‘I’m from quebec. Full stop’: questions remain for Anglophones after the adoption of Bill 96 – Montreal

Born and raised in Quebec, Alison Ramsey has made efforts to live her life in the language of Molière, even though her heritage and mother tongue is English.

But lately, she feels like her efforts aren’t enough. That’s because Bill 96, the provincial reform of the Charter of the French Language, goes too far, she said.

“I think it’s going to decimate our (government) services, I think it’s going to make us second-class citizens because we don’t have those rights,” Ramsey said. “I think it’s unfair. I think it’s demoralizing. I think it’s dehumanizing.

This feeling prompted Ramsey to write an article in the Journal de Chambly, titled “I am an Anglophone but am I a human?

She denounces the law which she says “denies her fundamental rights” and asks why the authorities are not instead focusing on building better access to education.

The story continues under the ad

“A lot of people came to see me and said thank you for the article and these people also live and work in French because that’s what we do, that’s how we live in Quebec and that’s that’s how we like to live in Quebec.” she says.

Read more:

Bill 96: opponents of the new French language law express their “sadness, frustration” at the demonstration

One such person is Sharron Wall, a small business owner.

“No one I know feels okay with that,” Wall says.

Both are concerned about the impact the bill will have on government services in English. They wonder about the improvement in the use of French through the reform and wonder what the real purpose of Law 96 is.

Columnist Josh Freed has a theory.

“I think it’s entirely a ploy to shout ‘nationalism’ and appeal to [Premier François Legault’s] vote rural and get more seats,” Freed says.

The story continues under the ad

Freed thinks the law is divisive and counterproductive.

“Friends who were sovereignists for years, or very nationalist friends are now angry with the bill,” Freed says. “They have succeeded in alienating all those who are not French-speaking in Quebec and it is a terrible thing.

Read more:

The CAQ suggests that only “historic Anglophones” in Quebec should have access to services in English

Politicians promised “historic English speakers” they would keep their rights. But Freed wonders how it will work.

“How am I even going to prove that I was a historical English speaker?” Freed wondered. “Do I have to go get my high school papers from the 1970s? I don’t have them anywhere. I guess I have to find my 5th grade teacher who would be 105 by now and have her testify that I went to school in English, you know.

Even the Quebec Department of Immigration could not answer this question. When asked for a definition of the term, a spokesperson wrote in an email to Global News that “Law 96 makes no mention of historic English speakers.”

Quebec Immigration Minister and author of the law, Simon Jolin-Barrette, declined Global News’ request for an interview.

For the constitutionalist Julius Grey, the absence of definition in the law “makes it totally unintelligible”, which could pose a legal problem.

The story continues under the ad

READ MORE: The Quebec legislature adopts Bill 96 linguistic reform in all margins

A law that cannot be interpreted and is unintelligible can be considered invalid, says Gray. But it could also be purposely left vague.

“It’s kind of a double whammy,” Gray explained. “On the one hand you don’t know what it means, on the other hand the potential for it to mean very big and very terrible things is high.”

For the group of English-speaking rights activists Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), the term is “unrealizable”.

“It’s limiting, it’s insulting,” said Eva Ludwig, acting chair of the QCGN. “It denies the history, the experience, the contribution of English speakers in Quebec.”

They wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister against the notion of historical Anglophones. It was signed by thousands.

Meanwhile, Ramsey hopes to be accepted by the government for who she is: “I am a Quebecer. Full stop,” she said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Comments are closed.