Thousands sign petition against Bill 14
Parents fear potential for linguistic crackdown on English schools
A petition against the Parti Québécois' Bill 14 is gaining ground as thousands of people add their signatures each day to ask the National Assembly to reject the bill many worry will restrict the rights of Anglo-Quebecers.
A group of parents with the Lester B. Pearson School Board is speaking out against Bill 14, which would beef up the province's French language charter and, among many changes, restrict access to English schools.
Simo Kruyt, a member of the schools board's central parent committee and one of the creators of the petition, said he is not normally involved in politics, but he felt he had to speak up.
"When we saw this bill come about from the Parti Québécois, we said this is enough, this is the last straw," Kruyt told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.
So far the petition has almost 19,000 signatures and Kruyt estimated about 1,500 names are added each day.
Kruyt pointed out the petition acknowledges the need to protect Quebec's French language.
"We are positive about French in Quebec," he said.
But Kruyt said the bill goes too far, and would infringe on the rights of anglophones.
"We feel we have an ability, as an anglophone community, to actually be an asset to the francophone community, not a deterrent to [its] welfare."
The petition is the latest in a growing movement against the changes proposed in Bill 14. In February, military parents spoke out against changes that would get rid of the exemption that allows military parents to send their kids to English-language schools.
Residents of towns including Lac-Brome are also concerned about the loss of their bilingual status – the PQ has proposed to remove the status from any towns that have an anglophone population with less than 50 per cent.
"Culture and language is something that's maintained based on a familiy situation and not from external forces trying to restrict it," Kruyt said.
Public hearings on Bill 14 begin next week and the Lester B. Pearson school board is presenting on March 19.
CONSIDERING THAT the French language in Québec needs to be protected and that the officials elected by the general public are to protect the rights of all citizens of Québec regardless of linguistic, ethnic or socio-economic status;
CONSIDERING THAT all citizens of Québec are proud to be part of a unique society and that the words "cultural communities" erases the historic distinctiveness of the English-speaking community;
CONSIDERING THAT we want to see efforts made to improve the quality of French instruction without raising levels of reporting and bureaucracy in our children's schools;
CONSIDERING THAT it is well known that the greatest employment growth opportunities come from small firms;
CONSIDERING THAT the growth of certain municipalities has been fueled by the efforts of all its citizens including the English-speaking minority;
We, the undersigned, ask the National Assembly to reject Bill 14 and ensure that no further restrictions against the rights of minorities, nor additional bureaucratic burdens be brought forth, but rather maintain the current harmonious relationship for all citizens of Québec.