CAQ trying to limit freedoms of young adults with Bill 96, Liberals charge


“They want to apply Bill 101 without saying it.”

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Premier François Legault’s government is trying to sneak in the application of Bill 101 to CEGEPs through a back door with Bill 96 because it doesn’t have the courage to do it openly, Liberal leader Dominique Anglade charged on Thursday during a visit with students at Dawson College.

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“We’re against the application of Bill 101 to CEGEPs and it’s hypocritical for the Coalition Avenir Québec to tell us it’s not what they’re doing when it’s exactly what they’re doing,” Anglade said to reporters during her visit to the English -language CEGEP with fellow Liberal MNAs David Birnbaum and Jennifer Maccarone.

“They know it’s not popular to say they want to apply Bill 101 to CEGEPs, so they’re finding different ways to go ahead and do that. And that’s really hypocritical.”

Anglade was referring to a set of amendments to Bill 96, the government’s proposed legislation to overhaul the Charter of the French Language, that were tabled late Wednesday. Among the changes, the bill would now entrench in law a freeze on enrollment in the English CEGEP system, while expanding francophone CEGEP capacity. The amendments come weeks after the Legault government abruptly withdrew close to $200 million in financing for the expansion of Dawson College.

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The amendments introduced by the CAQ on Wednesday “prevent any growth in anglophone CEGEPs. I want all francophone Quebecers in all regions of Quebec to hear this message. The Quebec government, François Legault, want to limit the liberties of young adults to choose where they want to study. They want to apply Bill 101 without saying it.

“And on top of that, they want to add a notwithstanding clause that is preventing all Quebecers from fighting (it) in front of the courts. That’s one way of applying Bill 101 without saying it.”

Anglade said she and her Liberal colleagues are “really fed up with… this approach of division, the politics of division. We have a government that governs with division in mind. And this is not acceptable. Look at what’s going on in the world. In Quebec, we have to unite ourselves.”

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She said the Liberals won’t support Bill 96 because it strips young adults of the freedom to choose what school they wish to attend.

“I cannot support the bill today in the form that it is. I can’t,” she said.

“We believe that a person who is 17, 18 or 19 should decide where they want to go (to school). So at the end of the day, it’s a matter of values. We believe in freedom. We believe in liberties. And what basically the CAQ government is doing is telling adults what they should be doing.”

The CAQ government supported the construction project at Dawson, which was to expand classroom space without adding more students and even wanted to fast-track the project, Anglade said. By suddenly pulling the plug in January, she added, “they’re preventing the expansion because they don’t want to see students coming here (Dawson) by reducing the level of quality of teaching. That’s why they’re doing it.”

This story will be updated.

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