Pro-Bill 96 protesters share concerns of anglicisation of Montreal, death of French language

“If they want to speak English they can go anywhere else,” said protester Francine Bock who says Quebec’s language laws don’t go far enough. Brittany Henriques reports.

Chants of “Vive le Quebec Libre” filled the air Saturday afternoon and set the tone for a protest in support of the contentious Bill 96, the province’s proposed French-language reform.

Protesters gathered downtown at Dorchester Square to voice their discontent with what they characterized as the anglicisation of Montreal.

Protester Francine Bock made it out on a muggy, sunny afternoon because she is fed up of being spoken to in English or being welcomed in a “bilingual way.”

“If they want to speak English they can go anywhere else in North America,” said Bock, in French. “In Quebec we want to maintain a French state.

“They have too many choices, too many English institutions.

“(The French language) is dying.”

Protesters carried blue-and-white Quebec flags and the Patriote flag, which dates back to the 1830s.

Several held handmade signs calling for Quebec to be recognized as a nation, and for Bill 101 – which forces Quebecers to send their children to French school – to be extended to CEGEP and university.

Those in attendance felt there has been too much anti-French rhetoric this month, with many protests against the province’s updated Bill 96.


Bill 96, which is expected to pass this month, would impose tougher language requirements on workplaces and municipalities.

It also seeks to limit the use of English in the courts and public services, grant powers of search and seizure without a warrant to Quebec’s language regulator and cap enrolment at English CEGEPs, where students would have to take more courses in French.

Opponents in the province’s English-speaking community have been vocal about the bill, saying it is discriminatory and will have repercussions in many sectors like business and health care.

Critics have also claimed the law is stripping anglophones of their rights and will severally impact minority communities in a negative way. A demonstration was held Saturday in Kahnawake to protest the bill.

But some of those in favour of Bill 96 at the downtown protest even said the French-language reform doesn’t go far enough.

“We’re just putting in Bill 96, which won’t even change the path of the decline of French, and they dare protest this ridiculously weak bill,” said Bock. “It’s really shameful and scandalous.”

“I don’t believe it removes their rights, Bill 96,” said Clemance Lavigne. “It’s not a bill that will take away rights, but the opposite, it’ll just bring them something positive.”

The demonstrators argued English and other languages in the province are threatening the survival of French, and that simply improving French education was not enough.

According to Statistics Canada projections, the proportion of Quebecers whose mother tongue is French could drop to 70 per cent by 2036.

“It’s really one of the stresses in my life,” said Lavigne. “I want my children and grandchildren to be able to speak French.”

In 2016, 94.5 per cent of Quebecers reported being able to conduct a conversation in French, according to Statistics Canada.

Top Stories

Top Stories