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Two Montreal Island towns file court challenge to Quebec language law reform

Two Montreal suburbs filed a court challenge today to Quebec's 2022 language reform, seeking to be exempted from several articles of the law commonly known as Bill 96.

Hampstead and Town of Mount Royal say the articles, which limit government communications in languages other than French, contradict elements of the law that allow certain municipalities and government agencies to use other languages.

The lawsuit also seeks to have the court declare unconstitutional a provision of the law that declares the French text of Quebec laws takes precedence over the English version if there is a discrepancy between the two.

It also argues that the Quebec government cannot unilaterally change the Canadian Constitution — which states that French and English can be used in Quebec's legislature and courts — to make French the province's only official language.

Both towns have bilingual status, allowing them to communicate with citizens in French and English, but they say provisions of the law call into question their ability to provide bilingual services.

In June, 23 other municipalities sued to overturn elements of the law, which proactively invoked the notwithstanding clause to shield it from court challenges.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2023.

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