CAQ won't kill Bill 14, PQ warns failure to pass language law would be ‘catastrophic’
QUEBEC CITY -- Quebec's second opposition will allow the Parti Quebecois’ controversial language law update to continue to a second reading.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec held the balance in the National Assembly as the opposition Liberals vowed to block Bill 14.
“There are some good reasons to be for the bill but we have something like five conditions,” said CAQ leader Francois Legault.
Before the 3 p.m. announcement from the second opposition, Language Minister Diane de Courcy said that she was willing to bend on some of those key parts of Bill 14.
The language minister will compromise on the parts of the bill that impact Francophone military families, who under Bill 14 would no longer be able to send their children to English schools. The minister also indicated that she would change the bill’s provision on bilingual cities, allowing for the decision to be made at a local level.
Few details have yet to emerge on either of de Courcy’s compromises.
The CAQ said it believes cities with bilingual status should maintain that, if so desired.
Despite his conditions, Legault said French needs a boost.
“We must work in French if Montreal,” he said, adding that the bill is right to include more French lessons for immigrants and stricter rules for small businesses.
The announcement on Wednesday was prefaced by over a week where the CAQ didn't communicate with de Courcy.
“A week later, with the CAQ’s silence, I cannot envision a scenario that isn’t catastrophic,” said de Courcy. “It would be catastrophic if the question about how a modern and intelligent protection of the French language was not brought to the parliament.”
The CAQ had previously indicated that it was unwilling to consider Bill 14 unless both areas in which de Courcy indicated compromise, were dropped from the bill.
Meantime, the Liberals say Bill 14 works against bilingualism.
“They're adding obstacles on the on the accession to English-speaking CEGEPs for Francophones, and that's not something that's going to be very helpful,” said Quebec Liberal leader Philippe Couillard.
Liberal language critic Marc Tanguay said businesses need to be able to respond in English “to be able to answer the phone call, to read the fax to answer an email.”
The Liberals plan to vote against Bill 14, but say they will be at the hearings to examine all 94 sections of the bill.
They say they’re willing to use every parliamentary trick possible to prevent the bill from ever becoming law.