Quebec could be in for a new debate over language and potentially even re-opening Bill 101.
The National Assembly’s fall session begins in less than two weeks and political parties say they’re not against reviewing Quebec language laws.
“If spring 2019 was about bringing in a law on Quebec secularism, this fall will be about protecting the French language,” said Pascal Bérubé, Parti Quebecois (PQ) interim leader.
Coming out of its pre-session caucus in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, the PQ said it’s making language its top priority for the fall session.
“We certainly welcome some of the proposals made by the government, we’re just pressing the government to go as far as they should,” said PQ MNA, Joël Arseneau.
The PQ wants to see sanctions for immigrants who don’t take French language classes. They also want language laws to be applied to companies that employ between 25 and 49 people.
Bérubé and Arseneau said they will continue to fight against asking questions in English during national assembly public hearings, even if the person testifying is anglophone, which was the case during a recent exchange with the editor-in-chief of the Montreal Gazette.
“We do feel that the discussion in the different committees, or commissions, should be in French,” Bérubé said.
On Wednesday, Premier François Legault announced he was giving Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette the language portfolio as well. Legault said re-opening Bill 101 was not a priority, but he didn’t rule it out.
When asked about Bill 101 on Thursday, Interim Liberal Leader Pierre Arcand was more affirmative.
“Yes, we are open… to discuss element that will contribute to the promotion of the French language in Quebec,” he said.
“The only thing is that it has to be done without denying someone’s rights,” he added.
Bérubé said he was “speechless” but pleased with the Liberals’ response and proposes re-opening Bill 101 as soon as possible.
“Good thing if the Liberals are interested in discussing the future of the French language in Quebec,” he said. “Let’s have a debate.”