Montreal Gazette

CAQ leader François Legault

on a visit to his hometown of Ste-Anne says he backs municipali­ties that want to hang on to their bilingual status,

- ALBERT KRAMBERGER

Following a homecoming visit to his old school in Senneville to speak to students about business ventures, Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault said he backs West Island municipali­ties that were given bilingual status under Bill 101.

Legault, who grew up in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, met with reporters after addressing entreprene­urship students in the library at École secondaire St. Georges last Friday morning.

He said Bill 14, the Parti Québécois government’s proposal to strengthen the French Language Charter, is unacceptab­le as its stands now for three main reasons. He said CAQ’s position is to maintain the exemption provision given to francophon­e military families for access to English public education in the province. He opposes the PQ’s aim to tighten language rules governing small businesses under 50 employees since it will burden them with unnecessar­y bureaucrac­y. And he said municipali­ties should be able to maintain their bilingual status even if the English mother-tongue percentage of their population falls below the majority level.

“If you take Senneville, the town was built by anglophone­s, by the English community,” he said. “Right now, they got under the 50 per cent limit. It doesn’t make sense that old people who built the town would not be able to get some informatio­n in English like they have right now. We think this is not acceptable.”

“For these three reasons we cannot agree with Bill 14,” he continued.

Regarding Bill 14 public consultati­ons, he said there are two extremes, those who are against Bill 101 and others who don’t think Bill 14 goes far enough.

“We think we have to have a balance on this position,” he said.

“What we have to do in Quebec is put all Quebecers together and talk about economy. That’s why we tabled the Project St. Laurent. We receive more than $7 billion a year of equalizati­on payments because the rest of Canada is richer than Quebec. We should work on these priorities, not on other priorities, like constituti­on and other subjects.”

Legault said he supports Bill 101’s principals, adding the French language will always be vulnerable in North America. He said the PQ’s Bill 14 is an attempt to divert focus from their poor results in dealing with economic matters to language. “We lost only in the last two months 30,000 jobs in Quebec, that should be our top priority,” he said.

Under the PQ’s proposed Bill 14, the provincial government could revoke a municipali­ty’s bilingual status if the number of residents who list English as their mother tongue falls below 50 per cent of the population.

 ?? THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? CAQ Leader François Legault says economy trumps language issue.
THE CANADIAN PRESS CAQ Leader François Legault says economy trumps language issue.

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