"If you can't buy a metro ticket in French, you walk": Bill 14 rally
A couple hundred Bill 14 supporters rallied at a small Montreal theatre in Montreal Monday night on the eve of the start of public hearings on the controversial law. The Parti Québécois designed the bill to beef up on the existing Bill 101, including making it harder for communities to maintain bilingual status.
Société de St-Jean Baptiste president Mario Beaulieu was the master of ceremonies; speakers included prominent language activists, artists and politicians.
Former PQ MNA Pierre Curzi summed up the evening's main message to the Parti Québécois: "Despite everything, we'll support you, even if we have doubts [about bill 14]."
Speakers decried "instituitonalized bilingualism" and decried what they see as a loosening of enforcement of bill 101. Many referred to recent language flare-ups involving STM workers refusing to serve customers in English, and the Office québécois de la langue française cracking down on restaurants.
"If the anglophones are today as bilingual as they tell us they are, I think they should be capable of reading a sign in French or buying a metro ticket in French," said journalist Pierre Dubuc to rounds of applause. "And if they can't do it, they walk."
Jean-Paul Perrault also referred to pastagate in his speech. The president of language group Impératif français acknowledged that hardliners wish the bill was stronger, but that the PQ is in a difficult spot as a minority government.
"I don't that the Parti Québécois is in a position to be in an audience like this," Perrault explained. When the minister for Montreal Jean-François Lisée's name was called, some spectators booed.
Still, Perrault thinks bill 14 will pass with a compromise from the CAQ; party leader Francois Legault has demanded three amendments to the bill before the party votes for it.
Perrault also had strong words for the mayor of Quebec City, who called bill 14 'completely useless' on Monday: "I would say to Régis Labeaume that he should be more connected to the whole Quebec situation."
Public hearings on the bill begin Tuesday.