Bill 96: English Quebecers lose out on language bill, says QCGN

Bill 96 uses an “outdated and obnoxious” approach that will create barriers and mistrust, and strengthen access to services in English, says QCGN.

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QUEBEC – The president of the Québec English-speaking Québec community group on Tuesday welcomed a senior Québec cabinet minister saying in public that Anglophones are part of the nation of Québec.


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But Marlene Jennings, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, said she is stepping away from a presentation of her group’s views on Bill 96 revising the French Language Charter unsatisfied.

He doesn’t like the way the Avenir Québec Coalition government is trying to redefine who is a Québec English speaker and therefore eligible for services in English, and he has yet to hear an explanation as to why Québec is doing so. a preventive use of the annulment of the Constitution. clause of suspension of fundamental rights.

“I think we have to continue our fight, we have to keep advocating, we have to keep spreading what Bill 96 does and doesn’t do, despite what the government through Christopher Skeete and Mr. Jolin- Barrette claim, ”Marlene Jennings told reporters.


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“This battle is not over, it is not over. QCGN is right in the middle and we are going to strengthen our side. ”

Jennings’ comments culminated in a day when, after fighting in the shadows for months through the media, the QCGN and the minister responsible for French, Simon Jolin-Barrette, spoke directly, albeit via video conference in the hearings of the committee that studies Bill 96.

In anticipation of the QCGN explosion, Jolin-Barrette opened his comments on QCGN’s submission saying, in his opinion, that Bill 96 in no way affects the rights of the community to health, education and judicial services in English as they always have.

He emphasized saying that Bill 96 does not replace the Law on Social and Health Services, which includes a clause that guarantees English-speaking services.


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“From the top, I want to remind you that the nation of Quebec is pluralistic,” Jolin-Barrette told the committee. “It includes all Quebecers in Quebec, including members of the English-speaking community.

Switching to English, Jolin-Barrette moved to calm the waters.

“I want to reassure the English-speaking community,” he said. “This bill is inclusive, it includes all Quebecers. We are not taking away any rights from anyone. ”

But Jennings and his delegation, which included former Liberal Cabinet Minister Clifford Lincoln, came equipped, presenting the committee with a 50-page report (600 if annexes are included) separating Bill 96 clause by clause.

After saying he was happy to hear Jolin-Barrette say that Anglophones are part of the Quebec nation, something he said he hasn’t heard since the days of René Lévesque, Jennings challenged Jolin-Barrette to produce a clause in the Bill 96 that supports your statement that services are not or would not be in danger.


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Nowhere in Bill 96 does it say that an English-speaking Quebecer about to undergo surgery would be entitled to receive a consent form written in English as is currently the case, he told the minister.

“I’d like to be wrong,” Jennings said, noting that Bill 96 is intended to lower the definition of an English-speaking Quebecer. “Show me the article in Bill 96 that says this is not the case.”

The bill, in fact, proposes to use as a definition current eligibility to attend school in English, excluding other English speakers, as a benchmark for determining who constitutes a member of the “historic English-speaking community.”

According to the QCGN report, there were 600,000 single-response native English speakers in the 2016 census, but 1.1 million residents whose first official language spoken is English.


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The CAQ definition “would eliminate the right to access services in English for between 300,000 and 500,000 English-speaking Quebecers,” concludes QCGN.

But Jennings and Jolin-Barrette weren’t quite entangled, and the minister said he found some of the more extreme comments made during QCGN’s recent side-hearings on the bill “problematic”.

He then challenged Jennings to say whether the QCGN believes the Frenchman is on the decline in Quebec. Jennings chided the minister, saying he needs to be more specific because while the number of Francophones in the mother tongue has decreased, studies show that the use of French has increased.

“We believe, in the bottom of our hearts, that we have a duty to promote, protect and defend French as an official and common language in Quebec,” said Jennings. “Listen, it is not our community that is angry with the French.


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“We are the ones who stay. We stay and build our families and deepen our knowledge of French. ”

With limited time, the two could not debate the QCGN’s criticism of the government’s use of the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to protect Bill 96 from human rights challenges in court in the same way as it did so with the Quebec state secularism bill.

The QCGN says that Bill 96 reforms the state of Quebec, away from a liberal democracy.

To that end, the QCGN calls for the complete withdrawal of the bill so that a judicial reference test can be carried out before it becomes law.

As the two sides left the room widely separated, Christopher Skeete, parliamentary assistant to the prime minister for relations with the English community, insisted that the government is listening.

“That fear (of the bill) is real,” Skeete said. “It comes from 50 years of zero-sum games, of suspicion of the other. We have to break that down. That’s the ball game. ”

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  1. Simon Jolin-Barrette, minister responsible for the French language, speaks at the beginning of a legislative committee studying Bill 96 on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in Quebec City.

    Language law should not be ‘moderate and reasonable,’ says Louise Beaudoin at Bill 96 hearings

  2. Prime Minister François Legault, seen in a file photo, told the CAQ youth wing on Sunday that some people, including the Parti Québécois, would prefer a much harsher line in language.

    ‘CAQ, a bulwark against radicals,’ says Legault as Quebec prepares for language debate



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