Bill 14: Open letter to anglophones not well received
An open letter from the Parti Quebec government to anglophones is causing a stir.
The letter penned by Minister for Montreal Jean-Francois Lisée and Language Minister Diane De Courcy appeared in Friday's Montreal Gazette and lists amendments to Bill 14, the revision to Quebec's Language Charter.
Lisée calls the letter addressing the amendments an effort to reach out to the anglophone community.
"We're reporting on the progress we've made, on the arguments we've heard, and on a number of modifications we're making, which are substantial. So let's go on with the dialogue," said Lisée.
The letter says the amendments to Bill 14 will result in a "new, improved law that will protect everyone's linguistic security and vitality."
Speaking alongside Premier Pauline Marois, Lisée said the letter is an update on the progress that was made during the at-times acrimonious hearings.
Lisée was optimistic about how the amendments would be received.
"I'm sure that we've integrated a number of arguments that we heard and there's no ill will on either side, I think we're on for a soft landing," said Lisée.
He said it is also an indication that the PQ is willing to compromise on keeping the bilingual status of some municipalities, and also on the right for military families to send their children to English school.
However, he said the issue of military families would be introduced in a separate bill at a later date.
The letter ends with a plea for empathy and understanding on both sides of the linguistic battle.
So far reaction to the letter has been harsh.
Suanne Stein Day, the chair of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, said on Twitter that the board remains opposed to Bill 14 in its entirety. She also wrote that some of the amendments proposed by Lisée and De Courcy "smacks of further ghettoization."
"It's insinuating that some of these measures are for our benefit, that we have to make spaces for anglophones in CEGEPs," she later told CTV Montreal. "This isn't what the anglophone community is asking for. Anglophones are asking to be treated as equals."
Stein Day also said that so far more than 39,000 Quebecers have signed a petition demanding that Bill 14 be withdrawn. That petition will be tabled in the National Assembly next week.
Another expert on anglo affairs saw the letter as a possible example of trying to placate anglos.
“This looks a bit like an effort to save face by suggesting that, ‘We're listening to you, we want a dialogue,’ but I don't think it was the right approach in terms of what the letter says,” said Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies.
"I was a bit surprised that the minister would take the initiative to reach out to the anglophone community and try to soften the blow, the feelings of angst that have been expressed by a large number of anglophones. I don’t think they’re successful with a message like that. On the one hand it’s a big thin on detail and suggests that they’ve been listening closely and will put revisions into place. It doesn’t explain what’s going to be done," he said.