The Parti Québécois is keeping the issue of language to the forefront of Quebec’s election campaign with a promise to pass tougher French-language laws if elected.
Jean-François Lisée is reminding voters of his proposal to extend the reach of the province’s French language charter, known as Bill 101, and also to table new legislation he’s calling Bill 202.
Lisée says the new law would ensure, among other things, that new immigrants and their spouses must know French as a pre-condition of acceptance.
He’s also promising to expand Bill 101 to cover more workplaces in order to combat what he calls the language’s “undeniable” decline.
Moreover, the party wants to strengthen the French language in schools, by obliging all students in English CEGEPs to attend a French CEGEP in their last semester.
“We don’t want them to fail, we don’t want them to leave, we want them to stay.”
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Lisée did not put a price tag on his plan, only saying that his party would conduct studies and a pilot project.
Quebec Community Groups Network President, Geoffrey Chambers, says he doesn’t like the idea of the plan being mandatory.
“If it’s the kind of thing that is going to be a welcoming gesture, a uniting device, to make Quebecers feel like they can know each other better, I couldn’t be more in favour,” he said. “If it’s going to be a gun to the head to the community making you feel like foreigners — not so much in favour.”
Lisée’s announcement comes a day after the leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) said his government would force new immigrants to leave the province if they don’t learn French within three years.
François Legault, for his part, is shifting his focus to finances today with a promise to reinvest in public services without raising taxes beyond the rate of inflation.
WATCH: CAQ says it would expel immigrants who fail to learn French in 3 years
— With files from The Canadian Press