Bill 96: toughening language law is a national priority, says Jolin-Barrette

And we go. Hearings on Bill 96, which revises the Charter of the French Language, will last nine days.

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QUEBEC – Federal elections are over. Let’s move on to the linguistic debate.


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Hearings on Quebec’s proposed legislation revising the Charter of the French Language, Bill 96, opened Tuesday morning in the legislature.

The minister responsible for the French language, and the bill, made no secret of his determination that the bill should become law.

“The facts are there and they are factual. French is on a worrying decline in Quebec, particularly in Greater Montreal, ”said Simon Jolin-Barrette at the start of the hearings. “I cannot repeat this enough. When the French loses ground in Quebec, it is the nation that loses strength.

“Not only is a major reform of the Charter of the French Language necessary. It is a national priority ”.

A total of 51 groups and individuals have been invited to comment on the 202-article bill, introduced by the government of the Avenir Québec Coalition on May 13.


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In her own comments on the bill, liberal language critic Hélène David said that while she agrees that the letter should be revised, she is concerned about the applicability of some of the measures and will ask a lot of questions.

But Pascal Bérubé, the Parti Québécois language critic, said divisions in the CAQ caucus prevented Jolin-Barrette from going any further. He called for a stricter bill.

The legislation is comprehensive and has been widely criticized for being too harsh on minorities. Jolin-Barrette has insisted that it in no way affects the rights of the English-speaking community to services.

Among other things, the bill proposes to create a new French-language commissioner, freeze the percentage of Francophones and allophones in the English CEGEP system, and apply the rules of the statutes to small businesses with 25 to 49 employees.


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He proposes ending what he calls “systemic bilingualism” in the government machinery. The exclusive use of French would become the norm with some exceptions, such as the protection of the rights of First Nations peoples and Anglophone institutions.

It proposes to apply more vigorously the rules of “French dominance” on commercial signs and to unilaterally anchor in the Canadian constitution the fact that Quebec is a nation and that French is the common language.

On Monday, Jolin-Barrette defended the constitutional incursion included in the bill.

“We are a great nation, with more than 400 years of history,” he said. “We don’t need anyone’s permission to exist.”

He also reacted to some of the most extreme comments about language made in recent weeks.


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“These attacks on Quebec are no longer working,” he said. “More confident than ever, the nation of Quebec knows that its actions are legitimate and relevant. It is with respect but firmness that an appeal to calm is necessary. We must collectively rise to the occasion of this important debate.

“After the laxism of the last 15 years, a relaunch of language is necessary.”

As was the case with the CWC’s state law on secularism, Bill 21, the government plans to invoke the clause of the Constitution to invalidate fundamental rights and protect the bill from legal challenges.

It is unlikely to be adopted before the National Assembly Christmas recess.

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