Language is a hot-button issue this election.
In case you just woke up from a coma, the language debate in Montreal has reached a fever pitch — again. With a contentious new language bill in the books, the linguistic character of Montreal has become a focal point in the city's mayoral election.
You're right, nothing really has changed since you fell into a coma in the 1970s!
The city's main three mayoral hopefuls have had a lot to say about Bill 96 and the language debate during this campaign, so no matter where you stand on the issue, you should know what the candidates are fighting for.
Valérie Plante & Project Montréal
Incumbent mayor Valérie Plante has been clear that she supports defining Montreal as a francophone metropolis and would fight for the promotion of the French language throughout her mandate.
Project Montréal's official platform says Montreal's population is "united by the French language, proud of its history and roots." The platform goes further to pledge that her administration would "defend Montréal's francophone identity by implementing the first action plan for the promotion of the French language in Montréal."
During her tenure as mayor, Plante appointed former Parti Québécois cabinet minister Louise Harel to chair a committee to implement this action plan.
Plante also spoke out against official bilingualism in the metropolis at the Bill 96 hearings in October.
However, the mayor also asked the government to allow the city to continue to offer services in English through the 311 phone line.
Balarama Holness & Mouvement Montréal
In what's been a change of pace for a politician in Quebec, let alone in Montreal, Balarama Holness has advocated for official bilingualism, is adamantly against Bill 96, and rejects the idea that Montreal is an exclusively francophone metropolis.
His party, Mouvement Montréal is running on a platform of what they call "inclusive language rights."
In addition to instituting official bilingualism, Mouvement Montréal has pledged to "immediately" translate all official documents in both languages and update all official websites to be accessible in both languages.
During the English debate, Holness said that if he's elected, he would outright reject Bill 96 and refuse to implement it in Montreal.
Denis Coderre & Ensemble Montréal
Like Plante, Denis Coderre has voiced his support for Bill 96 and considers Montreal to be a francophone city.
The Ensemble Montréal official platform says that Montreal's role as Quebec's largest city must be to "serve virtuously for the progress of both the metropolis and Quebec."
Coderre notably dropped English Montreal School Board chairman Joe Ortona — who had been an Ensemble candidate in the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough — because of the EMSB's opposition to Bill 96.
Coderre has said, however, that he would advocate for "linguistic peace" and explained that his "duty as mayor of Montreal is to ensure that the Quebec government understands our need to serve our English community."
Reports also indicate that while Coderre is a proponent of Bill 96, his administration would request changes to the bill in order to keep some city services bilingual.
The Montreal mayoral election takes place on November 6 and 7.