Greenfield Park and bilingualism in Quebec

The history of Greenfield Park is written in English

The first residents of this part of South Shore were British Immigrants who settled in Montreal during the second half of the 19th century. Those English-speaking immigrants benefited from an era of development and looked for a nicer place to live. So, in 1911, they founded the Town of Greenfield Park.

Today, Greenfield Park is one of the three boroughs of the Longueuil and one of the three officially bilingual boroughs in Quebec.

A bilingual town

Quebec’s Charte de la langue française, a.k.a. “Loi 101”, gave French the status of the only official language allowed in this province. According to this act, French is the language of use in all aspects of society. However, this act grants a special recognition as a bilingual community to those municipalities with a majority of English-speaking population. That was the case of the by then Town of Greenfield Par, where more than half of the residents had English as their mother tongue.

The end of bilingualism

During the 80’s, Greenfield Park’s English-language population dropped considerably. According to Canada’s 2011 census, it only reached 33.8%. This implies that the community does not comply anymore with the original provisions of Loi 101.

Many pressure groups have taken this as an argument to ask for the revocation of Greenfield Park’s bilingual status. For example, Parti Quebecois’s Bill 14 of 2013 was intended to amend Loi 101 and Longueuil’s charter so as to facilitate the revocation, among many other matters. Bill 14 was never enacted.

Greenfield Park’s bilingual status is still protected by Longueuil’s charter. Legally, only the borough of Greenfield Park can request revocation of its condition, but the borough has not a legal status on its own except for that contained in Longueuil’s charter. Likewise, Loi 101 does not have any provision stating that a census data automatically revokes the bilingual status.

Greenfield Park is today one of the three boroughs of Ville de Longueuil

Bilingual sign in Parc Empire (former Parc Pierre-Laporte)

Longueuil Mayor"s twit criticizing Bob Myles's bilingual speeches

A neighbours feud

The issue about Greenfield Park’s bilingualism goes beyond a legal matter. On the one hand, pro-French lobbyists want revocation. On the other hand, Greenfield Park and its leaders struggle to keep the heritage alive. Most recently, since May 2015, Robert Myles, Councillor of Greenfield Park and head of the official opposition, insisted on speaking in both French and English during city council meetings. For some this simply does not comply with Loi 101 and disrespects the status of French in Quebec. Others would say that it is just a right to communicate.

You can draw your own conclusions.