Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
Québec Bill 96/Canada C-13 January 2023-
Illegitimi non carborundum
Quebec wants French to be the language of the workplace. It could cost the province business
Anecdotal evidence suggests many highly-skilled workers being lured to Quebec are choosing not to come because they’re unsure about how strictly the language rules will be applied in daily life
Quebec’s most ambitious language law overhaul in nearly half a century is being denounced regularly for its attacks on English language rights as rules related to things such as schooling and access to justice come into force. Those problems are bleeding into the corporate world as well, with some companies reporting difficulties hiring people from outside the province amid questions about the legislation.
The fallout is only beginning to shake out in Quebec’s executive suites and shop floors. …
The name of the case is “Caddell et al versus Attorney-General of Quebec and Attorney-General of Canada.”
Is French really in decline in Quebec?
That question will be central to a crowd-funded lawsuit against Bill 96 that had its first hearing at Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday.
Bill 96 lawsuit argues French is growing in Quebec, not declining
A lawyer for six Quebecers in the crowd-funded lawsuit says he will call a historian, a demographer and a statistician as expert witnesses.
(Montreal Gazette) The defendants in the case — the Quebec and federal attorneys general — agreed that the plaintiffs can submit statistical, demographic and historical evidence about Quebec’s English- and French-speaking communities.
“That’s a key concession because it allows us to show the court the context in which Bill 96 was adopted,” said lawyer Michael Bergman, representing six Quebecers who argue their minority language rights are violated by parts of the law.
“Our view is that the context was a misunderstanding, an emotional understanding, of certain statistical data that some people said showed French is in decline,” Bergman said.
The lawsuit — supported by the Task Force on Linguistic Policy — does not seek to overturn all of Bill 96.
Bergman said parts of the law are “completely innocuous or administrative,” and no one opposes measures such as the creation of an agency that provides free French courses.
“Our focus is on parts of Bill 96 that restrain or suppress minority linguistic rights.”
The six Quebecers behind the lawsuit include a teacher concerned about his status, a businessperson whose commercial affairs are affected by Bill 96, a permanent resident with an autoimmune disease who says she cannot receive communication in English, and a mother who says her autistic child has not been able to receive proper specialized care because his first language is English.
Bill C-13: Senate passes federal language bill despite opposition from Quebec anglophones
The Quebec Community Groups Network says it’s “deeply disappointed” by the adoption of the federal law, which includes references to Bill 101, as modified by Bill 96.
The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to adopt Bill C-13, an overhaul of the Official Languages Act that has caused anger and sparked concern among Quebec anglophones, one of the communities the law is intended to protect.
The vote Thursday night – 60 to five, with five abstentions – was the final legislative step. Before it officially becomes law, the federal language legislation needs royal assent, normally a rubber stamp.
The five senators who voted against the bill were Tony Loffreda, Judith Seidman and Larry Smith of Quebec; Victor Oh of Ontario; and David Richards of New Brunswick.
Allison Hanes: There’s nothing funny about Bill 96
Quebec’s ridiculous new language rules are great for comedians, but very seriously turn anglophones into second-class citizens.
Montreal’s initial admonishment — that “this content is intended for the public covered by the exceptions under Bill 96” — made citizens reporting potholes in English feel like teenagers surreptitiously listening to explicit lyrics. The advisories were so ridiculous that they were quickly withdrawn while Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante was left scrambling to reassure anglophone and allophone Montrealers that they aren’t second-class citizens. Too late.
Bill 96 rules may be adjusted in wake of complaints, Legault says
The winter sitting of the National Assembly has wrapped up. While the opposition parties complained the government was guilty of poor planning and too confrontational, Premier François Legault said he doesn’t feel his government is suffering from premature aging.
Pressed by the Montreal Gazette about reports trickling in that English-speaking Quebecers are already encountering difficulties accessing government website data that used to be readily available in English or finding government workers willing to speak English now that the law is in place, Legault seemed open to improvements.
“We’re open to adjust, but the principle is important,” he said.
Legault did not elaborate.
Twenty-three municipalities unite to fight Bill 96
By Joel Goldenberg
(The Suburban) Twenty-three bilingual municipalities, spearheaded by Côte St. Luc, have launched a lawsuit against the Quebec government, challenging aspects of the new language law Bill 96 in Quebec Superior Court.
The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday June 7 at Côte St. Luc city hall. The municipalities challenging the law include those that are officially bilingual because they have more than 50 percent mother tongue anglophone populations, and those which have opted in, declaring to the government they want to remain officially bilingual as they are below the 50 percent mother tongue threshold. They are being represented by constitutional lawyer Julius Grey.
The municipalities challenging the law are Baie d’Urfé, Beaconfield, Blanc-Sablon, Bonne-Ésperance, Chichester, Côte St. Luc, Dollard des Ormeaux, Dorval, Havelock, Hope Town, Kazabazua, Kirkland, L’Isle Aux Allumettes, Montreal West, Mulgrave and Derry, New Carlisle, Pointe Claire, Senneville, Sheenboro, Shigawake, Stanbridge East, Wentworth and Westmount. Some of the Mayors were on hand in person, and others appeared virtually from as far away as 60 km from the border with Labrador.
As previously reported in The Suburban, the provisions the cities want declared invalid and inoperative are the prohibition for contracts to be written in a language other than French, “even if both parties agree,”; allowing OQLF inspectors to inspect and seize, at any time without notice, any documents, equipment and computers from any municipal body; that cities have to declare in resolutions that they want to maintain their bilingual status if the English mother tongue population is below 50 percent; that the language minister or another designated minister can withhold provincial government grants to a city if they don’t comply with any provision of the law; and that a city has to punish any employee who does not comply with Bill 96.
