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  • Nikki Mantell

Bill 96: A lonely fight

Picture it: you are shopping at one of our local businesses of 25 or more employees, when a couple of Office de la langue française officers march in and demand the owner turns over all the laptops, cellphones, notepads – whatever is being used to communicate with staff – so they can check if all that communication is being done in French. Do they have a warrant? No, they don’t need one if Bill 96 passes. Why were they called in? Likely because some anonymous person called the snitch line — just like the ones currently set up for sign infractions. What follows if they find work messages in anything but French? Big fines. Is this really how we want to protect the French language in this province?

When Bill 96 was first introduced, the reaction was muted, but those watching closely predicted that the devil would be in the details. “Oh don’t worry about it,” said many MNAs, including our own Robert Bussière, the English community won’t be affected. Now that lawyers for groups like the Quebec Community Groups Network have checked the details of the 100-page bill, the alarm bell is being sounded that there is much to be worried about.

“Bill 96 also calls for the most sweeping use of human rights overrides in the history of Quebec and Canada, ousting the application of both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” QCGN president Marlene Jennings told the Montreal Gazette recently. “In so doing, Bill 96 follows the path of Bill 21.”