Quebec seeks to change the Canadian Constitution and make radical changes to language laws with a new bill – fr

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Quebec seeks to change the Canadian Constitution and make radical changes to language laws with a new bill – fr


The government of Quebec has tabled a bill that aims to amend the Canadian Constitution to include a specific clause reiterating the rights in French of the Quebec nation.
It is part of a radical new bill which, if passed, would become the most rigorous law to strengthen the status of the French language in Quebec since Bill 101 passed in 1977.

The latest bill, called Bill 96, includes the following proposed measures:

  • Open the Canadian Constitution and add clauses to say that Quebec is a nation and that its official and common language is French.
  • Apply Bill 101 to companies with 25 to 49 employees and to federal workplaces.
  • Require any commercial signage that includes non-French trademarks to include a “predominant” amount of French on all signs.
  • Limit the number of students in English CEGEPs.
  • Provide access to training in French for those who are not required by law to go to school in French.
  • Removal of bilingual status from a municipality if census data shows that English is the mother tongue of less than 50% of its population, unless the municipality decides to maintain its status by passing a resolution to retain it.
  • Create a French-language ministry and the position of French-language commissioner, as well as strengthen the role of the French-speaking watchdog, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).

Simon Jolin-Barrette, the provincial minister responsible for the French language, introduced the bill this morning.

Prime Minister François Legault and himself have expressed their concern about the decline of the French language in Quebec.

“If we truly believe in the common language that is French, if we truly believe that this language is vulnerable… we have to act,” Legault said in April.

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The bill follows a number of studies by Quebec’s French-speaking watchdog, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), which found that the French language is in decline in the province.

A 2018 study predicts that the percentage of Quebecers who speak French at home will drop from 82% in 2011 to around 75% in 2036.

The linguistic laws and the identity of Quebec have long been a source of tension in the province. Bill 101, adopted in 1977 by the government of the Parti Québécois led by René Léveque, aimed to strengthen and protect the French language in Quebec. This makes French the only official language of government, courts and workplaces. (Ron Poling / The Canadian Press)

The second study, also completed in 2018, looked at the language spoken in the workplace.

It found that a quarter of Montreal employees surveyed said they used French and English equally at work, and only 18.7% said they spoke French exclusively at work.

Quebec opposition parties have expressed their support for stronger language reforms.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, parliamentary leader for Québec solidaire, said the reforms are aimed at protecting and promoting the French language – not attacking English-speaking communities.

“The debate around French is not necessarily a debate of division,” said Nadeau-Dubois.

“This can be a unifying debate for Quebec society. I know that many young English speakers of my generation totally agree with the spirit of Bill 101. ”

Bill 101, a defining moment

The original law, adopted in 1977 by the government of the Parti Québécois of René Léveque, aimed to strengthen and protect the French language in Quebec.

Bill 101, or the Charter of the French language, makes French the only official language of the government, courts and workplaces in Quebec.

It includes restrictions on the use of English on exterior commercial signage and requires all children to study in French, except those adults who have studied in English in Canada.

Lorraine O’Donnell, a Quebec historian who heads the Quebec Anglophone Communities Research Network, said the original Bill 101 had a lasting impact.

“Bill 101 is seen as a turning point in the history of Quebec,” she said. “It marked the conscience and the perspective of English-speaking Quebec. “

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