Liberals oppose ‘unjustified’ Bill 14, says Chomedey MNA Ouellette
Chomedey Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette says his party is prepared to fight to the end to make sure the PQ government’s Bill 14, proposing among other things the removal of bilingual status from some towns and cities, gets defeated in the National Assembly.
Opposed to measures
The Liberal opposition, according to Ouellette, is completely against certain measures in the bill, including:
• The application of the Charter of the French Language to small and medium-sized businesses that employ between 26 and 49 workers, without at least evaluating the impact and costs to these businesses.
• The imposition of exit exams which would test English CEGEP students’ knowledge of French, which according to the Liberals would negatively affect some anglophones, allophones and newly-arrived immigrants.
• New immigrant selection policies which would exclude individuals who don’t demonstrate sufficient knowledge of French, thus making them ineligible for immigration to Quebec.
• Awarding of new powers to the Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities, particularly the power of inquiry which the Liberals maintain would be equivalent to establishing a political language police.
“The official opposition will oppose these unjustified measures,” Ouellette said. “We should not forget that for more than 60 years, the Quebec Liberal Party has participated in enabling the French language to flourish and has deployed sustained efforts to promote its use. Our objective is twofold: to protect individual freedoms and to ensure the vitality of our language. Using supportive and accompanying measures, we have achieved this objective. There is no justification for the Parti québécois to now declare war on linguistic peace.”
According to Ouellette, the PQ government is also proposing with Bill 14 to withdraw the bilingual status of municipalities whose Anglophone population falls below 50 per cent. Their status would be re-evaluated every 10 years, starting from the year the bilingual status was recognized, making the minister for the Charter of the French language responsible for deciding whether or not to withdraw the status. The official opposition considers this measure unjustified.
A ‘direct attack’ by PQ
“This is a direct attack by the PQ on the necessary linguistic balance,” Ouellette said. “Municipalities’ bilingual status should not be left to the minister’s discretion. This infringes on the wishes of the targeted municipalities and their duly elected representatives. The 50 per cent anglophone requirement does not take into account the municipalities’ history or the vitality of the communities affected. This issue belongs to the duly elected municipal representatives to determine themselves.”