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Franco-Albertans and the United Conservative Party, a fragile relationship

Eighteen months after coming to power, the United Conservative Party Alberta loses voting intentions and public support. The latest Angus Reid Institute polls show that only 42% of the population supports Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who is increasingly criticized for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, in this economic crisis and faced with an unprecedented deficit, fewer Albertans are lining up behind the Prime Minister. What about the relationship between Franco-Albertans and the government in place?

Geneviève Bousquet – Local Journalism Initiative – APF – West

For the president of the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta (ACFA), Sheila Risbud, the relationship with the government was very promising at the start since the minister responsible for la Francophonie, Leela Aheer, had participated in the ACFA congress. last year. “When I started my mandate, I was very optimistic about this relationship, she says, but it is certain that the actions recently with the Saint-Jean campus questioned the quality of the relationship. It is neither good nor bad. It is rather difficult to measure where we are with the government. ”

Franco-Albertans, like other Albertans, are concerned about the economic crisis and the deficit that the province must overcome in these times of pandemic. “The government decisions put in place at the moment, such as cuts in health, in post-secondary studies, especially at Campus Saint-Jean, the return to schools and the management of COVID-19 are of concern to Franco-Albertans,” said Ms. Risbud, The Campus Saint-Jean file and the lack of action in this regard, as well as the lack of progress on the implementation of the French Language Services Policy which had been adopted by the previous government are the two issues that most affect Franco-Albertans. ”

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Campus Saint-Jean dossier

Since the ACFA initiated legal action against the University of Alberta and the Alberta government a month ago, little reaction has been heard except for a few media interventions from the president of the University of Alberta which said it wanted to reach out to Franco-Albertans. In the province, it is radio silence. “Moreover, we had a meeting scheduled with Minister Aheer a few weeks ago and it was canceled quite at the last minute,” continues Ms. Risbud. We have other issues to discuss with the government, including the policy on services in French. It’s disappointing that the door seems closed for a dialogue at the moment. ”

LACFA avait convoqué une conférence ce lundi 17 août à 10h30. Photo courtoisieJPG
Sheila Risbud at the August 17th press conference. Credit: Courtesy

With regard to the “Sauvons Saint-Jean” campaign launched by ACFA, Ms. Risbud said she was very satisfied with the support and commitment of the Francophone community. In the first phase of the campaign, ACFA received over a thousand letters of support from across the province. Members of almost all ridings have received letters about Campus Saint-Jean. In the coming weeks, the ACFA will launch phase two of its campaign in order to generate greater mobilization on the part of Franco-Albertans, but also at the national level.

According to Sheila Risbud, the government will have to rebuild the relationship with Franco-Albertans. To do this, it would be important to come back to the table in order to find an agreement for Campus Saint-Jean. In addition, the ACFA is awaiting an update of the French language services policy and the government’s proposals on this subject. Two files to follow.