Premier Francois Legault announced on Tuesday that the long-awaited French language reform charter would be tabled in the house on Thursday. The reform bill is expected to be called ‘An Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Quebec’.
However, it is not yet clear what reforms are to be unveiled, how they will be applied, and how they will affect Montrealers. Quebec’s government had promised to table Bill 101 in the current parliamentary session.
However, not all Montrealers are comfortable with the Bill, Marlene Jennings who head the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) say that the organization is watching the process ‘with some trepidation.
“Our experience has been that the government will tell us, we have no intention of diminishing or eroding your rights as an official language minority community, but we ended up being collateral damage because we weren’t consulted upstream.”
Jennings added that the English minority community has rights, but insisted that they are not always applied. Furthermore, the French Language Charter states that the application and interpretation have to be done with the spirit of fairness and open-mindedness for the rights of English-speaking Quebecers.
Legault hinted at the 22nd April news conference that he would use the notwithstanding clause to shield the bill from legal challenges. The reform Bill 101 is a big government portfolio receiving $17 million in funding to promote the French language.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante says she is in favor of the bill strengthening language laws. She also wants the Montreal Anglophones to have access to services.
“I want to assure that everybody gets services because that’s what a city does. So there has to be a balance, but I’m definitely behind the government in terms of the objectives.”