Is there too much English at National Assembly news conferences?
QUEBEC - A recent language debate brewing in the National Assembly has led Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier and Parti Quebecois language critic Yves-Francois Blanchet to reduce what they say "en anglais" to reporters.
News conferences at the National Assembly typically follow a certain pattern.
"We have a statement in French. After that, we address questions in French and if there are questions in English we address questions in English as well," said Christine St-Pierre, Quebec's minister of culture, communications and the status of women.
The issue arose at a recent press conference, when during the question period, a Francophone reporter reminded Fournier that French is Quebec's official language, and asked why he was holding bilingual press conferences.
Some politicians will make a brief English statement before the questions start, including Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier, who said Wednesday that he will no longer do that.
"I was asked to make my comments after the questions and I will do that," he said, explaining that he will not make statements in English, but will answer questions from Anglo reporters after the French portion ends.
"My duty is to inform, give all information, with respect, with everybody – journalists and citizens. I will always do that. Even if somebody says I should not," said Fournier.
Blanchet said he's now refusing to take English questions at press conferences altogether, and will only agree to one-on-one English interviews after the conferences.
"Giving individual interviews is not as official as doing a press conference. It's that simple," he said. "I want to fix this habit that we had to treat both languages as if both languages were official languages of Quebec."