New French Language Law Sparks Heated Debate Among Quebec Politicians | CBC News

In a heated exchange in the National Assembly, Saul Polo, the liberal MNA from Laval-des-Rapides, made an impassioned plea to Quebec Premier François Legault to retract his claim that French is under threat due to to the proportion of Quebecers who speak it at home. .

“According to the prime minister’s vision, I should leave my identity at the airport as soon as I get off the plane,” said Polo, who was born in Columbia.

“Go tell the Armenian community, who have been here for five generations and fled a genocide, tell the Lebanese community, who fled civil wars, the Cambodian community, the Colombian community, that they don’t have French as a first language, that we represent a threat to the French”.

Legault said this morning that French was in decline as a language spoken at home, as well as in other parts of society, and that he would like to better track and measure the use of French in society.

Bill 96, the government’s revision of the Charter of the French Language, received royal assent on Wednesday and was officially signed into law. On May 13, 78 MNAs voted in favor of the bill and 29 voted against it.

Polo said he disagreed with Legault’s statement because it delved too deeply into people’s private lives and because it suggested that immigrants who don’t speak French at home are a threat to the language.

The debate took place during question period in the National Assembly on Wednesday and also touched on immigration, labor shortages and global warming. It involved MNAs from several different parties and ignited the discussion about what statistics can and cannot tell about the state of a language.

This weekend, at a Coalition Avenir Québec convention, Legault said he wanted to demand more immigration powers from Ottawa.

In practice, that would mean that Quebec could select immigrants who come to the province through Canada’s family reunification program. In 2021, 14,000 people came to Quebec through the program.

Legault said that 51 percent of them already spoke French, but that he wanted that number to be higher.

French Language Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said the CAQ is protecting and promoting French. (Radio-Canada)

The premier said it was about the survival of the French language in the province, pointing to the state of Louisiana as an example of a place that used to be predominantly French-speaking but is no longer, surrounded by a nearly monolithically English community. speaking country.

The speech, in which Legault called for a “strong mandate” from Quebecers in the fall provincial elections, gave a glimpse of what his campaign might look like.

Boos erupt in debate

He said only that Quebec has a labor shortage and should increase the number of immigrants it accepts through programs that lead to permanent residency, such as economic immigration and family reunification.

“The prime minister tried to defend his example of the supposed threat of non-French speaking immigration in the French language by comparing Quebec to Louisiana,” Solo said.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, who was appointed Minister of the French Language on Wednesday, defended himself and the prime minister.

Boos erupted as both Jolin-Barrette and Solo spoke up. At one point, the president of the National Assembly, François Paradis, said that he was about to suspend the session.

“Quebec is one of the most open and welcoming societies in the world, but in Quebec we must welcome people who migrate here in French. The Liberals neglected French when they were in power,” Jolin-Barrette said.

“Take pride in the French language, defend it and value it!”

Legault spoke up, citing a statistic that found less than 60 percent of Montrealers primarily use French at work.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesman for Québec Solidaire, said Legault’s comments about demanding more control over immigration in Quebec are a political strategy to distract attention from other issues. (Radio-Canada)

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, weighed in, saying that Legault was campaigning on fear.

“The cost of living is suffocating. We are living through a historic housing crisis. Homes are unaffordable. The healthcare system is in shambles. Global warming is hitting us,” Nadeau-Dubois said.

“So, I can understand the prime minister for making up an imaginary threat. I get it for pointing fingers at immigrants. It is the electoral strategy of politicians who have no plans for society.”

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