QUEBEC CITY -- Premier François Legault will launch a broad consultation this fall on the place of the French language in Quebec that could stretch for several months.

The public consultation will follow the spring tabling of the bill expected to contain an in-depth review of Bill 101, a piece of legislation prepared for several months by French Language Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Bill 101, also known as the Charter of the French language, was adopted in 1977 by the government of René Lévesque.

Its up-to-date overhaul is expected to reinforce the use of French in Quebec.

With a long timeline allocated for consultations, Legault reiterated Thursday he’s in no rush to pass the bill before it’s ready.

“We will not do anything to bulldoze the current session," said Legault, responding to concerns voiced by Liberal MP Gregory Kelley, who expressed fears that future legislation could infringe on the rights of anglophones.

The premier says he’s "not against the anglophone community" and that he had often "dealt with anglophones" in the past.

“If we really believe in French as the common language, if we really believe that this language is vulnerable,” said the premier, “we have to take action, and in some cases, we have to use the notwithstanding clause.”

The notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Constitution allows legislators to escape some provisions of the constitution. In 1988, Robert Bourassa used it after the Supreme Court invalidated the French-only stipulations of Bill 101.

Legault reiterated his objective to solidify “French as a working language, including in small businesses.”

“I think is very important,” he said, to have “French clearly identified in [storefronts].”

“Giving French lessons, making French well used by all newcomers; it’s very important.” 

-- This report from The Canadian Press was published with files from CTV News journalist Max Harrold on April 29, 2021