MONTREAL—Hearings on the Parti Quebecois’ controversial proposal to update the province’s language laws wrapped up Thursday at the National Assembly, with many wondering if Bill 14 will ever be tabled in the legislature.
For five weeks, many testified passionately about the need to protect the French language in Quebec, while others worried the bill would strip away Anglophone rights and hurt businesses.
“I heard their concerns,” said language minister Diane de Courcy, after meeting with 75 concerned groups.
Among the dissenters are business groups who say the bill will add red tape and hurt the economy. The Quebec Bar says the bill will cause legal confusion. Municipalities say if they lose their bilingual status they will lose part of their heritage.
Finally, the Quebec Human Rights Commission says living and working in French is not a fundamental human right.
“We forget sometimes that nearly unanimously the big unions are very favourable,” said de Courcy. “Some Anglos told us it's very important to reinforce French. Some have a problem with their written French.”
The opposition Liberals are standing firm, they plan to vote no on the bill. The opposition says protecting French is important, however Bill 14 does very little of that.
“Individual and minority rights are important. If you look at the brief of the Quebec Human Rights Commission and the bar association it just says withdraw,” said Liberal MNA Geoff Kelley.
De Courcy says she is open to working with the other parties to modify the bill, she says she's sensitive to bilingual municipalities, for example, and will meet with the Townshippers Association soon
But the minister doesn't want to say where the PQ is willing to budge. The ball is now in hands of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, the second opposition could kill the bill before it even gets to vote.
The party confirmed with CTV Montreal on Thursday that it still won't approve the bill unless sweeping changes are made to it.