Fortin: No to Bill 96
Make no mistake: Bill 96 is an ill-advised and deeply divisive piece of legislation that will have significant and long-lasting effects on our community.
While the protection of the French language is an obviously worthwhile objective, this Bill goes about it in ways that contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that limits services to English speaking Quebecers and that will have severe effects on the community’s institutions. It also limits the possibility of a Cegep education in English for many francophones.
Sadly, many of the effects of Bill 96 remain little known. Here are some of the consequences of the CAQ government’s Bill:
Bill 96 creates two classes of Quebecers. “Historic Quebec Anglos” (a ridiculous concept) who could receive government services in English. And everyone else.
Bill 96 limits services in English to newcomers to six months. Afterwards, all services will be provided exclusively in French. This includes healthcare, the most essential of services. Last week, some 500 medical professionals vehemently denounced this aspect of Bill 96.
Bill 96 freezes English language Cegep enrollment henceforth and in perpetuity. As our region grows, this will prevent francophones from studying in English and even send some Anglophone students to Ontario Colleges. Further, it also affects First Nations students by preventing many of them from attending the institution of their choice.
Bill 96 gives veto power to the Minister responsible for French language to veto whether a judge needs to be bilingual. This is a responsibility of the courts, not politicians. It could well have a negative impact on the right of everyone to have a trial in their preferred language
On employers and employees:
Bill 96 grants exceptional powers of search and seizure of work computers by inspectors of the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (and in time the newly created Ministry of French Language). Search and seizure can be done without a judges’ mandate.
Bill 96 forces all employers to justify why they need to post a position requiring English. This will make it more difficult on employers to attract new employees, but also limit our government services, such as healthcare, from posting bilingual positions. In turn, services in English will become more difficult to obtain.
Bill 96 requires all professionals (from lawyers to veterinarians to accountants, almost everyone with a professional order) to pass French language skills exams. This is sure to drive professionals across the border.
These are only some of the immediate impacts of the CAQ’s Bill 96. Yes, without proper consultation, our party proposed, and all parties adopted, an amendment on Cegeps that was very much ill-advised and that would have had a negative impact on some non-francophone students’ success.
Mistakes happen. It was acknowledged and every efforts were made since then to have it removed or corrected. That amendment has since been removed and the CAQ since decided (with their majority) to replace it by adding three French second language courses (adapted to their level) for what it calls “Historic Quebec Anglos”. Not perfect. But better.
I will be proudly voting against Bill 96. And the Liberal Party will be the only party in the Assembly to do so. The Bill is not reflective of today’s Quebec society. It is not reflective of our Aylmer community that proudly lives by the principle of “vivre-ensemble”.
The Bill will limit a host service to Anglophones, and opportunities for Francophones to learn English in Cegep, it will impose roadblocks on our small businesses. It wilfully misses the mark on its stated goal of protecting the French language and simply pits majority against minority. I am not interested in that type of politics, nor in that type of government.
MNA for Pontiac