CSL calls on CAQ to withdraw Bill 96 and consult English community

CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein discusses Bill 96 during the April 11 council meeting.

Côte St. Luc council last week unanimously repeated its call for the Quebec government to remove the proposed expanded language law Bill 96 from the order paper.

The resolution says before putting forward such legislation that amends the Charter of the French Language, it should “meaningfully consult with the English-speaking community of Quebec and associations such as the Quebec Community Groups Network that represent the community.”

The lengthy resolution was read in French and English by Councillor Steven Erdelyi, and came after the news that the law would enable the Language Minister to have the authority not to provide subsidies to municipalities that are in violation of Bill 96.

“This is a terrible bill,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “We all have to oppose it very strongly. It’s impossible to even think that a municipality that has bilingual status wouldn’t be able to communicate amongst ourselves in English, or write contracts in English.... This law makes us feel that our very existence is a threat to the French language. We are a valued minority in Quebec and we have rights, and this law is taking away fundamental rights.”

The resolution says that “the council of Côte St. Luc expresses its view that many of the amendments contained in Bill 96 and further amendments at the National Assembly Committee on Culture and Education are in clear contravention of the spirit of fairness and open-mindedness, and are not respectful of the English-speaking community of Quebec, as per the preamble and spirit of the existing Charter of the French Language,” the resolution also says.

CSL is also calling on the Quebec government to “consult with the Barreau du Québec and constitutional experts prior to bringing forward new legislation in order to ensure that rights granted to residents of Quebec under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canadian constitution are not abridged by any modifications to the Charter of the French Language.”

The resolution adds that the Quebec government should “commit to not preemptively use the notwithstanding clause in this legislation and to commit that the Charter of the French Language remains subject to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.”

The city will also “vigorously oppose modifications of the Charter of the French Language including but not limited to those which “create extra bureaucratic cost and paperwork for multiple levels of the Quebec government, municipal bodies and private companies; further discourage English-speakers Quebecers to apply to work for the Quebec civil service; reduce the ability of residents and city employees to get access to services in the language of their choice; impose draconian penalties including cutting all provincial funding if municipalities serve residents in the language of their choice or allow workers to communicate amongst themselves in a language other than French; further reduce the ability of our residents and the residents of Quebec to receive an education in English, and could affect their future professions and livelihood; and further reduce the rights of bilingual institutions such as cities to operate in English as well as French.”

Copies of the resolution are being sent to “all MNAs, including D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum; all other municipalities in the Montreal Metropolitan Community, to the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, to the federal Minister of Official Languages, to the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, to the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ), to the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) and to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).”

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