December 19, 2012

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

The members of the Quebec Liberal Party will vote against the Parti Québécois’ proposed language law, Bill 14, interim QLP leader Jean-Marc Fournier confirmed to The Suburban during an interview at the newspaper’s offices Friday.

“Yes, of course,” Fournier said. “If you’re against the basic [aspects] of a law, how can you vote for it?…. The law that is in front of us – how can we be more clear?”

The Suburban has contacted area MNAs from both the Liberals and the CAQ to solicit their opinions on the bill, which proposes to expand francization of businesses to those with 26 employees or more, possibly remove the bilingual status of municipalities depending on their numbers of English mother-tongue residents and demand a mastery of French to obtain a high school diploma.

Fournier reiterated his comments made when the bill was tabled – that it should not be adopted.

“Why did the PQ table this bill – their way of looking at the situation is that French is in danger and that it’s going to disappear,” he said. “It is certainly not what the Office Québécois de la Langue Française study tells us. The PQ wants to scare people and make them believe there’s a crisis. The reality of the study, done by the OQLF over the years, is those who are coming from the anglophone community speak more French now than they did 20 years ago, and everybody knows that. Some of the Péquistes don’t want to recognize that because they will lose an argument for separation. But many of them even recognize that.”

Fournier said what is even more important about the linguistic situation is those who emigrate to Quebec. “There is a clear picture the OQLF put on the table that they are coming more and more to the French communities, so French won’t disappear.

“So when you are wrong on the fundamentals on the way to solve a problem, if you find a mistake where there’s no mistake, probably the solution will be a mistake. The fundamentals of that bill are not there. We all know why the PQ did this, it’s fuel for separation when you raise the issue of a supposed linguistic crisis.”

Fournier also pointed out that when former premier Lucien Bouchard addressed the English-speaking community at the Centaur in a speech written by current PQ minister Jean-François Lisée, Bouchard said linguistic peace arrived in Quebec.

“We all know Claude Ryan and Robert Bourassa worked on that, but Bouchard recognized that, and there has been nothing since that time that indicates we’re in a crisis. They want to create a crisis.”

Fournier also said the QLP has expressed its concerns about how entrepreneurs could be affected by the bill’s provisions, and that he personally expressed concern about the power Immigration and Cultural Communities minister Diane De Courcy “wants for herself to be like a commission of inquiry with all the powers.

“What was wrong with the powers given to the OQLF? She wants to have the power for political means – that’s the answer she gave.

“What’s important for Quebec – dividing ourselves on linguistic laws or building a strong economy? We were even criticized in the French media when we had a position saying, it’s about the economy. You have to do what you think is important.”

As for other MNAs, as reported in The Suburban last week, D’Arcy McGee’s Lawrence Bergman called Bill 14 “very regressive, divisive and a great waste of time and money for all Quebecers.

“It creates a disruption of linguistic peace, revives linguistic tensions and Quebecers don’t want to go through language wars and battles, they want a government that is preoccupied with the economy and jobs. The bill will negatively affect the economy, trade and commerce, and the creation of jobs. The bill is probably an intent by the government to give oxygen to its separation plans and we as Quebecers do not need a political language police – certainly the bill will have negative effects on the English-speaking and allophone communities.”

Bergman added: “Do I intend to vote against it – don’t hold your breath waiting for me to vote for it.”n