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'You don't need to show us your Grade 3 report card': Cote Saint-Luc makes dig at Bill 96 in phone greeting

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It's the City of Côte Saint-Sass.

Côte Saint-Luc, a Montreal-area municipality with official bilingual status, is laying the sarcasm on thick Friday in response to new provisions of Quebec's controversial language law, Bill 96.

Call the city's hotline, and this is what you'll hear:

If you'd like service in English, press two. And by the way, you don't need to show us your Grade 3 report card, or your family tree going back ten generations. And you don't have to pinky-promise anything. This is the City of Côte Saint-Luc, and that's how we roll.

(Watch the video above to hear it for yourself). 

The message is a cheeky -- if not downright shady -- dig at changes made to Montreal's 311 helpline on Thursday.

According to the 311 automated message, callers must now attest "in good faith" they can receive services in English, i.e. that they're covered by one of the following exceptions:

  • if you are a person declared eligible to receive English Education;
  • if you're an Indigenous person;
  • if you are a recently arrived immigrant residing in Quebec for less than six months;
  • if you are calling from outside Quebec;
  • or if you corresponded solely in English with the City of Montreal prior to May 13, 2021.

The message then instructs the caller to "please press two" if they attest (or to press one for French).

Similar messages were added to websites like that of the City of Montreal, Quebec's alcohol retailer (SAQ), and Quebec 511, used to monitor road conditions in the province.

CHANGES TO LANGUAGE LAW

The disclaimers are the product of a Bill 96 provision that requires civil administration to use French in an "exemplary manner."

It's one of several June 1, 2023 changes to Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec.

The law, enacted in June 2022, was designed to protect the use of French in Quebec. However, its limitations on English use in certain settings have prompted protests, court challenges, and concerns from English-language groups.

The City of Côte Saint-Luc was officially recognized as a bilingual municipality in 2005. Community officials have openly criticized Bill 96 since its inception, with city council passing multiple resolutions opposing it.

With files from CTV's Joe Lofaro. 

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