Québec Bill 96/Canada C-13 April-December 2022

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20 December
Bill 101 will be extended to federal businesses in Quebec, opposition says
Quebec’s minister of the French language, Jean-François Roberge, criticized Bill C-13 for placing Canada’s linguistic minorities “on an equal footing.”
Private businesses under federal jurisdiction in Quebec will be made subject to Bill 101, the province’s language charter, whether the Trudeau government likes it or not, federal opposition parties have confirmed.
The Conservative Party of Canada, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party have confirmed to Presse Canadienne either officially or informally that they intend to vote to support an amendment sought by the Legault government for the revision of the Official Languages Act.

14 December
English is not in peril in Quebec, François Legault says
The premier calls on Ottawa to “walk the talk” when it comes to protecting French in the province.
Reacting to a report of comments made by federal Liberal MPs Tuesday, who said they feel Ottawa needs to take a greater role in protecting the English-speaking minority in Quebec, Legault said he has the impression the MPs don’t get the fact French is in decline in the province.
“I heard Mr. (Marc) Garneau, and I have the impression he doesn’t understand,” Legault told reporters at a news conference. “He also doesn’t understand that English is not a species in peril in Quebec.”
On Tuesday, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount MP Garneau, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel MP Patricia Lattanzio told a Commons committee examining Bill C-13, modifying the Official Languages Act, that Ottawa has a role to protect the anglophone minority.

François Legault’s Double-Down Mandate and Minority Language Rights
Quebec Premier François Legault’s landslide second mandate seems to have ratified his controversial targeting of both minority language and religious rights in the province. … David Johnston, longtime journalist and former Quebec representative of the federal Commissioner of Official Languages, breaks down the political and legal angles of the story.
(Policy) His first priority, he said, was immigration, the issue that dominated the Quebec election campaign. …
The second priority, he said, relates to language. Quebec passed new legislation in May, Bill 96, that among other things has modernized the Charte de la langue française, aka Bill 101. Bill 101 in its original form, introduced in 1977, respected federal jurisdiction and never sought to apply to federal operations in Quebec, including private companies under federal regulation – e.g., banks, telecommunications and inter-provincial transport companies. However, Bill 96 — the language bill which, as with Bill 21 restricting the rights of government workers to wear religious garb in the workplace, saw Legault invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms— has amended the language charter to assert that “all enterprises” in Quebec must now comply.

19 November
Projet de loi 96 sur la langue française
Les services publics essentiels doivent être exemptés
Les auteures s’adressent au ministre de la Justice
Monsieur le Ministre de la Justice, nous affirmons – chercheurs, professionnels et intervenants impliqués auprès des personnes immigrantes et réfugiées – que le projet de loi 96, la Loi sur la langue officielle et commune du Québec, le français, portera atteinte à l’accessibilité et à la qualité de services publics essentiels pour les résidants du Québec qui ne maîtrisent pas le français, surtout les immigrants et réfugiés. (27 November 2021)

19 November
Quebec Premier Legault spotlights Bill 96 at Tunisia Francophonie summit
Quebec’s law to better protect French, Bill 96, was in the spotlight: Legault said he touted it to heads of state, and defended it in a meeting with Justin Trudeau.
It’s important to note that the media accompanying Legault to Djerba were completely shut out of the plenary sessions and meetings.
In a press scrum on Saturday evening, Legault said he was concerned about the decline of French in Montreal. He and other dignitaries agreed it’s necessary to improve the French-language digital landscape.
“I talked about it with Emmanuel Macron of France, with Switzerland, Belgium […] it is important that together, we develop content that will be attractive to young people,” he said.
But Quebec’s actions on language protection and immigration have received bad press, particularly in Toronto and New York, he said.
According to Legault, this negative attention can potentially hurt international business development. He is considering buying ads to “set the record straight.”
“I care about the reputation of Quebec,” he said. “It seems to imply that Bill 96 reduces openness.”
The day before, he told reporters he felt the need to “explain” Bill 96 and his immigration policies to reaffirm Quebec as a “welcoming” place.

18 November
Hanes: Bill C-13 throws Quebec anglos ‘under the bus,’ says QCGN
The Quebec Community Groups Network is raising concerns about the imminent update of Canada’s Official Languages Act.
The organization, which represents the interest of Quebec’s anglophone minority, says the new federal legislation is problematic because it refers to the Charte de la langue française in Quebec, which Bill 96 recently elevated above the Canadian and Quebec human rights charters, and pre-emptively shielded from legal challenges with the notwithstanding clause.
In an open letter the QCGN recently published and is inviting Canadians to sign, president Eva Ludvig laments that Ottawa is tacitly endorsing the use of the constitutional override on entire bills before they are tested in court, even though the federal Liberal government is contemplating eventually joining the fight against Quebec’s Bills 96 and 21 (the province’s secularism law).

La loi 96 et les seuils d’immigration s’invitent au Sommet de la Francophonie
Les médias étrangers ont « mal interprété » la loi 96 et les politiques d’immigration de la Coalition avenir Québec, selon François Legault, qui promet de les « expliquer » au Sommet de la Francophonie.
en mêlée de presse, il a déclaré que l’un de ses principaux défis allait être d’expliquer les choix du Québec en matière de langue et d’immigration, dans le contexte du “déclin qu’on vit à Montréal”. Selon lui, le Québec a eu mauvaise presse à l’international.
“On a vu certains médias à l’extérieur du Québec peut-être mal interpréter notre loi 96 et les objectifs qu’on se donne en termes de nombre d’immigrants”, a-t-il déclaré.

