Quebec moves to protect French and restrict use of English | Quebec

The Quebec government succeeded in passing sweeping French language protections that critics warned would reshape all aspects of public life.

Bill 96, passed Tuesday afternoon in the province’s National Assembly, will require new immigrants and refugees to communicate with regional officials exclusively in French six months after they arrive or face a loss of services. The bill also limits the use of English in the legal system and limits enrollment in English language schools in the county.

The ruling Avenir Quebec coalition received support from left-wing Quebec Solidere to pass the bill from 78 to 29. Provincial liberals voted against the bill, saying it went too far. The separatist Parti Québécois said the legislation did not go far enough.

In celebration of the law’s passage, the Prime Minister, François Legault, coined it as an attempt to strengthen protections for the official Quebec language. The prime minister also dismissed concerns that the law undermined the rights of linguistic minorities.

“I don’t know of any linguistic minority that is better served in their own language than the English-speaking community in Quebec,” he said on Tuesday. “We’re proud of that, and we’re also proud of being a French-speaking country in North America, and it’s our duty to protect our common language.”

Quebec’s previous attempts to protect the French language It made headlines in the past. In 2019, . was released Prefecture denied residency to a woman from France, arguing that she could not prove her ability to speak French. That year, the government proposed banning the popular salutation “Bonjour-hi”, only to quickly retreat amid anger and ridicule from the population. In November, a President of the largest airline in the country He was mocked for his admission that he never learned French, despite having lived in Montreal for 14 years.

Legault said critics of the bill were adding “fuel to the fire” of “disinformation” that was spreading across the county ahead of the vote.

“We are committed to protecting your access to health care in English. It is a historic promise that we will keep, and you will continue to have hospitals, schools … and English-speaking universities,” he said, dismissing concerns that those seeking health care in English would face barriers New.

Thousands have protested against the bill in recent weeks amid fears that many public services will be curtailed.

Bill 96 is the most significant restriction of human rights in Quebec’s history CanadaMarilyn Jennings, president of the Quebec Community Group Network, which promotes the rights of English speakers in the province, said in a statement.

“This legislation revokes the right to access services in English for 300,000 to 500,000 English-speaking Quebecers,” she said.

Julius Gray, the attorney leading the fight against the bill, described its passage as one of “the most gratuitous uses of force I’ve ever seen” in an interview with CTV News. Gray said he and other lawyers intend to file a series of legal challenges, adding that they will struggle all the way to the United Nations.

The bill has also faced criticism from indigenous groups, who say it undermines indigenous language rights.

Earlier this month, the Haudenosaunee Longhouse, the traditional Mohawk government of the Kahnawake community, vowed to defy the law, saying in a statement that the bill would “never apply” to its people on their ancestral lands.

On Tuesday, the Assembly of First Nations called Bill 96 a “big step backward” that hurt reconciliation efforts.

By invoking a legislative mechanism known as an “exception clause” to make the law immune from constitutional challenges, the Quebec government has greatly reduced the chances of the federal government getting involved.

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, whose constituency is in Quebec, has been cautious in his outspoken criticism of the legislation, telling reporters only reporters that he had “concerns” about the content of the law.