'Insult' to francophones: N.B. groups demand Austin resign from language committee

FREDERICTON — Eighteen francophone groups in New Brunswick are calling for Kris Austin to resign from a legislature committee that is reviewing the province's Official Languages Act.

The organization that represents the province's Acadians — Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick — led a news conference today to decry Premier Blaine Higgs's nomination to the committee of Austin, who is minister of public safety and solicitor general.

The groups say that Austin, former leader of the defunct People's Alliance of New Brunswick, once proposed to merge the francophone health system into the English one and to abolish the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.

Acadian society president Alexandre Cédric Doucet says it is an "insult" that someone like Austin has been named to a committee that is tasked with improving the province's bilingualism legislation.

Yvon Godin, president of the association of New Brunswick's francophone municipalities, asked for support from English-speaking New Brunswickers, adding that French speakers are not a threat but an asset.

Last week, Higgs committed to supporting bilingualism and defended Austin, who he said never opposed official bilingualism in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2022.

The Canadian Press