Martine St-Victor: Where’s the pushback on Bill 96, Mayor Plante?
In an attempt to appease anglophones, Valérie Plante professed in a radio interview she is mayor of all Montrealers. But she must also make amends with francophones who feel betrayed by her compliance in applying Bill 96, writes Martine St-Victor
Montreal’s response to Quebec’s language law is an embarrassing letdown, starting with its 311 recording doubling as a camouflaged polygraph.
New Bill 96 rules are embarrassing, Quebec Conservative leader says
“We’re becoming a laughing stock,” Éric Duhaime said in an interview with the Montreal Gazette Tuesday. “Where else in the world have you seen this?”
He noted he is a francophone speaking out because he does not see any leadership stepping up in the English-speaking community or on the part of the Quebec Liberals, who were elected with the help of anglophones last fall.
‘You don’t need to show us your Grade 3 report card’: Cote Saint-Luc makes dig at Bill 96 in phone greeting
(CTV) Côte Saint-Luc, a Montreal-area municipality with official bilingual status, is laying the sarcasm on thick Friday in response to new provisions of Quebec’s controversial language law, Bill 96.
Call the city’s hotline, and this is what you’ll hear:
If you’d like service in English, press two. And by the way, you don’t need to show us your Grade 3 report card, or your family tree going back ten generations. And you don’t have to pinky-promise anything. This is the City of Côte Saint-Luc, and that’s how we roll.
Allison Hanes: Now we’re seeing what Bill 96 is made of
It’s hard to know whether to laugh or to cry.
The English section of the city of Montreal’s website now carries the banner: “Who can view this page? This content is intended for the public covered by the exceptions under Bill 96.”
A blue banner on the English version of the city of Montreal’s website now warns visitors that they may be gazing at restricted material.
“This content is intended for the public covered by exceptions to Bill 96,” it states. A recorded voice at the end of the 311 line also cautions that you have to attest you’re officially an anglophone if you want to file a complaint in English about your trash not being picked up.
… perhaps the biggest change Bill 96 has ushered in is that after so many decades of relative language peace and harmonious co-existence between the Two Solitudes, a climate of suspicion and resentment has been stoked. Bill 96 shifts the blame for the decline of French on English speakers, allophones, immigrants and anyone else who qualifies as “the other.” We’re the problem — it’s us. And no matter how well we speak French, not matter how well integrated we are in Quebec society, it will never be good enough.
What we find difficult to swallow is that the effort to protect French comes at the expense of our fundamental rights, our status, our children’s futures, our economic prospects, our community’s vitality. Actually, it comes at the cost of the hard-won constitutional rights of all Quebecers, although that vast majority seem unaware or unconcerned.
… With few allies, the English community has only the courts to rely on, along with our strong community ties and the institutions we have nurtured, like school boards and hospitals. But the Quebec government is out to weaken those pillars of anglophone life with its alarming centralization of authority over health care and education — and the use of the notwithstanding clause.
Quebec English speakers brace as major provisions of language law come into effect
(CBC) Thursday, major provisions of the new law take effect across the province, ones that could have tangible effects on people’s everyday lives by making it more difficult to receive services in English, and which have stoked anxiety in English-speaking and bilingual communities that a delicate balance they’ve reached could falter.
“The next six months or one year will be crucial because, now, Bill 96 will become much more concrete than it was before,” said Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal and the director of the school’s Institute for the Study of Canada.
Bill 96: Quebec public servants now required to make ‘exemplary’ use of French
(City News) Chantal Bouchard, spokeswoman for the watchdog that enforces the province’s language laws, says this change means that when on the job, civil servants “must speak and write exclusively in French, except in certain cases.” The rule will not affect access to health care and social services in English, Bouchard said.
In a directive to government agencies, the province’s French Language Department said other exceptions include situations where health, public safety or principles of natural justice require the use of languages other than French.
Opinion: Quebec is losing out on top talent over Bill 96
New rules for students of parents who come to the province on temporary permits are too restrictive and should be amended.
Marnie Stein, president of the Quebec Association of Independent Schools.
In the midterm we are urging the government to amend the legislation and allow the three-year temporary permits of children of foreign nationals to be renewable for an additional three years, as was previously the case.
Bill 96: Who can visit the [City of Montreal] Web site in English?
The new Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec amends the Charter of the French language. What does the bill say? What are the exceptions? What is the city doing to comply with the new legislation?
Il faut attester être anglophone pour consulter le site en anglais
Les Montréalais devront désormais attester avoir droit aux services en anglais pour consulter la version anglaise du site internet de la Ville ou parler en anglais au 3-1-1.
Crowd-funded lawsuit focuses on Bill 96’s concrete impact on human rights
“If certain individuals don’t have access to the services they have paid for as taxpayers, then you end up with this society where there are different categories of citizens.”
(Montreal Gazette) Five Quebecers are taking on Bill 96 via a crowd-funded lawsuit — an entrepreneur, a retiree, a teacher, the mother of a boy with autism spectrum disorder and a woman with a chronic disease.
Andrew Caddell, president of the Task Force on Linguistic Policy, brandishes a lawsuit to overturn Bill 96, that his organization filed at the Montreal courthouse. Via its website, the task force says it was formed because “community members recognized that they were being abandoned by the major political parties in Quebec’s legislature and our federal Parliament.”
