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Hampstead launching its own legal challenge against Bill 96


Hampstead's town council unanimously voted Tuesday night to launch a legal challenge against Quebec's French-language law, Bill 96.

While the official paperwork will be filed in court as early as next week, constitutional lawyer Frederic Berard told CTV News that the full scope of the lawsuit is to be determined.

Census data shows that most residents of Hampstead, an independent municipality within Montreal, are native English speakers. Like the neighbouring town of Côte-St-Luc, it has official bilingual status.

In May 2022, Hampstead officials passed a resolution stating that Bill 96 would make it more difficult for local governments to serve their English population and for Quebecers to obtain services in their language of choice.

"Language legislation should not cause the minority community to feel fear and that its rights are being diminished without its consent and this feeling is clear today amongst English-speaking Quebecers," the resolution reads.

One of the law's more controversial provisions requires civil servants to use French in an "exemplary manner," i.e. in all verbal and written communications (with some exceptions -- for example, health services).

Hampstead's 2022 resolution also argued the law would harm English schools and CEGEPs.

"Bill 96 will serve as an indirect way to ensure that English-language CEGEPS will be in a perpetual decline. This is accomplished by setting a cap on the percentage of spaces available at English-language CEGEP, and then setting up a system that will inevitably lower that cap year after year."

In June, 23 municipalities banded together to start a court challenge against Bill 96, led by Côte-St-Luc.

Hampstead opted out in favour of pursuing its own court case, and Berard said to expect more news next week when documents are filed at Superior Court.

Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit related to the French language was launched in Quebec on Tuesday. Top Stories

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