15 November
Bill 96 won’t be softened, vows new language minister Jean-François Roberge
“The bill will stand, of course. We just voted (it into law).”
In fact, when it comes to language, “all the indicators are red,” which means it’s not time to ease up, Jean-François Roberge said, calling for a general mobilization in Quebec to “stop the decline of French and go in the other direction.”
“French is receding all over Canada, but especially in Quebec in Greater Montreal,” Roberge said. “We have to mobilize all the actors, not just the government. Yes, the government, but Quebecers too. French is not a legislative story (alone). It’s a matter of the heart.

18 October
Andrew Caddell: Moving Bill 96 battle to the courts
We plan to fight this battle on several fronts, with plaintiffs from across Quebec society who will take on the law’s implications for them.
While Bill 96 is now law, the courts have yet to rule on it substantively. This egregious law is unconstitutional in many respects. It remains only to prove that in court. To that end, we are joining forces to fight Bill 96 on several fronts.
The Task Force on Linguistic Policy is bringing to bear its status as a non-profit organization with hundreds of members and thousands of supporters. …
We plan a full frontal assault on Bill 96, which will fight the law in the courts of justice and public opinion. In order to do this, we will need our community’s support.we will need our community’s support. This is crucial to show our cause is important, progressive and representative of a huge cross-section of Quebec society. We will also need long-term funding, as these cases will more than likely end up in the Supreme Court of Canada. We plan to fight this battle on several fronts, with plaintiffs from across Quebec society who will take on the law’s implications for them. …we need people to come forward in this effort

8 September
Rights lawyer Julius Grey takes to the courts to strike down parts of Bill 96
Grey filed a motion asking the court to invalidate parts of the bill he says violate the Canadian constitution or the rights and freedoms of Quebecers.
Arguing in favour of the public good, the suit says the law exposes the general public to a threat of unreasonable search and seizures, which contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The suit also argues that the changes the law brings to the Canadian constitution, as well as the use of the notwithstanding clause, are not valid. Furthermore, the law’s provisions that all legal contracts be drafted in French represents a violation of the rights of English-speaking Quebecers to have access to justice proceedings in their own language and have the right to an interpreter.

2 September
Lawyer challenging Bill 96 asks Quebec to suspend language law over ‘uncertainty, confusion’ it’s creating
(CTV) Quebec’s controversial new language law should be temporarily suspended because it’s causing so much “uncertainty, confusion and tension” among the population, says a lawyer who is challenging the law in court.
Julius Grey, a Montreal-based expert in constitutional law, wrote an open letter to the government on Thursday requesting that the Act Respecting French, the Official and Common language of Quebec, commonly referred to as Bill 96, be suspended to “repair the obvious deficiencies in the law as adopted.”

17 August
Proportion of Quebecers who speak French at home on the decline: StatsCan
“I’m scratching my head,” says Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies. He calls the report “misleading” and some of the analysis “amateurish.”
For the first time, the number of people in Quebec whose first official language spoken is English topped one million, with their proportion of the population rising.
And English-French bilingualism is rising in Quebec, but declining outside the province.
Those are among the findings of the 2021 census, whose language results were made public by Statistics Canada on Wednesday [17 August] morning.
… Jedwab noted that on the French side, in one section of its report, Statistics Canada focused on French as mother tongue, while on the English side, two groups were lumped together — people who have English as their sole mother tongue and those who provided multiple mother tongues.
“They’re giving the impression that the gain (among English speakers) is much bigger than it is,” Jedwab said. “They seem to spin it in a way that is very, very negative for French.” Adding multiple mother tongues to the French-speaking tally would significantly alter the picture, he added.

12 August
Un premier revers pour Québec devant les tribunaux
(Québec) À peine adoptée, la loi 96 du gouvernement Legault — une imposante réforme de la loi 101 qui transforme des pans importants de la Charte de la langue française — est en partie suspendue par la Cour supérieure.
La décision est tombée vendredi sous la plume de la juge Chantal Corriveau. Plus tôt ce mois-ci, des juristes ont demandé à la Cour d’obtenir de suspendre deux articles de la loi qui obligeront toute procédure juridique déposée en anglais au Québec à être accompagnée d’une traduction en français.

27 July
On Bill 96 and Quebec health-care
This article has been written by a group of McGill students involved in health care in Quebec. An accompanying open letter to politicians and petition can be found here.
As a group of multilingual Quebec residents and first-, second- and third-generation immigrants passionately studying and/or actively involved in the health-care field, we are concerned by the potential impacts of Bill 96, An act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, on health-care delivery to all Quebecers and, in particular, vulnerable immigrant and indigenous populations.
… Premier Francois Legault has stated that Bill 96 will not impact health-care delivery in languages outside of French, but legal experts contend that the bill itself does not explicitly exclude health services. The bill states:An agency of the civil administration may depart from [the French requirement] by using another language in addition to French in its written documents … where health, public safety or the principles of natural justice so require.” This clause is ambiguous and up to interpretation. Therefore, this bill warrants further discussion given that there have been accusations of language discrimination in health-care pre-Bill 96. We believe multilingualism is crucial in the context of delivering health care to the general population during an emotional, stressful and painful moment of their lives.