QC Bill 96
Andrew Caddell on As It Happens Transcript
A profile in courage: Senator Tony Loffreda rebukes Bill C-13 as a “dangerous precedent”
(The Suburban) … Loffreda said he wanted to “defend another language minority in the country, the one we often forget, the anglophone minority in Quebec. Along with many in my community, I am concerned that the bill includes three references to the Charter [of the French Language]. I am also a little disheartened that the bill is almost silent on English rights in Quebec, which begs the question: Has the government given up on a fully bilingual country?”
The Senator added that in his assessment, “the intention behind the pre-emptive use of the clause is to avoid any challenge by those who would argue that Bill 96 is discriminatory or contrary to the Charter of Rights. “As Mr. Housefather explained, this basically deprives Quebecers of their rights to go to court if their Charter rights are violated and to have the court order a remedy. In my humble opinion, if a government pre-emptively uses the clause, they know there is a potential for court challenges. I understand that section 33 is part of our Charter, and governments have the right to use the ‘notwithstanding’ clause, but I strongly believe using it should be as a last resort. Some of our colleagues in the other place agree. The Attorney General of Canada is not favourable to the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause either.”
New provisions of Bill 96 come into effect June 1: what you need to know
“Historic Anglo by their definition, is anyone who was eligible for English language education in Quebec,” says Eva Ludvig of QCGN, about several provisions of Bill 96, the province’s language law, coming into effect June 1.
(City News) What are some of the most significant changes coming into place on June 1st that English-speaking Quebecers should know about?
EL: Well, the most important thing, I think, is that all government departments have to be exemplary in following the requirements of Bill 96 and using the French language. Now that has all kinds of impacts in terms of services that individuals will be getting, and the eligibility to receive the services has an impact. Newly arrived immigrants, after six months, will no longer be eligible to receive services in English. And English speakers who were eligible to receive their education in English in Quebec will be eligible. That’s Bill 96.
Now what happens is that the implementation of these various parts of Bill 96 is done by regulation. We heard of two regulations yesterday, one affecting small businesses of five to 49 employees who will now have to register the ability of their employees to communicate in French. They’ll have to register that with the government and do it on an annual basis, which obviously has an impact on all mostly mom and pop businesses and other small businesses and is a question of great concern. The other part that we heard about yesterday as well is – and this is quite new, we weren’t expecting this – that international students attending CEGEPs for adult education or upgrading their skills will now have to pass the French language test before receiving their certification.
This has an impact on the institutions in terms of their ability to recruit.
CAQ government will exempt Indigenous CEGEP students from Bill 96
The announcement comes a month after the First Nations Education Council filed a lawsuit against the province.
The exemption is included in a series of draft regulations published in the Gazette officielle du Québec May 17th. The regulation comes into force 15 days after publication.
Quebec is snapping defeat from the jaws of victory
(The Suburban) It is clear that the economic sustainability of the non-Francophone community in Quebec is in decline at a much faster rate than any other community anywhere else in Canada. PERT’s Nicholas Salter called the results “shocking.” Shocking indeed. But is it surprising? Not only are Quebec policies eradicating the legal viability of anglophone institutions, their destruction of equality of opportunity for non-francophones eradicates the financial ability to fight back. It is the new tragic reality.
And Ottawa’s response? In the Trudeau government’s odious Bill C13 some $1.3 billion is allocated to minority community support. Of that, a paltry $135 million is for Quebec’s anglophones. That was met with outrage by Quebec’s government and nationalist opposition parties. First they came for our dignity…you dear readers can finish the rest.
Francophone minorities should worry about the Liberals’ language plans
Jeffery Vacante, assistant professor of history, University of Western Ontario. He is the author of National Manhood and the Creation of Modern Quebec.
The measures have been embraced by the Quebec government, as well as by French-language minority groups across the country. However, before they celebrate, French-language groups outside Quebec should stop to ponder the long-term consequences of these measures.
The English-speaking community in Quebec has already raised concerns about the ways the bill would limit access to English services in the province. … There has been less talk of the harm that Bill C-13 would have on French-speaking communities outside Quebec. But these communities should be concerned, because with this newly amended Official Languages Act, the federal government is effectively walking away from the idea that Canada is a bilingual country and embracing the idea that it is an English-speaking country that has a French-speaking region in Quebec and a smattering of French-speaking communities outside that province. By weakening the legal protections for bilingualism across the country – and embracing a regional and asymmetric approach to bilingualism – the new Official Languages Act will in effect make linguistic minorities in Canada subject to the whims of whatever government happens to be in power. …
Moreover, if the federal government will no longer defend the principle of equality, then there will be little reason for provincial governments to do so either. What this will mean is that a provincial government in an English-speaking province – let’s say Ontario – could limit the rights of its francophone minorities to access services in their own language on the grounds that Quebec – and even the federal government – does little to protect access to English-language services there.
Tasha Kheiriddin: Liberals, Conservatives unite to defend French, and against business
The last thing Canada needs is a revival of English-French language wars. But with every party looking for votes in Quebec in the next election, Bill C-13 passed without a whimper. It’s ironic that Canadians complain that our polarized politics yield bad policy. Sometimes, consensus can be just as bad — or worse.
