Continuing the fight against Quebec language law Bill 96

Click to play video: 'What is the next move for those opposed to Bill 96?'
What is the next move for those opposed to Bill 96?
WATCH: Just days after thousands of Quebecers demonstrated downtown against Bill 96, many are wondering what's next for those who oppose the language reform legislation. As Global’s Elizabeth Zogalis reports, the province can expect lots of legal challenges ahead. – May 16, 2022

Just days after thousands of Quebecers demonstrated downtown against Bill 96, many are wondering: what’s next?

With the bill likely to pass, legal experts say Bill 96 represents a shift in the goal of defending the French language in Quebec.

“We move from the idea of ‘le français comme langue commune’ – the idea of French is what people use collectively, to the idea that French is what needs to be used even when a doctor is communicating with a patient,” said Robert Leckey, dean of the Faculty of Law at McGill University. “That’s not the common language. That’s a very intimate space.”

Legal battles are expected but challenging the language reform will be difficult, he added.

“The enforcement mechanisms, the search and seizure provisions to be ensuring that businesses are following all the regulations they’re subject to, the normal rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure is kind of pushed aside by the not-withstanding clauses,” said Leckey.

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Meanwhile, the Quebec Community Groups Network is working hard to inform businesses that may not fully comprehend Bill 96’s reach.

“The impact that all of this bureaucracy that Bill 96 is going to create for small and medium-sized businesses is going to act as a drag to positive economic development,” said QCGN president Marlene Jennings.

Click to play video: 'Demonstrators protest Quebec language law Bill 96'
Demonstrators protest Quebec language law Bill 96

“QCGN is going to play the role that we’ve played all along which is to provide the best legal advice, the best legal analysis and try to get different parties to work together,” she added.

But despite the legal challenges and difficulties Bill 96 could cause, not everyone is against it.

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President of the Saint-Jean Baptiste Society Marie-Anne Alepin says all Quebecers should embrace it, not fear it.

“Personal bilingualism is not to be mixed up with institutional bilingualism,” she said in French. “Montreal and Quebec are unique for these reasons but the official language, the common language is French.”

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Mayor Valerie Plante, who hasn’t publicly taken a side, said the proper tools will need to be in place for newcomers to learn French.

“We need to protect the rights of anglophone and Aboriginal communities that Quebec has always respected while moving towards policies and ways for newcomers to learn French as soon as possible,” said the mayor.

Bill 96 will be voted on at the National Assembly before the end of the spring session.

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