29 June
Bill 96 : “Economic adversity,” warns André Fortin
“The bill is written in such a way that it is unclear in many places,” cautioned Fortin. “There is much room for interpretation, and the government is giving a lot of power to the people who work in enforcement. Economic consequences are inevitable.”
Bill 96 imposes higher penalties for infractions, and businesses will have to follow stringent signage rules and restrictive communication requirements. Should a non-compliant business wish to contest a citation, all communication and documents submitted to the court will need to be in French. “There will be serious delays in the court system,” Fortin predicted.

27 June
Timeline: When various parts of Quebec’s Bill 96 will get implemented
Adopting Bill 96 overhauling the Charter of the French Language was one thing. Applying it to the daily lives of citizens, the education, municipal and business sector is another. The CAQ has given itself plenty of lead time.
Philip Authier
It may come as a surprise given all the heated debate surrounding the legislation, but some of the biggest changes included Bill 96 overhauling the Charter of the French Language won’t be implemented overnight.
…the bill contains 200 clauses — major and minor — which the government says reinforce the use of French in all areas of Quebec life: from the courts and education system to municipalities and even birth and death certificates.
The final version of the bill, with its dozens of amendments and sub-amendments, is not yet available. Government officials say lawyers and bureaucrats are still sifting through the legislation and will post a final version “shortly.”

22 June
Toula Drimonis: Bienvenue au Québec, you have six months to learn French
(Journal Métro) Émigrer signifie que tout dans votre monde devient nouveau, étranger, inconnu. Dans de nombreux cas, une nouvelle langue, une nouvelle ville, une nouvelle façon de faire les choses, de nouvelles références et une nouvelle façon de tout naviguer. C’est effrayant, déroutant, solitaire, stimulant et souvent décourageant au début. … La partie probablement la plus offensante de loi 96 est qu’il fait tout son possible pour rendre encore plus difficile ce qui est déjà un processus très difficile. S’attendre à ce que les nouveaux immigrants (et pire encore, les réfugiés, qui subissent déjà des traumatismes et des pertes incomparables) se comportent en français dans les six mois est non seulement totalement irréaliste, mais carrément inhumain et contre-productif.

17 June
Cree opposition building in northern Quebec to Bill 96’s language restrictions
Bill ignores treaty rights, damages otherwise good relations with Quebec, Cree leaders say
With a population of more than 5,000, the Cree community of Chisasibi is the largest Cree community in northern Quebec. An increasing number of Cree leaders are coming out in opposition to Bill 96, saying it doesn’t recognize treaty rights under the James Bay in Northern Quebec Agreement.
Last month, Quebec’s Indigenous Affairs minister, Ian Lafrenière, visited several Cree and Inuit communities in advance of the bill’s adoption. At the time, spokesperson Mathieu Durocher told CBC there’s agreement that Indigenous languages and cultures must be respected and promoted. Durocher said the government would keep looking for “concrete solutions” alongside Indigenous communities
We’ll find solutions to Indigenous Peoples’ Bill 96 concerns: Lafrenière
Quebec’s Indigenous affairs minister says he was told by First Nations: “Let’s work together, don’t impose a solution.”

16 June
Allison Hanes: Quebec’s plan for new immigrants is a recipe for failure
The six-month timeline for immigrants arriving in Quebec to learn French is not only unhelpful, it’s inhumane.
The problem is that newcomers will only have six months to learn the language before they are required to receive most government services only in French. Worse, experts say the stick approach to becoming proficient in a new language is not the way to go with immigrants and refugees in the first place.
It ignores the struggles that often come with getting established in a new country as well as the fact many new arrivals may be coping with the trauma of war and displacement. Rushing vulnerable people into French classes for the sake of meeting some arbitrary deadline is not only unhelpful and unrealistic, it’s inhumane.
The Quebec government knows all this. It commissioned a study from Université de Montréal on the most effective way to assist new arrivals in learning French. The experts urged patience, compassion and broad-based social supports to nurture firm roots in French. But Premier François Legault and the Coalition Avenir Québec blatantly ignored this advice when they drafted Bill 96. Then they tried to bury the recommendation.

14 June
Quebec tech companies warn new language law could hurt recruitment, damage economy
Heads of several Quebec companies signed open letter asking for Bill 96 to be delayed
The leaders of dozens of Quebec-based technology companies are warning Premier François Legault that the province’s new language law, known as Bill 96, will make it hard to recruit talent and threatens to do “enormous damage to the province’s economy.”
In a letter published Tuesday, more than 30 executives called on Legault and the province to delay implementation of Bill 96 until there is better French-language support, such as tutoring, available for workers.
Robert Libman: Legault should heed Bill 96 message from tech companies
When tech talent can go anywhere, we cannot afford to impose obstacles. This is one clear example of nationalist politics conflicting with reality.

