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Parti Québécois pushes Quebec government to apply Bill 101 to CEGEPs

Click to play video: 'Debate over Bill 101 and Cegeps takes centre stage at National Assembly'
Debate over Bill 101 and Cegeps takes centre stage at National Assembly
WATCH: Tensions are high at the National Assembly over the government's proposed French langue reform. The Parti Québécois wants the minister to take a tougher stance and apply Bill 101 to CEGEPs. Meanwhile, the Quebec Liberal Party is pulling in the other direction and wants the government to show more flexibility towards new immigrants. Will the government be swayed in either direction? Raquel Fletcher reports – Feb 22, 2022

Tensions are high at the National Assembly over the government’s proposed French language reform. The Parti Québécois (PQ) wants the minister to take a tougher stance and apply Bill 101 to CEGEPs.

Meanwhile, the Quebec Liberal Party is pulling in the other direction. It wants the government to show more flexibility towards new immigrants.

Read more: Quebec’s French language minister says work on Bill 96 moving too slowly

The government’s French language reform, Bill 96, puts limits on the number of francophones who can study in English CEGEPs, but the premier has said he won’t apply Bill 101 at the college level.

On Tuesday morning, PQ MNA Pascal Bérubé suggested not everyone in the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) caucus agrees.

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“You remember, I wrote a letter to all the members of the CAQ. Two of the members of the caucus responded,” he told reporters.

Bérubé said one CAQ minister and one CAQ backbencher, whom he wouldn’t name, have asked to meet with him because they agree with the PQ that only students who’ve gone to English elementary or high school should go to English CEGEP.

Could this indicate the government might change its position? Bérubé hopes so.

“If they don’t act on that topic, they’re not nationalist,” he said. “They’re just opportunist people who want you to think they’re nationalist for the elections. That’s all.”

“That’s really funny, this question,” French Language Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said in response.

“I think nobody has any doubt about true nationalism for the government,” he added.

Read more: Quebec higher education minister denies discrimination in Dawson College decision

Bérubé said he also wants the government to reconsider a nearly billion-dollar investment in a project to turn the old Royal Victoria Hospital into a research and learning hub for McGill university.

“This gift is a billion dollars (which) could be given to UQAM or the Université de Montréal,” he said.

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The Liberal Party worries the CAQ might be swayed to do this.

“The cancellation of Dawson was inexcusable and I have not seen any signs from the CAQ that it will not perhaps put in question the McGill project,” said Liberal MNA David Birnbaum.

“Let’s watch and see if this is a government that responds to the needs of all Quebecers. I have my doubts,” he added.

Read more: Quebec parents say raising bilingual children is a priority

The minister has not indicated whether he will budge in either direction. Both the PQ and the Liberal Party have criticized the fact he has accepted very few of their amendments.

The minister said opposition parties are taking too long to study the bill and he wants to adopt it as soon as possible.

Click to play video: 'New book on Bill 101'
New book on Bill 101

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