Haven’t heard of Bill C-13, An Act to Amend the Official Languages Act? Don’t beat yourself up — it’s hardly been front page news. While MPs howled about such weighty matters as passport redesign and prime ministerial travel, Bill C-13 quietly became law, in a rare moment of near-unanimity. Only one MP, Liberal Anthony Housefather, voted against it. The minister who championed it, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, gushed that “This is really a historic day. It’s a really important day for this legislation and an important day for our country.”
So what does this law you haven’t heard of do? A lot. It could affect your job opportunities, access to federal services, language rights and immigration patterns across the country.
House passes official languages bill to enshrine francophone immigration in law
Please watch my interview with Mutsumi Takahashi on CTV News where I explain my decision:
…on Thursday I cast the only “no” vote against Bill C-13, an act that amends the Official Languages Act. From the moment the bill was tabled, I voiced my opposition to references to Quebec’s Law 96 being mentioned in the Bill and I did everything possible to have these removed and to prevent other references being added. My Liberal colleagues at Committee supported me but opposition parties did not and unfortunately three references are currently in the Bill. I have previously provided all the reasons that these references concern me legally and politically and I have heard the same concerns from the QCGN and other organizations representing the English-speaking minority in Quebec and from thousands of constituents. There are a number of good things in the Bill, but I felt that someone needed to remind the House and Canadians that the fears of Quebec’s English speaking community were not resolved and a unanimous vote in favour of the bill would have brushed aside those concerns.
A profile in courage: Housefather stands alone voting No on C-13
By Joel Goldenberg
(The Suburban) Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather cast the only No vote in the House of Commons Thursday regarding the federal Bill C-13, an amendment of the Official Languages Act. Three hundred and eleven MPs voted in favour, including MPs who have expressed concerns about the bill like St. Laurent MP Emmanella Lambropoulos and St. Léonard—Saint-Michel MP Patricia Lattanzio.
Quebec is counting on ‘good faith’ from anglos seeking English services
Proof of eligibility will not be required from those seeking services in English when a new language policy comes into effect June 1.
Just saying you are an anglophone with existing language rights will get you government services in English under Quebec’s new language law, Bill 96, the minister responsible for the French language said Wednesday.
Roberge noted clauses of Bill 96 — now merged into the Charter of the French Language — stipulate that Section 15 of the Act Respecting Health and Social Services, which guarantee health services in English, applies so there is no loss for the community on that front.
Canada as we know it will soon cease to exist
By Andrew Caddell
(The Hill Times) The Trudeau government is not only complicit in this gradual slide towards a separate Quebec: it is actively supporting it with its changes to the Official Languages Act, Bill C-13. (subscription only)
MONTREAL—As you drive into the Quebec City region on the Trans-Canada Highway, there is a huge sign saying “Bienvenue à la Capitale Nationale” (Welcome to the National Capital).
I always thought it was a pretentious sop to Quebec nationalists, or a deliberate ambiguity between the English meaning of the word “nation” (country) and the French (cultural group). But as of June 1, for all intents and purposes, Quebec will be a separate country, and Canada as we know it will cease to exist. Sadly, this state of affairs can be laid squarely on the doorstep of Justin Trudeau.
I do not suggest this lightly, but without a constitution—the basic law—does a country exist? Let’s begin with Bill 96, the new Charter of the French Language, which became law on June 1, 2022. It strips all legal and political rights acquired by anglophones since Confederation. The English text of any law is now subordinated to the French version, contrary to Section 133 of the Constitution. Bill 96 allows illegal search and seizure of computers and cellphones, as it is protected by the notwithstanding clause.
Similarly, any legal documents cannot be in English alone, destroying 156 years of legal protection. The law goes further in stating the “Parliament of Quebec must … enshrine the paramountcy (of French) in Québec’s legal order.” And then the kicker: the Canadian Constitution is modified to recognize “Quebecers form a nation,” and “French shall be the only official language of Quebec … (and is) the common language of the Quebec nation.” Coming June 1, only 600,000 “historic anglophones” (those educated in English in Canada) will have the right to service from Quebec in English.
Given there are 1.25 million Quebecers who speak English, this is absurd, and the community has risen up to challenge Bill 96 in court. It had to: Ottawa neither challenged it, nor disallowed it within the one-year time frame required by the Constitution. It also failed to challenge Quebec’s Bill 4, giving the National Assembly the unique right to refuse to swear allegiance to the King.
As regular readers know, I am no monarchist, but if you want to change the Constitution, you amend it according to the rules, otherwise you do not have a constitution. In Premier François Legault’s “Quebec Nation” that doesn’t matter.
The Trudeau government is not only complicit in this gradual slide towards a separate Quebec, it is actively supporting it with its changes to the Official Languages Act, Bill C-13.
While Canada recognized the rights to the use of English and French from Confederation to Pierre Trudeau’s push for bilingualism, through to the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with one fell swoop, all of that will be lost. Bill C-13 has integrated Bill 96, thanks to Bloc Québécois and Conservative MPs who made the bill worse in committee, and who don’t give a damn about the concerns of Anglo-Quebecers, or the future of Canada.
In doing so, the rampant discrimination of Bill 96 and its use of the notwithstanding clause to suppress fundamental rights has been endorsed by Parliament. This is unprecedented and dangerous.
While Bill C-13 supports the growth of francophone communities outside Quebec, it provides incentives to francophones not given to Anglo-Quebecers. Last week, in a cynical ploy, the Trudeau government offered hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to gain anglophone support of Bill C-13, while simultaneously undermining their community.