Language rights party slams Anglade over stance on Bill 96
The Canadian Party of Quebec is accusing the Quebec Liberals of engaging in political “performance art.”
In a statement published Tuesday, the Canadian Party of Quebec said it was “particularly disappointed” by a pledge by Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade that she will alter but not repeal Bill 96 should the Liberals form a government after the Oct. 3 election, and that the controversial new rules imposing more French courses in English CEGEPs are there to stay.
The party called upon the Liberals to join it in its opposition to the entirety of Bill 96 and in calling upon the federal government to refer the legislation to the Supreme Court to review its constitutionality.

11 June
Liberals want to change Bill 96, but more French in English CEGEPS will stay: Anglade
[I]n the hallways of a Liberal general council meeting being held in downtown Montreal on Saturday, the language issue was the hot topic of discussion, with Anglade defending her party’s handling of Bill 96.
The Liberals did offer a mea culpa for their performance with the bill, but some members of the English-speaking community and in the CEGEP community are still angry. Support among minority communities for the Liberals dropped and the party has been trying to patch relations ever since.
Arriving for the council, the party’s first meeting in Montreal in a while and which drew 400 people, Liberal MNAs elected in ridings with high concentrations of English-speaking voters conceded Saturday they were flooded with calls after the CEGEP decision.
… Asked about competition from new minority rights parties that have started to sprout up in Quebec, Leitäo said: “We live in a democracy. If other political parties want to jump into the ring … we live in a democracy.”
One of those parties, Bloc Montréal, which is being organized by former mayoralty candidate Balarama Holness, got official recognition from Élections Quebec last week. The second party, the Canadian Party of Quebec, which is being organized by Eastern Townships language- rights advocate Colin Standish, is expected to follow shortly.

10 June
Anglo Quebecers must have access to essential services in English, feds say
The Legault government has called on Ottawa to take different approaches to French minorities outside Quebec and the anglophone minority in Quebec
The Trudeau government recognizes that the French language is in danger and Quebec has a role to play in its survival, federal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Friday. However, he said the federal government’s approach must be to ensure that Quebec anglophones receive such essential services as access to the justice system and health care in their own language.
Rodriguez, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Quebec lieutenant, made his comments as the Legault government is calling upon Ottawa to adopt different approaches toward French minorities outside Quebec and the anglophone minority in Quebec as it reforms the Official Languages Act.

8 June
Quebec’s threats against Grade 12 could start inter-provincial education war
Beryl Wajsman : “Having won so much of its agenda in the culture wars — lately through total capitulation from Canada’s national parties agreeing not to fight to uphold Constitutional guarantees for minorities on language — this government thinks it can not only ride roughshod over existing laws, but make new ones up as it suits them. What has been rumoured is that [Education Minister Jean-François] Roberge may be thinking of changing both the Education Act and Bill 96 to make Grade 12s as currently constituted illegal.”
… there is one groaning reality that Legault and Roberge choose to ignore in their latest assault on Quebecers’ rights. Grade 12 certificates have nothing to do with Quebec. The certification comes from agreements with the Ontario Ministry of Education. The graduates then deal directly with the universities, all of whom accept Ontario’s standards. Quebec has no place in this process. And that’s what’s irritating the CAQ.

7 June
The English language is not the menace it’s made out to be
Sheila Das, humanities professor at Vanier College in Montreal who speaks English, French and Italian.
(Globe & Mail) Fun fungal facts: fungal networks under the soil connect roots, so that trees can communicate better, responding to warnings and needs. By contrast, scientist Suzanne Simard describes how she conducted an experiment to see if desired commercial trees would thrive by killing off other species and fungi. What happened? Absent these connections, fir seedlings in this case, all died.
English is a fungus.
English facilitates exchange from different people all over the globe. In our hyper-connected world, English is the lingua franca of business, technology, academe, the international political class and tourism. Like it or not.

5 June
English Montreal School Board files lawsuit challenging Bill 96
“These provisions infringe the right to management and control over the language of communications within English language school boards.”
A 47-page lawsuit has been filed at the Montreal courthouse, one week after the school board held a special council meeting and voted in favour of hiring a law firm to contest the legislation that changes the charter of the French language. It is the first court challenge of the bill adopted by the Quebec government on May 24.
The EMSB and chairperson Joe Ortona are taking on Quebec’s attorney general. The lawsuit argues Bill 96 “violates the constitution in at least three ways,” including how the amended language charter “impermissibly infringes on the right to management and control of minority language education exercised by the EMSB under Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Section 23 of the charter covers minority language educational rights in Canada, and cannot be overridden using the charter’s notwithstanding clause.

