Party rejects Bill 96, says it limits local democracy

Montgomery(centre): "Bill diverges from our common values as Quebecers of respect for entrenched minority rights.”

Courage–Équipe Sue Montgomery is committed to protecting French in Quebec but never at the expense of minority rights and rejects Bill 96 which “undermines the democratic participation of minority communities in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.”

Calling on all municipal parties to have the courage to defend rights, the party says “All Quebecers, regardless of origin, form a nation. There is broad consensus in Quebec that French is integral to our identity as Quebecers. The French language must be protected and cherished — but never at the expense of minority and Indigenous rights” reads a statement, adding the bill “diverges from our common values as Quebecers of respect for entrenched minority rights.”

Bill 96 severely limits CDN-NDG’s practice of encouraging participation in public consultations and borough council meetings, and in residents’ preferred language, says Borough Mayor Sue Montgomery. “In CDN-NDG, meaningful participation in local democracy is only possible with the assistance of bilingual borough staff. The proposed legislation lays out strict sanctions for non-compliance. This means a borough employee who opts to offer information in English to a resident could engender fines in the tens of thousands of dollars, face disciplinary action, or be sanctioned by their professional order.”

Loyola candidate Annalisa Harris invoked the iconic words of former MP and MNA Clifford Lincoln: “Rights are rights are rights.” Bill 96 pre-emptively suspends fundamental legal and equality rights of all Quebecers, she says. “The wholesale suspension of all Charter rights sets a dangerous precedent. This should alarm all of us… We must never allow the abridgement of our rights to become commonplace.”

This, a week after Ensemble Montreal abruptly turfed English Montreal School Board chair Joe Ortona from Équipe Team Lionel Perez CDN-NDG. Party leader and Montreal mayoralty candidate Denis Coderre called the position of Quebec’s largest English school board against Bill 96 and its subsequently scrubbed statement questioning Quebec’s status as a nation ‘unacceptable’ when announcing Ortona’s removal as party candidate.

“Businesses need help, not more layers of bureaucracy” added Montgomery. “As the economy recovers, Bill 96 imposes new administrative burdens by extending francization rules to businesses with 25 or more employees.” CDN-NDG is also home to many important community institutions including the Université de Montréal, the MUHC and the New Hope Senior Citizens' Centre added Harris. “We want all of these institutions to have an equal chance to thrive.”

Montgomery said “the Quebec I want to live in is one that respects the rights of all minorities.” At her party’s founding she noted it would be distinguished from others in allowing all councillors "to speak and act freely without fear of reprisal for not toeing the party line and fosters a real dialogue between councillors and the people they represent.”

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