PQ ministers collide, confusion over Bill 101 in daycare
Published Thursday, October 18, 2012 1:51PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 18, 2012 9:54PM EDT
MONTREAL—The minister responsible for enforcing Bill 101 says there are no plans to impose language restrictions on daycares in Quebec.
Diane De Courcy, the provincial Minister of Language, Immigration and Cultural Communities, came out of a meeting Thursday to say that another cabinet minister was not accurate in saying Bill 101 would soon apply to children under the age of five.
Parti Quebecois Family Minister Nicole Leger presented the idea on Wednesday as legislation that would be introduced in the next few weeks.
De Courcy said Thursday that was not the case.
Leger’s press attaché came forward Thursday to say that her boss had no more comments on the subject, in a move meant to put distance between the minister and her earlier comments.
"Mrs. Leger took something from within the PQ program that concerns her. There are many things within the program," said DeCourcy, who went on to say the PQ had no plans to implement what Leger was presenting as a fait accompli.
De Courcy also acknowledged the uproar the notion caused throughout the province, saying "there is no reason to be upset."
She said that children should be exposed to French, but should not be isolated from their mother tongue.
Meanwhile the Liberal Party of Quebec was quick to condemn the notion to extend Bill 101 to daycares in Quebec. Interim leader Jean-Marc Fournier said it was an attack on freedom of choice.
"There is a minister launching something new without any studies, nothing supporting this avenue. We don't know how it's going to apply," said Fournier.
"There's a limit to the point where the state has to decide everything for people."
That sentiment was echoed by Liberal MNA Kathleen Weil.
"We think that Bill 101 has reached a balance in society, and to prevent students from going to CEGEP, francophone students from going to English CEGEPs and then at the other end daycares doesn't make sense," said Weil.
Most parents interviewed by CTV Montreal felt rather strongly about the issue.
"My first reaction was to turn red and sweat a little bit and tighten my grip on the steering wheel," said Sean McIsaac, one father soon after dropping his child off at a bilingual daycare. “My second reaction was that I don’t know how Quebec would enforce something like this.
"My tertiary reaction is that it's ridiculous."
A Francophone father said that denying his children the chance to learn English would be cruel, especially since they were not allowed to attend anything except a Francophone school.
"I think the solution to the promotion of French is not excluding English and limiting the possibilities of the kids," said the father of two.
Throughout this year the PQ has made it clear it wants to see Bill 101 strengthened and has assigned De Courcy to that task. The former chair of the Commission Scolaire de Montreal has been asked to draw up plans to make French the official language of workplaces with as few as 11 employees. Under current law only companies with 50 or more workers must handle all paperwork and internal communications in French.
The PQ has also said it believes the French language is under threat in Montreal and western Quebec.
For several years, more radical elements within the PQ have demanded that Bill 101 be applied at the CEGEP level.
Only five per cent of Francophone students, and fewer than 40 percent of allophones, attend an English CEGEP.