‘Everybody needs to make their own decision,’ says sole MP to oppose C-13

‘Everybody needs to make their own decision,’ says sole MP to oppose C-13
Liberal MP for Mount Royal Anthony Housefather waits for a session of the Standing Committee on Official Languages to begin, Friday, February 17, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

By Jack Wilson
Local Journalism Initiative


Anthony Housefather, the Liberal MP from Mount Royal and lone parliamentarian to vote against language Bill C-13, said he “did exactly what I am supposed to do,” in voicing his opposition to the inclusion of Bill 96 references. Fellow Liberals supported his objection to those references, he said, while opposition parties ultimately ensured their inclusion in the bill. But when it came time to vote, “everybody needs to make their own decision whether you can live with the bill or not based on how it ended up.”

Bill C-13 will amend the federal Official Languages Act, which oversees the use of French and English across the country. It has garnered controversy for its three references to Quebec’s updated Charter of the French Language, Bill 96, provincial legislation restricting access to English-language services. Bill 96 “is opposed by virtually the entirety of English-speaking Quebecers,” Housefather said. Some politicians may support the Bill 96 references to “win votes in Quebec,” he said, “I don’t want to read into people’s intentions.”

While anglophone advocacy groups including the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) have raised concerns that the Bill 96 references will erode the rights of Quebec’s English-language minority, some politicians have called their inclusion benign. Liberal Minister of Official Languages Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the Bill 96 mentions are “simply a description of the law in Quebec,” in a June 5 appearance before the Senate committee studying the bill. In that same meeting, QCGN lawyer Marion Sandilands criticized the Bill 96 reference in the purpose section of the bill, which “impacts the interpretation of all the articles.”


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