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Quebec opposition party to vote in favour of Bill 14

Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault mocks a government decision to table a legislation creating an Economic Development Bank as he questions the government Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MONTREAL – The leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec announced Wednesday that the party will vote in favour of the Parti Quebecois’ controversial Bill 14.

François Legault confirmed his party is willing to give the Marois government a “last chance” to propose changes to its new language law, by allowing the Bill to move forward to a first reading.

“Since its introduction, we told the PQ government that we have three major objections to the bill. After six weeks of consultation, we now have more objections than at the beginning. Without major amendments, Bill 14 has no chance of getting the support of the CAQ, ” said Legault in a statement.

These amendments include withdrawing those sections which prevent Francophone students from enrolling in English CEGEPs, as well as terminology that could pose legal problems, such as removing the term “ethnic minorities,” to replace it with “cultural communities.”

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The CAQ’s Nathalie Roy noted that during the parliamentary commission several groups, including the Quebec Bar Association expressed serious concern that removing the term ethnic minorities from the legislation would create a legal vacuum in the province.

“The change appears cosmetic,” said Roy, “but it could present serious legal consequences.”

The CAQ is also asking for an independent assessment of the costs incurred by the Quebec government for the implementation of Bill 14.

Earlier Wednesday, Quebec’s Language Minister, Diane de Courcy confirmed that she was concerned about what she considered to be a lack of communication on the part of the CAQ.

“A week later, with the CAQ’s silence, I cannot envision a scenario that isn’t catastrophic,” said de Courcy. “

At the same time, she announced that the PQ was willing to compromise on several key components of Bill 14. She told reporters her government will would delay the discussion on whether or not military families should continue to be permitted to send their children to English schools to a later date. She noted the discussion will be included in future legislation concerning so-called “bridge schools.”

In the past, the CAQ indicated that it would not consider supporting Bill 14 unless both areas in which de Courcy indicated compromise, were dropped from the bill.

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The Quebec Liberal Party has vowed to block the bill, but it needs the support of the CAQ, which holds the balance of votes in the National Assembly.

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