Should the Parti Quebecois (PQ) win the Sept. 4 election, the separatist party promises to further clamp down on the use of English in the province.
Campaigning in Montreal yesterday, PQ leader Pauline Marois promised to further limit the use of English in business and education should her party take power. Marois said the PQ will introduce legislation within the first 100 days of taking power that will amend the province's language laws, known as Bill 101.
Currently, any business in the province with more than 50 employees must conduct business in French. A new Parti Quebecois government would require any business with between 11 and 50 employees to adhere to the same rules.
Marois acknowledges that business with other provinces and other jurisdictions must be conducted in English. She was quoted by the Winnipeg Free Press as saying, "Once (the employee) hangs up the phone, I think business in Quebec needs to happen in French."
Marois also wants changes to laws that allow large companies, such as Bombardier, to deny French-speaking Quebeckers the right to work in their own language.
The PQ leader also announced the party would introduce changes to pre-university colleges, known in Quebec as CEGEPs. At the present time, any student can attend either a French or English college. Proposed PQ legislation would require francophones and immigrants to attend a French CEGEP. This would bring the junior colleges in line with policies that now govern language in elementary and high schools.
Antonio Maioni, a professor of political science at Montreal's McGill University, thinks the planned changes to the language law was a good move. He told CTV News, "Bill 101 is in fact quite a popular law in Quebec so I think Mme Marois is not only reaching out to her core PQ supporters, but also to francophones across the province."
Premier Jean Charest was also on the campaign trail yesterday. Charest, whose Liberal Party has held power since 2003, announced plans to crack down on criminals in the construction industry. Corruption has become a major election headache for the government.
Businesses will be banned from doing business with the province if they have so much as a "minimal link" with people who are charged with, or have been convicted of certain financial crimes. Charest was quoted in the Toronto Sun as saying doing business with the province of Quebec is a "privilege." He said, "Our objective is clear. The businesses who are working with the provincial government have to be above all suspicion."
And yesterday the new party, the Coalition Avenier Quebec (CAQ), released its platform. Among the party's policies, the CAQ promises to set fixed election dates, require prisoners to pay a portion of their jail costs, and says it will make cuts to the budgets of government departments to reduce the government's debt.
Recent polls show the Parti Quebecois with a slight lead over the other two parties.