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  • Nikki Mantell

Dangerous silence on Bill 96

In publishing this column, do we need to watch our words? Is it too risky to “poke the nationalist bear” (as one Montreal Gazette columnist put it)? In asking controversial questions, do we risk being dismissed as Quebec-bashing “angryphones” or be “cancelled” altogether for daring to point out that, once again, Quebec might be trampling on the rights of its minorities in its drive to promote the nationalist agenda?

Let’s be clear: the French language and culture define Quebec, and no one argues that it shouldn’t be protected. But Bill 96 does so at the cost of the essential rights of its citizens, and there is an alarming chill settling around any dissent on the issue.

Until last week, the Quebec Community Groups Network and a handful of English media were the lone bell-ringers trying to alert Quebecers - and all Canadians - about the dangers of Bill 96: how it would rewrite the Constitution, make anglophones and other minorities second-class citizens, and suspend individual rights while shielding the whole law in the notwithstanding clause.

QCGN is doing an excellent job, but its numerous warnings have mostly been falling on deaf ears.