Former Quebec premiers express support for extending Bill 101 to federal businesses

The open letter was signed by former Liberal leaders Daniel Johnson, Jean Charest and Philippe Couillard and their Parti Québécois counterparts Pierre-Marc Johnson, Lucien Bouchard and Pauline Marois.

Six former Quebec premiers have signed an open letter supporting a motion by the Legault government calling for a toughening of the enforcement of Bill 101 and extending the language law’s provisions to federally regulated businesses in the province.

Saying the public office they held “placed us at the heart of the promotion and the defence of the francophonie in America,” former Liberal premiers Daniel Johnson, Jean Charest and Philippe Couillard were joined by their Parti Québécois counterparts Pierre-Marc Johnson, Lucien Bouchard and Pauline Marois in expressing their support for the motion, which was adopted unanimously by the National Assembly on Nov. 24.

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Opinion: At stake in Bill 101 decision is the very concept of Canada

There is pressure on the Canadian government to subject federally chartered agencies and businesses to Bill 101. It should do no such thing.

In recent months there has been a campaign in Quebec, orchestrated by independentist parties and nationalist movements, and now joined by a bi-partisan group of former Quebec premiers, to induce the Canadian government to subject federally chartered agencies and businesses to Bill 101. These entities account for barely four per cent of the labour force, a minimal proportion. The campaign’s goal is to counter what is held to be a “decline of French” in Montreal that is allegedly raging in downtown businesses.

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Revising the Official Languages Act: Will History Repeat Itself?

Canada’s Official Languages Act was made law in 1969, was substantially amended in 1988 and is now overdue for an overhaul. As the issue of language rights re-emerged in the final weeks of 2020, it was obvious that many elements of the debate have changed since 1988, but, as Royal Military College professor Stéphanie Chouinard writes, the politics at all levels remain remarkably consistent.

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