Bill 14 passes second reading in National Assembly
The provincial government's bill to modify the Charter of the French language passed another hurdle Thursday morning as it passed its second of third readings in the National Assembly.
Parti Quebecois MNAs along with sufficient numbers of the CAQ and Quebec Solidaire voted in favour of approving the bill in principle, while the Liberal party opposed the motion. It received 67 votes in favour and 42 against.
With this second step done Bill 14 will face a third and final reading in the National Assembly, likely to take place this autumn. At that point, like all bills, it will be studied article by article by MNAs and amendments will likely be proposed and made.
The Liberal party has vowed that the bill is unnecessary and said they will not only vote against it, but do whatever is necessary to delay the bill.
“I think we have to be there for all Quebecers,” said MNA Marc Tanguay. “Anglophones are Quebecers like francophones and we should not forward any amendments, suggestions or bills that will divide Quebecers.”
The party already had more than 40 of 50 MNAs speak against the bill before it got to the vote on the second reading.
Francois Legault and the Coalition Avenir Quebec say they cannot support the bill as it currently stands, but say it does contain several useful measures to protect the French language, such as introducing more French lessons for immigrants and requiring all companies with more than 25 employees to conduct all internal communication in French.
The provincial government has already acknowledged that several measures in the bill are too unpopular to survive a vote in the National Assembly and so will be removed or modified.
"We already indicated a number of changes would be introduced," said Jean-Francois Lisée. "In order to see these changes in the fine print we have to go to the next step and that's what we'll do so just wait and see."
Language minister Diane De Courcy said the exemptions that allow military children to have an education in English will remain in force, but she will try to find other ways to prevent children from going to school in English.
In an open letter to anglophones written earlier this month, De Courcy and Lisée said she will continue to push to bar francophone and allophones from attending English-language CEGEPs, touting it as a way to ensure anglophones could have post-secondary education without needing higher grades than their francophone counterparts.
However the government said the continued threats to the French language are too important to be dismissed out of hand.
"It's an important step, whatever you think of the bill. I mean the fact that we're in the 21st century, there are challenges," said Lisée.
Earlier this week a petition was tabled in the National Assembly, signed by 39,000 Quebecers opposed to Bill 14.