1-3 June
Legal experts fact-check Quebec ad campaign that aims to correct ‘falsehoods’ on controversial language law
Lawyers say government ad published this week contains falsehoods of its own
Legal experts are slamming a full-page ad from the CAQ government running in both French and English newspapers this week that purports to correct “falsehoods” circulating about the new law to protect the French language, commonly know as Bill 96.
The ad campaign is in response to critical stories that were published in national and international media, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, after the new language law was passed last week.
The government ad begins with this preamble: “Several falsehoods have circulated on the legislation’s impact on the English-speaking communities. Here are the facts.”
It then lists five things about the new law that the government says have been misrepresented.
In addition to [constitutional lawyer Julius] Grey and [Frédéric Bérard, co-director of the National Observatory on Language Rights, part of the Public Law Research Centre at Université de Montréal], CBC also asked Robert Leckey, dean of the faculty of law at McGill University, and Pearl Eliadis, associate professor at McGill’s Max Bell School of Public Policy, to weigh in on each of the five “facts” laid out by the government in its ad.
Eric Maldoff: Responses on Bill 96 and health care don’t allay concerns
Rather than responding substantively to the issues raised, the premier has instead chosen to obfuscate, deflect, discredit and deny.
Eric Maldoff is a Montreal lawyer and chair of the Coalition for Quality Health and Social Services.
(Montreal Gazette) For several weeks, the government of Quebec has been on the defensive in response to the legitimate concerns raised by the Collège des Médecins du Québec (CMQ), 35 health and social service organizations, more than 700 physicians and several legal scholars concerning the impact of Bill 96 on communication within the health and social services network. That damage control campaign included the disbursement of large amounts of public money on full page ads in major newspapers inside and outside Quebec. Those ads dismiss the assertion that Bill 96 compromises the ability of health and social service providers to communicate with patients in English, if that is their choice.
Legault doubles down on decline of French as Bill 96 is signed into law
The premier grew irritated when pressed by a Gazette reporter on the issue of languages spoken at home and made off-microphone remarks about West Island citizens during question period, according to Liberal MNA David Birnbaum.
In the hot seat for comparing Quebec’s language situation to that of Louisiana, Premier François Legault dug in his heels Wednesday, announcing he now wants a more complete statistical picture of the use of French in all aspects of society. … “What we are saying is, we want French to be the common language. Well, we have to look what is the language at home, what is the language at work, what is the language in the public sector. They go together. …
D’Arcy-McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, the party’s point person for the English-speaking community, later reported hearing Legault make remarks about citizens in the West Island in the legislature during the question period that followed the news conference.
“Shameful,” Birnbaum tweeted. “Just now, François Legault, off-micro(phone) but audible and twice, said: ‘C’est le West Island qui s’énerve!’ This was his outrageous response to our question-period intervention on his on-the-record attacks on Quebecers whose mother tongue is other than French.”
Now that Quebec’s new language law has been adopted, many wonder how it will be enforced
The devil is in the details for Bill 96, and those details are yet to be worked out – the CAQ government says it will be another year before all the details are worked out as to how the law will be enforced

27 May
English Montreal School Board to launch court challenge against Quebec’s Bill 96
(Global) In a statement, the EMSB said it supports protecting the French language but “measures to protect the French language in Quebec cannot violate the constitutional rights of Quebecers.”
Robert Libman: Consequences of Bill 96 will be profound
This province, this country and this city are all weaker today as a result of this new law, and divisions are likely to intensify.
The link between restrictive language legislation and the decline of Montreal’s economy relative to Toronto and other cities in North America is like the secret few dare to acknowledge publicly. Since 1977, the outflow of head offices, hundreds of thousands of consumers, taxpayers, professionals and tradespeople has been severe. Successive mayors of Montreal and business groups have avoided acknowledging the obvious. The current mayor has applauded Bill 96. The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal has made some noise about the impact on small business, but has since been supportive of the bill. This runs counter to its mission to promote the economic prosperity of the city. The news is spreading quickly, to the detriment of the province’s reputation as a place for business. The New York Times and Washington post have already reported on the law’s passage.
… A new wave of departures seems likely. It will be harder to attract professionals in health care, science and other fields. The law will unleash endless constitutional wrangling. Bill 96 will sow animosity between ordinary francophones and anglophones. Many are liable to get into arguments in stores, at municipal council meetings and hospital waiting rooms as confusion reigns about what services are or aren’t allowed in English.

26 May
Bill 96: Opponents of new French language law express ‘sadness, frustration’ at protest
(Global news) Quebecers Against Bill 96, a group created by the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) , the English Parents’ Committee Association, the Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA), and the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations organized a rally Thursday afternoon in downtown Montreal inviting the community to voice its concerns.

25 May
Ottawa will join Supreme Court legal challenge of Bill 21, Lametti says
The federal justice minister also said there are concerns about Bill 96 and that Ottawa will be watching to see how Quebec implements it.
“When it arrives at the Supreme Court it is by definition a national issue and we will be there,” David Lametti said.
In Quebec City, Premier François Legault reacted with anger to the news.
Opinion: Bill 96 fails to find the right balance
We are very concerned that the bill removes certain fundamental rights for English-speaking Quebecers.
Anthony Housefather is MP for Mount Royal. This piece is co-signed by fellow Liberal MPs Marc Garneau (Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Westmount), Patricia Lattanzio (Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel) and Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis).

