Montreal Mayoral candidates weigh in on Bill 96

Mayoral candidate Valérie Plante, Denis Coderre and Balarama Holness during Thursday's English-language debate.

Montreal Mayoral candidates Denis Coderre, Valérie Plante and Balarama Holness weighed in on several topics during Thursday night's sometimes feisty English-language municipal debate, including Quebec's proposed language law Bill 96.

In a pre-recorded video, Pietro Bucci of Rivières des Prairies said Bill 96 "will remove some of the rights of anglophones in Montreal, so if you support Bill 96, how can you claim you want to provide services to both linguistic communities? How can you say you support the rights of English speakers, yet support taking some of those rights away?"

Coderre responded by saying "let me be clear, Montreal is a francophone city consisting of a diverse cultural mosaic, including a vibrant anglophone community. They all deserve to have services and we are going to provide it to them.

"As a service provider, our focus and commitment are to continue servicing our population. This is self-evident for matters including 3-1-1 (the city's service line), public safety, security and public health-related services. I am going to be the Mayor of unity and the best ally to implement the principles of living together. Linguistic peace is vital for me. While I agree with the objective of the law to protect and promote the French language, as a local government to English and other linguistic communities, the question of applicability is key. We need a common sense approach and my duty as Mayor of Montreal is to ensure the Quebec government understands our need to serve our English community."

Holness said Montreal "is the most beautiful city in the world with over 200 cultural communities.

"Montreal is unique. We need to ensure that we build a home for all Montrealers where you can really feel a sense of security, and you can get any job you want, any opportunity you like. We want to recognize Montreal for what it is, a multicultural, multilingual metropolis. I am the only candidate on this stage that supports that ideology and rejects Bill 21 (the law requiring no religious clothing or symbols worn by people of authority in institutions under provincial jurisdiction on the job) and Bill 96.

"We will not be, in any way, shape or form, upholding that law and we are going to ensure that all businesses, all Montrealers, will be able to have services, to do business, in the language of their choice, particularly in English or in French."

Plante said languages are words and an "open window to a culture.

"I understand that some people are worried about how they will be recognized, about their rights and their contributions to this city. My position has always been clear. I support Bill 96, but I went into a commission while in the campaign to promote and share my thoughts and our expectations here in Montreal to have the 3-1-1 on the list of [exceptions to the law], as we want to make sure that every Montrealer, whatever language they speak, they need to have the services they deserve. That's what a city does first.

"For me, we can valorize the language, French should be a glue, but we also need to protect the rights of anglophones and the Indigenous people."

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