Official Languages ​​Act: Ottawa Accused of “Spending a Christmas Tree” in Quebec

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Official Languages ​​Act: Ottawa Accused of “Spending a Christmas Tree” in Quebec

Mario Beaulieu, Bloc Québécois spokesperson for official languages

The Trudeau government “spends a Christmas tree” in Quebec with C-13, its bill to reform the Official Languages ​​Act, which it is also trying to speed up adoption by limiting the time for debate , accuse the Bloc Québécois as well as several activist organizations, researchers and other people associated with the field of the French language.

“There is nothing in the bill to promote or protect the French language in Quebec. By granting companies the choice of the federal or Quebec language regime, the federal government is instead enshrining the right to work in English.

— Excerpt from open letter published Thursday

According to the signatories, which include the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the Mouvement national des Québécoises et Québécois and professor emeritus of sociology Guy Rocher, the bill attacks the application of the Charter of the French language – commonly referred to as Bill 101 – to businesses under federal jurisdiction, an idea which nevertheless has the support, they enumerate, of the National Assembly, of all our former Prime Ministers and of the Mayors of all major cities of Quebec.

Ottawa's bill enshrines a new right to work and be served in French in Quebec and in regions with a strong French-speaking presence in other provinces in private businesses under federal jurisdiction, such as banks, airlines or railways.

However, Quebec wants to subject these companies established on its territory to the Charter of the French language, which does not give a choice and makes French the only working language.

Thus, according to the Bloc, C-13 constitutes a setback for French in Quebec, since private companies under federal jurisdiction could choose to be subject to it rather than to Bill 101, an option that the big boss of Air Canada, Michael Rousseau, himself said he preferred during a stormy passage in parliamentary committee last spring.

Mr. Rousseau had previously boasted of having been able to live for 14 years in Montreal without speaking a word of French. And C-13 assures him of being able to continue and allows companies like his to continue to anglicize Quebec, launched during question period in the Commons, Wednesday, the Bloc Québécois critic for Official Languages , Mario Beaulieu.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Official Languages, Marc Serré, then criticized him and the Conservatives, by reading a pre-written response, for circulating false information, recalling that the modernization of the Official Languages ​​Act will allow to work and be served in French by private businesses under federal jurisdiction from coast to coast.

The Liberals have indicated in recent weeks they want Bill C-13 to pass third reading in the House of Commons by the holidays. To achieve this, they have been trying since then to considerably reduce the time for debate in committee, which has aroused the indignation of the Conservatives and the Bloc members who denounce a gag motion.

The Liberal government and its New Democratic Party ally agree that it's time to take the next step, which they argue has been loudly requested by the witnesses who marched.

< p class="e-p">They too are able to list organizations that support their point of view. Mr. Serré notably quoted in an interview the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada, the Assembly of the Francophonie of Ontario, the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick, the Société de la francophonie in Manitoba and a parents' association in New Brunswick.

He also criticized the hypocrisy of the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois, who are now obstructing committee, after having long called for a modernization of the Official Languages ​​Act, when they presented and debated during the last four meetings amendments and sub-amendments aimed at hearing more witnesses.

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