Air Canada wants to understand the application of Law 101

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Air Canada wants to understand the ;Enforcement of Law 101

The CEO of Air Canada, Michael Rousseau

Federal companies operating in Quebec will likely have to respect Quebec's Charter of the French Language, known as Bill 101. , the carrier Air Canada also says it is in contact with the CAQ government to understand the application of Quebec law on its activities.

This company, whose head office is in Montreal, is subject to the Official Languages ​​Act by its statute of incorporation, as are the departments and other institutions of the federal government in Quebec.

However, the situation could change with the federal government's Bill C-13, which amends the Official Languages ​​Act. Section 54, which governs the use of French in federally chartered businesses, is in the process of being amended, which would make them subject to the Charter of the French language. In the initial text, companies had the choice of applying federal or Quebec law.

The carrier, whose boss Michael Rousseau had created controversy in November 2021 during a a speech before the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, wants to understand the application of Quebec law on its activities.

“We have entered into discussions with the Government of Quebec following their [sic] request to registration in order to understand how these two linguistic regimes, which are different while having common elements, could be applied in a reconcilable manner and without risk of conflict. »

— Air Canada

Last March, Bloc Québécois official languages ​​critic Mario Beaulieu asked the head of Air Canada if he was prepared to comply with Bill 101. At that time, Michael Rousseau clearly indicated his preference for federal legislation.

Although this is sometimes difficult and we are constantly striving to improve our performance under the Official Languages ​​Act, it is the one that best suits our situation given the scope of our operations, he replied.

Air Canada was unable to say whether the company is registered in the francization program of the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). Federal companies had until December 1 to register, as a requirement of the new Bill 101.

Last November, Le Journal de Montréal had reported that Air Canada, Canadian National and VIA Rail were still not registered with the OQLF.

Reached by Radio-Canada, the CN indicated that it was still in discussion with the CAQ government.

There are still about twenty federal companies, out of a total of 400, which have still not taken steps towards francization. Quebec does not want to name recalcitrant companies.

Since discussions are still ongoing with companies that have not yet registered with the Office to begin their francization process, we will keep our comments, underlined Thomas Verville, spokesperson for the Minister of the French Language, Jean-François Roberge.

During the year, the CAQ government submitted a series of amendments to enshrine the Charter of the French language in federal law.

One of the amendments that seeks to subject federal companies to Bill 101 is on its way to the House of Commons due to the support of the three opposition parties, information first reported by The Canadian Press and confirmed by Radio-Canada.

Mario Beaulieu, Bloc Québécois, in the House

If everyone votes in favor, we should be able to have the amendment adopted, and then, in the House, normally, we should continue to have the majority. […] It would be an important victory, underlined Mario Beaulieu during an interview with Radio-Canada.

Mr. Beaulieu wants to make sure over the next few weeks that opposition MPs will all vote in favor of this amendment.

Over the years, the opposition parties have rallied. Among the Conservatives, we were a little less sure. […] But I am quite confident, he underlined.

In the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), we assure you that we want to vote in favor of the amendment.

We are voting in favor of section 54 so that the Charter applies to federally chartered businesses. My fear is the NDP. The Bloc and us, it is clear, our position is clear. The NDP, its position is not that clear, pointed out Joël Godin, Conservative MP for Portneuf–Jacques-Cartier.

However, the NDP's position is in line with that of the other opposition parties. We maintain that Quebec language planning should be uniform and that federal companies established in Quebec should be subject to the Charter of the French language, underlined MP Niki Ashton.

For the Liberals, it's just the opposite. In an interview with Patrice Roy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was against the application of Bill 101 for federal companies.

We, at the federal level, respect the fields of skill. […] I do not want a provincial law governing federal institutions. No more than Mr. Legault would like me to interfere in the provincial, he said.

The Standing Committee on Official Languages ​​will consider 200 amendments during eight sessions. Work will resume on January 31 and a vote, notably on the Quebec amendment, should take place in early March.

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