As the Quebec election campaign entered its first full day, the Parti Québécois promised a revised and strengthened version of the historic French-language charter within the first 100 days if it formed the next provincial government.
On Monday, the first full day of the Quebec election campaign, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon pledged and emphasized the need to take action to stop the decline of the French language.
Bill 101, the French-language charter, was initially passed into law by the René Lévesque administration in August 1977. The legislation meant ending English dominance in the province while defending and promoting the local tongue. It completely changed Quebec’s linguistic landscape, and for more than 40 years, it has received widespread praise and harsh criticism.
The party’s leader, who supports Quebec’s separation from Canada, told reporters that now was not the time for “half-measures and half-truths.”
The Parti Québécois claims that Bill 96, a new language bill passed by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, falls short of protecting the French language and culture. The CAQ, according to St-Pierre Plamondon, has let down Quebecers.
He mainly referred to the fact that, according to the most recent census release, the percentage of people who speak primarily French at home is still decreasing in almost all provinces and territories, including Quebec.
According to St-Pierre Plamondon, the fear of the Quebec people losing their language exists in the short term.
St-Pierre Plamondon wants the junior colleges in the province, often known as CEGEPs, should be included in the charter. However, non-anglophone students would be unable to enroll in English-language CEGEPs if this happened. Currently, Bill 101 only applies to the elementary and secondary levels, when allophone and francophone students are required to attend French-language institutions.
Additionally, the PQ advocates that immigrants should already have a command of French before coming to Quebec and seeks stronger regulations for businesses and immigrants in addition to the educational system.
According to St. Pierre Plamondon, companies under federal regulation should be subject to Bill 101. In addition, under the PQ, communities with fewer than 33% of their population identifying as anglophones would lose their bilingual status.
Plamondon says such actions are crucial because they have a structural impact on the use of the French language and can potentially reverse the decline.
The PQ leader, running for his first office in the provincial assembly, committed to toughening the charter in the recently named Camille Laurin riding in Montreal’s northeast. Given that the late PQ minister Laurin is regarded as the author of Bill 101, St-Pierre Plamondon claimed it was appropriate to make the announcement there.
Additionally, the PQ hopes to increase its representation at the national assembly in the upcoming election as it is now polling in fifth place. Once dominant in the province, the party started the election campaign with only seven members. On October 3, voters go to the polls.
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