Archive | The debate and adoption of the Charter of the French language in 1977

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Archives | The debate and adoption of the Charter of the French language in 1977

The Charter of the French Language Act, or Bill 101, was passed on August 26, 1977.

< p class="e-p">The Charter of the French Language, also known as “Bill 101”, was adopted after a bitter debate in the National Assembly of Quebec on August 26, 1977. This new law made French the only official language. of the province of Quebec.

“This law must first be a clear, vigorous and straightforward affirmation of the absolutely normal primacy of the French language in Quebec territory. »

— René Lévesque announcing the proposed program for the second session of the 31st Legislature of the National Assembly of Quebec.

“As of today, it is the hour of our maturity that begins. »

— Camille Laurin, Minister of State for Cultural Development of Quebec, announcing the tabling of the bill for the Charter of the French language.

On November 15, 1976, the Parti Québécois, led by René Lévesque, won the Quebec general election.

This victory triggers a political earthquake.

The new government has a dual inseparable objective: to restore the French language to a predominant status in Quebec society and to acquire political maturity for Quebec by realizing its sovereignty.

Very quickly takes place the opening of the second session of the 31st Legislature in the National Assembly of Quebec.

Premier René Lévesque announces a series of bills that seek to transform Quebec society.

The flagship bill deals with the status of the French language in Quebec.

Journalist Gilles Liboiron presents an excerpt from a speech by Premier René Lévesque announcing the upcoming tabling of a new language policy at the National Assembly of Quebec.

On the show Tonightof March 8, 1977, journalist Gilles Liboiron recalls that Prime Minister Lévesque announced the imminent tabling of a bill which he designates as being a Charter of the French language.

The excerpt from the speech given by the Prime Minister shows both his determination to make French the predominant language in Quebec and his concern for moderation towards linguistic minorities, in particular Anglophones, who live in the province.

A few days later, on April 1, 1977, Camille Laurin tabled a bill in the National Assembly that would profoundly change the linguistic landscape of the province of Quebec.

This Bill of the Charter of the French Language, also known as Bill 1 and then Bill 101, will make Quebec an officially unilingual French state.

Excerpt from a speech by the Minister of State for Cultural Development, Camille Laurin, during the tabling of the bill for the Charter of the French language

In a speech presented during a Special broadcast, of which here is an excerpt, the Minister of State for Cultural Development is solemn.

Both moved and proud, Camille Laurin describes his language policy project as a key moment in cultural evolution and a milestone in the achievement of political maturity for Quebecers.

The period of guardianship and dependence is over once and for all, says the minister.

“Tonight, on Téléjournal, Quebec is officially unilingual”

— Presenter Paul-Émile Tremblay

The opposition to the Charter of the French language was sometimes very strong.

It even forced the Lévesque government to present a new version of its language policy, renamed Bill 101, which included several technical and substantive amendments considered major.

Bill 101 was adopted after four months of debate, sometimes heated and passionate, in the National Assembly of Quebec.

Journalist Richard Vigneault details the reasons for the opposition to the adoption of the law on the Charter of the French language in the Assembly national of Quebec.

On August 26, 1977, the presenter of the Téléjournal,Paul-Émile Tremblay, details the vote: 54 votes “for” and 32 “against”, i.e. all the Liberal and Unionist deputies as well as the Créditiste who became independent, Camil Samson.

The parliamentary journalist Richard Vigneault explains the reasons for their opposition.

The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Gérard D. Lévesque, recalls the journalist, describes the new law as “hypocritical and unfair”.

The Union Nationale, despite its nationalist leanings, opposes Bill 101 because the unionists want Quebec to remain in Canada.

< p class="e-p">Richard Vigneault points out that Minister Camille Laurin nevertheless received a huge ovation after the adoption of the law.

A rare fact, but which happened during a day described as historic by many, underlines the journalist.

Richard Vigneault also reviews Premier René Lévesque's third reading speech, which he describes as marked by moderation.

It was from this adoption that a new fight began to weaken the Charter of the French language.

Journalist James Bamber reports on the consequences of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision invalidating several articles of the Charter of the French language.

To Tonight, hosted on December 13, 1979 by Gabi Drouin, journalist James Bamber reminds us of the scope of what is known as the Blaikie judgment, pronounced unanimously by the Supreme Court of Canada.

This judgment decrees that sections 7 to 13 of the Charter of the French language are contrary to section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

These articles are therefore considered unconstitutional and declared invalid by the nine justices of the Canadian Supreme Court.

Even if the highest court in the land reserves a similar fate for a language law in Manitoba , the decision is a blow to the language policy of the Lévesque government.

45 years later, the debate on the protection of the French language has never completely disappeared from the news.

Language policies in Quebec

  • The Act to promote the French language in Quebec, Bill 63, was adopted under the Unionist government of Jean-Jacques Bertrand on November 20, 1969. Although it mainly addressed only the question of the language of instruction, it it was then the most extensive language policy ever adopted in Quebec.
  • Adopted on July 30, 1974, the Official Language Act, also called Bill 22, replaced the disputed Act to promote the French language in Quebec in 1969.
  • Even before it was passed, Bill 22 was the subject of strong criticism. English-speaking Liberal MPs show their dissent. The Parti Québécois submits, in vain, a bill announcing some of the major orientations of the future Charter of the French language. Pressure groups, both Anglophone and Francophone, vigorously demonstrate their disagreement.

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