Canadian Jewish Congress Opposes Use of ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ Concepts in Quebec

The Canadian Jewish Congress warned today that the popular movement to promote wide usage of the French language in the Province of Quebec must not be permitted to categorize citizens as “majority” and “minority” elements or to interfere with “the option of all parents to send their children to schools of their choice.”

The warning was contained in a brief submitted by the CJ Congress to the Gondron Commission — the Commission of Inquiry on the Position of the French Language and on Language Rights in Quebec.

The brief said that the CJ Congress viewed “with grave concern” the stated objective of the Commission to find the best means “to exercise the linguistic rights of the majority with full respect for the rights of the minority.” According to the brief, “this statement suggests that the inhabitants of Quebec are. . . to be divided into two groups, a majority and minority group, creating a division which ought not to exist in a democratic viable society.”

The brief was signed by Nathan Gaisin, chairman of the CJ Congress’s Quebec region; Morton Bessner, chairman of the linguistics committee, and Dr. Samuel Lewin, eastern region executive director. Mr. Bessner headed a CJ Congress delegation that appeared before the Commission on Sept. 30.

The Congress said it strongly supported the idea and practice of maximum diffusion of the French language in Quebec and Canada. But, it added, “nothing should derogate from or diminish in any way, any right or privilege, acquired or enjoyed, with respect to any language — and in particular French or English.” It also said that “there shall be no distinction between residents born in Quebec, those who settled in Quebec or arrived before or after a certain date.”

The brief asserted that “whatever can be done to assist immigrants upon arrival to obtain knowledge of the French language is certainly most laudable and useful.” But it took exception to proposed measures that would have settlers’ children taught in schools recognized as being French language schools. The CJ Congress noted that “the Jewish community, within the limitations of its resources, has for a number of years made facilities available to Jewish immigrants to learn French.”

The CJ Congress reported that an air cargo of etrogim and lulavim which the Canadian Jewish community sent to Moscow for Sukkot observance arrived safely. Local Jews will demonstrate in front of the Soviet Consulate here on Simchat Torah to protest the treatment of Jews in Russia.

NEXT STORY