Municipalities vote to oppose Bill 14
January 9th, 2013
The councils of Côte St. Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West, Town of Mount Royal, Senneville, Dorval and Baie d'Urfé all voted at their respective recent public meetings to state their opposition to the PQ's proposed Bill 14 and affirm they want their municipalities to retain their bilingual status. The bill is expected to come to a vote next spring. Liberal leader Jean-Marc Fournier told The Suburban his party would vote against Bill 14.
The proposed law calls for a review every time a new census comes out to determine if a municipality has 50 percent or more English mother tongue residents, and that the government could take away that status if it falls under that percentage. The current rule is that bilingual status could only be removed if a city council voted to do so.
The original 1977 language law regarding municipalities enabled them to have bilingual status - and thus provide services, produce and send documents to residents and have public and street signage, all in English and French - if they were more than 50 percent non-francophone. This was changed as municipal mergers took place to require majority English mother-tongue residents for bilingual status.
Côte St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, the first municipal leader to speak out against Bill 14, said Dec. 17 that “if the bill becomes law, more than half of the 84 municipalities and boroughs that have bilingual status might lose it. It is unconscionable that the Parti Québécois government amended the legislation in 2000 to define who is an English-speaker in the narrowest possible way [regarding mother-tongue status] and now wants to use those misleading numbers to unilaterally remove bilingual status.”
“The criteria for who is English-speaking is ridiculously restrictive,” said Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg in a prepared statement. “You could live in English, speak to your kids in English, consider yourself to be English-speaking. But if 50 years ago your mom spoke to you in Italian, or Yiddish, or Greek, when you were a toddler, then the government says you are not English speaking when it comes to a municipality or borough being eligible for bilingual status.”
“We believe the proposed law is an attack on the fundamental rights and intrinsic character of all municipalities and boroughs that currently possess bilingual status,” said TMR Mayor Philippe Roy.n
Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban, municipalities, Bill 14, Anthony Housefather