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Lawsuit challenges notion French in decline throughout Quebec

Outcome challenges aspects of Bill 96, lawyer says

Connor Lalande
Quebec August 31, 2023
A crowd funded lawsuit against Bill 96 is asking a very fundamental question: is the French language really in decline throughout the province of Quebec.
During its first hearing in Quebec Superior Court on August 29, lawyer Michael Bergman – representing six Quebecers opposed to Bill 96 – argued that the adoption of Bill 96 by the province’s government was based on a misinterpretation of language speaking trends in the province.
Bill 96 is Premier François Legaul’s flagship language legislation. The Bill, in broad terms, seeks to limit the use of English throughout the province in order to reinvigorate the use of French that Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government sees as in decline and under threat.
The lawsuit argues that the notion that French is in decline throughout the province is incorrect, and that this undercuts the government’s reason for introducing Bill 96 in the first place.
The French language is “arguably growing, and therefore repressive measures that deny the minority their rights and impose the majority’s will are not necessary,” the Montreal Gazette quoted Bergman as saying.
Bergman says the point of the lawsuit is not to overturn Bill 96, but to instead conceptualize the issue and address the parts of Bill 96 that “restrain or suppress minority linguistic rights.”
“These facts should be considered within the context of the Constitution of Canada and the law generally,” Bergman is quoted as saying.
“The whole idea of minority rights is the majority should not impose its will on the minority because a majority often acts on emotion, on the moment, and that should not be the foundation to take away people’s rights.”
Bergman says that he will call a number of expert witnesses to the stand including a historian, a satiation and a demographer.

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