Bill 14 should be scrapped
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.