Although Quebec nationalists often insult anglophones as “Westmount Rhodesians,” the reality is very different. The vast majority of us speak French, but those who don’t are often Black, Indigenous, elderly, rural poor, and those with physical challenges. Bill C-13 and Bill 96 will openly discriminate against them.
There are Quebec MPs who plan to vote against this egregious legislation, and they should be applauded for their courage. But other Liberal, Conservative, and NDP MPs pandering to Quebec will join with the separatist Bloc in a moment of ignominy. Pierre Trudeau should be spinning in his grave.
Being a Member of Parliament brings with it extraordinary responsibility: each one took an oath to protect our Constitution and our laws. They have failed miserably to act in the interests of the country we love, and will now reap the whirlwind.
Hanes: Trudeau is throwing Quebec anglos under the bus with Bill C-13
The Official Languages Act reform shows that Ottawa is just as willing to jettison the rights of English-speaking Quebecers as Premier François Legault.
Bill C-13 threatens to weaken the community’s rights in many of the same ways the government of Premier François Legault has in recent years.
Bill C-13 contains references to Quebec’s Charte de la langue française. Not only is it unusual — if not unprecedented — for a federal law to be subjected to provincial legislation, Bill 101 is further reinforced by Bill 96, which establishes French as the only official language of Quebec, exempts the law from human rights charters, and shields it from challenges by the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause.
The Legault government and other nationalists, of course, endorse this mention.
But organizations like the Quebec Community Groups Network and Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather, Emmanuella Lambropoulos and Patricia Lattanzio, along with the departing [former MP Marc] Garneau, warned that this was uncharted legal territory. Rights could differ by province and English-speakers in Quebec will be stripped of their equality as a minority language community, they said.
How Bill 96 will affect English-speakers in Quebec in 2023?
“The worst is to come,” says Marlene Jennings, vice chair of the Foundation for Black Communities, of Quebec’s Bill 96, the province’s reform on its French-language charter. Many English-speakers are on edge for 2023. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.
Editorial: With federal Bill C-13, news gets worse for Quebec anglos
The initial version was troubling enough; now there are added layers of complication as the updated Official Languages Act moves closer to adoption.
(Montreal Gazette Editorial Board) With every hurdle Bill C-13 clears on its way to becoming law, the federal government’s proposed update to the Official Languages Act gets worse for Quebec’s English-speaking minority.
The initial version was troubling enough, containing two references to Quebec’s Charte de la langue française — a.k.a. Bill 101 — which was recently strengthened by the passage of Bill 96. While virtually unheard of that a federal law would defer to a provincial one, there are additional layers of complication — most notably, that Quebec’s language law is shielded by the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause.
Robert Libman: Bill 96 is here, but will it hold up to court challenges?
Opponents have been mobilizing and taking aim at the language law from several legal angles. The government might be in for a rude awakening.
Several court challenges are being mounted. In the past couple of weeks, activities have been organized by protagonists in these cases. The Quebec government might assume its pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause shields Bill 96 from charter of rights cases, but the various challenges are coming at it from several angles, involving broader constitutional questions, making the law vulnerable to attack, despite the use of the clause.
Last week, First Nations leaders filed a Quebec Superior Court challenge arguing sections of Bill 96 infringe on ancestral rights and will lead to an exodus of their children.
Meanwhile, the citizen-led Task Force on Linguistic Policy is raising funds to challenge the law and has hired constitutional lawyer Michael Bergman. He will argue the notwithstanding clause cannot be used to nullify human rights — that there are certain basic propositions of rights in this country that go beyond constitutions, including the Magna Carta, which is still very much alive and part of our constitutional law.
… Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey also has vowed to take the fight to the Supreme Court and the United Nations. Grey filed a motion last September challenging several articles in the law, specifically those related to the legal profession and access to justice for the public. He will also invoke the Bill’s contravention of Section 133 of the Constitution as well as provisions in the law that unilaterally amend the Canadian Constitution.
John Ivison: Retired judge warns new language bill favours francophones, threatens unity
Canada’s language laws have been a model for the world; now we’re set to become Belgium, Peter Annis warns
“Canada will find itself in a Belgian-like relationship between two official language groups in open hostility with each other, or worse, in a new country called Canada West,” he concludes, in a critique of recent language policy called Rebalancing Bilingualism, which he sent to the federal and provincial justice ministers as well as the National Post.
“Future Canadians may look back and realize the country was at an inflection point in the early 2020s,” he wrote.
Watch Ivison’s interview with Annis in the video above to learn why the retired Federal Court justice has decided to break an unwritten rule among judges that they do not criticize one another, particularly after their own rulings have been overturned by appeal courts.
English Montreal School Board hosts community leaders to speak about Bill 96 impact
The implementation of Bill 96, Quebec’s reform of its French language law, has been a thorn on the side of the English-speaking community. One area highly affected is education. That’s why the English Montreal School Board organized an evening of talks, where different community members discussed the legislation’s impact.
People who want to enroll in our schools, who are here temporarily, there’s now such a backlog with that, rules are still not clear in terms who is eligible and who is not,” explained Joe Ortona, chair of the ESMB.
Businesses such as Repare Therapeutics, a biotech company, are also feeling their growth stomped.
Whether it’s recruiting foreign talent or securing foreign income, the new rules aren’t clear-cut.
Anglo MPs from Quebec not in attendance for official languages announcement
No MPs from Quebec, aside from Trudeau who represents Montreal’s Papineau riding, were present at the announcement of the $4.1-billion, five-year action plan.
