National Assembly leaders unimpressed with comparison of language law to the Gestapo

Lawyer Anne-France Goldwater's comments comparing the Francois Legault government's law to the "Gestapo" during testimony on Quebec's Bill 96 that seeks to strengthen the province's French-language Charter (Bill 101) is causing a stir in the National Assembly.

"I think that our tax dollars should go more towards education than to creating a new form of — please don't get mad at me, I'm a Jew and it's a language that comes to mind right away — we don't need a new Gestapo where we're starting to fink on each other," she said in hearings held by the Quebec Community Groups Network, a collection of English-language community organizations.

Legault was asked about the comment and said it's completely absurd and insulting to the Jewish community.

He said French will always be vulnerable, and that the bill (An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec) as tabled is reasonable.

"I cannot understand Mrs. Goldwater," said Legault. "How can you compare protection of French in Quebec and the Nazis. I know that she is a part of the Jewish community, but it's so insulting for all the Jewish community. I cannot understand what she said."

Liberal opposition leader Dominique Anglade said a comparison between Quebec's French-language watchdog (the OQLF) and the Gestapo cannot be made.

"You can't compare the two," said Anglade. "We're going into extremes when we do such comparisons. I think we need to be careful in the conversations that we have."

The QCGN declined to comment on Goldwater's statement.

Hearings on Bill 96 at the National Assembly begin Tuesday.