Language law Bill 96 adopted, promising sweeping changes for Quebec – CTV News Montreal

Language law Bill 96 adopted, promising sweeping changes for Quebec – CTV News Montreal

Bill 96, the provincial government’s controversial legislation aimed at protecting the French language in Quebec, has been adopted in the National Assembly. MNAs voted 78-29 in favour of passing the law Tuesday afternoon, with opposition members from the Liberal Party and Parti Québécois voting against it.  The passing of the bill comes as a constitutional lawyer based in Montreal says he, along with a committee of other lawyers, plan to challenge it in court. Bill 96 “is…the most gratuitous use of power I’ve ever seen,” said Julius Grey on Tuesday, hours before the legislation was adopted. Meanwhile, Quebec Premier François Legault told English-speakers on Tuesday afternoon that the province is making a “historic promise” that they will “keep” their services, also saying he believes they’re better served already in their own language than any other linguistic minority. Reacting to the bill’s passage while at a news conference in Vancouver, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters he has “concerns” about Bill 96, but did not give a clear answer when asked if the federal government would intervene in a legal challenge. “We continue to look very carefully at what the final form of this will take and we will base our decision on what we see as the need to keep minorities protected across the country,” he said in English. “I know how important it is to support francophone communities outside of Quebec, but it’s also extremely important to make sure we protect francophone communities within Quebec,” he added, noting that he once taught French in British Columbia. The bill was designed as an update to Quebec’s original language law, Bill 101, but it contains huge, sweeping changes that will make deep marks in the justice system and college education system, among many other sectors of Quebec society. Among other things, it would make it mandatory for new immigrants in Quebec to communicate with any government entity entirely in French starting just six months after their arrival. The bill would also change the system for deciding how many judges in Quebec must be bilingual, shifting that power to the justice minister — who is currently the same person as the minister responsible for French. It would cap enrolment levels at English-language CEGEPs, making the colleges more and more difficult to get into as their growth will be halted at 2019 levels. Within those colleges, students would also face new requirements — some would need to pass a French-language exam in order to graduate and to take some of their core classes in French, while unilingual English students would also need to take more classes to learn French. That will, in turn, drastically change the staffing of the colleges, they’ve said, spurring a major hiring of French-language teachers and likely putting the jobs of some English-speaking teachers at risk. There’s been much confusion over what kind of effect the law will have on health care, with lawyers warning that its language leaves the door open to a serious change in how easy it is to get health care in English, and the government insisting verbally that nothing will change on that front. Verbal assurances, however, come cheap, say the legal critics, whereas the bill as written is expansive and very complicated, leaving much uncertain. Legault called that criticism “disinformation” last week. He said again on Tuesday, after the bill’s passage, that the government is promising English services will be maintained. “I know there are some who are adding fuel to the fire by claiming that Bill 96 will prevent English-speaking Quebecers from receiving health-care services in English,” Legault said. “We know that some of the people are worried. We are committed to protecting your access to health care in English. It is a historical promise that we will keep, and you will continue to have, English-speaking hospitals, schools, CEGEPs and universities,” he continued. “I know of no linguistic minority that is better served in its own language than the English-speaking community in Quebec.” The premier added that “we are proud of that,” and that “we are also proud to be a francophone nation in North America and it’s our duty to protect our common language, and I invite all Quebecers to speak it, to love it and to protect it.” Liberal leader Dominique Anglade said her party is against several sections of the bill, including the requirement that all new immigrants receive government services only in French after they’ve lived in Quebec for six months. “It’s not realistic, it’s not acceptable. There are lots of families that will be affected by that. It will be a negative impact,” Anglade said after the bill was passed. Speaking at a press scrum, she said people who live in Quebec can be for the promotion and protection of French, but also against Bill 96 because it “divides Quebecers.” Her message to the anglophone community Tuesday was to vote in the upcoming provincial election in October. “That’s one way to voice what type of Quebec you want. Do we want a Quebec where, yes, we can protect and promote French, [but] where we do this in an inclusive way where everybody feels respected, regardless of the language you speak at