No to Bill 96

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Bill 96 is deeply divisive and will have significant long-lasting effects on our community.

While protection of the French language is obviously worthwhile, this Bill goes about it in ways that contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that limit services to English-speaking Quebecers, and that will have severe effects on the community’s institutions. I was heartened to see that so many signed a petition to that effect. However, many of the effects of Bill 96 remain little-known. Here are some of its consequences:

On services:
Bill 96 creates two classes of Quebecers: “Historic Quebec Anglos” (a ridiculous
concept) who could receive government services in English. And everyone else.

Bill 96 limits services in English for newcomers to six months. Afterwards, all services will be exclusively in French, including healthcare. Last week, 500 medical professionals denounced this aspect of Bill 96.

Bill 96 freezes English-language Cegep enrolment henceforth and in perpetuity. As our region grows, this will prevent francophones from studying in English and even send some Anglophone students to Ontario colleges. It may also lead to colleges closing regional campuses, like Heritage College’s Campbell’s Bay campus. It also affects First Nations students by preventing many from attending the institution of their choice.

Bill 96 gives power to the Minister Responsible for the French Language to veto whether a judge needs to be bilingual. This is a responsibility of the courts, not politicians. It might negatively impact the right of everyone to a trial in their preferred language

On employers and employees:
Bill 96 grants exceptional powers of search and seizure of work computers by inspectors of the Office Québécois de la Langue Française — and without a judges’ mandate.

Bill 96 forces all employers to justify why they post positions requiring English. This will make it more difficult to attract new employees, but also limit government services, such as healthcare, from posting bilingual positions. Services in English will become more difficult to obtain.

Bill 96 requires all professionals (lawyers, veterinarians, accountants — almost everyone with a professional order) to pass French language skills exams. This is sure to drive professionals across the border. These are only some impacts of the CAQ’s Bill 96.

I will be proudly voting against Bill 96. The Liberal Party will be the only party to do so. The Bill is not in line with the Pontiac’s wishes, as indicated by the fact that so many of you signed the petition denouncing the Bill. It is also not reflective of today’s Quebec society, nor of our Pontiac community that lives by the principle of “vivre-ensemble”. The Bill will impose roadblocks on small businesses. It misses protecting the French language and simply pits majority against minority. I am not interested in that type of politics, nor in that type of government.

André Fortin
MNA for Pontiac