Former PQ cabinet minister, mayoral candidate Louise Harel appointed to head up French promotion in Montreal

Projet Montreal leader Valerie Plante will turn to a former mayoral candidate and Parti Quebecois cabinet minister to steer the city's action plan for the promotion of the French language.

Plante chose former Louise Harel to chair the committee of the action plan, which was introduced and adopted in March.

The plan includes promoting French as the city's official language and hiring more municipal workers in secretarial and communications departments who are proficient in French.

Plante also announced the creation of an award that will be given to an individual or organization that influences or promotes French in Montreal.

Harel will establish the criteria and nomination process for the award.

The politician, who served as interim PQ leader in 2005, ran for mayor of Montreal under the Vision Montreal banner in the 2009 election, but lost to Gerald Tremblay.

She took a final swing at the political pinata in 2013 when she ran as part of the Vision Montreal team, but lost her seat in the Sainte-Marie district of Ville-Marie to an up-and-coming Plante. She lost by just 263 votes.

BILINGUALISM AND BILL 96

In her presentation at a Tuesday Bill 96 hearing, Plante said the city will be an ally of the bill -- but she has some concerns.

Plante expressed uncertainty around a clause that would force municipalities to stop communicating with immigrants in a language other than French six months after they arrive in Quebec.

"I find it a bit too limiting," she said.

Still, Plante insists that Montreal is a Francophone metropolis and says she doesn't want to see it become a bilingual city.

But for some, it already is.

Jack Jedwab, head of the Association for Canadian Studies, says the majority of Montrealers are bilingual.

"It’s the most francophone French-language city in North America, but at the same time, people also realize it’s the most bilingual city in North America," he said. "If you ask Montrealers whether they agree it’s a bilingual city, 8 out of 10 will say yes." 

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