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The demise of controversial charters key in the next election

The death of the government's language bill, and the likely demise of its proposed charter of secular values, may not be the worst case scenario for the Parti Québécois going into the next election.

The PQ will use Bills 14 and 60 as election-campaign fodder for a majority government

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois campaigned last year on promises to toughen up Quebec's language laws and to adopt a charter of secular values.

The death of the government's language bill, and the likely demise of its proposed charter of secular values, may not be the worst case scenario for the Parti Québécois going into the next election.  

Bill 14, the proposed legislation to amend the charter of the French language, will die on the order paper.

The bill proposed to strengthen French-language laws in Quebec, such as revoking the bilingual status of a municipality if its anglophone population drops below 50 per cent. Bill 14 also proposed to make French the primary language in the workplace of small businesses with 26 or more employees.

The Liberals were firmly against it, while the Coalition AvenirQuébec (CAQ) wanted to see amendments.

Diane deCourcy, the Minister responsible for the French language charter, could not come to a compromise agreement with the CAQ and she will not try to move it forward.

So Bill 14 is effectively dead.

Bill 60, the proposed charter of secular values, appears destined to the same fate.

The Liberals, the CAQ, and Québec Solidaire are all against the proposed legislation that would ban public workers from wearing overt religious symbols while on the job.

Instead of seeking accommodation, the proposed legislation unveiled last week is even more restrictive than the original policy paper made public in September.

In the last election, the PQ campaigned on promises to toughen up Quebec's language laws and to adopt a charter of secular values.

Losing Bills 14 and 60 means that the PQ will go into the next election telling voters that the only way to protect French language and culture — and to ensure secular values are enshrined — is to give the PQ a majority.

It may not be true, but it's better for the PQ to fight an election on those themes rather than on economic issues.

About the Author

Bernard St-Laurent

Bernard St-Laurent is the host of Radio Noon Montreal and C'est la Vie. He is CBC's senior political editor in Quebec, having covered all the major political events in the province from the election of the Parti Québecois in 1976 on.

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