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Liberal MPs will join the fight against the controversial Quebec language bill

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A number of Liberal MPs from the Montreal area will take part in a protest on Saturday against the Quebec government’s plans to reform its French Language Charter.

While no federal ministers are expected to join the march, the presence of Liberal MPs like Anthony Housefather and Annie Koutrakis shows opposition to Quebec Bill 96 in the Liberal group in Ottawa.

Organized by groups representing the province’s English-speaking minority, Saturday’s protest is scheduled to begin at Dawson College and end at the Montreal offices of Quebec Prime Minister Franois Legault.

Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia, who represents the most Westerners on the island of Montreal, voiced his opposition to Bill 96 in an interview on Friday. He added that he is “very likely” to take part in the demonstration on Saturday.

“It’s not a draft law that has consensus. The Quebec Employers’ Council has a lot of concerns about its impact. What I want is a Quebec that is strong, that can move forward, that has a strong economy,” he said. .

Brossard-St-Lambert MP Alexandra Mends said she could not take part in the protest, but added that she supported “most of the demands made by Quebec’s English-speaking and allophone communities”.

Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia, who represents the most Westerners on the island of Montreal, has expressed his opposition to Bill 96. (Justin Tang / Canadian Press)

Spokesmen for Housefather, who has been in close contact with protest organizers, and Koutrakis confirmed that lawmakers will march against the bill 96. The offices of other lawmakers expected to join the march did not respond to confirmation requests.

Quebec ‘Historical Responsibilities’

The Minister responsible for the French language in Quebec, Simon Jolin-Barrete, has strongly defended Bill 96 in the face of criticism from English-speaking groups and indigenous communities.

His office said the protection of the French language should above all take place in Quebec.

Simon Jolin-Barrete, the minister responsible for the French Language Charter, says there are no plans to exclude indigenous students from the requirements to attend French courses. (Frederic Bissonnette / Radio Canada)

“Protecting, improving and promoting the French language is a historic responsibility of the Quebec government that we fully intend to continue to take on,” said Jolin-Barrete’s press secretary Lisabeth Gosselin-Bienvenue.

“It is up to the elected representatives of the Quebec nation to debate Bill 96.”

Introduced a year ago, Draft Law 96 would make some changes to the 1977 French Language Charter (also known as Draft Law 101), strengthening the status of French in “all spheres of society”.

To ensure that French is the “official and common language of Quebec”, the government will impose new obligations regarding the use of French in companies with 25 to 49 employees. He would also control access to English colleges and regulate interactions in a language other than French between the Quebec government and the citizens and businesses of the province.

Open letter

The Housefather, who represents Mount Royal’s federal cavalry, criticized some elements of the 96 bill last year, including the fact that it restricts access to English government services.

“Suddenly hundreds of thousands of people who considered themselves part of Quebec’s English-speaking community will no longer be eligible to receive certain services from the state in English,” he said.

He also criticized the fact that Quebec has previously used the incompatible clause, which will limit the possibility of a legal challenge.

“The idea of ​​isolating a bill from potential legal challenges is deeply troubling. The public would have no way of finding out if a right has been violated,” Housefather said.

Sources said he is also preparing an open letter against Bill 96 that will be published after the Quebec National Assembly approves Bill 96. The provincial legislature will be on hiatus next week and will resume meeting on May 24.

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