MONTREAL—If your grasp of French isn’t good enough to buy a metro ticket, supporters of the Parti Quebecois’ plan to strengthen the province’s language laws have a suggestion: You can walk.

That message was delivered on Monday by Pierre Dubuc, the editor of L’aut’journal at a forum hosted by a number of organizations supporting Bill 14.

He repeated the statement -- to much laughter and applause -- at an evening rally held in Montreal to support Bill 14.

Public consultations on the bill begin Tuesday.

While both the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Quebec have indicated that they won’t support most of the legislation, the group is hoping public pressure could force the opposition to side with the PQ.

They feel the law is the only way to protect the French language.

“We want the Charter of the French language modified so that all provincial and municipal services are offered exclusively in French,” said Marie-Claire Baigner, a representative from the SFPQ Union.

A ban on other languages would encourage immigrants and Anglophones to learn French, according to Baigner.

“Really, I think it's in bad faith to not be able to buy a metro ticket in French here,” said Dubuc, speaking to a room full of reporters, after delivering his quip earlier.

When asked to comment on the Dubuc’s suggestions to walk, the president of Imperatif Francais said only that his colleague’s words didn’t reflect the reality in Quebec.

“We all know this is not what is happening and this is not what will be happening,” said Jean-Paul Perreault. “If you want to know why he said that, I think you should be asking the question to that person.”

Reaction on the street outside of Atwater metro station was swift.

“I think when you say something like that on a public platform you are kind of drawing a line in the sand, basically antagonizing anybody who doesn't speak French,” said one man, standing on Montreal’s border with Westmount.

“I feel mainly frustrated and sort of sad that it's come to those sort of ridiculous statements,” said a woman, nearby.

The Mouvement Quebec Francais later urged the language debate to be conducted in an atmosphere of respect. They also said they have room for Anglophones within their movement, as public consultations into Bill 14 begin.