Quebec announces plans to strengthen French language laws

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By Katelyn Thomas, CTV Montreal

MONTREAL — Quebec's Minister Responsible for the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, announced on Tuesday a plan to table a bill that will aim to strengthen the French language in the province. 

"Quebec was born in French, and it will stay French," Jolin-Barrette said at a news conference on Tuesday. 

Without offering specifics, Jolin-Barrette said the objective of the bill will be to "protect, valorize, and promote the French language." 

The news comes after complaints from Quebecers who say they couldn't receive services in French in some sectors, Jolin-Barrette said. 

He added that he spent the past year consulting with Quebecers from various backgrounds to get a sense of their concerns in regards to the French language in Quebec, as well as their suggestions on how to protect it. 

The bill will be presented at the National Assembly's next parliamentary session, Jolin-Barrette said. 

Asked about the bonjour-hi debate, a contentious issue over to whether stores and restaurants should address clientele in both languages or strictly in French, Jolin-Barrette said French-speaking Quebecers have a right to be greeted in French but that English-speaking Quebecers can be served in English, too.

"What I'm doing right now (with) protecting French is not against English (people) or English services given to the English community," he said, adding that if a member of the English community calls the gQuebec government for services, they will maintain their right to be served in English.

Jolin-Barrette added that he wanted to make it clear that protecting the French language in Quebec won't come at the expense of services and institutions for the English-speaking population.

"That's not the goal, it will never be the goal," he said. "In North America, Quebec is a distinct society. The English-speaking community is part of Quebec, they build Quebec with all the Quebecers. I will always respect the institution of the English community."  

This move will not impact Indigenous communities in Quebec when it comes to their efforts to protect and promote their own languages, Jolin-Barrette added.

"Speaking multiple languages is a good thing," he said. "However, the language that unites us in Quebec is French, and in the collective plan, we must protect (it)."  

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