What does it mean to be a historic anglophone, according to Bill 96?

“It’s problematic,” said Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies on Quebec's Bill 96 removing access to English services for everyone except for “historic anglophones”.

With the implementation of Quebec’s Bill 96 has come some strong criticism – and some confusion, too.

Anglophone and allophone Quebecers are wondering how the province’s new language law reform will impact them exactly.

One of the somewhat more peculiar aspects of the bill is who is in its crosshairs – and who isn’t.

According to the provincial government, millions of Quebecers won’t be eligible to access English services under the new language law Bill 96.

But two groups of people are still allowed to receive government services in English: newly arrived immigrants (who came to Quebec less than six months prior) and historic anglophones.

“Historic anglos is really a sort of bizarre concept,” said Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies.

“It risks creating different categories of citizens on the basis of language.”


The term ‘historic anglophone’ first came about in November 2019 when Quebec’s minister of the French language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, announced most English services will be removed under the law.

Just like the previous language law Bill 101, but stricter, if a Quebecer’s parents didn’t go to English school, their children won’t be able to go to English school or access English services. They are also not considered an anglophone that has roots in Quebec history.

This includes immigrants and those whose parents went to French school or were educated in another country.

“A lot of this is rooted in a rhetoric that aims to appeal to the core constituency of the CAQ, which seems to find appealing these types of distinctions and seems to feel that services to non-historic anglophones are not something that Quebec taxpayers should be supporting, even though all of us are Quebec taxpayers,” said Jedwab. “So that very idea is problematic.

“The paradox there is that that would also include a number of francophones because to a significant extent, particularly outside of Montreal, those francophones who married anglophones and became eligible for English-language schooling if they chose to send their kids to English language system, would be designated historic anglophone.”

Many in the anglophone and allophone community have heavily disapproved of the bill, calling it discriminatory.

“A lot of anglophones will continue to require services in English,” added Jedwab. “Many of whom came to the immigration stream, as the premier has acknowledged, that will need those services even if they’re not considered ‘historic anglos.’”

The president of the Association for Canadian Studies believes despite the law, Montrealers will likely not choose to deny services to people based on language barrier.

“The majority of Quebecers are more thoughtful when it comes to determining on the ground who needs what,” said Jedwab. “And so it will be very hard to actually put into practice this type of concept.”

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