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the Quebec General Election:  Information

The Charter of the French Language (La Charte de la langue française, Bill 101) “is a law in the Province of Quebec, Canada, defining French, as the official language and framing fundamental language rights.  It is the central legislative piece in Quebec’s language policy.”  (Wikipedia)

Bill 101 was passed by the National Assembly and granted Royal Assent by Lieutenant Governor Hugues Lapointe on August 26, 1977, under the government of Premier  René Lévesque, the leader of the Parti Québécois.  The bill was proposed by Camille Laurin, the Minister of Cultural Development.

Bill 101 had been preceded by the Official Language Act (Bill 22), passed in 1974 under the Liberal government of Premier Robert Bourassa.  Bill 101 (1977) has been challenged  and too rigid an interpretation can lead to dangerous situations.

When friends and I were trying to cross the Champlain bridge to leave Montreal, an island, the overhead traffic monitors gave information and instructions in French only.  I told my friends that the information should be given in both French and English to protect all drivers, including French-speaking drivers.

Bill 101 also stipulates that the children of immigrants be educated in French, etc.  For more information click on the Charter of the French Language.  My main source of information in writing this post was Wikipedia’s entry of the Charter of the French Language.

However, yesterday, as reported in Le Devoir, Jean Charest stated he might expand  Bill 101.  Expansion could mean constructive amendments to the current law, but not necessarily.  However, during a political campaign, leaders often attempt to win over support from undecided voters by making promises they cannot respect once they are in office.  I could be wrong, but I believe monsieur Charest did not need to raise the issue, if indeed he raised it.  He may have been compelled to address this subject.

The Canada Act of 1982

Moreover, Quebec has yet to sign the “patriated” (from England to Canada)Constitution of Canada or the Canada Act of 1982.  One wonders.  What is the status of Quebec?  Might it be, to some extent, more closely linked to Britain than other provinces?  I am being slightly facetious, but not altogether.

I would hate to see French Canadians swallowed up by an English-language majority, but choosing the appropriate means to protect the French language is a thorny matter.  Language policy remains a central issue in the forthcoming election.

© Micheline Walker
28 August 2012
composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau (25 September 1683, Dijon – 12 September
piece: Les Indes galantes (Indes: North America) & chaconne