On Thursday, October 29, the provincial Conservative government released its 2020-2023 Action Plan of the Francophonie Policy. The latter was first established in Alberta in 2017 by the NDP government. Contacted by Le Franco, the president of the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta reacted. She welcomes “certain advances”, but declares that it is not an action plan “which will really take actions that will help the Francophonie in Alberta”.
Thursday, 2:40 p.m., the information falls on Twitter. Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and the Status of Women publishes a video on her account. The one who is also responsible for the Francophone Secretariat appears in the 2 minutes and 48 seconds of images that promote the 2020-2023 Action Plan.
“Today, we are delighted to unveil the 2020-2023 Action Plan for the Francophonie policy,” she says, facing the camera, in a language of Molière learned about a year ago. year. Behind it, a Franco-Albertan flag and an arrow sash (official emblem of the Albertan Francophonie since February 2019) are displayed on a shelf. In this video, the minister is smiling, as are Laila Goodridge, Parliamentary Secretary for the Francophonie and Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health, who took part in the filming. Upbeat music and photographs of speakers surrounded by Francophone children punctuate the communication.
As part of our commitment to improve services in French, I am pleased to unveil the 2020-2023 Action Plan of our Francophonie Policy. Consult this document by clicking here: https://t.co/5m9zNgAknm pic.twitter.com/QwDijoNxYq
– Leela Sharon Aheer (@LeelaAheer) October 29, 2020
The ACFA was surprised by the unveiling of this Action Plan. “We had been told that this document was ready, but we had no notice on its publication,” said Sheila Risbud, while questioning the schedule “a few days after Mélanie Joly left the Campus Saint-Jean. It is not a coincidence “. She explains that the ACFA took part in only one meeting of the Advisory Committee on Francophonie to develop this Action Plan.
A step in the direction of history
After taking the time to consult the document, the president of the ACFA said she saw some progress for the Francophonie. She cites the recognition of the Société historique francophone de l’Alberta as a provincial organization dedicated to heritage, which will enable it to obtain operational funding.
This mention surprises Claudette Roy, the president of the organization in question. “We have not yet been informed,” she said the day after the document was published. However, she says she is happy. ” This is a good thing. When we met Ms. Goodridge, that was part of our requests ”. She hopes that this measure will be implemented soon.
For the ACFA, the other good news of this Action Plan comes from the Saint-Thomas Health Center. It will receive funding, “through an alternative relationship plan (PRA),” to expand its health care services for family medicine in physiatry and psychiatry.
No mention of Campus Saint-Jean
Sheila Risbud holds back her enthusiasm. Because for the rest, “we are sorry to see this Action Plan”, says the president of the ACFA. She deplores the absence of a quote from Campus Saint-Jean despite all the attention that has been paid to it in recent months, and points to certain inconsistencies.
In the post-secondary education section, a measure aims to “offer additional programs in French, within the framework (…) of an equitable cost-sharing agreement between the government of Alberta and the federal government”. However, comments the spokesperson for the Alberta Francophonie, “we know that the federal government has put money on the table for the Campus, but the provincial government is completely silent on that”.
Another point that she raises, “we see that there are fine words on History and the contribution of Francophones, but there are these recommendations for new social studies and arts programs that contradict this document. “. Sheila Risbud refers to the recommendations, published by CBC on Wednesday, October 21, which had outraged several members of the community for the lack of a Franco-Albertan perspective.
“This action plan misses the mark,” she concludes. “Some measures are positive, but this is not an Action Plan that will really take action that will help the Francophonie in Alberta or that will allow people to continue speaking French in the province”.
Trade paralyzed between ACFA and the government
Le Franco is not alone in having difficulty obtaining interviews with the provincial government. Sheila Risbud indicates that the ACFA has tried several times to meet them in recent weeks and “that they cannot meet with us because of the Campus Saint-Jean, and this, although we are the representatives of Francophonie”.
She claims to have received a response from Minister Aheer: “Since there is a legal action, we cannot speak to you”, she would have said. In August, the ACFA launched legal proceedings against the province concerning the 1976 Agreement which was to ensure the sustainability of Campus Saint-Jean.
“I am personally very disappointed,” she said. It is a solution (Editor’s note: the legal procedure) which could have been avoided with a little openness on their part. I find it a shame that we have reached where we are. The relationship with the province is frustrating ”.