‘Anxiety and frustration’: Demonstrators protest Quebec language law

MONTREAL — Demonstrators gathered in downtown Montreal to protest Quebec’s contentious language bill today.

The protesters, who rallied across from Dawson College before marching two kilometres to Premier François Legault’s office,  called for revisions to the legislation, which aims to strengthen the province’s French-language charter.

Bill 96, which is expected to pass this month, would impose tougher language requirements on workplaces and municipalities.

It also seeks to limit the use of English in the courts and public services, grant powers of search and seizure without a warrant to Quebec’s language regulator and cap enrolment at English junior colleges, where students would have to take more courses in French.

Russell Copeman, executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association, says he supports efforts to promote and protect the French language, but describes Bill 96 is “discriminatory” and the cause of “frustration and anxiety” among anglophones and francophone business leaders.

Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake says demanding that young people master a third language — French — carries colonial overtones and would make it harder for them to succeed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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