Quebec anglophone supporters protest proposed language laws

More 200 people opposing the Parti Québécois' proposed amendments to the language laws took part in a protest in front of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois' office in Montreal.
Two protesters tell CBC News their motives for protesting the PQ's Bill 14. 1:06

More than 200 people opposing proposed amendments to Quebec's language laws held a protest in front of Premier Pauline Marois' office in Montreal.

Many of the protesters said they are worried about the Parti Quebecois' plan to strengthen Bill 101.

Beryl Wajsman, president of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal, said the PQ has taken its plans too far.

"This has been taken to a new level. This is one law too far. This is no longer just a bunch of people expressing their rage, it's anglophones, allophones and francophones who, frankly, are ashamed," he said.

"They're ashamed because the government is attacking the most vulnerable," he said.

Only one man showed up at the protest in support of Bill 14 and the PQ's plans for sovereignty.

"Anglophones attacked our rights and they continue to impose English," he said. "Here, we have Bill 14 that imposes a minimum of respect for French language in Quebec. English can be useful for the outside, for our communications with foreign countries if necessary."

The new bill would bring changes to the Charter of the French Language and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in order to promote the French language.

Resurgence of anglophone rights, former Equality Party founder says

Robert Libman, who created the Equality Party in 1989 – which focused on promoting anglophone rights -- said anglophones face some of the same issues they did 25 years ago.

"Our community has been marginalized politically for many years, and with the PQ as a government, many feel it is time to act," he said.

Richard Yufe, a member of CRITIQ – a group advocating for English speakers – said relations between francophones and anglophones are strained.

"We have an environment that is extremely hostile and it's directed at all non-francophones," he said.

Dan Lamoureux, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, said the group has been fighting for anglophone rights for more than two decades and welcomes the presence of new anglophone support groups.

"I think... it's a concern of the English-speaking community of being swallowed up or being non-existent in the future. I think it's encouraging that other groups feel they need to voice their opinions," he said.

Bill 14 highlights

Amendments to the Charter of the French Language:

  • Designation of a minister responsible for language matters, planning and policy.
  • Educational institutions must take reasonable steps to ensure that students receive sufficient training in French to prepare them to interact and flourish in Quebec society.
  • Businesses that employ 26 to 49 regular employees must make French the everyday language of the workplace.
  • Businesses that serve the public must communicate with customers in French.

Amendments to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms:

  • French is defined as the official language of Quebec and a "fundamental factor of its social cohesion."
  • Every person has a right to live and receive an education and work in French in Quebec.
  • Immigrants to Quebec have a right to learn French and to benefit from reasonable measures to facilitate their integration.