WHAT IS PARLIAMENTARY SOVEREIGNTY?

Quebec’s Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec would add the following paragraph to the preamble of the Charter of the French Language:

“Whereas, in accordance with parliamentary sovereignty, it is incumbent on the Parliament of Québec to confirm the status of French as the official language and the common language and to enshrine the paramountcy of that status in Québec’s legal order, while ensuring a balance between the collective rights of the Québec nation and human rights and freedoms.”

In addition, the following was included in the preamble to Bill 21, An Act respecting the laicity of the State:

“AS, in accordance with the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, it is incumbent on the Parliament of Québec to determine the principles according to which and manner in which relations between the State and religions are to be governed in Québec.”

Parliamentary supremacy – although it’s referred to as sovereignty in both the preambles above – represents a core element of United Kingdom constitutional law. This is a principle to provide the legislative branch of government, Parliament, with the ultimate legal authority to create (or repeal) any law. In theory, British courts cannot overturn or change laws passed by Parliament. This is because the power to make laws is vested with the elected House of Commons, with the House of Lords reviewing legislation. British courts doled out the monarch’s (the executive branch of government) justice. In a nutshell, if the courts could overturn laws passed by the legislative branch, the monarch would be able to make an end-run and be empowered to thwart the will of the House of Commons. This system was carefully built on a series of compromises following the English civil wars of the 17th Century…

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How Real Is The Decline of The French Language?

It has become accepted wisdom in many circles that French is in decline in Quebec. In fact, for many politicians and commentators, the question is no longer whether French is in decline but rather just how steep the drop is. Not so fast, says respected Quebec researcher Jack Jedwab, head of the Association for Canadian Studies and Metropolis Canada (ACS-Metropolis). According to Jedwab, the purported decline is actually based on different ways of interpreting data rather than any objective measure of the growing “anglicization” of Quebec.

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LE PROJET DE LOI NO 96 ET LA COMMUNAUTÉ SOURDE : LES CONSÉQUENCES IMPRÉVUES DE LA LÉGISLATION

Québec a récemment dévoilé ses plans de modifier la Charte de la langue française en passant par le projet de loi no 96, une Loi sur la langue officielle et commune du Québec, le français. L’objectif du projet de loi no 96 est d’« affirmer que la seule langue officielle du Québec est le français. », en plus d’affirmer que le français est la langue commune de la nation québécoise. Le projet de loi no 96 invoque en outre l’article 33 comme mesure préventive (la clause nonobstant) de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés qui protégerait la Charte de la langue française d’une révision judiciaire. En bref, les Québécoises et les Québécois perdront leurs libertés fondamentales, leurs garanties juridiques et leurs droits à l’égalité dans l’application de la Charte de la langue française.

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BILL 96 AND THE DEAF: THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF LEGISLATION

Quebec recently unveiled plans to make substantial changes to the Charter of the French Language through Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec. The purpose of Bill 96 is “to affirm that the only official language of Quebec is French.” It also affirms that French is the common language of the Quebec nation. Bill 96 pre-emptively invokes Section 33 (the notwithstanding clause) of the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which would shield the Charter of the French Language from judicial review.  In a nutshell, Quebecers will lose their fundamental freedoms, legal, and equality rights in the application of the Charter of the French Language.

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QCGN Statement on Government of Canada’s Proposed Changes to the Official Languages Act

The Quebec Community Groups Network recognizes the federal bill tabled this morning in the House of Commons to amend the Official Languages Act for what it is – a clear attack on the equality of Canada’s official languages.

Traditionally, the Official Languages Act has given life to constitutional official language rights. These rights define much of the relationship between Canadians and our federal government. The Act has been grounded on the principle that English and French are equal in law.

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QCGN Supports Commissioner’s Call for Symmetry in the Official Languages Act

Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge is advising the federal government to maintain the equal status of French and English in its coming changes to the Official Languages Act. The Quebec Community Groups Network enthusiastically endorses this advice.

In his annual report tabled in the House of Commons today, Commissioner Théberge said he is “pleased to see that the Government of Canada’s proposed overhaul is based on the principle of substantive equality, because beyond guaranteeing the equal status of English and French, the new Act must provide the means to actually achieve this equality.”

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MANY REASONS TO PARTICIPATE IN CENSUS

The first census in North America was conducted in 1666 by the Intendant of New France, Jean Talon. Going door to door, he recorded the names, ages, genders, and occupations of members of the population. This was the beginning of the national census that would eventually serve as a great contributor to our social development and to advancement in Canadian society.

Of course, there have been changes to the census over the years to reflect the changing Canadian landscape and to collect as much evidence as possible about the population. As the government looks to improve the lives of its citizens, the census helps to identify key socioeconomic trends in Canadian society. This, in turn, provides the government with vital information it can use to make decisions on national needs to be addressed.

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WHAT EXACTLY IS THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Canada’s Constitution includes an ‘entrenched’ bill of rights; the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our Charter comprises 34 sections of the Constitution Act, 1982. Thus, it enshrines our fundamental freedoms and rights. These include our democratic, mobility, legal, equality, and official language rights.

With Confederation, the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty (or supremacy) in the Westminster tradition of government was adopted by Canada and the provinces. In its purest form, a legislature can enactor repeal any law it chooses. From the beginning, this doctrine has been limited by Canada’s federal framework, which allocates legislative powers between the national government and the provinces.

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Brief – Expert Panel on Language of Work and Service in Federally Regulated Private Businesses

By The Honourable Marlene Jennings, P.C. President, and Kevin Shaar, Vice-President

Canada has two official languages and two official language minorities.

In its recent paper on official languages, English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official
Languages in Canada
, the Government of Canada makes a legislative proposal to increase the use of
French in federally regulated private enterprises. The paper outlines specific proposals to provide rights
to work and rights to services in French – but not in English – in federally regulated private businesses in
Quebec and in regions with a strong Francophone presence.

The Government of Canada’s proposal to grant language rights to one language group and not the other
runs counter to the purpose of the
Official Languages Act and offends the government’s constitutional
obligation to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada. It also poses
significant challenges for the substantive equality of the English-speaking minority in Quebec.

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Large consensus Around the Protection of the French Language

Eight of every 10 Quebecers surveyed consider that the French language needs to be protected in Quebec. Among non-francophones, 42 per cent agree.

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