Montrealers rally against Bill 96, Quebec’s French language reform
Posted May 27, 2022 10:08 am.
Last Updated May 27, 2022 10:09 am.
Montrealers came out Thursday at Place du Canada to rally against Bill 96, Quebec’s French language reform. The bill was officially adopted at the National Assembly on Tuesday – and leaders of the province’s English-speaking community say they will continue to be vocal against it.
“We have a long way to go, but we’re on it and court challenges are in the works,” shouted Marlene Jennings, the president of Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), over the crowd of demonstrators.
“We’re going to continue to advocate, agitate for our rights,” Jennings vowed. “We’re going to document all of the violations of our rights to access in English, to health, to social services, to education, to employment.”
“It’s disappointing,” says Sharon Nelson, of the Jamaican Association of Montreal, about Quebec’s decision to move ahead with its French language reform despite widespread concerns and protests from Anglophones.
“I think politicians are there to listen to the public and to hear what the public has to say…there is a certain group of politicians that are not necessarily hearing the group of people that are saying, well, listen, let’s talk about this, let’s examine this.”
“You have to ask yourself, why? Why are they not listening in the face of community outpour, in the face of experts talking about the unconstitutionality of it? About how damaging it is? It’s just really disheartening,” added Katherine Korakakis, pesident of the English Parents’ Committee Association of Quebec.
The law, will be enacted in phases over a period of three years, something the Legault government says will improve protection for French while preserving English services – but those at the rally say it will do just the opposite.
“Bill 96 is a great human rights violation masquerading itself as a language rights as protecting the French language bill,” Celeste Shannon explained, one of the many demonstrators who says the language reform is not the way to go to protect French – as she held a sign that read “I’m not a second class Quebecer.”
“Why not give refugees a chance to adapt to society while learning the national language? This bill steals away these chances. It forces French down people’s throats when it needs to be properly digested,” Shannon added.