(iPolitics) While MPs representing Quebec ridings with a significant English-speaking population have raised objections to the Trudeau government’s Bill C-13, updating the Official Languages Act — none were in attendance Wednesday at the unveiling of Ottawa’s Official Languages Action Plan.
Quebec’s English-speaking community leaders blast Bill C-13 action plan
The action plan would add $1.4 billion in new money over five years for the protection of official languages across the country — an increase of roughly 50 per cent of the current budget. It has four main pillars: francophone immigration, official language learning, community development and government leading by example.
While the English-speaking minority would be eligible for protection under the law, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau singled out French speakers as the only minority group that is in danger in the country in a speech Wednesday morning.
“We remain concerned that the French-language charter is included in the act,” said Eva Ludvig, the president of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
Under the action plan, the English community is promised funds to gain access to employment services, second-language French instruction and arts and culture activities. However, Ludvig is concerned that the lack of specific funds means the federal government will have to negotiate with the province to earmark the funds.
Gerry Cutting, a former president of the Townshippers’ Association, said he fears that C-13 will give the English community very little solid ground to negotiate any protection under the action plan.
“First of all, Bill 96 starts off by saying that French is no longer the common language, it’s the only language in Quebec,” he told the Gazette in February. “It doesn’t even have the minority status that it has at the federal level. That means that at any time the English language can be disqualified from federal funding.”
Colin Standish, the leader of the Canadian Party of Quebec, agreed.
“Bill C-13 ruptures the equality of English and French,” he said. “It really is the end of bilingualism as we have known it for over 50 years since 1969, where English and French have equality of status, legally. This bill is a rupture of that, and incorporates the worst aspects of Bill 96 into federal legislation.”
First Nations organizations going to court over Quebec’s French language reforms
Bill 96 infringes on their right to self-determination, groups argue
Two First Nations groups are going to court over the reforms passed last year to Quebec’s French-language law, with lawyers filing a request for a judicial review on Thursday.
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador and the First Nations Education Council are asking Quebec Superior Court to look at 14 articles in the Charter of the French Language, which was amended by Bill 96 last June.
They have argued the provisions infringe on their rights to self-determination and to teach children their ancestral languages, as stipulated in the Constitution Act of 1982.
The groups have accused the government of failing to consult them before adopting the law, which reinforces the use of French across several institutions, including the education and justice systems.
28 April 2022
Indigenous leader calls mandatory French courses in English CEGEPs ‘cultural genocide’
Quebec ‘shut the door’ on discussions with Indigenous leaders about Bill 96 provisions
Beryl Wajsman: Legault’s Catholicism tweet was inexcusable
(The Suburban) St. Laurent Liberal MNA Marwah Rizqy suggested in a response to the Premier that, “We have all at some time issued a tweet that we wished we hadn’t. It is time to retract.” Premier Legault, if you want to reassert any moral and ethical legitimacy to your position on Bill 21, we suggest you follow her advice. Retract and apologize. Failing this, you will leave a legacy of engaging in prejudice and rank hypocrisy. Not a great reflection on your patrimoine. The last politician to invoke Catholic superiority was Premier Maurice Duplessis. And his years as Premier are known as “La grand noirceur… The great darkness.” Is that how you really want to he remembered?
Anthony Housefather talks Bill C-13 on The Corner Booth
The Liberal MP for Mount Royal says it’s “a hill to die on.”
Former MP Marc Garneau talks politics with The Corner Booth hosts
Being a politician was far more complex than being an astronaut, Garneau tells Bill Brownstein, Lesley Chesterman and Aaron Rand.
La langue n’est pas un jeu à somme nulle
Anthony Housefather et Marc Garneau
Ce n’est pas la minorité anglophone extrêmement bilingue du Québec qui menace la langue française, et il est possible de promouvoir le français sans réduire les services gouvernementaux en anglais.
(Le Devoir) Le Québec a récemment adopté la loi 32 (Loi sur la liberté académique dans le milieu universitaire). C’était un projet de loi qui visait à protéger ce qu’il définissait comme « le droit de toute personne de s’engager librement et sans contrainte doctrinale, idéologique ou morale » dans les établissements d’enseignement supérieur. Le même type de liberté d’expression devrait être encouragé dans la sphère politique. Pourtant, tant nous que d’autres collègues avons fait l’objet d’attaques incessantes dans les médias francophones du Québec pour nous être opposés à ce que la loi 96 du Québec soit incluse dans la Loi sur les langues officielles. C’est regrettable, il devrait être possible de faire valoir les préoccupations de la communauté linguistique minoritaire de la province sans ce genre de vitriol. …
Marlene Jennings: It’s not alarmism when there’s cause for concern
Critics of Liberal MPs’ interventions on the federal languages bill, C-13, should focus their attention on the issues being raised.
Over the past several weeks, a battle has been taking place in Ottawa as the House of Commons studies Bill C-13, which would modernize our Official Languages Act. As a result, Bill 96 and our newly updated Charter of the French Language have received much attention in the francophone media. And several Liberal MPs — in particular, Anthony Housefather, Marc Garneau and Emmanuella Lambropoulos — have garnered the ire of much of francophone media. Even my own name has been thrown into this mix!
There is an adage in politics that any public mention of one’s name, even if it’s unfavourable, is better than no mention at all. I don’t agree. In some cases, this coverage has included unfair allegations that those raising concerns are engaging in exaggeration, misinformation, disinformation and even outright lying.
