Dear Fraser Institute,
First of all, I must say I am a great admirer of Fraser Institute work. I must say that I am biaised at first because I believe in free markets, limited gouvernment within the rule of law, in individual liberty and in individual choice coupled with personal responsibility.
But, I see a worrying trend in the last few months with reports from your Institute which goes between sensationalism and absolute demagogy in isolated cases. In some cases, this goes against the same values of libertarism/classical liberalism that this Institute want to message in the public discourse in the fields of ideas. In other words, I am sure that in the name of sensationalism, some media outlets are ready to use these reports to do some yellow journalism. As you probably know very well, sparegoating combined with scaremongering had never done any good in human history especially among one groups of individuals in particular.
I am talking about your report of French language services and francophone education. I am actually a francophone and I was born and lived the vast majority of my life in Ontario. I am (a good) Ontarian taxpayers like many of the 500 000 Franco Ontarians whom many of them of entrepreneurs who are making all of Ontario a prosperous place to live.
I must any that many of Franco Ontarians are very close to the Fraser Institute ideas. At first, as I said earlier many of them are entrepreneurs, which makes that many of Franco Ontarians believe in personal responsability and self-reliance. Self-reliance is still a big part of the francophone community as many organizations (such as the schools, hospitals, civil or religious organizations or the Caisse Populaire credit union) were done in a volontary matter between individuals without any help from the state. Still today, many francophone organizations are non-statist or decline to have any funding of the state and are staffed by volunteers in many cases. Even that a good part of francophone media is non-statist and receive minimal funding from the state.
Also, as taxpayers, many Franco Ontarians think they pay way too much in taxes for services that they got in a monopoly whatever in health, education, electricity, car insurance and public transit. Also, the debt question is also a pressing question for many Ontarians whatever the origin or the language that they are using.
The other problem with this report is that any person who follows Ontario fiscal situation closely knows that tough choices will have to be made in the next months and years. It’s not anymore a matter of if, but when. But, again, every Ontarian will have to do their fair part of sacrifice, whatever their language and making a report that French language services in the current situation could lead to slippery slope which goes exactly against what libertarism is about. Yes, if every sector is cut in the Ontario government is cutted by 5 or 10%, the budget dedicated to French language services will have to be reducted like in every service review. This is perfectly normal as a sacrifice and this especially that every Ontarian taxpayers (whatever francophone or not) want a government which do more with less combined with a state which is living within their means for a sustainable for future generations of Ontarians. Please not also that I am at 100% for school choice and school vouchers, but I believe that this policy should applied to EVERY Ontarian to ensure that they choose the school of their choice in their community whatever a francophone catholic school or a English-French-Chinese trilingual school which is non-religious.
One factor also which is important to consider is that the francophone community is really much dispersed in Ontario with some places having a very density of Francophones who are using French as their language of everyday life for decades or even since the creation of the province in some cases. This is not like the situation in New Brunswick, PEI or Manitoba. In this element, one could compare the situation of francophones in Ontario with the Swedish speakers in Finland.
Except from Ottawa and Eastern Ontario which have the highest number of francophones in Ontario, another big concentration is in Northeastern Ontario with a triangle between Hearst, Sudbury and North Bay. Also, there is smaller communities of francophones in Southern Ontario like in Penetanguishene, Welland or Windsor. This with the francophone community of Toronto which is small in proportion but growing in numbers. As you know, Ontario is a big province.
Of course, it’s absolutely important that any institution which is based on taxpayers funds lives in an austere matter since the funds comes from ”others” and this without using excessive power against any individual. To take it other way, would this be acceptable to the general public to say that the Institute should cut all state funding to the English-speaking community in Quebec only because they are a minority in statistical numbers? I would be against this idea if school choice is not for ALL students in Quebec.
In a liberal democracy like in Canada, even through it is of an utter importance to have any jurisdiction living within their means and this with a state which don’t use any type of excessive power and this while working for the taxpayer, it’s important to say that think tanks (especially those which have a good reputation and a serious framework such as the Fraser Institute) don’t become an ”official justificator” for people which have illiberal ideas which are going at the same time against the same fundamental mission of the Institute.
In conclusion, this is very disappointing for an organization like yours. I must say that because of this I don’t think that I would continue to support your organization which I was very supportive due to bold, constructive and well articulated ideas based on double standards. I am not against the publication of this report as with the fact that I believe in full freedom of speech and that any form of censorship is a slippery slope as I continue to endorse the vast majority of your findings, but I must say that having a constructive critic of the report should be a good thing for any organization which is based on ideas.