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article imageTempers flare as new Quebec language bill is passed

By Lynn Curwin     Oct 19, 2010 in Politics
Quebec - There were raised voices and heated tempers as Quebec politicians argued with one another over a new law regarding who qualifies to attend the province’s English public schools, but the new language bill passed by a vote of 61 to 54.
Prime Minister Jean Charest had used closure in an attempt to have Bill 103 passed before the Friday, which was the deadline the Supreme Court had imposed for a new bill to be in place.
The debate lasted throughout Monday, and most of the night. The Montreal Gazette reported that a vote took place around 7:15 a.m.
Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois accused Charest of abandoning defence of the French language.
The PQ wanted Quebec's Bill 101 to apply to all public and private English schools in the province, limiting English education to only anglophones born in Canada.
"Even a very close adviser to René Lévesque describes the PQ position as being radical," CBC News quoted Charest as saying. "That's why they were going to systematically obstruct this piece of legislation."
Last year the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the province's older law, known as Bill 104, stating that it was excessive and violated constitutional rights.
That bill had been created in 2002 by the Parti Québécois government to stop parents who had sent their children to an English private school for a short period of time to then enroll them in English public schools.
A group of parents challenged the bill, and that led to the Supreme Court ruling, which gave the Quebec government a deadline of Friday to bring in a new language law.
The new law will allow children who attend English private schools to accumulate points which could qualify them to attend English public schools.
Debbie Horrocks, president of Quebec English School Boards Association, said most people will not be able to understand the system.
"We really don't anticipate seeing one single student come to the English schools because of this," she told CBC News.
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