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Legault government looks to strengthen French language in Quebec

Quebec Minister Responsible for the French Language Simon Jolin-Barrette announces a plan to modify the Quebec language law in the next session, during a news conference, Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

With less than a month left in the legislative session, the Quebec government is expected to unveil proposed changes Thursday to the province’s landmark Charter of the French language known as Bill 101.

Premier François Legault hinted that an “important announcement” is coming on social media late Tuesday.

He posted a photo on Twitter with Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the French language, describing it as a “preparatory meeting” ahead of Thursday.

On Wednesday, the proposed reform was noted in the order paper set for the following day.

The bill to bolster the province’s language law has been in the works for months. Jolin-Barrette has said he’s concerned that the use of French in Quebec is in decline, particularly in Montreal.

READ MORE: Quebec municipalities concerned over potential loss of bilingual status

Both Legault and Jolin-Barrette have also mentioned they want federally regulated companies such as banks to be subject to the legislation.

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Bill 101 was brought to life in 1977 in a bid to both bolster and protect the French language. It overhauled the linguistic makeup of Quebec, but it has also been widely hailed — and criticized —  for the past 40 years.

The details of the reforms have not yet been revealed, but the government has hinted it plans to use the notwithstanding clause. This has lead to lively debate at the provincial legislature,

As the Legault government prepares to table its latest bill, some municipalities have also expressed concerns about what the reforms may entail. The City of Côte Saint-Luc plans to fight back if its bilingual status is revoked.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Wednesday she is going to wait on weighing in until the bill is tabled, but said that she does “share the objective of giving more space to French in the city.”

“As a city, I want to assure that everybody gets services because that’s what a city does,” she said. “So there has to be a balance but I’m definitely behind the government in terms of the objectives.”
Click to play video: 'Quebec language minister says changes to Bill 101 are not an attack on English' Quebec language minister says changes to Bill 101 are not an attack on English
Quebec language minister says changes to Bill 101 are not an attack on English – Nov 24, 2020

with files from Global News’ Tim Sargeant, Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press

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