By Michael Boriero
Local Journalism Initiative
With the Bill 96 hearings set to begin on Sept. 21, the Avante Women’s Centre in Bedford decided to hold a virtual information session to educate the community about the controversial legislation, which aims to strengthen French language laws in Quebec.
“A lot of people, English and French, have not even heard about Bill 96, and if they have heard about it, they think it’s just a revamping of Bill 101, so we were kind of debunking that theory, explaining exactly what it is and what it will do to all Quebecers regardless of language,” said Gayl Rhicard, a coordinator at the centre.
According to Rhicard, 23 of the 33 people who clicked attending on the centre’s Facebook page showed up to the session, which took place on Zoom last Thursday. They were mostly questioning the powers given to the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).
They were concerned with the idea that the OQLF can receive anonymous calls and tips, she explained, adding that under the new law the province’s language authority would be able to seize property without a warrant and impose heavy fines on businesses.
The Zoom participants also brought up the certificate of eligibility for English-speakers to send their children, and future generations, to English language schools. Rhicard said she was able to obtain a certificate for her daughter, but she isn’t sure how other parents will get one.
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