Premier apologizes for 1912 law banning French in Ont. schools

TORONTO -- Premier Kathleen Wynne formally apologized to Ontario's francophones Monday for a 1912 regulation that banned elementary school teachers from speaking French.

See Full Article

"Regulation 17 showed a disregard for Franco-Ontarian identity and equality, and on behalf of the government of Ontario I offer an apology," Wynne told the legislature.

The regulation was enforced for about 15 years before it finally fell into abeyance by 1944, a period Wynne described as a "wound" for Ontario's French-speaking population. Ontario did not officially recognize the right of francophones to receive French-language education in elementary and secondary schools until 1984.

"The government enforced regulation 17 for more than a decade before finally conceding that the policy was a failure, but it stayed on the books much longer," said Wynne. "The francophone community feared that Franco-Ontarian children were losing their language."

The government of the day stated it wanted to raise the quality of English-language education in primary schools, so it prohibited teachers from communicating with students in French beyond grade 2. Many schools and teachers refused to obey the regulation, so the government brought in another to take away school funding and teachers' certifications if they continued to allow French to be spoken.

"The tremendous courage and tenacity of Franco-Ontarians has not gone unnoticed," said Wynne.

"In just a few generations, Ontario has gone from a place that was at times resistant to diversity to a place that fully embraces different cultures and languages."

The premier dismissed the idea of compensation or reparations, and said the province was already making "concrete gestures" by providing French services and schools, and noted there is a debate about creating a French university.

"What's important right now is to acknowledge that there was a regulation in place that was not fair, that did not recognize the importance of the francophone community in Ontario," said Wynne.

"I think the changes that have been made over the last decades are very, very important in terms of recognizing the Francophonie in Ontario."

Sudbury Liberal backbencher Glenn Thibeault, who asked for the official apology, said it demonstrated that the government recognizes its past error.

"It's more than the apology itself," he said. "It's the opportunity to turn that page and say that the francophone community is now one that's rooted in our province."

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown called Regulation 17 "a black mark in Ontario's history" and said he supported Wynne's decision to apologize.

"It was wrong when it happened, and even though the apology is coming late, I'm glad that we're making it," he said.

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath welcomed the apology to Ontario's French-speaking community and urged the government to keep increasing the services it provides in French.

"The lasting impacts of this assimilation policy created barriers to education for francophone Ontarians for many decades," said Horwath. "Francophone children do not always have access to French schools, and we still don't have a French university governed by and for francophone Ontarians."

Ontario is home to about 612,000 francophones, the largest French-speaking population in Canada outside of Quebec.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • France backs Italy in vaccine ban as EU defends mechanism

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- Europe's vaccine solidarity got a boost on Friday after France said it could emulate Italy's move to block coronavirus vaccine exports outside the European Union if that's what is needed to enforce the bloc's own contracts with drugs manufacturers. Source
  • Swiss mull 'burqa ban' in vote centring on security, rights

    World News CTV News
    GENEVA -- At a time when seemingly everyone in Europe is wearing masks to battle COVID-19, the Swiss go to the polls Sunday to vote on a long-laid proposal to ban face-coverings, both the niqabs and burqas worn by a few Muslim women in the country and the ski masks and bandannas used by protesters. Source
  • How approval of Johnson & Johnson's 'one and done' COVID-19 vaccine could change Canada's vaccination game

    Canada News CBC News
    A one-dose COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for use in Canada — and vaccine experts say the shot from Johnson & Johnson could give a major boost to countrywide vaccination efforts while offering a "real solution" to hasten the end of the pandemic. Source
  • Ontario reports surge in new COVID-19 infections with more than 1,200 cases added

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario is reporting a spike in new COVID-19 infections with more than 1,200 cases logged Friday. The 1,250 new infections mark an increase over Thursday’s report when 994 cases were logged. This is the first time in three consecutive days that the province has added more than 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus. Source
  • Teen convicted in Slender Man stabbing to ask for release

    World News CTV News
    WAUKESHA, WIS. -- One of the teens convicted of stabbing a classmate to please the fictional internet horror character Slender Man is expected to ask for release from a Wisconsin mental health facility. Anissa Weier, 19, is scheduled to appear Wednesday before the Waukesha County Circuit Court judge who earlier sentenced her to 25 years in a mental health institution and ask for her conditional release. Source
  • Mississippi moves one step closer to banning transgender athletes from women's sports

    World News CTV News
    Mississippi moved one step closer to banning transgender athletes from participating in women's sports after the state House approved a bill on Wednesday that could make the state the first in the country to add anti-transgender legislation to its books this year. Source
  • After record COVID-19 deaths, Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to stop 'whining'

    World News CTV News
    BRASILIA -- After two straight days of record COVID-19 deaths in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday told Brazilians to stop "whining" and move on, in his latest remarks attacking distancing measures and downplaying the gravity of the pandemic. Source
  • Minassian decision opens door for verdict of not criminally responsible due to autism

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The judge who found Alek Minassian guilty of murder and attempted murder in the Toronto van attack set Canadian precedent Wednesday by considering autism a "mental disorder" under the Criminal Code. Justice Anne Molloy ruled that autism spectrum disorder did not leave the 28-year-old not criminally responsible for killing 10 people and injuring 16 others, but her decision to consider that possibility means the argument could be made in future cases. Source
  • Health Canada approves Johnson and Johnson vaccine

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Health Canada is to announce approval of the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson this morning, according to multiple sources aware of the decision but not authorized to discuss it publicly. The federal regulator has found the evidence shows the vaccine is both safe and effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. Source
  • Canada authorizes one-shot COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The first one-shot COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has been authorized by Health Canada, making it the fourth vaccine that can be administered to Canadians. Health Canada is now the first major regulator to have approved four different COVID-19 vaccines for use, said chief medical adviser at Health Canada Dr. Source