Sherbrooke Record

COVID: Not the only worry on the agenda

- Tim Belford

Dear Tim: We hear the phrase “historic English-language community” tossed around by government officials a lot lately. Who exactly does that include?

–Confused in Capelton

Dear Confused: As far as I can tell, anyone whose ancestors arrived with General Wolfe and missed the last ship back home to Britain qualifies. The Quebec government is also willing to include United Empire Loyalists who stumbled, sailed or were chased north following the American revolution of 1776. Other than that, it appears you’ll need a detailed family tree and education records going back eight generation­s.

Dear Tim: How will designatin­g the province’s CEGEPS as English or French help protect and preserve the French language?

–Bewildered in Brome.

Dear Bewildered: It’s simple really. Everyone knows that young francophon­es, those in their late teens or early twenties, are not capable of making this sort of decision. Sure, they can legally drive a car, drink alcohol, die for their country, get married, or smoke but to choose what language they will study in is just asking too much. Two years in that kind of environmen­t and they’ll never speak French again.

Dear Tim: If Bill 96 comes into effect, will federally licensed businesses like banks and government offices still offer service in English?

–Worried in Waterville.

Dear Worried: If Bill 96 becomes law, all private businesses and government offices, federal or otherwise, will be under existing Quebec language laws. How this will affect the splendid service we now receive from our public and civil servants remains to be seen. Let’s just say I don’t see getting access to anything from passports to pensions becoming any easier.

Dear Tim: From what I read, Bill 96 seems to be in violation of both the Canadian and the Quebec Charter of Rights but the government is going to go ahead with it anyway. How is that possible?

Dear Anxious:

–Riled in Richmond

Dear Riled: I understand your anger, but you made a ‘rookie’ mistake common to non-politician­s. You see, the term ‘rights,’ to our elected leaders, is a much more malleable term than you would expect. ‘Rights’ are not so much set in stone but rather written in sand. That way if your ‘rights’ become too much of an irritation to those in power they can be modified. In this sense, Bill 96, thanks to the notwithsta­nding weasel clause of the Canadian Constituti­on, overrides both Charters.

Dear Tim: I read somewhere that Bill 96 is going to limit the right of English-speaking Quebecers to a trial in English or the necessity that lawyers, prosecutor­s and judges be bilingual. What should we do?

–Anxious in Abercorn

Don’t get arrested.

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