The pressure is on Justin Trudeau to allow the application of Bill 101 to federally chartered companies. In an open letter published this morning, six mayors of the largest cities in Quebec are joining the Legault government to demand this reform of the Charter of the French language.
• Read also: United Front of Quebec for the French Language
At the initiative of Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, the mayors Valérie Plante (Montreal), Régis Labeaume (Quebec), Gilles Lehouillier (Lévis), Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin (Gatineau), Marc Demers (Laval) and Sylvie Parent (Longueuil) co-sign the letter alongside several civil society groups.
The signatories demand that the Charter of the French language, which makes French the normal language of work, apply to businesses under federal legislation.
These include in particular air carriers and airports, banks, the radio and television industry as well as telecommunications.
“Linguistic revival involves in particular reopening the Charter of the French language, which must be strengthened. In addition, it is therefore necessary that the application of the Charter henceforth be extended to enterprises under federal jurisdiction located in Quebec territory. Quebeckers must be able to work in their language, French, and Quebec legislation must apply to the entire territory of Quebec, “say the signatories.
According to the letter, some 240,000 people worked for companies under federal jurisdiction in 2016 in Quebec.
The place of French in these industries is declining, says the open letter, without providing precise data.
The public outing follows the unanimous passage last week of a motion in the National Assembly calling for Ottawa to commit to negotiating the application of Bill 101 to federally chartered businesses.
The minister responsible for the file, Simon Jolin-Barrette, is thus making sure to seek support in order to stand together against Ottawa.
Trudeau increasingly isolated
Although he recently acknowledged that French is in decline in Quebec, Justin Trudeau is still hesitant to allow the application of Bill 101 to businesses under federal jurisdiction.
But the Canadian Prime Minister is increasingly isolated on this issue, as opposition parties in Ottawa urge him to move forward with this measure.
The Liberal government, however, promised to modernize the Official Languages Act, which protects francophones in the rest of Canada and anglophones in Quebec.
In addition to the mayors of major Quebec cities, the letter is co-signed by two independent members of Parliament, the main unions in the Quebec public service, the Union des artistes and the Union des producteurs agricoles, as well as several groups dedicated to the defense of French.
In Minister Jolin-Barrette’s office, it is said that they offered to the opposition parties to sign the open letter, without success.
For several months now, Mr. Jolin-Barrette has been promising to table a “strong plan” to defend the French language in Quebec.
Last week, the minister specified that this “important reform of the Charter of the French language” will be included in a bill that he will table in the parliamentary session next winter.
“We intend to amend Bill 101 to strengthen several of its provisions and expand its scope,” he said.
SOME AREAS WHERE LAW 101 DOES NOT APPLY
- Air transport
- Radio and television broadcasting