Kris Austin and Official Languages: 'It Makes No Sense', Says Trudeau

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Kris Austin and official languages: “ Çmakes no sense,” says Trudeau

In a letter to Blaine Higgs, MPs demand that Kris Austin be removed from the Official Languages ​​Act Review Committee.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Minister Dominic LeBlanc and MP Jenica Atwin during an announcement in New Brunswick on Tuesday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in turn denounces the appointment of New Brunswick Minister Kris Austin to the review committee of the Official Languages ​​Act of this province. Mr. Trudeau also signaled his intention to raise this issue with Premier Blaine Higgs during a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

“It makes no sense to choose someone on a committee to protect the official languages ​​and protect French who has demonstrated throughout his career that he is not interested in protecting the languages ​​at all. official languages ​​and to protect French.

— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

While in New Brunswick, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is important to have different perspectives to do well [the review of the law], but we have to make sure that everyone on this committee really wants to protect official languages ​​and bilingualism.

Kris Austin, then leader of the People's Alliance of New Brunswick , in a scrum as they leave the Legislative Assembly in March 2020 in Fredericton

Until last March, Progressive Conservative Minister Kris Austin headed the People's Alliance, a party known for its hostile stance on official bilingualism. Since then, he has joined the Progressive Conservative caucus and won a place on the committee with the Prime Minister and eight other MPs to participate in the law review process.

I am going to raise it with Prime Minister Blaine Higgs that it makes no sense to choose someone like Kris Austin, Justin Trudeau said shortly before a meeting with his New Brunswick counterpart.

The six federal Liberal MPs from New Brunswick jointly denounced on Tuesday the appointment of Minister Kris Austin to the government committee on the review of the Official Languages ​​Act.

The President of their caucus, MP Jenica Atwin, sent a letter to Premier Blaine Higgs asking him to remove Kris Austin from the committee.

Federal Liberal MP Jenica Atwin (Archives)

According to these MPs, Kris Austin's positions when he was leader of the People's Alliance of New Brunswick should have disqualified him from the outset.

Mr. Austin's opposition to New Brunswick's bilingual status has been demonstrated time and time again. Mr. Austin said, among other things, that the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​was “extremist” and that her work did not add much, even proposing the abolition of her position, says Jenica Atwin in the letter.

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Among the signatories of the letter, MP René Arseneault – who is also chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages ​​in Ottawa – said in an interview that this appointment represents an incredible lack of respect.< /p>

“This is terrible. Mr. Austin has spent his career fighting against bilingualism and diminishing the rights of francophones, and Mr. Higgs presents us with this nomination. It is a finger of honor to Acadians, Francophones and bilingual people. »

— René Arseneault, Federal Liberal MP

The revelation of Kris Austin's appointment to this committee had the effect of a bombshell last week in New Brunswick.

The Society of ;Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick said that trust is broken with the government of Blaine Higgs and that this decision is totally disgusting.

Elected officials of the official opposition in Fredericton called this appointment an affront to Acadians. The leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick, Susan Holt, said in particular that it is a middle finger to the French-speaking communities.

The committee of ministers and Progressive Conservative MPs created by Premier Blaine Higgs is responsible for responding to the report by Commissioners Yvette Finn and John McLaughlin on the review of the Official Languages ​​Act.

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