By Jack Wilson
Local Journalism Initiative
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) has turned its attention to the Senate in its bid to stop controversial measures in the proposed change to the federal Official Languages Act. The organization, which advocates on behalf of Quebec’s English-speaking community, says Bill C-13 risks to erode the rights of anglophone Quebecers. On May 15, the bill passed the House of Commons in a near-unanimous vote. Liberal MP Anthony Housefather was the sole MP to vote against the bill. Liberal MP Sherry Romanado abstained from the vote.
The QCGN objects specifically to the bill’s references to Quebec Bill 96, which restricts access to English-language services and pre-emptively deploys the notwithstanding clause. The group also opposes what it calls the Bill’s “asymmetrical” interpretation of language rights which it says will further disadvantage the province’s anglophone minority.
QCGN President Eva Ludvig testified in front of the Senate official languages committee June 5 alongside former senator Joan Fraser and lawyer Marion Sandilands. “We remain deeply concerned,” Ludvig told the committee, “about the effects of Bill C-13 on the English-speaking community of Quebec and on the increased asymmetry with respect to Quebec in Canada’s federation.”
Fraser criticized the reference to Bill 96, which she said, “tacitly accepts this pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause.”