Bill 96 hearings: Quiet Revolution pioneer destroys CAQ’s CEGEP plan

97-year-old sociologist and professor emeritus Guy Rocher said that he and Camille Laurin, father of Bill 101, made a mistake when it came to CEGEPs in 1977.

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QUEBEC – One of the last surviving founders of Quebec’s CEGEP system and pioneer of the Silent Revolution has gotten into the Avenir Québec Coalition government’s new formula for admission to CEGEPs in English, describing it as “rickety and twisted.”


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In a fascinating 45-minute appearance before the legislative committee studying Bill 96 revising the Charter of the French Language, 97-year-old sociologist and professor emeritus Guy Rocher said that he and Camille Laurin, father of Bill 101, made a mistake regarding CEGEPs in 1977.

They should have applied the rules of the statutes that require Francophones and allophones to attend French primary and secondary schools up to the CEGEP system, Rocher said. The law currently allows them the freedom of choice to attend a CEGEP in English.

But Rocher said that at the time he and Laurin had no idea how significant the CEGEP system would be.

Rocher, who was Laurin’s deputy minister but was also involved in modernizing the education system, said that instead of a “meaningless” two-year transition phase to college, the CEGEP system flourished and helped create a class of intellectuals who Quebec was not 50 years old. behind.


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Today they are places where young people reorient their lives, make lifelong friends and discover the importance of the culture and language of Quebec.

“The choice of an English or French CEGEP is not trivial,” Rocher told the committee. “The solution he has found seems rickety, it seems twisted because he wanted to avoid applying Bill 101 to the CEGEPs.

“We really should have done it in 1977. We made a bad evaluation. Things have changed, the context has changed. If I am here it is because I am concerned about the future of the French language. At my age I have the right to worry about the future ”.

However, Rocher welcomed the remainder of Bill 96, saying it reflects the spirit of the original Bill 101.

There was no immediate reaction to his speech from the minister responsible for the French language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, who sat down to listen.


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For weeks, Jolin-Barrette has defended the new CAQ formula for attending CEGEP, which consists of limiting the registration of Francophones and allophones in the English system to 17.5% and limiting the creation of new spaces.

Prime Minister François Legault has gone further, saying that blocking Francophones and allophones is an extremist solution that he cannot support.

Rocher, however, insisted that he is a big fan of the English and French systems and said that he realized that “we don’t know each other well enough.”

He said he always thought that Quebec English speakers would be great ambassadors of Quebec culture to the rest of Canada.

“Perhaps they could have protected us from the attacks on Quebec that we have heard of,” he said. “They know us (French speakers) better.”


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Rocher’s presentation came at the end of a hectic day at the committee.

Among the key groups submitting abstracts was the Union des municipalités (UMQ), which welcomed a clause in the bill that allows cities and towns with bilingual status to retain it by passing a motion even if the percentage of English speakers has dropped. below 50 percent. .

The UMQ said the clause is key to maintaining language peace.

But the UMQ sounded the alarm about a clause that states that municipalities will have to stop providing services in English to newcomers after they have been in Quebec for six months.

“What happens after six months if the person has not learned French?” the UMQ brief asks.

And responding to a question from the liberal critic for relations with the English community, D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum, the general secretary of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, Denis Bolduc, said that English-speaking Quebecers have the right to health services. But that does not mean that everyone in a hospital should speak English or be bilingual.

On Thursday, a first minority group, the Association of School Boards of English of Quebec, will present a report.

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