The guarantees that critics seek “written in black and white”, says the minister responsible for the French language.

Article content

QUEBEC – The guarantees that minority communities seek that their lives will not be affected by reforms to the Charter of the French Language are already included in Bill 96, the legislation minister said on Thursday.


Article content

“What I said orally is already in the bill,” Simon Jolin-Barrette told two journalists at the close of three weeks of committee hearings on the proposed legislation.

“I assured you yesterday. I understand that they may not have seen them (the clauses) because it is a 100 page, 200 article bill. I said it and I repeat it, nothing changes for the English-speaking community.

“What I already said is written in black and white.”

Jolin-Barrette, minister responsible for the French language, made the comments responding to central criticism from the handful of minority groups who were invited to comment on the bill.

They all took on the challenge of analyzing the bill clause by clause. While most, including Quebec’s network of community groups, called for the bill to be withdrawn, they also challenged the minister to back up, in writing, the promises he made verbally to the community during the hearings.


Article content

Specifically, the groups want a clause that establishes that Bill 96 does not invade article 15 of the Social and Health Services Law, which guarantees access to services in English. A second clause they want to see is one that protects existing rights.

Jolin-Barrette invited disgruntled observers to re-examine Article 15 of Bill 96. The grandfathered provisions are contained in the “full” bill, he said.

Jolin-Barrette insisted, however, that the bill in general has gone well with Quebecers even though the hearings revealed much criticism, with the business community being one of the most scathing.

Trending on Canadian News  BC should stop using the RCMP and create its own police, says committee of elected officials

“There is a consensus that French is on the decline in Quebec and there is a need to protect and promote the French language and Bill 96 does that,” Jolin-Barrette said.


Article content

“There are several groups that said that it is going too far or that it is not going far enough, but one thing is that everyone recognizes that we are acting on the question of the French language.”

But he said he listened to the 50 groups that appeared and will read the other 50 writings that were presented directly to the committee secretary and “yes, we will retain certain suggestions to improve the bill.”

“I always said that I was willing to make improvements to the bill if the goal was to better protect the French language,” he said.

He said he disagreed with analysts who said they doubt the bill will do much to stem the decline in French use, particularly in homes where it really matters.

“I think Bill 96 will reverse the trend,” he said. “I feel that there is a will in the population to act.”


Article content

The hearings ended around the same time that Prime Minister François Legault announced that he intends to suspend the current session of the legislature next Wednesday.

That will mean that Bill 96 will temporarily disappear from the ordering document, but will come back to life in a new session on October 19.

Among the last groups heard was one responsible for helping integrate newcomers to Quebec. The group said the message it is hearing in the fallout from the bill is that the decline of French is somehow the fault of immigrants.

While the debate over racism and systemic racism has raged in Quebec, “we don’t talk enough about linguism,” the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrants told the committee.


Article content

Linguism refers to discrimination based on the language a person speaks. The Concentration Table group represents 159 groups dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees in Quebec.

Trending on Canadian News  #AMLOTrackingPoll Approval of AMLO, April 27

The Kanesatake Mohawk community put forth a brief call for cooperation between the nation of Quebec and its nations to ensure that First Nations languages ​​are not affected.

Finally, the committee listened to the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities (FCFA), who said they fear that Bill 96 could provoke a kind of reaction against them in the rest of the country.

“It’s like we’re walking on eggs,” Jolin-Barrette said in response. “We cannot go too far because we could anger other people in the Canadian federation.

“This makes me deeply angry because what we see is that if Quebec wants to protect the French in Canada, if Quebec wants to protect the French in Quebec, we are under threat of retaliation against French-speaking communities in the rest of Canada.”

[email protected]



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update from a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.