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City's English-only ruling concerns foreign investors.

City's English-only ruling concerns foreign investors

Because it was the first larger city to do so, Sault Ste. Marie took most of the heat for the rash of English-only decisions in Ontario prior to the collapse of the Meech Lake Accord.

However, there was also Thunder Bay, the largest city to have such a resolution adopted by its council.

Both cities lost some convention business and the decision also caused concern in the investment community.

P.R. Charbonneau, general manager of the Thunder Bay Economic Development Corporation, says concerns were raised by clients in Eastern Canada.

A few firms from Quebec looking at investing in the city felt uncomfortable because of the vote, he says. One went ahead and invested, while the other did not.

Charbonneau doesn't know if the language issue was the key factor in the firm's decision not to invest.

Currently, he says, "I think the issue has pretty much gone away."

Charbonneau notes that one of the largest manufacturers in the city, Can Car, owned by the Lavalin Group of Montreal, continues to have excellent relations with the city.

Overseas clients such as those from Hong Kong were also concerned over the level of tolerance in the city because of the English-only vote.

Charbonneau says they were concerned about whether or not they would be accepted into the community.

However, that concern appears to have been answered, and the English-only policy is not known to have discouraged any foreign investment.

Even though he opposed the English-only resolution, Mayor Jack Masters says it was intended to give an economic message to the provincial government.

That message was that the city did not want to implement mandatory provincial policies, in this case the French Languages Services Act, without having the province pay for it.

Masters says the whole debate appears, in a strange way, to have brought more understanding between Quebec and Thunder Bay, because it initiated a dialogue.


Lynn McCreadie, executive director of North of Superior Tourism, says the English-only decision received an unfortunate amount of media coverage.

However, she says, in general tourism was not affected by the controversy.

McCreadie says, "I don't see now where it's really an issue."
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Title Annotation:Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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