PQ wants to toughen Bill 101 in wake of court ruling
Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017 5:40PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 14, 2017 7:11PM EDT
The Parti Quebecois is upset with a recent court ruling regarding job requirements for employees in Gatineau.
Jean-Francois Lisée said some employers are not abiding by the letter of the French Language Charter the way they should be, so he's tabling a private member's bill to change that.
The impetus was a Quebec Court of Appeal ruling regarding a job posting seeking bilingual candidates.
The legal case began in 2009 when the city of Gatineau posted a job opening for a finance clerk with a requirement that the successful candidate could communicate in English.
The city's union challenged that in court, and in October 2016, the court ruled in Gatineau vs. Syndicat des cols blancs de Gatineau Inc. that the city could indeed make knowledge of English a necessary requirement, specifically because the finance department was required to communicate in English whenever a client (citizen) demanded it.
The Appeals court thus overturned an arbitrator's ruling that requiring knowledge of a language other than French was only acceptable when it was an integral part of the position, such as for a interpreter.
Lisée argues the court was incorrect in giving employers the right to make knowledge of spoken English a requirement for all employees.
"The judges misinterpreted the law," said Lisée. "In that sense, well, there is no longer any right to work in French in Quebec, because you can always make the case that someone will show up and ask a question in English."
He said that Bill 101 should be amended to clearly define how the law should be applied.
"You can designate this post or these posts as requiring English, but you cannot say that the whole staff needs to know English to have these jobs," said Lisée.
The Liberal government was dismissive of Lisée's bill, saying there was no indication that the French language was in any way threatened in Quebec.
"If there isn't a linguistic crisis, they try to create one," said Premier Philippe Couillard.
"I understand that the official opposition is afraid of the English language, I understand, I understand that very well, just like they're afraid of the English communities of Quebec."
Couillard added the number of Quebec anglophones who speak French has jumped more than 30 percentage points since the early 1970s -- a sign that French is not in danger.
Liberal MNA Pierre Moreau also chimed in, saying the PQ was just stirring the pot.
"I know that it's a topic that the PQ likes to put on the table whenever something is going wrong, within their own members. That's a trend," said Moreau.