Saturday, July 19, 2008

An Open Letter to Anglophones

Published Saturday, July 19th, 2008, Telegraph-Journal.

We have followed with great interest and concern the various initiatives undertaken by many anglophone parents to keep the early immersion program in place in New Brunswick. We applaud their various initiatives and we have decided that the time has come for francophones to take a stand and voice our support.

As is well known, early immersion has been in Canadian schools for more than four decades and Canada's immersion model has been exported to many countries. As is also well known, New Brunswick has long been perceived as a leader in promoting early immersion and as a model for English-French relations for the rest of Canada. The province's bilingual character defines New Brunswick and has given the province a competitive edge in attracting new economic activities, some would even argue that it constitutes our main competitive advantage.

This explains why members of the national media have been scratching their heads, trying to understand why New Brunswick would wish to turn back the clock. If the government proceeds with its plan, Canada's only officially bilingual province will stand out as a province without an early French immersion program.

The government's intention to eliminate early immersion, initially at least, was based on an extremely flawed and now completely discredited report - the Croll/Lee report, which, if nothing else, proved extremely expensive to New Brunswick taxpayers. It is still not at all clear for New Brunswickers what has and continues to motivate the government of New Brunswick to pursue its plan to eliminate early immersion. None of the arguments advanced by government officials are very convincing, and leading experts from both our English and French-language universities have been highly critical of the government's plan to eliminate early French immersion. New Brunswickers are being asked to embrace a new approach without any assurance that it will work. The gamble is too high given what is at stake.

The issue is extremely important to New Brunswick and its political and economic future, and we strongly recommend that the government of New Brunswick take the time necessary to review the matter in detail.

At a minimum, the government of New Brunswick should accept the recommendation made by various groups and individuals to delay the elimination of early French immersion until September 2009 to enable a thorough review of the issue and allow a meaningful public engagement process.

BERNARD CYR, President-CEO, Cyr Holdings Inc.
MONIQUE IMBEAULT, Lawyer, McInnes Cooper
RODRIGUE LANDRY, Institut canadien de recherche sur les minorités linguistiques, Université de Moncton
JEAN LANTEIGNE, Executive Director, Association des crabiers
LOUIS LAPIERRE, Environmentalist
VIOLA LÉGER, Former Senator
DENIS LOSIER, President-CEO, Assomption Society
GEORGE MARCOUX, Economic Development Specialist
CHRISTIAN MICHAUD, Lawyer, Cox and Palmer
LISE OUELLETTE, Executive Director, Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick
RODNEY OUELLETTE, CEO and Director of Discovery, Atlantic Cancer Research Institute
JACQUELINE ROBICHAUD, Widow of Former Premier Louis J. Robichaud
ANDRÉE SAVOIE, Acadian Construction
DONALD J. SAVOIE, Chaire de recherche du Canada en administration publique et en gouvernance Université de Moncton
MARIO THÉRIAULT, President-CEO, ShiftCentral

Click here to link to article

Merci pour votre appui! Thank you for your support!

For two reports on this story see:

'Gamble is too high'--Language: Prominent francophones blast the Liberal government for proposal to axe early French immersion--Telegraph-Journal

French community opposes loss of early immersion--Prominent NBers pen letter supporting fight against controversial reforms--Times and Transcript

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