24 May

Quebec adopts Bill 96 to overhaul Charter of French Language

Quebec’s majority government has adopted its contentious language bill overhauling the Charter of the French language, in a vote that lasted only minutes at the National Assembly this afternoon.
Dissent over Bill 96 had escalated in recent weeks with thousands holding protests, denouncing the bill for impeding the rights of anglophones, allophones and Indigenous communities.
The bill is large in scope, limiting the use of English in the courts and public services and imposing tougher language requirements on small businesses and municipalities.
Quebec lawyers ready to take Bill 96, the ‘most gratuitous use of power,’ to the UN
But that looks to be only the beginning of a long legal journey, with a committee of high-profile Quebec lawyers promising to take the law to bigger challenges than Quebec has seen in decades.
François Legault’s government has made free use of the notwithstanding clause during its time in power, already invoking it for its secularism bill, Bill 21.
But using it for Bill 96 appears to be a last straw for a group of lawyers, who say they have a plan to make a legal dent despite the clause, which usually makes laws ironclad against constitutional-rights challenges — at least within Canada.
“We will… address the international tribunals, the United Nations Human Rights Committee,” explained human rights lawyer Julius Grey, who is part of the committee working on the issue and who unveiled the group’s thinking on Tuesday to CTV News.
That United Nations challenge would only come to pass if several other attempts to challenge Bill 96 don’t first get results, he said in an interview.
But there’s legal precedent for calling on international courts to intervene with the use of the notwithstanding clause, and specifically in Quebec, Grey said.
In fact, he himself was also involved in the first instance, in the early 1990s.
Tom Mulcair: Bill 96’s passage to be followed by holy chaos
Like Walt Disney’s sorcerer’s apprentice, Simon Jolin-Barrette may be about to find out he has unleashed forces beyond his control.
The first big chapter of the Bill 96 saga has come to an end with the bill’s adoption by the National Assembly. By a linguistic quirk, on the anglo side it will always be called Bill 96 (like “Bill 101,” which actually became a law in 1977). On the franco side it will get a promotion to being called Loi 96 (Law 96). One way or the other, it’s on its way to court, where it is likely to get eviscerated, much to the quiet delight of separatists, who will see that as further proof Quebec independence is the only way forward.
Bill 96 is overtly unconstitutional. It creates outrageous powers of search and seizure for language police who could inspect a company’s computers looking for inappropriate use of English. This is Keystone Kops material, but the Coalition Avenir Québec government has its spokespersons out there denying that Bill 96 actually says what it says in black and white.
This is similar to the defensive attitude that reigned with regard to Quebec’s language laws until the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that Quebec’s Bill 178 on signs contravened article 19 of the International Agreement on Human and Political Rights. The embarrassing ruling stated that the Quebec government should not ban the use of languages other than English, for any form of communication, and Quebec changed the law.
On the weekend, Christopher Skeete gave a television interview that was one for the ages.
In Skeete’s telling, the notwithstanding clause in Bill 96 isn’t really that extensive. Hello? It covers the whole bill. He’d also have us believe that the invention of the “historic anglo” caste was actually something to be found in Bill 101. No it isn’t. Whenever push comes to shove, Skeete puts up a straw man argument: do you really think we’re going to let Japanese tourists die? (What?)
Law Requiring French in Quebec Becomes Stricter
(NYT) Quebec’s new law limits access to government services in languages other than French, requires small businesses to operate in it and caps enrollment at English-language junior colleges.

23 May
Legal challenge against Bill 96 coming, Montreal lawyer says
Julius Grey says he’s confident some sections of the law could be challenged despite notwithstanding clause
Civil rights lawyer Julius Grey said Quebec’s existing language law, Bill 101, is already effective when it comes to protecting French and the rights of French speakers in the province.
I hope to be part of the challenge all the way to the UN as we did with Bill 178,” said Grey, who said the bill goes too far and violates constitutional and fundamental rights.
“This battle will not be over until the highest courts internationally have spoken.”
The bill would reform several pieces of Quebec legislation, including the Charter of the French Language, touching everything from education and health to the rights of immigrants to be served in other languages.
It has been criticized on several fronts, in particular for its use of the notwithstanding clause, which allows a province to override basic freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Rather than applying the clause to specific sections of the bill, the government has applied the clause to the entire bill, making every aspect of the far-reaching law immune to legal challenges based on the charter.

Hanes: After divisive Bill 96 debate, what happens next for Quebec anglophones?
Poised to be passed into law this week, Bill 96 will usher in a new and uncertain period for the English-speaking minority, with fallout that is political, social and existential.
… We’re bracing for the first time the Office québécois de la langue française exercises its new warrantless search and seizure powers based on an anonymous complaint — all the while knowing its excesses are not going to be as entertaining as the Pastagate absurdity of yore.
… Politically, a lot of bridges have been burned.
There has never been much love lost between Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government and the English-speaking community. But Bill 96 has deepened mistrust, especially as Legault’s reassuring words have so often been at odds with his actions.

20 May
Businesses fear impact of Quebec language law, as some consider leaving province
(Globe & Mail) As Quebec’s contentious language law heads closer to adoption, the province’s business community is growing increasingly anxious about what it could mean for their bottom line, with some companies considering leaving entirely.
‘Making monsters of each other’: Businesses fear impact of Quebec language law
Bill 96 would impose tougher language requirements on small businesses
Business groups ranging from the Quebec Retail Council to the Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters and the Council of Canadian Innovators are asking the government to soften its rules — particularly around francization — to offer supports to businesses that undergo it and to extend compliance deadline

19 May
La loi 96 fait fausse route
Miguel Ouellette enseigne la macroéconomie à HEC Montréal, et est aussi le directeur des opérations et économiste de l’Institut économique de Montréal.
Il faut dire que, dans l’ensemble, cette version encore plus sévère et contre-productive de la loi 101 devrait être mise de côté. Cependant, ce navire a vogué et il est pratiquement certain que le gouvernement Legault ne reculera pas devant l’adoption d’une version quelconque de la loi 96.
Ainsi, face à de telles perspectives, la seule chose que nous pouvons faire de façon réaliste à ce stade est de limiter les dégâts. Et il existe en effet plusieurs façons de rendre cette proposition de loi moins dommageable.

