PQ Backtrack on Redesign of Law 101

The PQ government is set to break another promise, one concerning language law. In the election campaign, Pauline Marois said she wanted to apply law 101 to English CEGEPs to further starve the English education system in Quebec and further restrict the freedom of its inhabitants of choosing the education they want to receive. This is one of many attempts Marois is trying to satisfy the more radical wing of her party while diluting the controversy to avoid public backlash as was the case with recent tax hikes and the bare-bones budget

The new bill will be tabled in the National Assembly by Language Minister Diane De Courcy next week and be ready for consultation in early 2013.

The bill will expand the reach of Law 101 into businesses with fewer than 50 employees. As the law is ready to be expanded, it is noteworthy that the Office de la langue fails to adequately enforce the existing and encroaching law in over 6000 large companies province-wide. Internal statistics show that despite a drastic increase in the use of French as a result of the OLF from 1971 to 1989, there has been a steady decrease until present-day. It is worth noting that in 1971, 82% of Quebecers used French in the workforce in comparison to 89% today.

Overall, an 89% usage rate is not a sufficient reason to change and strengthen an already strict language law - one where the language police are now attacking trademarks for not being French. Quebecers across the province know Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart like the back of their hands and their employees are all trained and all work and serve in French, so what is the point to waste taxpayers' money trying to force them to change their trademark names? Every person in the OLF is paid by our money, and every court action they take costs money...

Marois could have left language policy alone. The reality remains that her victory was given to her by only 1% of the popular vote - and not without reason. Quebecers didn't want to bring in a government that would base its policies on old arguments of the past, or one looking to separate Canada into tiny bits, or divide its people into cultural wars, Quebecers wanted an alternative the the Charest Liberals whom, despite taking a beating, managed to win 32% and form the official opposition. In the end, this means there really is no point to redesign Law 101, and potentially risk the collapse of a government for such a cause that is distant in the eyes of Quebecers. 

Quebec faces several important problems at the moment, notably, and probably most significantly, the economy. No expansion to Law 101 favors business and no expansion to the law will attract more investment to Quebec. At the moment, we have a government that is taking most of the weight of the economy and is holding the hands of people as they develop through life - choosing what language they speak, what cultures to appreciate, what economic status is favorable and what a model citizen is. In the end, they charge you a large tax bill and they try to hide corruption which has long been a problem in this province and is now surfacing with the Charbonneau commission. While most of these burdens have been around for a while, and mostly fall onto the hands of the previous Liberal Government  the PQ are now tasked with providing a real alternative. 

Instead of dividing people with language laws, and trying to take away more peoples' freedom - notably the right to choose your language of instruction, the PQ should focus on improving the standard of living of all Quebecers, creating new jobs in the private sector, cleaning up inefficiencies and lowering tax rates across the board. Instead, they have chosen to focus on issues that are insignificant and not necessarily popular with most Quebecers. While Marois may have done a good job diluting the policies of her radicals, she hasn't yet demonstrated that she has a vision for this province that will improve the lives of future generations. Sharing the $21,000 per person in debt, and being in deficit, Quebec is notably one of the provinces with the biggest clean up to make and waiting won't make it any less painless. Applying more restrictions and more red tape on businesses won't help this difficult task, and taxing citizens both monetarily and in terms of freedom won't help either. 

Give us a break, we've been through enough. PQ language policies were scary and divisive enough during the campaign  and arguably the PQ could have won a majority without them. Time to focus on the economy, time to start backtracking on Law 101. With 89% of workplaces using French, there is no doubt the francophone community can find jobs. Rather than treating bilingualism as an enemy, take it as an opportunity to take pride in a solid culture and be able to broaden Quebec's horizon on the world stage. Education, language and freedom haven't hurt anyone or any country, so why make restricting the preceding a top priority?

Glad to see Marois diluted the impact of her redesign, but as this post has deliberately overstated: it really wasn't necessary and we have more important things to worry about as a society. It is agreeable that while breaking promises is a terrible thing to do, and her record at keeping some promises hasn't been stellar, we can graciously accept that Marois broke her promise on language laws and agree that this government needs to start listening to the electorate and change its channel. What do you think? Follow us and let us know: Facebook, Twitter, Google +