Two of the leaders of Quebec political parties, including Premier François Legault, won’t take part in an English debate, they said Friday.

All party leaders were invited this week to participate in a single English-language debate on Sept. 20, hosted by a media consortium made up of several English-language outlets in the Montreal area, including CTV News.

Legault’s CAQ party is predicted to sweep the fall provincial election, according to the latest polls.

While Legault’s spokesman said the premier declined in order to keep his workload down, the leader of the Parti Quebecois had a different reason that he gave bluntly on Twitter.

“The Parti Québécois will not participate in the leaders’ debate in English. The official and common language in Quebec is French,” wrote PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

“We will of course be available to answer questions from English-speaking journalists.”

Legault’s spokesperson, Ewan Sauves, said in a statement that the English debate isn’t the only one the premier turned down.

“We declined the invitations for two debates, one of which was in English,” he said.

“The Premier will already take part in the debates organized by the TVA and Radio-Canada networks. It must be understood that each debate requires significant and non-negligible preparation time.”

He didn’t respond to a question about whether Legault or the party are concerned about the message this could convey to Quebec’s English-speakers.

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The refusal comes in the midst of final debates over Bill 96, the massive new language law that will have far-reaching impacts into every aspect of life in Quebec, including schools, the justice system and health care.

The bill, which further bans the use of English in certain settings and permanently caps the size of English-language colleges, is very likely to pass into law in early June under the CAQ’s majority.

The media consortium hosting the debate hasn’t yet made a statement in light of the two refusals, or what kind of debate it envisions without them.


This is a developing story that will be updated.



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