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  • Bill 96: 7 municipalities in the region have bilingual status

    The Legault government has revealed its lengthy Bill 96 legislation after months of discussions and hints of the proposed changes. The Minister responsible for languages, Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 96, which is called “An Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Quebec,” on Thursday in the National Assembly. The long-awaited bill proposes extensive measures to protect and strengthen the French language in Quebec.

    Bill 96 includes changing parts of Bill 101, The Charter of French Language (more on Bill 101 below). There are over 200 articles mentioned in the proposed bill including: French in the workplace, limiting access to English Cegeps, regulations for small business, and notably changes to municipalities with bilingual status (see chart below). It also includes making modifications to the Canadian Constitution – defining Quebec as a nation with its official and common language being French. In addition, the bill proposes that Quebec appointed judges will not have to be bilingual, and immigrants will be communicated with, in French only, starting six months after their arrival in Quebec.

    Municipalities with Bilingual Status

    Bill 96 stipulates that a municipality’s bilingual status will be revoked if census data shows that less than 50% of the residents speak English (mother tongue).

    The following is a list of municipalities in the region that are currently recognized by article 29.1 of the Charter of the French language. In the second column is the results of the most recent census (2016). Two of the municipalities would no longer be recognized under the reform since their anglo population has declined below 50%.

    Municipality2016 Census
    New Carlisle59.9%
    Hope Town51.5%
    sources: Statistics Canada, Government of Quebec Toponymy Commission

    Bill 101, a law with many consequences

    In 1977, the first ever Parti-Quebecois government led by Réné Levesque made language a priority and enacted the Charte de la langue française, Bill 101. At the time the goal was to allow Quebecers to live and assert themselves in French, in the province. In 1977 approximately 85% of Quebecers spoke French, but it wasn’t the main language of business in Quebec.

    That same year, Camille Laurin, the “father of Bill 101,” introduced an additional law bestowing upon Quebec institutions such as the Conseil de la langue française and the Commission de surveillance. The latter eventually became the Commission de protection de la langue française in 1984.

    Bill 101 involves matters such as restricting language on signage and advertising, French in the workplace and forcing all children to be educated in French (two exceptions allow for English eligibility). Although the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) already existed, it was given a greater role as part of Bill 101. Often referred to as the Language Police, it is interesting to note that the OQLF was given that title by a 60 Minutes episode involving an in depth investigation into Quebec language laws.

    French signage laws remained in place and it wasn’t until Robert Bourassa’s Liberal government relented in 1993 passing a law allowing English to be included on outdoor signs (only if French lettering was twice the size).

    Over the years, several of the bill’s articles were either modified or struck down, some as a result of Supreme Court judgements deeming the legislation violated both the Canadian and Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Bill 101 is often credited with the mass exodus of anglophones who left Quebec between 1977 and 2015. A Fraser Institute study estimated 600,000 people moved out of Quebec during that period.

  • Get Organized Week 1: Declutter

    This 5-part series may inspire you to organize and simplify your home. It’s a new year and a fresh opportunity to clean up, clean out and develop ways of storing and managing your stuff

    Week I – Declutter

    You know that overwhelming feeling on Christmas morning when you are surrounded by paper, boxes and so much stuff? How do you handle it? You may use a triage system to tackle the job, though likely do not use that specific word. Triage is a medical term referring to how you treat patients depending on the degree of their needs.  This can be applied to decluttering your home.

    Determine the needs.

    Make a plan.

    Have any tools you may need.


    On Christmas morning you may have looked at that mess and approached it in this way: Garbage, recycling, things to put away. Breaking the task into smaller steps helps to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. Getting rid of clutter makes you feel better.

    Choose an area to declutter. Many like to clean out their clothes in January. That can be a huge undertaking. Don’t despair. Decide on your plan.

    You will need two bags: one is clothes to give away and the other is clothes to be discarded. A third pile is clothes to keep.

    Start in one area, the cupboard or dresser and work your way through. Each item can be sorted into one of the three piles or bags. With a plan this task will seem easier.

    When done, consider your hangars. Are they mismatched and facing every which way? Treat yourself to matching hangers which will make your cupboard tidy and seem less cluttered. If you are a fan of things that are “matchy-matchy”, hang up the clothes that you are keeping in like colours or types of clothing. Sounds like a lot of fussing? You will have to do this likely one day a year, BUT you will enjoy looking in that cupboard on the 364 days to come.

    This approach can be used with any area that needs to be decluttered: tools, dishes, the junk drawer, a pantry, books, toys.

             Decluttering toys can be a unique challenge. How you approach it depends largely on the ages of your children. Younger children are likely best left out of the process. Still use the triage system: Determine the needs.  Make a plan. Have any tools you may need. Begin. Older children can understand the system. One bag for toys to give away.  One bag for discards. The third area is for toys to keep.

             Decluttering is not an enjoyable task, but sure can be enjoyed when you are done. Determine the needs, have a plan, gather any tools you might need such as boxes or bags and begin.  The secret of getting ahead is getting started.