Bill 96: Language task force wants Ottawa to block language law


Another English-speaking community group has embarked on the debate on Bill 96. The Language Policy Working Group is digging holes in the bill which they say goes well beyond the language issue alone. .

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QUEBEC – A group of English-speaking Quebecers is asking the federal government to “disown” Quebec’s Bill 96, overhauling the Charter of the French language.

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Claiming that the bill restructures the language law in Quebec and in Canada “in a fundamental and illegitimate way,” the group says that in the end, it will be up to Ottawa to step up and defend the English-speaking minority in Quebec.

“The federal government not only has a moral responsibility to protect these rights and freedoms and language rights, it in fact has the constitutional power to stop Bill 96 and we must remind them,” said lawyer Colin Standish, Chairman of the Working Group. on language policy.

Standish made the comment in a video conferencing forum as his working group posted a 43-page brief commenting on several of the 200 articles of Bill 96.

Not being one of the 50 groups invited to present their point of view to the National Assembly committee which is currently studying the bill, the working group will submit it to the clerk in the hope that it will grab the attention of the government.

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Standish acknowledged that the idea of ​​Ottawa getting involved in such important provincial legislation would be “controversial”, to put it mildly.

When Bill 96 was tabled, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognized that Quebec could unilaterally amend part of the Canadian Constitution, a declaration that greatly angered Quebec minorities.

But the group’s brief on Bill 96 goes further. Using very strong language, the task force declares that it believes the bill “surgically excises” the English language, its speakers and its institutions in Quebec.

As the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) did a week ago, the Standish group claims that Bill 96 creates a “false definition” of who qualifies as a member of the English-speaking community. The bill proposes to restrict the definition to persons who have received an education in English in Canada.

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Even though Bill 96 gives bilingual municipalities the possibility of maintaining their status, the task force’s brief indicates that the bill aims to eliminate the status of 50 of the cities in question.

The brief also challenges much of the wording of the bill, including the description of Quebec as a nation and the only French-speaking state in North America.

He claims that French is in fact not the only official language of Quebec because since Quebec is a territory defined by the Constitution as being within the borders of Canada, English is also an official language.

It focuses on the civil penalties of the bill, claiming that a family allowing their child to read a storybook in English to a neighbor’s child who has no right to an education in English could be liable to a fine of $ 21,000.

There was no immediate reaction to the government’s brief.

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