It’s mind-blowing that a minority in Canada are legally oppressed by their provincial government, but in Quebec, it’s just language business as usual. The opposition Parti Quebecois, who brought in the language law in question, are promising to make it even more oppressive to non-French-speaking Quebecers:
It’s an easy political move for Marois. It will appeal to her separatist base and thoroughly annoy the anglophones … which will also appeal to the base. And given that the stated intention of her party is to go pick fights with Ottawa and drive a wedge between Quebec and the Rest of Canada, it’s a good plan. Language politics are always hot-button issues in Quebec, and Marois is pushing those buttons gleefully.
But it is interesting to note her position on the issue. Marois holds that the Liberals, under Premier Jean Charest, have not done enough to promote the French language in Quebec. From the perspective of the PQ, that’s almost certainly true. But Bill 101 is a creation of the Parti Quebecois. The provincial Liberals have certainly left it intact and haven’t dared to try and strengthen it, but fundamentally, Bill 101 is a PQ law. If it isn’t working, that’s not Premier Charest’s fault.
The bigger issue, of course, is that such a law already exists. Uninformed citizens in the Rest of Canada would be rightly horrified to learn that such a bizarre, anti-democratic law exists in their country at all. Bill 101′s intrusions into the private interactions of businesses and the decisions of individual families are justified as being necessary by Quebec nationalists to preserve the primacy of French in Quebec, but to anyone who is not a language warrior, seem more like a cross between a French tutor and a Orwellian nightmare.
Of course, tougher laws will still not accomplish the intended task: forcing everyone in Quebec to speak French at all times.