More than 200 people attended a meeting in Moncton Thursday evening organized by the Anglophone Rights Association of New Brunswick, voicing concerns about the cost of bilingualism and language requirements in the civil service.
The group, which was formed last year, also focused on frustrations with the Commissioner of Official Languages Katherine d’Entremont.
“Maybe it’s a personality conflict, maybe it’s her approach, but she’s angered a lot of people, both French and English,” said association president Sharon Buchanan.
D’Entremont came under fire after launching an investigation of security services at government buildings when she encountered a unilingual commissionaire last May at Chancery Place in Fredericton.
Wayne Grant was reassigned and lost some work hours after the investigation began.
The anglophone association says the government is to blame for stoking tensions between the English and French communities.
“Government is creating tension, with the policies, and their interpretation of the policies,” said Buchanan.
Last year, the government sent a case on the constitutionality of dual school busing to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.
The Gallant government argues the requirement to provide English and French schools in New Brunswick under the Constitution extends to buses children ride to school.
The Court of Appeal has started dealing with procedural issues in the constitutional reference case, with full arguments expected in the fall.
CBC’s French-language service Radio-Canada was covering the meeting.
When asked by Radio-Canada why a group representing English rights is necessary in a French-minority province, Larry Layton said the group is responding to there being several francophone associations.
“You folks have been organizing for 60 years. We’re just trying to counter you, get our rights back,” said Layton.
John Graves, another member who attended the meeting, argued the group isn’t about pitting itself against French New Brunswickers.
“It’s not French against English, it never, ever, ever was, it never will be. It’s wasted money,” said Graves.