“So, for us, it was important to re-establish the identity of Montreal, which is an inclusive identity.”
His party’s platform on inclusive language rights is also calling for the translation of all municipal communications into English and French and language laws that are gentler for the city’s private industry.
“We want to make it clear that we want businesses on the Island of Montreal to be able to operate in both languages without interference from the provincial government,” said Holness.
And he calls for a review of the city’s hiring processes to allow Anglophones with “functional French, but not high level” to land municipal jobs.
It would also amend section 13 of the city’s charter to change Montreal from “a French-speaking city which, by law, also provides services to its citizens in English”, to a bilingual city.
A lot of people agree, says Holness
“This is not a contested issue,” said Holness, citing a poll showing that most Montrealers think the city is bilingual. “We all know that Montreal is bilingual and multicultural and this is something we should embrace and recognize.”
“In addition, Montreal beyond is even trilingual,” he continued. “There are people from all over the world who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian. And all of these languages make Montreal so diverse, and that enriches us all.
Rather than contributing to the decline of French in Montreal, Holness said his language policies would help preserve it by providing learning incentives for non-French speakers.
“The fact that we are going to encourage and improve the chances of Anglophones to work in the city of Montreal means that they will be able to learn French through their professional activity,” he declared. “We are going to increase the francization of anglophones.
“Right now, what is happening is that we are excluding English speakers,” he continued. “They move to demerged cities like Westmount, like Côte Saint-Luc, like Kirkland. They are not integrated into reality and into the economic life of Montreal, and we are only pushing them aside. “
Holness wants more jobs for people with irregular French
If elected, the Montreal Movement would work to create a more inclusive municipal workforce, as it currently lags behind in terms of ethnic and linguistic diversity, he said.
Of the city’s roughly 25,000 municipal employees, “only about 2% of those in leadership positions are visible minorities and even fewer are English-speaking,” Holness said.
To change that, it plans to lower the French language requirements for municipal jobs.
“Right now when you walk in for a [municipal] employment, there is an assessment based on your ability to speak French, ”he said.
“So we want to create less stringent language assessments and assessments to allow individuals to enter the labor market. And then they can learn French, once in post, through their interactions with their colleagues and with the public. “
“The idea is that Anglophones, especially those who are part of visible minorities, should have an easier time entering the labor market,” he continued.
“They don’t want to be inclusive”
On November 7, people will vote to elect a mayor as well as 46 members of Montreal’s municipal council.
The current mayor, Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal, is seeking re-election and her main challenger is the former mayor, Denis Coderre of Ensemble Montréal.
While Plante recently presented an “action plan” to promote the French language in Montreal and that Coderre would be open to language reform led by the provincial government, Holness accused his opponents of trying to impose provincial ideas on The city.
“Valérie Plante is from Rouyn-Noranda, Denis Coderre is from Joliette,” he continued. “And there is this whole idea that the regions impose their vision of Montreal on Montreal. And the question is, what do Montrealers want for their city?
“A lot of people in the region say that Montreal is the only French-speaking city in North America, and they are right, but Montreal also has a bilingual multicultural reality,” he said. “So you have Quebec City trying to impose an identity on Montreal that does not correspond to reality, which is multilingual and multicultural.
“We need a multilingual and multicultural policy and beyond, a political party that reflects this diversity through and through,” he added.
Projet Montréal does not reflect this diversity, he concluded, explaining how he helped organize a popular anti-racist movement, which he said prompted the city’s public consultation agency to hold a series of hearings. on systemic discrimination in 2019.
As a result, Plante created a commissioner on systemic discrimination and promised to hire more minorities for municipal jobs.
But Holness had scathing words for the mayor, saying she had only taken these steps out of “obligation”.
“The reason there was a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination is because the administration had an all-white French executive committee when it was elected in 2017. Point. That’s their vision of Montreal, ”he said.
“They don’t want to be inclusive,” he said. “Mouvement Montreal, my political party, is by its very nature genuinely diverse. We did in two months what it took them almost two decades to do, which is to have a diverse team.