‘Several’ Quebec Liberal MPs could vote against their government’s bill on official languages
Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who represents the Montreal riding, said elements in C-13 would erode the rights of Quebec’s English-speaking communities
(National Post) The number of dissident voices within the Quebec Liberal caucus concerning their government’s own bill on official languages is growing, with at least two MPs saying they would vote against it and others saying they’re unsure.
Andrew Caddell: Quebec’s anglophones living a winter of discontent
Quebec bureaucrats are preparing regulations for Bill 96, the egregious changes to the Charter of the French Language, which will soon explode on the anglophone community.
A comment on Andrew Caddell’s Fb page in response to this column
“For many years I have volunteered my time with many non-profit Boards that generally provide value added to Quebec society. In some cases, on some if the Boards, I have accepted the responsibility to interface with the Quebec Government to make sure that information and documentation for these various organizations is up-to-date within the Quebec records etc.
I am familiar with the process but occasionally have to contact Quebec Government departments with a question about procedures etc. I have done this for many years, in English, without any difficulty. And as mentioned, these are not for-profit regular businesses but rather non-profit Boards that are managed by non-paid volunteers.
All to say that recently when I contact many Quebec Government Departments for information, in English – here is the first line heading of most replies that I get…
Conformément à la Charte de la langue française, nous communiquons avec les entreprises établies au Québec uniquement en français et ne leur fournissons aucune traduction de courtoisie.
I find this rather sad, that in the long term many Boards, even if they serve an English-speaking community, may simply lose these long serving and valuable Board Member volunteers who have neither the time or resources to translate everything etc.”
The Task Force on Linguistic Policy (TFLP), a Canadian federally-chartered not-for-profit corporation, is a fully independent Quebec-based, non-partisan advocacy group made up of individuals of diverse backgrounds.
The Task Force was formed to stop Quebec’s Bill 96 and Canada’s Bill C-13 & we will continue to fight for linguistic equality.
President Andrew Caddell
Opposition blocks proposals to remove French language charter from Bill C-13
“This is a major setback for the rights of English-speaking Quebecers.”
“Despite the best efforts of many Liberal MPs led by Anthony Housefather, Patricia Lattanzio, and Marc Garneau, it is clear to us that the deck is stacked against English-speaking Quebec,” says Eva Ludvig, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN)
The federal Liberals were blocked Friday by opposition parties from having references to the Charter of the French Language removed from Bill C-13, the proposed legislation to modernize the Official Languages Act.
During a committee hearing held in Ottawa to amend the bill, members of the Conservative Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party sided with the Bloc Québécois to block the minority Liberal government’s proposed changes.
Bill C-13 is still in the early stages of being amended, but Housefather noted the changes made on Friday cannot be reversed.
Official Languages Act: MPs reject Quebec’s first 2 requested amendments
(CTV) The Quebec government suffered a setback Tuesday when two amendments to Bill C-13, to modernize the federal Official Languages Act were rejected after heated debate in parliamentary committee.
Anthony Housefather, a Liberal MP from Montreal, took issue when the Bloc Québécois tabled an amendment aimed primarily at recognizing the language planning that Quebec has provided for in its Charter of the French Language.
Housefather later proposed that any reference to the Charter of the French Language be removed from the bill, sponsored by his own party’s official languages minister.
The second amendment that sowed the seeds of discord affirmed that French is the common language of Quebec, which the Liberals couldn’t accept. Ashton and Ontario Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu both voted against it and did not explain their decisions.
One of the highlights of the bill’s study is expected to come in the next few weeks when MPs vote on an amendment to make private companies under federal jurisdiction subject to the Charter of the French Language, as called for by the Quebec government.
The parties have already weighed in: the Liberals are against it, but the Conservatives, the Bloc and the NDP are in favour, which should allow the amendment to pass, barring a blowout.
Bill C-13 establishes a new right to work and be served in French in Quebec and in “regions with a strong francophone presence” in other provinces in private companies under federal jurisdiction, such as banks, airlines or railways.
Beryl Wajsman: Trudeau should heed Garneau warning on English rights
(The Suburban) It used be the moral and legal standard in Canada that federal political parties expressed vigorous and robust commitment through words and action to our Constitution and Charter and the guarantees of minority language rights embedded therein. Sadly, we have seen that wane since the end of the Harper government. But Prime Minister Trudeau’s proposed Bill C13 has changed deafening silence into dangerous threat that would further diminish those rights and encourage Quebec discrimination against minorities.
It was therefore heartening to hear the eloquent and courageous call by NDG-Westmount MP the Hon. Marc Garneau — a former Trudeau Minister — taking the government to task and warning that, “It would be an error to give Quebec free rein on language. It is discriminatory to the anglophone minority.” His attack on the Trudeau Bill should be a clarion call to all elected officials of character and conscience.
Robert Libman: Quebec’s ‘knife to the throat’ isn’t what it once was
The dangers inherent in the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause must be clearly and intellectually fleshed out.
(Montreal Gazette) … Trudeau may have cowered when Legault used the notwithstanding clause to pass Bills 21 and 96, but now he must remain strong to stave off continued abuses of the clause. Some political commentators suggest he’s playing with matches, but sometimes a prime minister must stand up for the country’s values and the Charter of Rights. Also, Legault can huff and puff all he wants, but what knife to the throat is he holding? Despite what some suspect are deep-down separatist conviction, Legault, like Bourassa, clearly believes that Quebec is much better off economically within Canada. And as Legault has pointed out many times, Quebecers don’t want a referendum on sovereignty. The support is not there, especially among young people more concerned with the environment and their economic futures.
