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A Protest Against Quebec Bill 96 Is Being Planned By An Anglo Group

"It negatively impacts and further marginalizes the English-speaking community."

Contributing Writer
Dawson College.

Dawson College.

Katherine Korakakis insists she's not an "angry Anglo."

But the president of the English Parents' Committee Association of Quebec (EPCA) did not mince words in her assessment of the Coalition Avenir Québec government's plan for new French-language laws.

"This bill is really, really bad," she said of Bill 96. "And it's not an 'angry Anglo' thing; I hate that term because it paints people in a very negative light. This is about me caring about my son's future. That's my right as a mother."

EPCA is organizing a protest in downtown Montreal to express opposition to the proposed language law reform.

It's scheduled for Saturday, May 14, at 10:30 a.m. with a march from Dawson College to Premier François Legault's office on avenue McGill College, confirmed Korakakis.

'These are some very serious, sweeping changes'

Bill 96, which has been labelled by its critics as bad for business and English‐language education even as its advocates insist it's necessary to protect the French language, is still making its way through the legislative process.

The proposal includes limiting the number of French-speaking students who can attend English-language colleges, restricting the use of English as a means of communication in government and the legal system, and increasing the powers of Quebec's language inspectors, among other things.

"Everybody needs to be aware that this is not a joke," said Korakakis. "These are some very serious, sweeping changes to [Quebec's French Language Charter] that are going to impact people's futures."

'Better than it was before'

Korakakis, a Montreal parent whose organization represents students in Quebec's English public school system, is criticizing the bill as it would require English-speaking CEGEP students to take three additional French courses — though they won't need to be core courses, as was originally proposed.

However, Korakakis is still not impressed, calling it a "political move" that would not improve people's French.

"If you want to improve your French, you don't do that by taking a biology course in French. You start in elementary and high schools," she said.

"Is it better than what was there before? Yes. Is it still a disaster? Yes," she continued.

The proposal would create additional hurdles for students, especially those with special needs, she said, and would also make it harder for students to get into competitive university programs.

"It negatively impacts and further marginalizes the English-speaking community," she continued.

"If this is not all-out war and discrimination against minority communities in Quebec, I don't know what is."

'They did an about-face'

The plan to meet at Dawson College, where a long-awaited expansion project was cancelled by the CAQ to prioritize francophone students, is symbolic, said Korakakis.

"They did an about-face and said that they wouldn't fund an expansion of Dawson," she said. "That expansion, by the way, was for the health care system to be able to graduate more nurses and health care professionals when there's such a dire need for them."

"What you need to understand is we've tried everything else," Korakakis said. "We've written letters, we've put out opinion pieces, we've had meetings, we've made phone calls — and nobody's listening. So, this is our last chance. We don't know what else to do."

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