Montreal

Pauline Marois returns to the campaign trail in non-partisan effort to protect French

The former PQ premier is teaming up with longtime Liberal adviser John Parisella to lead a campaign seeking to raise $5 million to boost the use of French in the province.

The former PQ premier will team up with longtime Liberal adviser to raise $5M for integration programs

'There is a risk of indifference' about the health of French, former premier Pauline Marois said Monday at a new conference in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Former Quebec premier Pauline Marois will lead a campaign seeking to raise several million dollars to boost the use of French in the province.

Marois, who headed a Parti Québécois government between 2012 and 2014, will be joined by John Parisella, who served for years as a high-ranking adviser to the Quebec Liberal Party.

The campaign was launched Monday in Montreal amid continuing concerns that not enough French is being spoken in Quebec. 

A government-funded report released earlier this month found that nearly half of provincial bureaucrats were using languages other than French to communicate with Quebec businesses.

The report also found that 74 per cent of government workers in Montreal occasionally use a language other than French to interact with the public. That percentage reached 81 per cent in Laval and 88 per cent in the Outaouais.

"We risk being indifferent" to the health of the French language, Marois said at a news conference in Montreal. 

Along with the government-funded study, she cited a recent poll that suggested Quebecers between the ages of 18 and 34 were somewhat less concerned about the state of the French language than older Quebecers.

"When we're spoken to in English in a store, youngsters are less inclined to react and ask to be spoken to in French," Marois said. "I'm motivated to try and reach them."

The campaign's goal is to raise $5 million over the next two years. It's already raised $2 million, according to La Fondation pour la langue française, the non-profit organization running the campaign.

The foundation said the money will go toward language education and cultural integration programs, as well as advertising campaigns that will encourage Quebecers to use French in public spaces.

Parisella, who was educated mostly in English, said it was the non-partisan nature of the campaign that convinced him to take part.

"I love French. [Marois] loves French. So we have that in common, even though we come from different political families,"  Parisella told Radio-Canada.

 

With files from Radio-Canada

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