Last month, the leader of Québec’s Liberal Party and spokesperson for the protection of the French language Hélène David released a 27-point plan for the future of the French language in the province.
“It is our duty, now and forever, to keep alive this French language that we live in, in this Québec built by those who came before us, inhabited by us, and protected forever for those who will follow us,” said Liberal opposition leader Dominique Anglade. “Because French is our language, our strength, and our future, it is essential that it be supported by the exemplary nature of the state. This is what we are proposing to Quebecers in this essential step to ensure that our French language, inherited from our ancestors, lives on together and that we intend to pass on to our children, thus perpetuating a rich Francophone tradition in this American land.”
The decline of the French language in the province has stirred controversy over the past year, and the ruling CAQ party has said it will release reforms to the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) before the end of the current session in the National Assembly.
The proposals include a requirement for all public postsecondary students to complete three French classes to graduate, maintaining current quotas at English-medium colleges, and applying Bill 101 to small businesses with 25–49 employees.
In addition, the plan would set up a new body to replace the Office québécois de la langue française and appoint an independent French-language commissioner.
The five fundamental principles are as follows:
1. The inalienable right to work in French must be strengthened by only requiring other languages in limited and justified situations.
2. There is a shared responsibility of Quebecers to ensure French’s vitality in Québec by providing tools for all citizens to master the language.
3. Investment must be made in the mastery of French by ensuring French equivalents to English words and phrases are available.
4. Partnership must be created with English-speaking communities to ensure Anglo rights are protected.
5. Students are free to choose their institutions of higher learning.