Quebec protesters rally against French language bill

A protest was held in Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec, a community north of Ottawa.

The group rejected Bill 96, a bill that aims to affirm that the only official and common language of Quebec is French.

“There are concerns for education, for health, for small businesses, for immigration and certainly for the way we live together in Quebec,” said Caryl Green, who was protesting Bill 96.

The bill would require French to be the only language in workplaces and municipalities.

“I think we also have the right to protect the French language in Quebec and that’s what we want to do,” said Rober Bussière, member of the National Assembly of Quebec. “It’s to reassure the French language in the province, but it has no negative impact on the English language in Quebec.”

The protesters want more languages ​​and more cultures, not less. Some worry about the potential impact on things like health care.

“Not being able to receive diagnoses and health advice from a doctor in the language of your choice is going to be really difficult not only for English speakers, but for new immigrants to the province,” said Gwendolyn Guth, who was demonstrating.

This week, the Premier of Quebec tried to allay concerns about the new law.

“I want to reassure everyone who speaks English, whether their fathers went to an English school or not… (providers) will not refuse to treat a patient in English if it is necessary,” said Prime Minister François Legault.

“I want to be very clear, there is no change in the real situation of services offered to Anglophones and immigrants in English in our health system, that’s clear.”

“If you go to the hospital, if you need government services, it will stay as it is now,” said Robert Bussière. “No changes will be made.”

Protesters in Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham say the government plays politics with language.

“The bill continues to drive division within the province and what people are saying is we live well together, why drive a wedge between language groups,” Green said.

In just one month, more than 11,000 people signed a petition against the law.

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