Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois promised Friday to introduce a beefed-up language law to clamp down on what she calls institutionalized bilingualism.
The new law would target businesses, particularly in Montreal, she said.
"We think it's important to adopt a new French Language Charter because I think in Montreal we have real problems on this issue,'' Marois said.
"We want to live in French, to work in French. That is very important.''
The PQ leader is hoping to project herself and her party as the best bets for defending the French language.
The topic is always a lightning rod in Quebec election campaigns among fears in certain quarters that French is under constant threat in Montreal.
Campaigning in Montreal ahead of the April 7 general election, Marois insisted she has nothing against individual bilingualism.
"If you want to be bilingual, I agree with you as a person. But as an institution and as government, I think the official language of Quebec is French and we don't have to be bilingual in our institutions.''
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard was on the defensive after Marois and Coalition Leader Francois Legault accused him in Thursday's televised debate of being soft when it comes to protecting French.
He said Friday that Bill 101 in its current form is sufficient — as long as it is applied in rigorous fashion.
"Always in North America, French will need special attention,'' he said. "And I think all Quebecers, including English-speaking Quebecers, recognize that.
"We must respect and apply Bill 101 as it stands today. As for going forward and protecting and promoting French, for us the solution goes better with teaching it better, writing it better, speaking it better, teaching it faster for newcomers to Quebec.''
And the fluently bilingual Couillard touted the benefits of speaking both French and English.
"It's always a great advantage for anyone to be bilingual. I know. And this is something the Pequistes don't want me to say but I'll say it again — there's not a single parent in Quebec who doesn't hope for their kids to be bilingual. It's such a fantastic asset in life.''