Jean-François Lisée reacts to EKOS poll on Daybreak

Jean-François Lisée says the Parti Québécois still has hurdles to overcome when it comes to relationships with the anglophone community but that he is trying to take it one step at a time.
Jean-François Lisée is the Parti Québécois minister responsible for building bridges with the province's anglophone community.

The majority of Quebec’s anglophone population fears the Parti Québécois will do more to limit their linguistic rights, a new poll commissioned by the CBC suggests.

Eighty-four per cent believe the PQ would put further limits on the English language if it won a majority in the National Assembly, according to the EKOS research poll.

Speaking on CBC Montreal’s Daybreak, Jean-François Lisée, the PQ minister responsible for building bridges with the province's anglophone community, says he is unsurprised by the poll results.

"I didn’t expect these numbers to move very rapidly," he said.

"We have a lot of baggage behind us because we were the driving force in changing the linguistic equilibrium in Quebec and that’s going to be with us for awhile."

Still, the PQ introduced proposed changes to the province's language charter under Bill 14, something Geoff Kelley, a Liberal MNA for Jacques-Cartier, says is unfair.

"Bill 14 once again is based on the premise that the use of English in our society is a problem that needs to be dealt with," he said.

"It does not recognize the significant efforts that the English-speaking community has made over the years to become bilingual to fully participate in Quebec society."

Lisée says the parliamentary commission working on Bill 14 will be open to hearing both support and opposition to the bill.  Bill 14 could change how communities obtain bilingual status, among other issues.

"We are in this debate. (Language Minister) Diane De Courcy and I have said to bilingual cities, ‘we understand your position,’" Lisée said.

But he holds fast when it comes to use of French as the language of business in Quebec.

"The problem we are trying to solve is that newcomers that come in Montreal, we want a majority of them to eventually integrate into the French majority, if not, we’ll be in decline," he said.

"One of the reasons they integrate into the French or English (community) is the language of work... It is in no way targeted to the anglo Quebec community. It is a process by which we want to better integrate immigrants."

Dominique Anglade, president of the Coalition Avenir Québec, thinks the PQ is going further than necessary when it comes to legislation.

"The way I look at it is, we have a Bill 101 that is working. I think we have been living in harmony. It’s not perfect," she said.

"There are still places in Quebec where people do want to be served in French and it doesn’t happen but these are things that are exceptional and we need to make sure (Bill 101) is applied. But we don’t believe that we need to go further and say, restrict further the rights of people" said Anglade.