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Controversial language amendment bill passes in principle

QUEBEC CITY – Thanks to the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), the most controversial piece of legislation to hit the National Assembly this spring has passed the first hurdle.

Sixty-seven MNAs, including the entire CAQ caucus, voted for Bill 14’s passage in principle, pushing it one step closer to becoming a law.

“It’s an important step,” said Jean-François Lisée, the Minister responsible for Montreal.

“Whatever you think of the bill, we’re in the 21st century, there are challenges. We think we made a series of proposals and we already indicated that a number of changes would be introduced. In order to see these changes in the fine print we have to go to the next step.”

The next step is a clause-by-clause review that is set to begin next Fall. Language Minister Diane de Courcy recognized on Thursday she will have to keep negotiating with the CAQ to make her bill pass the third and final reading.

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In a recent op-ed piece published in the Gazette, De Courcy vaguely promised to reword the clause about bilingual municipalities and revisit the one about military families.

The Liberals maintained the bill, which proposes to amend the Charter of the French language, is fundamentally flawed.

“The CAQ revealed its true colours today,” said Liberal MNA Geoffrey Kelley.

“You can’t say both things at the same time. You can’t on one side say we object to the bill and then vote for the bill. Their lack of consistency and the lack of logic in their position was revealed to everyone in their vote today.”

CAQ Language Critic Nathalie Roy argued she’s simply doing her job.

“You know what, I did speak with many anglophones and they are starting to understand what we do. They are starting to understand that we are doing politics and we want to improve a law,” she said.

Asked what kind of message she thought the PQ and the CAQ were sending to the anglophone community, de Courcy said she thinks she has always been clear with anglos and doesn’t think they need any more reassurance.

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