your house?” The head of the Quebec Community Groups’ Network or QCGN, an umbrella group representing English-speaking Quebecers, said that after a year of trying to educate people about the bill and sway lawmakers to alter it, the finall bill “still is not what we wanted.” “It’s a sad day. I think it’s a sad day for all of Quebec,” said QCGN director Sylvia Martin-Laforge. Like the lawyers planning to challenge the bill, she said she finds the way it was passed — shielding it from most legal appeals — disturbing. “The preventative use of the notwithstanding clause is incredibly troubling,” she said. “We can’t appeal to either the Charter of Rights of Quebec or the Canadian Charter.” The lawyers, so far represented by constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, plan to take their case all the way to the United Nations if needed, Grey said Tuesday. In a statement, the QCGN said they do have a “vision of an inclusive Quebec where French is the common language” and that most English-speakers “favour promoting and protecting the French language in Quebec – and throughout Canada.” But the group is “convinced there are more effective and inclusive ways to achieve this goal… and that it can be achieved without vacating the human, equality and legal rights of Quebecers,” it wrote. Martin-Laforge said that one worry that regular Montrealers raise most often isn’t necessarily with any of the sectors the bill will affect, such as health or the justice system, but with the entire idea of separating “historic” English-speakers from other kinds of English-speakers. In Quebec, “historic anglophones” has been the term used to describe people whose parents can prove they went to English school in Canada, and who therefore qualify for English school themselves, and whose children do too. Others, especially immigrants, must go to French school — even if their parents were educated in English as well, but outside Canada. Bill 96 marks the first time the government seems prepared to extend this division outside the education system, also cutting off access to other government services in English to those who aren’t “historic” English-speakers, especially new immigrants. “I think that people are very worried about the use of the identity issue around historic anglophones, and what does that mean? what does that mean in practice?” Martin-Laforge said. Even for those who do qualify for English schooling, the idea of proving that in many settings in daily life is jarring, she said. “I and others, what are we going to do, whip out some kind of card that says we’re historic anglos?” she said. “How do you prove it if you’ve lived in Quebec all your life, but more importantly, how do you prove it if you come from elsewhere in Canada? The whole notion of ‘historic anglo’ is a bad one.” People have repeatedly made it clear to the QCGN that they’re “not wanting to be categorized, not wanting to be identified by the state,” she said. What people outside Quebec don’t always understand is that many officially English-speakers are actually very competent in French, or even fluently bilingual, like she is, she said. But there are situations where people should have a right to speak their mother tongue, she argued. “My example is, when I was brought up, my mother comforted me in English with, I don’t know, Mother Goose or whatever it is,” she said. “When I get older and I need more compassionate care, the language of comfort that will probably reach me is English, even though I speak perfect French.” “It’s complicated,” she said. “Health care is about health-care outcomes — you want people to be better…most health-care professionals feel that way too. The government should not be legislating what [language] doctors speak to their patients in.” An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade and the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres. The attacker was killed by law enforcement. Lamenting a uniquely American tragedy, an anguished and angry U.S. President Joe Biden delivered an urgent call for new restrictions on firearms Tuesday night after a gunman shot and killed 19 children at a Texas elementary school. Bill 96, the provincial government’s controversial legislation aimed at protecting the French language in Quebec, has been adopted in the National Assembly. Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who came to Congress representing Sandy Hook, begged his colleagues to finally pass legislation addressing the nation’s gun violence problem as the latest school shooting unfolded Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have marked the start of “a third world war,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin must be defeated “as soon as possible” if the world wants to preserve civilization, said billionaire and philanthropist George Soros. Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard has emphatically denied raping a teenager and a young woman nearly six years ago, testifying Tuesday that both encounters were consensual and “passionate.” Provincial provider Hydro One said Tuesday afternoon that more than 142,000 customers in parts of Ontario were still without power after a devastating weekend storm. Travellers who have a flight planned at Victoria International Airport (YYJ) on Tuesday afternoon are being warned of travel disruptions due to police activity. Canada is sending an additional 20,000 rounds of ammunition to Ukraine for the Ukrainian military to use in its ongoing defence against the Russians. This ammunition—155mm calibre, as well as fuses and charge bags—is being donated, but comes at a cost of $98 million, according to the federal government. Toronto radio host John Derringer was absent from Q107’s ‘Derringer in the Morning’ Tuesday after former colleague Jennifer Valentyne posted a lengthy video on social media over the weekend alleging harassment and gender discrimination within the workplace. Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative party have widened their lead ahead of next week’s Ontario election, a new survey suggests. Environment Canada has confirmed that an EF2 tornado touched down in Uxbridge on Saturday as a powerful weather system made its way through Ontario, tearing apart homes and knocking out power to thousands of people. Two lawyers are criticizing a decision Tuesday to allow senior RCMP witnesses to avoid cross-examination before the inquiry investigating the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. A report looking into a mapping program the RCMP had access to — but couldn’t open — during the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia concludes it could have helped contain the killer’s rampage. The Atlantic hurricane season, which spans from June 1 to Nov. 30, is expected to be a busy one. Experts from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration out of the United States, along with those from the Canadian Hurricane Centre, released predictions for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane season Tuesday. London, Ont. Mayor Ed Holder will be retiring from politics at the end of the current term of council. If you need a feel-good story for your Tuesday evening, the Saugeen Shores Police Service might have just the one. As of Tuesday, power has been restored to most London Hydro customers. While some residents in areas including London’s Old East Village endured severe damage during the storm, some people are still without electricity. Gateway to the Arts has been located on North Bay’s Main Street in the city’s downtown for just more than two years. Advance Voting is underway in Sudbury and officials with Elections Ontario say thousands have already come out to cast a ballot. For the first time in two decades, Parry Sound-Muskoka is going to have a new MPP after the June 2 election. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the night with 3:27 left in regulation as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the teams’ second-round playoff series. An 11-year-old girl from Claresholm, Alta. is recovering after being attacked by a dog last Thursday. Power has now been fully restored in Waterloo region, but cleanup efforts will continue for a few days. Some local fitness enthusiasts are looking for their money back after purchasing tickets to a popular extreme obstacle course event. A fruit once forbidden to children at the former Mohawk Institute residential school in Brantford, Ont. will grow on the grounds once again. The discovery of a suspicious package forced the shutdown of Victoria International Airport on Tuesday, stranding hundreds of travellers and preventing a number of planes from landing on schedule. A Coquitlam couple says they’ve been paying more than $1,000 a month for a cancer treatment, even though the drug that’s not being fully covered is already approved and funded in B.C. A new advocacy group of B.C. family doctors is coming forward to say the primary care crisis in the province isn’t the result of too few physicians, but a matter of priorities and compensation that could be solved virtually overnight. A lawyer representing an Alberta man accused of killing two Métis hunters says his client had no choice but to shoot the men to protect himself, his father and younger brother. A crew of workers from ENWIN Utilities is heading to central Ontario Tuesday evening to assist with power restoration efforts after a weekend storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people. Mason Kohn and the Windsor Lancers are heading to Merritt, B.C. at the end of the summer to help build five homes for people in the First Nations communities in Nicola Valley displaced by wildfires and floods last year. Saskatchewan healthcare officials announced that the province underwent a record breaking increase of new HIV cases, with 237 new diagnoses in 2021. As more unmarked graves are discovered near the sites of former residential schools, survivors say validation and awareness are two key outcomes from the findings. COVID-19 viral levels in Regina’s wastewater levels have bounced back up again in the latest analysis from the University of Regina, following several weeks of a downward trend. City officials in Ottawa say it could be another two to three days to restore power, but Hydro Ottawa is assuring the community that progress is being made. City officials say gas supply issues and long lineups at the pumps should be resolved as soon as hydro is restored. Saskatoon police are searching for a second suspect in connection to a fatal shooting in the city’s Nutana neighbourhood. Saskatoon City Council has approved the criteria to be used in selecting a site for a downtown arena and convention centre.
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