Quebec premier says there's an advantage to youth being bilingual
Forcing francophone students to attend junior college exclusively in French, as some Parti Quebecois members have proposed, is a non-starter for the Liberals, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Friday.
Asked about a proposal by PQ members that would limit access to English junior colleges as a way of better protecting the French language,
Couillard said his party would never consider such a measure and invited the PQ to be done with its "constant linguistic panic.''
"It is out of the question and I want to be clear: we will not do that,'' the premier told reporters in Lac-Bouchette, in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region.
Currently, francophones and immigrants cannot attend English public schools at the elementary or secondary level.
However, all students can attend post-secondary institutions in the language of their choice.
The premier maintained it is beneficial for young Quebecers to be bilingual and said the majority of francophone parents want their children to know both English and French.
"Most francophone parents in Quebec, and I know this by having spoken to them in all regions of the province, would really like to give their children, at the college level, the opportunity to do some schooling to become bilingual,'' Couillard said.
PQ Leader Jean-Francois Lisee is also opposed to extending Bill 101 to colleges but said he's open to strengthening the language law.
Lisee said Thursday he is confident two main components of his program will be adopted by party members at a convention next weekend: refusing to make Bill 101 applicable to colleges and putting off a sovereignty referendum until the second term of an eventual PQ government.
Lisee said three-quarters of PQ riding executives have already supported the measure to exclude extending the language laws to junior colleges, known as CEGEPS in Quebec.
He also reminded reporters of linguistic commitments he has made: requiring immigrants to know French before moving to Quebec, with the exception of refugees; and having Bill 101 apply to federally chartered companies as well as all companies with between 25 and 50 employees.