With Côte Saint-Luc certainly taking the lead, municipalities with bilingual status are adopting resolutions affirming their desire to retain their bilingual status and opposing Bill 14, which would give the Quebec government the power to unilaterally remove this status against the will of the municipality or borough concerned.
“If the bill becomes law, more than half of the 84 municipalities and boroughs that have bilingual status might lose it,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather of Côte Saint-Luc. “It is unconscionable that the Parti Québécois government amended the legislation in 2000 to define who is an English-speaker in the narrowest possible way and now wants to use those misleading numbers to unilaterally remove bilingual status.”
Since 1977, it have been illegal for municipalities to, among other things, send a bilingual tax bill, erect bilingual signage, or send a bilingual memo to city workers. However, an exception was made under Section 29.1 of the Charter of the French Language, commonly referred to as bilingual status, for municipalities where a majority of residents spoke a language other than French. In 2000, another Parti Québécois government adopted Bill 171, which drastically changed the criteria to obtain bilingual status from a majority of residents of a municipality or borough who spoke a language other than French to a majority of residents whose mother tongue was English.
This revised criteria was imposed without consulting municipalities and boroughs, and adopted the narrowest and most inaccurate definition of the English-speaking communities.
Bill 14, tabled by the new Parti Québécois minority government, would allow for the potential removal of bilingual status from municipalities or boroughs by decree–and against the will of the municipality or borough concerned, its duly elected council and its residents—if less than 50 percent of residents are mother tongue English-speaking.
Of the 1,476 cities and towns and boroughs in Quebec, only 84—or 6 percent—have bilingual status.
I am urging readers to please go to www.bilingualstatus.com and from there write a letter to your Member of the National Assembly, requesting that they vote against this law.
An interview with Mayor Housefather on Bill 14 on CBC Radio One is available on Mike Cohen’s blog.
- Council speaks out against Bill 14, supports bilingual status quo (gjnashen.wordpress.com)
- Letter to the Gazette Editor: Lisée’s comments on Bill 14 fail to comfort (gjnashen.wordpress.com)
- Bill 14 could affect city’s bilingual status, mayor says (cbc.ca)