Montreal

Quebec Liberals pan CAQ's plan to freeze admissions to English CEGEPs

Speaking during a visit to Montreal's Dawson College on Thursday, Dominique Anglade, Quebec's Liberal Party Leader, said she cannot support Bill 96 in its current form.

'If there is growth, it will be in the French system': Quebec minister

Dominique Anglade says the Legault government is not being transparent in its efforts to overhaul the province’s language laws. (CBC)

The Legault government's amendment to Bill 96, which includes a total freeze of admission levels to anglophone colleges in the province, is "really hypocritical," says the leader of the Official Opposition.

The previous plan had been to cap the annual growth at 8.7 per cent, but this sub-amendment, which was pushed through Thursday, is a complete freeze that would be enshrined in the law, making it much harder to change in the future.

"The proposed measure will make it possible to quickly reverse the historical trend of the decline of the French-speaking network and to promote the French language as the common language of higher education in Quebec," the proposed amendment says.

The admission freeze in Quebec's English colleges, known locally as CEGEPs, is part of an amendment that will be voted on after the National Assembly's two-week spring break.

Speaking during a visit to Montreal's Dawson College on Thursday, Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade, who also heads the Official Opposition at the National Assembly, said she cannot support Bill 96 in its current form.

She said the Legault government is not being transparent in its efforts to overhaul the province's language laws, and is finding ways to apply Bill 101 to CEGEPs.

"It's not popular to say they want to apply Bill 101 to CEGEP, so they're finding different ways to go ahead and do that. And that's really hypocritical — really hypocritical from the government," said Anglade.

She said it is clear that François Legault's government wants to limit the freedom of young adults.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, Quebec's minister responsible for the French language, insists these measures will not prevent students from attending the CEGEP of their choice.

"Right now, it's the status quo, and if there is growth, it will be in the French system," he said.

On Twitter Wednesday, he said Bill 96 will also ensure all students enrolled in a college program in English will take three courses, such as history, politics or science, in French to obtain their diploma of college studies. That change was approved Wednesday night.

The idea of requiring three courses in French originally came from the Liberal Party which said students should be encouraged to take them, but the Coalition Avenir Québec government says it should be mandatory.

"The common language in Quebec is French," said Jolin-Barrette on Twitter.

Bill 96 seeks to unilaterally change the Canadian Constitution to affirm Quebec as a nation with French as its official language.

Some 200 amendments aim to strengthen the status of French, including a call for tougher sign laws, more language requirements for businesses and less access to English-language CEGEPs.

John McMahon, head of Vanier College in Montreal, said he's concerned the measures will just create more obstacles for students who want to attend CEGEP in English.

"We're concerned in terms of the vitality of the English community," he said.

"This is a policy that is blaming the English community for a so-called decline in French in Quebec."

Yves Jusslin is a commerce student who chose Dawson as an opportunity to become fully bilingual.

"I think that doing all of that will just restrict certain people from getting those opportunities," he said.

with files from Cathy Senay and Shuyee Lee

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