Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest’s recent comments about expanding the province’s language laws left many wondering if his message got lost in translation.
SAINTE-JUSTINE, QUE.—It’s being seen by some as a last-ditch bid to attract francophone votes, but Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest’s recent comments about expanding the province’s language laws left many wondering if his message got lost in translation.
The premier was forced to explain throughout the day Tuesday what he meant when he said at a campaign stop on Monday that he hopes to convince the federal government to apply Bill 101 — French-language legislation — to federal institutions within Quebec such as post offices and banks.
The move would mean federal workplaces and public servants working in Quebec would have to follow rules governing French-language signage and the use of French in the workplace.
Following confusion about how he would achieve this, Charest back-pedalled Tuesday, saying he was not calling for legislative changes but wanted to discuss with the federal government what can be accomplished to further protect French in Quebec.
“We don’t need to reopen Bill 101 for that, we don’t need to change the Official Languages Act to incorporate Bill 101 in the act either — that’s not what this is about,” he said.
“What it is about is actually treasuring what we have as a society and working on these issues, not as a source to divide us, but as something that unites us.”
Monday’s statement about the language law was made in the home stretch of a campaign that has seen his incumbent party sink in popularity, including among the province’s French population.