The CAQ government will table reforms to the Charter of the French language on Thursday

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After immigration and state secularism, the CAQ government is preparing to send Quebec into a long debate on language. On Thursday, the government will table what it calls “robust” changes to Bill 101.

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QUEBEC – The Legault government will table its long-awaited reforms to the Charter of the French language on Thursday.

Senior government officials confirmed Tuesday evening to the Montreal Gazette that the government of the Coalition Avenir Québec will proceed after having published a formal notice of its plan on the Order Paper Wednesday of the National Assembly.

Since he is legally required to give the House a full day’s notice, that means the minister responsible for the French language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, will table the broad legislation on Thursday morning.

Prime Minister François Legault on Tuesday dropped a clear clue of what is to come in a photo on his Twitter feed in which we see him “preparing with Jolin-Barrette for an important announcement Thursday from the Government of Quebec … but I won’t tell you which one! “

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Months of work and repeatedly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jolin-Barrette said the new bill would contain “robust measures” to consolidate French and revitalize the 44-year-old charter drafted by Camille Laurin.

The bill will initiate a long linguistic debate on the measures necessary to improve the state of French which, according to studies, is particularly slippery in Montreal and in the workplace.

Rumor has it that the bill will contain 200 articles dealing with all aspects of language laws in Quebec, from commercial signage to the right to work in French and a review of the bilingual status of certain municipalities.

It is planned to extend the French certification process to companies with 25 to 49 employees. Legault has already ruled out extending the charter’s provisions to the CEGEP system, but said he wanted to cap enrollment in the English system.

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At a committee last Thursday, Jolin-Barrette said he did not want to rush the passage of the new bill and that he would allow full debate.

“I do not intend to divide (English and French) as was the case in the past,” said Jolin-Barrette. “We will also respect the institutions of the English-speaking community. There is no problem here. “

Minority groups, however, have reacted with apprehension, noting that what the government sees as respecting minority rights and what they actually see are different things.

In April, Legault confirmed his government’s intention to use the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to protect language reforms, including a new sign law, from legal challenges in the same way he used the clause to protect it from the law on state secularism, Bill 21.

The last time Quebec had a debate of this nature was in 1988, when the former Liberal government invoked the notwithstanding clause to keep posters only in French after the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.

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