An alliance of 23 municipalities – from small villages with only hundreds of residents to cities with tens of thousands of people – have banded together for a common cause to strike down parts of Bill 96 — Quebec’s modified language law.
The mayors say the provisions threaten the bilingual status of their cities and towns as well as how they communicate internally or with their residents.
“We cannot accept the clauses in Bill 96 and we must fight it and we will pursue it throughout the courts as far as necessary,” Steven Erdelyi, Côte Saint-Luc city councillor, said at a press conference.
The mayors claim that the modifications to Quebec’s French Language Charter could preclude their cities and towns from receiving provincial grants if they fail to comply with all aspects of the law.
“Why would you tie grant money to a piece of legislation? Hang on a second, that’s going a little too far in my books,” Alex Bottausci, mayor of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, told Global News.
Others say the new bill could make it difficult for employees to communicate in any language other than French.
“We already have employees who have changed their style of writing who are questioning themselves before sending emails out whether those are internal emails back and forth with council or whether they’re to citizens,” Heidi Ektvedt, mayor of Baie-D’Urfé said.
Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey insists the provisions being contested pose no threat to the protection or promotion of the French language.
“Many of the provisions of this law have absolutely no connection to the future of the French language,” Grey said.
The mayors insist they’re ready to dig in for what potentially could be a lengthy legal battle.