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Task force says Bill 96 hearings need more English representation

Click to play video: 'Task force on Bill 96 calls on Legault to listen to English-speaking Quebecers' Task force on Bill 96 calls on Legault to listen to English-speaking Quebecers
WATCH:A newly-formed task force is calling on the Legault government to listen to more points of view when it comes to its new language reform legislation. Bill 96, which aims to protect the French language, also proposes to amend the constitution and could have a major impact on English-speaking Quebecers. Global’s Raquel Fletcher explains – Jul 30, 2021

A newly formed task force is calling on the Legault government to listen to more points of view relating to its new language reform bill. Bill 96, which aims to protect the French language, also proposes to amend the constitution.

Fifty groups and individuals have been invited to share their points of view during hearings on Bill 96, including three groups representing anglophones: the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), the Townshippers Association and a consortium of English CEGEPs.

Read more: ‘Inconceivable’ — Quebec English School Board Association not included in hearings on language reform

But the Task Force on Linguistic Equality says this does not adequately represent the 1.2 million English-speaking Quebecers in the province.

“The task force and myself personally, as well as others in the group, we feel very strongly that this ‘decline in French’ is not just flawed, but that any statistical data shows that it’s just wrong. It’s not true,” said chairperson Colin Standish.

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Read more: Anglo groups worry Bill 96 will create ‘charter-free’ zone in Quebec

However, Standish likely won’t have his chance to speak directly to Quebec lawmakers. A spokesperson for the minister responsible for the French language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, told Global News the leaders of all four political parties, as well as independent MNAs sitting on the committee, jointly agreed on the invitation list.

Anyone else who wants to participate in the hearings is asked to send in a written brief. The government says the public consultations allow for a wide number of groups to speak about various aspects of the proposed bill, but Standish is concerned those who will present already support it.

Read more: Quebec’s push to amend Constitution could impact all Canadians, experts say

He accused the government of favouring one side: “I’ve described it as a show trial. They are just trying to get the result that they want.”

Public hearings begin in Quebec City on Sept. 21.

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