PQ plan: Quebecers unable to speak French would be banned from running for office
PQ leader Pauline Marois addresses supporters while at a brew pub Tuesday, August 21, 2012 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012 7:16PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 21, 2012 8:42PM EDT
MONTREAL - PQ leader Pauline Marois said Tuesday that if the Parti Quebec were elected it would not allow anglos, natives, and immigrants to run for political office if they didn’t have an “appropriate knowledge of French."
Marois had not discussed her party's controversial policy much during the current campaign but she confirmed Tuesday that the PQ would pass the legislation, originally written in 2007, if elected.
“Yes we’ll present the bill, it will apply to everybody, all citizens who want to be elected mayor, city councillor, MNA, will have to know French,” she said.
The bill, known as Bill 195, was introduced in October 2007. It provides for the creation of a Quebec Constitution and a Quebec citizenship.
Any immigrant wishing to get the Quebec citizenship would have to demonstrate an “appropriate knowledge of the French language.”
Without such citizenship, a person would not be allowed to run in municipal, provincial, school elections, participate in the public financing of political parties, or petition to the National Assembly for redress of grievances.
“Whether you’re English, ethnic, an immigrant, the common language here is French. Is there someone who could imagine that we cannot have that language?” she asked.
Groups which have denounced Bill 195 include the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) and B'nai Brith Canada which called it xenophobic and befitting of extreme right parties.
The latest language proposal could potentially have its greatest impact in aboriginal communities.
Kitty Gordon, a spokeswoman for Makivik Corp., which oversees resource development of Quebec's north, expressed outrage at the PQ plan.
"I think it's kind of ridiculous for anglophones and aboriginals," she said in a telephone interview.
"Are they saying that the Quebecers were here first so that's why we have to speak French? It's like saying the Inuit were here first so you all have to speak Inuktitut."
She says few community leaders currently speak French, although there are an increasing number of young people who do so.
"The older generation, the leaders of today, only speak English and Inuktitut but the younger generation like myself, I speak French, I went to school in French up north in Nunavik starting from kindergarten," Gordon said.
"But the students today, whether you're French, white or any other race, if you go to school in Nunavik, you must go to school in Inuktitut for the first three years and then you choose whether to go in English or French."
One newspaper columnist said the PQ idea is probably part of its broader plan to achieve independence.
The party has said it will pick fights with the rest of the country, and use each one to argue its case that Quebec's culture can't survive within Canada.
"This one will go straight to the Supreme Court (and that's probably the goal)," Montreal La Presse political columnist Vincent Marissal wrote on Twitter.
Marois criticizes Legault
Marois also spent Tuesday commenting on Francois Legault, who she is slated to debate Wednesday. Marois said Legault’s plans to abolish school boards would lead to chaos.
“When it’s announced that there will be an axe taken to a Quebec institution, while tuition rises are maintained, and when 7,000 jobs are to be slashed, I think it could disturb the social climate,” said Marois.
Marois said that the CAQ numbers don't pass the smell test.
“What’s most disturbing is that the more we dig through the financial plans they present, the more we see there are huge errors,” she said.
Marois described Legault’s plans to make 94 promises costing $3.7 billion as ‘completely unrealistic.”
Regine Laurent, who presides over the Federation of Interprofessional health of Quebec (FIQ) said she believed the CAQ health promises made by Legault and star candidate Dr. Gaetan Barrette were unlikely to be possible.
“I don’t know how they’d do it. It’s a complex problem and there’s not one solution that will fix everything,” said Laurent.
Marois also commented on Premier Charest’s ongoing attacks on Francois Legault being a separatist.
“I’ll let them debate those questions, but since Legault changes his minds like he changes shirts, maybe he will make a referendum after all,” she said adding that Legault is “unreliable.”
-With files from The Canadian Press