Pre-emptively using notwithstanding clause ‘not the right thing to do:’ Trudeau
(CTV) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provinces should not be pre-emptively using the notwithstanding clause, because it means “suspending fundamental rights and freedoms.”
On Monday, Trudeau said he did not think provinces should be “proactively” and “pre-emptively” using the notwithstanding clause.
“I’ve often said that I always deplore any attempt by provinces and territories to use the notwithstanding clause to suspend basic rights without going through the courts,” he said at a news conference in Toronto.
“That’s not the right thing to do, in my opinion.”
Allison Hanes: At some point, Ottawa must stand up for the Constitution
Predictably, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments about the notwithstanding clause drew a stern rebuke from Premier François Legault.
If he dares even muse about standing up for constitutional rights and reining in the overuse of the notwithstanding clause by the provinces, he knows he will earn a stern rebuke from Quebec Premier François Legault. If he doesn’t, he comes across as a doormat too weak to stand up for the most basic principles of justice in a democratic society.
François Legault criticizes Justin Trudeau over notwithstanding clause comments
Proposing to limit use is an attack on Quebec democracy and people, premier says
Legault was reacting to an interview the prime minister gave to La Presse in which he noted his intention to better regulate the use of the notwithstanding clause, which permits provincial and territorial governments to override certain provisions of the Constitution.
“There should be a political consequence to such a decision. But we are experiencing a certain trivialization of this suspension of rights,” Trudeau told the French-language digital newspaper.
“And when you combine that with the rise of populism around the world, you can see that there are concerns about what might be done.”
He told La Presse he’s also considering referring the matter to the Supreme Court.
Tom Mulcair: Signs another federal election is coming
Bill C-13, the ill-considered rewriting of the Official Languages Act, could move anglo votes away from the Liberals.
Support for Bill 96 in Quebec is fuelled by the false notion that French is in decline
You can easily argue that French culture in Quebec, after two generations of solid middle-class growth, has never been more vital, secure and dynamic.
By Alexander Hackett, Contributor
(TorStar) A recent sarcasm-laden op-ed in the Star by ex-Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée promotes this by-now entrenched notion [that the French language is in perilous decline and could soon disappear altogether], replete with all the usual biased statistics.
Through exaggeration and hyperbole, Lisée attempts to discredit legitimate criticisms of Bill 96. And by extension, to convince readers there is an existential threat to a majority that makes up between 80 to 84 per cent of the province’s 8.7 million people.
It’s all very strange. Especially when you consider that, cumulatively, there have never been more French speakers in Quebec or Canada.
This is a hard fact. The number of native French speakers continues to grow year after year, hitting the 7 million in 2021. The only conceivable way in which you can say that French is in decline in the province is in a narrowly proportional sense, and even here you have to cherry-pick statistics and split hairs in reference to a short period between 2001 to 2016.
The Lisée piece referred to: Quebec’s plan to eradicate English
The attack on English language rights in Québec is worse than expected, so hurry and come in droves before the last English word is ever spoken here.
Robert Libman: Forecast for Quebec anglos: storm clouds from the west
Ottawa’s language legislation, Bill C-13, already is harmful, and opposition parties would make it worse.
Bill C-13 is the federal government’s new legislation to “strengthen and modernize” Canada’s Official Languages Act. It also aims to protect and promote the French language by “recognizing that French is in a minority situation in Canada and North America.” As is often the case, however, it seems that the way in which this laudable objective is to be achieved will be at the expense of Quebec anglophones. …
Just before the holiday break a few Montreal-island Liberal MPs, including Marc Garneau, Anthony Housefather and Patricia Lattanzio, pushed back and helped defeat Conservative and Bloc Québécois amendments to remove references in C-13 to the obligation to support the vitality of Quebec’s minority language community. They also have amendments to remove references to the Charter of the French Language in the Official Languages Act and to make its companion act clearer about the ability to work in English in federally regulated businesses. Threatening to vote against their own party on the legislation could make a powerful statement.
The Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages also raised concerns, making it clear that C-13 is legislation with constitutional implications. The Quebec Community Groups Network is calling on the Senate to refer the bill to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Clifford Lincoln: Quebecers’ responses to new language laws, then and now
Relative lack of attention, particularly among the francophone majority, is a stunning contrast to the experience in 1988 with Bill 178.
The drastic provisions of Bill 96 have been widely reviewed and commented upon in the Montreal Gazette and other media. However, what strikes me particularly is the passive acquiescence with which it has been widely received by the large majority in Quebec as well as the rest of Canada, despite the overwhelmingly loud and continuing opposition by Quebec minority groups. These include alarmed warnings by leading human rights defenders, legal and constitutional experts, and prominent institutions and business groups, not to mention regular attention in media not only in Quebec, but in the ROC and beyond our borders. …
In the case of Bill 96, the pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause makes a complete mockery of the fundamental and minority rights under the Quebec and Canadian charters, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by shielding the law from the universally recognized right of citizens to seek redress before the courts. …
It is, sadly, a similar situation with federal Bill C-13. Credible and learned voices are sounding the alarm about the abandonment of the historic equality of our official languages — a fundamental characteristic of Canada — and the legislation’s inclusion, as an option open to federally chartered businesses in Quebec, of application of a provincial statute, the Charter of the French Language. Of all bitter ironies, this inclusion would make federal law complicit in the application of the notwithstanding clause to its own Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms! Yet C-13 is raising very little public reaction, except in some English-language media and circles.