Opposition parties have changed the Liberal government’s official languages bill so much, a Quebec Liberal MP said he’s not sure he can still vote for it.
Anthony Housefather, who represents the Montreal riding of Mount Royal, said he hopes he can still vote for Bill C-13 but the changes made by Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois MPs at a House of Commons committee will reduce English services in Quebec.
The bill was introduced by the Liberals last March to help protect French by recognizing its status as minority language in Canada.
As the bill works its way through the House of Commons official languages committee, several amendments have been passed by the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois that Housefather believes will reduce the rights of Quebec’s English-speaking communities because they make reference to the province’s Bill 96.
The Quebec law was adopted in May and requires all provincial businesses to operate in French.
“I hope I am able to support it, but right now there are references to the Charter of French Language and ones that the Bloc and Conservatives passed by amendment that would serve to reduce the rights of the English speaking minorities in Quebec,” Housefather said Wednesday.
The Bloc Quebecois have made it clear during the committee that they want the bill to be asymmetrical so that it benefits French-speaking people more than it does English-speaking people.
“Perfectly equal bilingualism contributes to the decline of minority languages such as French,” Bloc Quebecois MP Mario Beaulieu said in French during a previous committee meeting.
The Bloc have introduced several amendments at the request of the Quebec government.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, who also represents a Montreal riding, said he supported his government’s law when it was put in front of the committee.
“We have 100 amendments that are there essentially to sack the spirit of the law, and we’re pretty confident that we can get a bill through committee that all members of the Liberal party can lift their heads high, and vote for,” Miller said Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2023.