My argument, if there is to be one had, with Keith Halliday’s article of August 3, is that it is presented from an anglophone’s perspective and, I would add, is perhaps even more slanted due to his council memberships and, frankly, is alarmist for no reason.
As mentioned, Canada was founded by two nations and the rights of francophone were entrenched in the Constitution by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1982.
Though other communities may be larger, theirs were neither founding nor entrenched.
To continue this debate only exacerbates a divide that, frankly, isn’t there.
French immersion is not French education, like English as a Second Language programs are not an English education. The idea of melding the two for efficiency and economics is a nonstarter in the French community.
However, this is not the issue. And, as for First Nations, they have many benefits that most Canadians do not enjoy, like free post-secondary education and tax exemptions and whatever has been provided to them via treaties and/or land claims.
We could have easily asked the question you did: Why them and not us?
Should the First Nations want their own school system, I ask why not? Is it an important issue for them?
Perhaps it is something that they should look into. Maybe a First Nation immersion course should be de rigueur in our schools, but that is not the issue.
The issue missed was the root cause of the whole debacle itself: the Yukon Party.
A party that, instead of being open, transparent and reasoned and decisive, preferred to be confrontational, closed-minded, disinclined and autocratic. Instead of taking responsibility, they defer to the courts.
We’ve seen this in its treatment of First Nations and, now, with the French community.
Once again, due to the politics of that party, people have and continue to suffer the consequences. Examples are plenty: $18 million earmarked for social housing was sat on, dare I say misappropriated, to mislead the public on the state of its financing, and $2 million earmarked for the French school board was used inappropriately as so determined by the courts.
An open, responsible government would not have done this, nor allowed the situation to become what it is.
As for the court’s decision to have a school built, that position is still to be determined as the decision is being appealed by the present government.
We have a Yukon Party government that has borrowed money for the hospitals in Dawson and Watson Lake, for the new residences at the Whitehorse General and for the new FH Collins (still festering and delayed).
We may have to add another loan for another school as well.
We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. It should be noted that, historically, loans were never required in the Yukon to build needed infrastructure, and some would say times are changing, but do we continue at this unprecedented rate? Especially when we have no true idea of what is in or what is left in the government coffers.
We may have to face some hard realizations in the coming months due to the Yukon Party loans.
The answer is simple, now is the time for change, a change of government, not the same party with a shiny new face.
We Yukoners have seen the damage that the parties of the extremes can and have done to our country and territory.
The best approach, I would say the only approach, is an experienced, balanced, reasonable and responsible government.
And that government is and will be Arthur Mitchell’s Liberals.
Louis-Roch Gagnon, Liberal nominee, Whitehorse West