Bill 14 should be scrapped

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Pauline Marois is proof pos­i­tive that those who hope to be in power too long can­not man­age it. She may be the most tech­ni­cally com­pe­tent pre­mier to hold the of­fice in years, if not for­ever, but she is show­ing that she has not mas­tered the art of gov­ern­ing. This is not the same as ad­min­is­ter­ing, at which she ex­celled be­fore.

Best proof is the ‘awk­ward for all’ Bill 14. A.k.a.: The Law mod­i­fy­ing Bill 101, the Char­ter and while we are at it a bit here and there. The pub­lisher hav­ing read more than his al­lowed share of pro­posed bills, fi­nally took a look at Bill 14 late last week and, stick­ing out like the prover­bial sore thumb, was the clincher: the Landry government grant of an eter­nal spe­cial bilin­gual sta­tus to the Bor­ough of Len­noxville was to van­ish. Not clearly mind you, but through the politi­cian’s usual way: hypocrisy, in this case by ab­ro­gat­ing the sec­ond para­graph of a 2001 de­cree!

Now this could have been a good thing po­lit­i­cally if thou­sands of Sher­brooke res­i­dents had taken to the streets with a Union Jack square on their lapels. Af­ter all, it’s half red and half blue, with a cross; the per­fect sym­bol. Politi­cians that lis­ten to their con­stituents, street protests in to­day’s lan­guage, are in vogue; just look at the Arab spring mess to get the main idea. Nope, not a soul ever asked for this. The Mayor, known to be a PQ sup­porter? Never. Coun­cil­lors? None. The Mou­ve­ment Estrien pour le Français? Nei­ther.

That Bill 101 needs re­in­force­ment is ob­vi­ous to most Fran­co­phones and more than a good share of An­glo­phones. What is needed is not mod­i­fi­ca­tions but a new Lan­guage Bill, af­ter proper con­sul­ta­tion. Ob­vi­ously the Lib­er­als never wanted to open the can of worms, but it was the PQ’s duty to re­open it, be­fore it ex­plodes. Care­fully, it doesn’t smell good in­side, a bit too rot­ten.

That French is los­ing ground in Mon­treal is ob­vi­ous; that English is los­ing ground else­where, also ob­vi­ous. Bill 101 was not René Lévesque’s fa­vorite piece of leg­is­la­tion; it was not even Camille Lau­rin’s. The much ma­ligned min­is­ter, a psy­chi­a­trist, knew that some­thing had to be done to wake ev­ery­one up, the plas­ters of Bill 63 and 22 mak­ing the mal­ady worse, but he felt that this would be a tem­po­rary mea­sure, an in­de­pen­dent Que­bec not need­ing it, some­thing that is so ob­vi­ous that it is missed by a lot of Que­bec na­tion­al­ists. In an in­de­pen­dent Que­bec, the new state would be re­spon­si­ble not for the pro­tec­tion of French but of the English speak­ing mi­nor­ity.

Mrs. Marois, who is a prag­ma­tist, no chance that she would ever hold a ref­er­en­dum un­less sure that 110% of the vot­ers would vote Yes, seems to be afraid of bold mea­sures. She is not an en­emy of the An­glo­phone com­mu­nity, but al­lows an id­iocy like Bill 14, to be com­ple­mented in the spring by an­other law on so-called bridge-schools, to go through. What was needed in­stead was a pub­lic re­flec­tion, yes, an­other pub­lic com­mis­sion, last­ing a year or more, ask­ing Québé­cois –they are the ones most con­cerned about the sit­u­a­tion- what they want. The re­sult, we be­lieve, would be a bet­ter Lan­guage Bill, stronger in parts, not to the lik­ing of the An­glo­phone com­mu­nity but to its ac­cep­tance as the cost of be­ing An­glo Québé­cois. Right now, with its ‘this and that’ ap­proach, we have a pro­posed law that should be shelved for the good of all. Since Mrs. Marois knows ‘re­verse’ more than any other politi­cian has ever shown in this province, an­other one would be wel­come. But the An­glo­phone com­mu­nity must be aware that if she backs down on this, the only other so­lu­tion for her po­lit­i­cally is a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion. The end re­sult could be painfully worse than Bill 14.

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