I am writing on behalf of my Franco-American constituents and other Mainers of French descent. I have heard from many of them since they learned about Gov. Paul LePage’s recent remarks that play into the old ethnic slur of the dumb Frenchman. They are deeply offended by the governor’s behavior.

The governor’s staff tries to downplay that behavior, brushing it aside as a joke. But it is not a laughing matter. Mainers of French heritage have every right to be upset with the governor.

It wasn’t that long ago that discrimination against French-Canadians was out in the open and rampant. While much has been accomplished in the fight against such discrimination, it would be a mistake to say it was something that happened only in the distant past.

As the governor has shown, not just this time, but on previous occasions, the negative stereotypes used against Francos are, unfortunately, still alive and well today. We can’t just turn a blind eye to them. That is especially true, or ought to be, for the governor — the most prominent and highest elected Franco official in this state.

Franco-Americans should be able to look up to the governor as an example of how much progress we have made. Instead, he disparages our heritage. He should be acting as a role model, not dragging us back in time.

Rep. Michel Lajoie, D-Lewiston

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: