Communities prepare to voice their concerns over Bill 96

By Gordon Lambie
Communities prepare to voice their concerns over Bill 96
Students at Massey-Vanier High School in Cowansville sign a petition exressing their concerns about Bill 96. (Photo : Courtesy of Tanis Moreland)

Russell Copeman, Executive Director of the Quebec English School Boards Association, says that he hopes people from across the province will make their way to Montreal on Saturday for the protest that is being organized against Bill 96.

As announced at the end of April by the Quebec Community Groups Network, the event will start on the grounds of Dawson College at 10 a.m. on Saturday before marching to the Premier’s office on McGill College to protest what organizers say is an effort to reduce and restrict access to education, health care, justice, and government services in English that sets aside protections in both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Quebec Charter of Hu- man Rights and Freedoms.

Copeman held back from making any estimates about attendance, but a post by the organizing team on the “Quebecers Against Bill 96 – Québécois- es contre le projet de loi 96” Facebook page shared an expectation that “hundreds” will be in attendance.

“It’s going to be hot and sunny, which is both a blessing and a challenge,” Copeman said.

Whereas at the time the protest was originally announced there was talk of trying to set up satellite events in other major communities across the province, the organizer said that ultimately the decision was made to concentrate efforts on the Montreal gathering.

“We understand that means travelling for people outside of the city,” he said, acknowledging the fact that coordinating an event across a wide area is not necessarily easy, but underlining the importance of presenting a message loud and clear. “What we’re trying to demonstrate is that there are lots of reasons to demonstrate against Bill 96.”

Bill 96, entitled “An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec,” was first presented a year ago, but some of the most visible opposition to its many proposed changes to the province’s language laws have only come within the last few weeks. Asked about this delay, Copeman said that he thinks it is at least partly due to the process of revision the bill has been going through.

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