“We’re in a difficult spot”: Birnbaum on Bill 96 amendment, fall election

By Gordon Lambie
“We’re in a difficult spot”:  Birnbaum on Bill 96 amendment, fall election
(Photo : Courtesy)

Speaking with the Record on Wednesday afternoon, Quebec Liberal MNA David Birnbaum fully admitted that his party is not in a great position six months out from the next provincial election.

“We’re in a difficult spot,” he said, “I’m not hiding from the fact that we have real challenges and people have frustrations about us.”

Although Birnbaum came to the Townships for visits in connection with his work as the Official Opposition Critic on Mental Health, the politician showed no surprise when the subject of conversation turned to the amendment to Bill 96 that he and the party’s language critic, Hélène David, proposed earlier this year requiring English Cegep students to complete three of their core courses in French.

“We made a mistake that we insist was in good faith based on the absolutely legitimate notion that our communities’ collective journey towards bilingualism should carry on at the Cegep level,” Birnbaum said, arguing that the basis for the amendment was valid even if, in retrospect, it should have been the subject of more consultation with the community of students and schools that it will impact the most. “I will continue to defend that, no matter how many rocks get thrown at me.”

While acknowledging the fault in the initial amendment, Birnbaum pointed out that two separate efforts to withdraw or alter the amendment after the fact were both blocked by the CAQ. In the case of the latter of these two approaches, which would change the requirement from three core courses in French to three French courses in general, the MNA said that he was given every impression that there was support for the change right up to the moment of the vote.
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