Pontiac Warden Jane Toller held a press conference yesterday (September 7) to launch a petition asking that the provincial government make changes or clarifications to Bill 96, the proposed changes to Quebec’s language laws. Toller had previously stated that she would be drafting a petition on the issue when she spoke at a meeting hosted by the Regional Association of West Quebecers in Shawville on August 3. MRC Pontiac council had previously passed a resolution that was sent to Quebec City expressing their concerns with the proposed bill in June.
Bill 96 proposes sweeping changes to many aspects of society, from capping the number of francophone students at English CEGEPs, a reassessment of bilingual municipalities, and an assertion that French is the only official language of Quebec.
The wording of the petition asks that the government “remove from Bill 96 all sections that could have a negative impact on English-speaking citizens and bilingual communities and could affect negatively services to English-speaking Quebecers; ensure that students can study in the language of their choice as part of their post-secondary education; and ensure that provisions in Bill 96 do not create an administrative burden for small businesses.”
Toller said that the petition would be available at all municipal offices throughout the region starting September 8, and any businesses that wanted copies could contact the MRC or their municipality. The end date of the petition will be 4 p.m. on Friday October 15.
Toller also said that she had spoken with CAQ Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault and Minister for the Outaouais Mathieu Lacombe on the subject.
Following the press conference, Toller spoke at length about specific aspects of the bill that she opposes, as well as the positives that it could bring about.