17 May
Bill 96 will impede access to health care in English, legal experts warn
The main issue with the bill is that “for the first time, it prohibits certain communications,” said Montreal lawyer Eric Maldoff.

Bill 96: Quebec premier says health care will remain the same for anglophones, immigrants
(Global) Anglo point man Christopher Skeete also defended the bill and reassured anglophones and allophones they will not be treated as second-class citizens.
“No one is trying to deny anyone health care, nobody is trying to remove any rights from anybody,” said Skeete, adding his government isn’t taking as hard an approach to language as critics may think.
Continuing the fight against Quebec language law Bill 96
Legal battles are expected but challenging the language reform will be difficult, he added.
“The enforcement mechanisms, the search and seizure provisions to be ensuring that businesses are following all the regulations they’re subject to, the normal rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure is kind of pushed aside by the not-withstanding clauses,” said [Robert Leckey, dean of the Faculty of Law at McGill University].
Meanwhile, the Quebec Community Groups Network is working hard to inform businesses that may not fully comprehend Bill 96’s reach.
“The impact that all of this bureaucracy that Bill 96 is going to create for small and medium-sized businesses is going to act as a drag to positive economic development,” said QCGN president Marlene Jennings.

14 May
A question of belonging: What place does Bill 96 leave for anglos?
Quebec’s overhaul of the French language charter fills leaders in the English community with “anxiety and worry about where this is all going.”
Marian Scott
“My sense is that there is a lot of concern, a lot of anxiety,” said Celine Cooper, a political analyst and former Montreal Gazette columnist who is currently director-general of the Consortium of English-language CEGEPs, Colleges and Universities of Quebec.
“There is real concern and anxiety and worry about where this is all going,” said Cooper, who has two children, of whom one is nearing CEGEP age.
“This is the first time, really, where we are in deep reflection around what these changes in Bill 96 could mean for our family, for our kids’ sense of belonging to Quebec,” she said.
The last time language tensions reached this pitch, she noted, was nearly a decade ago, when former premier Pauline Marois introduced but later withdrew Bill 14, a previous update of Bill 101.
L’insolence d’être un Anglo
Yves Boisvert
Le français au Québec sera toujours menacé par l’anglais. C’est mathématique, géographique, économique, médiatique, démographique.
Mais selon les auteurs du projet de loi 96, on dirait qu’il est menacé par « les Anglais », personnellement.
Comme si, par un jeu de vases communicants, chaque fois qu’on limite un droit des anglophones, n’importe lequel, on améliore la protection du français.

‘Anxiety and frustration’: Demonstrators protest Quebec language law
(Global) Bill 96, which is expected to pass this month, would impose tougher language requirements on workplaces and municipalities.
Several thousand marchers drove home the bilingual element of Quebec society Saturday morning, shouting chants of “Mon CEGEP, mon choix,” and touting signs reading, “I’m not a second class citizen.”
Marlene Jennings, a former Liberal MP in Montreal, said Bill 96 “breaks the social contract” with Quebecers, while Robert Leckey, dean of McGill University’s Faculty of Law, said it will “ride roughshod” over constitutional constraints.
It also seeks to limit the use of English in the courts and public services, grant powers of search and seizure without a warrant to Quebec’s language regulator and cap enrolment at English junior colleges, called CEGEPs, where students would have to take more courses in French.
Bill 96 also pre-emptively invokes the notwithstanding clause, setting aside fundamental equality rights enshrined in both the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights and freedoms.
Demonstrators flowed mostly along Sainte-Catherine Street, where many retail outlets concerned about the impact of stricter workplace language rules are located.
The changes would subject companies with 25 employees or more to “francization” — government certification that use of French is generalized in the workplace — down from 50 currently.
Meanwhile the cost of the bill for a roughly 50-employee company would range between $9.5 million and $23.5 million, according to estimates from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Expenses range from fees for translation and legal services to administrative burdens, such as creating a workplace assessment to ensure French permeates all corners of the company.
Thousands of Montrealers march in opposition to Bill 96
Many protesters said while they are in favour of protecting the French language and culture in Quebec, Bill 96 would have disastrous consequences in education, language and health-care sectors.
Large protest held in downtown Montreal against Quebec’s controversial French-language bill
English speakers say law will hurt them, restrict access to services in their language
(CBC) Organized by groups that represent the province’s English-speaking community, the protest sought to send a strong message to the majority government that the legislation as it stands is unacceptable.

13 May
Breaking down the key points of Bill 96
The law updates the Charter of the French language, Bill 101, which was adopted in 1977.
The notwithstanding clause
Among the most contentious points of the bill is that it sets aside basic rights of equality guaranteed in the charters of rights and freedoms of both Canada and Quebec, which means that those who feel their rights are infringed will not be able to use the overridden articles of the charter to challenge it.

