Wed. May 18th, 2022

Insurance critics are looking for “written in black and white”, says the minister responsible for the French language.

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QUEBEC – Assurances that minority communities are seeking that their lives will not be changed by reforms of the French language charter are already included in Bill 96, the Minister of Legislation said on Thursday.

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“What I said orally is already in the bill,” Simon Jolin-Barrette told two journalists at the end of three weeks of committee meetings in the proposed legislation.

“I assured them yesterday. I understand that they may not have seen them (the clauses) because it is a bill of 100 pages and 200 articles. I said it and repeated it, nothing changes for the English speaking community.

“What I already said is written in black and white.”

Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the French language, made the comments in response to the central criticism of the handful of minority groups invited to comment on the bill.

Everyone took up the challenge of analyzing the bill clause for clause. While most, including the umbrella Quebec Community Groups Network, called for the bill to be withdrawn, they also challenged the minister to anchor in writing the promises he made to the community orally during the hearings.

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Specifically, the groups want a clause stating that Bill 96 does not contravene Article 15 of the Health and Social Services Act, which guarantees access to English services. Another clause they will see is a grandfather having existing rights.

Jolin-Barrette invited dissatisfied observers to re-examine Article 15 of Bill 96. The provisions are contained in “the whole” bill, he said.

Jolin-Barrette, however, insisted that the bill has generally gone well with Quebecers, although the hearings revealed many critics where business was among the most acute.

“There is agreement that French is in decline in Quebec, and there is a need to protect and promote the French language, and Bill 96 does,” Jolin-Barrette said.

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“There are several groups that said you go too far or you do not go far enough, but one thing everyone recognizes is that we are acting on the issue of the French language.”

But he said he listened to the 50 groups that showed up and will read the other 50 briefs that were sent directly to the clerk in committee, and “yes, we will keep some suggestions for improving the bill.”

“I have always said that I was open to making improvements to the bill if the purpose is to better protect the French language,” he said.

He said he disagreed with analysts who said they doubted the bill would do much to curb the decline in the use of French – especially in households where it really matters.

“I think Bill 96 will reverse the trend,” he said. “I sense that there is a will in the people to act.”

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The hearings ended at almost the same time as Prime Minister François Legault announced that he intends to adjourn the current session of the legislature next Wednesday.

This will mean that Bill 96 will temporarily disappear from the order paper, but will be brought back to life in a new meeting on 19 October.

Among the last heard groups was one responsible for helping integrate newcomers to Quebec. The group said the message it hears during the fallout from the bill is that the fallout in French is somehow the fault of immigrants.

While the debate on racism and systemic racism has raged in Quebec, “we are not talking enough about linguistics,” the Table de concertation des organisms au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes told the committee.

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Linguistics refers to discrimination based on the language a person speaks. The table de concentrations group represents 159 groups dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees in Quebec.

The Mohawk community in Kanesatake presented a brief call for cooperation between the Quebec nation and their nations to ensure that First Nations languages ​​are not affected.

Finally, the committee heard from the Fédération des communautés francophones et Acadiennes (FCFA), which said they feared that Bill 96 could trigger a kind of backlash against them in the rest of the country.

“It’s like we’re laying eggs,” Jolin-Barrette said in response. “We can not go too far because we could anger certain other people in the Canadian Federation.

“It makes me deeply annoyed because what we are seeing is that if Quebec wants to protect the French in Canada, if Quebec wants to protect the French in Quebec, we are threatened with reprisals against francophone communities in the rest of Canada.”

pauthier@postmedia.com

twitter.com/philipauthier

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