Bill 96 student protest in Montreal
Posted September 28, 2023 10:14 am.
Last Updated September 28, 2023 6:29 pm.
Another mobilization protest is happening on Thursday in front of Quebec Premier François Legault’s office to oppose Quebec’s Bill 96, this time, post-secondary students will be voicing their concern.
The group behind the protest called the Task Force on Linguistic Policy also launched a lawsuit against Bill 96 calling it “unconstitutional” and “in violation of the Constitution Act, 1867.”
The province’s language law, passed last year, affirms French as the official language in Quebec.
“I’m here today to defend the minority Anglophone population in Quebec under this unconstitutional attack on our rights,” said Ashley Saad, a post-secondary student.
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By 2024, students attending English CEGEP will be required to take additional French language courses and certain students must also pass a French exit exam in order to graduate. The law also puts a cap on the number of students allowed to attend English CEGEPs.
“There’s a lot of anxiety around having that much pressure on having to know a second language perfectly. Like French, it’s extremely difficult to write in French. I have a lot of friends who are French, who are Quebecois or from France. And they can even agree that like writing in French is way more difficult than it is speaking it. So, having that extra added pressure onto an already stressful experience, which is school, it’s a lot,” explained Olivia Bernath, a post-secondary student.
Marc Perez, a volunteer with Task Force on Linguistic Policy says many students are worried because they are transitioning from English schools.
“So as of 2024, they are going to have to start taking three core classes in French. It’s not that easy, especially when you come from an English background education. So, when they go, they’re very scared that it’s going to lower their grades. So, when they’re going to want to apply to different universities, whether it’s Canada or in the US, they’re going to have a lot of competition because they will have to retake the courses over and over,” he explained.
The Task Force on Linguistic Policy, a non-profit organization created to help reverse Quebec’s Bill 96 launched a lawsuit in May against the bill, calling it “unconstitutional.”
“Our lawsuit is very, very strong, very solid grounds. And they’re very concerned about it because when you use the non-withstanding clause, it’s already a telltale sign that something is fishy,” said Perez.
The two groups — Bridging Ethnic Communities and the Task Force on Linguistic Policy — are planning to stage more protests throughout Montreal in the weeks to come.
“This Bill 96 is going to affect these students negatively for the rest of their lives,” said Mario Napolitano, president of Bridging Ethnic Communities.