New court challenge against Bill 96 argues it tries to ‘abolish individual rights’

Click to play video: 'Lawyers for English-language advocates seeking to have sections of Quebec’s Bill 96 overturned'
Lawyers for English-language advocates seeking to have sections of Quebec’s Bill 96 overturned
WATCH: Another court challenge to Bill 96 is underway. Lawyers representing six plaintiffs argue that the new law discriminates against their clients based on language The lawyers are hoping provisions of the bill will be overturned fearing that rights to receive services in English are being eroded. As Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, it will be a long and expensive battle – May 31, 2023

A lawsuit contending that six individuals are the victims of the effects of Bill 96, Quebec’s modified language law, has been filed in court.

The plaintiffs allege that they were denied services in English as a result of the new law.

As of June 1, new provisions of Bill 96 come into effect, including requirements by anglophones to prove that they have historic roots in Quebec to continue receiving government services in English. Newcomers will be denied government services in English after six months of living in Quebec and all businesses will receive government services in French only.

“It’s unacceptable in a modern day like today, in this day and age, that we have laws that can be so restrictive and so discriminatory,” Andrew Caddell, an opponent to Bill 96, said outside the courthouse in Montreal.

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs argues certain provisions of the bill quash individual rights at the expense of promoting and protecting the French language.

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“We assert that no legislature can abolish individual rights, which is what Bill 96 tries to do,” Michael Bergman, the lawyer representing plaintiffs, said.

The bill was adopted in May of last year and criticism hasn’t subsided.

“I think that’s so morally, intellectually abhorrent. It brings to mind some of the worst excesses we’ve seen in other regimes around the world,” Colin Standish, an opponent of the bill, told Global News.

But in Quebec City, the CAQ government continues to defend the modified language law, arguing anglophones have nothing to fear.

“There is no impact from Bill 96 on the access of health-care services in English,” Éric Girard, the minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, said.

It could take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees before a verdict is rendered in the lawsuit against Bill 96.


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