Health-care and English-language rights advocates stress danger of Bill 96
Eric Maldoff, chair of the organization Quality Care and Social Services:
“Very simply, if there is not effective communication there is a much higher risk of injury and even death of patients and clients”

(Global) Doctors and other health-care advocates in Quebec say they are worried about the implications for health and social services under Bill 96.
They say not only will it put care for some people at risk, they fear the bill will create divisions and cause the quality of health care to decline.
“Whether it’s services provided by doctors and nurses or social workers, which are the main professionals which see large volumes of people,” explained Dr. Juan Carlos Chirgwin, a family physician at the CLSC Parc-Extension.
Eric Maldoff, chair of the organization Quality Care and Social Services, agrees.
“Very simply, if there is not effective communication there is a much higher risk of injury and even death of patients and clients,” he told Global News.

12 May
Pride vs. shame: Parties’ views clash as Bill 96 enters final adoption phase
“Long live the French language and long live Quebec,” Simon Jolin-Barrette said as he kicked off the final round of remarks from MNAs about the bill, which has revived the province’s age-old language debate.

11 May
Beryl Wajsman: Make it a point to march on May 14
(The Suburban) Bill 96 is the gravest attack on what’s left of our constitutionally protected language rights since Pauline Marois’ Bill 14.
Bill 14 was defeated by targeted public outcries. We were proud to help lead that effort. Aside from representations in the National Assembly and meetings with Ministers, a high point in the opposition was a rally of thousands on a frigid February day outside Premier Marois’ Montreal office on McGill College Ave. That same type of rally is being organized by a variety of rights groups, health care workers, teachers and even demerged municipalities.
The May 14th March will start at 11 at Dawson College and proceed along Sherbrooke to Premier Legault’s Montreal office at that same address on McGill College where we rallied against Bill 14.
Vous avez six mois
La Presse columnist Rima Elkouri points out the unfairness of immigrants having only six months to learn French before becoming ineligible for public services in any other language. “Do you really think that after six months, even with all the good will in the world, you will master the language perfectly?” Elkouri asks her readers.
Aussi inquiétant soit-il, ce volet du projet de loi 96, qui pourrait mettre en péril l’accessibilité et la qualité des services offerts aux nouveaux arrivants, a suscité très peu d’attention médiatique. Peut-être parce que ceux qui risquent le plus d’en souffrir comptent parmi les plus vulnérables de la société. Le plus souvent sans voix, occupés à tenter de reconstruire leur vie, ils ne courent pas les manifestations.

8-9 May
Hanes: Last chance to speak out against Bill 96
The era of relative peace between the Two Solitudes came to an abrupt halt with Bill 96. But as English-speaking Quebecers rally to speak out against the law before its imminent adoption, this is about much more than the rights of one community.
Many feel we’ve been doing our part to help Quebec thrive as the last French-speaking redoubt in North America. Even if we have our own parallel identity — or identities given this diverse society we live in — we’re still proud Quebecers.
But the era of relative peace between the Two Solitudes has come to an abrupt halt with Bill 96, the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s legislation to reinforce French. …
All Quebecers of any linguistic background should be deeply concerned, francophones included. But it’s the Quebec Community Groups Network, the umbrella group that represents anglophone interests, that has been leading the charge. The QCGN is calling on English-speaking Quebecers — heck, all Quebecers — to turn up at a rally this Saturday in defiance of Premier François Legault’s brush-off that there hasn’t been any serious opposition to Bill 96.
QCGN says May 14 mobilization will include anglo and franco Quebecers
English-speaking groups say opposition to Bill 96 extends beyond the minority community and includes groups representing businesses, patients’ rights advocates and others.
Bill 96 will never apply in our community, Kahnawake leaders say
Traditional Mohawk government warns “this law will deteriorate any amity that exists between our two peoples and destroy any hope of reconciliation.”

5 May
Bill 96 will harm Indigenous people in Québec. We need more equitable language laws
By Richard Budgell, Assistant Professor, Family Medicine; Ph.D. student, History and Classical Studies, McGill University
(The Conversation) Bill 96 will create greater impediments to accessible health care for Inuit and First Nations people. The bill will worsen health and health care, instead of improving it.
Ninety-eight per cent of Nunavik Inuit speak Inuktitut as their first language. This should be celebrated, not hindered during the Decade of Indigenous Languages, which Canada supports. Bill 96 will create greater impediments to accessible health care for Inuit and First Nations people. The bill will worsen health and health care, instead of improving it.
Bill 96 will also create new challenges in education for Inuit and First Nations people who use English.
Indigenous students will now have to complete an additional three French-language courses to receive a CÉGEP diploma….

29 April
CAQ compromises on French-language CEGEP courses for anglophones
Simon Jolin-Barrette says he heard the concerns of the English-speaking community and decided the Liberal Party’s amendment makes sense.
Anglophone students attending English CEGEPs will have the option of taking three of their courses in French or increasing the number of obligatory second-language French courses needed to graduate, the minister responsible for the French language announced Tuesday evening.
The final vote on Bill 96, which overhauls the Charter of the French Language, will take place later in the session that wraps up June 10. The Liberals have already announced plans to vote against the final version of the bill, but the government has sufficient MNAs to ensure it becomes law.
The three courses in French, however, will remain obligatory for allophones and francophones attending English CEGEPs. Anglophones will have the option. The new rules will apply to all categories of students starting in the 2024 academic year.
Not mentioned by anyone in the Coalition Avenir Québec government Tuesday was a looming protest rally against Bill 96 being organized for May 14.

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