Former Quebec premier Bernard Landry says English CEGEPs are drawing students away from the French language. ((CBC))

Former Quebec premier Bernard Landry is lending his support to Quebec nationalist groups who want to see the province's language laws applied to CEGEPs.

The hard-line groups want to reduce the number of students attending the junior colleges in English.

Under Bill 101, new immigrants to Quebec are required to attend French elementary and secondary schools but are free to go to either an English or French junior college.

The coalition claims that more than 50 per cent of students whose mother tongue is neither French nor English are currently enrolled in English colleges.

Landry said he didn't make any changes when he was Parti Québécois premier several years ago because he believed such students would continue their basic schooling in French colleges.

Now, Landry said he has realized tax money is being spent to draw students away from the province's official language.

"Bill 101 [sent] the children of immigration [to] the same school [as] my children and I was hoping that they would go to the same college [as] my grandchildren. And the reality is different and is [evolving] rapidly in the negative sense," Landry said.

Expanding horizons

Restricting access to English CEGEPs would be a mistake, said officials at Montreal's Dawson College where 40 per cent of students identify themselves as francophone or allophone.

"I think to penalize any segment of the population from furthering their horizons, from expanding, from being able to function fully as a citizen of not just Quebec, but of the world, is counter-productive," said Dawson spokesperson Donna Varrica.

Secondary four student Doucia Anzuluni, who plans to attend Dawson, agreed.

"I want to be a doctor, and I know that I will have more options in English than in French, " said Anzuluni.

A public rally was planned Monday evening in Montreal to officially launch the campaign.

With files from The Canadian Press