Harper Trades Minority Rights for Votes
In 2000 Stephen Harper’s National Citizens Coalition financed lawyer Brent Tyler’s attempts to strike down parts of Québec’s French Language Charter. The Calgary-based NCC was even the biggest donor in Brent Tyler’s attempt to change Québec’s laws in the provincial jurisdiction of language and education.
The challenge to Québec’s language law was considered a civil rights issue by it’s Brent Tyler and his backers.
Seven years later Stephen Harper is actively trying to win the support of the strongest supporters of Bill 101.
Since he became the head of the Conservative Party Stephen Harper has performed better than expected in Québec, winning 10 seats in the last general election and an eleventh in a by-election last year. His success in Québec has been attributed to his openness to Québec nationalists and his pledges to keep the federal government out of provincial jurisdictions.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper held a vote in the House of Commons recognizing Québec as a Nation within a united Canada and recently hinted that wants the recognition of the Nation of Québec to be part of the Canadian constitution.
Québec’s French Language Charter, bill 101, is considered a near-fundamental law by many in Québec and several hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in 1988 when the Supreme Court invalidated some dispositions regarding commercial signs.
In 2000 stepehen Harper was not considered a friend of Québec. Along with Stephen Harper, others who were financing Brent Tyler’s efforts were Howard Galganov, Diane Francis and the weekly newspaper The Suburban, all of whom have often been accused of racist sentiment against French-Canadians.
Many of the people represented by Tyler were even angry to learn that their legal campaign was being financed by money from Alberta.
In his attempt to build a coalition large enough to win a majority in the House of Commons the Prime Minister has actively been reaching out to French-speaking nationalists and Québec right-wingers, a group that generally supports Québec’s language legislation and does not approve of Canadian activism in Québec politics.
The Supreme Court of Canada rejected Brent Tyler’s attempt to open Québec’s English schools to francophones in 2005. The English-Rights lawyer recently announced that all his legal campaigns were jeopardized by the Conservative government’s decision to abolish the Court Challenges Program, a program designed to help minorities fight for their rights in court.