June 30, 2014 1:56 pm
Updated: June 30, 2014 6:45 pm

Protecting the French language “a priority” say Liberals


QUEBEC CITY – “The budgets are going up instead of down and it’s a very important question for the Liberal party.”

Protecting the French language is high on the Liberals‘ priority list, said Hélène David, the Culture Minister on Monday.

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“We will stress the importance of the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) to accompany the very small enterprises with the stratégie commune de Montréal,” David told parliamentarians during the analysis of her department’s spending estimates.

Accompany, not force.

READ MORE: QCGN tells Bill 14 hearings debate over language is futile

Last year, the PQ tried to increase the power of Quebec’s so-called language police but Bill 14 died on the order paper.

The minister’s softer approach now may please some, but the Parti Québécois believes it sends a bad signal.

“We are worried,” said PQ language critic Maka Kotto.

“The Liberals even read the budget in two languages, that is something to worry about. “Is it a new signal?”

David responded: of the 10 300 words read by the Finance Minister on June 4th 2014, only 293 were in English.

“That’s less than 3%,” she said.

READ MORE: Quebec language office faces off against small businesses in court

Nevertheless, David insisted her government will be vigilant, especially when it comes to signage.

It’s already fighting a Superior Court ruling to have retailers in the province translate their trademarks.

Meanwhile, the Liberals are also bringing back intensive English at school, making the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) wonder about the overall direction of this government.

“What are the objectives, what is the plan and where is the money going to?” asked CAQ language critic Claire Samson.

READ MORE: Major retailers win battle against Quebec language watchdog

The Culture Minister said she’ll have a better idea this fall when she sits down with partners to hammer out a strategy to protect the French language – especially in Montreal – but which won’t alienate the Liberals’ base.

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