Please visit our web site: www.languagefairness.ca or www.languagefairness.net or www.languagefairness.org
We have also given Keith B. permanent spot on our web site because he is a tireless worker for our cause, captures just about every video that he can lay his hands on to illustrate the shameless behaviour of the French zealots in QC, NB and ON.
Thanks to all our supporters - we will raise the awareness of the beleaguered English-speaking Canadians who refuse to knuckle under to the French yoke!!!
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